Time to Board the Balance Train…

In weather, some weather patterns can perpetuate themselves.  For instance, a dry weather pattern can “feed” off of itself to create even drier weather.  The same is true with a wet pattern.  Here’s what I mean…  If a pattern keeps producing rainfall over a large area to the point the ground becomes saturated, when the sun finally comes back out, all of that water will begin to evaporate back into the air.  This fills the air with water vapor and can lead to more rains which, in turn, keeps the ground saturated.  It sometimes takes months to break these patterns completely.  This happened in the spring of this year out over the eastern Plains and parts of the Midwest.

The same happens with an imbalanced life.  Imbalance breeds more imbalance.  For many who were already on the edge of the cliff financially at the beginning of our current recession (it’s finally officially been called a recession), chances are they’ve now plunged off into the abyss.  There was no room for error.  Heartbreaking.  Many people are now stuck in this rut of perpetual crisis.  Others who balanced their checkbooks and put away money in savings are able to weather downturns much better.  Life is probably pretty good for those with discretionary income these days – gas is cheap, property is cheap and everything is on sale.

Now that there has been such a crash in the economy, we have to learn lessons so that we don’t board this train of self-destruction and imbalance again anytime soon.  It’s easier to make it through a real crisis when you’re not living them day-to-day as a standard.  With that in mind, here are a few suggestions:

1.  Never go back to the overspending lifestyle so many of us lead.  Keeping up with the Joneses nailed us.  Forget about the Joneses!  Buy what we can afford…

2.  Pay yourself first.  Put away money each and every pay period so that when a crisis does come, you’ve got some cushion to get through it.

3.  Learn something new.  If you’ve recently lost your job, I’m sorry, but it could be a new beginning for you as well.  Take this opportunity to learn a new skill or further the skills you already have.  This will put you in a better position to be hired at better pay when companies start hiring again (and they will one day).  You might even decide to start your own business.

4.  Exercise.  The stress of what we’re going through can be very tough.  You’re body doesn’t do very well in a constant state of stress.  Exercising will allow you to let some of that pent up frustration out.  There’s a good article in INC magazine this month about the owner of a software company who used exercise to get through the stress of running a troubled company.

5.  Love on your family.  I know this isn’t always easy when you feel like everything is collapsing around you, but your family needs you and you need them.  Lean on each other and take care of each other in these crazy times.  It’s much easier to slosh through the mud of life when you’ve got a real teammate.  Let your loved ones know you’ve got their backs and don’t be above leaning on them when you need to.  Show more grace and mercy with your loved ones that you normally do.  They are probably as stressed as you…

6.  Remember, it’s bad now (and will likely get worse before it gets better) but it won’t stay this way.  Just like in the weather, the economy goes through cycles.  We simply couldn’t support all the things we were buying with credit forever.  It had to stop at some point.  It was a spending bubble that collapsed.  When it’s all said and done, we’ll be on more solid ground and we’ll all be stronger and smarter for going through it.  If there’s a silver lining in what’s happening now, it’s that we’ll change our behavior because of it – and that’s a good thing.

These will probably be some of the most challenging times of our lives in the upcoming months.  We should remember how we feel while we’re going through this to motivate us to never get to this point again.   Those who do stand a much better chance of improving their lives because they became not only stronger but smarter…

How has it changed you?

What Makes a Good Day for You?

It’s easy to fall into a daily routine that we don’t particularly like.  We end up doing the same thing over and over, day after day.  We get up after not getting enough sleep, hurry ourselves and our kids while getting ready for work and school, run out the door to a job which we may or may not enjoy all that much, get through a mundane work day, sit in traffic on the way back home, walk in the door exhausted from our crazy day, make and eat a dinner that probably could be more healthful, turn on the t.v. and watch a show we hope will take our minds off of real life for an hour, go back to bed a bit later than we should only to get up and do it all over again the next day.  Weekends seem like mini vacations compared to our hectic weeks.  We live for Saturdays and dread Mondays.  Are you familiar with this?

We THINK that this is the way it HAS to be.  It was the way we grew up.  It’s the way all of our friends do it.  It’s the way everyone with whom we work does it.  But, that’s not true.  If you’re not happy with your routine, it doesn’t have to be that way.  You can change it.  It can be different.  It can be better.  But, it takes effort.  It takes effort to analyze your day to discover what you can cut out to make more quality time with your family.  It takes effort to look at how you can use your time at work more effectively so that you’re able to actually get your work done and leave the office on time.  It takes effort to get to bed a little earlier so that you get more sleep and feel better the next day.  It takes effort to talk to your kids about what’s going on in their lives.   It takes effort to find quiet time to renew your mind, listen to your thoughts and pray.  It takes effort to tune out the noise and find true voices of value that add to your life experience.   After you expend a little effort to begin doing these things, you gain momentum and change comes more naturally.  It gets easier.  The hardest part about starting something new is just starting.  Once you’ve spent a few days trying new things, finding a routine that you like better, examining your life to find what brings you true joy, it becomes something you’ll want to do.  It’s a great feeling to experience change for the better.  It’s great realizing that life can be different from the same old routine.  People are changing every day.  They’re finding a new path that takes them where they want to go.  I’ve seen it.  I’ve done it.  It’s fun.  And a great way to start your life change is to simply ask this question:  What makes a good day for me?  Once you answer that, your goal should be to do what you can each day to make that happen.  A little effort, a change here and there, some thought, some planning, some action and before you know it, you’ve created a life in which your good days happen more and more.  You CAN do it.  Just give it a try… 

 

What’s REALLY Bothering You?

This is a lesson that took me a long time to learn. Some people get it right away – I didn’t. Here’s the lesson: When you are at odds with someone and their response to you seems way out of proportion to the situation, there’s generally something else going on. If you’re not mindful of this, you can get into arguments that you shouldn’t be in. For instance…

Snow in Middle Tennessee is a rare treat so when it’s in the forecast, lots of people wait with bated breath for the first few snowflakes to fall. A few years ago, a forecast for snow didn’t pan out and I received several e-mails from disappointed viewers. But one was particularly harsh and personal. I was the worst meteorologist she had ever watched and she was never watching again! As I read, it made me angry. I started to fire back an e-mail in response but then I stopped… I tried something different. This woman was way too upset at me for what actually happened. So, I wrote back a note and told her that I, too, was disappointed with the missed forecast. I remembered how let down I felt as a youngster waiting all night for a snow that didn’t happen. Finally, I told her I appreciated her taking the time to write, whether good or bad, and that I hoped she would again one day give my forecasts a try.

Later that day, I received a note back. It was a note of apology. She thanked me for responding and went on to explain she was sorry for what she had written. She wrote a story of some very tough times she had seen over the last few days and that she was just taking out her frustations on me. Last, she told me that she would certainly watch again…

I learned a big lesson that day. What if I had fired back an angry response to her? Where would that have gotten me? I could have made the situation even worse. This is the way a lot of arguments with spouses start. Someone has a short fuse because of a bad day but the other doesn’t give a little grace. An argument escalates and by the end of it, you don’t even remember what you started arguing about in the first place. Sometimes it just takes stepping back and asking, “Is what we’re talking about the REAL problem here?”

So, watch out for those times when the response seems totally out of proportion to the situation. There’s generally something else at work here. Try to remain calm and show a little grace. This could save you, especially in your close relationships, from some very hurtful and unnecessary arguments…