Naming the Cat

I’ve had a host of cats in my life. The first one I remember was a white Persian cat we called Snow White that I got when I was about five or six years old. Since then, there have been a lot of them, with names ranging from the cutesy to the mythological to my favorite (Leibowitz. Every good Baptist should have a Jewish Cat.).

When I was a kid of course, I named my cats on a whim. Thus the cutesy names that are typical of little kids who will name a cat most anything that pops into their heads. As I grew older though, I took my time, lived with them a while, and waited for their personality to emerge before naming them.

Today I am taking a “Rethink Day.” It’s something I do every few months. I stop my work, stop my constant search for work, and take a look at where I am, what I’m doing, and asking myself where I am on track, and where, perhaps, I cam falling off the track a bit.

It’s not just a work thing. On my “Rethink Days”, I look at the whole of my life. Work. Writing. My spiritual life. My relationships. My art. My spirit.

This is not a daydream kind of day. It’s work. I have to be honest with myself. What’s working for me? What’s not working so well? Where have I shined the past few months? Where have I not done so well?

And honestly is not easy sometimes. Sometimes I like my answers. Sometimes I don’t.

Then of course, comes the really hard part? What am I going to do about it? What do I need to consider changing? What needs working on? What should be celebrated? What’s urgent? What can be let go for a while?

I treat my rethink days like a work day. Start at 8. Pound away at it till late afternoon. No shirking. I may or may not take lunch. Sometimes, I work late. Just like a work day.

I always come of out it with something important, and something that will make a difference in the months to come. More importantly, I’ve seen, in my life and in others, what happens when we DON’T take time on a regular basis to rethink and look at ourselves in the mirror.

When we don’t? We have mid life crisises. Our relationships erode. Our effectiveness weakens. Our soul grows stale. Our passion slowly withers. It’s not fast, but it’s constant, and at some point, something in us breaks. And we make bad decisions, built on a whim no more relevant to who you are and what you want to be than a six year old naming a cat on a whim.

It’s hard to apply the discipline to take a day off. Most of us can’t do it on a work day. And the rest of our life is busy too. We hate to give up a day with our family or doing something we love to do.

At times, when I have been mentoring (called coaching today, but I’m old and like the older term), I often suggest that the people I am mentoring take a Rethink Day. I can often tell how serious they are about claiming the life they want by their willingness to do it.

But my experience, and the experience of people I know who have tried ReThink days on a regular basis can tell you: Doing it will make you more effective and more focused in every aspect of your life. Yep, even that part you thought was stuck.

So think about it. Is it worth a day to reclaim or claim the life you want?  Because that is the difference it can make. And after all, isn’t a joy filled life worth more time than naming our cat?

Take care. Journey Wisely,

Tom

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