A Post Election Reminder

The 2018 mid-term elections are over (thank goodness!). While I don’t know whether you’re happy with the results or not, I do want to make you aware of a very important person who is still in power… YOU.

YOU are the person with the power to create the life you desire. No political party, or person in office has more power to positively impact your life than YOU do.

So no matter who “won” politically as a result of the election, YOU still retain power over yourself and your choices.

Let’s use that power wisely.

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The Responsibility of Imperfection

Here’s a piece of information I find liberating: None of us are perfect, nor are we expected to be. While I make an effort to do my best at whatever it is I’m doing, in my imperfection I often miss the mark, screw up, or fall short.

While knowing that I’m not perfect frees me up to try, fail and improve, knowing that I’m imperfect also reminds me that with imperfection comes responsibility. When we screw up or say the wrong thing, or a host of other things imperfect people do, we should be quick to:

  • Apologize to those we’ve hurt or negatively impacted
  • Own our mistakes instead of giving excuses or looking for someone else to blame
  • Ask for forgiveness when needed

We should also be quick to avoid expecting perfection from others and be equally quick to show grace to others when they fall short, because isn’t that what we’d like from others?

Let’s work at being responsible with our imperfections, and graceful to others in theirs.

Unexpected Opportunities

On Thursday my wife sent me an email letting me know that my mom was having some people over for dinner that night. One of the people attending was a person from Guatemala that my mom thought my wife and I would be interested in meeting, so she invited us to join them for dinner. My initial thought was to say no for a bunch of lame reasons, (it’s been a long week, I’ve got stuff to do, blah, blah, blah). Fortunately for me, my brain saw this as an unexpected opportunity that I shouldn’t pass up.

I’m always interested in meeting folks and hearing some of their story (everyone has a story!!), especially if they come from a different background, country, or culture than I do. The person from Guatemala is the daughter of a pastor, who happens to lead a Guatemalan church in the same denomination as the church we attend. Already had some common ground for good conversation! So I emailed my wife back and told her to let my mom know we’d be there for dinner.

An unexpected opportunity to meet someone different from me lands in my lap on Thursday and I was about to say, “No”. What would I gain by staying home, except for some free time? As I thought about it, I realized that I get a lot more opportunities for free time than I do to meet an interesting person with a common interest.

This experience reminded me that I’m trying to take advantage of opportunities that present themselves. It’s too easy to automatically settle for our routine and, as a result, let these unexpected opportunities go by. That’s a great way to maintain a routine, but it’s no way to live an exciting life.

The dinner and the conversation on Thursday was a lot of fun! I’m so glad that I went and didn’t settle for the perceived comfort of my routine. There is a lot that happens when we step outside of our routines.

Several Little Things

We’ve all seen stories about people who achieve a remarkable feat like living to 100 years of age, being married over 50 years, building a successful business, or a number of other worthy accomplishments. Invariably, these people are asked, “So what’s the secret of your success? What did you do to achieve what you have?” Usually people respond with one or two things that they attribute to their success.

I don’t think that’s quite accurate. Very rarely is success achieved by doing just 1 thing. Success in any venture is often the result of consistently doing several little things.

Here’s what got me thinking about this…

Earlier this week I went to see the doctor for my annual physical (Good times!!). Everything looked good and my doctor told me I was doing a good job with regard to my health. At one point he asked me what I do to maintain good health. I responded with something like exercise and drink water. After I left the doctor’s office I realized that good health is achieved by more than just exercise. In addition, it’s important to also:

  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs
  • Get the proper amount of sleep every night
  • Avoid excess sugar consumption
  • Fill your mind with positive content
  • Reduce wasting significant time with your face buried in a computer/phone screen
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Spend time with people who charge you up
  • Spend time reading instead of watching TV
  • Continually learn new skills
  • Regularly get out of your comfort zone
  • Do some physical activity every day

And that’s just the start!

It’s not just one thing that causes people to be successful. It’s the discipline to consistently do the little things that move you toward success.

Is there something you’d like to achieve in your life? If so, the best way to make progress is to consistently do the little things that seem to have no immediate impact. Begin doing those little things as part of your daily routine and you’ll be amazed at the progress you can make in a month, year, decade, or lifetime.

Work Before Play

I love weekends! After a busy week of work, it’s nice to spend the weekend playing. To ensure I get the most out of each weekend, there are 2 tasks I like to have completed before I go to bed on Thursday evenings. They are:

  1. Mow the lawn, when seasonally applicable
  2. Have my weekly blog post written and scheduled to post

The reason I like these tasks done by Thursday evening is because I enjoy the feeling when I arrive home Friday night to a freshly mowed lawn knowing that my weekly blog post is already completed and teed up to be posted on Saturday morning. Since I’ve already done this work, I don’t have to waste precious time on the weekend to complete them.

There’s something satisfying to me to go into a weekend, or on vacation, or to an event knowing that I don’t have a bunch of unfinished tasks waiting for me when it’s over. A little work ahead of time sets me up mentally for stress free enjoyment of whatever it is I’m doing.

I’ll admit that it takes a little planning and discipline to get work done before playing. However, it’s not hard to find the motivation when you realize that if work is handled first, you won’t have to cut the fun short in order to do the work that wasn’t completed ahead of time.

Are there areas of your life where you could benefit from getting your work done before playing? If so, make the effort to successfully get your work done first. Then, get out and enjoy yourself without the burden of uncompleted work in the back of your mind.

Face It 

We’ve had a busy week at our house.  One filled with unpleasant trips the dentist and unexpected visits to the veterinarian for a sick cat.  Neither of these events has been very enjoyable, but what they’ve lacked in joy, they’ve made up for in unexpected expenses!  Regardless, unexpected events are a part of life, and when they occur, we have a choice.  We can run from them, ignore them, or face them.

Unexpected events, especially when more than one of them occurs at the same time, can feel overwhelming.  When we’re overwhelmed we may feel like ignoring or putting off what we know we need to do.  While this may sound good in the short term, failing to act only prolongs the situation.  I think it’s best to face it and take the action we know we need to take.  It’s ok to be overwhelmed, and nothing says we have to enjoy unpleasant experiences, but after we’ve had a moment or two to be feel overwhelmed, it’s time to face it.

The best way to get through a bad situation is to face it and start moving toward a solution.

Enhancing the Experience

My wife and I were extremely excited to see the production of Hamilton when it came to Portland Oregon earlier this year. One thing that enhanced our enjoyment of the production was the preparation we did prior to seeing the show.

About a year before Hamilton came to town, we began listening to the soundtrack and getting familiar with the story. We also did some additional research like reading books about Alexander Hamilton and early American history, as well as watching documentaries about his life. By the time the show arrived, we were eagerly expecting it and had learned a tremendous deal. The effort we put into learning about the Alexander Hamilton greatly enhanced our enjoyment of the performance.

I think there are a lot of ways we can prepare for experiences that will enhance our enjoyment of them. For instance, we can:

  • Learn about the history and attractions of a new location prior to traveling or moving there.
  • Research an employer and its employees before a job interview.
  • Read about how to effectively communicate with others in social settings.
  • Maintain good physical health so we can enjoy physical opportunities that come our way.
  • Spend time practicing before a public performance, whether it’s playing an instrument, giving a speech or a presentation.
  • Find out what is of interest to people you spend time with and be aware of that the next time you see them.

I’ve found that a little preparation enhances most experiences. To put it another way: I’ve never been disappointed that I spent time preparing for an experience.

Are there any upcoming experiences you have that you’d like to potentially enhance? If so, invest some time preparing yourself to get the most out of that experience. A little preparation will make the difference between a good experience and a great one.