Who’s Going to Decide

We all have it, and we all have the ability to decide how we will spend it.  Although we can’t see it, its value is priceless and becomes more so the older we get.  The “it” I’m referring to, is time.

While we do, in fact, get to decide how we spend our time, most of us have several others who are more than eager to help us decide how our time should be spent, and their suggestions are usually focused on advancing their objectives instead of our own.

This doesn’t mean that all requests for our time are bad.  Some requests are welcomed and we’re more than eager to spend your time on it.  Other requests for our time we might not feel like committing to, but we want to support the cause or person asking, so we agree to give of our time.  And other requests neither interest nor benefit us, yet we’re still asked to give our time to it.

The biggest threat to our time is when we don’t have a decision process or priorities in place that help us determine how we’ll invest our time, and instead we simply agree to everyone’s request that comes along, leaving scarce little time for our own pursuits and well-being.

Don’t be afraid to place boundaries around your time.  Cause something to happen that ensures your time is protected by employing these or other boundaries around your time:

  •          Only allocate a specific amount of time, which you determine, to a request for your time.
  •          Decide in advance what causes you will or won’t support with your time.
  •          Decide how much of your time you’re willing to commit to others’ objectives.
  •          Know what’s important to you regarding the direction and goals you’ve set for your life and say “No” to those requests that don’t align.

Your time is a precious commodity. While it’s important, and fun, to spend your time helping and supporting others efforts, be mindful of how you’re spending (investing) your time to ensure that you are also moving closer to what you’ve defined as important in your own life.

Remember that our time is limited and we get to decide how to spend it, so spend it wisely!


How to Get Out of Prison

Would you ever volunteer to spend several years of your life in prison?  Think about that.  Would you voluntarily decide to sacrifice, say, 10 or more years of your current life for that of a prison inmate?  My answer to that question is, “Are you kidding me?!  Who in their right mind would do something as stupid as that?!”  However, I think that every day, many people voluntarily send themselves to a prison of frustration, despair and under achievement.  And it’s not a judge, jury, or court that sentences people to this prison.  What sends most people to the prison I describe is the conviction of their own thinking.

Just this week, I was talking with someone who was telling me how bad everything in their life was going.  During our conversation, they unknowingly gave me glimpses into their thinking through the language they chose to describe their situation.  It was negative and self-defeating and stripped them of any ability to change their current situation.  Their thinking had made them hopeless, and the more hopeless they became, the further their thinking deteriorated.

I left that conversation frustrated, because I knew that, although their situation was challenging, it wasn’t as insurmountable as their thinking made it out to be.  With some minor changes to their thinking, they could easily attain a more hopeful outlook, and even restore a degree of joy about life again.  Instead, they chose to extend the sentence they have placed on themselves by the thinking they continued to employ.

When the conversation was over, I felt like I had just left a prison after visiting an incarcerated inmate.  It was a heavy feeling, knowing that they could begin to free themselves from their self-imposed sentence by simply changing their thinking, but realizing that that wasn’t a choice they were going to make.

Is there any area in your life where you’ve sentenced yourself through the court of your own thinking?  What negative thoughts about people, situations, or circumstances are affecting you outlook in a negative way?  Give some thought to these questions this week.  When you discover an area where your thinking is imprisoning you, cause something to happen by determining alternative ways of thinking about the situation that improves your outlook and restores hope and confidence in the future.  (If you need a source to help you change your thinking for the better, I’d recommend reading the book of Proverbs.  It is filled with great wisdom and principles that will have a profound impact on your thinking.)

Don’t spend another day in a prison of your own negative thinking.  Decide today to improve your thinking and set yourself free.

Simply Communicate

Why do we communicate with other people?  What’s the reason for having conversations, writing email, blogs, or even letters?  I think the whole idea of communication to share our thoughts, ideas, and experiences with others.  Ultimately, we all desire to have the people we communicate with understand our point enough to decide to agree with it, disagree, or add to it, thus moving the conversation forward.

One of the best ways I’ve found for being understood by others is to communicate in the most simple, straightforward manner possible.  Now I’m not saying communication needs to be low tech. However, the words, language, and structure of our communication should be as simple as possible to avoid becoming too complex or confusing.

When communicating with others, regardless of the medium, keep the following questions in mind:

  • Are the words I’m using easily understood by the listener or audience?
  • Am I using words or jargon that is confusing or meaningless to my listener?
  • Is there a more simple way to state what I’m saying?

I’m not suggesting that we all dumb down our speech to a 1st grade level (unless, of course, we’re talking to 1st graders).  What I am suggesting is that we be mindful of our audiences and communicate with them in ways that will foster greater understanding of the message and ideas we are attempting to share.

Pay attention to your communication this week and look for opportunities to simplify your message in order to bring greater clarity and understanding to your audience.  You’ll notice an increased ability to cause something to happen when your ideas are clearly and simply communicated.

A Great Place for Having Ideas

One thing I really like about ideas is how they seem to come out of nowhere.  Think about it, one second your mind is empty, and the very next second, it produces this great new idea that was not in your possession the second before.  I’m amazed and marvel at the brain’s capacity to function like this.

I’m also amazed at the brain’s capacity to quickly forget a great idea.  I’ve often had a great thought and said to myself, “I’ll remember that later and … (insert whatever task I’d do with the idea).”  It makes sense at the time.  The idea is so clear and vivid at that moment, it seems extremely unlikely that I’ll forget what it is.  However, when “later” comes and I attempt to recall the idea, it’s gone.  How can I cause something to happen with a new idea I can’t even remember?  That’s so frustrating!

Earlier this week I was listening to Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeadership podcast with guest David Allen, productivity expert and author of Getting Things Done.  In the podcast he was talking about getting things out of your head an on paper or in a computer.  Somewhere, anywhere other than keeping them in your head, because if you’re trying to remember something you’re using up brain capacity that could otherwise be used for thinking, or focusing on the task you’re currently engaged in.

He made a comment that really resonated with me:  “Your head is for having ideas, not holding them.”

That makes so much sense to me, and has proven true when I’ve applied this principle in my own life.  When I want to recall a fact, event, book I want to buy or read, or any other such piece of information, I’m far more likely to remember it if I get it out of my head and into some other medium like a notepad, application, calendar, or piece of software.  Once I have it out of my head and somewhere else, where I can get to it again, my mind is freed up from thinking (or worrying) about it and can focus on other, more important things.

Hearing David Allen’s quote has caused me to be extra mindful about getting things out of my head in order to turn my mind loose on what it’s better suited for, such as thinking and generating ideas, rather than simply using it for lower level tasks that a sticky note or calendar can perform much better.

Pay attention this week to ideas, thoughts, or events you have that you need to get out of your head and captured somewhere else.  When ideas occur, capture them immediately and develop a system so you can go back and spend some time with them later.  I suspect you’ll be amazed at the treasure your mind regularly produces.