Note to readers: Sorry, had to remove the most recent post from a guest blogger who I just discovered had not complied with an essential condition of my guest-post guidelines, having published the same article word-for-word on his site. Here’s a replacement post written by me. Enjoy!
UPDATE: This post has been added to Tim Brownson’s 20 of the Greatest Self Development Posts Ever Written at his popular blog, A Daring Adventure. I’m honored. 🙂
If you’re a blogger, you know a dashboard is more than the place you instinctively glance to check your speed when you pass a police car.
A blog’s dashboard is where much of the behind-the-scenes work of a site happens. It’s where editing occurs, posts are uploaded and comments are monitored. It’s where the blog’s theme is accessed and special uploadable features called plugins are activated.
Below are some of the standard features that are accessible to bloggers from their blog’s dashboard, allowing us to individualize the appearance and functionality of our blogs.
But these same characteristics can also be found in our own lives as well. And just as bloggers spend considerable time adjusting the elements of their dashboards to add content and improve the look and workability of their sites, so we would do well to do the same on the dashboards of our lives.
Nine Features on the Dashboard of Your Life
Most bloggers start with a pre-programmed theme and then tweak and adjust the code until it better suits them. Some themes are designed as political news blogs. Others are fashion or photo blogs. Some are neutral, easily adaptable to a variety of blogging genres.
Like a blog, our lives have themes as well. But can others tell what yours is by watching how you live? If family is a part of the theme of your life, for instance, can they tell? If character is, can your customers or business partners tell?
There’s a lot of talk about branding your blog these days. But what about branding your life? How we live, how we treat others, what we do with our time is a manifestation of our true values, much more than what our words claim them to be.
Perhaps it’s time to recode the theme of your life to more perfectly reflect your highest values and top priorities because once the theme is right, so much else is icing on the cake and falls into place.
As the founder of Meant to be Happy, I’m its sole editor-in-chief. Guest posts must meet my standards. I maintain full editing control and let guest bloggers know their work is subject to my literary eye.
My standards are fair (I believe) but exact. Are yours? How active is the editor of the thoughts and behaviors, attitudes and decisions you make on a daily basis?
Does your conscience play a significant editing role? Or do you outsource editing to the crowd, the boss, to peer pressure, pop culture or what the media proclaims is okay? If you do, don’t be surprised if the posts of your life are not quite up to par with few-to-no devoted Readers or Followers.
An editor with too harsh a critical eye keeps good content from being published. But an editor with no standards publishes trash and nonsense. So be careful to avoid both extremes when editing the content of how you live.
Spam is the term used to describe mass comments or mass email sent by spammers to flood the internet. It takes up a blogger’s space and time. It is inconsiderate and meaningless, adding nothing of value to the work bloggers do. It is leach-like, sucking value, adding nothing.
If you think about it though, spam doesn’t merely attack blogs and email accounts. It plagues our lives as well, robbing us of precious time without adding value of any sort to it. To some, their spam is the TV and X-Box. For others, it’s Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.
Perhaps it’s time to start identifying and blocking the spam that eats up your time, that robs you of intimacy with friends and family, that gets in the way of important projects and pursuing your goals, that binds you to a life of mediocrity. Your time is precious and valuable. Treat it that way and it will open up a world of possibility to you.
Most bloggers love getting comments and leaving comments on other blogs we follow. Getting other bloggers to leave comments on your site is validating. It means they recognize you as worthy of their valuable time.
It also means getting the chance to meet and develop online relationships with amazing people. Leaving comments is a way to interact with bloggers you appreciate and to lead traffic home if readers like what you leave behind in their comments section.
But what kind of comments are others leaving in our personal lives? Are they filled with anger and disdain? Or are they free and open and lovely? Are you leaving critical, harsh and contentious comments on the posts of other people’s lives? What kind of commenter are you in your interpersonal relationships? At work? On the freeway? And what does that say about you?
Many bloggers list a set of rules for leaving comments on their blogs. They welcome disagreement, but warn they will trash rude and abusive comments. Let’s make it a personal policy to toss invective and disrespect into the trash bin before sending our comments out into the world.
Are you harsh, impatient and critical? Are you vulgar and disrespectful? What does the language you use say about the person you are? Is your language elevated and elevating? Or is it demeaning, settling into the gutters and mud holes of life? What kind of ripples are you sending into hearts and minds of others?
It may be time to establish some guidelines of your own for the comments you leave and accept from others on life’s dashboard too.
Sometimes we write an article but are not yet ready to post it. We hold it as a draft until some future date for publication. The problem is that we sometimes hold our lives in draft as well, not yet willing to let go and truly start living.
