Please see below for an important announcement.
When is losing gaining, and gaining losing?
Today, erev Rosh Hashana, I have a story for you to share at your table.
A true story of grit, sweat and determination.
It is the dramatic and ultimately cathartic tale of my...
Yes, it's true. The last Table Talk of the year (and the first, if you share it tonight) is a blog about the inbox.
Most of the time we are in such denial about our inbox that we pretend that it's not worthy of conversation.
But if you think about it, the inbox is an excellent indicator of a person's inner health.
Show me your inbox and I'll know what kind of person you are.
Show me a person with an endless inbox, and I'll show you a person who never seems to get projects finished, is always running from one thing to another and feeling quite overwhelmed by life.
(Or perhaps it's just a person who is using gmail. For some reason.)
Show me a person with an empty inbox, and I'll show you someone who is in charge of their life.
But (aside from those who suffer from gmail-itis) is an empty inbox even possible? And if it is possible, is it a goal worth striving for?
My personal story begins two years ago when I saw my inbox surge - after deleting spam and all low-hanging fruit - to over 900 messages. To some of you that probably seems petty, like someone bemoaning gaining five pounds.
It was indeed similar to the feeling I had around the same time when I noticed my waistline exceed 36 inches.
I could see the direction this was going.
And I didn't like it.
I knew it was going to be an epic battle, a clash of wills between me and.... myself.
Who was going to win?
There are multiple roads to success on trimming down. But what's the value if you lose but regain?
So the first step is setting up some new habits. Like folders to file away any email that doesn't get a reply within 1 week. For any reason. If it didn't get a reply in a week, it must not have been that urgent.
Well, like my weight loss, I was able to trim significant fat in the first year. But when I got to around 100 messages, it seemed like I just couldn't cut more. That inbox bounced up and down from about 75-125 for this past year.
It was crazy. And a bit frustrating.
Maybe a sane person would just give up and learn to live with himself.
Maybe I'm insane, but last Rosh Hashana I decided to dream big.
I dreamed of what I wanted to become, my greatest vision for myself.
And that was someone with an empty INBOX.
Frankly, it has been a brutal year. Up and down, up and down, more down than up, but then you go out of town and look what happens, you end up bloated... What kept me hopeful through it all was that vision.
And of course I had a plan, a system.
Well, today I'm happy to say, on the very last day of the year I did it.
I surely had a lot of help from Above, but the first thing I had was a vision, a dream.
What's your dream? What kind of person would you like to become?
Organized? Patient? Punctual? Calm?
Visualize that potential you on Rosh Hashana. Ask for it when you hear the shofar.
Then on Sunday morning, write down on low-tech paper three steps you need to take to get there.
Tonight and over the next 2 days is our annual chance to push RESET.
How is this year going to be differerent for you? Is it going to be the same old patterns and bad habits, or something new.
Think about what it would be like to have an EMPTY inbox.
Down to ZERO messages.
It feels great.
I recommend you do it to.
Not only with your email. With any clutter in your life.
If you knew you could absolutely accomplish one personal goal in the coming year, what would it be? Think about that yearning dream when you listen to the shofar tomorrow.
That vision is what will justify another year of life.
Important Announcement: At this time of year, many people try to give extra tzedaka. If you're that type, please help eleviate hunger or support Jewish education. This blog is supported exclusively by tax-deductible contributions from readers like you. This is one of two times each year we invite you to become a paid subscriber. Nothing is free, so if you're not a supporter, someone else is paying for you to enjoy this. If it's worth a nickel to you or more, please do the math and click here. It only takes a minute or so and any amount helps.
May you be inscribed and sealed for life, joy, health, wealth and peace...and an empty inbox.
PS - I've created a downloadable sheet of "significant omens" that are traditionally said at the Rosh Hashana meal. I've added a few jocular modern ones. Try adding your own, and encourage anyone you're with to do the same. The public sample is here, you can download the full one here (requires free logon if you don't already have one).