Squandered Talent and Wasted Time

29 Jan

To listen along, click here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/betterlivingdaily/2015/01/29/squandered-talent-and-wasted-time

For those who read my blog post from Monday, I quoted something I read that really affected me. It contained a sentence that is still rattling around in my brain. That sentence talked about squandering our talent being diabolical and wasting our time being equal to selling our soul. I don’t know why those two thoughts have stuck in my awareness, but they have and it is amazing how much more focused and thoughtful that has made me this week.

Isn’t it amazing how a quote or a thought can do that? Sometimes you hear just the right thing at just the right time, and your perspective shifts enough to get you moving, get you moving faster or get you moving in the right direction. Sometimes it even does all three. I’ve said before that I know what to do to improve my life but sometimes knowing isn’t quite enough to get you going or keep you going when fatigue or something that seems more interesting or fun comes along. This morning is a perfect example. Although this has been a very good week for me, I haven’t been getting as much sleep as my body would like. After tracking my activities over the past few years, lack of sleep is probably the number one reason my productivity usually peaks on Tuesday and wanes for the rest of the week. I should get more sleep. I intend to get more sleep, but something keeps popping up to keep that from happening. I could blame it on the TV or teenagers that prefer to talk after 9pm rather than before or some other circumstance in my life, but the truth is that I make the choice to stay up later than I should which then becomes an excuse for why I fall short on my goals and dreams. I’m tired. I’m exhausted. I don’t feel well, because, guess what, you don’t feel well when you don’t sleep well. How ridiculous is it that we keep doing the things that keep us from our greatest joy?

I’ve listened to motivational speakers and read self-help books for years. I know the tricks. I know the processes. I know all of the things I “should” be doing and yet, I’ve not done them as consistently as I would like. In addition to fatigue, I could blame ADHD. I’ve not been diagnosed, but one of my children has and the more I’ve learned about it over the past seven years, the more I understand that I am the tree my ADHD apple fell from. Referring to this morning again, I got on the computer to look something up. Thirty minutes later, I forgot why I logged on to the computer in the first place and got sucked into looking at email and Facebook. Now, I don’t condemn either of those activities. Email is a great way to send and receive information. Facebook is a great way to connect with people, but for me to even think about looking at my computer before I’ve gotten my morning routines knocked out is a recipe for disaster. I can lose hours of my day and wind up cranky because I’ve wasted yet another opportunity to move forward in my life in a positive way.

As many of you know, I spent some time in Florida with a dear friend of mine last week. We have known each other for a very long time and had a great time, but I learned so much from her last week too. We were walking one day, and I don’t remember what we were even talking about, but I told her I didn’t begrudge her any of her lifestyle or her success because I know how hard she and her husband have worked for it. Her reaction was very interesting because I could see how much she appreciated what I had said. I guess when you’re wealthy so many people think you’re lucky. They think somehow you just sailed right into your wealth. My friend has worked since she was fourteen years old. She put herself through college and has risen through a male dominated profession to own her own company and be in great demand for her expertise. In her business, because she works with several government agencies in the health field, she has deadlines she must meet and had to work while we were in Florida, and it was a chance to see how dedicated she is to what she does. Those deadlines motivated her to get the client and her staff moving to create the reports the government required. It was amazing how focused she was, but she put the work away at night and sometimes during the day to focus elsewhere, and that’s where I learned so much from her. I found out that my friend, who I thought was always naturally thin, worked out with a trainer at home. She has to pay the trainer whether she shows up at 6am or not, so she’s motivated to get out of bed because apparently the trainer isn’t cheap. To keep up some kind of physical routine while I was there, we walked after every meal. It gave us time to talk, move our bodies and for her to clear her head for a while before she dove back into work. It was a great lesson in using positive pressure to keep up her physical routine while visiting with a friend and getting work done at the same time. Talk about multi-tasking!

The interesting thing is that I knew going into the trip that my friend would have to work. I worried about being bored, but what I learned was worth every moment I was there. I saw my friend balance work and play and have success with both. Whether she felt it or not, I saw no guilt that she should be spending time with me when she was working or she should be working while we were walking or having fun. It was a great few days, and it changed how I approached my days when I returned, and then I read the quote about squandering our talent and wasting our time, and it seemed to confirm everything I was thinking. It was energizing and exciting, and then I got sick. Are you kidding me? I had spent this wonderful time learning and becoming inspired to do all sorts of wonderful things and I was sick? Well wasn’t that a fine “how do you do”.

