Let’s do the following exercise. It will take only a few minutes:
Grab a piece of scrap paper and a pen. Put a line vertically down the center of the page,making two columns. Title the first column, “The most important things in life”. Ask yourself out loud, “What to I absolutely need, in order to live a fulfilling life?” Under that first column spend a minute or two listing the ten most important answers to that question. If you are stuck, write down five things. Now title the second column: “How I spend my day,” and write what you did yesterday, or if that day was not typical, what you do on a typical day.Now simply compare the two columns.

If you are like most, the first column has things like: family, community, faith, love,learning, financial security, health, happiness. The second column has: getting the kids off to school, answering emails, surfing the internet, completing a work project, watching TV, cleaning, folding clothes, going to the store, mostly mundane individual activities in which we don’t do a lot of thinking or engagement.

There are very few people who even spend a fraction
of their day on life’s true essentials.

Building on our conversation from Step #3, seriously challenge yourself to think, “What small things could I eliminate or reduce from the second column “How I spend my day” to open up room for the first column “The most important things in life.” 

Step #4 is about developing conscious living, the basis of real choice and success:
Become aware of life choices and progressively choose to devote yourself more and more to the most important elements of life.
Why do we spend so much time on the unimportant stuff? Well, for one, it’s easier. Unconscious living is a kind of autopilot that does not require much from us, at least at first. After a while, though, unaware habitual actions can become rather meaningless. They also prepare us poorly to handle new demands or life changes. Eventually we get alternately bored and stressed. It becomes a vicious cycle: responding with more unconscious activity to address the boredom and stress— more drinking, TV watching, internet surfing. If our lack of healthy, aware growth gets extreme, we may spiral into a sexual affair, depression, or anger and violence.

Lack of conscious, active purpose is a killer of joy
and meaning.

Raising kids or having a hobby can provide a constructive alternative to simply wasting your time, but how many of you have actually reflected deeply on why and how you parent, how parenting expresses your deeper values? How many of you ask why you take up certain hobbies?

What do my deeper interests say about me? How can I
share my deeper gifts with others? What is my
relationship with the world?

For many, these questions are never asked or answered. Instead a few weeks of vacation substitute for the “good life.” “Real life” becomes a rat race most fantasize about escaping. This is why you and I are so susceptible to marketed promises of escape: “Get rich and
stop working by attending this real estate seminar on flipping houses!” “Receive untold wealth, working a few hours a week doing direct marketing on the internet!” “Buy this dream home, live well, and make a killing when you resell it!” Sanity is achieved by conscious choice and action, not by taking up someone else’s dubious promises. The philosopher, Aristotle, was right. For practical purposes, we
are what we repeatedly do. (Transforming Economy, pg. 94)
Once you have the courage and conviction to confront the habits, mindsets, entitlements, and principles that no longer serve you or others, you have completed Step #4.

The world is not going to hand you a life. Acknowledge
that you create your life. Reorder your values. Align
your goals and actions.

You are now ready for Step #5.
To Be Continued...come back to read all 5 steps! We would love to hear your thoughts on the fourth step below.

Zeus Yiamouyiannis, Ph.D. is an economics blogger, futurist, and author of Transforming Economy: From Corrupted Capitalism to zeus.jpgConnected Communities. He has written regularly for top alternative economics blogs, including and He has appeared as a guest on “The Keiser Report” and “On the Edge with Max Keiser” on RT TV as well as the “Inside the Eye” radio program. Zeus is a “performance educator” with expertise in philosophy and cultural foundations of education. His own blog, Citizen Zeus (

Pick up a copy of the Transforming Economy e-book here. Visit Citizen Zeus to engage other essays on transforming yourself and your society. Contact Zeus at [email protected] to engage his "learn to transform" consulting services.

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