It's Time For A Change

As some of you already know, I am kind of nuts. Yes, I admit it. I am not going to say I am alone in this condition, but I Sands On A Winter Beachwill say that I need to spend some time and effort straightening out my head. It is time for a change. So, to that end, I have come up with some goals. I have lined them out below and would love to know what you think.

  1. Spend less time on FaceBook. Starting with a FaceBook diet of only 15 minutes, once per day. I would say the same for Twitter, G+, and the others too, but I don’t spend much time on those anyway. Plus, unlike FaceBook, they don’t seem to be as soul sucking and bad mood inducing.
  2. Spend at least one hour per day on a pure “me” activity. This is not work. Not even my own work for my own business. This is something like working on my model trains, writing, futzing with my old cars, or reading. This could be goofing with my family too – as long as it isn’t in front of the TV or anything like that.
  3. I am going to attempt to say “no” to, or delegate, projects that I don’t have time for and/or that someone else should do. I spend too much time taking on everything trying to make people happy – and it leaves me feeling ragged. And it leaves many of those project not being completed with the quality they deserve.
  4. Quit browsing shopping sites, like Amazon and eBay, for stuff that is appealing but that I don’t need. If I need something I will go find it (or have someone else find it) and buy it, but no more virtual window shopping. This goes hand in hand with the next one …
  5. Avoid unnecessary expenditures like phone upgrades I don’t need or additional toys and projects I will never get to. It is time to finish a few things and make use of what I already have.
  6. As much as possible buy and eat local. Additionally, when eating I will aim for fresher, healthier, less fried, less processed foods. I will aim for local flavor, quality and color instead of fast, faceless, fixtures.
  7. And finally … resume my walking exercise. This was the best thing I had done for myself in a long time and I need to get back into it. Walking dropped my weight, lowered my blood pressure, helped strengthen my back, and gave me time to listen to podcasts and see the world around me. So while it is last on the list, it is a very valuable item on the list.

So there you have it – some goals I am setting for myself. Some will be harder than others, and I know I will slip from time to time. If you see me slip I would appreciate a gentle nudge of a reminder. No need to beat me with a stalk of celery or anything, just help me back on my path. And for that help, I will let you know how it all goes.

What do you think? Is something on the list ridiculous? Have I forgotten something critical? We are always a work in progress, so I can always make revisions.

Whence Cometh Evil?

I have been wondering a lot recently about the nature of evil. Or specifically, how evil actions come about. It is pretty easy to look at the actions of lone crazed murders or rapists, declare them evil, decide there is something wrong in their minds, and move on. But what about the politicians we elect? Or the corporations we buy from and work for? Where does evil arise.

Angel and devil on shoulderA lot of people, me included, would look at the actions of the banking and mortgage industry over the past few years and declare them evil. Actions that put good people out of their homes, devastated retirement or investment accounts, and generally brought about the failure of the American economy. The actions of the corporations were in direct opposition to the general welfare and well-being of the population and so would be considered evil. But each of those corporations is made up of people. Individuals. Individuals who, if you talked to them individually and looked at how they led their lives and fed their dogs, are what we would think of as good people. So how did these good people come together to perform works of evil? It is very similar, though no where near the same scale and deadliness, as Nazis during the holocaust.

Another example is the bill going before the House to protect the rights of LGBT people in the workplace. There are many, at least in the Senate, who supported and passed the bill in a bipartisan manner. But the bill looks like it will fail in the house – in large part because Speaker John Boehner is against it. Here is a man, who even if you disagree with is politics, is someone we would normally consider to be a good person. But in this case he seeks to deny rights and equal protection under the law to a group of people because it might cost jobs. Directly said – money is more important than human rights. Again, most would say that is a statement that borders on evil. So how does this happen.

I do not pretend to know the answers to these questions. I do not even go so far as to say I know how to react to the individual evidences of the actions. I am at a loss to explain how people, either individually or in a group can do evil. These action, to people of all races, colors and sexes, hurt me deeply. Cruel acts to animals and children hit me deep in the heart. Why does it happen? And how do you deal with it?

I do know that there is a fantastic quote attributed to Edmund Burke that says, “All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.” And I firmly believe this. We must do something. We cannot sit idly by, and we must call out evil where we see it. We must cease worrying over our own discomfort, desire for wealth and status, and we must feel for the world. But the implementation of that? As hard as finding the root causes of evil actions.

If I Won The Lottery – Exercise #14

The prize we all dream of. The payday we all hope will happen, even if we never take the necessary steps to make it occur. The lottery. That is today’s exercise. Exercise number 14 out of this journey is, “what would you do with your lottery winnings?” I have to admit to start off with though, that I am not generally money driven. I just don’t do things for money. And I rarely if ever buy a lottery ticket. I do not bet on things that I don’t already know I can win. I take risks yes, but I don’t gamble.

Church FansLet’s suspend all sorts of disbelief though and for the sake of argument we’ll assume that I did win the lottery. There are three basic areas that I would want to cover, and the first starts with giving some of that money away. After that we will cover a few trinkets and experiences I covet, and then will put all the rest away for the future. But first things first..

The first expenditure may sound odd, especially for anyone not from around here, but Charleston in the summer is hot. Heck, the winter is often hot too. One of my favorite places in this world to spend time is in our church. It feels like home. And our church doesn’t have air conditioning. The initial bricks for the building were first put down in 1774. Yes, before the Revolutionary war although the construction was not finished until long after. When you have something that old it’s a little hard to retrofit with the modern convenience of air-conditioning. Hard means expensive. So that is the first thing I would d0 – I would pay to put air conditioning in the church. Tell you what though, if I’m going to air conditioning the church this better be a pretty big lottery. I think the running estimate for air conditioning our church is somewhere around a cool $2 million.

Continue reading “If I Won The Lottery – Exercise #14”

Personal Wealth

Most of us would agree that the reason we work is to accumulate personal wealth. Now the problem is that many people define personal wealth too narrowly – as money. In truth though it can be money, but it can also be knowledge, health, satisfaction, or any other number of things that make us a better person or make us happier. And yes, again, that might include money and the things that money buys.

Now the rub comes when you go into our annual job review, have done a great job, but there is a freeze on so there is no way you are going to get a raise. You storm out all unhappy because there will be no increase in your personal wealth this year. But wait! You have fallen into that “Personal Wealth = Money” trap. What if there was something else that you could get instead?

Try this on for size, and no I am not saying that every employer would or should do it. What if instead of that raise, your employer offered you an additional week off per year? Unless they actually have to cover your shifts while you are gone then it really doesn’t cost them anything. But, if you work fifty or so weeks per year, then an additional week off is like a 2% raise. May not sound like much, but how many of us wouldn’t like to be handed a week off? And, it is better than nothing!

Or, how about some extra training? There may be internally training already or an existing training budget that can be used. Again, this increases your knowledge and value to the company, so it really does increase your personal wealth?

No, how about a little flex time? Or one day a month working from home? By doing this the company is still getting the same number of hours from you, but you save the time you might have been commuting or stuck in traffic. That time then gives you either quality time to spend with family, to spend doing some freelance work, or just simply relaxing and lowering the blood pressure. Again, all part of your own personal wealth.

The key here is to stop defining everything in terms of cash dollars, or Euros or Pounds or whatever, and start looking at the full picture of your personal wealth and what gives us satisfaction. When you do that, you can be flexible at review time, at interview time, or even when considering what job you want. Start looking differently at your idea of personal wealth, and you will find yourself changing your view of your entire life.

If you have any more ideas on this, or comments, or criticisms please let me know. I would really like to know what you think.