This is a great time of year! While Christmas and New Year are winding down, there’s another aspect of late December that really gets me excited. That is the fact that the days are starting to get longer.
After the winter solstice and a hardy farewell to the holidays, I start thinking ahead to the warmer and sunnier days of spring and summer that are just around the corner. My mind is increasingly filled with thoughts of hiking, fly fishing, picking berries, and just being outside enjoying warmer brighter days.
There’s something about being outside in a naturally scenic place on a sunny day that I find invigorating. I spend most of my work week indoors, so I’m excited for any opportunity to break out of the climate-controlled environment and breathe some fresh air. I always feel charged up after enjoying a sunny day outside.
One of my goals for the upcoming year is to spend more time outside. In 2018 I took far fewer hiking and fishing trips than I would have liked, and I could tell a difference. For me, it’s much easier to enjoy (or at least tolerate) the dark dreary winters of the Pacific Northwest if I’ve spend quality time outside the previous spring summer and fall.
What charges you up? Perhaps it’s time outside for you as well, or maybe it’s something totally different. Whatever it is, make sure you’re setting aside time for it versus just assuming it’s going to happen.
I like being busy. Not busy just for the sake of being busy, but busy doing things that are meaningful and fulfilling. To me, life is more fun when our days are full of activities that give us purpose. However, it’s crucial that we remember to make time for those important things that can easily get lost or overlooked in the midst of our day-to-day busyness.
Some important things are extremely easy to put off because of how busy we are. Consider how easy it is to tell ourselves, “When I’m not so busy I need to:”
- Make time to connect with my friend…
- Schedule that annual checkup or routine medical screening
- Start exercising daily
- Begin saving for the future
- Make some healthy changes to my diet
- Pursue that goal or dream of mine
Our intentions are to do these important things, but the reality is that they often get forgotten or pushed out because we are busy. The reality is also that putting off these things could have significant negative consequences if they are neglected too long. Those consequences could be things like:
- The drifting a part of a once great friendship
- A once easily preventable/treatable condition has turned into a full blown medical emergency
- Our health has deteriorated
- Our lifestyle will drastically change, because we don’t have the resources we need for the future
- Our goals and dream go unrealized
All because we are too busy to address them today.
Let’s make sure we’re not being so busy today that we neglect the things that will lead to a fulfilling and healthy future.
Many of the choices we make don’t require a great deal of thought. For example deciding what you’re going to wear today, what you’re having for dinner, or where you want to go on vacation this year, while important, are not life changing decisions. If, in fact, you do make a bad decision in one of these areas, the consequences are pretty insignificant. (Your life isn’t going to change a great deal if you had chicken for dinner instead of salmon!) However, for those decisions where the stakes are much higher, we must make sure we’ve gathered sufficient information and given ample thought to our decision before we pull the trigger.
One of the most important decisions we make is the primary person we decide to do life with. Whether it’s a spouse, a life partner, or significant other, this person will have a very substantial role and impact in our life. As such, this type of relationship should be entered into slowly. Only after we’ve gathered significant experiences and information about the other person are we about to make a good decision.
If you’re currently in the process of making this decision about someone, before you decide, you should have answers to the following questions:
- Do you know what your own goals and dreams are and what you, specifically, want out of life?
- What are the other person’s goals and expectations from life? Do they align with yours?
- What are the non-negotiable character traits and attributes you’re looking for in another person?
- What are the non-negotiable character traits you are unwilling to settle for in another person?
- How does this person align with the previous 2 questions?
- No, really! How do they align?
- What’s their worldview and outlook on life?
- How does the other person handle conflict?
- How do they handle money?
- How do they treat other people?
- How do they treat you?
- How do they respond when life gets tough?
- What guides them in how they make decisions and live their life?
The only way you will get answers to these questions is through conversation and time together. Lots of time together, so don’t be in a big hurry. The questions above are a list you can check off in a weekend, a week, or month. To really answer these questions, I think it’s important to observe someone for at least a year, if not longer.
Nothing will affect the quality of your life more that the primary person you decide to do life with, so spend the time to seriously answer these questions, lest you rush into a bad decision.
