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How do you know this isn’t your blessing? Tyler Perry in Diary of a Mad Black Woman

When tragedy or the unexpected strike, we automatically assume the worst. In your life (when you think back on these experiences), was this always the case? Or did crisis cause you to focus in a way that was unexpected? Sometimes we’re so accustomed (or resigned) to a routine that we don’t consider an alternative course of action. Only during crises do we think of rearranging our priorities. Oprah explained that failure “means you’re moving in the wrong direction.”

Peter Walsh refers to stress as life clutter. Your current melee could be the very wakeup call that mandates a shift. If you’ve never taken a vacation (because you’re too busy working), your life needs a serious realignment. Time off does not have to be extravagant. Even a stay-cation (unplugged) is a marvelous way to recharge. I think one of the biggest tragedies is to spend our lives in 5th gear – only to shorten it as a result of feverish attempts to earn more.

Relinquishing our tight grasp on an ever mounting “to do” list is a first step at redeeming time. And, it may create space for something new to emerge – a talent you didn’t have time to cultivate, or an opportunity put on hold because you were too busy with other pursuits. In fact, the very thing percolating in your subconscious may come to fruition when you make room for its emergence. If you had your druthers, how would you imagine your best life? Would it include more down time, or more loosely structured activities in which you’re in charge? Perspective is lost through myopic focus on more, and our unwillingness to dismount the Type A treadmill. Below are some steps that will aid in the “regrouping” process:

Envision your best life. What are you doing (and where are you doing it?) Sometimes a short term loss of income is necessary to realize our ultimate potential, particularly if your dreams entail additional schooling.

Determine the income you need to live a life of meaning (not excess). In Enough Already, Peter Walsh estimated that a single home was filled with 500K of clutter. Once you’ve purged the unnecessary, how could you pare down monthly expenses? What costly hobbies/activities could be substituted with trips to the park, YMCA, or better yet, volunteering? (which would give you an opportunity to enrich both your life and someone else’s?). Time frittered on hedonistic, meaningless pleasures is a waste of a precious commodity.

Focus – Lives splintered make us frenetic. Where is home base? If you concentrated your efforts in a single area, I imagine you’d be more relaxed, more productive, and far happier. A shot gun approach will hurt you in the long run.

Budget – Excess can lead to indulgence and superfluous items. Having less forces you to reevaluate your needs against wants, and to stop spending aimlessly. Frugality and care are dual pillars of an examined life.

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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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