Generally you’ll have a lot more fun if you live in gratitude and focus on the good rather than if you complain and dwell on the negative. These are lessons you probably already live by – but ones that took me awhile to really “get”. Still, I know that once in a while it really pays off to think about the stuff that bothers you. This became very evident to me recently.
I was talking to my accountability partner and he asked me what keeps me from being fulfilled. His question threw me for a loop. I had to stop and think. Until he asked me that question, I thought I was fulfilled.
Usually I think of myself as a pretty happy Pilgrim. What have I got to complain about? Nothing. I have a wonderful family, terrific wife, great kids, super business, dedicated staff and a thriving blog. Pinch me – does it get any better than that? I didn’t think so. But I was wrong.
When I sat down and wrote my answer to Nate’s question, I realized that there were a few things that did stick in my craw. First, I spend too much time on the computer. Most people are plugged in 24/7 and I’m no different. That means I’m on call all the time and that stresses me out.
Also, because I am self-employed, my work is really never done. I can always find something to do. For most people that’s not a problem but for me it is because I’m a little bit of a workaholic. Since there is always more to do I rarely get the sense of “being done”. That too creates stress.
Then I thought about Nate’s question and how it related to my personal life. I felt great about most things but I knew that my wife and I were not on the same page with our financial plan. I spent a lot of time putting together our financial road map but we never really sat down to go over it. That wasn’t causing my wife any real discomfort but it was driving me crazy.
I wanted to be sure all our financial decisions were being made within the framework of a plan but I didn’t want to impose my ideas either. I wanted it to be a collaborative effort. That way we’d both have a stake in it and both be committed to it.
I never thought of our financial life as a source of stress because things were going well. But this lack of commitment to a plan really bothered me.
What I Did
On the business side, I imposed boundaries and limits. Rather than giving myself daily missions (and being willing to spend as much time as it took to get them done) I laid out time windows for different activities. For emails for example, I give myself two windows during the day; one from 7 to 8 am and another from 3 to 4 pm. Once the window closes, that’s it. No more email for the day. This forces me to be efficient during those time slots. It also allows me to be OK with new emails coming in and not responding to them until my time to do so arrives. So far, the world continues to turn despite the fact that I’ve punched out.
I give myself other windows during the day for writing posts and dealing with staff. Once those windows close, thats it. I do the best I can to get as much done as I can during that window but once the window closes, I’m done and I feel complete. That’s new and if feels great. I’m that more changes will come on the business side as time passes.
On the person side, I asked my wife to sit down and go over the plan which she was more than happy to do. We made some smart adjustments to our approach based on her feedback and are both committed to a plan. Of course we’ll re-evaluate the plan next year but I feel great about having a framework foundation to base our decisions around.
These changes are having a meaningful impact on our lives. And they never would have become options had I not taken the time to think about the things that weren’t working and considered all the possible solutions.
Are you willing to look for problems in your life? Do you think this would be helpful or just open up a can of worms?