People are interesting

When I was young, I was a spoiled child. I wanted everything my way, and if it wasn’t, I would complain. Sometimes I would complain for no reason at all. Thankfully, I grew out of it.

I’m currently “in-between jobs” and looking for new “opportunities.” You know what I mean. I’m unemployed. Jobless. Trying to find work. But despite that, I’m still happy, though I do find myself a bit bored. However, since coming back from Japan, I feel I’m at one of the happiest points in my life. Want to know the secret? Life is no fun if you spend time worrying and complaining about things.

A few weeks ago I started reading Stephen Covey’s 21-year-old book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” It’s not a long book (a modest 300+ pages), but I do tend to take frequent, often prolonged, breaks. Anyway, it’s a book that I recommend, despite only getting to the third habit. It can be a well-needed and refreshing wake-up call to your life. Learning to take charge of your life and to live your life, and not just go through it, is a wonderful thing.

Many people want more money, more time, more skill, more something. Why don’t people go after it? Most of the time these people are lazy. Let’s look at the issue of time first.

Time is finite, or is it? We all wish we could have more time. We tell ourselves we could do so more much if we just had an extra 10 minutes, one hour, one day, one week, one whatever. But the truth is, almost all of us have that time, but we waste it. How much time do you spend watching TV? How much time do you spend on facebook? YouTube? How about complaining to others that something isn’t fair? There are places throughout the day we can cut back on “wasted” time and reclaim it into something more productive.

Maybe you only have three minutes here and five minutes there throughout the day. If you have 10 of those periods throughout the day, that’s a good 30 – 50 minutes a day! OK, so it’s a lot in sum, but individually it’s not enough to get something started, right? Baloney!  You’re telling yourself that to justify wasting it on something frivolous. Find something positive, productive to do. It could be reading something to better yourself, spend a few minutes to learn a few vocabulary words in a foreign language, write a letter to someone you haven’t communicated with in a while.

Money is hard to get, and I need more of it. That should be rephrased to “Money is hard to get if I don’t want to put in extra time and energy.” How much money do you spend each month on food costs per person in your household? $100? $200? $500? What percentage of that is because you chose to eat out rather than prepare a meal on your own? I’ve known people who eat out once a month or less, and people who eat out every single meal, and the results are night and day. Eating out quickly adds up. Even if you eat out only at lunch, but every day of the work week, that’s a lot of money you’re throwing away.

Let’s go with the modest budget of $5 a meal. $5 meal x 5 days in a week x 4 weeks in a month = $100. That’s right, $100 dollars. Do that for a year, and it’s $1,200. Realistically, if you’re getting a sandwich and a drink, you’re probably higher than $5, so that number goes up even more! Food cost is one of the easiest things to cut down. You don’t even have to eliminate eating meals out, just cut back on the frequency.

Another way to cut cost, especially if you do eat out a lot, is to look at the portion size you get. Many places give way too much food for one meal. If you’re at a sit-down restaurant, ask for a take-out box when you are served your food. Immediately halve the meal and put it away to-go. You’ve just turned that $10 meal into two meals. After living in Japan for a while, I came to realize that, yes, Americans eat huge portions. In Japan, and some other places I’ve been, the servings are noticeably smaller. So not only will you save money, you could very well improve your diet at the same time!

The other way to get more money, though dreaded by most, is picking up another job. Granted, this isn’t an option for some people, though for others it is. Most people don’t like the idea of working more than eight hours a day (heck, some people don’t like the idea of working at all, but that’s something else completely), and I’m right there with you. But if you want the money bad enough, you’ll do it. Why don’t people want to do this work though? Because we think it won’t be fun, we won’t have time to do the things we really want, etc. It almost pains us to do such a thing. You’ll either toughen up and accept it, or find some other way to either save or earn more money.

Improving my skill set sure would help. So do it. Stop making excuses! We’ve just talked about how to put aside extra time and even earn money that could be applied to education and improving your skills. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. What I mean, is ask people around you who have experience in the skill you want to learn. People in general want to see others succeed and are often more than willing to help someone take that next step. Make sure you have an open mind though when you ask. And be prepared to eat crow from time to time. You may hear things you don’t want to hear, but later on it could prove invaluable.

Sometimes we don’t even have to ask. I’m sure there have been times when people have offered you advice, critiques, suggestions and opinions when you weren’t necessarily asking for them. And I bet you’ve had the following reaction at least once. “Who does he think he is? I’m the one putting in the work and he’s telling me what’s wrong?!” Next time, before you react negatively, think about what the person really said. Decide for yourself whether it’s helpful information or not. Don’t let your pride get in the way, even if you think (or know) the person has nothing worthy to add.

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