Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Top 15 List of Life Thieves: Introduction

Are you being robbed?

Did you know there are thousands of thieves stealing your life from you everyday?

It's true! But, the worst part is that most of us don't realize it until we're at the other end of our life. At some point, we all begin taking stock and reviewing our memories and recalling all the things we never got to do. Why? Because something always seemed to come along that diverted us from the things we really wanted to do.

This Life Thief concept struck me like a lightning bolt the other morning when I was waking up. I realized there were so many things I haven't done in my life that I had really wanted to do. I also began thinking about friends, family and others I know who have experienced or are currently experiencing some thief stealing parts of their lives.

One Way To Define Life

It's important to realize and accept that life is a quantitative commodity. In the United States of America, the overall average life expectancy is 79.6 years with women living a couple years longer and men living a couple years less. The U.S. actually ranks about #35 in average life expectancy in the world, depending on the chart you look at, of course.

Obviously, since we're discussing average life expectancy, some people will be blessed with a lesser gift of life time while others will be blessed with a greater gift. However, since none of us really know the true value of our gift, it would seem that whatever our gift is should be valued as priceless.

Allow me to extrapolate this 79.6 years into some other familiar units of time measurement. Think about these numbers. The average life expectancy equates to 955.2 months, 4,153.4 weeks, 29,074 days, 697,776 hours, 41,866,560 minutes or 2,511,993,600 seconds. So, what do these numbers mean?

To me, they represent the gift of life I was given and the great wealth I have in time. My life represented by time is priceless because I know I can't replace it. I can't buy, rent, borrow or steal any more time. But, even if you place a simple monetary value of one penny per second on your life, it means you begin life with a potential net worth of at least $25,119,936.00.

Chances are you've never considered the value of your time this way. I doubt that very few people ever do. Time is, well . . . time. We complain because it seems to pass so rapidly. You hear older people say, "I don't know what happened to all the years." I know, because I say that myself, as do my friends.

But, another thing time represents is LIFE! From the very first breath you take upon your birth until the very last breath you take when you die. The span between these two events is measured in time.

Life Thieves

Just as we expend money in financial terms, we expend our life in terms of time. However, while we are able to accumulate financial wealth during the span between birth and death, we can only expend our time wealth in relation to life and it will continue to dwindle. Those who are on the positive side of the average life expectancy didn't accumulate more time. They were simply blessed with a higher "net worth."

Every one of us will expend our time differently. Obviously, there are some commonalities like sleeping, eating, personal hygiene, basic daily chores and such. However, every one of us will encounter Life Thieves that will rob us of our priceless time (and life) without guilt, concern or remorse. Worse, yet, unlike a criminal who knowingly steals with intent, most Live Thieves don't even realize they are committing their  nefarious acts.

Here, then, is my Top 15 List of Life Thieves. I'll discuss each of these thieves in more detail as an ongoing series of topics over the next several weeks concluding around the middle of January 2015.

 Top 15 List
 Life Thieves

15.  Shoulda/Woulda/Coulda
14. Job/Profession/Business
13. Traffic/Congestion
12. Time Wasters
11. Government
10. Television
  9. Education
 8.  House(s)
7.  Internet
6.   Money

And, Now . . . the Top 5

5.   Pets     
4.   Friends
3.   Family 
 2.   Spouse
        1.    YOURSELF

Only the top five are in, more or less, significant positions of importance. The other ten can be pretty much in any order. Number 15 and number 12 are catch all thieves. They both cover a multitude of losses. The other 13 are more specific. Most probably apply to you, some may not. Only you can determine if you've been robbed or are currently being robbed.

Take note of number 1. YOU are the largest Life Thief on the Top 15 List. The insidious thing is that we don't even know we've been robbing ourselves of our own lives.

There's more to come and I'm sure you'll realize that a significant percentage of your life has been stolen and, most likely, continues to be stolen by these Life Thieves. Hopefully, together we can apprehend these Life Thieves and preserve as much of our life wealth as possible. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

"You can do anything, but you can't do everything."

That quote is by Greg McKeown from his book titled, Essentialism. I picked up the quote in a recent post by Joshua Becker from his BecomingMinimalist blog. Joshua has some great insight on minimalist living and finds some terrific sources for his ideas.

I'm sure many, if not most of us were told, when we were youngsters, that we can become anything we want to become and achieve anything we want to achieve. I'm sure most of our parents had great aspirations for their progeny.

If they were highly successful in their profession and career, they expected us to follow in their footsteps.

If they were working class folks like laborers, factory workers, civil servants or similar occupations, they wanted us to do better than they did.

What our parents didn't expect was for us to choose something that we were drawn to because we loved whatever it was, but was probably not deemed to be stepping up, but stepping back. Maybe we wanted to be  skiers, surfers, forest rangers or whatever. It just wasn't conceivable that we might choose to do something we loved rather than do something purely for the money. Our parents, relatives and family friends would do everything they could to dissuade us from following that course even though it was what we CHOSE and wanted. Some of us relented and gave up our dream - our "anything." 

I bring this up because I've been going through another short period of writer's block. This time I realized something that hadn't crossed my mind before.

I've had an interesting and, reasonably, free and exciting career in the electronic media. But, at this stage of life I've chosen to reinvent myself as a writer. I feel a good writer must be inspired to write whatever will he will pen (there's an old term in a digital age).

As I read Becker's blog, it dawned on me that my writer's block isn't always caused by not being inspired by something. Actually, more often than not, it's because I'm overloaded with things I want to write about. Call it input or information overload. Thus, I am stymied by not being able to select one of many topics that have captured my attention and inspiration.

So, this is where the other part of Greg McKeown's quote comes into play, "but you can't do everything." Nice going, Greg. I think he nailed it for me. I can do anything. I can write about anything I choose to. But, I just can't do everything and I can't write about everything. I know, this sounds simplistic (which is part of minimalism, anyway).

We live in an extremely complex society with literally tens of thousands of bits of information flowing through our lives everyday. How can we process it all? I don't have a clue. I surely haven't figured out how to do it or I wouldn't be writing this.

So, I'm accepting that I can't write about everything. I'm also realizing that the longer I write (the length of  an article) the fewer people have the patience to plod through it, even if I'm revealing the solution to the greatest mysteries of life. So, I'm going to begin providing information in smaller doses with an occasional essay on some very inspired topic. Some other bloggers I follow may use photos or a short video clip to tell the story or make the point. I may, too.

Peter Drucker said, "People are effective because they say 'no,' because they say, 'this isn't for me'." So, I'm going to say 'no,' this isn't for me when I am mulling over topics to write about and you get to say 'no,' this isn't for me when you check my blog to see what I'm expounding on.

My intention is to provide useful, valuable, thought provoking and inspiring content in shorter articles with the hope that you'll find more content you can relate to and use in your own life. 

By the way, this article is actually the size of an average newspaper article. Watch for more like this.