Thoughts on living and loving life by Carolyn Sandgren (Kempf)

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Nearly three decades as a travel expert, entrepreneur and mom have taught me quite a lot about life and the world in general. Not all of the lessons have been learned the easy way, but I’ve always walked away stronger in my sense of self and in my faith. In fact, the harder the lesson, the greater the life learning reward.

As Zig Ziglar was fond of saying, “You don’t have to be great to start. But you have to start to be great.” Sometimes that’s the hardest step – starting. It’s also the most important one. Whatever your goal – embarking on a new career, bettering a relationship, improving your health – staying motivated can be challenging. But there are some pretty simple ways you can boost your resolve when the going gets tough.

Positive Point: You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one.

Living in the past prevents you from making things happen in the present. Learn from it, but never let it hold you back. Professionally learning from the past but not doing “business as usual” has helped me stay fresh and positive. I surround myself with a variety of people in my company who all bring something unique to the table. Personally experiencing betrayal, in a 28 year marriage, I have been able to learn from pain and through faith focus on what lies around the next corner. Another community member, Melanie Sanders, encouraged me to share this point when relationships fail, “Just remember all the right people love you,” so I encourage people to focus on the people in their life who continue to show them unconditional love.

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Positive Point: If you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done.

Comfort zones can be a significant barrier to achieving your goals. In my experience, travel is one of the best ways to break out of your comfort zone and explore new things. That trickles over to other parts of your life as well, opening up all sorts of new opportunities. My good friend Travis Statler gave me some great advice, “Remember what you loved as a child before life became complicated and return to your first loves,” I have always loved travel, the arts, music and being creative so I changed my life by taking cooking classes and traveling to gourmet locations learning about wines and food. I spent more time with my animals.

Positive Point: Don’t think about what might go wrong; think about what might go right.

It’s so easy to fall into patterns of negativity. Monitor your thinking. Very often, your problem isn’t the problem – your reaction is the problem. Replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts – they can be incredibly effective in helping you reach goals and embrace happiness. In addition I recommend people take a serious look at their circle of friends and influence. If someone is not speaking positivity into your life and relationship, even long term friends, you may need to discuss the need with your friends of speaking only positive things. I recommend a cleansing of toxic people in your life who are always negative and to surround yourself with people of purpose and who speak life and happiness. I learned even in your closest relationships if you are with a person of hyper-criticism and negativity, it can affect you with the daily influx of what I call being “emotionally slimmed.” It is important you seek out professional help together. If one party is unwilling with the belief their negativity is a form of “realism,” then focus on getting well yourself. I also recommend a class called Uni Vita “One Life” by Doctor Leoni available throughout the Cape Girardeau Chamber or Southeast Missouri University.

Positive Point: Finish what your start – tenacity is the Key.

Force yourself to finish what you start in all aspects of your life. Follow-through in one area can be a powerful motivator for reaching goals in other areas. My mother once told me, “The people who are great are not the smartest or the most talented; they are the ones who didn’t quit.” I’ve learned it is not how many times life knocks you down, it is how many times you get up. When I have challenges in life, I get back up and say to my problem, “I’m still here; I’m still standing and I will not stop trying.” Before I know it I’m on the mountain top.

Positive Point: Be a person of faith.

Faith gives you a moral compass which will help you in this journey. When you feel you have lost your way, having a moral code to remind you of your belief system keeps you on track. When you miss the mark or get off track, reviewing your moral code of what you believe to be true can bring you back to where you need to be healthy, whole and a person who is a giver not a taker-one who leaves a legacy you can be proud of.
Wherever life’s journey takes you, and whatever your goals along the way, stay committed to learning and growing from it. I promise the end result is worth it.

Carolyn Sandgren (Kempf) is a successful business owner, philanthropist and proud mother of two. As owner of Elite Travel Inc., she has been recognized internationally for her industry expertise, and has extensive experience speaking on national stages across the U.S

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