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Finding Meaning in Daily Activities, Even Now

You are creating your life every day; every choice you make determines the quality of your life

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If you’re like me, each day you shudder to think what new, nation-destroying ploy, or blunder, the Biden administration will foist upon us next. In our own lives, nevertheless, while awaiting November 2022 and the chance to take back the Senate and House, we have the opportunity to find meaning nearly each day.

In her book, My Grandfather’s Blessings, Rachel Remen tells a story about a doctor who had to deliver a baby in the hallway of the emergency room area. He had delivered other babies but not like this. While swabbing the baby’s face, she opened her eyes and looked right at him: he was the first person she had ever seen.

This experience changed the doctor’s way of proceeding. He regarded this as sacred moment. He remembered why he chose this line of work. He felt validated. His cynicism fell away. He became more invigorated, more inspired, and started to interact with more of his patients and his co-workers. Soon, he was invited to events he had never participated in before. His whole world opened up.

Now, he seeks such moments constantly.

A Capacity that Builds

Finding meaning is a capacity that we build, like a muscle. When you first started in your current career position, finding meaning was not an issue. You were excited. There was so much you wanted to do. You had all kinds of plan. Then, years passed.

Little by little you became jaded perhaps. Why did I choose this line of work? Why can’t I find competent help? Why are customer or clients so demanding?

It is possible, even now in this time of turmoil, to reinvent yourself on the job, to rediscover what initially attracted you to this profession and what the current possibilities might be. Sometimes the re-awakening is triggered by attending a conference or convention, taking a course, reading a vital book, or spending time with a colleague or peer.

Goodbye to Yesterday

Today and the days that follow do not have to be extensions of what came before. You do not have to proceed into the future looking through a rear view mirror. A world of choices awaits, even if in the same old position you’ve been holding down for years.

Will you make new choices? And what will drive those choices?

Discovering or rediscovering meaning is about getting clear on what’s most important to you and aligning your choices with those priorities. It’s about living and working with intention instead of operating on autopilot or by default, where one day looks exactly like the next.

So, What Matters Right Now?

Start by identifying what’s most important to you …today, not what was important five, ten, or 20 years. Is it creativity, or perhaps collaboration? Maybe it’s impact or flexibility?

Next, identify what professional – and this might be different than your current profession! – and personal goals align with those priorities. What does living or working more creativity look like? If, say, collaboration matters to you, how can you incorporate more collaboration into the work you do?

From here, you’ll want to pinpoint actions or choices that support those goals. Where are your current choices in or out of alignment with what you’ve identified as most important? What new, more intentional choices can you make?

Each and Every Day

Consider this: You are creating your life every day. Every choice you make, action or inaction, determines the quality of your life. If not now, when: Making the choice to live and work with intention and in alignment is the key to cultivating a life of meaning and fulfillment.

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®



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Life

Count Your Days, Count Your Blessings

A day is such a long time when you ponder the possibilities

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How many days have you been on this earth? How many total days do you get to live? 24,000? Perhaps 32,000? Whatever the total, for many people, it’s more than our counterparts of a generation ago. Indeed, in 1900 the median life span in the U.S. was 49 years old. By 2000 the median life span had reached 77. Today, it’s common for people to reach their late 70s, 80s, or even 90s.

A Precious Gift

Ever since the oceans first formed, the tides have been rising and falling. Think of it, there have been eons of sunrises and sunsets since the earth first formed out of congealed gases. Your time on earth is a minute fraction of that. What’s more, the earth is home to tens of thousands of species, many of which have still not been identified and classified.

No matter how many days you have on this earth, it’s vital to appreciate each of them.When you awake each morning, opportunities await. A day is such a long time when you ponder the possibilities:

In one single minute or less you can throw water on your face, dry off, stretch intently, engage in a mini meditation, have a big drink of water, close your eyes, take a quick walk, visualize a pleasant scene, check for messages, look at photos, sit up or stand up straight, write a thank-you note, yawn, straighten up your desk, review notes, change your seat, have a pleasant thought, or phone someone.

So Much More

In five to 45 minutes you can check for voicemail, texts, and email messages; catch the news on TV, radio, or the Internet; lay your head down for some quick rest, take a rigorous walk, balance your checkbook, water the plants, vacuum, straighten up the interior of your car, review what’s in the trunk of your car, have a brief meeting with staff members, jog, clean your bathroom, take a shower, and get dressed.

Also, deal with today’s mail, organize half of a filing cabinet drawer, take a nap, run a PC diagnostic program, download many large files, mentally rehearse a major presentation you’ll be giving, proofread a report, comfortably eat lunch, listen to several of your favorite songs.

In two to 24 hours you can watch a movie in the theater or at home, attend a local sporting event, spend quality time with someone else, read several chapters of a book, completely redo your file drawer, reorganize your closet with time to spare, clean your whole house, visit a good friend, attend religious worship, write a report from start to finish, or visit a park or other area of nature.

