Friday, May 28, 2010

Motivation, Mastery and Purpose

I was introduced Wednesday night to a wonderful online video lecture about companies, motivation, and success. It is apparently part of a largely lecture, but the video has been set to a cartoonist illustrating it as the lecture goes, so it's a pleasure to watch as well as to to listen to. It's about 10 minutes, but it is well worth your time to contemplate what motivates people in their careers - and in their personal lives, as well. It's a great video to contemplate as we go into the weekend.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Computer Glitch - Please Stand By

Computer problems this morning have cornered me into a short post, so today it will a be a series of questions:

1) What were 3 of your goals last year?
2) Did you achieve them?
3) Why or why not?

4) What are 3 of your goals this year?
5) At approximately 50% of the year, are you on your way to achieving them?
6) Why or why not?

7) At approximately 50% of the year, do your goals still correspond to where you want to go?
8) If not, why not?

9) If you're not happy with where you are on your goals, what will you commit to do about it today?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


I am just utterly discouraged this morning, the sort of discouragement that stems from the realization that in a large segment of my life, my role is that of window dressing, rather than actually accomplishing anything.

It is a horrible realization, the sensation that suddenly comes when you realize that your knowledge and opinions are valued only to the extent that they can provide the appearance of doing something right, rather than actually doing something right. The policies that you were brought in to put in place, the things that you constantly preach, the examples that you demonstrate - all of these are nothing except a tick mark on the box of things that need to be in place.

You are suddenly confronted with the realization -with any soft lighting or pastel tones - that the things you hoped to instill are actually viewed as nothing more than bolt on, something that can be put in place or removed at the whim of someone else.

And yet, the day faces you and the minutes tick by and you prepare to go do this thing yet again.

It's a sort of Alice In Wonderland experience, this being in place for something that can apparently be turned off at will - and your job is smile, nod benignly, and say "That's okay. It'll all be fine."

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Nagging Feeling

I had the nagging feeling that God wanted to teach me something last night.

I am starting to be confronted by the reality that my contractual obligations are reaching their end here in New Home and I am about to (once again) begin to have options. I've been torn, as on the one hand we continue to enjoy New Home but not my current job, while the thought of where we came from always stays in mind - but to once again uproot everyone to move precipitiously strikes me as the height of foolishness.

So last night, home and exhausted, I suddenly had the feeling that God wanted to - needed to - teach me something last night. If you've ever had that feeling I suspect that you know what it is: a sense that you need to stop doing what your doing and focus on God, a sense that the feeling is so wispy that that if you choose to ignore it you could, even as it a powerful sense of "You should do this now" in your chest.

And for once, I obeyed. Oh not as quickly as I probably should have - I can always come up with something else to do - but I finally did.

This is the part where I'd love to say that some great revelation occurred. I'd love to - except it didn't happen. Yes, I read God's word and a bit of a devotional. Yes, I tried to pray (almost ended up falling asleep!). Yes, I searched (apparently in vain) for an answer to the questions that are vexing me. But nothing (due much more to the listener than the teacher, no doubt).

But maybe that wasn't the point.

Perhaps the point was simply a question of obedience - like I was writing about yesterday, the question of self-will versus self-control: when presented with a sense of God, what was I going to do? Would I, as I so often have, act with self-will and mute the volume and go about my day? Or would I stop what I was doing, exercise self control and listen?

If nothing else, there is a sense that God is there, watching and listening - if only I will pay attention to Him when He calls.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Self Will versus Self Control

As an exercise (and something that I should be doing anyway), I have been working to memorize Titus 1. As I was working through the qualifications of a bishop (vv. 6-9), I was struck by a contrast.

In verse 7, Paul is listing the the negative qualities of an elder, things that he should not be: not self willed, not quick tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money. In verse 8, he lists the positive qualities: hospitable, a lover of good, sober minded, just, holy, self controlled.

As I have continued to roll these verses over in my mind, a contrast began to develop: self willed verses self controlled.

