SLR 070: 3 Things to Stop Spending Time On

Simple Life RebootMoney is not the prime asset in life. Time is.”  Unknown

Far too often we fail to appreciate the preciousness of time. Unlike other resources,  it is irreplaceable.  Nonetheless,   we tend to operate in default mode, either rushing about or coasting along,  giving very little thought to how spending time doing “X” may well preclude us from ever doing “Y”.

It’s not about time, it’s about choices. How are  you spending your choices?”  Beverly Adamo

In order to make the most of our limited time,  we need to stop and ask ourselves, “What ‘time-wasters’ can I eliminate, or at least reduce, so as to have more time and energy for that which matters most?”    It’s a harder decision than we might realize or be willing to make.  For instance,  I keep pretending that I can do it all in the desperate hope that I won’t have to cut one of my indulgences … but the clock ticks on.

I needed help identifying major time wasting offenses. So,  I turned to the sages.  I found the following quotes,  in no particular order, to be helpful and encouraging:



“The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.” – Stephen McCranie

“Things work out best for those who make the best of how things work out.” –  John Wooden

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” – Maria Robinson

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” – Confucius



“If plan ‘A’  fails – remember you have 25 letters left.” – Chris Guillebeau

“Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.” – Les Brown

“Worry is a misuse of imagination.” –  Dan Zadra

“Identify your problems but give your power and energy to solutions.” – Tony Robbins

“Anxiety is a daily statement to God saying, ‘I don’t think you have my best interest in mind.'” – Tim Keller



“How much time he gains who does not look to see what his neighbor says or does or thinks.”  – Marcus Aurelius

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” – Oscar Wilde

“Remember, no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

“Wishing you were someone else, kind of defeats God’s purpose of creating you.” – Unknown

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” – Steve Jobs

… and if you have been spending time on the above, remember,

The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” – Michael Altshuler


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SLR 069: Removing Roadblocks to Compassion

Simple Life RebootI wanted to edit it out.  In our 67th episode, Interview with Mom, we asked if she had learned anything from observing our Simple Life Reboot journey.  I hoped to hear how inspired she was, or perhaps how we were making a difference.   Instead, she paused, and said:

“Well, I’ve learned that you’re much more compassionate than I realized.”

What?!!  I’m compassionate!!  In fact, I’m super compassionate!!  I wanted to shout and hop up and down and defend my tender, caring, empathetic nature…. but, the interview was being recorded… so, after  a few awkward chuckles, the conversation simply continued.

Later, after much fussing and pondering, I realized the insightfulness of Mom’s answer. People assess our character based on our actions, not our intentions.  My desire to be compassionate had become obscured.  Hoping I wasn’t the only one with this problem, I did some research.

Princeton Seminary Study (Darley & Batson)

One of the more fascinating studies exploring the impact of situational stress on behavior occurred in 1973.  In this study, researchers recruited 67 students from Princeton Theological Seminary.  Students were told the study pertained to religious education and vocations.

Students each completed a personality questionnaire.  Then, researchers instructed the students to travel to another location on campus to deliver a brief talk on the parable of the Good Samaritan. As the students were leaving,  each was given a map and one of the following three instructions:

  1. “Oh, you’re late. They were expecting you a few minutes ago. We’d better get moving…”
  2. “The assistant is ready for you, so please go right over.”
  3. “…It’ll be a few minutes before they’re ready for you, but you might as well head on over…”

Each student would then travel to the designated location and encounter an actor in the entryway of the building in which the student was to present.  No one else would be present.  The actor would not engage the student but would be doubled over as if in severe pain, eyes closed and coughing.  Researchers studied the extent to which the students sought to assist the actor.

As you might expect,  assistance decreased with increased time pressure. However,  what might surprise you is that there was little difference between the medium and high time pressured scenarios.  What might surprise you even more is how having additional time was consistently reliable in prompting assistance even in students scoring the lowest on compassion indicators in the personality test.

Impact on the Exercise of Compassion

We must ask ourselves what impact time, financial and congested space pressures have upon us and our children.  If mature individuals training to be clergy, reflecting upon rendering service to others,  allow situational time pressure to trump such service,  we must recognize our collective weakness in this area.

We must also recognize the burden carried by those called upon to provide compassionate care such as nurses, clergy, counselors and care providers.  As situational pressures increase, such individuals’ struggles with burnout and compassion-fatigue also increase.  Those upon whom we most rely to be compassionate,  are struggling to do so.

