Quality of Life: Sometimes a small change is all you really need

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Quality of LifeDid you ever notice the amazing difference that a fresh coat of paint can make for your house, or a single room, or even an aging piece of furniture? A fresh coat of paint can rejuvenate your surroundings and make them seem brand new.

Think about what it felt like the last time you painted a room in your house. You were probably astonished at the transformative effect of a mere coat of paint. Suddenly, you no longer minded spending time in the room. Maybe it prompted you to add some coordinating window coverings or some interesting artwork. You probably ended up seeing the room in a whole new light.

Not long ago, I had one of “those” days — a day when you get into the car after work and start driving, and somehow it seems like a good idea not to stop — ever. You reach your driveway and instead of pulling in, you contemplate driving on-and-on-and-on hoping that eventually you’ll arrive at a life that’s different from your own. I think everyone has felt that way from time to time. But it isn’t very realistic to think that you can completely escape your life; and truthfully, you don’t want someone else’s life anyway. But there may be some things you can do to make your life come more into alignment with your own image of yourself, your hopes, dreams and values.

The next time you feel like you need a whole new life, consider that perhaps what you need instead is a fresh coat of paint. You may not need a drastic life overhaul. So, before you quit your job, or end your relationship, or sell your house, or drive off into oblivion, think about other ways that you could breathe new life into, well, your life. If you could hit a “refresh” button on your life, what would it do and where would it take you?

Take some time to reflect on your life and identify those aspects that may have stalled, or for one reason or another have grown stagnant for you. What is the source of the stagnation? Is it something that you can change?

Do you work 24/7, without ever taking a vacation? Do you fear that if you take time off, the Machiavellian types at work will plan a coup in your absence? What keeps you from taking steps to bring balance into your life? If you take some time to answer these questions thoughtfully, you may be able to create scenarios where you can find some “you” time. Everyone needs to recharge the batteries.

Not long ago, I had a doctor’s appointment on the north side of town. At this particular doctor, it usually takes about two and a half hours, start to finish, to get through the appointment. Last week, however, I was out in 45 minutes! It was 4:30. I had options: I could drive back downtown and work until my normal quitting time around 7:30, or I could go home. That day, I opted to go home. It was like getting a three-hour gift in the middle of the week. I was home by 5 p.m. Of course, I checked my work email, but I also did four loads of laundry and started dinner. It was amazing. It was broad daylight and I was home. Talk about fresh paint. Something that small can make a huge, positive impact.

Maybe, however, lack of time is not a problem, but your personal life is so boring that it even puts you to sleep. What can you do to bring more joy, excitement, or fulfillment into your life? Just because you never considered whitewater rafting or skydiving in the past doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t explore it now. There are art classes and ballroom dancing classes and yoga classes just waiting for you to sign up for them. You only live once. If you don’t try something different now, when are you going to do it?

Maybe your work life and home life are both fine, but you feel as though you aren’t making any kind of positive difference in the world. First of all, there is a strong chance that you are, but you just don’t realize it. Remember George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life”? He thought his life was meaningless, but learned that he helped people in ways that he never dreamed. You are most likely doing that too. But if you want to do something more definitive in that arena, there are many ways, through volunteer work, that you can make a significant contribution to the lives of others. Or, you may want to start closer to home. There is no better time to become reconnected with friends and relatives who might need your help.

It is possible that just changing your routine slightly can make a significant difference in your overall outlook. Or perhaps you need something more concrete, with immediately visible results — in which case, you could always paint a room in your house.•


Jonna Kane MacDougall is assistant dean for external affairs and alumni relations at the IU Robert H. McKinney School of Law. A professional career/life coach, MacDougall can be contacted at 317-775-1804 or The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s.


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  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.