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Newsletter Vol #89 Thats How I See It!

It was brought to my attention that in Newsletter # 86 I made a mistake; an omission. The letter about suicide was written by another person, not by myself. My father did not commit suicide. I don't know who wrote the piece but I did say where I took the material from-- "Article inspired by the Huffpost's blog." I try my best to give credit to all the authors whose work I share in the newsletter.  I will strive to do better in the future.


It is interesting that the human tendency is to only notice and observe phenomena that support prior beliefs. And if we believe we are not that smart, think we are unattractive, think we are not worth much, then our behaviour will reflect those beliefs.

It doesn't matter what's actually true or what's not. The truth is always up for debate in most circumstances. What does matter is that what we believe is helpful to us. So why not choose, seeing as we have the choice, that which is most positive, and in the long run, most helpful to us. Dan

The 70% Rule                                                  
The idea, promoted by fitness and work-life balance gurus, is to stop "giving it your all" in every area of life and see what it feels like to devote 70-per-cent effort in most areas, most of the time. And since the pressure to be all things to all people is linked to anxiety, sleep disorders, irritability and other forms of psychological distress, a 70-per-cent approach could be a strong defence against these all-too-common health concerns (when there isn't an underlying mental illness).   

The 70-per-cent rule, based on a somewhat arbitrary ratio, is not the same as the Pareto principle, well known in business circles, which dictates that 80 per cent of the effects come from 20 per cent of the inputs. It's better aligned with the principle espoused by fitness gurus who know their clients are more likely to stick with a goal, and less likely to get injured, if they give up the idea of pushing themselves to give maximum effort all the time. With the 70-per-cent rule, the focus is not on maximizing returns but on achieving reasonable goals, with well-being at the top of one's mind.

Constantly pushing ourselves to go the extra mile can have a negative impact on all areas of life, said Scott Schieman, a University of Toronto professor who researches the interface between work, stress and health. People who never take the time to recharge tend to feel overwhelmed and inadequate both at work and at home, he said. Stress may cause us to disengage from the people we love, and "You need those quality relationships to offset the demands and pressures of everyday life," he points out.

As daily demands send more of us to the brink, the concept of living "smarter, not harder" is dovetailing with the mindfulness movement and a new proliferation of life-balance books, such as Christine Carter's, The Sweet Spot: How to Find Your Groove at Home and Work, just released in January. Common themes include scheduling mini-breaks, defining the limits of a project at the outset, being clear about what you won't take on, and identifying areas where a B+ effort is adequate, saving energy for projects that demand an A+.

As a stress-reduction tool, the 70-per-cent rule is both sensible and audacious. Renée Peterson Trudeau, a life-balance coach and author of The Mother's Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life, recommends that people reserve up to 40 per cent of their energy for themselves.
The strategy might sound unrealistic, lazy or even selfish coming from someone other than Trudeau, a former communications executive who has written three books and runs two businesses. Trudeau said she used to think the more she stayed on top of everything, the more effective she would be, "but I have come to know the opposite is true."

She now believes that the more time she takes to slow down and put important things first, "the more wise, the more brilliant, creative, centred and authentic I am in all areas of my life."

Even so, following the 70-per-cent rule is easier said than done - especially for those of us who put our noses to the grindstone to keep Protestant/Jewish/Catholic/Muslim guilt at bay. We pull out all the stops to make our families happy, overbook our calendars out of FOMO (fear of missing out) and check work e-mail 24/7 in hopes of maintaining our value in the company and to avoid landing on the chopping block. Some of us wear our maxed-out schedules as badges of honour, even though we are all too familiar with what happens when the well runs dry.

The motivation to go through life at full throttle is often based on the belief that doing it all "is what makes us worthy and acceptable," said Jennifer Berdahl, a professor of leadership studies at the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia.

But perfectionism is far more than an individual problem, said Linda Duxbury, a work-life balance expert and professor at the Sprott School of Business at Carleton University. Today's corporate culture only reinforces the belief that we should be able to do more with less, she said. "Workloads are going up. The expectation that you'll be available 24/7 is going up."

Despite putting in overtime, however, many of us may be protecting our mental health by default. Research has shown that employees tend to be unproductive at least 30 per cent of the time, Berdahl said. Some burn the midnight oil because the optics of careers such as law demand it. But the truth is, "nobody can sustain their maximum level of effort for very long," Berdahl said.

Taking regular breaks and curbing digital communications are simple ways to reduce stress. A UBC study published earlier this year found that adults - including financial analysts, medical professionals and students - instructed to check e-mail no more than three times a day experienced significantly lower daily stress than those who checked e-mail an unlimited number of times.

For many of us, giving work our full focus can be deeply satisfying. But when it comes to household chores and holiday preparations, I am finding it liberating to surf the sweet spot of 70-per-cent effort. Now that I've stopped over functioning to get it all done, my husband suddenly volunteered to do things like organize our son's birthday party.

I'm still not sure how it will all come together, but if I end up going to a friend's party empty-handed, or the gifts to my parents don't arrive in time, I am determined not to sweat it. (I know they will love me anyway.)
                                                                         Adriana Barton  (Globe & Mail)

My wife and I were sitting at a table at her high school reunion, and she kept staring at a drunken man drinking as he sat alone at a nearby table.
I asked her, "Do you know him? "
"Yes" she sighed,
"He's my old boyfriend. I understand he took to drinking right after we split up those many years ago, and he hasn't been sober since."
"My God!" I said, "Who would think a person could go on celebrating that long?"
And then the fight started...

Leisure Time

Children know how to play. Adults do as well, but with less spontaneity. Adults tend to "schedule in" fun activities; they work it in to their schedule. For kids, play is their priority.

          During the 50s and 60s we had lots of time to enjoy life, but no money.
         Today we have money but no time to enjoy life.

Leisure time has been drastically reduced down to about 16.5 hours per week (Harvard Health Letter). The futuristic writers of the 50s and 60s predicted that the 80s and 90s were going to be the "era of recreation". Technology was going to make life easier with more time for play. Instead, we have a statistic that states that today's employees are working 25 to 30% harder than their counterparts of post-war (1946-1950) Canada.

The lack of leisure time/physical activity has become a serious health threat in North America, according to the US Surgeon General's recent report. Statistically, about one in four adults reports having no leisure time/physical activity.

A University of Michigan study found that "real" free time among children ages 12 and under declined from 40% of the child's day to 25% in the last decade.

Interestingly when children between the ages of 6 and 17 were asked about their leisure time, they expressed real concern about their lack of free time.

Teenagers who use computers and I-Phones only a few hours per week demonstrated increased signs of social isolation-- this according to a Carnegie Mellon University study.

Getting Older
Kids today don't know how easy they have it. When I was young, I had to walk 9 feet through shag carpet to change the TV channel. (A beautiful orange it was.)
Senility has been a smooth transition for me.
Remember back when we were kids and every time it was below zero outside they closed school?  Nah, me neither.
I may not be that funny or athletic or good looking or smart or talented-- I forgot where I was going with this.

Reader Response

Dan, I like your questions that you asked in "your younger days". I am trying to live a more healthy lifestyle, but some old habits die hard. Merika

Hey Dan--you say that the food industry added FAT to food to increase sales. I have been focusing on GOOD fat in my diet on the advice of my nutritionist and cutting out sugar and salt where I can and that seems to be working. Please clarify the FAT reference ok. I'm very interested.
Be well-Wally

Wally, I believe the reference came from Paul Zane Pilzer's book The Wellness Revolution

Next week a piece on our trip to Fort Lauderdale.

Have a great week!