Seven Observations for My 24 Year-old Self ⋆ Politicrossing
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Seven Observations for My 24 Year-old Self

In the end, your life largely will be what you make it

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If I only had seven things I could tell myself at age 24; reflecting on all that I’ve learned in observance since then, it might be difficult. Nevertheless, here are seven “gems of wisdom” that I think would help any 24-year-old today, and that certainly would have helped me back then.

1. Stay Positive, it Will Be Okay

Generally speaking, most of the personal concerns that you have at 24 will have long worked themselves out by 30, 35, or 40. Much of what seems to be urgent, or crucial to your future well-being and happiness, proves to be less so with the passage of time. Then, looking back, you think to yourself, why was I so agitated?

2. Maintain Your Health All Along

I’ve had many friends at varying ages, in their 40s, 50s, 60s, who’ve had surgery for this and that, who are limited in mobility, or who have passed away. Health is not something to take lightly even in your mid twenties.

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Once you begin the slippery slope towards not maintaining your health, it’s difficult to get it back. If you maintain healthy habits all along, get proper sleep, maintain a good diet, and exercise regularly, even after many decades, you still can be adept at most of what you could do in your 20s.

3. Friends Come and Go

Some stay with you for a lifetime, some are your friends during eras in your life, and some vanish rather quickly. Predictably, somebody who you thought was a close friend will betray you, or abandon you, or otherwise seem distant. You might exert considerable energy seeking to win that friend back, and rarely does it work.

The friends we make by high school and college seem to become more important with each passing year. Yet, you can make good friends, even great friends, at any age. You have to be open to the possibility.

4. Watch Your Finances

The fastest and most effective way to maintain control of your finances is to construct a 12-month cash flow. When you plot your projected income versus your projected expenses, you gain the best picture of your cash position at the end of each month. There is no substitute for doing this.

I have maintained a cash flow projection for myself starting at age 24. Moreover, since becoming an entrepreneur in my mid 30s, and working for myself all these years, my projected cash flow has been an invaluable tool. My daughter adopted the practice after running into some financial difficulties. Now she’s keeps her head financially above water all of the time.

5. Earth Is Fascinating, and Chilling

Altruism, beauty, and grace are all around us, but so is greed, the quest for power, fanaticism, and lust. Some people will do whatever it takes to get what they want: ravage the environment, trample on others, or act as if maintaining what we have for future generations is not important. Such behavior occurs on the left, right, and middle of the political spectrum. Even environmental, civic, and charitable groups are not without their own faux pas. Keep looking for the good in others.

6. Learn to Trust Your Instincts

The intuition and instincts that we’ve developed since we were small lead us well. Many people minimize or ignore their internal feelings in favor of someone else’s opinion, especially in this day and age of social media. However, the wisdom of following “the beat of your own drum” is as good now as ever.

Your brain, heart, and gut all function for you around the clock, and can provide direction without you having to engage in considerable analysis. Once you tap these amazing mechanisms, don’t be surprised if your decision-making capabilities improve. You have it within you.

7. Only You, the Whole Way Through

From now ’til the end of your life, however long it might be, you are the only person who will accompany you every step of the way, on every interview, on every trip, and on every encounter. Your life is a do-it-to-yourself proposition and a work in progress.

Blaming others, or citing nebulous factors that keep you from getting what you want, is a prescription for mediocrity. Fortunately, most people, most of the time, have the power to move from where they are to where they want to be, and so do you.

 

In the end, your life largely will be what you make it. And that is wonderful news.

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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

Too Tired for Your Own Good

The realization that you are fatigued is the first step to resolution

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It’s Sunday. Go back to bed and then return to this article!

Based on what you do an average day, it is understandable that sometimes you feel very tired, but when is the tired feeling that you have bordering on danger? Many signs exist, among them these:

    1. Your fatigue is prolonged. Getting several nights of extra sleep in a row or sleeping for an entire weekend doesn’t seem to put a dent in your feeling of fatigue. Perhaps worse, you feel as if you “will never catch up.”
    2. You experience indigestion or lack of appetite. You normally look forward to meals, but when highly fatigued, you have trouble getting them down. Maybe, you’re eating less.
    3. Loss of sex drive. This isn’t as obvious a sign as you might think. Loss of your libido usually takes place a little bit at a time, such that you don’t notice what’s going on. Your partner probably will, though.
    4. You begin to experience trouble getting to sleep, if not outright insomnia. During the night, you find yourself waking more often or tossing back and forth, and then to exacerbate the situation, you spend the rest of the night worrying that you’re not getting good sleep.
    5. You feel tired in the morning even after getting a full night’s sleep. Realistically, there’s no reason for this. If by 9:30 or 10:00 in the morning, you can hardly keep your head up, it’s time to take heed.
    6. Your ability to focus on the task at hand is diminished. Your powers of concentration are not what they have been in the past. Generally, this is not due to your aging.
    7. You feel that you’re no longer in control. In many ways, this is the most insidious of the signs. You doze at highly inopportune moments, such as in an important meeting, or when driving.

