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Simplicity In Life: Tying Up Loose Ends And Eliminating Stress

9878_bridge_1Look around you. How many unrealized plans do you see? How much unfinished business do you have sitting on your desk at work waiting for you in the morning? What about ungraded papers, unread emails, un-thrown-away junk mail?

Maybe paperwork isn’t your problem. Maybe it’s a half-finished basement, a bathroom renovation gone sour, a fence in the back yard that needs to be adjusted. Or you have bill collectors hounding you. Or you aren’t contributing enough (or anything) to your retirement plan. Or you are in debt out your eyeballs. Or you’re still lugging around that extra 5 pounds that you’ve been meaning to lose (or the 75 pounds that has grown as you’ve been ignoring it for the last decade).

Whatever the case, we all have unfinished business in our lives. These things can cause incredible amounts of stress when we think about them. They can cause even more when we ignore them for a while hoping they’ll go away. But they rarely do.

Here’s the secret
You won’t change a thing in your life until you finally decide that you’re disgusted with living the way you have been living.

Most plans go unfinished simply because they are good ideas, perhaps even great ideas, but they aren’t all-encompassing ideas. By that I mean, we don’t develop the intense focus needed to accomplish them.

This goes back to the concept of planned neglect that I mentioned a few weeks ago. If we really want to change something, we’re going to have to give it solitary focus for an extended period of time. This is the psychology behind Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover plan (watch the videos for more info).

Having said this, there are a couple of things that we can do to help lower the stress in our lives.

  1. Find a source of stress and beat it into submission
    Figure out one thing that brings most stress in your life. If it’s a relationship, work on addressing the problems that are going there. If it’s financial, focus all of your effort onto one financial goal at a time. If it’s a project, just decide to make it happen immediately. Spend a month or two developing one habit that will get you moving into the right direction. As you focus on one thing, other problems will become evident and your passion and focus will help you to overcome those in the process. But don’t get sidetracked! Stay on target.
  2. Resolve to ignore the problem
    This is the other choice. If it’s not something illegal, immoral, or unhealthy, just accept it. If it’s something you want to eventually get through, then put some steps into place to gradually get over it, but sometimes there is beauty in just flat out accepting your own imperfections and moving on. It may be something you accept now but in a year or two or six you’ll be at a point where addressing the problem is easier and more reasonable.

I have a few unfinished series of articles on this blog that I started but for one reason or another I gave up on. This year, I will go back and finish some of them. If I don’t finish them all, I’ll live. So will you. If I do finish them, great! For now, I’m simply not going to worry about them.

For me, my focus point right now is exercise (specifically, training to run a 5K). Do you have one yet? If not, what are you waiting for? Tweet or blog about it and let people know.

Joel Wagner
Joel Wagner (<strong><a href="">@sywtt</a></strong>) began teaching band in 2002. Though he had a lot of information, his classes were out of control. He found himself tired, frustrated, disrespected by students, lonely, and on the brink of quitting. He had had enough. He resigned from his school district right before spring break of his second year and made it his personal mission to learn to be a great teacher. <strong><a href="">So You Want To Teach?</a></strong> is the ongoing story of that quest for educational excellence.

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