Your Screen Test

The smart phone was a legitimate innovation and it’s changed our lives. Next came tablets and soon we’ll have virtual reality. What’s the impact?

In an article entitled Children Spend Six Hours or More a Day On Screens by Jane Wakefied, she introduces these findings:

The amount of time children spend glued to a screen has risen dramatically in the last 20 years, a new report suggests.

  •  Children aged five to 16 spend an average of six and a half hours a day in front of a screen compared with around three hours in 1995, according to market research firm Childwise.
  •  Teenaged boys spend the longest, with an average of eighthours.
  •  Eight-year-old girls spend the least: three-and-a-half hours, according tothe study.
  •  Screen time is made up of time spent watching TV, playing gamesconsoles, using a mobile, computer or tablet.

    While I can’t say this information surprised me, the numbers are concerning. Eight hours a day (the number of screen time for a teenage boy) works out to be a third of one’s life. And when you consider that the amount of screen time has more than doubled since 1995, what will that number be 20 years from today?

    There are certainly a lot of positives the internet and technology have brought us and it’s not my intention to say the current behavior of our young people (and grown ups for that matter) is all bad. But I’m curious: is it healthy to consume media, ads, information and messages for large percentages of our waking hours?

    I’m certain that one of the greatest gifts we can give to ourselves and to one another is our full and complete attention: a gift that cannot be given in the presence of any type of screen. Don’t believe me? Ask yourself this: is it possible to be fully present while watching YouTube? Do you check your phone immediately after you wake up in the morning? Are you Facebooking while you’re standing in line at Starbucks?

I advocate the importance of getting and keeping a sense of where we are, also known as being mindful; essentially the opposite of screen time.

Here is the definition of mindfulness from Psychology Today:

Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them—good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.

Because this is a financial blog, let’s bring it back to money. Does media affect the self-image and spending habits of adults? Can that influence be negative? I believe the answer is yes.

Will this increasing screen time have a similar affect on young people? How could it not?

In closing, work every day to get a sense of where you are and to be mindful. Screen time isn’t going away, so in next month’s edition we’ll get into how to talk with young people about managing it.

Impacting Your Purpose

Depending on the study you read, anywhere from 60% to 70% of our fellow Americans are not engaged in their work. “What does that mean?” you ask? It means they are doing or thinking about something other than what they are being paid to do or dreaming about being somewhere other than where they are. That something used to be solitaire, now it’s fantasy football. That somewhere is still is still anywhere else.

 

All the while, it also seems many of us are trying to find our purpose.

In the hope of finding my purpose, I searched Amazon for a book on the topic and found over 200,000 titles. That’s a lot.

 

It struck me that we are focusing on the wrong problem, or seeking the wrong solution: like having a leaky roof and opening an umbrella in the living room.

We need to stop focusing on purpose and start focusing on impact.

It’s possible for every one of us to have a positive and real impact in every aspect of our lives: in our work, in our communities and at home. It’s a choice.

It doesn’t matter what your job is, you can have an impact.

 

One of my favorite stories is about the janitor working at NASA during the Space Race. President Kennedy approached the man and asked him what he was doing, to which the man replied “Well, Mr. President, I’m helping put a man on the moon.”

 

I believe changing the way we look at our work can have a positive impact on the other aspects of our lives. Simply looking at your job as a means to earn money has many destructive byproducts. When we change the lens through which we view work, we have the ability to change our lives for the better.

 

This message may not apply to you, but either way, start pressing yourself. Start learning and improving yourself. Start consciously making an impact. Become the best possible version of yourself. I believe if we are able to embrace this, we’ll be more grateful for the things we already have.

Same Day Fulfillment

A big part of my work as a financial advisor involves figuring out new and different ways to get people to save more money because the majority of Americans are not saving enough for retirement.  At first, I thought this problem was caused by procrastination (“I’ll save more tomorrow.”) But I’ve come to realize that, for many Americans, at the end of the month, there’s no money left to save.  We’re too busy over-consuming, accumulating debt, buying homes that are too big, and cars that are too expensive. There’s nothing left over for savings.

 

I think a lot of the problem stems from a lack of contentment.  For too many Americans, our work leaves us unfulfilled.  Gallup’s “State of the American Workplace” tells us that 70% of American workers are not engaged at work.  So I decided to study fulfillment in order to see what speakers and experts have to say about the concept.  I went to YouTube (which I find to be a limitless source of valuable and less than valuable information) and typed fulfillment into the search bar. Over half of the search results were about Amazon.com’s warehouses “fulfilling” orders.  That is, taking our online orders that we as consumers make from our phones, tablets or computers and delivering that stuff to our homes, often on the same day.

 

The irony was almost too much to bear.

 

The fulfillment I’m talking about is a feeling when we do something good for someone else.  Many of the most fulfilling experiences of my life have come from charitable work, community service, or times when I’ve done work for others and expected nothing in return.

 

It’s time to get back to the original definition of fulfillment.  It’s time to focus more on enriching our own lives and the lives of those around us.

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