Not Enough Sleep, but Otherwise Functional

Here’s a second list of indicators showing that you’re not getting enough sleep, but perhaps you’re not at the danger level:

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  • Your eyes are red.
  • You’re not mentally sharp.
  • You avoid tasks that involve adding up numbers.
  • You find yourself daydreaming often.
  • In situations with others you simply go through the motions.
  • You don’t want to handle any phone calls if you can help it.
  • You watch the clock frequently throughout the day, hoping it will go by more quickly.

Before I learned how to keep my stress level in check, I used to look forward to going to the dentist. When I got to the dentist’s chair, and they tilted the seat back, it was one of the few times during the day where I actually reclined and had relatively little to do. If there wasn’t to be any drilling or serious poking during the session, such as a routine visit or cleaning, in some cases I became so relaxed that I didn’t want to leave. For me, that was an indication that I was highly fatigued.

You probably have your own personal corollaries to this. The realization that you are fatigued is the first step to increasing your efficiency and defeating the problem.  A life of constant exhaustion, no matter what else you accomplish, is not a desirable situation. No one, however, is coming to bail you out.

The road back from exhaustion starts with self-awareness, then resolve, then action. Will today be that day?

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Life

Work-life Balance and the Five-Mega-Realities

Work-life balance is the ability to experience a sense of control and to stay productive and competitive at work while maintaining a happy, healthy home life with needed leisure

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In the 1st edition of my book Breathing Space which appeared in 1990, I discussed five major trends – what I called mega-realities – that influenced every aspect of our being, and from which no one was immune. Briefly, these five mega-realities include:

* an expanding volume of knowledge
* mass media growth and electronic addiction
* the paper trail culture
* an over-abundance of choices
* population growth.

Knowledge – In one way or another, everyone fears being under-informed. The enormous volume of new knowledge broadcasted and published in every field exceeds our ability to keep pace. More words are published and broadcast in a day than you could ingest during your lifetime. America leads the world in sheer volume of information generated and disseminated.

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The impasse of this over-information era is that the time necessary to learn the rules for effective living now exceeds your lifetime. This is why management books so often miss the mark: they list dozens — if not hundreds — of rules, when you are already grappling with more rules than you can handle.

Mass Media – The effect of the mass media on our lives continues unchecked. More than four out of five American households own DVD players. In 1972, three major television networks dominated television – ABC, NBC and CBS. Now, there are more than 500 full-power independent television stations. Many cable TV subscribers receive up to 200 channels that offer more than 72,000 shows per month.

With its sensationalized trivia, the mass media glut obscures fundamental issues that do merit concern, such as preserving the environment or feeding the poor.

Paper Trails – Like having too much data and eyewitness reports, having too much paper to deal with makes you feel overwhelmed and overworked. Americans today are consuming three times as much paper as ten years ago. There are two basic reasons why society spews so much paper:

* We have the lowest postal rates in the world.
* We have the widest base of paper-generating technologies.

The typical executive receives more than 200 pieces of unsolicited mail each month – about 12 pieces daily. The average family receives more than 100 catalogs that they did not request, on top of those they did request.

An Overabundance of Choices – Having choices is a blessing of the free market economy, but it’s overwhelming, increases time expenditure, and is a mounting form of exhaustion. More than 1,260 varieties of shampoo are on the market. More than 2,000 skin-care products are for sale. An excess of 75 different types of exercise shoes are available, each with scores of variations in style, function, and features.

Population – From the beginning of creation to 1,850 AD, world population grew to one billion. It grew to two billion by 1930, and is now approaching eight billion. Every three years, nearly 250,000,000 people are added to the planet.

Each day, world population (births minus deaths) increases by more than 265,000 people. Geometric growth in human population permeates and dominates every aspect of our earth, its resources, the environment, and all living things.

The Quest for Work-life Balance

Against this backdrop, the quest for work-life balance is more vital than ever. Predictably, a preponderance of speakers, trainers, authors, journalists, and others whose professions entail regular communication with the masses, proclaim the virtues of achieving and maintaining work-life balance.

However, a glaring question arises. What, exactly, is work-life balance? Compared to the legions of instances in which the term is cited, surprisingly little has been written in articles and books about what the concept actually entails.

During my 33 years in pursuit of understanding why the pace of society has sped up, what the impact has been on the typical individual, and how each of us can forge our own sense and experience of breathing space throughout our lives, I have honed and refined the tenets of what I consider work-life balance.

What Exactly is Work-life Balance ?

For several years now, those who apparently have no idea what work-life balance is and have virtually never experienced it are proclaiming that it is passe — in favor of work-life harmony or work-life integration.

The truth is, these terms all mean approximately the same things. You can split hairs anyway you want, and I suppose that’s a good way to differentiate a program if you’re seeking to offer one to clients, but the reality is work-life balance is the overarching issue of our time that all career professionals strive to achieve.

Work-life balance is the ability to experience a sense of control and to stay productive and competitive at work while maintaining a happy, healthy home life with sufficient leisure. It is attaining focus and awareness, despite seemingly endless tasks and activities competing for your time and attention.

Work-life balance entails having some breathing space for yourself each day; feeling a sense of accomplishment, while not being consumed by work; and having an enjoyable domestic life without short-changing career obligations. It is rooted in whatever fulfillment means to you within 24-hour days, seven-day weeks, and however many years you have left.

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