Jun 30, 2014

What Deserves Your Time?

What is the value of your personal time? 

When we're working, we pretty much get that time equals money. If we have any concept of time management, we will regularly ask: "what is the most productive and valuable use of my time?"

But what about after hours, our personal time, when we don't have to account to a boss or a bottom line? Is time any less valuable?  Most of us would probably answer that is time is MORE valuable, more precious when it is our own.  And yet, a lot of it is frittered away. There is a reason the phrase "time suck" has entered our vernacular.   

I'm neither proposing that every minute needs an accounting, nor that it must be so "amazing" that it's social media fodder. It's more about knowing what the big picture is, whatever that big picture is to each of us. It's the marrow of life, what we'll regret or be satisfied with at the end of the day, the year, or at the end of life. Even more so, it's not only about knowing what the big picture is, but living accordingly. Why? Because in the world as we know it, time is a finite and limited commodity. There are only so many personal hours we're going to get in a lifetime, and the clock is ticking . . . faithfully . . . relentlessly on. 

So how do you live the life you want? Let's look at Bill.  

He's a single father, and after some consideration he says his priorities are Career Advancement, Family and Health. Eventually he would like to remarry, but not until he reaches his professional goals and his family life is more settled.  He exercises regularly and watches his diet.  He does well at his job but probably will not get a promotion until he finishes his Masters.  His relationship with his kids is good but stressful at times, and the kids are asking for more attention . . . . attention that he cant seem to find between chores, meal preparation and general household hubbub.  With all this on his mind, he looks forward to each evening to when he can shake off the day to play his favorite video game - sometimes until he collapses into bed for the night.

What Bill is going through is normal, and so is his response.  He's overwhelmed and he turns to entertainment to forget about things for while.  So while there is nothing wrong with video games (or doing absolutely nothing), his current actions don't line up with what he believes his priorities to be.  Gaming makes him feel in control. It's a means of escaping the pressures and chaos of the day, and helps him forget he is not exactly where he wants to be in his career, family life or potential relationship. So gaming for Bill is a Band-aid, not a solution. Does Bill want to add Gaming as one of his priorities (because the time he devotes to it qualifies it as a Priority.) Not really. Bill truly wants his Masters, and he wants a more fulfilling family and professional life. He just doesn't know how to go about it with so few hours in the day.

What can Bill do?  He can examine how he currently spends his time.  He does not have to give up gaming. But the amount of time he dedicates to it must change until he achieves the balance he wants. Also, he can tweak activities so that they support two more of his priorities at the same time (multi-purposing.) Simplified, his activities might look something like this:

PRIORITIES: Family and Health.
ACTIVITIES: Menu plan with kids. Take kids to farmers market and grocery store. Make meals and clean up with kids. Plan and participate in physical activities with kids. Purchase the roller blades kids have asked for (and get a pair for himself). Sign up for locally sponsored family run at the end of summer. Go for a walk around the block or toss a ball with kids after supper/clean up.

PRIORITY: Career and Education
ACTIVITIES: Prepare better for meetings. Re-enroll in one 3 credit online class. Attend classes/do homework after kids go to bed or on mornings he doesn't jog. Listen to 1 CD/month regarding his trade on the commute to work. Read two pertinent articles a week regarding his work or education. Try to incorporate work into homework.

ACTIVITIES: Slowly replace screen time with healthier with quality activities. Strive to be in the moment with kids. Read up on developmental stage of each child.  Research suggestions of how to introduce chores to kids (Bill originally thought about hiring a cleaning service, but he has decided to try to tackle this as a family.) Discuss together with ex-wife, then kids, how many extra-curricular activities the kids should be involved in at one time, perhaps cutting back.

PRIORITY: Entertainment
ACTIVITY: Use gaming as a reward for completed tasks. Look into new (and more effective) forms of relaxation. Invite kids to participate if appropriate.

Bill may not be able to make all of these suggestions work, nor will he be able to incorporate them all at the same time.  But he has a plan of action of his own choosing that fits what he currently wants out of life. For the first time in a while, he's excited about the challenges ahead.

The absolute beauty of adjusting our activities to line up with our goals, is that our lives tend to go from stagnant and middle-of-the-road, to exciting and purpose-driven.  With a little bit of self-examination and effort, we can meet a challenge head on, or make a much anticipated dream a reality. In addition, it keeps things flexible as wants and needs change - and they always do!

So . . . what deserves your time? Tick . . .tick . . . tick . . .

Jun 14, 2014

Find Your Own Theme Song!

Music gives you the opportunity to feel something .  . . something that turns the mundane into extra ordinary.