Both of these qualities deal directly with self, not a quality of self as the others are. Both of them deal directly with actions taken by the self. Both of them involve the management of self. Yet one is listed as as undesirable (self will) and one as a virtue (self control).

What is the difference?

Self willed is, pretty simply, running my own life. Whatever my wants or desires are, that's what I do. My thoughts, plans and actions are based around what is good for me - in some cases what is good for me at the moment.

Self control is, interestingly enough, also similar to self willed. It involves thoughts, plans and actions -but they are held accountable to something higher than my need for the moment. Whether it is something simple, like denying myself a dessert to manage my weight or something more involved like avoiding something entirely which is legitimate for others because I tend to sin with it, it involves the placement of all parts of me at the service of a higher purpose - instead of merely serving myself.

Interestingly, the world has adopted both as positives. Self will has become redefined as being true to myself, living my dreams, making goals and achieving them. Self control exists as well, but has been stripped of its higher purpose - to be self controlled for God - and has been reduced to self control for the purpose of serving my self will.

So as I go about my business this morning, am I being self willed - concerned only about my own existence and goals? Or self controlled in pursuit of a higher calling?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Intention and Action

"There is no way of knowing how far intention and action can take you. This world offers not guarantees, only opportunities and vicissitudes. When you reach for the stars you may not get one, but you won't come up with a handful of mud either." -Michael Michalko, Thinkertoys

Intention and action. Two necessary sides of the same coin.

Without intention, I spend my days wandering in and out of tasks that may or may not have meaning, if I even do those those tasks themselves. Without action, I spend my days dreaming and plotting but never actually doing.

But without intention, there is usually no action. At least in the things that matter, I have to intend to do something before I will actually do it.

So which do I struggle with more? I'd typically say action, as most people probably would. I'm not doing nearly enough on a day to day basis towards ideas and goals beyond the basic efforts of existence.

But if I stop and think about it, I'm forced to confess that a lack of intention is probably my greater weakness.

For years I've maintained that people find the time to do what is important to them. Even in the press of a busy life, there are always those things which are so important to us as individuals that we will manage to eck out time - often sacrificing meals or sleep - to do them.

I could say that I have many intentions, things I'd like to do or want do - but how many of these am I serious about, and how many of them are things I like to dream about but will never do.

A powerful intention will always lead to action. If there is no action, I have to question the claim of the intention behind it.

So what do I intend - not just dream about, but intend. "Well begun is half done" was a saying of Augustus Caesar. If the initiation of beginning is the intention to do, how well begun am I?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Visit With Fear

"I never take counsel of my fears." - General George Patton

I am a fear counselee. Good Lord, I'm so much a fear counselee that I have a permanent appointment and couch in Fear's office.

As I plopped down on that couch yesterday evening for my daily appointment, Fear looked up from his desk. "Give me a minute" he said. "I've got a few things to take care of here - loss of jobs and potential failures of various things to sign off on."

"No problem" I sighed, settling into the raised pattern of cushions I knew so well as he continued to quietly type away while humming under his breath, until at last he smiled at the screen and hit the "Enter" key with a triumphant hand.

"My apologies for that" he purred as he turned to face me fully. "What can I help you with today?"

"I've got a problem" I replied uncomfortably, not really sure how to begin. "I...I.."

"Go ahead" replied Fear soothingly, his eyes almost seeming to glow at the opportunity. "What is it? Don't -if I may make a pun - be afraid?"

I sighed, mustering my courage. "I'm not having as much fear as I used to. This worries me."

Whatever smooth smile that was on Fear's face was instantly wiped away, replaced by an attitude of concern. "This sounds serious" he said. "Let's discuss this. Surely you're missing something."

I shook my head. "I don't know that I am. I'm just not having as much fear as I used to. It's like I'm trying to deal with my problems instead of hiding from them or allowing them to be bigger in my mind than they are."

