Monday, November 1, 2004

Electric car door openers. CD stackers with surround sound. Seat warmers. Built-in DVD players. On-Star capabilities... and the list goes on.

It was only until my wife Di and I set out to purchase a much larger size and brand new family size vehicle in the spring of 2003 (due to the impending triplets), that I learned that we are very much a culture of "add-ons." For example, it's not good enough to order a #2 from the McDonald's menu; now there is a choice of three sizes, including the option to "super size" it. And I dare you to go into a Starbucks or Caribou Coffee and try to order just a plain cup of black coffee; it's all about the add-ons: lattes, mochas, decafs, skinnys, flavored, expressos, etc.

The "add-on" mentality in my own personal life was even more apparent to me when I became a stay-at-home, play-at-home father in the late fall of 2003. Even though I released myself from my social/career responsibilities, I quickly began to realize - with the onset of new activities by my six-year-old son - how many activities I had involved myself in prior to the birth of our triplets. Adult softball games, lunches with the gangs, movies to watch, hobbies in which to be involved, etc. I'm sure you are well aware of what I'm writing. So many cable channel add-ons, so many drive-thrus, so many banking and insurance options - it's no wonder why we seem to have less time than we did ten years ago. We spend most of our day weighing options and add-ons before we ever reach our decision.

Perhaps the simple secret is for each of us to separate our essentials from our add-ons. As one mentor shared with me years ago, those elements of our life that are considered necessary (essentials) are those that move us continually toward our personal life mission while the extra elements (add-ons) either distract us from or lead us away from that same personal life mission. What? Now we've got to discover and clarify our personal life mission?! It would seem that Life is simple a matter of falling out of and falling into bed and the time in between...

Allow me to share with you a few quick items today that might provide you with a different or renewed perspective:

  1. Without thinking too much about any particular element of your life, quickly list the activities and responsibiilities of your daily life where you say to yourself, "I would rather be somewhere else..."
  2. Now that you have a short list of these activities and responsibilities, now quickly list the activities and responsibilities that (a) eat up a lot of your time and (b) are those that are "take them or leave them" elements.
  3. Finally, quickly list those activities and responsibilities that absorb a great amount of your time and monthly finances (other than necessary bills).
  4. You now have the start of a list of both essentials and add-ons. The task is now to decide into which column each activity or responsibility falls.
  5. Take a break from these three lists and answer the following questions: What are you most passionate about in Life? What topic do you spend the majority of your time thinking about or discussing with friends? Your answers may very well be leading you in the direction of your personal life mission.
  6. Now compare the lists from 1-3 above and ask yourself, "Is this activity or responsibility moving me closer to my personal life mission?" (from 5 above).

It is somewhat true that ignorance is bliss in this Life. But it can also be very expensive to the human spirit. Answer me this: Do you ever take a moment, once in awhile, to reflect on your life? Is there ever a sense (small or large) where you feel a little emptiness, as if something is missing? A little dissatisfied? Perhaps it is your spirit asking you to take a few more moments to start making a few lists.

Multiple channels on your cable package are useless if it doesn't have the channel you want to watch. Likewise, all the add-ons and options in your insurance package are useless if it doesn't insure for what you care about most.

hoedl's haven
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