(Don’t forget to read parts 1 and 2 of money and time.)
What do you think about regularly? What is on your mind when you get up? Start your day? Are at work or school? What do you think about during lunch? How about in the afternoon? When you get home from work, where does your mind go to? Right before bed what are you focusing on? As you lie in bed at night what are the last couple thoughts you have?
Can we agree that if you think happy thoughts you’ll feel happy? What about if we think bad thoughts? How does that make you feel? Depends on the bad thoughts, right? Think of someone who did you wrong… someone who might have embarrassed you, stabbed you in the back or lied right to your face. How does that thought make you feel? NOW – snap out of it – Think about a three year old laughing. Did you just grin? I did. Think about a time you went out with your friends and joked about something hilarious, such as an inside joke. How do you feel now?
So long I’m firing out questions like they are going out of style, here is another: What do you think about for a good portion of the day? Is it the money you don’t have to pay the huge bills you have? Are you pissed off at someone at work, and can’t get it off of your mind? Is your child or close family member sick, really sick? How often are you obsessed with what will you do if it gets worse?
We live in our thoughts and our emotions they produce. They give us a great measuring stick of what is important to us, either in the short or long term. It is hard to judge this like I asked about money or time, but I’m going to give it a try. Get a timer, and everyday for a week, set it for “x” amount of minutes, as long as it is under 120 minutes. Every waking hour or two you have will have at least one time the buzzer will go off. When it does, write what you are thinking about, and what emotions you are feeling because of it.
Vary the time of the timer every day. Monday it could be 35 minutes, and Tuesday it could be 90. Wednesday and Thursday you choose something lower between 15 an 25, but Friday and Saturday you set it for a full two hours. Sunday you vary it up every time you reset the timer… sometimes buzzing 5 minutes later, other times 85 minutes. At the end of the week you’ll have somewhere around 50-100 times you assessed what you’re thinking about, and what you’re feeling.
This random “thought log” will give you an idea of any patterns you have. Are you overwhelmed in the morning, stressed after lunch or committed and loving as you think about your family when you are home interacting with them? Did your mind wonder mid week, or were you consumed with a project at work, or crisis at home? How did work days differ from days off? What did you think most about? Least about? Did you forget anything you thought would bother you all week?
This awareness is priceless because it can end unintentional patterns which lead to unintended emotions. We can find the root of stresses, and even multiply the times we feel happy, balanced and confident. Don’t overlook this commodity as “psychobabble”, but the thing which probably causes you to make the irrational decisions you don’t like to own up to. On the other hand this can help you direct your mind, correct it and prosper from it.
If you take the time to do these three assessments, monitoring your money, time and thoughts, I guarantee you will find something. For some, it might be positive, and others it might be negative, but either way it will be rewarding. Meaning, it will either help you identify and reinforce something good you’re doing, or it will bring your awareness to something you’re doing bad. If it is the latter, it does not mean you’re a bad person, it just means you have some work to do (and honestly, we all have work to do).
You might find yourself doing well in one area (i.e. your finances), but poorly in two others (time and thoughts), or vice versa. What I don’t want you to turn this into is a pity party for yourself where you pick out the bad stuff you are now aware of and beat yourself up for a month or longer. No! Own it (and then disown it if it is negative!). Make a quick and easy three step plan to cut it down or cut it out, and take it one day at a time with a role model to inspire you, trusted friend to be accountable to and God to pray to each day telling Him how you feel and what you need from Him.