What have you left waiting as a draft in your life? What step haven’t you taken? What goal remains only a wish because you haven’t taken action on it yet?
Instead of waiting for just the right time, when stars are aligned, everyone everywhere is supportive, the clouds have parted, circumstances are ideal, the wind is blowing at your back, and just hit publish. Clear out the drafts and move them to the front page of your life. Go back to school, start that business, go to the gym, take piano lessons, start a blog. Just decide and act: write the book, sing the song, hike the mountain, run the marathon.
But whatever you do, hit the publish button and post it! Put it out there for the world to see! Be and do and live your life today, in the open, published as you are.
After all, you can always edit as you go.
Widgets & Plugins
Bloggers also like to spice their generic themes up with a variety of cool bells and whistles. And there are some very cool plugins for sure. Two of my favorites on Meant to be Happy are my “Readers Favorites” plugin and the premium version of commentluv.
Our lives are often adorned with a variety of bells and whistles as well. What kind of plugins have you placed on the dashboard of your own life?
My favorite life plugins include family nights and date nights with my wife (one of my new year resolutions is to make them both a bit more regular!).
A plugin that has improved my general sense of well-being has been regular visits to the gym and to fit more so-called superfoods (spinach, yogurt, beans, turkey, blueberries, and the like) into my diet. Another is my prayer life and steady diet of uplifting literature and scripture.
What plugins have you added to the dashboard of your life to improve its functionality?
Caution: Be careful not to clutter your life with too many plugins (soccer practice, baseball, piano lessons, violin, dance, boy scouts, bowling night, girls-night-out, this, that and the other thing), robbing your family of needed quiet time together.
Is your blog loading slowly? Is it heavy with too many gadgets? Well, what about your life? Perhaps it’s loading slowly as well. Is it time to remove some of the personal clutter?
Every decision we make to engage in self-defeating habits can be trashed just as any post we no longer want on our blogs.
What habits and attitudes, residual offenses, left-over pain and heartache from past relationships or of years-gone-by clutter your emotional life? It’s time to clear that clutter too.
Are you hanging on to fear and anger and hatred? Is doubt and dishonesty, selfishness and cowardice cluttering the desktop of who you are?
Let go of your favorite bad habit that’s weighing you down, dragging your moral and emotional feet in the mud and stand and rise and shake off the extra baggage our habits add to our already-heavy lives. Hit the delete button and be done with it! And then move on.
Have you ever scrolled down and clicked on a subject listed in the Categories section of a blog’s sidebar? The Categories is a way to organize content around a general topic. It makes finding information about an area of interest easier for its readers.
Some personal development blogs have 3-4 categories (perhaps listed as Heart, Mind, Body and Soul, for instance). Others have upwards of 20 or so.
But don’t we all have categories on the dashboard of our own lives as well? What categories make up the sidebar of your life? How is your life organized around them?
We are parents and spouses, family members, friends and neighbors. We are citizens and students, employees and employers. We are club and church and political party members and community volunteers. We are examples and mentors and, perhaps, even bloggers.
But just as some subjects in the categories of a blog get clicked more than others, we also sometimes over-click certain categories in our busy lives.
Are you over-clicking the “work” category at the expense of your family responsibilities? How are the categories organized and prioritized in the sidebar of your daily living? What occupies the prime real estate of your life as you scroll up and down its sidebar?
Are you serving your spiritual and emotional needs as regularly as your physical and social ones? The answer to these questions is a clue that will go far in determining the quality of your life, whether endowed with balance or whether one or more life categories are precariously teetering on the edge of collapse.
Perhaps it’s time to delete a few categories, fix a couple broken links, create a new one or rearrange their order on your sidebar to better reflect your highest values.
Most blogs feature an archive page. It gives a reader access to previously written posts. It’s a record of all you’ve written, your thoughts spread over time. Some readers may be drawn to previous articles if the blogger’s writing is particularly good. The archives can provide access to what has been said before.
What have you archived in the storage room of your thoughts? Is the room dark and pain-filled? Or is it filled with joy and laughter?
You can change what you hold onto in the archives of your life by changing how you link to it. You do this by changing what you think about, what you choose to pull from those archives tucked away in your memory. By choosing what you dwell on, you go far in choosing what from your past will affect your current happiness.
Metaphors surround us. They are found in nature and modern life alike. They convey principles in the everydayness of life. As a result, they are easily remembered and are therefore of particular value when instructing others in principles you want remembered. While a blogging metaphor may not be universally helpful, my hope is that this one was helpful to you.
It would mean a lot to me if you would share your thoughts in the comments.
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Photo Credit: thisisrobert