Fear shook his head. "That's not it at all. Sounds to me like you're just not seeing things realistically enough. Look at you: Far away from home and family, in a job you're not really in control of, slowly digging your way out financially, in a world of unsettling times - and your relationship with God: is He there, does He care? Let's not start, shall we?" He grabbed for his every present notepad and said "Where shall we begin?"

I shook my head again. "No, I'm pretty certain on this. I'm not as afraid as I used to be. Some, sure, but I'm working on that too."

I thought for a minute in the resulting silence, as the second hand marched across the clock and Fear sat in his desk facing me, fidgeting with his pen. "You know" I said, breaking the silence, "in fact I think I'm better. I'm canceling my appointment for tomorrow."


"No no old chap" I said more confidently as I stood up, brushing my pants off, "I can't bother you anymore. I see now that I've got to deal with them, rather than talking about them. It's okay - don't bother to get up. I can see my way to the door."

The last thing I saw before I left the room was Fear sitting in his desk, his eyes staring off into space - looking, of all things, afraid.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Working with What We Have

What if this was as good as things got?

The thought occurred to me yesterday as I was going about the conduct of one aspect of my job, thinking about ways to resolve systemic failure issues. I realized that one of my underlying assumptions is that at some point, new resources would become available to expand the systems in place. Suddenly I realized that this was an assumption that I was making - that I had, in fact, always been making: that things are inevitably always on a path up.

But what if they are not? What if this was truly as good as things got?

What if this was job were the only job I have for the rest of my life (I assume and strive for others)? What if the house we rent became our only house (I assume and strive that we will buy one day)? What if my time, talents, and treasures never grow more than they do today, and the resulting time and effort I have for my family never expands beyond what it is?

Does any of this (truly) change my relationship with God or my effectiveness for Him?

The truth is, I (and perhaps many others) have believed that our path in life is on an arc upward, always improving and moving forward, and perhaps in some benevolently sinister way we have come to believe that this is both an indicator of God's pleasure as well as that things will constantly get better for us personally. The reality is, we tend to confuse these circumstances of life with it's reality.

The reality is, as Phil Vischer says quoting Henry Blackaby, that he who has God plus everything does not have more than he who has God alone.

Which is why I need to take a fresh look at things, not towards some day of change or improvement which may never come but in the light of the concept that what is now is what may always be. Given that, and given that those circumstances are no indicator of what I have or do not have through God, what am I doing to live out His will in my daily life - not with what I would like to have or hope to have, but with what I do?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Rain and Troubles

We suffered a serious weather condition last night.

I'm used to rain in Old Home: long periods of gray with steady rain, sometimes heavy, sometimes tapering off, but always in an orderly fashion with a known and observable pattern of clouds approaching.

Last night in New Home, we had our first true downpour of the year.

It was awe inspiring. The entire day was clear and hot until about 6:00, when a series of clouds came swooping in: large thunderheads raising their heads high into the evening sky. By 6:30 the rains came.

And came. One minute nothing, the next minute a torrent of rain that obscured the outside from the windows and sent water cascading down the parking lots. It continued, increasing and decreasing in intensity, for over an hour accompanied by thunderous booms and flashes of lightening in the twilight sky.

Within an hour and a half it was gone. As I drove on my street, all I could see was the semi-clearing sky, the wet ground, and curls of steam coming off of the pavement.

The point? I've come to expect problems in my life, both spiritual and otherwise, to be like the rainstorms I'm used to: easy to spot, a known pattern, long but predictable periods of rain in prescribed volumes, and then moving away. What I am finding now - at least in my own spiritual life - is that these troubles do not only come in that fashion: they also come out of a sky that seems largely clear for long periods of time, suddenly pouring down in huge volumes with visible and audible demonstrations - and then vanishing. It's not that they're worse - they're just more intense for shorter periods of time. Something to bear in mind during this point of spiritual dryness.

A lesson on spiritual drought through a downpour: what an odd thing.

Monday, May 17, 2010


I'm feeling distant from God.

This has been a development over the last few months, perhaps even as much as the last year - which is about the time that I moved. I'm not sure what is driving it, except that I feel unenthused and unenthusiastic.