Imagine you were going to build a house (or have someone build it for you), but you had no idea what kind of house you wanted. You didn’t know how many rooms or bathrooms it should have, how many square feet it should be, where it should be located, or even how much it should cost. It would be impossible for anyone to build the house you wanted, with such lack of direction. In this scenario, at best, you’d have to settle for whatever got built.
It’s like that with our lives as well. If we don’t have any idea what we’d like our lives to look like, we’ll have to settle for how they just turn out. For example, do you know:
- What kind of health you want to be in
- What kind of marriage you want to have
- What kind of career you desire
- What interests and passions you’d like to pursue
- How you’d like to spend your retirement
- What kind of relationships you’d like to have with friends and family
- How you’d like to spend your free time
When we know what we want our life to look like, we’re in an excellent position to take steps to create the best life we desire. Otherwise, we’ll just settle for whatever happens to come along.
Do you have a clear picture of how you want your life to look? This doesn’t mean you have to have every detail figured out. I certainly don’t! However, we should know what we want our lives to look like so we can take steps to move in that direction.
Make sure you know where you’re going, so you don’t end up somewhere you really don’t want to be.
“I haven’t read a book since I was in high school.” ~ Someone on a poor growth trajectory
It’s amazing how much information we have available to help us learn new things. What’s equally amazing are all the different ways we have to consume this information. No matter what topic you’re interested in, you can easily access information, as well as people, who can help you learn more about it. This reality is a tremendous blessing for anyone interested in personal growth and life-long learning.
Consider a topic you’d like to learn more about. Now consider all the ways you can learn more about that topic, such as:
- Audio books
- Computer-based learning
- Coaches and instructors
- Self-study courses
- People already doing what you want to learn
I don’t know about you, but I find this encouraging, from a personal growth perspective. No matter what I want to learn, I can easily find content on the topic in a format that works for me. Let that sink in for a minute.
If you think you don’t have time to read a book then listen to an audio book. If you need more in depth explanation or assistance, you can hire a coach or instructor. Whatever content you want to consume, there’s a medium to consume it that’s just right for you.
You simply have to avail yourself to it.
“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. Those who understand it, earn it… those who don’t… pay it.” ~ Albert Einstein
When we invest money, the interest we earn on that money also earns interest for us. Over years of consistent investing, the interest-earning-interest can wind up being a significant sum. While we might not see big results right away, the impact of compounding will soon become significant. This is the concept of compounding interest.
Here’s thing about compounding that most people don’t realize… it’s just as effective in other areas of life beyond finance.
The healthy habits we intentionally develop, and continue to practice year over year, yield desired results.
- A healthy diet yields good health
- Healthy spending habits yield control over your finances
- Healthy saving and investing habits yield financial freedom
- Continuous learning exposes you to new ideas and fresh perspectives
Here’s one more thing most people may not realize about compounding… it can also work against you. Compounding is not limited to yielding increasingly good results. Our bad habits, practiced year over year, can unintentionally yield undesirable results.
- A bad diet yields poor health
- Poor spending habits yields a consistent lack of money and debt
- Failure to save and invest yields financial insecurity and potentially poverty
- Deciding not to learn lead to becoming stagnant, outdated, and irrelevant
The most important thing we can know about compounding is that it will do its work in our life whether we invite it to or not. The most important thing we can do with regard to compounding it to make sure we’re putting it to work for us.
ACTION: Develop and regularly practice the habits that will compound to bring you the results you seek.
Here’s a quick mental exercise. See if you can think of an area of your life that gets better instead of worse as a result of being neglected. Here my attempt at a list and whether or not these areas get better when neglected:
- Relationships – No
- Health – No
- Finances – No
- Career – No
- Family – No
- Personal development – No
- Possessions – No
- Outlook on life – No
- A garden of wild weed – Yes
Most areas of our life don’t get better as a result of neglect, they usually get worse. I know, that’s obvious, but here’s what may not be so obvious. While we may not intentionally decide to neglect an important area of our life, neglect is what happens when we fail to give something our attention.
To make something better, or to at least keep it good, requires our effort and attention. With so many things clamoring for our attention it’s essential that we purposefully give attention to those important areas of our life, lest they be unintentionally neglected.