" There's No Such Thing As A Free Lunch "
This sign hung above the door of my 12th grade chemistry teacher’s classroom. Mr. Abronowitz was his name, and he always took a no-nonsense approach to everything. He knew a lot about chemistry, but he also knew a lot about life, finance, and enjoying the finer things. He knew who he was, and who he wasn’t, and he was one of my favorite teachers in high school because he had a confidence about him that was contagious.
I didn’t really know at the time what that sign meant. But I always remembered it, and over the years it has stuck with me and I’ve gleaned from it’s meaning.
It doesn’t mean that, on occasion, you won’t receive free lunches… I know I have! My mom’s lunches are the best. But what it DOES mean is that someone, somewhere certainly afforded the lunch to be provided. There’s a change to our perspective when we think about the lunch as a gift, instead of it just appearing out of nowhere. The cost of that lunch was absorbed by the choice of another person, somewhere.
"Simply put, it means that there is a cost to everything. Time is our most valuable resource and nobody has any more time in a day that anyone else. "
So, what does this mean? Simply put, it means that there is a cost to everything. Time is our most valuable resource and nobody has any more time in a day than anyone else… so using it wisely is ESSENTIAL.
This brings us to our analysis. What do we need to refine to make the most of our lives? What do we need to get rid of? No, no, I’m not going to get all technical about everything! So don’t worry, we’ll keep this basic Jane and user friendly.
Step 1: Keep The Top Things The Top Things
Order of importance. We build on a foundation of what we believe to be important. That’s different for each of us, so mine may look different from yours, and that’s OK. But whatever is important to each of us has to stay our main focus.
Is your faith or your family going to top this list? If so, make a concentrated effort to spend time on these things each day. Most of this is natural and out of sheer necessity, but letting one or another slip by day after day without addressing attention to it can lean into a failure to keep the foundation secure.
TIP: Create a family night each week where everything else besides spending time with family is put on the back burner. It can be as simple as watching a movie together!
Step 2: Create A SWOT Analysis For Yourself (It's Easy!)
As painful as it may be, we have to figure out who we are and what we bring to the table. What do we value? What do we want to contribute to the world? The easiest way to do this is to write down a list of things that we can focus on to figure out where we are… and take steps to head to where we want to be.
" What is a SWOT Analysis? It's a great way to figure out some of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats involved in your daily life. "
What is a SWOT Analysis? It’s a great way to figure out some of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats involved in your daily life. Just remember: no one can do it all. We constantly strive to give up things to get something else in life. True joy comes from deciding which things we keep, holding fast to those things, and working hard to bring them to their fullest capability in our lives.
Strengths: One of our biggest mistakes that we can make is to stop developing our strengths. We never stand still: we are either moving forward or going backwards and your strengths are no exception.
Do you enjoy cooking? Reading or writing? What subjects were you good at in school? What are your talents? What things are you naturally good at? Do people constantly mention something you are good at? What past victories have you endeavored? Do you have any resources that you could use to push yourself?
I really enjoy cooking. This is something that I’ve tried to pass on to my children, and I certainly aim to use this strength to give to my family each day. Looking back, I can see that I inherited this love for cooking from my mom and my grandmother. They love cooking too, and so it’s certainly a family tradition of sorts.
Weaknesses: Learn to be OK with your weaknesses. We all have them and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. However, being aware of them can add a lot of freedom to our journey (and also helps bunches with step 3!).
Now don’t get me wrong, there are certain weaknesses that we should definitely be working on. Bad habits, for example, need attention if they are to be removed from our lives. Substitution is great for helping with this. Choose something else to do when you want to do the bad habit and over the course of time, it will help.
" But let's be honest... sometimes we just need to be OK with knowing that there are certain things that we will never be great at! "
But let’s be honest… sometimes we just need to be OK with knowing that there are certain things we will never be great at! For me, laundry is that thing. I’ve come to accept that my laundry pile will never be completed, and I am OK with that. We have to pick our battles ladies!
The key is to NEUTRALIZE your weakness to a reasonable volume. If you have a toxic relationship with a friend that is constantly pulling you into their circus… you have to cut it off. If you watch too much TV, you have to strive to get back in control of your time. If you lack motivation, keep reading my blog because I’ve got some great strategies for that too!
Opportunities: What do you have available to you, right now, to apply your strengths? What time do you have available to you? Which people do you know that can help you reach your goals? The biggest step we can make towards finding opportunities is to be constantly looking for them. Take chances and talk to people about the things you dream of doing. Research and do some homework on how to carve a path for getting your strengths put into action.
Do you want a more lean figure? There is always an opportunity to make that happen. Do you want to write a book? There is always an opportunity to make that happen. Do you want to graduate college? There is always an opportunity to make that happen. Love yourself enough to see that, where there is a will… there is a way. Stop doubting yourself and allowing fear to control your destiny. You can find and create opportunities even in the worst situations.
