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Live the Good Life Your WHOLE Life

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Why do we think we have to wait until we stop working for everything to be wonderful?  This idea that you slave away in the workforce for decades and then get a free pass to Wonderland for the rest of your life is silly.

There’s no free pass.  Ever.  Not even if you’re buying in on that “Golden Years” model and riding around in your motor home.  The truth about “the Good Life” is that it’s up to you to create it.  If you don’t have it, it’s not somebody else’s fault.

So before you start blaming your boss, your kids, or your spouse, see what you are doing about the following:

  • Are you doing anything that honors your deepest sense of purpose?  You don’t have to spend your entire day focused on what you’re passionate about.  You can get away without doing anything about it some days, if that’s unavoidable.  But you do have to keep it in the mix.  Life happens.  Deal with it–but come from your own sense of why you are here in how you do whenever you can.
  • Are you making bad assumptions about how much time you need to do something for yourself?  Yes, it’s nice to grab an entire afternoon, or even a full day, to do whatever it is that you enjoy.  But not giving yourself anything when you can have some makes about as much sense as not eating what’s in the fridge when you’re hungry because it’s not a five course dinner.  Give yourself the “little” treats when you can’t afford a day at the spa–or the golf course–on your current time budget.  Read a short story instead of a novel.  Take a “three minute vacation” by meditating about a setting you find particularly soothing.
  • Are you using solutions that meet more than one need?  A friend was concerned that she wasn’t getting enough exercise.  She was also looking for ways she could do some financial belt tightening.  One of her solutions to the second problem helped with the first.  She decided to do her own gardening instead of hiring it done.  Walking is a great way to lose weight, but it’s also an important resource for problem solving.  (There’s something about putting one foot in front of the other again and again that helps you sort things out.)  Looking for solutions that give you what you want along with what’s needed to deal with the obvious problem can make life a lot more pleasant.
  • Are you assuming that this stage of your life is just hard work? A lot of what we blame on others actually comes from what we are telling ourselves.  Of course, much of what we tell ourselves comes from what we learned from others, but still…  The Protestant Work Ethic has helped us thrive as a country, but use it in moderation!  You aren’t going to win a prize for going in early, staying late, bringing work home and having a heart attack because you were so focused on your job.  Yes, you need to do the work.  No, you do not need to do it 24/7.  You’re not effective that way and it is definitely not any fun.  Take timeouts as you can.  When you go on vacation, let go of everything you possibly can about work.

It’s easy to get sucked into external demands.  The job.  Your house.  The kids…or grandkids.  Your spouse.  That fact that you don’t have a spouse but want one.  All of that stuff is part of life.  How you knit it together is your call though.  You can make some really gorgeous tapestries with ordinary thread.