The unstoppable resolutions meet the unmovable realities

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Those mighty resolutions start to diminish ever so slowly.

Starting January 1st:

  1. No alcohol this January
  2. No processed foods
  3. Exercise daily
  4. Lose 20 pounds

The next week:

  1. Alcohol only on weekends
  2. Processed foods only when in a hurry
  3. Exercise every other day
  4. Lose 15 pounds

The following week:

  1. Alcohol every other day
  2. Processed foods only when too tired to cook.
  3. Exercise on the weekends
  4. Lose 10 pounds

By the end of the month:

  1. Only one drink at at time
  2. Processed foods cannot be avoided, succumb.
  3. Turn on TV and switch channels manually.
  4. Buy looser fitting clothing
  5. Be content with who and what I am

Developing a gift giving decision strategy matrix maximizes feel good returns and minimizes gift exchange returns

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1. Give them exactly what they wanted. Perhaps out of your price point, but when money is no object.
2. Give them close to what they wanted. But this time within your price point.
3. Give them what they think they need.
4. Give them what they actually need. This is fraught with peril since you may be pointing out foibles.
5. Give them something completely random. This can be cute, unless its a live animal which you should completely reconsider.
6. Give them something that aligns with their thematic lifestyle. Perhaps running gear or cooking supplies.
7. Give them something to push them into a thematic lifestyle they should adopt. I keep getting cookbooks.
8 Give to some charity that can lift people out of poverty. Providing a well for a village goes a long way to reduce disease.
And whatever you do, enjoy the time together since its really just the thought. Right?
#motivation#personaldevelopment#business#charity#management

Should one pursue happiness still?

HAPPINESS BASED ON VIRTUE DOES NOT SEEM ENTHRALLING.

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Thomas Jefferson sought virtue based happiness. This may have been what he meant when he wrote the Declaration of Independence and the need for the pursuit of happiness.

Jefferson’s incredibly extensive education, much of it self-taught, appears to have been included the writings of John Lock, the Utilitarian. Jefferson was also capable in Latin and Greek, so we can assume from this that he was influenced by Aristotle. From this we have the entire concept that the pursuit of happiness endorses the Greek approach of Eudemonia. This has been interpreted to mean happiness, but literally means good guardian spirit. Aristotle’s concept of happiness meant a life well led. Just as you can’t say that an acorn is a tree, one has to look at one’s entire life to determine its’ happiness extent. Essentially a virtuous life can be based on the acts of the soul. So back in Jefferson’s time, he likely meant that overall well-being required someone to flourish as a human being and not this transitory bit of happiness we think of now.

Let’s divide the happiness of an individual into different criteria. One criteria would be to find happiness in the satisfaction of the various desires that individuals have. Therefore an individual could be happy either based on the satisfaction of these desires or the elimination of these desires. However philosophical analysis would also indicate that happiness could be far more complicated. The resolution of various desires would be more clearly defined as contentment. Happiness of the individual would then be dependent instead upon the moral values of that individual and leading a highly moral life. This may be a bit too simplistic since leading a highly moral life is insufficient to some. Ok, most people. Having good fortune is also relatively important. Sickness and poverty are severe overlying factors that can prevent or mitigate against leading a moral life and true happiness.

There has been a transition from the happiness of virtue to the virtue of happiness. This shorter approach can be very convenient in a consumer based society if purchasing more stuff makes you feel happy.

A path to happiness used to be assessed at the end of one’s life. Now everyone wants a continual happiness jolt similar to using one of those instant, non-recyclable instant coffee pods. And every day more ways appear to provide those single serve happiness pods.

The happiness discussion will continue…

#happiness #pursuit

Leading your life-Chapter 2

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Can a business model help your own life?

The question then becomes what is the connection between how a corporation runs and how an individual can run their own life. Corporations have always used objectives such as profits, return on investment and dividends paid amongst other criteria.  Can this somehow predicate the happiness of the Corporation or do we have a similar kind of dichotomy between man and business?

