Don't get too excited by the title ... I am NOT the person to talk about taking inventory of items or possessions. My mother and husband would be happy to tell you that I keep weird stuff and get rid of all sorts of things I shouldn't (vehicle titles often end up missing, and yet I have enough books to start my own library ... some things I can't part with and other things I just end up throwing away because I'm not a clutter person). Anyway - that's the disclaimer for today's post. I take a daily inventory of my life and I am incredibly thankful that I do. A friend of mine recently mentioned that I should share this technique with others, so here goes...enjoy!
Take Inventory of Your Life
Do you do things that aren't fun? Do you do things just because you've always done them? Have you lost sight of your goals? Do you have any direction at all, or are you just trying to get through the day?
I'm going to start by telling you about my previous life. I am not complaining, but I want you to see that no matter how you answered the questions above, there is hope for you...
I was working 40+ hours each week IN the office, plus working from home, checking my smart phone at all hours of the night, thinking about work ALL the time, and I felt great. I felt like I was really accomplishing things; people respected me (or so I thought) and I could buy things for my family. I thought I was living the American Dream. I had purchased a beautiful house with a nice yard, I drove a nice SUV, my children were attractive, and I had some money left over to purchase aesthetically pleasing things. Luckily I was fired from my job, because I had fooled myself into a false sense of purpose. I thought I had it all. What I didn't see was the reality of the life I had woven for my family.
My reality was that the nanny was the only one enjoying my lovely home and tranquil gardens. I wasn't home to enjoy them in the daylight and I honestly hadn't sat in some of my own furniture ... EVER ... I got up before the sun each morning, took a shower, left for work before my children woke up. I drove home after dark, after the children were tucked in bed, I did a bit of cleaning, leafed through the bills, checked some emails, thought about ways I could be better and more efficient/effective at work, and I crawled into bed. I didn't really know what was in the fridge, because most of my meals were eaten out and the nanny did the cooking and shopping for the children. I didn't even do my own laundry or take the time to meet my daughter's chiropractor. I didn't notice my son's speech impediment or his hearing loss. I missed both children's first steps, first words, and I have two potty-trained children but I have no idea how to potty train anyone, or teach them how to tie their shoes.
See how different reality was from the way I viewed things? I didn't have time to think about what I was doing or why I was doing it. I felt like I was doing okay because I was able to write the checks that supported the lifestyle that I wasn't even involved in. Now ... life is very different. I know what my goals are, and several times each day I ask myself if I'm having fun. If I'm doing something that isn't fun, I ask myself what purpose it serves and then decide if it should be continued or discontinued. Here's an example: I volunteer on the board for _______________, and I enjoy it, but it takes me away from my family quite a bit and I find myself dreading the meetings and not looking forward to the events. It would serve a purpose if I was looking to network and grow my business, but I'm really looking to grow my family, have more time for writing, and reading - so it's not fun and it's not serving my ultimate purpose in life. I resign. Plain and simple - now I'm done with it and I have extra hours each month to do things that are fun!
Here's a little secret too - resigning isn't as hard as you think. Sometimes people will ask you to stay or ask you to explain why you're leaving, so be prepared with those answers, but for the most part, people dislike confrontation and they won't even ask. Worse yet...or maybe better yet...they won't even care. It's really not as scary as you think.
Don't just quit volunteer things either. Is your job fun? Does it serve a greater purpose? In the grand scheme of things are you really bringing home enough money to justify the hours you put in or the stress? I have a friend who has three children and after paying a sitter, paying for gas, etc... the job (and yes she has a college degree) she dreads going to each day pays her about $7 per day. Add in the convenience foods they sometimes purchase because she doesn't have time to cook, or consider the doctor visits because she's exhausted and stressed out, and she is paying these people to keep her employed. She's not having fun and her job is not serving a greater purpose. She has decided that working from home in a freelance position would be better for her, for her family, and for her long term goals. Had she not taken an inventory, she wouldn't have realized that. She would have kept doing what she has always done and she would have woken up after all 3 children graduated and wondered "what happened to the last 20 years of my life?"
If it's not fun and it's not serving a great purpose in your life, think about ways you can either make it fun or discontinue doing it. This rings true for relationships too. Don't continue a friendship with someone just because they've been your friend for 20 years. If they drain the life out of you and you don't have fun with them, and you don't feel warm and fuzzy after speaking with them ... pull away from the friendship. Taking an inventory of your life will help you stay focused on your goals and will increase the 'fun factor' in life. It's easier to get out of bed in the morning if things are fun. (this doesn't mean you get to quit cleaning toilets or scrubbing floors - those things serve a greater purpose of keeping your home aesthetically pleasing and healthy for you and your family, but I'm sure you knew that!)
May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine, and fun with a purpose!