Compliments of dolanh via Flickr

Recently (over winter break) I had the entire inside of my house painted. This was on the heels of having the wood floor replaced, the tiles repaired, and the kitchen remodeled. This spring (after a long stretch of continuously doing something to “spruce up” the house), I’ve decided to call it quits.

Like plastic surgery gone amuck, I don’t want continual fix-ups to become the focus of my life. The hackneyed phrase “life is short” is lost on those whose fixation lies on pursuits other than enjoying it. We see this same phenomenon in those who barely leave themselves enough to live on while they’re socking as much as they can away for retirement.

I read about someone finding their deceased grandmother’s best nightgown wrapped in tissue paper, never worn. How much enjoyment can you obtain from life now, instead of waiting until later? The waiting game is in fact a gamble, when we consider that none of us is guaranteed another day. Don’t spend so much time either living in the future or spending on home maintenance that you forget to live right now. This is not the dress rehearsal.

Have you made a “bucket list” of things you would like to accomplish? I recently purchased “1001 Places to See before You Die.” Have you done any of the things on your wish list? If not, consider the following:

  • Revise your expectations.  Maybe your goals are too lofty for your current time allotment or bank account. What aspirations reframed might you attain on a smaller budget, or in a shorter time frame? Don’t let bank breaking or extravagant day dreams stop you from enjoying the present.
  • Schedule. We accomplish what we deem as priorities. Have you penciled in your plans to visit “paradise?” Where do your dreams of luxury fall on your daily flipchart? Making time for everyone (and everything) besides yourself will only drain your batteries and siphon your reserves. 
  • Budget. How much money have you set aside for personal enjoyment? Being misers with our personal time is a disservice to ourselves, and ultimately to others who interact with us “running on empty.” If you’re arguing whether to spend $10K on a vacation or on a new Persian rug, consider which experience will create lasting memories. Like so many “things” which we bring into our home, the novelty is short lived, and we’re left with an emptiness which creature comforts cannot fill. 
  • Work less. The Europeans (and much of the world) have a different philosophy; they work to live, not the opposite. If you have the means (but have never taken a break), something is terribly wrong.  
  • Nurture yourself daily. Read a good book, take a bubble bath, call a friend, and get enough sleep. You may be the only person taking care of you.
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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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3 Responses
  1. As I’ve come to know, keeping your balance in life isn’t as easy as it sounds. For me it’s a work in progress, but I don’t mind.

  2. Charles Barnett on January 17th, 2012 at 10:54 am
  3. Well said! I decided on these values at 19 years old. It’s amazing how quickly everything comes together if you just truly believe that you already have it all. I don’t wish for things anymore, I just do them or get them. I live within my means, so there is no pressure. It’s only life and who the heck knows what that means…so enjoy. My favorite book on the topic is A New Earth by Eckert Tolle.

  4. Jodi on January 17th, 2012 at 2:06 pm
  5. Thank you for this! Discussions of living in the future always remind me of a Twain quote. “Some of the worst things in my life never even happened”. Imagining our future is one of the biggest wastes of our creativity and source of much destructive, fear-based worry. I am always better served when I instead choose to create my future, which requires that I live in this present moment.

  6. Gary Lougher on January 18th, 2012 at 4:42 pm