Does the satisfaction of these corporate criteria also refer only to contentment?  The satisfaction of these various corporate objectives does lead to the payment of dividends, wages and bonuses, which can lead to the contentment of individuals.  If indeed the Corporation’s soul is made up of the individuals that run the organization, then we could have an argument that a similar dichotomy exists between contentment and true happiness within a corporation.  This would suggest that a corporation having the values of the individual would also seek to maximize its happiness by leading a highly moral life.

If a corporation could somehow be happy in the satisfaction of its mission and vision statement, then it stands to reason that a similar achievement of a personal mission and vision statement would lead to the happiness of an individual. However, there’s a further questions of whether or not happiness of the individual is somehow separate apart from the individuation or actualization of the individual. 

It would seem that an individual would want to become fully actualized through the accumulation of skills and wisdom and perhaps wealth.  If it individual wishes to become actualized through work, this is somehow consistent with leading a highly moral life.  One should be able to lead a highly moral life and still become actualized.  Actualization may have to do more with the contentment of the individual and the resolution of various desires of that particular individual

Adventures in moving.

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Dante Inferno describes nine levels of hell. Moving reveals a tenth.

The concept seemed simple enough. Our adult children bought a house in Victoria. My wife and I hope to move in with them eventually and share costs. What better way to create a type of beachhead than to ship some of our excess furniture. And what better way for a daughter-in-law to benefit from the helpful advice of an in-house mother-in-law?

My plan involved renting a truck and hiring others to load it. This seemed cost effective except for the three days of travel, hotels, gas, and food. Crossing over the Rockies during the fall and early winter in an unknown truck seemed imprudent. Dropping the truck and flying back home seemed really imprudent. At least the level of in-flight service for the plane and three days alone in a truck would likely be comparable.

The next best option involved those transportable containers. So, I opened a container company account. Drop off, load up, and take away. What could be easier? I rented a couple of containers for 30 days. More than enough time. But as Stephen Hawking clearly proved, time speeds up when you enter the space-time continuum of a potential additional rental fee.

The company quickly delivered two containers. They seemed deceptively small, but the advertised videos showed how much stuff you could pull out of one of these things. Sort of like a clown car.

Next day, a couple of burly gentlemen picked up, packed up and bundled up all of the furniture.  I did wonder what clowns say to one another as they pack themselves into that car. I assume there is quite a bit of discussion of what everyone ate beforehand. The container company picks up the containers and they merrily make their way to the coast. Twenty-seven days remain on the rental.

Two weeks later the containers land in Victoria. The unpacking crew call to confirm when they intend to pick up the containers. The container company, a close relative, but still separate, also calls to confirm when I intend ‘to access the containers’. I try to clarify that yes, they will be accessed, just not by me. This becomes the first sign that there is a separation between the plan and the implementation.

The container company calls our son, and tells him that the unloading company had been ‘delisted’. And we would have to cancel. We enter the first level of hell. Thirteen days left on the rental.

Renting containers resembles buying flight cancellation insurance on-line. Both take perhaps five minutes and are deceptively easy to use. Heaven help you when you have to make a claim under the insurance. The two times I made insurance claims it took three months and several days of mailing in paper forms. You note the word mailing and paper. Even faxing did not appear as an option. The 1970’s retain a firm hold on filing for insurance claims.

I navigate the tortured confines of the container customer on-line system, cancel the job, and obtain a ‘store credit’. I receive a “VIP” credit number, separate from my contract number, separate from my container contract number. Numbers abound. Next hell level. Twelve days on the rental.

Two days later, I am BBQing and the phone rings while the pork cutlet catches fire. I let it burn for a bit since my father-in-law prefers it that way. The mover asks why I cancelled and I explain how he became delisted. The pork continues to burn away merrily. The mover will try to gain access to the containers still. The burning pork personifies my patience with this situation. Hell level uncertain.

The next day the container company denies the mover access once again. The mover gives me the name of the warehouse manager. I leave a few messages, but never here back from him. Abandon all hope ye who enter here. Ten days remain.

I futilely try to use their website to arrange delivery and unloading of the containers.  I get helpful return emails about using the website and using the credit. I send slightly perturbed but mostly desperate emails to the container company and to the moving company. I try to arrange delivery that week, the week following, and the week following that. I leap a few months into the future. No availability. I jump-frog several levels of hell. Eight days left on the rental.

