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Putting Your Future on Hold

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Putting Your Future on Hold

It’s taken you ten minutes to navigate through the automated customer service system. Ten minutes in which you’ve hung up and re-dialed twice. But now you’ve cracked the code and a real person has answered.

“Thank God,” you say. “Look, this is my problem.” And you start to explain.

“Hmmm,” the voice says. “I see. Let me just check something. Putting you on hold.” And before you can speak, they’re gone.

Dah-de-dum. Dum-diddle-diddle-dee. It’s the tinny music. Then the pre-recorded voice.

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“Thank you for your patience. We have installed a new, automated customer service system to serve you better. There are…forty-six…people ahead of you in the queue. Please do not hang up.”

And you don’t, because by the time you dial again, they will probably have fixed the chink in their armor that allowed you to reach a real person, and you’ll be reduced to listening to the menu options that have always changed…and the tinny music.


Yet, as much as we are infuriated by such systems, people put their own futures on hold all the time. How to they do it? By setting conditions that have to be met before they can move on. How do you know? Conditional clauses beginning with “if” or “when.” Listen, they’re everywhere:

If only I could get a better-paying job, I could save enough to go back to school and improve my qualifications.

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When I’ve paid off the loan on my car, I’ll see about looking for a better job.

If I didn’t have so much to worry about, I could spend some time sorting out my life.

If I had a more understanding boss, I’d be able to tell someone how frustrated I am.

Many of these conditional statements are circular. You need better qualification to get a job that pays more…but you decide you can’t think about going back to school until you have a better paying job. You need to get your priorities in order to lower your anxiety…but you can’t spend time sorting your life out, because you’re too worried. Other conditionals put your future in someone else’s hands:

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If my boss would only realize she’s got me all wrong, I could show her how good I really am.

When business is better, I’ll ask about a raise.

When things calm down, I’ll take a vacation. Only I can’t leave it all to the others to handle right now.

You’re on hold, waiting until the condition is met. How long will that be? Who knows? Until then, you can’t do anything. Or so you tell yourself.

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How many of these conditionals are real? Do you truly have to wait on them being met? Be honest with yourself. How many are excuses? Excuses for taking no action because you neither believe in the objective, nor yourself. Only it’s easier to set a condition and claim to be trying — really trying — to do what’s needed. “Only, you see, it’s like this. When…” That’s when you’ll do it. Then. When Hell freezes over and the tax authorities hand out free money in the streets.

If your life is on hold, ask yourself who put it there. Why are you listening to the canned Mozart? Why aren’t you doing something, anything, to turn those fancy dreams of yours into reality? Are you truly stuck…or are you afraid to try?

Dum-da-da-dee-dum. Diddle-diddle-dee-dum. “Thank you for your patience. Your entire future life is on hold right now. There are…two thousand, six hundred and…ninety-six…persons ahead of you in the queue. Waiting time is estimated at…nineteen point…oh-six…years. Thank you again for your patience. Have a great day…” Click. BRRRRRRRRRR.

Adrian Savage is an Englishman and a retired business executive who lives in Tucson, Arizona. You can read his thoughts most days at Slow Leadership, the site for anyone who wants to bring back the taste, zest and satisfaction to leadership, and The Coyote Within.

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Last Updated on November 25, 2021

Protecting Your Online Life With Secure Passwords

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Protecting Your Online Life With Secure Passwords

With all of the recent online services and companies falling under attack to hackers in the past few months, it seems only fitting to talk about password creation and management. There are a lot of resources out there discussing this, but it never hurts to revisit this topic time and again because of its importance.

Password management isn’t necessarily a difficult thing to do, yet it does seem like a bit of an annoyance to most people. When it comes to password management, you will hear the famous line, “I don’t really care about changing my passwords regularly. I have nothing important online anyways.” Let’s see if you have nothing important online when your PayPal account gets taken over because you thought the password “password” was good enough.

