Category: Blog

It Is ALL About Priorities

“Action expresses priorities.” – Mahatma Gandhi

This is such a vital, critical truth.

It’s true in two ways:

First, our results – what we have created as a result of our actions – are 100%, no-exceptions, a mirror of our priorities.

What we have or don’t have (good/bad relationships, healthy or un-healthy weight, sound finances or crushing credit card debt,  . . . ) are direct expressions of our priorities.

Second, what we move towards is the direct result of our priorities (i.e. what we choose to put first, prior to, or before, all else).

Going forward, our priorities are our goals put into action each moment, each, each day, each week, each month, each quarter and each year.

***

Put another way: I can know your priorities in the past by your results and I can know what your goals are by what you prioritize now.

***

There are three things we need to master to examine and adjust our priorities so that we create the results we truly desire. I discuss them in the following post: click here to read.

The Three Things You MUST Master to Create The Life You Truly Desire

Change is hard. In a way, that’s good (so you don’t make bad changes too easily).

But what about good changes? The ones you both need and want to make?

How do you make those changes?

You must master* the following three “meta” skills:

Awareness

There are things that are hidden, unseen or otherwise obscured that you must wake up to in order to make changes and create the life you want. The old saw – you can’t fix the problems you don’t know about – applies here.

The great challenge is that the things that are often most critical for you to see and make use of, are the things that are most hidden to you.

Most of the time, you need someone to help you elicit and show you what you can’t see – to help you uncover things that were there all along. (Shameless self-promotion: that’s what I do as a coach… )

Inspiration

Notice I didn’t day “motivation” or “discipline?” I could have, but I didn’t, and it was on purpose.

I want to distinguish inspiration from those things (both positive, if conceived of and executed in a healthy and constructive manner) in the following way: inspiration is authentic and sustainable energy for change.

Both bits are very, very important.

Your desire for change must be authentic. You must truly want the end-result otherwise the change effort will come up short, or fail completely – and likely quickly.

And it must be sustainable. Your “change energy” must not burn, or stress, or otherwise freak you out. That’s not to say that it won’t be strenuous, or test you, or be boring and mundane at times, but it can’t be a net drain on your health and vitality.

Mindfulness

This is where you combine numbers 1 & 2 in daily life.

More than anything it’s about choices.

How do you make choices that are aligned with true desires? How do you make choices that are in-sync with your inspiration and health?

You must be mindful.

You must make choices with sufficient care and consideration. Care for you and others and consideration for what truly serves what you want – both now and in the future.

*****

* Mastery is a life-long process; it’s a practice wherein one continually refines and develops methods through learning and application – mastery is not a destination.

How To Never (Want To) Retire

I just read yet another article on how retirement isn’t the panacea people think it is (at least for those financially prepared for retirement… ).

People seem to have this idea that they will do everything they want when retire (i.e., all the things they said they couldn’t do while working) and live a life of leisure and bliss.

And then they get bored. (They would admit, I am sure, it’s a nice problem to have; but it is something that needs solving… )

What people want, and what you can have well before your 60s, is financial security.

***

There are, of course, different levels of financial security (FS).

The first level of FS consists of two parts: 1) eliminating any sense of financial crisis (i.e., if you’re in debt, you don’t get any deeper… ) and 2) you get out of debt*, as quickly as possible.

The second level of FS is living a financially sustainable life (i.e. you have a clear and healthy money consciousness and excellent spending habits), you either have a solid** Emergency Fund or you’re building one and you are saving 10% or more for “retirement” (i.e. you are saving now in preparation for the years when you want to work (for money) less, and ultimately, when you can’t work at all).

The third level includes everything from the second level, but kicks thing up a notch in that you have an outrageous*** Emergency Fund and you save significantly for “retirement.”

The fourth level of FS is where you have enough saved where you could live, albeit very frugally, on a (conservative) percentage of your savings.

The fifth level of FS is where you could live – as you wish to – on a (conservative, at least at first) percentage of your savings.

Most people have a goal of having age 65 coincide with the Fifth Level of FS. Then: “they can stop working and do whatever they want.”

The fallacy is that sitting around drinking drinks-with-umbrellas-in on the beach or playing golf every day or [insert your dream retirement activity] becomes unbearably un-satisfying very quickly.

(For the record, I have nothing against drinks-with-umbrellas-in or golf, I can imagine no better regular activity than an occasional fruity cocktail at the 19th hole.)

***

Enter a different approach.

Why not do what you want now and earn money from it, and include (un-paid) personally satisfying activities that feed your soul for the rest of your life?

The only difference need be that as you get older you change the ratio of the two types of activity.

Of course, this approach requires that one spends carefully and with awareness and intention.

But that’s an idea for another blog post.

I leave you with the following:

“A wise man should have money in his head, but not in his heart.” – Jonathan Swift

*****

* There is a debate about whether to “count” mortgage or student loan debt as debt-that-needs-to-be-eliminated-ASAP. (I would say if you’re paying interest on it, to whomever, you’re making someone else rich at your own expense – eliminate it.)

** Solid is a true six months of living expenses, set aside, in a highly liquid and available form.

*** Outrageous is 18 months of living expenses, set aside, in a highly liquid and available form.

The Creative Force of (Human) Life

“We are the creative force of our life, and through our own decisions rather than our conditions, if we carefully learn to do certain things, we can accomplish those goals.” – Stephen Covey

When we learn that what we do matters, we more carefully – and intentionally – do what we do.

When we learn to do things better, and learn to do new (better) things, our results improve.

Another side effect of seeing ourselves as the creative force of our lives is we think bigger, and better, about our lives and begin to make real, authentic, plans what we want to create.

It all results in an upward spiral.

We’ve all heard of downward spirals, this is the opposite – the kind of spiral we want.

Never Waste A Crisis

“I really do think that any deep crisis is an opportunity to make your life extraordinary in some way.” – Martha Beck

A crisis is an opportunity.

It is a wake-up call.

It is a clear signal that what one has been doing will no longer work.

It is a chance to begin anew, with the wisdom that (often/generally) only comes from a hard lesson.

A mentor of mine once said that you can react, respond or over-respond to something.

Most merely react, dealing with something only enough to restore some measure/version of the status quo.

Sometimes, although rarely, people respond and take meaningful steps to both address a crisis and prevent it from happening again.

Even more rare is someone who over-responds.

Over-responding is taking steps – significant, often sustained, action – to ensure that nothing like or resembling the provoking crisis ever has an opportunity to arise, ever.

Not every crisis needs an over-response, but carefully applied, this mechanism can result in a much better life.

***

A case-in-point is what I do post-Winter-Storm-Nemo. A couple days ago I received 28″ of snow at the house in CT where I am house-sitting.

At first, I reacted and shoveled part of the deck and a path to where I normally park my car. Then, I found someone to plow the (long) driveway (because the person I had arranged to plow was overwhelmed and likely not coming).

A response to this might be to move to an apartment or condo and not have to worry, personally, about snow-removal.

An over-response might be to move someplace without snow.

That’s the option I’m contemplating.

Is any climate or area going to meet my desires, exactly? Not likely.

But, if I am willing to exchange cold Winters and the increasing likelihood of continued extreme Winter storms for a longer, hotter Summer, then I have many options.

I am seriously considering this “over-response” and what I would need to do before-hand to make such a change smoothly and responsibly.