Remember the days of your misspent youth. . . when that song came on the radio? Remember how it seemed as if everything was sooooooo right?  And even now, that same song can transport you back to those halcyon summer days - as if H.G. Wells himself put you in a time machine?  That's the power of music.

If like most people you are inundated with life's To Dos, exploring new music may never enter your mind. You might even forget to crank up the old tunes you loved from a decade or more ago.  But if music has the ability to motivate, to elate, to empower . . . . why not use it to your advantage?  Have fun while busting through your chores, or exercising, or any activity that could use a bit more excitement!

Perhaps the answer to tackling that pile in the basement or the mess in your garage is adopting your very own theme song . . .  Ally McBeal-style. Why not make a compilation CD of songs that make you feel UNSTOPPABLE!

Where to begin?  Start here! Below is an extensive list of songs from various genres.  Some are old, some are new. But every song has something special about it. Prepare to feel upbeat, hopeful, bright, happy or even slightly intoxicated by a great combination of lyrics, melody and beat. (This is perfect time to open your mind to something new - give it at least until the chorus before you move on!)

There is SO MUCH MORE music out there . . . . . But I had to stop and call it "good enough."  :)

Now go find your theme song, and be FIERCE!

32 Flavors – Ani Difranco (folk/alternative)
Accidentally in Love – Counting Crows (pop/alternative)
Bamboleo – Gypsy Kings (rumba/flamenca/pop)
Becoming - American Authors (modern indie rock)
Believer - American Authors  (modern indie rock)
Best Day of My Life - American Authors  (modern indie rock)
Boom Clap - Charli XCX (from "The Fault in Our Stars" soundtrack)
Born This Way - Lady Gaga (pop/dance)
Brave – Sara Bareilles (pop)
Breakaway - Kelly Clarkson (pop)
Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison (folk/blues/classic rock)
Build a Levee – Natalie Merchant (alternative/pop/folk)
Bulletproof – La Roux (synth, bit pop)
Champion – RuPaul (dance pop)
The Climb - Miley Cyrus (pop)
Defying Gravity – from "Wicked"  Idina Menzel & Kristen Chenoweth, or Glee (Broadway)
Do My Thing – Estelle (R&B, soul, hiphop, reggae) 
Do You Love Me? - The Contours (Motown)
Don’t Stop Believing – Journey (80's hairband rock)
Epie – Royksopp  (instrumental)
Feeling Good – Nina Simone, or Jennifer Hudson, or Carly Rose Sonenclar, or Michael Buble (jazz/soul)
Fighter – Christina Aguilera (pop)
Firework – Katy Perry (pop)
Gang of Rhythm - Walk Off the Earth (Indie/alternative)
Get Up – Superchick (Christian/alternative/pop)
Girl On Fire – Alicia Keys (R&B, pop)
Good Life – OneRepublic (pop, alternative)
Good Mother – Jann Arden (pop)
Good Time – Owl City, Carly Rae Jepsen (pop, electronic)
Groove Is In the Heart – Deee-lite (dance, pop, house)
Happy – Pharrell Williams (pop, dance)
Headstrong – 10,000 Maniacs (alt)
Hey Hey - Superchick (Christian/alternative/pop)
Hey Soul Sister – Train (pop)
Hey Ya! - Outkast (hip hop)
Hit The Lights – Selena Gomez & The Scene (electrical pop)
Hold On – Wilson Phillips (pop)
Hot Topic – Le Tigre (electroclash, synthropop)
Human - The Killers (alternative/indie rock)
I Am Not My Hair - India Arie (R&B, neo soul)
I Am Woman – Helen Reddy (70s AC, EZ listening)
I Am Woman – Jordin Sparks (pop, dance, R&B)
I Can See Clearly Now - Jimmy Cliff (reggae, R&B)
I Feel Like a Woman - Shania Twain (country)
I Got A Feeling – Black Eyed Peas (alternative hip hop, dance)
I Got You (I Feel Good) – James Brown (soul)
I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor (70's R&B, disco)
Independent Women - from "Charlie's Angels" Destiny's Child (contemporary R&B)
Intuition - Jewel (pop rock, folk, AC)
I'm Coming Out - Diana Ross (80s pop rock, R&B)
I’m Every Woman – Whitney Houston & Chaka Khan (pop, R&B)
I’m Too Sexy – Right Said Fred (British pop)
