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.
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.
Consciously choosing the values you want to shape your life and then taking steps to base your actions on your values leads to joy, contentment, and feelings of well-being.
Facing A Choice
It was date night for Martha and her husband and she had been looking forward to it all week; an evening when they could pay attention to each other and re-connect. But at 4:00 PM, her boss came to her with a problem that needed her attention. If she resolved this issue, it would be a feather in her cap and add to her chances for a promotion.
David has the opportunity to take an online class, paid for by his company, that would improve a key skill. But the class is every Saturday morning for two months – the same time he usually reserves for his two young children.
Allen got a substantial raise. He is having a difficult time choosing between increasing his contribution to his retirement account or buying a new car he’s had his eye on for a while.
We are faced with decisions every day. And occasionally they are hard ones to make. It helps to consider our values when we make the hard choices. Thus it is useful to know what our values are.
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.
Change your perspective and the way you think about and deal with irritations and you can transform your behavior from reacting in anger and frustration to responding mindfully with love. Choose your response to irritations with care.
“God allows us to experience the low points of life in order to teach us lessons we could not learn in any other way. The way we learn those lessons is not to deny the feelings but to find the meanings underlying them.” ~ Stanley Lindquist
Have you ever admired an exquisite pearl necklace, each lustrous pearl perfect in shape and shimmering iridescence? Do you know how pearls are made? Natural pearls are created when an irritant, a grain of sand or bit of stone, gets inside the shell of a mollusk. The mollusk reacts to the irritant by coating it with a substance to reduce the irritation.
Over time, as layer upon layer is added, a pearl is formed. The source of a natural pearl is irritation. The mollusk responds to the irritation by creating something of beauty and value.
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)
Leftovers from yesterday, last week, last month or last year clog up your space and keep you from living in the present moment. Clear up the open loops from past projects and you are better able to deal with your current projects and activities. Live in the present moment, not bound to the past by items cluttering your space and your life.
Holdovers From The Past
Here is a thought that occurred to me the other day as I contemplated the stacks of papers, files, books, and other detritus covering my desk and work space. This clutter, these holdovers from the past, keep me from living fully in the present.
The unfiled papers, the books that haven’t been put away, and all the other clutter and debris keep me bound to the past and make it difficult to function in the present moment. As long as those stacks are there, I have open loops  — unfinished business. It is difficult to remain in the present moment, in the Now, with so many open loops.
Sometimes the hardest thing to do, and the thing that can make a huge difference in your life, is to say “I changed my mind.”
“It is amazing how many uncomfortable situations people get into and stay in because they are unwilling or afraid to admit that they’ve changed their minds.” ~ Brian Tracy
Do you know one of the main reasons people lose money in the stock market? They don’t have an exit strategy. They don’t know when to cut their losses and get out of a bad investment. Or, they think that if they just hang in there, the stock will rebound and they’ll make their money back. It seems to go against our nature to face up to a loss or a situation that is going badly and to make a change. Sometimes, one of the best things you can say is “I changed my mind.”
We stay in circumstances that are uncomfortable, unprofitable, unfulfilling, sometimes even dangerous, rather than taking the steps to make a change and improve the situation. We find it too hard to say “I changed my mind.”
Denying pain, hurt or disappointment brings suffering. Accepting reality is a necessary step toward change, if change is possible. To choose acceptance is to acknowledge that some things cannot be changed and to learn to be at peace about that.
A Missed Opportunity
On most Wednesdays around 11:00 AM, you can find my wife, Rebecca, and me doing our weekly grocery shopping at our local store. (Taking advantage of the senior discount, of course.) However, recently we had an unusual experience.
When we arrived at our usual entrance to the store’s parking area, we found that it was blocked by a police car. We drove towards the next entrance but we observed that all the entrances to the parking area were blocked by police.
We followed a couple of cars toward the back of the store and discovered that a back entrance was open and unguarded. So all three cars went in that way.