Learning to Let Go of Grief … With Shoes

shoe boxThe salesperson was the first person to know outside our immediate family.  No doubt my face lit up as I  shared why I  needed comfortable  shoes for the office.  It took some time,  but I ultimately selected a gorgeous pair of  green flats.  I was thrilled with the purchase and anticipated the amazing  path the shoes would walk over the months to come.

My profound joy was cut short the next day.  After returning from the hospital,  I quietly moved the green shoes to the back of our shoe rack.  Later yet,  I put the  shoes  in a storage box in a closet.  Later yet,  I hid them in the attic.

Though I tried to ignore them,  the green shoes were always there.  For a long time,  they stood in silent witness to our loss.  Later,  the shoes represented a desperate hope for the future.  Later yet,  they mocked me about a life I would never have.  Yet, in spite of all of this, I could not let go of the green shoes.

When Dave and I decided to embark on Simple Life Reboot,  I realized I had to deal with the green shoes.  I did not want to take all that the shoes represented into our new life.  It would not be easy – but I had to let go.

It was all I could do to lay the never-worn shoes into a box for Goodwill. As Dave drove away,  I felt a flash of fear that I had made a terrible mistake.  It passed and was replaced with something else.  Suddenly I knew that by getting rid of the green shoes,  I now had room for new shoes;   shoes which would dance at weddings, shoes which would run to help a friend in need,  and shoes which would take me on new adventures.

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Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

 

 

 

5 Tips from Athletes to Use Now

Nick in wetsuit

We’ve all heard the cliche “Work Hard, Play Hard”.  This might even be the formula that motivates us.  Unfortunately,  this is also an approach which gets many of us into trouble.  We mistakenly believe that if we go “all out”,  that at some distant point in the future,  we will have the opportunity, energy and desire to “play hard”.  It is unsettling to question whether this methodology can ultimately deliver on its promise.

Athletes have it figured out.  Athletes know that results don’t come from intensity on all fronts,  but rather from a balanced strategic approach which  integrates effort into a broader context. The athlete’s secret sauce  involves five major components which we should all incorporate in our lives.

1. Plan.  Athletes identify their objective – a pace, a race, a result- and then “back-engineer” a  plan that will get them to the desired goal.  Without a plan,  even hard training will not prepare them.   The same applies in our lives.  For what purpose, goal or priority are we “working hard”?  Have we developed the strategic plan to achieve the desired result?

2. Building Blocks.  Athletes know that a significant goal can only be achieved by executing series of incremental steps. The starting point is a solid foundation coupled with proper equipment. Brick by brick,  additional skills are added.  Steps are skipped or rushed at the peril of sacrificing the goal.

3. Focus.  Athletes have laser focus on their objective.  They remove or disregard distractions.  A gymnast executing a trick on the balance beam tunes out the music in the arena.  An elite athlete reduces his or her participation in non-priority activities.  Focus may be simple,  but maintaining it can be a challenge. Tools such as the Pomodoro technique can help us to learn to concentrate on the task at hand. [The Pomodoro technique involves using timed 25 minute focus sessions alternating with rest periods.]  Long term focus requires dedication, discipline and vision.

4. Exertion + Rest.  Athletes know that an intense workout will only yield the desired results if it is directly coupled with quality rest.   We often forget that a good performance requires good sleep. Unfortunately,  too many of us are on a downward spiral whereby we fail to get adequate rest,  perform poorly,  increase work time to compensate for our sluggishness, then have less time for rest,  and so on.

5. Endurance. Athletes know that success does not occur overnight.  Athletes recognize that accomplishing their objectives will  involve discomfort, a series of  progressive steps,  pacing, and time.  We all need to commit ourselves not only to the objectives,  but to embracing the time and challenges of the growth process.  Again,  the athlete knows,  most significant goals are a marathon process,  not a sprint.

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Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

 

 

 

 

5 Simple Ways to Beat Distraction by Cell Phone

cell phone

I find myself checking my cell phone literally dozens of times every day.  Has someone called, texted, left a message?  The evil little device puts me in touch with everyone, ALL THE TIME.  Of course, it’s not really evil, but without it I would feel…well, inadequate.  There, I said it!  Besides, how will my business associates, clients, friends and family  get in touch with me if they need to?

