Back to Basics

by D.J. Vanas © 2007

The scene is a familiar one – we’re lying on the couch New Year’s Day, a few dollars shorter and few pounds heavier than you were before the Holidays. Just when we feel we’re finally getting some rest, it’s back to work. Instead of feeling a surge of excitement about the year ahead, many times we feel frustration, depression, or nothing at all. We’ve made our “New Year’s Resolutions,” but how do we make them reality?

I’ve got great news! No, I didn’t just save a bunch of money on my car insurance. The great news is that it doesn’t have to be this way! Making positive life change is not rocket science or a mystery – it’s often a simple journey back to basics. I find that most people struggle in their pursuit of success, not because of a lack of intelligence, resources or time, but a lack of two critical ingredients: commitment and a plan.

When we make a commitment, we engage all of our personal assets – spirit, mind and body – into the “ON” position, not the “almost on,” “on when it’s easy” or “on if I get around to it” position. And a goal without a plan is simply a dream. A dream is a start, but planning means, breaking it into small, achievable steps, gathering the resources you’ll need (books, advice, time, money, etc.) creating a timeline for each step and getting busy! What I’ll share with you now, is a primer to massively improve the major areas of your life by making some small, but powerful changes. These are some of the best tips I’ve gathered over the years from personal experience, mentors, books and classes – and they get results!



Whether it’s attending ceremony, church, meditation or prayer, reinforcing the practice of your beliefs will fill your spiritual well and keep you strong. It keeps us connected to a higher power that reminds us there is more at work in the universe than our personal problems and challenges. I’ve found there is no force more empowering, enlightening, healing or peace-giving than the power of prayer. Adopt an attitude of gratitude – be grateful for all things in your life, the blessings and the struggles. No matter how tough you’ve had it this year, be grateful for what you do have and that you’re still here. And if you think you’ve had it bad, remember the victims of Hurricane Katrina, our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and families affected by the shootings at Red Lake.


If this is a foundation in your life, invest time in your family. When you make an investment, you place resources into something that grows more valuable over time. I’ve found that no matter how good things are, if something is wrong with my family, than my world is not right. Make a new commitment this year to make time for your loved ones. Love your children 100 percent unconditionally every day and you’ll build strong, confident kids. “Date” your spouse and keep the romance alive on purpose, with purpose. Remember, that person will be there after the kids have gone. Your employer may value you, but they’ll never love you like your family does.


With all the diet fads and too-good-to-be-true products, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed about fitness and weight loss. But losing weight today is as simple as it was 10,000 years ago – burn more calories than you take in. Being an avid fitness enthusiast for twenty years, I’ve found the best “diet” is exercise and the best exercises are the ones you do consistently. Diabetes, junk food and obesity have invaded this nation. US News said over 60 percent of this nation is overweight, 30 percent are morbidly obese. Keep it simple – drink lots of water, get adequate rest, eat lots of fruit and vegetables, stop smoking and exercise at least 30 minutes daily, not just to get back in shape, but for the rest of your life. The benefits are endless and range from feeling better and looking better, to better mental clarity and longer life.



Feeling frustrated at work? Confused about your next career move? Wonder what it takes to succeed? Here’s a solution to the dilemma. Grab the most successful people you know and ask this: How did you get where you are? You’ll find it’s not luck that got them there but the same two ingredients mentioned at the beginning of this article – commitment and a plan. Role model success the same way we role model others to learn to play sports, dance or drive a car. Be a solution-oriented person and find ways around, over, under or through challenges. Good employers want people who solve problems – even when working with limited timeframes or budgets. You’ll get promoted faster, earn more and feel more productive than ever.



Especially after the Holidays, this can be a big source of stress. Make a commitment to spend less than you earn this year. Create and follow a budget. This way you can save, give to charity or put away money for retirement or a college fund for your kids. Get rid of credit card debt as soon as possible, treating it like a cancer to your financial stability (which it is). I know from personal experience that debt is painful, poverty is not glorious and nothing you buy will make you feel as good as being financially stable and secure. Trying to “keep up with the Joneses” will only keep you broke. Learn to live with less and get educated on the better use of your money.


Get back to basics – commit to your ideas, create a plan to make them a permanent part of your life and make 2007 your best year yet! I’ll be with you each month as we walk that path together. May the Creator shower each step of your journey with success and blessings…

D.J. Eagle Bear Vanas (Odawa) is a nationally acclaimed motivational storyteller, success coach and the author of the celebrated book, “The Tiny Warrior: A Path to Personal Discovery & Achievement” and audio CD series “The Warrior Within.” D.J. uses traditional warrior concepts and wisdom to inspire people to achieve their best in life, school and career and owns Native Discovery Inc., a company dedicated to “building the warriors of tomorrow…today.” He can be reached at (719) 282-7747 or at