When Was the Last Time You Negotiated with Life

“Life, are you there?”
“Yes. I’m always here.”
“Right. Could we negotiate a couple of things?”
“Like, what?”
“Let’s start with the gym…”

In a constant battle with your life? Starting with being 15 minutes behind when your day begins? You’re not alone. Read on…

You can try to negotiate with Life, but Life always gets the last word. Life doesn’t have to put in any extra work when it comes to ‘Your Life’. That’s your responsibility. In fact, if you don’t try to work something out with Life, Life will simply keep making choices on your behalf in the background. Your best option is to take charge of as much as Life as possible. 

Health

This is a no-brainer, as they say. Your health is the lynchpin to every other facet of your Life. Everyone has an arguable reason for not exercising, from the mundane to the legitimate.

For years I got up at 3 a.m. and went to the gym before my household awoke and before I had to be at the office. I did this for two reasons: 1) to not take time away from my family during the day, and 2) I didn’t have any excuse not to go (Ie. It’s been a long day and I deserve to not go). 

My time at the gym has changed now I’m retired. I work to get in three to five days a week and go a little later in the morning. The best time to workout is the time you commit to and stick to going. Simple. Done. 

“Exercise helps prevent and improve a number of health problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes and arthritis. Research on depression, anxiety and exercise shows that the psychological and physical benefits of exercise can also help improve mood and reduce anxiety.” – Mayo Clinic Staff

Education

When I was growing up, there was a very clear path in front of me. Graduate from high school. Go to college and get a bachelor’s degree. Consider your field and work and, if necessary, obtain a master or doctorate degree. 

With children of my own, I’ve seen the positives and negatives of furthering traditional education. One son needs it to solidify his position at work. Another son went into debt to obtain a degree, for which he is still chasing his employment dreams. He received impressive grades through his schooling, but employment has been frustratingly elusive. Yet another son is foregoing formal education, but he works to educate himself in other less-formal ways. 

The price of the formal education road is brutal. The payoff can be chancy. However, I will still stand by the comment that you have to, “Educate yourself.” If not in a classroom, then by a mentor, or on-the-job, reading, studying, asking questions, consuming everything you can about your chosen field. 

I’m confident in saying that if you’re reading this story, you are above average. You are studying ways to better yourself, actively. This makes you above average. 

Family

You’re either in or you’re out. That seems a little black and white, but there’s really no successful grey area. 

I recall a movement growing up of what people were calling “Quality Time” with their kids. Their argument was though they spent very little time with their kids—due to their busy schedules—the time they were spending with their kids was “Quality.” I call bunk. 

Your kids aren’t in need of just short bursts of quality time. They need “Quantity Time” with you. They need you to be available in those inspiring moments they may need advice or to simply know you’re there for them. 

My greatest family time was every night around the table. This was the time we all could check-in with one another. Everyone had a say. From the youngest up to and including my wife and myself. We caught up on the day. Mentioned any concerns. Taught. Shared experiences. Made arrangements to our calendars. And simply enjoyed spending quantity and quality time together. 

I’m confident you will never find a gravestone saying, “I wish I would have spent less time with my family and worked more.” Just saying. 

Relationships

You may have heard of the study from Harvard on Ted Talks about relationships and health. Though it may not be groundbreaking, it verifies many of the axioms we tritely grew up with about life and relationships. 

It’s worth the 13-minute watch: 

 

“The surprising finding is that our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships have a powerful influence on our health,” said Robert Waldinger, director of the study, a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. “Taking care of your body is important, but tending to your relationships is a form of self-care too. That, I think, is the revelation.”

In considering relationships, it’s important to weed out those noxious weeds taking over your garden. In other words, cut loose from those relationships having a negative effect on you. And in an opposite vein, truly invest in those relationships that matter, to include your partner, family, and close friends. 

Be “friendly” to everyone. Be a “friend” to many. Be “Best Friends” with your spouse. Done and done. 

Employment

My father gave me some great advice when I entered the adult world, “Find something you like to do and get someone to pay you for it.” I searched and searched for a job where someone would bring me chips and salsa while I watched college football, but I failed—sorry dad, I tried.  

Jokes aside, does your employment define you or is it a means to an end? Can it be both? What’s your endgame with your employment? 

Your job is how you earn money. It’s what you do to support everything else you do in your life. It’s a tricky thing at times. Deadlines. Stress. Accomplishments. Promotions. Overtime. Work trips. Co-workers. Bosses. Staff. 

Shawn Achor does a better job of explaining happiness and work and their correlation in his Ted Talk: 

 

Spiritual

We aren’t going to argue about religion—or politics—here. Spiritual has many facets to it. Whether you’re a church-goer or non-church-goer, everyone has a spiritual side and need to them. 

In our fast-paced era of technology and now, now, now, we need to address this. Whatever your beliefs, I would argue you need to set aside time to attend to them. 

My main spiritual day is Sunday. On that day, I go to church, don’t go to stores making other’s work, and spend time with my family. The funny thing is I have a group of friends I ride motorcycles with—not a gang, more like an ibuprofen support group. When they figure out a ride, they try to work it in on a day other than Sunday, because they know Sunday is “Rusty’s family day.” They respect that and I appreciate it. 

I’m not going to go into what you should do or when you should do it, only that you should do it! Carve out the time and stay committed to it. Give your mind and spirit the time to regenerate before you pull back into life’s fast-lane. 

Takeaway

Well, what do you think? I bet if you made a checklist from this story you could go down it and check off many of the items. See? Not as overwhelming as it seems. Keep fighting the good fight. 

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men (women) to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

Also published on Medium.

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