Month: August 2017

The Crazy Carpenter

Imagine that there is a Carpenter who enjoys woodworking. He has a workshop, and the workshop is filled with woodworking tools and supplies. He does good work, but has one…

Imagine that there is a Carpenter who enjoys woodworking. He has a workshop, and the workshop is filled with woodworking tools and supplies. He does good work, but has one major fault. When building furniture, he can’t stand to let his tools sit around. He feels like they need to be operating all the time. After finishing one project, he jumps right into the next one to keep his equipment busy. He works like mad until his supplies are gone, and then quickly replenishes them so his tools can keep working.  
Because of his paranoia over idle tools, the furniture is accumulating faster than he can sell it. He now has more furniture than he knows what to do with, and he begins piling furniture everywhere. Before long he is out of room at his shop, and he rents additional space to store his excessive inventory of furniture.  Even though it is clear to others this carpenter is building excessive amounts of furniture, he can’t seem to let the tools take a rest.

This story might sound absurd, but it probably hits closer to home than you might think. One of the key themes that I wrote about in The Soul Purpose of Money is that money is nothing more than a tool, and should be treated that way. Unlike our carpenter friend in the story, we should be content to let our money be idle when it isn’t needed.

Many of us live more like the crazy carpenter than we would like to admit. Often times we try to keep our money busy rather than allowing in to accumulate, or give it towards causes that benefit others. Increases in income are followed by increases in lifestyle, and the money has a new place to go. Self-storage is has become a multi-billion dollar industry because many of us own more stuff than we have room for.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s fine to enjoy your hard earned money and spend some of it on yourself. But it’s quite common for our spending to be out of sync with the things that we truly value. In our home, we have been focused on cleaning and organizing as of late.  Through the years, we have acquired more stuff that brings no value to our lives than I’d like to admit. Getting rid of our excess stuff feels good, and it makes our home more enjoyable to live in. Now the challenge is to keep our home free of unnecessary stuff, and keep our money going towards things that align with our values instead.

If you were to spend some time reflecting on where your money goes, does it act like a tool help accomplish things that align with your values? Or are you more like the crazy carpenter, spending without purpose just to keep your money busy? Most of us are somewhere between the two ends of this spectrum, but with a little awareness of this idea, we can move towards using our money more purposefully.
  
To your well-being,

Brian

Photo credit above

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The 5 O’clock Club

This summer my wife and I found renewed motivation to work on our health. Most people do this at New Years, so depending on how you look at it, we…

This summer my wife and I found renewed motivation to work on our health. Most people do this at New Years, so depending on how you look at it, we are either really ahead of the game this year, or really far behind! New Years resolutions don’t work anyway, so maybe the mid-year commitment is the way to go after all.

We have made some changes to our food intake, and also got a membership to the YMCA. This gym was our best option based on the availability of on-site child care. We live in a rural community, so the YMCA we joined is about 25 minutes away.
I initially resisted this idea. Why would I drive 25 minutes to work out when I could go for a run, or do body resistance exercises in our house? The reality is, while I could have been doing these things for years, I haven’t been doing them consistently. If I haven’t found the motivation to do them yet, what makes me think I could magically be motivated now?

After thinking about it, I decided that the financial commitment would likely be enough to get me to the gym. As frugal as I am, I couldn’t imagine paying to work out, but not benefiting from it. I agreed to join the gym with Emily, in spite of what seemed to be the most inefficient way I could possibly work out.

Sure enough, when the money was on the line, I was able to get up early and head to the gym. An unexpected benefit of this decision was that I was able to listen to podcasts on the way to the gym and back. Although working out is not intrinsically motivating in my world, I do love to listen to podcasts. Having time like this by myself is how I re-energize.

After getting a couple of workouts under my belt, I did enjoy the feeling of doing something good for my body. The discipline summoned to get to the gym early made me feel good as well. But these good feelings only came after the workout, and were not motivating enough to get me out of bed early in the morning. I kept going, and I realized my motivation was coming from an unexpected source…the drive to and from the workout.

Having time for myself in the morning has been the motivating factor to get me out of bed. Working out was the original goal, but it is now just one part of the morning experience. After realizing this, I thought it might be worth while to pass this story on. Most of us probably have something in our life we would like to accomplish, but can’t seem to find the discipline to get it done. In addition to unaccomplished fitness goals, there are books to be read, books to be written, hobbies to be pursued, art to be made, relationships to be invested in. For some of us, the trick to making forward progress is to combine the thing that takes work with a something more motivating.

If you go to coffee shops consistently because you love good coffee, why not make it the place for the reading or writing you want to do? Or you could make it the reward for a working out instead of the having it be the destination.

Today I hit a milestone in my fitness journey; I made it to the gym at 5am when they opened. In the past, I struggled to find the motivation to wake up that early. For me, reframing the workout as part of a greater experience that I enjoy has brought a consistency to my workouts that I haven’t achieved before.

If you have an experience like this to share, or an idea of how you would like to put this into practice in your life, I’d like to hear it. Please share in the comments.

To your well-being,

Brian

Photo credit above.

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