Monday, October 18, 2010

This is Not a Dress Rehearsal

A few weeks ago I sat in an ambulance, that was parked outside my home, watching as EMT's used a defibrillator to shock my husband's heart.  He would not have survived the 5 minute drive to the hospital unless they could shock his heart back into a normal rhythm.  I can't begin to describe the intensity of those moments.  It's only now... now he is fine... I realize that not only had he been 5 minutes away from his life  ending, but I too had been those same 5 minutes away from the life I had been living from ending as well.

How quickly things can change.   How quickly all that we know can end.  The life I had envisioned for the future... our future... would have been gone.  This threw me.  This was something I couldn't control and, for those that know me, I do so love to have control!  The 'event'  had fundamentally shifted the way that I needed to view my world, forcing me to consider a phrase that I had often heard in the past...

Life is Not a Dress Rehearsal

This is it.  This is the only shot you get.  How are you choosing to live it?  It needn't (and shouldn't!) take a potential life and death moment for us to examine ourselves, our lives, to ensure we are living a life of our choosing, a life that fulfills us.

If you feel that you are just going through the motions each day, it is likely because you have gotten caught up in living to other people's expectations, wants and needs, with little conscious thought or effort being given to your own.  If so, it's time to sit down and take what I am now referring to as the 'Paddle' test.  If they had to put those defibrillator paddles to your chest, would you choose to do things differently afterward?

Paddle Test

1.  Take Stock.  Use a sliding scale of 1-10 to determine your current level of satisfaction with various aspects of your life.  Consider...
  • Work/Career (think about your current role, your career path, your relationships at work, dream jobs...)
  • Relationships (think about the quality of the relationships you have with your partner, parents, siblings, children, friends...)
  • Finances (think here about your current debt to savings ration, your salary and earnings potential, your retirement plan/fund...)
  • Spiritual Connections (think about your sense of connection to the world around you, sense of belonging, how engaged you feel, how often you experience joy in your life...)
  • Personal Growth (think about your view of 'self', how much do you challenge yourself with new activities/tasks/learnings, are you committed to life-long learning...)
2.  Gain Insight.  Review your self ratings.  Certainly, anything less than a '10' rating implies that there is room for improvement, but... let's be a little more forgiving!  Take a look at the areas you scored yourself lowest in.  There is likely room for improvement here.  Consider why your level of satisfaction is low in that area.  Is there anything you could do to change this, to improve it?  Do some brainstorming, generating some ideas without qualifying them.  All you want to concern yourself with at this point is 'What would bring me more satisfaction?"

3.  Take Action.  You have generated a list of ideas that would help you raise your current level of satisfaction with your life.  Pick one... and do it!  Even small steps, when accumulated, can lead to big changes.  If the items on your list seem too big or daunting, then identify the one you're most excited about and break it down into smaller, more manageable steps.  We're only concerned with taking a positive step forward, not with the relative size of the step!

4.  Rinse and Repeat.  Keep going!  Build that forward momentum by continuing to work through the items on your list!

As for me?  I am giving more thought, planning and action to managing my financial future better and I'm definitely making more time for the non-work related activities I love... my glasswork, TaeKwondo, reading and... husband, children, grandchildren.  I'm even planning a 'real' vacation - to Italy - no laptops allowed!

Those 5 minutes taught me a lot about where my focus needs to be... Now.  No more 'some days'... there's only Now and how you choose to spend it.

What can 5 minutes teach you?

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