And yet…I sometimes long for the days when I actually had fewer options and less “connectedness”.  My woefully outdated cell phone is both a tool and a distraction.  It can deliver wonderful little surprises in the form of text messages and pictures from my wife or kids, or it can interrupt an important meeting if I have failed to mute it.  Like many of you, I feel this need to know what is going on all the time.  Otherwise, I am “out of the loop” on things.  Pitiful, isn’t it?

I have found the best use of my cell phone, by far, is when it allows me to discuss dinner plans with my wife before getting home from work.  My stomach is thrilled with the technology. But I have to ask myself, “Am I controlling this tool, or am I letting it control me?”

Steps we all might take to keep interruptions at bay include the following:

1)  Make sure all notifications with sound are turned off, except the morning alarm and incoming calls.

2)  Turn your phone off during all important events.  But be aware, simply turning your phone off is not effective in stopping all notifications from “punching through” as there are some notifications that may have been inadvertently set to pop-through a locked screen.

3)  To ensure notifications will not interrupt,  put your phone in airplane mode to cut the device off from receiving outside information.  The phone will be as quiet as a mouse for as long as you want.  Turn it back on when you’re ready for the onslaught again.

4)  Decide not to check your phone for messages more than once every couple of hours.  Do not become a slave to your phone.  If it is an emergency, the notification will come in the form of a phone call.  So relax.

5)  Do not check your phone or emails first thing in the morning.  Carve out that time for yourself to contemplate the day, to focus on your workout or your creative side or whatever activity gives you the energy and focus to take on the rest of the day.

10 Steps to Getting Rid of Stuff

IMG_0558

Have you ever wanted to start editing your possessions, but didn’t know where to start?  Is it an overwhelming prospect?  Please consider whether the following steps would help you with the process.

  1. Start with an attitude of thankfulness for the abundance we enjoy
  2. Enlist the help of  an accountability partner to help you with the process
  3. Select one area of focus at a time  (e.g. car interior,  bathroom,  linen closet)(exclude art,  family heirlooms and significant sentimental items)
  4. At least a few days ahead of the work date,  and with minimal review of the items in the focus area,  prepare a budget of the number of items you will keep (e.g. # of pairs of shorts, # of shoes etc.)  Get comfortable with and committed to the maximum number you will keep before beginning the culling process
  5. Lay out all the items from the focus area grouped with like-kind items in  “item budget” piles
  6. Choose your very favorite items to keep up to the maximum number in your “item budget”.  Every item should be the exact item you would purchase now for full price if you did not already own it.  Each item should also be something you have used in the past 12 months. None of the  items should be “just-in-case” or “something-I-might-need-someday” items
  7. Immediately place “keeper” items in their designated permanent home.  Put items to be donated into a bag designated “To Charity”, and place items to be disposed of  in a trash bag
  8. Remove the culled item bags from your space as soon as possible.  Do not look in or go back through the charity or disposal bags.
  9. Give yourself time to adjust to and appreciate the space made available by the culling process.  You now have your favorite items easily accessible.
  10. If tempted to replace a culled item,  ask yourself two questions :  Do I really need to replace the item?   If so, what like-kind item will I get rid of so as to make space for the new item.

 

[If you enjoyed this article, please consider reading The Poison of Wanting More and The High Cost of Not Living.]

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Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

Thought Leaders Who Have Inspired Us

Sunspot

None of us would accomplish anything of significance without the help and inspiration of others. We all, as Sir Isaac Newton so well stated,  stand on the shoulders of giants.

Dave and I wish to thank the thought leaders who inspired us. It is our hope that our readers will read these giants’ work and better understand the tradition which inspired Dave and I to undertake our Simple Life Reboot.