My prayer life seems - let's be honest, is - much less than it used to be and when I do pray, it feels...forced. Dead. My prayers are pedestrian, and even making those seems like a huge burden.

My time in the Word is in some ways better - I seem to be paying more attention - but even in that I am missing a sense of the communion with God through His Word.

Some Sundays it's been a huge effort to get out the door to church, which is something that is inconceivable to me a year ago. It's not that church is bad - I just get lazy and feel like it's too much effort, although it's no more distant than Old Home church was.

What is wrong with me? And more importantly, what do I do about it?

As Chuck Swindoll would say, it's as if your driving a car and see the "Check Engine" light go on. You don't take a hammer to the light and keep driving - you pull over and see what's wrong.

I can start with the easy things of course: What sin is in my life? What have I not given over to God? How am I acting at counterpurposes with His will?

But a sense of something else permeates my soul, nags at my mind like a dog worrying a toy.

About a week ago I had a dream which is probably significant. In it, I was kneeling before Christ. I've no idea the why-to's or what-for's, but there I was with Him. His question for me was "Have you served me?" "No Lord, I have not" came my response. He nodded, we both acknowledged the truth of the situation - and then like that, I was banished from His presence.

The odd thing is that I feel no less outside of His will than before - after all, the fact that we ended up in New Home at all is a sign that He acted, as this was the only opportunity that came in. The ease of finding a new home, of a new school, a new church - all these speak to me of God sovereignly acting in my life to bring us here.

But now, nothing.

"Create in me a clean heart,
And renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from Your presence
And take not Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your Salvation,
And renew a right spirit within me."

- Psalm 51: 10-12

Friday, May 14, 2010


A hot, humid morning in New Home - 40% chance of rain (which here means that it will rain 40% of the time).

Weather is one of those funny things that you try and plan for when you move, but I don't know that you are ever able to really do so. I knew what the weather was supposed to be like when I came here, and mentally prepared myself for it. In very many ways it lived up to exactly what I thought it would be.

But the thing I failed to prepare for was the overarching effect weather has on all activities. Even inside, weather becomes an issue, especially in summer - do we sweat or run the A/C at 82 F, which makes it tolerable but raises the electric bill. And outside - enjoying things even in the shade with humidity is definitely different than just dealing with the heat itself.

But it's good in an least one sense: it forces me to face another excuse that I can make to myself about not doing something i.e., the weather. The reality is, the weather is always there. To continue to put something off because the weather is "different" or "just humid" is to admit that on some level, I didn't really want to do it. It's the same with everything else I do or want to do: do I immediately look for excuses, or knuckle down and move forward? It's only in the going when you don't want to or can't seem to that character is built.

So I'm off to build character. I'll just need to shower off this sheen of humidity induced sweat first...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Goal Mountains

"We are built to conquer the environment, solve problems, achieve goals, and we find no real satisfaction or happiness in life without obstacles to conquer and goals to achieve. People who say that life is not worthwhile are really saying that they themselves have no worthwhile goals."
- Dr. Maxwell Maltz, The New Psycho-Cybernetics

This passage spoke to me this morning as I got out bed, mulling over the sort of sad mess that was yesterday and the pile of things that are on the plate today. This made total sense to me - but at the same time, I realized that I was missing these sorts of goals.

Dr. Maltz talked about a patient who had received a promotion and suddenly lost his confidence:

"However, once he got the promotion, he ceased to think in terms of what he wanted, but in terms of what others expected of him, or whether he was living up to to the people's goals and standards. He was like a mountain climber who, as long as he looked upward at the peak he wished to scale, felt and acted courageously and boldly. But when he got to the top, he began to look down and became afraid. He was now on the defensive, defending his present position, rather than acting like a goal striver and going on the offensive to attain his goal. He regained control when he set himself new goals and began to think in terms of, 'What do I want out of this job? What do I want to achieve? Where do I want to go?'"

