Being a lifetime learner is important. Curious minds need
new information like your body needs food and water. Similar to your body
needing different types of nourishment, there is so much to learn, whether it
is related to your work, hobbies or just a topic you find interesting.
For attorneys, we are required to take continuing legal education classes every year. I try to find topics that apply to the types of work I do. Sometimes the seminars are good, and sometimes not. I hope to take one or two things away from a seminar. Sometimes my expectations are exceeded. I also read articles and new legal decisions to stay current on my areas of practice.
I have other subjects that interest me outside of the law. When I want to take a break and have some time, it is easy to find articles and information on those topics. Or it may include reading a biography of someone I find interesting, or who I think may have good and interesting insights.
The hardest part is all of the easy options technology provides for us to be unproductive. Of course I am looking at you Netflix, Facebook, Instagram, etc. It’s fine to spend a few minutes catching up on what your friends and family are doing, but it is easy to get lost in social media.
Similarly, it is fine to watch movies and shows, but if you do that, but don’t generally know what is happening in the world, it isn’t a net positive. You may want think about your priorities because I think it’s better to have a knowledge base that enables you to have interesting conversations with others, which I think is a great part of life.
The next time you find yourself thirty minutes into the
Facebook rabbit hole or starting the fourth episode of some new Netflix series,
do yourself a favor and take a break. Find something to do that stipulates you
mentally and helps you to be a well-rounded person people want to know.
My wife’s friend was lucky enough to go to Italy for a few
weeks with some of her close friends. When they caught up recently, this woman
told my wife that she was so glad she went. Even though her family vacations
every year, it’s the same old, such as a week at the beach or traveling to see
family in her hometown. The trip to Italy reminded her of the large world in
which we live and the pleasure from experiencing new people, places and things.
Because of the time she spent disconnecting from her work to
have new experiences, she realized she wants to plan different types of
vacations for she and her husband and for family trips. She re-discovered how
important experience is and it has changed her thinking.
She was lucky to take such a big trip and think about her personal and business priorities. Sometimes you need to be experiencing something new outside of your everyday life to have the time and space to think in this manner.
Anyone can do this and it doesn’t mean we all need to go somewhere such as Italy. It can be going to a new restaurant. It can be being a tourist in your home town – hint for those in the Phoenix area: go to the Musical Instrument Museum or take your children to the Science Center (you will like it too). It can be going to a city in your home state or a nearby state you haven’t visited before. I find most places have enough things to do for a three to four day weekend type trip. The point is to branch out and think outside of your usual box.
Don’t put off having new experiences for the future or retirement because that day may never come. Find new experiences that fit within your budget and the time you have, whether on a Saturday or for a week long vacation. Doing so will help you to have shared experiences and a chance to think outside your box.
Most people know and understand that helping others makes
you feel good. This can be volunteering for a non-profit to giving directions
to someone who is lost. Sometimes your help makes a bigger difference to the
person you are helping.
I recently had the opportunity to help someone who needed a ride. No, I didn’t pick up a hitchhiker. I was camping with a few of my children and, right before we were leaving to drive to an airport an hour and a half away, a nearby camper asked where we were heading. When the answer was the airport in the city their friend needed to get to, she asked if we had room to give their friend a ride to the airport because his ride had fallen through.
He seemed like a nice enough guy and we had chatted with his
friends over the long weekend. The long story short is that I said yes. The
result was helping someone who really needed to get to the airport.
He was heading home, but learned he is a musician and had a show that night in a different city, i.e. he needed to get home to work and earn money. It turns out he has four children, like me, his wife has a “normal” 9-5 job, and he travels the country to earn a living. That’s a hard gig.
So in exchange for helping him out, my kids and I met an interesting person. It also turned out he had good life insights. He discussed such things as setting goals and writing them down. He has his children do so too, which I think is a great idea I hope to institute with my children.
This gentleman was so appreciative for the ride. For me, it
made me feel good to help someone who was in a tough spot and had income on the
The next time you have an opportunity to help someone in
need, think about how it makes you feel and how it helps build the type of
world and community you should want to live in. And in a world where karma
matters, I hopefully banked a point or two.