Valuable Time

We arrive in December each year and remark how fast time slips away.IMG_5922.JPG

I hear often, “it felt like only yesterday we were celebrating New Years Eve!”

So as you reflect over the year that has passed and plan for the year ahead, I’d like you to add something to this exercise. I encourage you to take this opportunity to consider what I call value-based living.

This is a missing component to many people’s reflections I’ve found. I believe it is an essential step to making the most of your time.

What is Value-Based Living?

Value-based living is exactly as it states, living your life by your values. Many of us believe we do this, however upon deeper reflection there is often room for improvement.

I remember growing up hearing the saying that dust bunnies were ok if you had happy children.

The point is that so many of us spend a huge amount of time at work or chasing something that when all is said and done, is not part of our value system.  If you spend all day chasing your kids out of the house so you can clean it and keep it clean and your family is where your values lie….

Can Values-Based Living & Reality Co-Exist?

But E, you say, money is not where my values lie, but I’ve got to make money to live!

I do know this, and yes, you can have a values-based life and make money. The key is to know your values both individually and as a family if you are part of one. In this situation it is more about how much money you “need” to live your values.

The reason this is key is that it gives you a touchstone.

A Fishing Story

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There is a story I love that talks about this perfectly. A fisherman with a small boat went out every day to fish. He would come in from a few hours on the ocean and sell his fish at the local market and go home with some money.

A businessman met him one day and asked him why he didn’t have more fish? The fisherman replied, I have a small boat and this is what I can bring in.

Well, the businessman said, feeling very smug, “Why not get a bigger boat then you can catch more fish and make more money?”

The fisherman thought for a moment and replied, but then I would have to stay out longer and I wouldn’t get to bring my children to school and spend the day with my wife.

The businessman went on to explain the merits of a business plan to catch more fish, make more money, and in the future expand his business and then hire others to do the work and make lots of money.

The fisherman contemplated the plan and said, so when I expand my business and hire other people then I can be home to walk my children to school and spend the day with my wife?

Smiling, he walked away to go home to be with his family with the money he had earned in his pocket.

THIS is values-based living.

I find so many people get caught up chasing things that are not important to them at the expense of things that really are.

It’s no one’s fault, each day we are bombarded, pinged and flashed with things we’re being told are important to us. After a while it is hard to remember that we know in our heart what deserves our time and attention.

I have been through this myself, which is why I can talk about it and how I actually developed this philosophy of values-based living.

I found that the closer I live to my values, the happier I become. I have incorporated this into my work with others and regularly ask them to really think deeply about their values when they are considering a change in their life.

Making Your Time Count

imagesI haven’t found the cure to slowing down time. What I have discovered is that when you consciously match how you spend your hours, days and months to what is truly important to you, your time feels expanded.

I encourage you today to sit down and really think about what you value. Once you have your list as long or as short as it is, I ask you to consider the year that just passed. Did you spend your days in concert or conflict with your values?

Where you find your gaps is where change will bring the most fulfillment and happiness.

 

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You Can’t Always Get What You Want

imagesThere are many times in our lives that we are asked to compromise our desires for different options. We face this daily in different forms from situations in our relationships to the office and even to the smallest choices in our day.

Making compromises is a pure fact of life, as the Rolling Stones once poetically sang, “You can’t always get what you want”. Wouldn’t life be boring anyway if everything went exactly as we wished and we always got what we wanted?

The challenge becomes when compromise becomes a concession. It is one thing to accept less than you desire because the choice is not all that important to you or your needs, it is entirely different to limit yourself to accepting only what is available forgoing your needs or values.

A while back I was speaking to a friend about dating. I had been single for many years and was ready to make some time to get back into dating. When explaining what I was looking for, she mentioned a couple of men we both knew and I identified why each was not a good fit for me. She looked at me with a smile and said, “Your problem is you’re too picky, you’re going to have to make some compromises.”

As certain talks stay with me long after the conversations are over, this one took up temporary residence in my head and visited me several more times. I came to the conclusion that there is a difference between compromise and conceding.

This is as true for relationships, careers, material goods, it actually is something that we each deal with daily. There are certain things you compromise on, like what movie to watch on family night, where to go to dinner, if you will take a job that is not entirely what you want but has “most” of your desires.

There are things however that go beyond compromise or bending of your desires and end up not meeting your needs. The key is finding a middle ground or forfeiting something that is important. The important question becomes, how do you know when you are compromising or conceding?

This may seem like a silly question or one that shouldn’t need to be asked, but I have seen so many people that are so used to forgoing their needs that they no longer know the answer.

The first thing is to know what you need. If you aren’t clear about what you need in any given circumstance you set yourself up for making a concession. By knowing what you need you can easily spot situations or decisions where none of the options will be acceptable.

