Too many choices can keep us from the Excelerated Life™. When we are focused on living a life of flourishing and well-being and a life of meaning, purpose and service, then we do not have so many choices. We don’t make the same decisions again and again. We make them once and cut off other options.
This is a story about two people, the choices they face in a typical day, and the results of their decisions. With a question for you at the end.
The first person is Sally. Sally set her alarm for 5:00 AM so she can get a quick start to her day. When the alarm goes off at 5:00, Sally has a choice. She can either get up as she planned or she can decide to sleep a few more minutes. She decides to sleep a few more minutes and hits the snooze button. A couple more hits of the snooze button and now it’s 5:45. Sally gets up.
One reason she planned to get up at 5:00 AM was to go to an exercise class at the local gym. She has a plan to work out at least 4 days per week. Sally has a choice. She can either go to the exercise class – if she hurries – or she can skip today and go another day this week. She decides to exercise another day.
The activities that lead to a strong, healthy body give us a strong, healthy brain as well. Unfortunately, some experts have found that about 1/2 the activities we engage in lead to improved brain health but the other 1/2 are detrimental to a healthy brain. Doing a little more of the healthy activities and a little less of the unhealthy ones, add up over time to major improvements.
My mother died from dementia, more or less. That wasn’t the official cause of death but a few days before she passed, a doctor told us how her brain had shrunk. She forgot how to swallow so she could no longer eat or drink anything and, then, she forgot how to breathe.
Her dementia was genetic, caused by a specific recessive gene, which can lead to hyperhomocysteinemia – too much homocysteine in the blood. We found that out years before her passing when she first began showing the signs of memory loss. Once we discovered that it was a genetic trait, I went to my doctor to be tested. I have the same recessive gene. I found it interesting that, in the report, the doctors labeled it “the family curse”.
When our little girl was stricken with a debilitating stroke, we were devastated, as you might imagine. Having no family nearby, we relied on our good friends. They took over much of the care of our older daughter and gave my wife and me much-needed support. In particular, someone – I don’t remember who it was now – gave us some important advice. “You have to take care of yourselves,” he or she said, “if you are to give her the best care. You cannot care properly for your daughter if you let yourselves get run down.” We did small things, such as taking turns going outside for a short walk, trying to sleep when we could, and eating to keep up our strength. It wasn’t anything big, but it kept us going, kept us from collapsing in on ourselves. Outside of the medical help, it was the best advice we received.
Simplifying your life doesn’t have to be complicated but it does require thought. In Keeping Life Simple, Karen Levine shares 7 guiding principles to help us have more time to do the things we love – and to figure out what those things are.
You Can’t Buy Peace Of Mind
It was Saturday morning and Kelly woke up in a foul mood. She was tired of juggling a demanding job, a house that was in constant disarray, and a husband and children that always seemed to need something – forms completed, lunches packed, arguments settled, and on and on.
Although she didn’t really need anything specific, she decided to give herself a break and go shopping; it seemed to be one of the few outlets available to her to make herself feel better. She left her husband in charge of the house and children and headed for the mall.
Our default behaviors are, by definition, those things we do without thinking about them. It’s a good idea to step back from time to time and examine your defaults. You may want to change some of your “settings”.
Default Settings – Making Life Easier
My phone is old by cell phone standards. But I still remember when I got it, trading in my old flip phone for a smart phone. And it was smart. The technician at the store took about 15 minutes to set it up and save all my contacts. He handed me the phone and it was ready to go. Such convenience.
Moving from a scarcity mindset to an abundance mindset helps you progress up the hierarchy of needs to self-actualization. You must experience having enough at the lower levels of physical and emotional needs in order to move to higher levels and towards self-actualization.
How Many Tomato Seeds?
The presenter at a conference held up a ripe red tomato. She asked the audience, “How many seeds are in this tomato?”
The participants imagined cutting open a tomato and tried to estimate the number of seeds inside. They began calling out answers. “500”, “700”, “1000”, “5000”, “10,000”.
Quietly, the presenter said: “There are enough. Enough to save for planting next year and enough to give to my neighbors so they can have tomatoes as well. Next year, they’ll have enough seeds to share with more people. And I will share with others, too. How many seeds are there? Enough.” 
Being well-enough organized does not mean you have all your possessions stored picture perfectly. It does mean you have a place for everything and everything is in its place . . . mostly. Well-enough organized means you are able to find what you need when you need it. It means all your spaces bring you pleasure and a sense of control. And it means no stressing about things you forgot to do.
From Perfect To Well-Enough
Once upon a time, I had the idea that I would become a professional organizer. I enjoyed turning a cluttered closet or room into a neatly organized space and this seemed like an interesting profession. So I bought a book on becoming a professional organizer from Maria Gracia at Get Organized Now and I became a devoted reader of her newsletters. I began working on the exercises in the book and drew up a business plan of sorts. I even purchased a truck with the idea that I could use it in my business to cart away discards when I helped clients organize their homes.
But as you can probably tell, I never did launch that professional organizing business. Somewhere along the path, I realized my visions of turning a messy, cluttered space into a picture from House Beautiful had a flaw. A picture perfect room or closet or garage was not worth the effort, nor necessarily even functional. I moved from the idea of being perfectly organized to being “well-enough organized” . . . clutter-free and able to find what you need when you need it.
We are told it is “up to us” to make the healthy choices. But our culture and environment are typically slanted to make the healthy choices the most difficult. In the end it is up to us — we simply need to be aware of what we are up against.
Now it was July, 1961. The Packer players had had the entire off-season to mull over their humiliation in that final championship game. They assembled at training camp, eager to polish their skills, advancing them to a higher level, ready to avenge their loss and show the world how great they really were.
Vince Lombardi, the Packers’ head coach, had other plans.
“Gentlemen,” he said, holding up the object they knew intimately well, “this is a football.” [Maraniss]
Motivation is fickle. Willpower is unreliable. Don’t depend on motivation and willpower for changing behaviors. Make the behavior easy to do. Then repeat to make it a habit.
A Lack Of Self Control?
When Melissa came to me for coaching, she identified several goals she wanted to work on. Her most important goal was to get her home office organized. This was the area that was most disruptive to her life and the one causing her the most stress.
Melissa shared that she could get one section of the place organized, say her desk top or the stacks of paper on her bookshelves, but within a few days, everything was chaos again. She wasted a lot of time looking for papers or other items she needed which caused undue stress.
“I guess I just lack the self-control to make myself do what I need to do,” she lamented. “I spend so much time and energy looking for articles I need, that it is impacting my life. It is hampering me from getting important tasks done yet I can’t keep myself motivated to keep things organized.”
To build an Excelerated Life of self-actualizing, to develop and increase your potential, you must start with a deep, firm, rock-solid foundation. You can begin to strengthen your foundation by raising your standards
“I’ve upped my standards. Now, up yours.” ~ Pat Paulsen
A Wise Man And A Foolish Man
” . . . a wise man . . . built his house on rock. It rained hard, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house. But it did not fall because it was built on rock.
. . . a foolish man . . . built his house on sand. It rained hard, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house. And it fell with a loud crash.” ~ Matthew 7:24 – 27 (ERV)