Maltz's solution?:

"Get yourself a goal worth working for. Better still, get yourself a project. Decide what you want out of a situation. Always have something ahead of you to look forward to - to work for and hope for. Look forward, not backward. Develop a 'nostalgia for the future' instead of for the past."

Among many of the things listed above (they're good quotes - go re-read them) is the phrase "always have something ahead of you to look forward to." That resonates with me because right now, I really don't have that in a temporal sense (for salvation possibly - but even looking forward to Heaven holds some of the same difficulties for me). Every day to me seems like it will be like every other. There is nothing to look forward to to suggest that tomorrow will be any different.

But that's my fault, Maltz suggests. Nothing is going to magically appear to suddenly give me something to look forward to - that's job. Yes, it may be hard to see right now, but just because it is hard to see does not make it any the less important - if it is hard to see, then I need to do everything I can to make it real.

But that pre-supposes a first thing: one needs to have a goal or goals.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Knowing a Destination

If you don't have a goal, how do you know when you arrived?

I was speaking with Fear Mor yesterday morning about some of my job musings, about the industry I'm working in, and what I am thinking about careers. As the discussion arose, I got to talking about the fact that in other companies I've worked, we tended to work on products that were trying to meet a specific and real need. That was somewhat motivating, I realized: it was a sense of doing good and working for a greater cause.

Then it hit me (these things always seem to, right on the old noggin) that I don't know that I've ever consciously thought of doing this at a company, that I have had the presence of mind to say "Hey, that's something important to me." As I thought and pondered over the subject more, I realized that my work goals heretofore has been pretty much "Money". Trust me - it's important, but not enough to carry you through a career.

It was at that point that the image which I have used before hit me: an actor starting their career. Yes, they originally start out in "B" movies or in small playhouses, but the ones that want to succeed, they don't stay there. They use that experience, train to become better, and move on.

But the other side of that coin is that they know where they are headed. I'm not sure how they do this, but at some level in their brains they have a vision of what they want to do and where they want to be. Jim Carrey, it is said, wrote out a slip of paper as a $1,000,000 check to himself, and often looked at it to remind him of his goals.

So what do I have in my mind of where I want to be? If I want to stay in this industry (and there are perfectly good reasons for doing so), what is the type of place I want to work at? What is it I want to be doing?

If I can see those, then I can see where I am and what I need to do to get to the next level.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

What is Happiness?

What is happiness?

Yes, I know what happiness is, but do I really? It is obviously more than the absence of sadness - I can be not sad but not happy. It can have multiple causes - something that may make me happy last week may not do anything for me this week, or something which probably shouldn't make me happy does. And it cannot necessarily be forced: I can "choose" to be happy but fail to be able to implement it?

So what is happiness?

Webster's says that happiness is "A state of well being and contentment" or " a pleasurable or satisfying experience." Interesting. When I'm happy, I don't think that I define it as a "state" of anything. I just define it as being happy.

Well being and contentment? Again, that sounds like something a lot more involved than what I am looking for on a daily basis. Those I often associate with the outcome of some greater decision or feeling in life. Possibly I could think about happiness as a pleasurable or satisfying experience, but that makes it experientially based, when what I think I need is something dependent not on an experience (how many times do I have non-satisfying experiences but still seem to be "happy"?).

But is happiness what I truly need?

I need something which does in fact create a state of well being and contentment, that is a pleasurable and satisfying experience, but does not necessitate an event to create the state or make the experience - in a sense, I need happiness which is not based on an event that creates it.

Is it happiness I'm seeking, or is it joy? And if so, what is the difference?

Monday, May 10, 2010

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

The Ravishing Mrs. TB asked me last night "Have you decided what you want to be when you grow up?"

I stared at her in the dark (the sort of thing that creates no effect because, well, it's dark) and asked "Have I what?"

"Have you decided what you want to be when you grow up" she said again. "You need to be happier. If your job is the issue, what is it that you want to do?"

