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Four Reasons to Be Reflective at This Time of Year

Regardless of what kind of year you have had, there were undoubtedly many triumphs as well as setbacks

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As one season ends and we make way for the next, it is the perfect time to reflect on our careers and our personal lives.

Regardless of what kind of year you have had, there were undoubtedly many triumphs as well as setbacks. If you are a career professional, particularly if your career is thriving, you have many reasons to be thankful.

Perhaps you get to arrange your office in the way that you choose. You work with people who share, presumably, your vision in terms of advancing the organization. Perhaps, you are able to take off numerous weekends, not to mention have some extended vacations.

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A Little Reflection

It behooves each of us to stop and reflect as to how lucky we are. Regardless of any current challenges, on balance, most of the time, each of us experience a life that intermittently contains excitement, disappointments, wonders, triumphs, sorrows, and moments of pure joy.

If it has been hard for you to be reflective over the years, but you nevertheless recognize the benefits, here are four reasons why it makes sense to do so now:

1) If you have your health, it has been said, you have everything. While that might not be exactly so, health is still one of the individual treasures of our existence on earth. Everyone who deems themselves to be healthy, myself included, should acknowledge this truly great gift on a continual basis.

2) Consider your family, friends, peers, coworkers, and other professional associates. Within that broad swath of humanity, clearly there are people whom you care about deeply. There are people who make a difference in your life. There are good friends and peers who add great value on a regular basis. For this, we can be thankful.

3) Whether you live in the U.S. or abroad, presumably, you can be thankful for the many benefits of living in your respective country, where you are allowed to pursue your livelihood, make a decent income, are a respected member of the community, and look forward to years more of being held in esteem by those around you.

4) In anticipation of the next few months, and all the adventures and triumphs that are forthcoming, who would not be thankful? Right now represents a time of opportunity. We are not merely robot clones proceeding in life, looking through the rear view mirror, exhibiting only the behaviors and characteristics that we have previously exhibited.

Many Chances

We have many chances to proceed in new ways – to make new explorations, take on new challenges, assume new types of behaviors, and, indeed, even wholesale reinvent ourselves. For that capability alone, we can agree about the importance of being reflective and thankful.

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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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Gone in an Instant

Our e-files are so fragile that they can be gone in a moment’s notice

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Many people retain all of their text messages with their various correspondents. My daughter Valerie, for example, has more than one hundred text message correspondents — in other words, a running dialogue for each of the people with whom she sends and receives text. I only maintain two such longitudinal files, and one is with Valerie. With friends, relatives, clients, and acquaintances, I save the text streams for a few days or weeks, but then clear them out.

One evening, my sister Nancy texted me, and I texted her back. We went back and forth for a while. So, my message roster now included both Valerie Davidson and Nancy Davidson. After a while, I decided to clear the Nancy Davidson file, and you know what’s coming. I hit the wrong “Davidson,” file, and in an instant, more than a thousand texts between my daughter and myself were gone.

These texts included photos she had sent that I hadn’t yet downloaded, the picture of her new ring,  emojis that we passed back and forth, and everything else that transpired between us.

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Our Texting History, Vanished

I was beyond crestfallen. I felt as if I had lost something near and dear to me. It was devastating. I sat down in the big chair in my office and contemplated the possibilities. I contacted my computer guru and asked him if a deleted text message file was retrievable. He said with my Android system there was no such capability, only on iPhones. I called my sister and explained what I had done. She commiserated.

Then I sat down again, for a long time, and I thought about a friend who had lost her 23-year-old daughter and only child, seven months earlier…

I called my daughter, and I gave her the news. She didn’t seem concerned. I explained to her that she was the only one with whom I had maintained the longitudinal text trail. She told me that she maintains the text trail with everybody. “It’s not like you’re going to run out of room.” I asked her if she knew of any way that it could be retrieved. She didn’t know, either. We parted company.

Eureka! If she never deletes text message histories, then she has everything that’s transpired between us. I called her back, and she said she did have them all. So, on another day, when we figure out how to transfer what she has back to me, or least downloaded them into some text file, barring her losing her phone or accidentally hitting the delete button like I did, our texting history will be intact on my device.

A Fresh Start

I feel like I’ve been given a new lease on life. The greater question now is, what kind of technology and what kind of lives do we lead when a longitudinal history can be wiped out by mistake in single second?

