Original Thought · Self Improvement

What Excites You?

I am not talking about lust, or sexual fantasy or even a relationship with a beloved friend. I am referring to the stuff you are doing that floats your boat. What activity that you are doing regularly rings the bell? Is there a passion that fills most of your assignments? Does a job well done make you feel inspired?

Or can we create meaning in everything we do? Can I re-frame doing vacuuming and dusting so that the cleanliness gratifies me?

When I first started running regularly, it felt like a chore and my brain and therefore my body rebelled and tried to convince me to not go or once started made excuses to get me to return home. Now I head out excited about the mileage for the day, confident that I will reach my goal and ending my run feeling inspired and proud of the work.

I have ‘taught’ myself to be excited by healthy eating by doing it as well as possible and ‘appreciating’ the moments of it. I still get excited by pizza but a green salad with roasted beets and cauliflower makes me smile because of the nutrition and the way it perks my palate. It has added meaning to grocery shopping – rather than just going through the aisles I am inspired to search out delicious and healthy options.

I  haven’t figured out how to make double entry  book keeping exciting and it is still a chore to think about rigid models and dogma. I still reserve most of my time and resources on activities that play to my strengths but I am experimenting with learning and opportunities that make me uncomfortable and uncertain and actively resist convenience. In those moments I am fulfilled by a challenge and jazzed by the learning.

Are you doing those things that excite you? Are you excited in the activities that ‘need’ to be done? Can you create meaning by adjusting the frame?

B

Original Thought · Uncategorized

Icons and Bull’s Eyes

What are we chasing? False gods, idols icons? Or are we on target to hit a bull’s eye that defines our raison d’etre? Is there any meaning found in a new car with a shiny hood ornament or a new Apple with a bite taken out or shoes with someone else’s initials? Are we defined by how many square feet we occupy – withe more being better not worse? Are there objects or possessions that you fill with uncritical adoration, at least in the shortest of terms?

All generalizations are false. including this one” ~ Mark Twain

That being said ” we are always better if we are pursuing meaning rather than materialism. It is weird that the word material means relevant, important and significant but materialism is none of those things. The stuff we hold and horde and lust after are immaterial and their shine fades within ticks and tocks of the capture.

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain (again) (showing my literary biases again).

I come to this troubling conclusion by looking at the accumulation of 11 years. When we moved last, we did a major purge and now closets and book shelves and storage spaces are jammed. We have added a second property and soon a third and stuff is piling up there too. I have hundreds of books and every year I donate a couple of boxes to a local literacy charity. I borrow ~ 100 from our library every year and still somehow I find another shiny cover that lures me in. I now own about a dozen pairs of shoes (and can somehow justify needing another pair), I have 6 pairs of snowshoes – snowshoes, really. There are so many technical running shirts and race t’s that they take a full drawer, 20+ colored shirts, socks and socks and socks. You see where I am going – too much stuff and I confess too much attachment to meaningless stuff.

The books and shoes and shirts and jackets were once supposed to make me better at something – health, running, writing, coaching, networking, a better dad, a better man, someone who could be loved. The hole I/we are trying to fill can’t be plugged with meaningless objects. Only meaning making will fit the hole and make us whole.

Find your mission and make it so.

B

Self Improvement

Scribbling Meaning

It is a struggle to stay motivated, to keep plowing ahead, to continue typing words … if no one is ever going to read them or care that they were written. It is like scribbling on a balloon and releasing it to the wind. You know it is being carried aloft and maybe afar but when it bursts and scatters fragments over the hills, it will just be scribbles without context or meaning. It feels like signing in the shower or having a good dream. It sounds good and feels good inside your head but when the water stops or something stirs you, it is gone without appreciation; gone forever.

So if the squiggles that form letters are transformed into words and then sentences don’y find a receptive audience, do they evaporate? Do they sit waiting for someone, anyone, to find them and read them and give them purpose? Or do they have meaning because they are articulated in a semi permanent script and not floating between synapses as unformed imaginations?

Do the ideas shaped by the written words need to find a reader’s voice (inside or outside) and provoke a conversation (inside or outside) or spur an idea or create a dissonance to reach its purpose? I am not sure where meaning resides or when it is created so I continue to play one of the 1000 monkeys hoping that somewhere a story is be created and retold.

B

Uncategorized

Are you Open to Fulfillment?

Do we even understand what living a fulfilled life might look like? What are the things that you would need to be fulfilled? Love, time, money. security, purpose, a new car, friends, family, relationships, health, clothes, fame …? What would be in your list? Take 5 minutes right now and list all the things (material and immaterial, worldly and spiritual, big and small) that you believe would bring you ‘happiness’. Your list will be different than mine, different from your brother’s, your partner’s or your children’s.

What are the barriers? What do you need less of to gain fulfillment? Are you physically limited in achieving or striving for those things on your list? Have you thought about why those things are/should be important? Are stress, conflict, timidity, uncertainty, lack of confidence, lack of wisdom, limited understanding, damaged relationships, poor health on the list?

Are  you interested and committed to seeing how much of the two lists you can change? Are you ready to shake things up and trust that the Universe has a plan for you and that you need to seek it? Do you want to make meaning for your life?

The next three weeks, I commit to sharing this journey with you, as I undertake it. I will write something here that I observe, learn, discover – good and bad. Are you willing to join me?

 

Make Today the Beginning,

B

Self Improvement

What are You Willing to Give Up?

Are you moving towards a change or contemplating something new in your life? Do you need to read more, exercise better, study, make more calls, find a solution … Are you jam packed and struggling. Maybe you are too busy. Too busy with meaningless activity or trapped in a spiral of day-to-day-today.