In my opinion, it is an “internet user’s” responsibility to make sure that they keep secure passwords and update them on a regular basis. In this article we will discuss how to make your online presence more secure and keep it secure.

The easy fundamentals

First thing is first; creating a strong password.

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A strong password is a mixture of alpha-numeric characters and symbols, has a good length (hopefully 15 characters or longer), and doesn’t necessarily represent some word or phrase. If the service you are signing up for doesn’t allow passwords over a certain length, like 8 characters, always use the maximum length.

Here are some examples of strong passwords:
* i1?,2,2\1′(:-%Y
* ZQ5t0466VC44PmJ
* mp]K{ dCFKVplGe]PBm1mKdinLSOoa (30 characters)

And not so good examples
* sammy1234
* password123
* christopher

You can check out PC Tools Password Generator here. This is a great way to make up some very strong passwords. Of course the more random passwords are harder to remember, but that is where password management comes into play.

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Managing your passwords

I know some people that keep their passwords in an unencrypted text file. That’s not a good idea. I suppose that if you aren’t doing much online and are decent at avoiding viruses and such, it could be OK, but I would never recommend it.

So, where do you keep your strong passwords for all the services that you visit on a daily basis?

There are a ton of password safes out there including KeePass, RoboForm, Passpack, Password Safe, LastPass, and 1Password. If and when I recommend any of these I always count on LastPass and 1Password.

Both LastPass and 1Password offer different entry types for online services logins (PayPal, Twitter, Facebook, Gmail, etc.), credit cards and bank accounts, online identities, and other types of sensitive information. Both have excellent reviews and only differ in a few subtle ways. One of the ways that is more notable is that LastPass keeps your encrypted password Vault online where 1Password allows you to keep it locally or shared through Dropbox. Either way, you are the holder of the encryption keys and both ways are very secure.

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LastPass and 1Password both offer cross-platform support as well as support for Android and iOS (LastPass even has BlackBerry support). 1Password is a little pricey ($39.99 for either Windows or Mac) where LastPass has free options as well as premium upgrades that allow for mobile syncing.

Upkeep

You should probably change your passwords for your “important” accounts at least every 6 weeks. When I say “important” accounts I am referring to ones that you just couldn’t imagine losing access to. For me that would be Gmail, PayPal, eBay, Amazon, all my FTP accounts and hosting accounts, Namecheap, etc. Basically these include any account where financial information could be lost or accessed as well as accounts that could be totally screwed up (like my webserver).

There is no hard and fast rule to how often you should change your passwords, but 6 to 8 weeks should be pretty good.

Alternatives

You may think that all of this is just too much to manage on a daily basis. I will admit it is kind of annoying to have to change your passwords and use a password manager on a daily basis. For those people out there that don’t want to go through all of the hub-bub of super-secure, encrypted, password management, here are a few tips to keep you safe:

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  1. Create a unique and hard to guess “base password” and then a pattern to use for each site you logon onto. For instance a base password could be “Ih2BaSwAa” (this stands for “I have two brothers and sisters who are annoying”). Then you would add something “site specific” to the end of it. For Twitter Ih2BaSwAaTWTTR, Facebook Ih2BaSwAaFCBK, etc. This is sort of unsecure, but probably more secure than 99% of the passwords out there.
  2. Don’t write your passwords down in public places. If you want to keep track of passwords on something written, keep it on you at least. The problem is that if you get your wallet stolen you are still out of luck.
  3. Don’t use the same passwords for every service. I’m not even going to explain this; just don’t do it.

These are just a few things that can be done rather than keeping your passwords in a management system. Personally, with over 100 entries in my password management system, I couldn’t even dream of doing any other way. But those out there with only a few passwords, having a simpler system may be beneficial.

So, if you want to be a “responsible internet citizen” or you just don’t want to lose your precious account data, then creating and maintaining strong passwords for your online accounts is a must.

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