I seek out a real person at the moving company but listening to the array of options can wear you down.  When I do find one she nicely explains to me that someone in a Ford 250 flatbed picked up the containers. My son confirms that no containers arrived. Thoughts of insurance proofs of loss dance through my head.

The company realizes their mistake. The warehouse does still have the containers, but the moving company does not move them, only loads and unloads them. She apologizes, and sends me over to the manager. I hear the same recording of options. A male answers, and I explain my sordid tale once again. This time he apologizes and says that they dropped the ball. I hear music this time, but it sounds more like the Twilight Zone theme.

He makes a note to file and gives me the name of another person that holds the containers. Although being held hostage also fits. This time a woman answers. She can help get the containers to the house. At a nominal cost. I am getting closer. I seized upon the following day opening. Six days remain.

Later that night, a Vancouver woman calls, apologizes more, and says the delivery will be free. I thank her profusely and make light of the number of emails, number of people called, and the number of levels of hell I travelled while listening to the various twilight zone holding messages.

Later that same night, the container company calls, and asks why I had not returned the equipment at noon. I simply ask what equipment. Perhaps she did not realize that she was holding my containers hostage and she could have extracted whatever concessions she wanted. She apologizes and corrects the file.

The next day the containers arrive. The steep driveway compels the driver to leave the containers on the street. However, one box remains bolted down. Apparently, they deliver free of charge, but if you want access, well that is another cost. Clever. Very Clever.

Another trip to have the container company remove the bolts. For free. And the real fateful day arrives. Many levels of hell traversed. Five days remain.

The movers arrive the following day and distribute the furniture throughout the house. Now, we just need to get the containers off the street before the persnickety neighbourhood association catches sight of them. Limbo welcomes us. Four days.

The next morning the company picks up the containers with three days left over and only six months taken off my lifespan.

Later on, I look around nervously around our house and decide what to do with the rest of our belongings. I open another corporate account. Kijiji. Look for the springtime ad.

The importance of holidays!

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We started holidays for a couple of weeks and headed off to the cottage to be closer to nature. Job one involved unloading all the stuff at the cottage. Job two involved brushing off all of the spiders from the gazebo. Normally not a problem, but if you haven’t been up for a few weeks, the spiders have baby spiders.

Once you finish removing all of shelob’s webs and carcasses, you start to realize that you have not dealt with all of the microscopic baby shelob spiders climbing around your legs.

One must persevere to be close to nature, but perhaps not have it that close in Steven King sort of way. One can possibly start to miss the relative sterility of the office.

#motivation #inspiration #business.

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Phoenix Failure

phoenix

The mythological phoenix rose from the ashes every 500 years. Did that mean it failed?

I don’t know about you, but I hate failing at anything. Learning to love failing simply does not appear to be a successful strategy.

Barings Bank failed 25 years ago when rogue trader Nick Leeson conducted a series of unauthorized arbitrage trades and caused a loss of $1.3 billion. So the bank would have learned to supervise his activities a bit closer if they weren’t so happy with the money he initially brought in. So failure seems to suggests being unwilling or unable to try again.

If your strategy appears to have failed, and you try a new strategy to achieve a goal, then you haven’t failed at achieving your goal. You simply learned that your initial approach to achieve your goal would not work, so you tried something different.

Leeson was sentenced to 6 years and got divorced. That sounds like failure, but he must have learned something since he got remarried, wrote two books one of which was made into movie starring Ewan McGregor.

They say fail often, and quickly. But if you pick yourself up and try again, then you haven’t really failed since you haven’t stopped trying.

 

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Retirement Untethered: National Burnout Vacation; Can Retirement be Better?

woman wearing sunglasses and sun hat
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Clark Griswold:
Despite all the little problems it’s fun isn’t it?

Ellen:
No. But with every new day there’s fresh hope.

National Lampoon’s Vacation

 

Like many people, you may have gone on vacation, or perhaps you plan to go on vacation.  So, what constitutes a vacation? And would retirement be one extended vacation? Webster’s defines vacation as a period spent away from home or business in travel or recreation, a scheduled period during which activity (as of a court or school) is suspended, a period of exemption from work granted to an employee, a respite or a time of respite from something.

