Archive for June, 2012

Things That Matter


“Men, for the sake of getting a living, forget to live.”    —Margaret Fuller

Many things in life compete for one’s attention and time.  There rarely seems to be enough time in a day to address everything tugging at your life.   At work, at school or at home it seems that nobody ever attains that elusive state of existence we call being, “caught up.”  The fact is it’s never possible to be caught up.  As soon as you complete one “to do” list, you’ll find that another list has emerged to take its place.  Life in America is busy, in many instances even for retirees.

With all of the hustle and bustle, it’s quite easy to allow each day to blend in with the next.  The end result is we get caught up in routines that often result in our missing out on the things that really matter in our lives.  If you’ve seen Bill Murray’s movie “Groundhog Day,” you’ll get the picture.  Each day becomes a replay of the previous one, like being caught in an endless circle of the mundane.

The end product of such routines is missed events, missed occasions and missed opportunities.  Think about those things you most regret having missed out on in your life.  It might be a birthday, anniversary, wedding, baptism, funeral, recital, ball game, a move to a new location or job, or something entirely different.  Each of us has a list of personal regrets weighing on our respective souls. Sometimes the weight becomes too much to bear.

As a management consultant, one of my services entails helping people make the most of their time and other resources.  In order to do this, I recommend a reflective exercise called “imagine.”  It goes like this.  Imagine that today you learned you have three months to live.  Make a list of the things you’d like to do with your remaining time?

Many people playfully compile something called a bucket list—a list of things they’d like to do before they die (kick the bucket).  It usually includes a lot of exciting activities, like skydiving, climbing Mount Everest, traveling in outer space and other great adventures.  However, people who partake in the “imagine” exercise tend to be more serious in compiling their lists.

Common answers to the “imagine” exercise include spending more time with one’s family and loved ones, apologizing to someone you’ve offended, helping someone in need and spending more time in prayer and spiritual pursuits. “Working more” rarely appears on such lists! Doing the “imagine” exercise produces a list of the things that really matter in one’s life.

It’s useful for anyone to develop a personal list of the things that matter.  Life is short and our time and other resources are limited.  Knowing what matters in your life will help you be a good steward of your resources.

Colossians 3:23 tells us, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”  I urge you to take time to reflect on what truly matters in your life and work heartily at being a good steward with the time and other resources you dedicate to the things that matter.  Concurrently, work earnestly to eliminate as many as possible of the distracting things that don’t really matter.

As the popular Johnny Mercer song goes, “You’ve got to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative,
and latch on to the affirmative, don’t mess with Mister In-Between.  Just for grins, here’s a link to the original Johnny Mercer recording.

Wikipedia: H is the eighth letter in the ISO basic Latin alphabet.