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Twelve Thoughts about Work and Life

Never write-off others because they are too old, too young, too rich, or too poor; each has wisdom to impart.

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Every person on the planet has some knowledge that could benefit others, including the people you work with everyday. Never write-off others because they are too old, too young, too rich, too poor, or for any other superficial reason. You’ll be surprised by the wisdom you can gain by simply listening with a non-judgmental ear.

I could be right or I could be wrong, but my life experiences have led me to the following observations. I hope some benefit you:

First Six

1. Do not lament that you’re not smarter than you are, or that you’re not as good at something as you would like to be. You can accomplish nearly anything you want through hard work. Your skills develop over the course of your life, and you can develop new ones. Maybe your boss will foot the bill for training, or maybe you have to enroll and pay for yourself. Further, recognize the things at which you are adept and put your talents to use, rather than struggling to excel in the wrong career.

2. It is of little use to dwell on the past and wish you could change it. Making mistakes and feeling as if you’ve squandered time is a natural part of life that happens to everyone. Anew, view your youth with a healthy perspective; while you might have squandered some time, you probably also accomplished a lot and had some fun along the way.

3. Never become so caught up in dwelling on your mistakes that you fail to seize present opportunities. You have time left in your life to move on and use it productively.

4. Regard change as a recurring event. It’s a part of life and certainly part of your work. You won’t be the same person at 30 that you were at 20, or the same at February 25, 2020 that you will be at 40 or 60. Growing in all different ways is a good thing. If you went through life with the mindset of a 20 year old, you would miss a lot of the joys of adulthood. While change can be disconcerting at first, each stage of life becomes more (or at least as) enjoyable and fulfilling than the previous one.

5. Make a constant effort to grow. Challenge yourself mentally. Explore different means of spirituality. Place yourself in new social situations. Unfamiliar scenarios are usually a little frightening at first but, with time, the unfamiliar becomes the familiar, and you’re glad you took the chance. Move out of your comfort zone and explore.

6. Stay flexible. In our rapidly changing society, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the technological innovations and information you think you need to absorb in order to function productively at work and even at home. Rest assured that everyone feels the same way. Remaining flexible is key to maintaining productivity. Find ways to make the changes in your work life advantageous.

Second Six

7. Life is a continuing process, and there is no one point when you become magically grown up and have accomplished everything you wanted. If there was such a point, what would you do when you got there?

8. The nature of life is to constantly grow and change, and there is always more to learn and experience. Be wary of feeling as if you have reached the pinnacle of all of your experiences and accomplishments. If you become complacent, that point really will be the pinnacle of your life, since you won’t feel compelled to achieve even more.

9. You only have so much time and energy in your life. To feel fulfilled, you must choose what things you want to spend most of your time and energy doing. Choosing your priorities might take some soul-searching, or they might be obvious. Is family most important to you? Or, do you envision a time-consuming career? Whatever your interests, you must define your priorities in order to be productive. You can try to have a dozen different ‘priorities,’ but they will hardly be priorities, and you likely won’t pay sufficient attention to each. Decide what few things are important to you, and spend most of your time and energy supporting those priorities.

10. Never underestimate the power of your attitude and the effect it has on your perceptions. In general, people see what they want to see. If you’ve heard something negative about a person before you meet them, you are more likely to dislike that person right off the bat, regardless of anything they do or say. The same holds true for almost every situation in life: There are both beautiful and horrible things in the world. If you think positively, you’re more likely to notice the beautiful things. If you think negatively, you will pick up on all the not-so-great things that occur.

11. Many people seem to blame the mistakes in their life on some unseen force that constantly brings them down. They think they are just unlucky or that others are out to get them. For the most part, this is not the case. Almost everything that happens to us results from the choices we make, consciously or unconsciously. Not choosing becomes a choice in itself. Don’t ignore the tough choices you will have to make.

Blaming fate for your misfortunes leads nowhere; taking control of your life and the choices you face does. To empower yourself, recognize the choices in your life for what they are and consciously make the best decision you can. Something completely random will happen to you occasionally and you have no control over that. Still, realize that most of the things that happen to you don’t merely “happen to you.”

12. Making effective decisions can be difficult. The best decisions result from careful thought. However, don’t ignore your gut feeling about something. We have instincts for a reason, and such instincts don’t often lead you astray. Sometimes it is detrimental to overthink an issue; instead go with what ‘your little’ voice tells you. You’ll be surprised how much you don’t realize you already know. The subconscious is a powerful thing. When you can harness some of that power and put it to use in the conscious world, you will find that the things your little voice tells you are usually on target.

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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:

  • 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.

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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