Archives for August 2017

Never Stop Learning

As children, learning is an important part of our lives. We continue on as young adults through college and learning on the job. But then, by the time we hit our thirties, many of us stop learning on a regular basis. We may pick up something new here or there, or learn a new piece of software or equipment at work. But for the most part, we feel that we’ve acquired all the knowledge we need in life. While that’s technically true, there is a lot to be said about lifelong learning.

Does this mean that you should go back to school as an adult? Not necessarily. While that’s certainly an option, formal education in a school or university setting isn’t the only way we learn and there’s a lot of advantages to self-learning in a variety of ways. Lifelong learning keeps your mind strong, helps you stay up-to-date on technology in a fast paced and ever changing world, and improves quality of life.

Independent or self-paced learning can take a lot of different forms. You might simply decide to read up on a particular course through a variety of google searches. You can teach yourself a new skill through online articles and YouTube videos. Listening to audio books or formal lectures like those available at the “Great Courses” website are another option. And of course there are plenty of online and local courses you can take on all sorts of topics. Take a workshop, learn a new language, or find a new hobby that requires new skills. There is an almost unlimited about of knowledge out there that you can learn.

Learning is wonderful because it keeps us curious and our mind active. There’s a lot of pride and confidence that comes out of mastering a new skill, or figuring out a tough problem. Think of learning as a way to exercise your mind. Continued learning helps us understand the world around us, and the people in it better. That in turn will make us more compassionate and of course well-informed individuals. As an added bonus, self-paced learning is a great way to practice self-motivation, a skill that will come in handy throughout life.

Think about what you’re doing already that is part of lifelong learning. What are some things you would like to learn? Start making a short list of knowledge and skill goals and then start tackling them one a time. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn how to knit, or you’re interested in medieval history. Maybe you want to build your own computer, or learn how to operate a lathe. Make a plan and start making life-long learning a habit.

Embrace Your Hobbies And Interests

Over the past few days we’ve taken a look at how we spend our time, what we spend it on and what may be sucking time away from us. In other words, we started to be more intentional on how we spend our time and what we spend it on. That leaves quite a few hours each week open to new things. When we’re no longer watching TV mindlessly, or let social media suck us in, we have time to do the things we thought we simply didn’t have time for.

Today I want to encourage you to embrace your hobbies and interests. Do you remember having all afternoon, weekends, and school holidays to do what you loved to do? Without the obligations of adulthood, it’s easy to enjoy a hobby or explore other interests. When we become adults, it can become tougher to sneak in those activities between everything that has to be done. We often let go of the things we enjoy doing to the most. It’s time to take back that joy and pick up those hobbies and interests again …or even find something new to try.

Hobbies are an important part of living with purpose. They give balance to our lives and allow us to spend some much needed time on something we enjoy. They help us distress and are fun. For example, if you work in an office job where you spend most of your time working away at the computer all day, it can be tough to see the fruits of your labor. You work hard, but at the end of the day, you don’t see anything in front of you that shows what you’ve accomplished. To balance this out, consider a hobby like gardening, sewing, knitting, or woodworking. Spend an hour in the evening on your favorite hobby and you can actually see, feel, and touch the progress you’ve made.

Hobbies can also help us unwind and let go of all the stress and anxiety that has built up over the workday. This in turn is good for our health and mental wellbeing. People with relaxing hobbies like playing music, crafting, painting, or gardening to name a few tend to sleep better and feel more refreshed when they can engage with their favorite past time.

Hobbies also give us a chance to connect with other like-minded individuals. There are classes, groups, clubs, and even guilds for all sorts of different things. Or you can simply form your own group. Find a few other cycling enthusiasts and start organizing group rides on the weekends. Start a monthly book club for a chance to discuss your favorite works of fiction with other readers. Embrace your hobbies and interests and make them part of your everyday life again.

How Much Time Are You Spending On Facebook

In yesterday’s blog post we talked about the time we spend vegging out in front of the TV or computer and how that time slips away from us. Today, I want to tackle another big time thief – social media. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an amazing tool, but it can also be quite distracting. It doesn’t matter if it’s Facebook, Pinterest, Tumbler, Instagram, or your social media platform of choice.

The biggest problem with social media is that it’s everywhere. We check in from our computers, tablet, and of course the ever-present smart phone. We get alerts, we check in when we’re bored, or have a couple of minutes to kill. Before we know it, thirty minutes or more have gone by that we’re not getting back.

Here’s an eye-opening exercise for you. Carry a pen and paper around with you, get a click counter or an app on your phone and start keeping track of how many times you access social media per day. Include any and all devices you use and add to the running total even when you’re just looking at it “for a second”. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be a bit shocked by how high that number actually is. This is one distraction that isn’t usually caught by the time log we talked about a few days ago since the social media interactions are so quick and frequent. Trust me though, no matter how briefly you access each platform, it all starts to add up and distracts you from other things.