 

Margin:

                Dr. Richard Swenson – Margin

Leadership:

                 Michael Hyatt – This is Your Life

                  Dave Ramsey – Financial Peace and EntreLeadership

Minimalism:

                  Joshua Becker – Becoming Minimalist

                  Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus – The Minimalists

Simplicity:

                   Dan & Vanessa Hayes – Simple Life Together

                   Don Aslett – Clutter’s Last Stand

Behavioral Economics:

                   Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner – Freakonomics

                   Dan Ariely – Predictably Irrational

Relationships:

                   Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend – Boundaries

Health:

                   Joe Henderson – Long Slow Distance

 

 

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Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

 

 

 

Moving Sale

 

Moving

After Sheryl and I decided to move forward on selling our home, we had a few decisions to make regarding all the stuff we had accumulated over the years.

I am not sure how this happens, but we found we could literally walk through our house and point to dozens upon dozens of things we had not used or even thought about in years.  Yes, there it is, just sitting there collecting dust, that ornament used once at Thanksgiving four years ago, those CD’s, that bicycle with the flat tire not ridden once in five years, half a dozen board games, blankets, bowls, half a garden hose, shelves, dressers, old books, all these things, belonging to the stubborn intentions of the past, lost to the present-day reality.

It did not take long for us to realize we would need to have a moving sale.  But could we really sell any of this stuff?  Really?  It all was just so much junk.  Would anyone want to buy that old Braveheart DVD?  As it turns out, they did.  Over one long, very tiring weekend, we sold fifteen-hundred dollars worth of that junk.  Wooohooo!  We also managed to give away a good bit.

In the end, nearly all of it was gone.  What we ended up keeping were boxes of things we thought we could not live without, but many of these things went straight into the attic next door, where chances are pretty good that we will not have any real desire to lay eyes on the stuff again for years.

What was left of our worldly possessions you could probably fit into a few wheelbarrows, and let me tell you…it felt liberating!  It felt magnificent!  We were finally free of a thousand stupid little choices, represented by all the useless, mundane stuff we had sitting around.

Clear thinking and decisive action had begun to free us of the trappings of an unexamined life.

It was only the beginning.

***

Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

 

How to Beat the Death Clock

East Coast 2008 155

We live in a death denying culture.  We prefer to ignore the reality that absent divine intervention, we will all die someday.  We pretend that with new medical advances and improved environmental factors, our lives can be extended indefinitely.  We try to shield ourselves from the reality of death.  We prefer that the dying be hidden behind the walls of a facility and that our food arrive in neat plastic wrapped containers.

Many of us are unfamiliar with death.  We fail to appreciate the extraordinary preciousness of the days of life we have.  While we can replace stuff, money and labor,  we cannot replace time.  Time is our most precious resource. Yet we,  Dave and I included,  squander far too much time on unimportant activities.

In order to personally confront this issue,  I used the calculator on deathclock.com to generate my estimated date of death based on actuarial data and biographical factors.  If I subtract out the time I expect to spend at the office and asleep,  I have an estimated 9.5 years left. Wow! Talk about a wake-up call!

Am I going to use that time wisely by spending it with family, serving others and growing…. or will I squander it on amassing and managing property, engaging in nonproductive activities, and numbing myself with vacuous diversions?   You and I each make this choice on a  minute-by-minute basis.   Let’s choose wisely!

***

Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

The Secret to Overcoming Obstacles

Josh jumping

We’ve all been there.  We encounter an obstacle which separates us from what we want or need.  How do we respond?  Do we become discouraged and give up?  Do we become frustrated and rail against the obstacle?  Or do we do something else?   What is the best approach when faced with an obstacle? Leo Babauta in his Zen Habits post “The Obstacle is the Path” shares the Zen proverb that “The Obstacle is the way.”  Let’s explore this a bit  with common obstacles many of us face.  The secret to overcoming each obstacle is the same.

  • You have been unable to lose weight and/or maintain a healthy weight.  Instead of pretending to ignore your weight and the associated embarrassment and frustration, acknowledge it fully to a trusted friend or loved one.  Confront the obstacle. What needs to change permanently?   Run toward rather than away from the obstacle. Obtain qualified help.  If at all financially possible, work with a nutritionist and a trainer for an extended period of time.  Commit to the long term. Your health is worth it.
  • You are burdened by debt. Again, the secret is to confront the obstacle rather than avoid it.  Do not let shame prevent you from seeking the help you need. Work with a qualified financial adviser.  Immerse yourself in good personal finance resources such as Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University and Clark Howard’s podcast. Recognize that being burdened by debt, though common, is not the way to fully live.  Reduce expenses and begin the journey to recovery.
  • You struggle with implementing needed life changes.  Embrace the discomfort of change. If your objective is worthy, the discomfort is merely confirmation that you are on the right path.  Redefine your success as your daily re-commitment to and execution of that day’s incremental steps towards your goal.  If you back-track one day, re-start the next day.  Do not give up.  Celebrate your growing skill of confronting and overcoming obstacles.  Who knows,  at some point, you might even look forward to tackling the next obstacle!