I Won - The Sundays (alternative, dream/indie pop)
Istanbul (not Constantinople) – They Might Be Giants (alt rock)
It’s Amazing – Jem (soft electronic)
Joy - The Sundays (alternative, dream/indie pop)
Just a Girl - No Doubt (rock, pop, alternative)
Just the Way You Are – Bruno Mars ((pop, soul, rock, R&B)
Least Complicated - Indigo Girls (folk)
Laisser Tomber Les Filles - Frances Gall (ye' ye')
Learn to Fly - Foo Fighters (alt rock, post grunge)
Let It Go – from "Frozen" by Idina Menzel or Demi Lovato (Disney soundtrack)
Let Your Heart Sing – Tinkerbell (Disney soundrack)
Life is a Highway – Tom Cochrane, or Rascal Flatts (rock, country)
The Long Way Around – Dixie Chicks (country)
Love Shack – The B-52s (dance, pop)
Love Song – Sara Bareilles (pop)
A Little Less Conversation – Elvis Presley w/JXL remix (dance)
Mean Girls – Rachel Crow (pop)
The Middle – Jimmy Eat World (emo, alt, indie, pop punk)
Mmmbop – Hanson (pop)
Mr. Blue Sky – ELO (British rock)
Moving on Up - MPeople (dance, pop)
My Boogie Shoes – KC & The Sunshine Band (70s top 40)
My Finest Hour - The Sundays (alternative, dream/indie pop)
New Attitude - Patti Labelle (80s pop)
New Slang - The Shins (indie rock)
A New Day Has Come – Celine Dion (pop, AC, EZ listening)
One and Only – Superchick (Christian/alternative/pop)
Overrated – Ashley Tisdale (pop, dance)
Paradise - Coldplay (alt/piano rock)
Part of Me – Katy Perry (pop)
People like Us – Kelly Clarkson (pop)
Perfect - Pink (original or cleaned up version) (pop)
Pork and Beans – Weezer (alt, power pop, pop punk, emo, indie)
Proud – Heather Small (dance, pop)
Raise Your Glass – Pink (pop)
Red Rubber Ball – The Cyrcle (60s rock)
RESPECT - Aretha Franklin (Motown)
Roar – Katy Perry (pop)
Rock What You Got – Superchick (Christian/alternative/pop)
Rolling in the Deep – Adele (pop, soul)
Royal - Lourde (pop, indie, art pop)
Shake it Out – Florence + The Machine (rock, soul)
She’s Not Just a Pretty Face – Shania Twain (country)
Simply The Best – Tina Turner (60s/70s R&B, pop)
Sir Duke – Stevie Wonder (Motown)
Sisters are Doing It for Themselves – Eurythmics (British new wave, pop)
So What – Pink (pop)
A Sorta Fairy Tale - Tori Amos (alt, pop, piano rock)
Stand in the Rain – Superchick (Christian/alternative/pop)
Staying Alive - BeeGees (70s pop, disco)
Strip Me – Natasha Bedingfield (pop)
Strong Women – Meg Braun (urban folk)
Stronger – Kelly Clarkson (pop)
Stupid Girls – Pink (pop)
Summer of ’69 – Bryan Adams (80s pop)
Summertime – The Sundays (indie, pop, jangle)
Summertime – Will Smith (pop, dance)
Supersonic - Oasis (alt, British alt pop)
Survivor - Destiny's Child (R&B girl group)
Take Your Mama – Scissor Sisters (glam rock)
Tell It Like It Is – Tracy Chapman (folk)
That's Really Super, Supergirl - XTC (alt rock/new wave/psych pop)
This One’s For The Girls – Martina McBride (country)
Three Little Birds – Bob Marley and the Wailers (reggae)
The Time of My Life – from "Dirty Dancing" Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes  (80s pop)
Think About It - American Authors (Modern indie rock)
Titanium – David Guetta & Sia (dance, house)
Touch the Sky – Brave (Disney soundrack)
Unwritten – Natasha Bedingfield (pop)
Uptown Top Ranking – Althea and Donna (reggae)
Video – India Arie  (R&B, neo soul)
Viva la Vida - Coldplay (alt/piano rock)
Waiting for Something to Happen - Veronica Falls (English Indie Rock)
Walking on Sunshine – Katrina and the Waves (English rock, pop)
We Are the Champions - Queen (progressive rock)
We are Young - Fun & Janelle Monae
We Can – LeAnn Rimes (country)
We Will Rock You - Queen (progressive rock)
What I Am – Edie Brickel (alt rock)
What a Wonderful World - Luis Armstrong (60s, jazz)
When You're Good to Mama - from "Chicago" Queen Latifa (Broadway)
Who I Am – Jessica Andrews (country)
Who Says – Selena Gomez (electro pop, dance, teen)
Wild One – Faith Hill (country)
Wishing Well - Bob Mould
You Gotta Be – Des’ree (90s British R&B)
You Know I’m No Good – Amy Winehouse (blue-eyed R&B/jazz/soul)