We all believe that we can handle more if we schedule better or get up earlier. But the reality is that we can only carry around 3 +/- 3 things and be effective. I have habits that no longer serve my agenda. I do things that don’t serve by preferred future and are likely moving me away from important opportunities. If you recognize some meaninglessness in your day, what are you willing to give up?

Today and tomorrow make an inventory (hand written) of all your activities that take more than 5 minutes of your time. It is best to pause for 30 seconds at the top of each hour and write down Activity and Time. After two days ask yourself ” what do I notice?” Out of 48 hours, did you sleep 16? Roughly 32 hours awake – how did you use the 384 five minute blocks? Are you aware of how long five minutes is? Do you know how much you can accomplish in five minutes? Is it possible that 1 5 minute block or 100 blocks can change your life.

Learning how to manage our 5 minutes helps us mange our 168 hours and our 29,220 days and it begins with taking inventory and then figuring out what you are willing to give up.

 

B

 

Uncategorized

The Most of My Time

If I want to be a legend what do I need to do with my years to make the best use of the 80ish years I have? Can I have a more positive impact in the next 20 years than the last 20? Who is important in my life and how do I add value to theirs? What will be the measure of legendary when my times- relationships, money, influence, change, charity? All of them?

To make 20 years count I need to make each year count and each month and each week and each day. I need to be discerning and judicious without being an evangelical pain in the butt about each hour. “Is this the best way that I can spend this hour?” ” Will this move me closer to my goals or stall me in the mud?” ” Can I be closer to my grandsons if I choose to do X?” “What gift does this hour bring to a life lived fully?”

I can be a bit of a zealot when I reframe my path and need to find some ‘goofing off’ time for personal harmony. If I understand that I am recharged by certain activities that don’t have an easy metric towards the preferred future then I can cut myself some slack. 1 hour a day do do whatever I want seems reasonable for me. Is 1/24 somewhere near what you need? The 4% slack is what I am striving for this year  and I am keeping an eye  on how I feel and what I achieve. If I need more or less slack, I will adjust on the fly.

Do get where I want my life to be in 2036, I need to read, write, run, rest, relate, recreate, recompense and refresh. If about 30% of my day is in resting and 4% assigned  to slack then I need to be thinking about where I put an hour running, two hours writing, six hours working I still have 8-10 hours to add value to myself and those around me.

Sounds like a plan. Another easy to say, harder to do practice.

B

Uncategorized

Meaning Making

I said it again yesterday ” I have 168 hours every week, I sleep less than 68 so I have 100 hours every week to fill with meaning making stuff.” What does that look like? Well I hope that the 7-10 hours a week maintaining this blog counts. The 10-20 hours a week of other writing, 10-20 hours reading and researching, 10-20 responding to inquiries, 30 hours coaching clients, 5 – 10 hours volunteering, 10 hours on personal fitness, 5 hours on spiritual refreshing, 40 hours caring for family and friends, 20 hours exploring my world all are meaning making.

We create meaning by being intentional in how we approach the day-to-day, how we celebrate the extraordinary and how we curiously seek new relationships and ongoing learning. Once I figure out what meaning I am making in a given situation; coaching – helping clients solve their problems, cleaning – making our world safer and more pleasant, reading – expanding my perspective … then I should (should because I don’t always) ask “how can I do this better/differently so that meaning is magnifies. Meaning making is a productivity practice. Dr. Amy Wrzesniewski’s research indicates that “people with callings ( meaning making) are different. They see their work as a positive end in itself. They feel good about what they’re doing. They give more to their work. They get more from it. And here’s a secret about people with callings: Not only are they happy and fulfilled, they’re often very successful, sometimes bringing financial rewards.”

Meaning

Creating meaning requires that we look for meaning in our lives, not life in general. Writing a journal of  your activities can be helpful, if you go back and reflect on how … made meaning for you and/or someone/something else. The reflection is also helpful because it will show you where your time is spent not being meaningful. You can then choose to do nothing or do something else.

We make the most meaning, have the most impact and find the most enjoyment doing those things that we are perfectly suited for (where we are skilled and passionate). Contrary to some thought, being well rounded doesn’t make us better. I have long since dismissed the idea that I should work on my weaknesses. I focus on my strengths, acknowledge that certain details elude me and appreciate the forest. That in itself has helped me become more effective, more energized and happier.

What charges your batteries? What meaning making makes you buzz? How can you do more/better? A coach or ally might be able to help you get the meaning motor running.

Make Today Remarkable and full of meaning,

B

UPDATE

I received this post from Awaken the morning after this post.

“Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.

What matters is not the meaning of life in general but rather the specific meaning of a person’s life at a given moment. One should not search for an abstract meaning of life. Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life to carry out a concrete assignment which demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus, everyone’s task is as unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it.”

— Victor Frankl, “Man’s Search For Meaning
Uncategorized

What is Meaning?

“Meaning is not something you stumble across, like the answer to a riddle or the prize in a treasure hunt. Meaning is something you build into your life. You build it out of your own past, out of your affections and loyalties, out of the experience of humankind as it is passed on to you, out of your own talent and understanding, out of the things you believe in, out of the things and people you love, out of the values for which you are willing to sacrifice something. The ingredients are there. You are the only one who can put them together into that unique pattern that will be your life. Let it be a life that has dignity and meaning for you. If it does, then the particular balance of success or failure is of less account.”

— From a speech John W. Gardner delivered to the Hawaii Executive Conference in Kona, Hawaii, in April 1993