For example, if you are hungry and you need food but the only options available are foods you are allergic to so you just don’t eat; that would be a clear concession. However, if in the same circumstance you find yourself with your partner and you need food and would like Italian, but the only thing available is Mexican and your partner loves Mexican food, then choosing one style of food over another will simply be a compromise.

Knowing your values is another key factor. A choice that goes against your value system is never a compromise and is a clear sign of concession.

I used to work for a company and made good money but when I requested time off to see my family back home I was told I couldn’t go, it wasn’t in the best interest of the company. My value system revolves around connection and my family is an important part of that, not money; the moment I was denied the time to see them I realized this was a concession.

I choose connection over money because that is where my values lie. Making money is truly important, but the number in my bank account is far less important to me than being with my family if they need me. Values are a strong governing principle and do not have room for being cast aside for any reason.

If you find yourself willing to compromise your values, I suggest you reevaluate if that particular value still resonates with you. If the answer is yes, then my experience is that any compromises is a concession, or dangerously close to one.

I encourage you to think about the choices you make daily and give them a values test. Making the occasional compromise is generous and kind, making it a habit boarders on overlooking your own needs. Pay attention when making even the smallest decisions and be honest with yourself about this topic and it will prove to be a nicer gift to both yourself and those around you when you do compromise.

-E

The Pain of Indecision

Fences contain or protect but they are not designed for growth

Are you sitting on a fence right now? I mean this in a symbolic way, not in a literal way. Is it one of those pokey, picket fences or is it just a comfortable post and rail fence that allows you to have one leg on each side? How are you feeling there?

My theory is that there are two kinds of fence straddlers and I’m sure if you don’t agree, I’ll hear about it in emails (which I welcome). There is the one that is terribly uncomfortable straddling the fence. They lean on one side they get poked and it hurts then the lean on the other side getting poked again and it hurts and they struggle to take the leap. They are not comfortable where they are and each time the lean to one side or another they get poked and they want to avoid the pain so they end up feeling stuck.

Then there is the person that is sitting on a fence, who enjoys the view on each side of the fence. From atop the fencepost they get to see both sides of the fence without leaving either one. A “cake and eat it too” situation, however the person is never fully present on either side and lacks the benefit of fully engaging. The other issue with this is that this straddler gets to tell themselves stories of how they are getting the best of both worlds and may not fully comprehend what they are missing and the pain they cause others from their non-committal state. There is a lot of movement in this state but no moving forward so the person feels stuck and stagnant although not totally unhappy they lack that feeling of happiness they are seeking.

Do either of these situations sound familiar? What is holding you back from deciding which side of the fence you want to be on?

How is making no decision a better decision then the wrong one?

“If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”

Neil Peart, Freewill

I don’t mean to trivialize any of these situations. People often find themselves on these fences at the crossroads of pretty important decisions. It is the sheer magnitude of the decision before them that causes the fence to appear in the first place.

I have been through some pretty tough situations myself so I know the depth of thought these take. I am not promoting a big leap here without careful thought, however I am your coach and I will not encourage or allow you to stay there up on a fence – at some point you will become impaled or get splinters where you don’t want splinters!

So how do you move forward when you feel each decision will have strong consequences?

IMG_1997Think

Get honest with yourself, understand what brought you to this situation requiring a decision? Is this something you need to decide for you or is someone else requiring you to make a decision? Remember, there is absolutely no benefit to blame in this stage – or at any stage for that matter – so stay away from that thought process while deeply considering what are the options before you.

Should

While thinking, if the word should comes up, I request that you automatically check in with yourself and find a different reason. If you feel you Should anything, it is not in alignment with you and it is an expectation put onto you by someone or something else. Do not let this feeling of what you “should do” dictate an important decision.

Values

Review your values and how they may play into this decision. If you are deciding based on something outside your values, I’m going to go out on a limb to say you are going to be unhappy with your decision. A good decision will be routed in your value system and you will be able to feel more confident in your choice because of that.

ACT

The final step is to act. Yes, you need to actually act on your decision! If it is a wrong decision, don’t be ashamed to notice and correct, but if you make no decision, everyone loses! If it is the right decision, it won’t necessarily be easy, but there is often a sense of relief after making it. There may be pain that comes from it, or further struggle, but there will be the sense that it is over and the decision has been made and your energy can now be put to use moving forward.

The Relief

I’m not suggesting this is an easy thing to do, however a life lived in indecision or worse yet, drifting for lack of decision is not the abundant life you deserve. I encourage you to live lives that you wish to embrace everything and if this is not the life you are living, make a decision to create that for yourself. You deserve it!

So decide away! And know that you are always just one decision away from whatever you wish for yourself.

-E