Ripples in Our Lives

Think of this as urging you to commence a self-audit this week.  No worries, it should not lead the IRS or any other agency to commence an audit of your life.  This is an audit for you alone.

As Jerry Garcia once sang in one of my all-time favorite tunes, “Ripple,”

There is a road, no simple highway,
Between the dawn and the dark of night,
And if you go no one may follow,
That path is for your steps alone.

So regain your focus here for a few minutes if you have lost it in previous sections and ask yourself the following:

Where are you at, right now in your life?  What are you truly doing to better yourself and/or your current situation?  Where on God’s green Earth are you heading?  For another year of treading water and running like a hamster in a wheel, like I have done for so many years?  Or are you focused and determined to better yourself and your life in 2018 and beyond?

If your life is filled with doubts, fears, anxiety and low self-esteem, can and will you replace them with a more positive sense of direction?

As simple as these questions are, they are ones that go through my head at some point or another nearly every single day.  It is rare for me to be content with myself and my family’s place in the world of today for an entire day.  Perhaps when we are together on a too-rare vacation many miles away from our home, my job, my wife’s part-time job, our son’s college and our daughter’s high school and their many obligations can the four of us truly unwind for a few days.

The only way that you and I are going to improve our lots in these lives of ours is to convince ourselves that we are going to make it, and then to take appropriate actions.  If there is one central theme to everything that I have written for my own and your benefit, it is the notion of taking action.  Actions speak louder than words and nobody has ever become successful just by thinking about things and keeping them to themselves.

True, reading, thinking and planning are important aspects to improving our lives.  But unless we follow through on doing things to achieve those measurable goals and aspirations that we have, it is all for naught.  At the end of 2018, and I reiterate that this book is not meant to describe some magical way of reinventing yourself in one short year, you and I both want to be better off than we are today, next week or next month.  As many a wise person has said, if it were easy to accomplish, everyone would do it.

Some days, like today, I would have rather remained in bed.  I would have gladly utilized one of my ninety-four sick days, claiming to feel under the weather.  Part of my own grittiness is that I basically never succumb to that notion, dragging myself to my stressful job day after day, month after month and year after year.  I have certainly had my fair share of failures at work, but I pride myself on coming in every day, confronting not only my own shortcomings but the many shortcomings of the community that employs me in an economic development capacity, and get up every time that I am knocked down.

Every day, week, month and year from here on out I intend to keep paying my dues and making small strides here and there to bring myself closer to achieving my goals.  I urge you to take the same approach.

My own biggest dream among many smaller ones, and one that has just recently taken ahold of me, is to start an e-commerce business.  The prospect of starting one frightens me more than I can say.  I am not tech-savvy, I do not possess the salesmanship gene and I tend to say and write more when less will do.  On the plus side, I do know my own limitations fairly well, I am not averse to hiring out contract help to do things like design work and website design, and I do not mind working at something for hours at night and on weekends and holidays while other people are relaxing, traveling or vegging out in front of the tube.

Without belaboring my own story of coping with anxiety and stress for the latter part of this year, suffice it to say that I received a major kick in the pants this past July which has led to my thinking about and researching the launching of my own business after helping others achieve their own dreams of opening or expanding businesses (although in the brick and mortar world) for the past seventeen years.

Invest in Yourself

I spend so much time, words and money on investing in financial products for my wife’s, children’s, and my own future benefit, but not so much investing in myself.

This New Year, let us you and I spend some quality time with ourselves and discover what is truly important to us within our own hearts.  However hard and unlikely it may be, like me making tens of thousands of dollars from my eBooks or launching a successful e-commerce business, let us adopt and maintain positive attitudes and do not let setbacks discourage us too much.

Look at the opportunities that we have before us to reach our objectives.  While it is true that my own eBooks may never sell like hotcakes, I know that many other people will gain success in that endeavor, so why shouldn’t I?  True, self-improvement books by self-proclaimed experts on the topic are a dime a dozen.  What makes this one different or worthwhile?  I ask myself that same question.  The answer lies in that we are taking this journey together in baby steps in a measurable, actionable manner.  Not just the hopey dreamy stuff but concrete measurable things by the use of numbers.

To invest in yourself, find and do something every single day or at least once per week that brings you one step closer to your goals and then reward yourself for your efforts, no matter how insignificant it may seem at the time.  Heck, having a handful or readers read this post or purchase it in eBook form is an extremely minor accomplishment.  However, if hundreds or thousands read this over the years and it helps spur some small measure of action and ensuing reward, then I would gauge these past few lunch hours writing this a resounding success.

I am going to strive to practice what I preach.  I have been generally dissatisfied with myself and my lot in life over the past year.  More so since the indignity of being transferred to a new department and young boss who was hired as an intern in our organization eight short years ago.  I could cry in my beer over it or I could use it as motivation for self-betterment.  I am choosing the latter rather than the former and have been working on improving my own mental outlook nearly every day for the past five months.  And that after reading dozens of self-help books over the prior year and a half, taking the advice to heart and sharing it here.  I acknowledge being in the midst of a midlife crisis; however my hope is to emerge from it stronger than ever, in better mental health than ever and poised to succeed over the coming decade and beyond.

I am taking more responsibility for my life, which means making better decisions, improving my attitude and finding the courage to go forward.  Neither I nor anybody else expects you to transform your or my life overnight.  But we can and should both start transforming some of our attitudes right now.

I have previously written of a better version of myself locked within me somewhere.  I have recently opened my eyes wider than they have been opened upon reaching a Prime Age this past November.  Not that I was pleased with myself prior to that, but something about reaching that age with a new thirty-two-year-old boss in a municipal economic development job entirely based on politics and arcane rules made me feel like an utter failure.

I realize that others would gladly trade places with me, but I dwell on those who would not for a million bucks.  I study those people, question them and try to learn what I can from them.  I strive to discover the resources that I have to make my life happier, fuller and more meaningful, but they are not always apparent.  I do not expect to shed 4.7 decades of restrictive conditioning in one short year, but I do expect to be in a better place at the end of 2018 than at the beginning.

It is not all about me me me.  I write this for you you you to think about the things that I write about.  When you begin taking stock of yourself like you are now, you begin to see possibilities in what could be.  Meeting our lives head-on begins when we begin to appreciate and understand our own strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.  I have completed these SWOT analyses of various sites in my community, but it is quite a different thing to analyze it as it pertains to your own life.

Image result for if i knew the way i would take you home
Source: Pinterest

As the last line in Ripple states, “If I knew the way, I would take you home.”

And I would.

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