So, What Can We Do?

We need to respect that circumstances can compromise noble intent.  We need to re-commit to the basic safeguards which allow for rejuvenation such as community, reflection, rest and exercise.  However, for the safeguards to exist, we need to incorporate that breathing room known as margin into our lives.  Without it, there can be no sustained practice of compassion.

Please seek out and support those providing compassionate care to others.  If you are so inclined, please join me in praying for such individuals.  And, as a special shout-out, I would like to commend my friend, Melissa AuClair, who is doing groundbreaking work to serve such individuals at Unstuck Nurse.

Let’s restore the habits and practices which foster compassion today.


Originally posted on


SLR 068: Five Unexpected Benefits of Simplifying

Simple Life Reboot picSheryl and I have been talking lately about some of the unexpected benefits of our decision to simplify our lives.

It was just 15 short months ago that we undertook The Trip that Changed Everything, our 10-day tour of the California coastline between Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara.   Meandering south along Highway 1, listening to podcasts on simplifying and on living more intentionally, we came to that stunning realization;  it was time to change our lives, and in a pretty dramatic way.

We had no idea what to expect, what the consequences of simplifying would be.  We could not predict what obstacles we would face, or what benefits we might ultimately realize.

But the trip along the coastline forced us to ask an important question:  “How long had it been since we’d traveled together, just the two of us, going nowhere in particular?”  Oh, there were things we wanted to see along the coastal route, but the focus had shifted away from what “thing” we were traveling to see, and back on to “who” we were traveling with to see it…and just a hand hold away.

We were like school children let out on recess exploring a new playground.  For the first time in quite a few years, we remembered what it was like to simply enjoy each other’s company as we shared new experiences, in places we had never been before.  Bottom line, we were going to want to do this more often!  But how?

The problem, we began to realize, was in our having a life resources shortage.  While our resources were adequate,  they were already committed to “other” things.  We realized that we needed to create some breathing room.   Time, money, freedom, energy, capacity to plan ahead, or as it would soon be identified, margin.

After deciding the dream house we had been making our large monthly payments on for so many years was no longer serving our needs in the same way it once had, we put it on the market.  Well, it’s been a long slog, but we may soon have some exciting news for our audience.  Please, stay tuned.

So, as we get closer to making real progress on the expected benefits of simplifying, we thought it would be helpful to mention a few of the unexpected benefits we have discovered along the way.

1)  Inspiring Others

What a privilege it has been, and continues to be, to share our journey with you.  When Sheryl and I decided to embark on this new lifestyle of having less and living more,  we initially hesitated to talk to others about it.  But as we continued to listen to the inspiring stories of others, like Dan and Vanessa Hayes, of Simple Life Together, we began to realize that going public with the changes we were making, putting it out there for people to ponder, would not only keep us accountable, but might encourage others to start out on their own journey.

2)  Connecting with Others

We have made new friends, connecting with people we would never have connected with otherwise.  We have found that simplicity is an extraordinary tool for increasing interaction.  Our stuff had become a wall we’d put up between ourselves and others.

3)  More Energized and Adventurous

Since starting this journey to simplify, Sheryl and I have found we have more energy and enthusiasm in lots of new areas of life.  Working together to achieve our goals keeps us focused and in sync with each other, with deeper and more frequent communication.  We’ve begun taking, and plan to take, more trips like the one that started this whole thing in May of 2013.

4)  More Freedom to Pursue Our Entrepreneurial and Fitness Goals

Our personal and professional options continue to expand in areas we could not have foreseen.  With more options, of course, comes a higher degree of happiness and excitement about the future.

5)  Margin is a Cornerstone

We believe that increased margin is a key factor in the expansion of options.  Increasing margin is a cornerstone, making it possible to pursue goals, as well as to be in a position to help others pursue their goals.


We would love to hear how simplicity has changed you in unexpected ways.  Please be sure to drop us a line!


Originally posted on


SLR 067: An Interview with Mom

Simple Life RebootFar too often the journey to simplicity focuses on our own needs and desires. In an effort to share another perspective, Dave and I sat down for a candid talk with my mother, Carolyn.

Mom has had a front row seat on this roller coaster ride to greater margin.  Though not a “fan” of reducing possessions, she stood by us as we let go of 85% of our belongings. She not only opened her home,  she cheered us through some rough patches.

In this podcast,  Carolyn shares how our journey has affected our family.  She is our hero … and we wanted you to hear her words of wisdom.


Originally posted on