It is not comforting to know that critical files can be gone in a flash, but this is a condition of our era. For thousands of years, people simply spoke to each other with no way of recording anything, or even knowing it would one day be possible. Relationships right up to the 1960’s were based on real time conversations in person or on the phone. Answering machines existed in the early 1960’s but were not widely available until the mid 1980’s.

As technology became more and more powerful, as we all know, everyone has the capability today to save and store virtually every encounter that they have with anyone else in the world. Still, it is disquieting to know that our e-files are so fragile that they can be gone in a moment’s notice.

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Business

Break Free from Your Electronic Shackles

You owe it to yourself to have quiet, uninterrupted stretches throughout the day

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As the end of 2021 draws near, it’s as good a time as any to reassess our relationship with our personal technology. I encounter career professionals in all types of endeavors who cannot bear to be away from their smart phones or mobile devices for any protracted period. Their fear is the risk of missing a vital call, one that could lead to, say, a huge business contract.

Today nearly everybody proceeds as if they are constantly at risk of missing out on something by not being near their smart phone or other communication device. Sadly, such individuals can’t consistently muster the concentration levels necessary to executive their tasks. The notion of being immersed in a project with no possible distractions is seemingly out of the question. This mind set represents irrational thinking for many reasons.

Jumping for Every Call

On most days, most of the time, no call is coming that is so critical that you have to be attuned to commutation devices around the clock. Even when a big opportunity comes your way, if you position your business correctly, you don’t need to be overly concerned with having to answer the phone call or the inquiry the moment it comes.

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Establishing notable differentiation in what you offer in your target niche increases the probability that callers and inquirers who are seeking your product or services will not abandon ship merely because you weren’t available the first moment they made contact. Indeed, my entire career, as a professional speaker has been based on this concept.

When someone calls my number to book me for a speaking engagement at their conference or convention, fortunately, they usually are calling because they want me in particular. I hold the registered trademark as “The work life balance expert” and have established this niche over the last 24 years.

Typically inquirers are not seeking a “time management speaker” or a “stress management speaker,” although on occasion that does happen. My strategy has never been to be perceived as a rank and file time management or stress management speaker. The inquirers I receive invariably are from those people who wanted something different and, in particular, wanted me.

Differentiate or Die

Likewise in your business, or in your career, when you differentiate what makes you unique and or better than the competition, the obsession with being available the moment anybody inquires vanishes.

Suppose you haven’t clearly differentiated your product or services. Even then, you don’t have to be totally attentive to smart phones and mobile devices around the clock. You merely need to establish a trade-off between the times when it makes sense for you to concentrate on the task at hand, versus those times when you are available to all inquiries.

Especially for entrepreneurs in solo or small companies, you can offer automated or posted messages that tell inquirers the best times to reach you. Most people can understand and respect that. Yes, there will be instances when the inquirer goes on to the next party down the list and you lose that opportunity. That, however, cannot be the rationale for your being a slave to communication technology around the clock.

A Lost Prospect Equals Death?

Years back in a course I attended, the instructor said that if you’re in sales, for example, and you’re overly focused on making this one sale, you won’t be at your best. The prospect can feel your anxiety. Why would you be so anxious about this sale? The presenter said, too many people unconsciously contemplate a string of potential disasters. If they don’t make this sale, they might not make quota and their income will suffer. By not having considerable earnings, they may have to do without. Their spouse might be upset. Their children might starve.

If other sales prospects fall through, they could lose they could be in dire financial straights. They could lose their home. They could imperil their company. As a result of this, they might fall ill. They might not have the funds to take care of themselves, and then they might die.

In other words, amazingly, many sales professionals, as well as entrepreneurs and executives in a wide variety of companies, approach a current opportunity with the subconscious mind set that if they are not successful at this particular juncture, it leads to death.

The Larger Toll

Missing an opportunity is not the end of the world, even missing a large contract because the inquirer went to the next party on the list. Conversely, what is the toll taken on you for being available 24/7? How effective have your solutions been clients when you are not able to focus on the task at hand, offer your complete and undivided attention, and hence do you best work?

As we proceed into an ever faster future of greater technological capability, the risk of missing something important versus being able to do our best work will become a larger issue. It’s vital to establish parameters now as to when we will maintain “an open door policy” of being accessible via electronic communication, and when we will safeguard our ability to focus and concentrate by removing or at least limiting any such intrusions.

You owe it to yourself to have quiet, uninterrupted stretches throughout the day and the week when you can think, evaluate, and make the kinds of decisions that propel your company forward.

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