So, did this actually happen? Did you totally go off the grid for that period of time when you had a choice? Probability suggests you checked your email, perhaps late at night or first thing in the morning before the family woke. A little quality time with your iPad perhaps.

 

Why do people go on vacation? Chance of pace? To get away from it all? Family pressure? To de-stress? Perhaps test what retirement might feel like?

 

Perhaps you hope that this de-stress hormone lasts for at least as long as the vacation itself. Or that you can you store the de-stress hormone up as easily as the extra weight you may have put on from the extra consumption of alcohol, fats, carbohydrates that you would have otherwise avoided.

 

In a 2018 American Psychological Association survey of more than 1500 US workers, two-thirds of the respondents said that the mental benefits of vacation disappeared within a few days. So the vacation calmness disappears far before the weight loss does.

 

The reasons for increased après-vacation stress can be obvious. The workload undoubtedly accumulated in your absence, things moved on during your gallivanting. Now you must move double time to catch up and all of that stress filled time you spent before the vacation appears not to have been enough to keep you ahead.

 

If you feel stressed before the vacation, and even more stressed after the vacation, then one starts to wonder about the efficacy of going on vacation in the first place.

 

This becomes a good time to talk about burnout. In the 2015 edition of Acta Psychopathologica, work-related stress occurs when the demands of the work environment exceed the employees’ ability to cope. The Diagnostic Statistical Manual 5 states that disorders precipitated by specific stressful and potentially traumatic events in the workplaces are included in a new diagnostic category, “Trauma and Stress-related Disorders”. Mind you, this abstract was dealing with the police in Italy.

 

If you sprain your ankle playing tennis for the first time since forever during your vacation, you likely know RICE, rest ice, compression and elevation. The same RICE can identify burnout with Regret, Inefficacy, Cynicism and Exhaustion.
Over 40% of California lawyers would do something different if they had to do it over again. This constitutes a high level of regret. Lack of actualization can lead to a feeling of inefficacy, and difficult as it may seem, burnout indicates even higher levels of cynicism that what you normally have. Exhaustion likely originated during articling and never dissipated.

A number of firms insist upon employees taking vacation. The firm’s rationale could range from an actual concern for employee health or for the ever expanding health benefit costs. If an employee leaves as a result of stress, there comes the extensive cost of locating, rehiring and training new staff. Far better to maintain the mental health of the existing staff.

In addition to vacations, employers should be considering breaks during the work cycle. Standing up and getting that wilted salad to eat in front of the computer does not cut it. An employee requires greater dedicated time to mental breaks along with physical activity on a regular basis. The same APA study found that staff became far more productive and content with their position when employers cared about employee’s mental health.

 

 

#retirement

 

Retirement Untethered: Devil’s Playground

clear glass jars on white wooden shelf
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After travelling out of the country, we self-isolated. This is sort of like retirement. Twice the husband and half the income. So of course I organized the pantry.

An idle mind is the devil’s play ground. I thought about organizing items according to ability to open them. Perhaps cardboard on one level, bags on another and cans on a different another. Using mind-mapping, I decided on three levels. The first level would be food regardless of packing material. Salmon and pasta. The next level would be stuff you put on food. Tomato sauces, panko crumbs. The top level would be stuff you put on food, but probably shouldn’t. Things like syrup and jams.

Fortunately, my wife only laughed. Retirement looks positive!

 

Retirement Untethered: Practice

hand washing
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I had a good chance to see what retirement might look like when we were sequestered for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Covid-19 requires serious action. But, admittedly, there are the occasional lighter aspects.

After a British Columbia board meeting, my wife and I decided to fly over to Phoenix to see some friends just for a few days. Of course, after we arrived then the talk about shutting the border came up, so he headed home. I’ve always used the hand sanitizers at airports, but now they seem to be set at jumbo ejection discharge. I struggled to wipe it all over my hands. With all the foam still covering my palms and back of my hands, I felt I couldn’t walk away from the hand station since I am sure everyone would be askance as  to whether foaming at the cuticles was a new symptom. I resorted to cleaning up to my elbows.