I sighed. "I suppose what I'm doing now is it. The pay is good, and the career path is not too bad. The company - yeah, the company I don't care for so much but that's people, not really the career. Besides, I can't really change right now."

"No" she replied, "but you could start doing it in small steps."

I clonked off to sleep sometime soon after that but the thought was there for me to pick up when I got up this morning. If I was to do something else, what would it be?

Interestingly enough, I had been thinking around that thought earlier in the evening. I came up with five things (in no particular order):

1) Writer
2) Farmer
3) Swordsman
4) Musician
5) Theologian

The odd thing is, all of these are currently present in one form or another in my life, just as hobbies or part of hobbies. So it's not so much a question of not doing them, it's a question of doing them more.

How would one get from here to there? That I'm not sure of. The reality is, my current career field could (over time) fund a transfer over to any one of these careers (except swordsman, I suppose - not much calling for that these days) - and with a little effort on my part, I'm willing to bet that even earning with this field could be significantly improved.

So what do I want to be when I grow up? What am I willing to do to get there?

Friday, May 07, 2010

A Moment

Looking back in my life, I can see points where corners turned, where a decision - a single decision in a single moment- changed the course and outcome of my life.

The interesting thing to me is that if I look back, I can consciously see that at the time those decisions were made there was a sense of "I shouldn't be doing this" - but I went ahead and did it anyway.

I am rapidly approaching another one of those decision points in my life, not so much a major decision of direction but a choice of ethics, a choice that I am (theoretically) paid to do.

I have to be careful. I have this tendency to overdramatize these things, making every event the equivalent of The Charge of Light Brigade. None the less, this time I think it qualifies.

A single decision in a single moment.

As with any question of ethics, is it worth the outcome of the decision? Is it worth the inevitable nagging and haggling, the "You're too conservative" and "You don't really understand" and (my most favorite) "You must obey"?

What is my honor and my ethics worth? A paycheck? Or something more?

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Two Different Places and Rambling

I heard from one of my old bosses this morning, who has finally (after over a year) secured a position in Seattle.

It's always nice to hear from old co-workers, especially when they've secured new employment. You of course ask a bit about the new company, are they moving and selling/renting their house, how things are going in general, etc. - and then follow up with a short update of your own. You make the generic comments about "Hope to see you again" - although in this case, I actually do go to Seattle from time to time and have a chance of running into him again.

Contrast this with a random thought yesterday: on a whim, I went to look up someone I knew while doing business at The Firm. Turns out she has done well for herself; so well, in fact, that she has moved to the next level of licensing and could potentially go out on her own if she so desires. She has done very well for herself since she entered the industry 8 years ago.

I bring these two up in juxtapose as I consider my own career path 20 years later. I've changed careers 4 times and moved around a great deal, but I continue to hold the title and responsibility I hold the same as I have for 8 years. Have I truly advanced in this field? Have I truly moved forward? Or do I just do the same thing at different places? Could that be part of my dissatisfaction?

The reality is that for what I do now, there is no real end game. The only path is up, with decreasing positions and similar responsibilities. Is that what I want? Is the fact that more of the same is not that attractive driving me to this contradiction of seeking that which I subconsciously don't want to seek?

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

One Thing At A Time

I made a mighty effort yesterday to focus at work.

I typically do not have the luxury of choosing my days or how to spend them: as the primary opinion leader for the bulk of many decisions by mid and lower level employees, I am regularly visited by them for opinions, signatures or reviews. I don't mind this function, both for the fact that it keeps me in contact with the daily flow of events and thoughts as well as having people ask before they execute (and we then have to discuss how to solve bigger problems). However, the consequence of this is the ability to focus singlemindedly on a task is often nil.

But yesterday I did it to a large extent. I chose one area of my job and tried to work to get everything involving that area under control.

I made great progress - although I still have as much as a second days' worth of work to do. But oddly enough, I did not feel accomplished when I left for the evening.

Not accomplished? How can that be? You said that you made an effort to accomplish things around one task and you did.

