Time for a Change (It Will Do You Good)

You probably know by now that I get a lot of joy and inspiration from music and great song lyrics. I put Sheryl Crow’s song “A Change Would Do You Good” in the great song and lyrics category. And I thought about it recently as I began to think about how to know when it’s time for a change

So when is the last time you really shook things up … like unbuttoned the second button of your starched white shirt or blouse? Okay, hopefully that gave you a little giggle. Now let’s makes the rest of this blog post a meaningful experience.

So When Is It Time for a Change?

In all seriousness, when is the last time you really stepped out of your comfort zone? Here are some questions to ask yourself as you wonder if it’s time for a change in your life…

• Have you become a creature of habit?

• Do you frequent the same establishments?

• Do you eat the same foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner?

• Do you find yourself using the same “go-to” excuses for not getting together with family or friends or missing the kids sporting events?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, a change may just be what you need. As Sheryl would say, it would most definitely “do you good!”

Finding and Implementing the Right Change

Now, if you’re thinking, ”I’d like to change some things in my life but I don’t really know how or where to begin,” let’s start with a few very common low-hanging fruit opportunities:

1. Work – If your profession defines you and you live to work, how about cutting back just a little? If you’re a Type A think about using the newly-found free time for family, friends or yourself. Maybe go in a little later or don’t stay late every night and keep the work on the weekends to a minimum.

2. Exercise – If you’re constantly saying, “I’ve got to start working out and get in shape” … well, w.t.f. are you waiting for? You didn’t get out of shape overnight. Start slowly (the worst thing you can do is to injure yourself) and try to do something every day, like take a walk with your spouse and the family dog. Try something new, like stretching, yoga or meditation. You’ll be surprised the impact this lifestyle change will have on your outlook and demeanor.

3. Cell phones and technology – If not having your cell phone causes you separation anxiety, you’ve got issues. Start trying to wean yourself, again a little at a time, from texting and Facebook. You will be surprised by the time this frees up for family, friends and kid time.

4. Whatever doesn’t bring you joy! Think about the things you do each day that don’t make you smile. Maybe it’s an annoying household chore, or a friend who doesn’t stop complaining about their job situation. Think about how you can initiate changes that will reduce those elements in your life.

Life is short. And whether you want to make a big change (like a new career) or a small change (like bicycling to the bookstore instead of driving), shaking things up can be uplifting and invigorating. So think about it … is it time for a change in your life?

To Live Your Dreams or to Chase Your Dreams? (Another Perspective)

Last week, I wrote a blog post about the difference between living the dream and chasing the dream, being or feeling content when you are enjoying your life as it is, and the discontent you feel when you’re always seeking more. But I wonder … is it that black and white? Can it be a good thing to chase your dreams from time to time?

When Does Living the Dream Go Too Far?

So let me play devil’s advocate here….

There’s a counterpoint to be made to my statement the other day: that living the dream leads to a happier, healthier outlook. Maybe being too happy or too content isn’t ideal either.

Let’s take it to an extreme. Let’s say you’re unemployed, unable to pay your rent, and about to be evicted. But hey, you are healthy and alive, so you are content and “living the dream.” So you kick back, smile and figure that whatever happens … happens.

Now most people will never be content in that situation. But let’s dial it back a bit. Let’s say you are 27 years old, have been in minimum-wage job for the last five years, and are still living with your parents. But you have great friends, go out every night and have fun, and are truly enjoying life. Is that an okay time to be living the dream? Chances are your parents don’t think so.

When and How to Chase Your Dreams

We can all agree: the key to happiness in life is … well … to be happy.

But sometimes, maybe it’s important to balance that happiness in the moment with setting career goals (like getting that dream job), planning for the future (like saving for retirement) … or even dating (so that you can find the right person for you).

Chances are you can come up with one or two things that you want to improve about your life. Here’s how to take those and make them goals you can really achieve.

• Think about where you want to be and work backwards from there. What steps will it take to get from point A to point B?

• Give yourself concrete objectives and timelines. For example, hold yourself to an objective, like “I need to update my resume by the end of the year.” Or “I want to lose 5 pounds in the next 6 weeks.”

• Find ways to reward yourself along the way as you achieve the small objectives that will help you chase your dreams.

• Bring in friends and family members that can help cheer you on and be your biggest supporters.