[If you enjoyed this article,  please consider reading The Secret to Growth and How to Harness the Power of Stress.]

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Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

 

Margin Is Not Just For You!

Josh in Hawaii

 

I want to share with you one of the most essential concepts when it comes to improving your life.  Let’s talk about margin.

First of all, what is margin?

“Margin is the space between our load and our limits,” says author Richard Swenson in his book, Margin.

In simple terms, margin is having room to breathe.  It is what happens when we have sufficient time and resources to maneuver.  With margin we find we have options and can more easily make our desirable choices possible.

Margin is getting a score on a final exam of 110 percent.  It is having money at the end of the month after paying all of the bills.  It is arriving at the next meeting 10 minutes early.  Margin is being able to park in the garage without banging the door against stuff when you exit.

So, if margin is so great, how do we get it?

We either create margin, or we create a lack of margin.  It is all about planning ahead and following through.  Ahh, is that all?  Yes, it is that simple and at times,  that hard.

Planning and completion are two of the hardest skills often never learned in life.  A deficiency in these skills is why so many folks, me included, have struggled with margin for so long.  I am a great one to be writing this post, because I am the one who can tell you first hand about what it feels like NOT to have margin, to almost always have fewer choices, to almost always be a day late and a dollar short.  I still do not have enough margin in my life, but I am working on it, because over the past few years I have come to understand for the first time what it means for me, for my wife, for my family, and for others around me.

MARGIN IS NOT JUST FOR YOU!

Margin is for the people you love.  Creating more margin in your life is the secret to fulfilling our basic human desire to help others, to give our time, our energy, and our resources, to those we love, and to those we wish to help.  Without margin, we always come up short, never quite able to be there for others, unable to offer our thoughtful insight – given our own overloaded circumstances, never quite able to find enough energy to go the final lap, or to offer resources to help someone in need.

So, stop letting circumstances, or the environment, discourage you.  Recognize that you are  in control.  Again, either you have created margin, or you have created lack of margin.

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Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

The High Cost of Not Living

Sheryl & Katie in stocks

Does it seem that daily life has become increasingly fractured, more hurried, and less satisfying?  Certainly, the financial collapse of 2008 did not help, but it seems more systemic than that.

We  Americans have historically put our faith in things like working long hours, buying the latest gadget, and  buying the bigger house, all in an attempt to bring about the “good life”.  For many, however, these approaches have proven disappointing in recent years.

Many of us have shackled ourselves with debt we cannot pay.  In a vain attempt to escape, we spend time playing games when our children need our attention and our help, our words of comfort or simply an ear that will listen.  We feel the inadequacy of our effort, of our parenting, of our friendships, and we bury our heads ever deeper into the easy living within our little devices that never give us trouble, never have a complaint, and always guarantee some reward for having picked them up.  But the game on the screen does not equate to a more fulfilling life.  So, what does?

A fulfilling life involves having the time, the resources, and the energy, to help others face to face.  And like the old saying goes, ‘charity starts at home’.  Yes, our children sometimes need our help, even after they have left the nest.  They need us to listen, to be there for them.  Let’s be there for them, and continue to give them our time, our energy, and our resources.

But how?  We may barely have enough resources for ourselves, barely enough time over the weekend to fix that broken irrigation line, or half a dozen other fix-it jobs left undone.  We sure do not have enough energy!  How do we get more of that?

We get all of that through creating more margin in our lives.

What is truly important in life sometimes does not become apparent until it is much too late, but the good news is…it is never too late.

 

[If you enjoyed this article, please consider reading The Poison of Wanting More and 10 Steps to Getting Rid of Stuff.]

 

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Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com