(Before you read on, be sure to read Jack Stanford’s remarks to the Men’s Ministry Breakfast at DUMC . It is about his battle with cancer and it is powerful!)

So how can you improve your standard of living when times are tough? It seems contradictory, especially if you (like me) have lost much of your retirement or, worse, your job.
The answer is simple. You’ve heard it before. It involves focusing on the really important things. Watching out for number 2, you.

As men, we are so good at taking care of family and loved ones and deferring our own well-being. Then it happens–we lose a job, a marriage or, like Jack, find ourselves fighting for our life, literally.

It is so interesting that we men put off physical exams, R&R, faith development while we pour ourselves into career or other interests. This year can be different–you can improve your “standard of living.”

Here’s a beginner’s checklist, but you should add to it to fit your needs:

  • Use the economic trouble as an excuse to re-think what really matters. If your 401K has lost 10 years worth of growth, maybe those 10 years could have been better spent on family, health, loved ones.
  • Make it your goal to truly LISTEN to your partner with no defensiveness or challenge. Probe her statements and (as Stephen Covey says) seek first to understand, then to be understood. In the last 3 months, I have had 2 men tell me their spouse was leaving them–and they didn’t see it coming. My guess is she feels she tried to talk, but felt she wasn’t heard. (See the Couples Communication class if you are interested.)
  • Without fail, carve out 2 or 3 hours weekly to volunteer in your church or synagogue or some other cause that matters to you–and do it without taking time from the family.
  • Read your Bible (preferably one with lots of help notes) or some other spiritual book that challenges your higher self and gets you thinking about the BIG questions.
  • Add your own ideas to this list and tackle it NOW. The payoff can be mended relationships, a new sense of spiritual well-being and a higher standard of living.

What are your ideas about this? Post them on the blog. And let us know how we can help!