Threats: While drive and determination are 99% of reaching our goals, there are certainly threats to keep things interesting. Finances have to be one of the biggest barriers to opportunity. It’s hard to live without an income, am I right? What other obstacles do you face? What are some risks that might prevent you from forging ahead? While threats can be overcome, it’s important to know them so that their challenge can be contained and instrumentally broken down and defeated.
It is very helpful to be aware of potential threats, even before they might happen, since your reaction can be much more rational when they occur. Take it from a former people-pleaser, begin realizing now that people are always going to say and do things contrary to our endeavors. Pretend to already have received this negativity, and craft your response ahead of time. It can be as simple as “this person is hurting”… so kill them with kindness and move on with your life.
Step 3: Learn To Say NO (Marie Kondo Your Life)
This has to be the hardest thing for me. When my boys were little, I wanted to adorn every waking moment with going and doing… and as they’ve gotten older, I have learned that while a few events for memory-making here and there are very important, we don’t have to cram our schedules full of events in order to succeed at this.
" We weren't spending enough time in the house together. I wasn't instilling in them the value of taking responsibility for cleaning, cooking , and showing them the ropes of every day life. "
We weren’t spending enough time in the house together. I wasn’t instilling in them the value of taking responsibility for cleaning, cooking, and showing them the ropes of every day life. After we weaned ourselves off of the go-go-go train, life was more peaceful and more enjoyable. I was able to tackle projects I had been putting off for way too long.
Marie Kondo your life. Anyone who has read her books knows what I’m talking about. This lady is awesome, and kudos to her for cutting straight to the bone with her soft-spoken ninja moves on getting rid of rubbish. We can apply these same tactics to our lives. Does it bring us joy? If not, remove it. Only you are in control of you, and only you can change to a better yes.
Step 4: Create A Culture Of Peace
Even with all the craziness of everyday life, you can have peace. Even when all of your goals seem distant and the chores are never done, you can have peace. Part of analyzing your life is coming to the understanding that you will NEVER get everything done, not everyone will like you, and you will sometimes just be broke until your next paycheck. And it’s OK!
Peace comes from gratitude and gratitude has to be one of the best things we can do for ourselves. Gratitude comes from the meaning “good will” or “thankfulness”. It’s when we are willing to be thankful that we can change our perspective and love our lives. Peace is the fruit of being grateful.
Step 5: Give Yourself One Hour Each Day
Mother Teresa once said “Spend one hour each day in adoration of your Lord”, she said, “and never do anything you know is wrong. Follow this and you’ll be fine.” Seems simple, right? Well, it isn’t that easy. Finding one hour in my day is like trying to find a grocery store with all the sales. But taking this time will RADICALLY transform who we are and what we want to accomplish.
Whether that’s time alone with your faith, to meditate or communicate with a deity, or whether that’s taking the time to journal… this time is crucial to your success in life and reaching your goals.
Step 6: Forgive
I could write a book about forgiveness. Oh the importance! Not only for good health but for getting past all of the crud and onto transforming your life into something beautiful. It’s easier for me to see life as sometimes a very cruel and unfair place, and then it’s simpler to move past the circumstances and stop making excuses. Yes, bad things happen… and life is not always fair; however, we have the power to not allow our circumstances to rob us of our future.
" Every waking moment that we spend toiling over hurts or grievances against us, we are giving that energy to something unproductive. "
Every waking moment that we spend toiling over hurts or grievances against us, we are giving that energy to something unproductive. While it is certainly fine to spend a reasonable amount of time grieving and pushing through the darkness of pain, at some point we have to reach the other side and “butterfly out of the cocoon”.
We may never forget the experience, and we can certainly use it to make better decisions in the future, but we have to eventually move to a better place in our minds of what we recall from the things that ail us. Holding on to it for extended amounts of time, or worse yet… forming it into vengeance, can be detrimental to the progress we so long to reach.
Forgiveness is the path to freedom. Forgiveness is NOT allowing other people to take advantage of us or escape consequences. But it is the burial of the pain that we carry with us after the transgression has occurred. It is the letting go of the thoughts that consume us and our time from being used more productively. It is the way we forge on to being at peace with our souls.
Step 7: Go Hard Or Go Home
So now that we have gathered all of the tools, it’s time to implement them. Motivating yourself and getting in the ready position takes courage and bravery. I commend anyone who has the smallest amount of motivation! Motivation is not an easy thing to muster up. But saying that taking the time to do this will benefit you in an understatement.
" Focus on the results. Why do you want to reach your goals? Why do you want to become a better you? Because of the peace and joy that it will bring! "
Focus on the results. Why do you want to reach your goals? Why do you want to become a better you? Because of the peace and joy that it will bring! Because of the fruits of consistent effort that you will receive. No one ever said it would be easy, but they have certainly shown us that it is worth it. There is nothing more valuable than a content life.
Now start small and end big. Put on your favorite music, grab a cup of your favorite beverage, and carve out some you time. We all need it!