How often do you miss part of a conversation or a fun moment with your kids because you were busy commenting on a Facebook post, retweeting something, or pinning a fun craft idea that you likely won’t get around to trying? Is it worth missing all those important little moments in life? And think about what you would have time and mental energy to do if you weren’t constantly distracted by social media?

The goal is to live more intentionally and do things with purpose. We don’t want to let social media posts distract us from that goal. I’m not saying that there isn’t a time to use social media, far from it. They are a wonderful tool and a great way to connect with people. But they are also dangerously addictive. Don’t believe me?

Here’s another exercise for you. Commit to not using social media at all for 48 hours. Turn off or ignore the alerts on your phone and don’t allow yourself to go to the sites on your computer. How does that feel? Do you miss it? Does it make you nervous or anxious?

It’s time to take control over social media instead of letting it control us. What can you change starting today to make that happen?

Let’s Talk About Television

Here’s a scary question for you. How much time do you spend each week sitting mindlessly in front of the TV, surfing the internet, playing video games and such? If you’re anything like the average American it’s a lot more than you’d like to admit or even think possible.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s fun to sit down and watch your favorite TV show or hang out and game. When it’s intentional and this is how you choose to spend your time, go for it and enjoy. It only becomes problematic when time flies by and before you know it is three hours later and you have no idea what just happened. That’s when TVs, gaming consoles, laptops, tablets and the likes become time suckers.

Why is this a problem? Because time is the only truly limited resource we’re working with. If push comes to shove, you can find a way to get more of everything else, be it money, friends, or something easy like bread. But time, we can’t get back and we don’t get more of. There’s no way to earn a few extra hours. We all work with 24 of them per day. Since they are our most limited resource, we should make sure we use them wisely and intentionally.

Today’s challenge for you is to simply become more aware of what’s sucking up a lot of your time when it comes to this type of entertainment. Instead of mindlessly popping down on the couch after a day at work and drifting off until it’s time to go to bed, think about it before you do. Is this how you want to spend your time? If so, go ahead. If there’s something else you want to try, go for it. In other words start making conscious choices about your free time.

Maybe you decide to go for a walk first, or meet up with a friend for a couple of beers before heading to the living room. Maybe you decide to read a book or have a meaningful conversation with your spouse or children. Maybe you decide to dust off the old board games for some old-fashioned interactive family fun. Pick what makes the most sense to you. Find something purposeful to do with all those extra hours in your day.

You’ll be amazed at just how much free time you have once you stop wasting it away. Suddenly there is time for that new hobby you thought you couldn’t get around to. There’s time to work in exercise and still find time to watch your favorite movie. Being intentional and purposeful with your time, particularly during those times of the day when it would otherwise slip through your hands can have a profound on your life and your wellbeing.

Going From Existing To Truly Living Life

We all get stuck in a rut sometimes. We go through the motions, and have the days roll by without much fun or excitement. We are doing what we’re supposed to be doing without questioning things or changing them up. We’re all guilty of this at some point or another. We get into a comfortable routine and are afraid to step outside of our comfort zone and try something new. While that may be a safe and secure way to live life, we end up spending our time merely existing instead of truly living life to the fullest.

The key to moving from letting the days pass you by to creating a meaningful life that you’ll look back on with pride is intention and purpose. That’s it. You simply have to step in, take control, and figure out what you want your life to be. Sounds pretty easy, doesn’t it?

Of course that’s easier said than done. If it wasn’t, there would be no reason to run this 30 day challenge, and there wouldn’t be bestselling books written on the topic. The biggest problem is that we’re all very good at coming up with excuses about why we can’t do what we actually would like to do. We come up with the excuses because they keep us safe. They keep us from trying new things and taking risks. They keep us from having to deal with possible disappointment.

There are things you want to do in life but maybe you're too shy or embarrassed because you're overweight or your hair is red or you have pimples or…the list goes on and on. I’m sure you have one of these that’s a mile long.

The difference between existing and living is in the DOING! Who cares if you’re a little out of shape and overweight? Who cares if you’re doing something by yourself because you don’t have a group of friends interested in the same things you are. Who cares if everyone around you has an opinion about what you’re doing. Do it anyway.

Learn to feel good about yourself, gain some confidence, love yourself, and just do the things you love. Start truly living your life to the fullest instead of simply existing. Trust me, it is well worth the risk. One way to get over the fear of the unknown and step out of your comfort zone is asking yourself “What’s the worst that could happen?” Often the worst scenario you can possibly imagine isn’t nearly as scary as the unknown. That one little exercise may just do the trick to convince you to give the things you’ve always wanted to do a try. I challenge you to pick one thing, one activity, just something and do it this week. Do it today if you can. Take action and take charge of your life and your purpose.