Tag Archives: charity

10 Tips for Making 2010 Less Busy, More Fruitful

I’m re-posting tips from last year that received a lot of positive feedback. It’s not only about what you DO with your time this year, but also what you DON’T DO, freeing up your mind and heart, and giving yourself the energy to pursue your goals.  Whether your goal this year is to cure cancer or improve your relationship with loved ones, I hope you succeed.

Are you busy or fruitful? I heard this question recently, and it caused me to think about how the busyness of life can keep us from the important things, the goals we want to achieve in our families, relationships and professional lives. I’m not one to make resolutions each year, but I am one to evaluate what is working and what isn’t. Look back at your 2009—was it very productive? Or were you frequently overwhelmed by your to-do list?

Here are some strategies I’ve tried to use to make my life less busy and more fruitful. (I’m a work in progress.)

1.      Set goals based on your talents and true calling. What is your passion? Write down some smaller steps to help you reach your goal.

2.      Spend more time thinking (or in prayer/meditation) and reading good books and less time watching TV. These activities boost creativity and energy and help us focus.

3.      Reduce your intake of negative news. As a Journalism major, this was tough for me, but I’ve gained more than an hour a day of time and reduced my anxiety level.

4.      Consolidate errands, go online or do without. Do you really need a new outfit or another car wash, or can you spend the time/money elsewhere?

5.      Delegate, ask for help or just say no to things you do not want on your to-do list.

6.      Stop complaining to those who cannot correct a situation. Address problems with the appropriate sources, but don’t waste everyone else’s time over it.

7.      Make peace. Resolve conflicts with people in your life; you’ll spend too much time and energy stewing over unresolved conflicts.

8.      Encourage and help others, especially the less fortunate.

9.      At the beginning of each day, think about what you’d like to accomplish (write it down) and the attitude you would like to project to others.

10.  At the end of each day, evaluate how you did on #9, and consider what changes you may need to make.

So, what are your goals or resolutions? Please share the time-saving tips that have worked for you. And best wishes for a happy and most productive new year!

Do You Make a Difference to Someone?

Do you ever lament that you didn’t live up to a certain ideal or potential in life? Do you wish you could have a big impact on the world? Do you ever dream you could be great at something? I have, especially when I watch a great musical performer. I wonder what it’s like to have such a huge talent, but I’ve learned to just appreciate each person’s gifts. I used to think I should be responsible for something great in life, but I have changed my perspective. That is not to say I believe anyone should be mediocre, but I think small things are a great place to put our attention.

Have you heard someone say “I’m no Mother Theresa,” meaning they’re not perfect? In fact, she was a most humble woman and never attributed any great act to herself.  She is often quoted as saying, “In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.”

When you think about how you impact the world on a daily basis, people probably don’t judge your career success or accomplishments or whether your house is perfectly clean each day. But the grocery clerk will notice if you remembered her name. Your child will notice if you made her favorite meal or took a few minutes to listen. Your coworkers will notice if you help un-jam the copy machine and try to be a pleasant person with whom to work.

A November Redbook Magazine article shares small gestures that couples use to show their love. A wife sneaks a dog toy into her husband’s suitcase to remind him of home. A husband surprises his wife with freshly ironed clothes. One man is excited that his wife listens to details about his basketball game. Several of them regularly leave little love notes around for their spouse, either text messages, love letters or sticky notes. These are the little things that keep love alive and relationships strong.

Not to be outdone by the love birds, acts by strangers are highlighted in a recent Woman’s Day article. A mother of three secretly paid for a soldier’s coffee and muffin, and felt good all day. Another was blessed when a stranger gave her and her son an umbrella and jacket while in the rain. One person even gave away a piano he wasn’t using to a child who was learning to play and was visiting a church each day to practice because he didn’t have one.

If you’ve ever been to a funeral, these are the stories that get told, the acts of kindness, generosity and love.  The great presentations given to management won’t be remembered.

Once you feel like you have the hang of doing small things with great love, you might consider upping the ante. CNN recently highlighted the top 10 everyday heroes who made a big difference in seemingly small ways, from rebuilding houses in New Orleans to educating children in extreme poverty or crossing the border each day to feed hungry children in Mexico. Many of them used very small amounts of money to make a great big difference. Go to www.cnn.com for inspiration, or consider supporting a charity close to your own heart.

How will your children remember you? Your spouse? Your friends? What do you hope they will say about you?

 

What Would You Do With $1 Million?

“Forget trying to keep up with the Joneses. The Joneses are broke!” I heard this quote recently on the news and wanted to say, “Amen, sister.” We are learning that the vast majority of Americans have been living beyond their means for some time.

 

It reminded me of an interview I had with a couple (happily married since 1967) who were imparting their best marriage advice. One of the earliest decisions they made in their marriage was to live debt-free and not to advance their lifestyle. That means when they have extra money, instead of buying a bigger house or a flat-screen TV, they give it away. Shocking in today’s culture, isn’t it?

 

With their high levels of academic achievement (a physician and master’s in Education) they could have sought out high-paying jobs, new furniture, nicer cars and a shinier lifestyle. Instead they chose jobs and volunteer roles for their real contributions. They have given significant sums to charities. They have also used their time and money on mission trips.

 

They still live a comfortable lifestyle and reared and educated two children. But they never let money take control of their life or their decisions. And they never argue about money. How many marriages today would benefit if financial stress was removed?

 

If you were handed a million dollars today, would it change your life? Would you buy a new house, put in the market, take a trip to Europe, plan for retirement, help your parents, give a little away or put it under your mattress (because you can’t trust today’s banks)?