Why Write this Blog?

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Last week, I wrote about the changes that have been occurring in my life, and how they might affect my blog. The biggest influence and piece of wisdom that I keep encountering as I blaze a new trail in my life is to understand why I am doing what I am doing. The personal benefits are numerous, but the one that relates to this blog is that knowing my purpose for writing will help me develop a consistent message.

So, I spent the week tossing the why questions around in my mind. I realized that my goal is to help people. My idea of help is NOT some fluffy, feel-good affirmation that tells you you’re ok when you’re really a jerk that’s messing up your life and the lives of the people closest to you. To me, that’s like trying to put an adhesive bandage over a cut artery.

No, life is messy. It’s hard. Life questions rarely have easy answers. And, just when you think that you’ve found your answers, you find that there are people out there who have a totally different view of things and see things so differently from you that you wonder if you’re even from the same species. (Something I actually love about humanity, by the way!)

In the end, I type my thoughts and opinions up every week with the hope that I help someone somewhere see things in a way that gives them the courage to carry on, fortitude to keep trying to solve their problems, and perspective to live without causing harm to others.

That’s why I write this blog.

So, for the most part, the posts will continue next week and probably feel a lot like “business as usual.” I hope you find useful thoughts to ponder and apply!

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Highly Effective People?

Effective-PeopleBecause of my workaholic tendencies, I have been enamored with the idea of being “effective,” “productive,” and “successful” for as long as I can remember. It hasn’t brought the contentment that I once thought it would.

So, when I ran across this phrase in a book title recently, I began to wonder. Did I miss the boat? Is there something about effectiveness that fascinates the highly-driven? Is this just a cultural thing? Is being effective a practice that I should avoid?

What I have experienced so far is that I filled every minute of productivity that I created with something else “important” that “needed” to be done.

 

I decided to check some definitions:

“successful in producing a desired or intended result”

This was the first entry, which means it’s the most commonly used meaning of the word. This is how my workaholism interprets effectiveness. Make things happen. Control events. Produce more than anyone else. This is the definition that has driven me most of my life, but hasn’t produced the things I truly desired.

“fulfilling a specified function in fact, though not formally acknowledged as such”

To me, this definition has possibilities. It calls for self-reflection before action. What is my “function” in life? The more I mature, the more I’m convinced it’s relationships. If I want to leave a legacy, it’s not going to be in my job titles, the size of my bank accounts, or the number of belongings I can accumulate. My legacy is going to be in the difference I made for the good in the lives of the people I touched.

Maybe there’s a chance for me to be an effective person, after all.

Shaping my Vision

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As I was writing about learning to follow my vision last week, I realized that just as important as following a vision is how I choose to shape that vision. The shape of my vision I follow completely controls who I become. So, what factors have shaped mine?

One of my biggest characteristics is the need to make a difference and to help others. It probably shows more than I think — after all, I chose teaching as my life’s career, and I’m writing a blog trying to help people think about the choices they make in life. It’s also important to me that I not hurt other people. I know I make mistakes, and have hurt people in the past, but I never want to start out with the intent of harm or of not caring if I inflict harm.

Some of the questions I have answered as I’ve searched for my life vision are

  1. What legacy will I leave behind?
  2. What effect will I have on others and the world around me?
  3. Does my life have meaning and purpose?
  4. Am I living up to my potential?
  5. What does a great life really look like to me?
  6. Am I creating or consuming?
  7. When do I really feel alive?

These really helped me focus on what is important to me.

Now, I’m challenging you to ask yourself some deep questions and create your own vision — on purpose, with purpose.

Learning to Follow my Vision

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Looking back through my life, I guess I have always been a doer. Sitting around doing little to nothing has pretty much always been torture to me. It would seem like I should be world-famous, but I’m not. There is nothing about my life that quakifies me to stand out from the crowd. As I’ve gained some maturity, I’ve reflected on what happened.

I think the answer may be deceptively simple. While I learned the value of hard work, spending time accomplishing things, and even learned perseverance. What I never learned was that achieving a vision requires focus. I also never learned that focus means ignoring any hint of FOMO.

The clues are finally coming together, and it’s not too late for me. Here’s what my experiences have taught me so far, and I hope you’ll find them helpful, as well.

  • Choose your vision carefully. Dreams are great, but I’ve found that I generally only see the good I want, and miss the “yin and yang” that is inherent in real life. If I want to be filthy rich, then I also want to spend a lot of time worrying about my money. If I want to become incredibly famous, then I will find it hard to go anywhere and have “off” time — there’s a good chance I’ll be recognized anywhere I go, and that will cut into my opportunities to recharge by being alone. If I want to be  a famous author, I’m going to have to spend a lot of time alone with my computer instead of hanging out with friends. There will be a downside to anything I pursue — the question is whether or not I really want to live with it!
  • To choose is to renounce — and that’s ok! I encountered the first half of this thought in graduate school while I was learning to write music that could be played by young children. Somehow, the second part didn’t click. As I adopted the philosophy, I simply started trying to create new methods for getting more done with time that was becoming increasingly limited. I was driving myself crazy. Only later in life did I truly realize that if I am happy with my choices, it’s not so important what I have renouneced.
  • Ignorning FOMO is easier said than done. The world is full of wonderful opportunities. I have found it normal to want to try them out, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. The problem is whne I stop honoring those things that bring me the most joy because I’m trying so hard to make sure that I’m having all of the experiences and doing all of things that everyone else is — just in case I miss out on something better. I will be wearing myself without feeling the joy. So, I have now adopted the principle of trying out those things that intrigue me while devoting the bigger portion of my time to the things that I consider are essential to me being me.

While I’m not perfect at it (I still spend too much time on work and not enough time creating), I now focus my vision. I still get distracted, but I draw myself back in by ranking my “new goal” against the path that has been most constant in my life. Will I ever become a household name? Maybe, but probably not. Does it matter so much anymore? Nope.

In sharpening my focus, I ended up finding me.