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GOT PLANS?

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Hourglass

An_Hourglass____by_MPtribe 

Every day I’m reminded how short life is and how we have to take advantage of every moment we have.  This article is not intended to be morbid in any way, but, perhaps, a “wake up” call. 

I know the concept of life is short is a hard one to grasp.  I know, for myself, that we believe we are immortal, that we have endless time and endless possibilities.  But, alas, that is not fact.  There is inevitability in every person, animal, plant, and thing on this Earth.  Everything has a life cycle.  Sure, we may know the average life cycles for each species, but there are no guarantees for anything that exists. 

“Wow, Doreen… what a way to ruin a party!”  I hope you will continue reading, as I can hear you thinking this right about now.  But, let’s put things into perspective.

Over these last few weeks I have had so many “messages” and realized I needed to pay more attention to the day-to-day and make sure that what I am doing is not wasting my own precious time.  One lovely friend had a fire at her business that caused significant changes to her long term plans.  One gentleman I know lost his job of 9 years.  Another wonderful person I know suddenly experienced a life-altering illness.  These are examples of life events that we have no control over but tremendously change our plans from what we expect to “do tomorrow”.  In an unexpected, life-altering situation we have two choices.  We can either allow the event to cause a downward spiral and spark self-destructive behavior, or we can pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and adopt a mindset that the event that occurred was a blessing in disguise. 

What would / do you do?  Would you become stagnant and wallow in despair, or would you create a plan and evaluate options for what you can do to move forward? 

Neither choice is easy.  Events that are not planned are extremely stressful for everyone involved, and many times our decisions on what to do involve many others including our family.  I, for one, know firsthand what it is like to lose a job at a most inopportune time.  I acknowledge that a first impulse may be to scramble in a “survival of the fittest” response.  However, after many years, and a ton of self-help books and research, I realize that if you look at an occurrence as an opportunity to move forward and make your life even better, you have an opportunity to get further, faster.  Most things that happen that we consider a “negative” occurrence can be turned around if we take a moment to stop and reevaluate things.

OK… now for an even more serious discussion.  In the past few weeks I have been informed of three deaths of people who I knew and one I did not know.  One lovely woman was preparing to retire and travel.  She was 61.  One was a person we worked with for a short period of time; he was in his late 40’s.  One was a volunteer firefighter in his early 30’s, and one was a friend’s childhood friend in his 40’s, as well.  With today’s average life expectancy, we could say that these people passed way too early; however, as we know, death does not discriminate. You can be one hour old, one day old, or 100+ years old.  Unfortunately, (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), none of us is stamped with an expiration date. 

Why am I discussing this?  It is my intention to create a spark in each of us.  What are you doing in your life right now that does not make you happy?  What do you dread doing?  What can you do to make a change?

By now I hope you got what I’m trying to convey – the discussion that life is short.  But, just in case, I’ve taken the liberty to go a little further in my explanation.

I came up with an analogy knowing that, sometimes, people understand things that are more visual.  Take a $1 bill out of your pocket or wallet.  I know you feel silly, but please do it….

Most of us value every dollar we have and the possibilities of what we can use that money for, don’t we?  In this example, the $1 you are holding will signify this very second of your life.  To further explain, for our purposes, you just (symbolically) paid $1 for this very second and for each and every second thereafter as long as you are alive.  Oh, one more thing… there is NO return policy.  You can’t get a refund or a do-over.

Take another look at the dollar.  Was it worth it?  Did you find value?  Did you CHOOSE to be doing what you want to be doing in that 1 second time period?  Of course, in this case, you found great worth because you are reading this eloquently written, amazingly informative article! 

Seriously, though, I want you to take a few moments to reflect on your days, in general. 

Look at that $1 bill.  Are your precious seconds worth what you are paying for them… every second of your day? 

Let’s still go a little further.  If you are pleased with the majority of your day, then that is excellent.  Keep on spending those dollars the way you are.  However, if you find you are spending them being sad or being angry, or if you spend them in a job you hate, or if you spend them in a relationship that is abusive or not progressing, I want you to ask yourself if you are spending your dollars (seconds of life) the way you should.  Are you spending your dollar being fearful, resentful, or unforgiving?  Are you healthy and able to physically do all you would like to?  Or, even further… perhaps you are experiencing depression or using alcohol or substances to dull your pain.  In some of these instances it may be necessary, if you have not yet done so, to look into counseling to help you alleviate your negative feelings.  Perhaps you can begin to make a change towards moving forward. 

