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.

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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.