A Few Words on Being Useful


Be Useful - It is a wonderful lifeMany people chase happiness as the ultimate goal.  This is flawed in many, many ways.

Many leaders also tell us to follow our passions.  This is not too far from the truth, but not exactly right either.

As humans, we can exist.  We can live everyday by simply eating, sleeping, using the bathroom, and being zombies.  We exist for the sake of existing.  This is fine, but striving for something better usually makes life more interesting.

Over the past week, I found myself sitting in my apartment in San Antonio, enjoying YouTube, books, and all the great things the internet has to offer.

I started to notice how alone I felt.  I started to consider that I was an extrovert instead of being the introvert I always thought I was.  Then I realized something was missing from my life.  Something of use, perhaps.

And that was just it.  Being useful to the world around me.  While I am exploring career opportunities, in recent weeks, I’ve spent quite a lot of time alone, working on projects here or there.  These projects are quite solitary and really useful only to myself.

While many of us chase happiness, I think the real goal in life is to be useful to your community.  That is, you are providing value, giving back, and participating in your community on a regular basis.  Doing these things on a regular basis has been quite devoid of my time for the entire year.

I was sick for six months, I left my job to take time off, and now I am able to realize the value of being useful.  Being useful not only helps us be a part of our community, but also provides us with an opportunity to socialize, build self-esteem, and even make our community and others better.

As you become useful, you will share a bit of yourself and others will share a bit of themselves with you.  This sharing of experience is a vital part of life and is essential to living longer.  Those with high quality relationships with others tend to live longer.

As you go through your day, think of the ways you are being useful to those around you. Engage with the people around you and discover what makes them useful.  Stop chasing happiness, stop searching for your passions, and just be useful. The rest will come.

Why So Many “Plans”?


For the last few weeks, I have had the honor of vacationing in Santa Fe, NM for rather cheap.  A good friend needed someone to take care of their house while they were away and I said “yes.”  So, I have been able to clear my head in the “Land of Enchantment” and take in both the physical beauty and the spiritual beauty of the place.  Lets just say I don’t want to leave.

As my brain turns back toward reality, I was thinking about the different things I need to start tracking as I head back to the real world of crime, concrete, smog, and sirens.  I made a list and was shocked at the amount of planning I was considering, let alone tracking and refining.   Oh yeah, these don’t even take into account the checklists which would proudly support the plans.

Some of these “plans” include:

  • nutrition/meals
  • exercise
  • time management
  • to do lists and actions
  • contacts
  • hobbies
  • PRM (personal relationship management)

Suddenly it hit me as I chowed down on a spicy fish taco (the gas hit me later) that I was building the manual to life.  What??  Really??  Have I reduced myself to the point that I need these “documents” to manage my life?  Maybe I have.

Read about my horrific year so far, A Significant Detour

life pulls in too many directions, make a planThen I thought of a client of mine from my house sitting days in SoCal who tracked everything through Microsoft Outlook.  Not only did he have detailed contacts up the wazoo, but he had calendar reminders, repetitive tasks, and even files embedded into this instance of Outlook.   His life, his household was managed through this interface.  It was brilliant, but also touchy. I realized how touchy it was when he asked my how to backup his outlook.pst file.  Even more touchy when a new version of Outlook came out and the import was corrupted.  But such is the digital life.  Living at the perils of ones and zeros, power outages, and corrupt files.  On the other-hand, the analog life is clunky, slow, non-searchable (is that a word?) and given character as you spill coffee on the paper.

You may be interested in reading my post, Just Push Through It!

It is possible to manage a complete life within some type of productivity tool, digital or analog. (more in this later).  Sometimes life is simply that complex.  It isn’t so much that one has failed to keep track or manage things on their own.  Feeling the need to plan everything, or most things, is simply a strategy to relieve stress.   When one records items on a piece of paper, they relieve the brain from having to remember them.  Writing things down (or typing them into a program) is freeing yourself to enjoy many other things the world has to offer.

So, let’s get planning!  Go mad with the lists, the calendars, the reminders, and the non-sense before we miss another episode of Grey’s Anatomy.