Life is short. How do you want to spend your dollar?

A quick disclaimer:  I am a very practical person.  I know we may set ourselves up for disappointment if we believe EVERY second is going to make us overwhelmingly happy.  We are emotional beings and I don’t want to apply extra pressure to any one of us.  However, I do request that you consider the example as a motivation to evaluate your life and determine if a change is necessary so you can create the best life possible. 

Got Plans?  We all do.  But we need to also determine what will make our current situation and current day the best that it can be.  Maybe it’s time to ask yourself:  Isn’t it time to enjoy YOUR life?  Isn’t it “Time to Play”?

 

JOIN US!  Did you know we do a weekly FREE podcast called Empower Half Hour?  Click here http://www.blogtalkradio.com/timetoplay for further information and our weekly schedule.  It is recorded live on Wednesdays from 9:30 am to 10 am EST (and available to listen any time after if you can’t join in at that time of the day).  As of 3/31/2014 we will be moving the podcast to 5 pm on Mondays with a one hour group life coaching session afterward (you can also participate via telephone or skype).  See www.clubtimetoplay.com for more information about the group coaching sessions or contact me at 631-331-2675 or email me at doreen@timetoplay.com for more information. 

P.S.:  A cheap “plug”:  Our book, If I Knew Then What I Know Now, Our Quest for Quality of Life”, is full of powerful stories of obstacles and life situations we have experienced but have overcome.  The book is intended to help a reader learn from our experiences.  More information and reviews:  www.IfIKnewThenBook.com

St. Patrick's Fortune Seekers

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leprechaun's pot of gold

Leprechaun’s pot of gold

With St. Patrick’s Day so popular a holiday, it’s appropriate to discuss the continual search that so many in our society go on for the leprechaun’s pot at the end of the rainbow. Whether it’s winning the ultra mega grande lottery, getting a massive inheritance from some long-lost great aunt we never knew, or being discovered on Simon Cowell’s latest production, it a great American pastime to seek an immediate fortune.

This is not new, of course. The forty-niners of the mid-1800s sought their fortune in the California gold mines. Neither is it an out-dated phenomenon. Today’s North Dakota oil rush is calling fortune seekers from around the country to try their hand at high-paying, albeit sometimes dangerous jobs.

What should be instructive about such spectacles is an understanding of who actually ends up wealthy as a result of these “rushes.” Very few forty-niners ended up wealthy for the long haul. Those who came out of the California Gold Rush with lasting fortunes mostly included those who sold goods and services to the miners. I fully expect any lasting North Dakota fortunes to come out of the same vein. Why?

Because those who seek to make their fortunes overnight tend to be those who spend their fortunes overnight.

The National Endowment for Financial Education estimates that up to 70% of people who receive a sudden windfall of cash will lose it all within just a few years. If you look at the list of American Billionaires, or if you research the most common major of American millionaires, you won’t find any lottery winners or poker aficionados among them. Yes, you will find Wal-Mart and Mars Candy heirs at #6-9 and at #15 on the Billionaire’s list. However, I’m pretty certain they all knew their fortune was coming. You will also find casino owners… just not casino patrons.

So what is one to do if you’re aspiring after fame and fortune (or at least fortune)? First and foremost, get some perspective.

Not all, but the majority of fortune seekers think that their lives will be better if they just had more money. The reality is that money, in and of itself, will never bring happiness, and, in large quantities dumped into unexpecting pockets, can actually bring increased misery and pain.

Instead of being the end goal, money should be considered merely a tool. And like any tool, money can be used to build something of lasting satisfaction or it can bring us pain through its misuse.

To make money a tool, you simply need to create a plan to achieve something that requires money. For many, this plan is retirement. For others, it’s starting a business. For others still, it’s living in a dream home.

Whatever the end goal, make plans to get there. Specifically, create a savings plan so that you know how much to put away in the short and long term. Then create and live by a spending plan (a.k.a. Budget) so that you know what your spending limitations are.

As you build your life’s fortunes (whether or not they include financial wealth), may the leprechauns of St. Patrick’s Day bring you good luck rather than fairy mischief!

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