So maybe chasing your dreams doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy each and every day that gets you there. Maybe it means that it’s important throughout your life to continually stop and think about what can make you even happier – both now and in the future.

Are You Living the Dream or Chasing the Dream?

In a previous blog post, called Don’t Bury Your Head in the Sand, I referenced the final scene from the movie Dirty Harry where Inspector Harry Callahan says to the villain…”Do You Feel Lucky.” I used it to emphasize the importance of listening to your body and acting when you sense something isn’t right. For this post, I have a similar question for readers to contemplate: Are you chasing the dream or living the dream?

What Is the Difference Between Chasing and Living the Dream?

Well, chasing the dream is another way of saying that you still haven’t found what you’re looking for. For whatever reason(s), you aren’t content with certain aspects of your life and so you feel the need to seek, search, or wish for something more. 

On the flipside, living the dream says to me that you have found contentment with your life as it is today. You have found an inner peace and calm.

Why Living is Preferred Over Chasing

The phrase “living the dream” pretty much says it all. It involves living in the moment and enjoying the task at hand. It means that you’re content and satisfied. Just compare that to the angst and discontent of wishing or wanting what you don’t have.  

This may sound simple, but chances are if you assess your own life you may find that you are spending a disproportionate amount of your time chasing your dreams and less time living them. 

Some Basic Living vs Chasing Dream Questions

So how do you know if you are living or chasing? Here’s a good list of questions to ask yourself.

• Do you focus on the positive or negative aspects of your physical appearance?

• Do you feel a sense of self-worth or lack of purpose with your career profession?

• Do you see the charm or deficiencies of your current domicile?

• Are you satisfied with your interpersonal relationships or are you seeking more from family and friends?

• Do you feel a sense of security or insecurity with your personal financial status?

Answer these questions honestly. After all, you don’t have to share your responses with anyone but yourself. Those answers will likely be good indicators as to whether you are living the dream or chasing the dream.

Finding Your “Me Time” (and How to Use It Wisely)

The hustle and bustle of daily life can feel like it’s eating up every minute of every day. How many times have you said: “There aren’t enough hours in the day,” or “I’m so busy I can barely breathe.” Translation: you need some “me time”.

The Importance of “Me Time”

If you are like most people, your daily task list includes: spouse and/or children tasks, work tasks, house tasks, pet tasks, sports/club/group tasks (and more)! There is, however one glaring omission from this exhaustive list: the me time” task. That’s the time when it’s all about you.

Can you remember, the last time you had time to or for yourself? How about the last time you were alone and it was so quiet you could actually hear yourself think? It’s probably been a while.

These opportunities, while limited, often provide a way for people to take a temporary time-out from the roller coaster of life and check-in with their inner voice. This is when you can really reflect on your life, your decisions, and your state of emotional being.

3 Questions You May Ask Yourself

When you finally have the time to get deep in your thoughts and connect with your inner self, your mind is likely to wander to these three important questions.

1. Am I on the right track in life? As I’ve said many times before, time is precious and life moves at warp speed. If you listen closely, your inner voice will tell you whether or not you are on the right track. If you find that you are on the right life-track, great. If you realize that you took a temporary detour, you can make the necessary changes to get your life back on track.

2. Is my life filled with joy or tension? All of us need to be surrounded by positive influences in our life — be it people or activities. Your inner voice will let you know honestly and objectively whether you’ve been successful at that. Is your life filled with people and activities that bring you joy and pleasure or stress and tension? Negativity breeds negativity. You set a high standard and bring a lot to your relationships. Expect the same from those you consider part of your inner circle.

3. Does my life have purpose and meaning? This is a topic that is often overlooked, but I believe that individuals derive a lot of their personal happiness and self-worth from it. Feeling like you have purpose and meaning could mean having a job that you love, being involved in rewarding volunteer work, or raising good children. When people feel they’re making a difference in their little corner of the world, they typically feel good about themselves and their lot in life. On the other hand, when people feel that they are just spinning their wheels, it can lead to unhappiness and discontent. That can have a ripple effect on many aspects of their life.

If you listen closely to your inner voice you will usually find the answers to these three important questions. So next time you’re working on your to-do list, add one more item to it. Your “me time.” This bit of self reflection may lead to more long-term happiness than you could ever imagine.