Living Each Day

New Year’s resolutions are not a new phenomenon. As the sun sets on each year, it is quite common for people to take a step back and reflect the on their past 12 months. That reflection time is often brief and results in a new found dedication to diets, exercise, organization, and other life improvement goals.  This year I took a step beyond making new resolutions.

Rather than just looking back on areas where I fell short, I took time to remember the days I found fulfilling, memorable moments, and all of the fun times I had. I was inspired by a friend (aka I entirely stole his premise) who explained to me at the close of 2014 how he took the time to identify his top 30 days of the year using fulfillment, memorability, and fun as the primary factors.

I found that I had a hard time making a similar list. It is possible that I didn’t dedicate as much time to it as my friend who came up with the exercise while studying for law school finals. Why is it that we are so often struck by great ideas when our focus should be elsewhere? Regardless, I am positive that I had many days and experiences in 2014 that were memorable, fulfilling, and fun; I just couldn’t recall all of them or pinpoint the exact day most occurred. But, I loved the idea of tracking those days and am taking a more thorough approach in 2015.

This year, I am using a very basic spreadsheet to track the most significant event of each of my days whether it be a meeting, a meal shared with friends, or a soccer game on an uncharacteristically warm January day. At the end of the week, I pick a “Best Day.” And from my list of “Best Days of the Week”, I pick a “Best Day of the Month.”  It will be easy come December to pick my “Best Day of 2015” because I will already have it narrowed down to 12 days.

It has been one month since I started this exercise, and already, I am incredibly grateful for it. Here’s why:

  • Even on the most frustrating and tiring days, there is a diamond in the rough. It might be an important lesson learned, but most days it is just the active choice not to let the bad out-shadow the good.
  • If I am ever a key witness in a criminal trial, I will be able to clearly recall my day’s activities. There won’t be any of Serial’s inconsistencies.
  • I love Sundays.

And most importantly, I have been reminded that each day is a gift. The time we have on this earth is precious, and we should use it wisely. Tracking my daily activities has led me to live my life in a more purposeful manner. So, here’s to 2015 and the implementation of pirated ideas!

and,

            That’s All She Wrote

The Truth about being Busy

Everyone is busy. That is a plain and simple truth. I don’t know one person that doesn’t consider them-self busy.The plight of being busy now begins in childhood. Even the youngest of children participate in multiple extra-curricula. By high school, students barely have time to eat dinner with their families, and most are too busy with one activity or another to even consider taking on a part-time job. *As an aside, I worry that many teenagers are missing an important opportunity to develop soft skills and to better prepare themselves to enter the workforce.* Those of us  already in the workforce face a constant barrage of emails and meeting invitations.  But, no matter your age or employment status, each of us is living life, and life has a way of being busy.

We are a society of multi-tasking, over-committers. And what’s even worse, it seems that many people seem to glorify being busy. I think we all know someone who attach some self-importance to being busy. They are the individuals who will spend an entire conversation meticulously telling you either everything they have to do or everything they have just accomplished. Precious moments that could be spent exchanging ideas are wasted on recitations of to-do lists.

I will admit with some embarrassment that there are times that I have been that person talking about my schedule. I don’t feel that being busy elevates me either personally or professionally. In fact on some days, I really begrudge being busy. But, I remember a time shortly after I started working that I would have given anything to have a way to fill my evenings. So on most days, I am grateful to have what I consider a full life, but a full life doesn’t necessarily have to mean a busy life.

A quote that is often attributed to Socrates reads, “beware the bareness of a busy life.” Now, I am unsure of whether Socrates ever said that, but since it is on the internet, I assume it must be true… Regardless of the statement’s origin, it puts forth a sentiment that I entirely subscribe to. A person whose days are full might have a very empty life.

I was especially struck by the distinction between a busy and a full life a few weeks ago while visiting a dear relative who has been a member of a monastery for more than 60 years. The members of this community do not have “busy” lives by modern standards yet their hearts and days seem very full.

Maybe your busyness is fulfilling and life giving, but maybe it isn’t. At the end of the day, I think that as a society we should stop the glorification of “busy.”

and,

            That’s All She Wrote