Reality Check: I’d Rather Choose…

One of the tips from a popular money-management book entitled “The Smart Cookies” is something the authors refer to as the “Rather Factor.” It’s easy to forget a budget when we are faced with an appealing impulse purchase. After we’ve spent the money, then we wish we hadn’t done it. Sometimes, we need a way to remind ourselves of our priorities.
The Smart Cookies tip is called the “Rather Card.” Make a little card to keep with your credit or debit card so you’ll see it when it matters. The power of the card is in what you’ve written on it. One format is, “I’d rather have enough money to..… than spend my money on…..”
For example, “I’d rather have enough money to buy groceries than spend my money on fast food.” When you’re at the burger shop, that little card is like a speed bump that slows you down to ask, “Wait! Is this really what I want to do?” It’s a reminder that we have choice.
But it’s not only money matters where we can get distracted from our priorities. Continue reading

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Reality Check: To-Dos and Purpose

How’s your to-do list? Does it motivate you by giving you purpose and direction? Or is it more like a collection of chores—a hamster wheel that demands lots of effort to keep going round and round but doesn’t seem to get you anywhere?
As much as I’d like to say “We have choice” in our tasks, realistically, our choices depend on our circumstances. Your reality may be that you don’t have much choice. Continue reading

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Reality Check: You and Me Against the Problem

Just when everything seemed to be going well, Amy got a wakeup call. It was a “heart incident,” and it demanded that she turn her attention toward aspects of her life that she had neglected.
You probably know the drill. Amy could no longer ignore her health and assume that life would carry on as normal. Nope. She would have to get regular exercise. She’d have to cut down on the delicious meals that she loves. She was even told to find some way to reduce her stress.
Amy understands that if she wants to live a long, healthy life, she doesn’t have a choice. These changes are for her own good. Continue reading

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Reality Check: The Wrong Number

The voice mail that I’d received was not intended for me. The caller had simply dialled the wrong number.
But the message struck a chord: The voice of a frightened older woman, saying that Revenue Canada is “after” her and she doesn’t know what to do. She believed that her taxes were done but she’s been told that they aren’t and now she is in trouble. The message was a plea for help.
We have choices. Among my choices was the option to delete the message and forget about it. I could even justify that, as it was obvious that she didn’t know me and was trying to reach someone else.
But I was pretty sure that someone was attempting to run a scam on her. And my perspective is that it’s disgraceful to use manipulative behaviours to prey on the vulnerable. Continue reading

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Reality Check: When you tell yourself a story

“Like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again.” If you’re a Canadian folk song aficionado of a certain age, you may be humming that Stan Rogers song right now. The Mary Ellen Carter isn’t just a catchy tune; it tells a story: the loss of a fishing boat; the betrayal of the owners who left her to “a sorry grave;” and the determination of the crew to lift her up and restore her to former glory.
Disaster. Betrayal. Loyalty. Determination. Triumph.
Those elements make for an inspirational story, don’t they? Whether truth or fiction, stories can motivate us by sending the message that good can emerge from bad. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Lessons from an Ice Cube

How’s your motivation? Are you full of get-up and go, with plans and actions to get to your goals? Or are you listless or discouraged, where “What’s the use” comes to mind?
Which state would you prefer? And if one is more effective than the other, do you have any control over which one you’re in? Continue reading

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Reality Check: Mixed Messages

We have lots of ways to communicate. We use words, of course, both written and spoken. But we also communicate through facial expressions, tone, and actions. If you’re not sure how we communicate using actions, think about the message sent by a slamming door. That’s communication, isn’t it? Continue reading

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Reality Check: Earning and Power

“It’s just a summer job to earn some money.” The young man on the flagging crew knows that his long hot days on the road are not his career. Cheerfully, he filled me in about the university program that will take him to a satisfying career in a few years.
This lad isn’t alone to recognize that attaining a worthwhile long-term goal often involves giving up gratification now in exchange for greater long-term gratification in future. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Disagreements Close to Home

People argue. That’s no surprise; we have different opinions. Discussing opinions can be useful, enlightening, and fun!
However, disputes can also be destructive, even permanently damaging relationships. Political and cultural issues—views of entitlements, responsibilities, political correctness, justice—are especially fertile ground for conflict.
Kris and Ollie see each other at holidays when the family gets together to eat, laugh, and argue. Good times!
However, over the years, the tone of the arguments has changed. Now, when Kris comes from university and talks to Ollie on the farm, the discussion is hostile rather than good-natured. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Opinions at Work

Last post, I introduced Kris and Ollie—two people with different opinions. There are many types of relationships where you can find differing opinions. Today, I’ll look at Kris and Ollie as coworkers.
The two were getting along fine until one day at coffee break. An issue came up where they took opposite positions. They looked at each other in disbelief. “How could someone I thought I knew be so wrong?” they both wondered.
Now, Kris and Ollie barely speak. While they were never close friends, this difference has affected how they work together. The atmosphere has moved from easygoing toward hostility.
What to do? We could start by asking whether Kris and Ollie both want to address the conflict. They don’t have to. Put bluntly, they’ve been brought together to do a job for which they are paid. We don’t necessarily get to work with people who agree with us. Continue reading

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