Have you ever set a goal and everything seems to get in the way of you accomplishing it? Have you ever set one, and it felt like the stars aligned to make it happen almost as soon as you designed it in your head? I have had both happen, and experts on goals have very different ideas about what to do in those instances. Some experts will tell you that if you encounter obstacles, you are on the right path because achieving goals is hard work and you need to muscle your way through, and that works really well for some people. They almost need to overcome to feel a true sense of accomplishment. Other experts, though, will tell you that when you find the path or goal that is truly meant for you, things line up. Opportunities arise, seemingly out of nowhere. The very people you need to help you just appear in your life. With my first book, that is what happened. My husband and I were sitting on a highway that was closed because of an accident. We started brainstorming and before the hour that we sat on that highway was up, we had the bones of the book finished. It was amazing and almost seemed too easy, and that’s what seems to happen with the second type of goal. You start thinking that it is too easy and the fear monster creeps up and whispers in your ear that something that easy cannot possibly be worthy. You must have missed something. It cannot be that easy. Success cannot come so simply. We are so conditioned to think we have to work hard for anything to be worthwhile, that when success comes without pain, we create drama and pain in our head. Ick!

You know what? Being a loving and fun mom came easy for me. Being a good household manager did not. I could make up songs, cook healthy dinners that my family liked and find fun activities to do with little effort. We went to the zoo, the amusement park and hung out with cousins regularly, but I struggled to keep our home picked up and the laundry caught up. When I learned I had a people orientation rather than a task orientation, my life began to make sense. You see, I could get so much done with just a little bit of help. I remember thinking that I would love to have a friend that would come over to my house one or two days per week and help me clean and then I could go over to her house and help her do the same. Then I thought about what a freak I must be not to be able to clean my home by myself and that there must be something wrong with me for sure. Ironically, not long after that I found FlyLady, who taught me that I was not alone in the struggle to keep my house clean and the FlyLady chat room which was designed to bring together women who struggled with housework like I did. We would work in whatever chunks of time worked for us and report our successes back to the group for a pat on the back. It was the most positive experience I had ever had cleaning my home, and I have become friends with several of the women from there. It never felt like drudgery to do my housework when I was working “with” those women, and I finally got what I had always wanted, a home that I could welcome people into without embarrassment and apologies about the condition. If you are a naturally organized person, you may not understand that, but if you are anything like me, you’ll know what a gift that felt like.

So here’s what I have figured out about goals and dreams. Those who are task oriented seem to respond best to overcoming obstacles and those who are people oriented seem to respond to having their life align with their goals. Neither is better or worse unless we judge it to be so. I remember some of my family members running a vacuum every day when their children were younger. They truly seemed to enjoy the act of vacuuming, even though they did it every day. Even the idea of that to me is abhorrent, although I do clean my floors most days. Instead of dragging out my vacuum, I have a smaller, cordless vacuum that I use to zip around my floors in about 5 minutes. It has a dusting cloth on it which picks up extra dust from my lovely hardwood and tile floors and gets the job done for me. We both end up with clean floors, and we’re both happy.

Remember when I told you I was feeling ill? Well, during that time, I let myself rest. I napped and ate healthy and though I was worried that maybe my next book wasn’t the goal I should be pursuing, the words and ideas for that book started flowing like mad. I jotted down ideas and looked at pieces I had written before and figured out that it was actually going to be possible to get what I needed to create the book I wanted to create. It was amazing how quickly the illness, that could have been my excuse for not completing the book, became the catalyst for me to actually finish the book. So, whether you have made some New Year’s resolutions or you don’t believe in them at all, what if you pick a goal, just one goal to work on for the next 66 days, which is the countdown to Easter that we’re doing on the Better Living Facebook page. What if you apply your talents to something worthwhile and invest your time in improving your life and/or the lives around you? How could your world and the world around you change in the next 66 days? That is my challenge to you to use your talents and time to achieve a goal whichever way works for you and make the world a better place. Report back and let us know how it goes, and as always, thanks for being you and have a great day.

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2 Responses to “Squandered Talent and Wasted Time”

  1. Sarah & Squirrel January 31, 2015 at 12:04 pm #

    A life saving post. Thank you, so so much.

    • karenbemmes January 31, 2015 at 2:24 pm #

      Always glad to help. Thanks for reading.

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