Remember when you graduated from high school? It would have been helpful if they had made it absolutely clear that not only were you graduating but you were also being initiated into the school of life. And that this meant that you are now your own teacher or you need to find teachers, that you are in charge of the curriculum, the homework, the studying and the evaluations, and this also means that there is no one guiding you about what to learn and what is important to learn. Many of us went on to college and so this initiation was delayed for another several years. But the initiation does finally come. Here is what I know about life school. There are particular areas that we can master, or at least grow significantly in, and it makes life much easier and more satisfying. They are –
Money management Time management Relationship health Self-care Parenting Work life Recreation
These categories are not listed in any order of importance. They are all vital to our well-being. Sometimes adequate education was offered at home in some of these areas, but it is a rarity when we are educated well in all areas. Having the sacred honor of working intimately with others concerning the difficulties of their lives, I know that these areas of life are critical to master at a basic level, and that without this mastery problems or chaos ensue.
Money Management Our culture is sending us messages daily that it is acceptable to live in debt. During the most recent economic downturn, many of us got a wake up call about debt, about the need to change our behaviors and attitudes about spending and saving. In some respects the knowledge needed is simple – addition and subtraction – just the basics. We have money coming in and money going out – the difference between the two equates to either a support to our life (excess coming in) or a drain to our life (excess going out). If the in-coming exceeds the out-going, we find ourselves with choices, a sense of freedom and security and power. If the out-going exceeds the in-coming, we feel stretched, stressed, fearful and depleted. These feelings emanate throughout our entire being and impact every aspect of our life, even if we are not conscious to this reality. Money management is critical to our well-being. All that we need to know about managing money is readily available once we are ready to take responsibility for this aspect of our life. Any bad habits acquired can be changed. We must decide we want to live without money stress and guide our resources wisely.
Time Management There are 24 hours in the day and this is not going to change. Many of us are constantly stressed and feel that there is just not enough time to get everything done. This may be true given what our individual life choices are and the commitments we have made. It is essential to our health that we evaluate how we are using the precious resource of time, to deeply consider what we are investing our time into, and to utilize the hours we have to our ultimate satisfaction. Again our culture seems to push us to spend time on activities that are not necessary for well-being. Leisure shopping, television, and excessive socializing are a few examples. Keeping a record of how you spend your time is a good beginning to help you start the assessment process and reconsider your choices.
Relationship Health Relationships are the main staple of my work with others. Beginning with the relationship we have with ourselves, and moving into the history of our primary relationships, we discover that this facet of life is crucial to most people’s happiness and life satisfaction. Our relationships generally reflect what we have come to believe about ourselves on the deepest level. Most often our current relationships reflect our first primary relationships until we have learned to grow beyond any limiting patterns. Our communication skills are critical in this area; our weaknesses in communication are often reflected in relationship unhappiness. Unless we are consciously learning to create vibrant and satisfying relationships based in our personal growth and the desire for fulfilling relationships, we often find ourselves repeating old patterns that cause us to feel disappointed with the quality of our relationships. Learning new skills in this area can be a truly life-enhancing experience.
Taking the time to assess our skill level in these basic areas is a beginning. Investing in enhancing our skills often means finding new life beyond any boredom, frustration or disappointments we may be currently experiencing. Part 2 next week will continue this discussion, looking at the other areas and offering ideas about how to move into change.