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Archive for March, 2010

I’m (almost, well not quite) famous!

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Here is the script of a recent interview of Rana Chudnofsky by Exercise TV:

Rush, Rush, Rush, the deadline of April 15th Tax Season is here again and along with Spring it’s the time to slow down and start planning accordingly.

I know you all of you lead busy, active lives, but in everyone’s life No matter how active we are there are those sedentary things in life that seem like bigger mountains and are sometimes more stressful than anything physical we might have to overcome.

Hi there I’m Rana Chudnofsky helping you get through to Tax Day with Exercise TV

Tax Season is about reorganizing, throwing away and making room. But why do so many of us have such negative feelings/emotions about sitting down and doing our taxes if it really does help us get organized and clean up for Spring time? In the next few minutes I’m going to give you some quick Tips to help make this tax season a better experience.

Last week, my accountant Nick said to me that he feels most people fall into two categories. First, there is the disorganized type. scrambling to Locate records, 1099 forms, bank statements, tax bills, real estate taxes, excise taxes, business travel, have I been logging my car miles for the last 12 months?? And what about the thin-mint Girl Scout cookies on the kitchen table…did I tell the accountant that I made a donation to the Girl Scouts this year? For me, leaving my stuff at the accountant’s office is the same relief as losing ten pounds.

..and on the other spectrum is the extremely organized type who Actually seems to enjoy adding up their Dummy Tax Forms to see how close they come to their accountant’s calculations. They have an idea of their deductions, know where all the receipts are and have a paper trail of all stock sold between Jan-Dec. Not surprising, the reality is that most of us fall right in the middle of these two examples.

He also points out that only 10% of his clients actually enjoy doing their taxes. So for the 90% and I would include myself in this category, tax time can be quite overwhelming and stressful and this brief video is made for you.

Recently, I read in the NY times an article titled “What you don’t know makes you nervous” Daniel Gilbert a Professor of Psychology at Harvard mentions that people feel worse when something bad MIGHT occur than when something BAD does occur. Most of us aren’t losing sleep and sucking down Margaritas because the Dow is going to fall another thousand points. Instead, we get tense because we DON’T’ KNOW whether it will fall or not and humans find this uncertainty more painful than what we ARE certain about.

I believe it’s often this uncertainty that leads us to procrastinate. I was starting to prepare a whole section for you all  on procrastination but couldn’t get myself together last night and thought ahhh I’ll do it later

If we simply just called our accountant or looked on the IRS website, and found out what we needed to do, it wouldn’t be so bad. But many of us don’t make that phone call until the last minute. The fear of the unknown makes us procrastinate to the point that this idea of getting our taxes done is just overwhelming and we keep putting it off until tomorrow. Anything else that grabs our attention becomes more interesting and more important…like organizing your sock drawer or doing some laundry?

So instead of wasting time, feeling pressure and putting off the inevitable, Here are some tips for you or you and your partner during this tax season -

1.      Conversation with a Professional - As I mentioned before, FIRST, seek out professional advice, a CPA.  Then create and write down clear goals .listing exactly what needs to be done before April 15th. Make THAT LIST. Once you know that information, you may feel some relief.

2.    The Oreo Cookie Approach - Do something that feels good and then do something you dislike doing and then give yourself a reward!  For example, start out organizing your 12 month statements. Not so bad. Then go through all your contributions, locating all the donation letters you can’t find. Then finish with a walk outside, telephone call to a friend or drink slowly a good glass of cool water…good hydration will help to dilute the stress hormones… Cool water is always better to fight stress. Cool water has a parasympathetic effect to fight the stress response…but making sure to drink slowly.  Mild dehydration can cause mental fatigue. Hydration is a way to re-energize the brain as well as fighting stress. The brain needs water. So trying to avoid here as your reward coffee or some soda with caffeine.

3.    The Two Hour Commitment - I think most of us.. we think we need to spend the whole day on our taxes. And we wait and wait, don’t do anything and the day disappears. The problem is - who wants to spend an entire day on taxes!  How about setting a two hour timer at your desk. How many items from my ‘goal list’ can I accomplish in two hours -  three items, four items, ten? You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

4.    Create a Working Space - If daily life causes you stress with family and work etc. (and who doesn’t have stress) then try to reduce them from creeping into your work space. Quiet all the technology devices you don’t need to accomplish your goal. Now gather everything you do need.  If you work well with pencils and highlighters have them on your desk and ready to go. Any distraction to run to CVS for some last minute items will put everything ‘on hold’. And if you have children maybe trading time with a friend so that you can do your taxes for a few hours in quiet and next week you’ll watch their children so that they can do their taxes. Place everything that has to do with your taxes in one neat area and try not to spread papers all over your house or apartment. Creating a space that is soft on the eye will help you stay in that space longer.  And lastly, how about some soft music in the background, or lighting a nice organic non-toxic candle.

With these 4 steps, you are now ready to visualize the path that Will help you stay on your goal…which is FINISHING YOUR TAXES.

Allow your body to relax. This can be done lying down and placing your Head on a soft pillow or in a seated position on a chair or on the floor. You can begin to close your eyes or stare at a spot in front of you. Let’s begin by taking a few deep breaths. Breathing a sense of peace and relaxation and letting go of any tension from your body with an exhale. Allowing clean air to come in and washing away all fears with your exhale. Take three easy deep breaths as you relax your body.

Imagine seeing yourself at your work space. You’ve taken the time to create both a workable and peaceful spot for yourself. All papers related to your taxes are in one area. You say to yourself - ‘one task at a time, one paper at a time..   Know that you can take small steps to achieve a greater goal.  I can do it. You see yourself picking up  the first group of papers and crossing off the first item that needs to be completed. Feel a sense of accomplishment and notice that your body becomes lighter - like a hot air balloon moving through the sky.

You see yourself continuing in this way, one step at a time, going through and accomplishing everything on your ‘ Goal List’. You are flowing and at ease with the process of working through your taxes. sitting in a comfortable position while working, being present your body, relaxing, and trusting yourself with doing what needs to be done in the best possible way. You know your body and when it’s time to take a break. Say to yourself without judgment, no big deal, I’ll get back to work later. Notice how you feel about yourself, perhaps some relief, lightness in the shoulder and the body.

Now visualize your reward as another item on your ‘Goal List’ disappears. Is it mountain climbing, a day at the beach watching the waves or curling up with a good book on a comfy sofa. Stay there for a few minutes…then slowly become aware of your surroundings…

So for next year remembering these tips and working now to create a System to put into place because tax time will roll around again next year, and You can  prevent stress by confronting it head on.

You now have your steps to succeed, there is no need to rush-rush-rush.

You’re ready to get started!