The Difference: Problems of Opportunity v. Problems of Existence

Since I met “J” (who is homeless and lives under a bridge), I’ve taken to using a mental image of him to help me get over myself.

Here’s what I mean:  During this morning’s drive to work, I contemplated a number of issues facing us at home and at work.  I’m sure you have a similar list of concerns, worries, and irritations.

I suddenly realized that most (if not all) of my problems are born out of opportunity  — whereas J’s problems (and those faced by billions) are existential problems.

What’s the difference?  A problem born out of opportunity is one like, “Should my wife go back to work, or stay home with our daughter?“, whereas an existential problem is one that threatens our existence.  For example, “What will I eat or feed my children today?

In other words, what I perceive to be problems are situations brought about by the fact that I’m blessed — not a victim.

Let’s break down the problem of opportunity (Should my wife go back to work, or stay home with our daughter?) into its component blessings:

  • Blessing: I have a beautiful wife (and she chose to marry me); she’s also healthy!
  • Blessing: My wife has a great job (not everyone has a job)
  • Blessing: My wife’s job is waiting for her (not always the case)
  • Blessing: We have a home (certainly not always the case)
  • Blessing: We have a healthy daughter (not every child is healthy — plus, not everyone is able to have kids!)

Broken apart in this way, my problem is composed of multiple blessings that bring about additional situations to consider — but unlike the problems faced by others in this world, none are life threatening.

They’re merely by-products of having opportunities.  Why is it so hard to remember this?

I challenge you to name a problem you’re facing.  Next, list the blessings your challenge is born from.  Does your perspective change?  

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Where You Spend Your Time Reveals The Truth

Do you really know where your time goes? Have you ever stopped to actually track it?

It’s been said you can see the true nature of your heart by looking at where your money goes (which I think is true). I also think you gain insight by looking at where you choose to invest your time (a form of currency).

A little ways back, I tracked my time spent at work, measuring everything I did on a minute-by-minute basis. My goal was to compare where I really put my time versus where I felt it was going. I learned some very interesting things (like: reading and responding to email sucks up a lot of time — a lot more than I thought).

Since I’ve been off work the past week and working with my wife on closing 2012 and entering 2013, we’ve been intentionally discussing what’s important to us (our values).

I decided to create a spreadsheet (yes I love spreadsheets!) to measure where the major chunks of my time go in a typical week. I’ve created six major activities, and allocated the amount of time spent in each daily. You’ll notice there are day-to-day variations in certain areas, like on Wednesday (date night with my wife).

Here’s the spreadsheet:

Where I really spend my time

Where I really spend my time.

In reality, my six major activities in rank order are as follows:

#1: Sleep 33.63%
#2: Work 32.74%
#3: Family 25.60%
#4: Spiritual 3.87%
#5: Blog 2.08%
#6: Work-out 1.79%

The Truth

So, while I say that my faith is important to me, in reality it is 4th on the list. While I say that my wife, daughter, and family is important to me, in reality it is 3rd on the list. Outside of sleep, work dominates where I choose to invest my time.

Without passing judgment on myself, I’m going to let the analysis sink in, and think about what should change (if anything).

What about you? Have you done an audit of your time, relative to where you want to spend it? If not, what do you think you’d find?

 

Something No One Ever Tells You About Getting Engaged

Getting engaged can be awkward!

Getting engaged can be awkward!

Yesterday, a good friend of ours got engaged to a great guy. In the evening, a group of us gathered to celebrate, and listen while they recounted the details of how it went down.  People love a great engagement story, and theirs certainly had some awesome highlights.

One thing the guy shared that stuck in my mind is that no one ever tells you how amazingly awkward it is to ask someone to marry you.

In movies and on TV shows, incredibly romantic music plays, birds sing and dance, and all sorts of other warm-and-fuzzy stuff happens.

But in real life, things can be downright awkward. It can feel odd living out something that usually only happens once in a life-time.

Are you with me, guys?  (And by that, I mean the dudes reading this … ladies, you probably have a different perspective on this.)

In a few days, Sarah and I will be celebrating the anniversary of our first date and engagement (12/31) [yes, I picked a day that’s easy to remember — but it has special significance so lay off!].  Both days were wonderful and unique in their own way.  Hooray for life’s odd combination of awkwardness and awesomeness!

What do you think?  Are certain life moments incredibly awkward?  What are some of the most awkward moments you’ve had?

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Using Mint.com to Manage Family Finances

As we draw towards the end of the year, Sarah and I are preparing for 2013 in a number of ways. One way is to improve how we manage our household finances.  We have a method (described below), but it is cumbersome, time-consuming, and complex.  So today we set out to find a better way, which I’ll describe here. Read more of this post

Christmas Photo Dump

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from doodles!

Yesterday was our daughter’s first Christmas (and our first as parents).  It was a magical day filled with many memories and blessings.

I normally post things related to entrepreneurship and the business of software, but since we are multi-faceted people and family is very important in having a grounded perspective, I’ve decided to do something a little different.

Actually, I can’t take credit for the idea — my wife convinced me that people are interested in more than just  the usual blah blah blah (I’m sure she’s right!).  So, here’s a photo summary of our day.  Enjoy! Read more of this post

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