True enough. But what I realized as I focused in this one area were the 10 other areas that were not getting focused on and things not getting accomplished while I worked in this one area. It was if one part of the garden were properly hoed and prepared while every other section was weedy and continuing to sprout even as I said "Job well done" and went back into the house.

I'm honestly not entirely sure what this shows, other than 1) the power of focus and 2) the reality a system which may very well be out of control. I suppose it also goes to show that doing too much with not enough will in the end create a system in which much time is spent careening from problem to problem instead of managing towards a fully functioning system.

But the other thing this experience indicates to me is that the concept of accomplishing something is in itself not necessarily indicative of a thing or a system (or even a life) that is truly healthy. Not merely accomplishment, but accomplishment in balance is the key. Accomplishing anything is not in and of itself indicative of a success; it is only when the whole is viewed that the success of the accomplishment can be measured.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010


I am struggling with my heart torn in two.

On the one hand, my heart continues to be at The Ranch. Speaking with my parents this weekend, they related how the unusually wet winter has lead to the meadows being green with grass, the streams running high, geese wandering around the meadow, the bees are doing well, and the garden that my father has put in is moving along. I would love to be able to go there this weekend, look at the bees, see the meadows, and plan my inevitable "big plans" for what can be done up there.

On the other hand, what seems to best for my family at this time is for us to stay in New Home. Na Clann have a wonderful school, I have a good paying job and we are able to contemplate rebuilding our financial lives. For so many practical reasons, this seems like the place to be right now.

So how do I merge my heart and my necessity? How do I keep from constantly not being here? It seems that most things that I truly want to do are there, not here. Do I surrender those dreams and (at least in my own mind) settle for here, or do I continue to hope and dream perhaps ending in tilting at windmills?

Monday, May 03, 2010

Work and Work

Yesterday I realized that I have placed a barrier in my life which does not need to be in place.

For years I have separated "work" into three categories: the work that I do to get paid (my "job"), the work that I do for which I am not paid but which needs to happen (family, home, etc.), and then the work I do which is for me (hobbies, goals). I have carefully segregated this time, ensuring that one does not carry over into the other and that my own time (especially) is focused specifically on me.

What I realized yesterday is that this creates two levels of difficulty for getting anything done: 1) There is a constant sense of having to start up and stop any one of these three areas with the resulting loss in time; and 2) I have learned to associate great amounts of effort and diligence with my job that do not carry over into the other two areas, because I have come to believe that family/home/hobbies/goals should be enjoyable, and enjoyable means by default not working like at my job, which I often do not enjoy.

If you have children you probably already have a fine subconscious understanding of this: when your children, who were two minutes before excited playing outside or using their imaginations, are turned to the task of their homework, what do they do? Do they embrace it with the same enthusiasm, or do they suddenly become unenergetic, complaining, whiny, wondering why they "have" to do this?

(I'll carefully not point the same finger at myself, although I know it to be true.)

The reality is, we are always "working", both in the sense of moving forward in performing tasks on any number of fronts as well as training ourselves to become more diligent and learning to accomplish tasks.

In this sense, "work" simply rotates between these three areas, all of which should have the same level of importance in our lives: if we excel at our job but have no personal development or hobbies, we wither as individuals; if we excel at our job but fail to make efforts at home and with our family, we have family relationships not worth emulating by our children, overgrown lawns, and cars needing maintenance; If we excel at home/family and goals but are poor at performing our jobs, our paychecks will reflect this.

If work is viewed not as tasks but as an attitude to accomplish, suddenly this barrier breaks down. I'm accomplishing different things of varying importance, but the effort has not changed; what the effort is being expended on has. I should think that this would help to bring balance to my own life, as suddenly items in all three areas are moving forward, instead of one.

And relaxation? That still remains a part of life, although even in that the same level of effort should be made (the old phrase "Work Hard, Play Hard" comes to mind).

If I truly made this kind of effort (as I will this week), what would my life look like? What would I be accomplishing that I am not right now?