Your could take a considerable car trip, catch up on your sleep, enroll in a rigorous course, renew yourself at the spa, attend several movies, read one book or more, take a plane flight, renew your relationships with a friend from across town, clean most or all of your home, or fly to China.

To Optimize not Maximize

Your quest is to optimize, not maximize your day. You’re not trying to jam pack your time with activity. What would be the point? Having optimal days, means there is a balance. Some work perhaps, some leisure — enjoyment of your meals, time for a friend, time to reflect, and time to stretch or exercise, maybe vigorously.

A sense of the power of nature, the appreciation of higher forces, a sense of being reverent, respectful, all of these can go into the optimal day.

No matter how trying or exhausting, some days might be, invariably some good can be extracted from such days. If you are the type who is motivated by quotes and slogans – if they help to lift you when you’re down or rise you up further than you are –  the Internet provides infinite number of such resources. Songs, as well, can spur you on. If Don’t Worry be Happy works for you, play it. If What a Difference a Day Makes nourishes your soul, listen to it.

Movies can be uplifting as well. On any given day, you can watch inspiring movies. If Chariots of Fire or Silver Linings Playbook work for you, watch them. Poetry, light verse, stirring novels, and inspiring biographies can make a difference in your day. Access to written works has never been more available than it is today.

Take This Day and Love It

At some point in your day, will be time to drop back and punt. In other words, give yourself permission to relax – to simply be. Reverse the old axiom, “don’t just sit there do something,” to “don’t just do something, sit there.”

For however many hours there are left in this day, and however many days you have left on this earth, recognize that they are all gifts: Precious gifts, to be experienced, and enjoyed.

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Family

Spend Less, Owe Less, Live More

If you spend less than you take in, inexorably your debt will decrease

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Society conditions us to consume more than we need and to spend more than we make. However, this kind of lifestyle is a recipe for disaster. Taking back control of your finances can help you free up time and make you feel more in control of your life more of the time.

Think back to your high school and college history classes: can you recall a nation in the history of the earth that accumulated huge deficits over a prolonged period of time, lacked a concerted effort towards reducing these deficits, yet was able to sustain economic prosperity for its citizens?

Can a nation, in debt for trillions annually, or a person – namely you – consistently run up huge deficits and expect no consequences?  For decades, tens of millions of Americans have accumulated personal debt via credit cards, loans, and other forms of financing. It’s likely that you have some financial debts.

Subtle Servitude

Sustained deficit spending eventually erodes your ability to prepare for the future, and worse, to capitalize on current opportunities. The more you owe, the more enslaved you are! In Consumerism, Dr. Judith Schor notes that you’ve likely been taught to consume more than you need.

Right now, how would it feel if all your credit cards were paid off? How would it feel if you paid your monthly rent or mortgage several months in advance? How would it feel if your car loan was paid off? How would it feel if you were actually able to pay some of your utility bills for months in advance? For most people it would feel great. You’d feel in control of your time.

We all know the arguments about losing the (minuscule) amount of interest you could have earned if you let your money sit in the bank instead of paying the electric bill three months in advance. Ah, but wait. A month after you’ve paid your electric bill three months in advance, you receive the next month’s bill. Guess what? It shows that you have a huge credit and that nothing is due – you’ll smile when you see these kinds of bills!

A Moratorium on Spending

To reduce your personal debts, place a moratorium on optional spending, regardless of what items entice you, until your credit cards have zero balances.

Paying for material things which you don’t need, and certainly don’t save your time, might be satisfying, but ultimately can be draining.

Here are some strategies and tactics for controlling your checkbook, and hence reclaiming your life:

1. Write out checks to pay bills in advance of their due dates. Then, keep an advance file with a folder for each day of the month. Place the check in a sealed, addressed, and stamped envelope. Then put the envelope in the folder of the day it’s to be mailed. This way the money is allocated in advance in your checkbook, and your bills are paid on time. If your checking account pays interest, you don’t lose interest.

2. Occasionally, overpay the balance on your continuing accounts, or pay early. This gives you the aforementioned psychological boost when you see a credit on your next statement, and gives you a good reputation with your creditors, which is handy!

3. Keep a stick-on note in your checkbook for an immediate reference that lists what’s coming in this month and what needs to be paid. This provides you with a running mini-cash flow list to which you can refer at will. Update it weekly, or daily, if needed.

4. Review old checkbooks and see what you paid to whom for what. Do the same thing with your monthly credit card statements. Put a red mark next to all those expenditures that you didn’t need to make, or that you could have done without after further consideration.

5. Now, considering expenditures on the horizon, which ones can you do without?

Spend Less, Save More

As author Roger Dawson says, “It doesn’t matter how much money you’re making; if you’re spending more than you take in each month, you’re headed for trouble.” If you spend less than you take in, your debt will decrease, even if only a little at a time, and one day perhaps  disappear.

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