Are you thankful?

[thangk-fuh l]  

–adjective

feeling or expressing gratitude; appreciative.

I spend a fair amount of time contemplating life as well as the consequences of my actions.  A few years ago I realized that my thoughts had a very negative tone.  Most people wouldn’t have guessed this because of my innate ability to keep a relatively happy exterior, but the truth is; my own harsh personal criticisms (which I’m sure we are all guilty of) and the doubt and  guilt over bad decisions really didn’t add value to my life, in fact, it did the opposite.  All of this contemplation and internal reflection on my missteps fueled my personal insecurities, which led to an ego issue (I had to over compensate with an external “everything is great” appearance) and then this manifested itself into an ever-present level of internal frustration which I have affectionately pushed out on those closest to me; my family.

So why do I share all of this?  I share this with you because I’ve worked very hard for 2 years to realize that the internal punishment some people may put themselves through is worthless.  Yes, life can suck from time to time and yes, work might be a pain in the ass and yes, the kids may have a really busy schedule, but I realize that the more I focus on the negative, the more negative I experience.  My focus (as of late) has been to appreciate and accept what life might throw at me.  In short, I’m learning to be thankful again, which is something that is easy to forget with the pace most of our lives take.

I am thankful that I have been surrounded by friends and family who have helped me through some of these challenges in life.  I am thankful that I have been able to recognize that these “challenges” are actually pretty common and we can get through most of what life throws at us.  I am thankful that I have been able to work at shelving my ego (for the most part) and work on sharing some of my issues so that others might identify with these challenges and learn that they aren’t alone in what can feel like a real battle some days.

I’m thankful for the opportunities that have been presented to me (personally and professionally) and even though I might not always act appreciative, I am learning to recognize how special each of these opportunities has been.  For each “check” you could put in the thankful column there may be one that you could put in the “could have done without that column”, so do yourself a favor today and put those frustrating areas of life away.  Clear the negativity and reflect a bit on what it really means to be thankful.

Don’t forget to keep your reflection simple too.  Focus on the areas that we tend to take for granted.  The furnace that keeps your house warm, the roof over your head, the food at your table, the company of the friends and family you might see this weekend and the air you breathe.

I think we can all find something to be thankful for!

Happy Thanksgiving!

$90 million goals and dreams…

Most of us probably read about the winners of the lottery that netted two Michigan men $266 million dollars.  Not bad pay days, even after dividing the $266 million into two, $133 million pay checks.  Now we all know that the government gets their chunk, so reduce that $133 million to, let’s say, $90 million and then you start thinking about what to do with all of your money…that’s when the interesting discussion starts.

Imagine if you had that money, all $90 million dollars of it (earning $1.8 million per year in interest with a 2% savings account- I’d bet the bank would give you two toasters for opening that account).  Would you continue the lifestyle or the career that you have today (assuming all that scratch was already in the bank)?  I listen to people who chat about lottery winnings and they use the topic as a catalyst for sharing dreams, goals, and aspirations as it relates to all of the things they would like to do in life, but might not have the opportunity to do for various reasons.  Some people talk about setting their kids up for life and the pressure that would relieve.  Some talk about cars and vacation homes.  Some talk about starting businesses and some talk about helicopters picking them up for their morning ride around town (o.k. – I thought it would be cool, just once, to drop my kids off at school from our helicopter, but I know it’s not practical).

I think we’d all be lying if we hadn’t been part of that game a number of times with a number of different people and what I find so intriguing are the number of dreams people have that never get pursued.

My son’s hockey coach approached me the other day and inquired about my writing.  He noticed one of my blog titles on my personal email signature and asked “what the writing was all about”.  I shared with him that I used to write an industry blog for my last employer and that I had aspirations of writing and speaking for a living.  After giving him my quick response, I dove back down to sea level and resumed my routine of answering emails on my blackberry as the kids skated around the rink.

Cliff grabbed my attention again and asked, “Why don’t you write and speak then” as if it were so simple and illogical that someone who wants something wouldn’t go get it and that’s when it hit me…

Most of our goals, targets and dreams that get outlined when playing the “what would I do if I won a BAJILLION dollars” game might be more achievable than we think.  I know this because I am a man who has run a marathon, but is not built like a marathoner.  I am the son of a woman who wanted to live through cancer and did and I am the brother of a man who went from renting moonwalks for a living at age 22 to becoming the Chief Operating Officer of an incredibly profitable entertainment business by age 34, so I guess most things are closer to our reach than we may give credit.

Thanks Cliff.  I appreciate your honest and logical question.  I am writing, maybe not getting paid to do it yet, but enjoying every minute of the writing I do. If I stay persistent enough and someday complete that book or have an article published, I’ll make sure to remember that it was your question that helped keep me on track with my personal dreams and vision.  To the rest of you, if you happen to be reading this and think about running, or teaching, or retiring, or changing careers, or any other myriad of “lotto list goals”, choose one, make up a concrete plan of steps to take which will get you closer to your goal and begin pursuing.  You’ll surprise yourself, I promise that.