In June I asked you to take stock of three areas of your life—your health, your home and your business, job, or whatever your vocation happens to be. This month I want to talk to you about how you spend most of your time—whether you’re a stay at home mom, a religious, an entrepreneur, or you work at a job 40-hours a week.
Is there room for improvement in your vocation/work/business life? Are you experiencing fulfillment? Are you making enough money? Do you enjoy your day?
We all have dreams and ideas of things we want to have in our lives or to accomplish in the future. You may have started out with big plans and find yourself in a rut or just working day to day with little motivation. It doesn’t have to be that way!
If you would like to improve or even totally change your satisfaction with how you spend the bulk of your hours, here are a few suggestions:
Set real/realistic goals.
Goals are not dreams…they may start with dreams but until you actually turn them into goals they don’t generally happen. Goals are concrete. They involve action steps along the way to accomplish. For instance, if you want to build a house, you first need a blueprint drawn. Then you need to estimate the costs and gather the materials. Then hire contractors, select materials and monitor progress until it’s complete.
This is where coaching can pay you amazing dividends. Working with a good coach can help you clarify your goals and create the action steps needed to get you where you want to go.
Watch your language!
Do you say things like “I can’t afford it,” “that won’t work,” or “I can’t”? These sentences limit you more than you realize. Perhaps you can’t really afford something now—okay, but a better statement is this question: How can I afford that? This opens your mind to search for ways. Instead of saying “that won’t work” say, What can I do differently to make it work? And as for “I can’t” well, you just need to eliminate this phrase from your vocabulary. With God all things are possible. But if you’re honest, you may find that it’s not that you can’t, but that you really don’t want to enough or that you won’t, which is a decision. Language is critical so watch your mouth!
Set your priorities.
Let’s face it, you probably have more than one goal in life—usually several in different areas of your life—home, work, relationships etc. Prioritize them. This is crucial. What is the most important thing for you? And be honest here, how much time are you actually devoting to that?
A number of years ago it dawned on me that as much as my most important goal was getting married (and always was) the amount of time I actually devoted to facilitating that happening was nonexistent. With that realization I took action and, thanks be to God, finally found Mr. Right. Now, to be clear, a pilgrimage to Medjugorje was involved…but honestly, if I hadn’t committed to putting some effort there, I may not have gone on that trip which led to my answered prayer. I had shifted my mindset and it made all the difference in the world.
Business or job satisfaction is no different. If you don’t love what you’re doing, you may feel so bogged down doing it that you don’t believe you have the time to change it. That’s simply untrue. And once you start believing you can make changes, your mind will set about showing you how. Create action steps and break them down into a plan and do something each day until you reach your goal.
Find the meaning.
God put you here on this earth now for a reason. He has a plan for your life and being faithful to your vocation is key to accomplishing it. If you’re called to the religious life, then the work you do on a daily basis serves that calling. It may be teaching, it may be evangelizing, or it may be contemplative prayer. If you’re called to marriage, your job, business or daily chores are to serve and fulfill that vocation. Your job or business is not an end in itself…too many people see it that way and that’s where the problems start.
If you’re the breadwinner, then realize it’s about more than just making money and buying food and necessities in life. It’s about being a reflection of God the provider. And God in His goodness provides us with much more than simply what’s necessary. He gave us taste buds and an appreciation for art and music. He wants us to enjoy His creation and gifts. Beauty and joy are important parts of whatever your vocation is. Keep that clearly in mind.
Don’t mistake your priorities for privileges.
I caught myself recently and quite frankly, I was shocked. I had done all the right things…I had written down my goals and set my priorities. But when I sat down at my desk, I started doing all the distasteful chores first…the things I most hated to do. I really wanted to work on the course I’m developing but was stopping myself. And it dawned on me…because I want to do that the most, I was treating it as a privilege, like dessert. But in reality, it wasn’t dessert at all…it was more like the meat and potatoes—the most important priority I had set.
When you know what you’re called to do, do it first. Prayer and time with your spouse and children should be your first priorities…not the leftover time at the end of the day. And those distasteful, boring, or annoying things you’d like to avoid, see them as important parts of the overall goal. Remember, no one likes the smell of fertilizer, but it’s key to a good harvest.
In many ways, your job or business isn’t very different…you may have to put up with a lot of manure…but it’s easier if keep your eyes on the flowers.
Allison is also the Founder and President of www.CatholicTherapists.com, a nationwide network of dedicated Catholic therapists.
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