Another Great Reminder of the Need for Balance

 
Courtesy Rick Shanklin, NWS, Paducah, KY
Courtesy Rick Shanklin, NWS, Paducah, KY

A huge winter storm is ravaging parts of the Plains, Mississippi Valley and Ohio Valley. Inches of ice have left thousands without power and many towns paralyzed. You’ll continue to see stories in the national news about this storm for the next few days.

The reason for this massive storm is that the atmosphere is highly imbalanced. For instance, in Middle Tennessee on Tuesday of this week, one town had a mid-afternoon temperature of 71 while 35 miles away it was 37 degrees. That’s imbalance! In nature, the bigger the imbalance, the more chaotic the weather.  Hence, a winter storm that will go down in the record books.

The same is true for our lives. When we’re imbalanced, chaos naturally results. It’s just the way the world works. The easiest way to slip into this pattern is to not think about what you’re doing or why you’re doing it on a day-to-day basis. Instead, we just become zombies, doing the same thing as the day before. If you’re tired of living this way, you can change it.

1. If there was one thing you could cut out of your daily routine tomorrow, what would it be?
2. Write down what it is.
3. Underneath it, write down three steps you could take this week to begin elimating (or at least reducing) this from your daily schedule.
4. Do these three things.
5. Keep track of your progress and use it as motivation to keep moving forward.

 
This works amazingly well with lots of little items that take a lot of your time but don’t add much value to your life. The goal is to reduce the number of things that cause you stress which leaves you more time for the things that actually mean something to you. The more you do this, the more time you’ll find in your daily schedule.

So, what are you going to eliminate?

Life Balance?

There seems to be some argument about whether life balance can really exist.  Understand, balance isn’t a point you’ll reach and always stay there –  that’s not going to happen…  Instead, it’s a way to design your life so that on most days, your needs are met, you genuinely enjoy life and you’re not always on the edge of crisis.

With that in mind, lets return to the question, is life balance possible?  If you ask someone that question who has chronic trouble balancing his or her life, they will probably say, “No.”  However, if you ask someone who lives a balanced life,  they’ll obviously say, “Yes.”  Just the mere fact that there are people who say yes gives you the answer – it IS possible.  That should give all of you who don’t think so some hope.   Don’t give up yet!

What would you say if I asked you this question?

Fence Building and Patience…

I saw something this weekend that made me think a lot about how I handle patience. For the past six months or so, a neighbor of mine has been buiding a wooden post and rail fence around part of his property. It’s been quite a bit of work for him. He started by first digging the post holes. Next came the setting the posts in the ground. Now he’s working on attaching the rails. This hasn’t been a simple job. It’s taken six months to get to this point because he’s building it by himself. Oh, and it’s about 1000 feet long…

This weekend, I saw he had finished a small section of the fence line. I gotta tell you, it looks great. I can now picture in my mind what the whole thing is going to look like when he’s done. It’s going to really serve to dress up his property. He’s done as good a job as any crew from a fencing company could have. He should be proud…

This gentleman has worked a little each week on this fence for the past six months or so. He’s getting closer and closer to finishing. When he’s done, probably in about another month, he will have a functional and attractive fence that he built with his own two hands. Also, I’m sure he saved quite a bit of money doing the job himself. This project has taken a lot of planning, work and patience to get it where it is today. He’s come a long way from digging that first post hole.

What could have messed this project up? Without the proper planning, he could have built a crooked, ugly fence. If he had skipped corners in the work, he might have a fence that wouldn’t stand up to the elements very long. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, a lack of patience could have derailed (no pun intended) the whole project.

So many self-improvement projects require the same three elements to complete: planning, work and patience. Have you ever lost patience trying to lose weight and quit your program? Have you ever stopped exercising because it seemed like too much work? Have you ever come up short with money at the end of the month because of lack of planning in the budget? These situations are pretty common. But, if we work on these elements, like my neighbor has with his fence, each time we try something new to improve our lives, we drastically increase our odds of success.

Are there any projects you’re working on right now that could use a little more patience? Could you use a little more with your kids? What about your spouse? What about in your job or with that new exercise program? With more patience, there’s no telling what great things you can build in your own life!

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… 

 

You’re Worried About What???

There was a day I used to stress and worry about much more than I do now.  It took a
lot of life experience to teach me that not everything in life deserves the same
amount of my attention and energy.  We only have so many hours in a day – we all
know that.  But what we sometimes forget is that when we waste our thoughts, time
and energy on something insignificant, it means we’re not spending that time on the
things that REALLY matter in life.

Author John R. Noe, among others, wrote that out of everthing we worry about, only
eight percent is real and legitimate.  The rest either won’t happen, happened in the
past or is out of our control.  That means 92 percent of our time spent worrying is
wasted.  Considering that most of the 60,000 thoughts we have each day are repeats
from the day before, that’s a tremendous amout of time we just throw away.  Almost
shocking…

So, the next time you catch yourself worrying about something, ask yourself, “Does
this really deserve all of this attention from me?”  Because we can only have one
thought at a time, redirect your mind to something positive and constructive.
Become a master crafter when it comes to using your time.  Think more about your
goals and passions, how to serve your spouse, kids, family and community and about
all you have for which to be thankful.

Just remember, God gives us a limited amount of time here on earth and you have a choice each day about how you spend your time.  Make it count…