We are just back from a week of vacation. It was just the right combination of everything to result in a fantastic week.
It was the right combination of activity and relaxing.
It was the right combination of people.
It was the right combination of predictability and of things that were new.
It was the right combination of laughter and serious discussion.
It was the right combination of weather.
When you find this right combination, don’t take it for granted. Rather savor the moment, the people and the experience. And then be sure to recreate it.
Again this is a bit of cheat post – as the words below are not my own. But today I felt highly motivated to blog. To put something out there in the world. To potentially offer encouragement and inspiration to others. I wasn’t sure what to write about. As I looked through the personally inspiring things I have read recently, the writing of Seth Godin copied below seemed to fit with my goal for today. You can read his words below.
In a somewhat ironic turn of events, one of the other ideas I pondered today was the important role a good “Linker” can play in making things happen and in connecting people and ideas. Perhaps I will write more on that another day, but in the mean time, sharing Seth Godin’s writing through my blog is one example of how I hope “linking” (not necessarily creating or doing) can have an impact.
“It’s not enough.
There are more people, better off, with more freedom, more agency and more power than at any other time in our history.
That’s not enough.
As we use technology and culture to create more health, more access and more dignity for more people, we keep reminding ourselves how inadequate it is in the face of the injustice and pain that remains.
That’s how we get better.
We must focus on the less fortunate and the oppressed not because the world isn’t getting better but because it is.
It’s our attention to those on the fringes that causes the world to get better.”
We remember experiences way more than we remember things. We know this to be true. We remember parties, and concerts, and vacations, and camping trips, and moments on the hiking trail, and late night chats with friends, and a million more experiences. I remember far fewer of the things/stuff/possessions that have passed through my life over the years (of course there some – that first car, the favourite sweater, that special doll).
And yet does this reflect how we budget and/or spend our money and time? Does it reflect how we set our goals and thinks about the year to come?
On New Years Eve a friend listed off some of her plans for 2017 – they were all experiences, none related to getting anything new. When we spend our money and time on experiences we are happier than when we spend these resources on things. This friend’s plans for 2017 were bang on, she knows that a 90s retro party is going to bring more joy and more memories than any item she might acquire.
So forget about the stuff. As you plan and set your goals for 2017, what experiences are on your list?
Over the past few days, every time you turned on the radio, clicked on social media, on watched TV, someone was doing a year in review. You know the ones I mean, either the best of or the worst of or the most frequent or the top; and usually the end result was so sort of list.
Most years it’s easy to identify and talk about the highlights of our year, our personal “best of” list – the vacations, the concerts, the fun times with friends, the quiet moments in awe of nature. And some years all those highlights are dimmed by the crappy thing life threw our way that we didn’t see coming. At the end of those years, you find yourself hoping nobody asks you to reflect on your year and share the highlights, as even though they happened, it’s hard to not also think about the not so good stuff. And yet maybe, just maybe, it’s during those times that we most need to celebrate the good. Not to ignore or hide the bad, but to give ourselves permission to embrace both. It’s not about making equal length lists with 10 points each or thinking that all things have equal weight, but to accept that life includes both.
So I don’t know what kind of year you had in 2016, but as we move into 2017, I hope you surround yourself with space and people who support you (in just the way you need) as you reflect on both the crappy things and the best things.
Pause for a minute and re-read the title of this blog: If not now, when? What comes to your mind as you say (or think) that statement? I’m going to guess that whatever comes to mind when you hear that phrase, is the thing you need to take action in your life and do. For some it might be something big and life changing. For others it might be something small, but no less important.
If you aren’t going to eat the bacon which makes you happen now, when will you start? If you don’t start being intentional about planning and using your vacation days now, when will that happen? If you don’t start spending more time with the people that are important to you, when are you going to do that? If you don’t start blogging more frequently this week, when will you start? If you aren’t going to start going to more concerts now, when will you? If you don’t make plans today to have drinks with a friend, when will you send that text or email and make it happen?
I don’t mean to suggest that life is a free for all, that we can just do whatever we want, whenever we want. But I’d say that 99% of the people I know have things in their life that they don’t do, but that on some level they think they might do in the future. The things they say “someday” about. The problem is that “someday”, tends to turn into never. It’s okay to have a clear plan for something happening in a month, year or 10 years in the future. But in many cases, we just think in terms of “someday”.
You can start something now, today and not wait for “someday”. Because if you start today your life is one step closer to the vision in your head. Doing it now, will change your life. But if you aren’t going to today, when will you? If not now, when?
At work we have been talking about the idea of social capital. Which is really just a fancy word for relationships. Which is just a big word to talk about the people in your life.
In so many situations and circumstances we do what we do as a result of the people in our life. Even those of who are introverted and enjoy individual activities like reading and gardening, still have tons and tons of connections with people. It’s those connections that keep us going back to the same places, that introduce us to new places and things, with whom we talk about our individual activities. And similarly, it is the connections with people that make it difficult to change the places we go and the things we do. I’ve heard countless tales of people who keep going to the same coffee shop because they like the people even though the coffee isn’t great; who continue going to the same church or faith community because even if it doesn’t totally meet their spiritual needs, they have strong relationships there; people who stay at their current job even though it isn’t great, because their co-workers are amazing and mitigate the impact of the other aspects of the work.
Good relationships can be the glue that keep us from making change. We could see this as a negative thing. As something that holds up back, or keep using doing something or going to a place for the wrong reasons. An alternate perspective is that in these situations, these strong relationships hold us in place when things aren’t perfect or get a bit tough, or don’t perfectly meet our needs. It’s the relationships that keep it from being easy to ‘jump ship’. As with most things in life, it’s not all good or all bad. This is just one more of tensions our lives that we can’t solve but need to continually work to manage. And isn’t wonderful that we have great people in our lives who will help us do figure this out. And it all comes back to relationships.
These days I’m embracing the idea of slowing down. This doesn’t always come easy. At a time of year when everyone else seems to be rushing around with holiday preparations and life is filled with social events and Christmas celebrations, it can feel odd to say “I’m not that busy”. It can feel a bit like something is wrong with me or my life that I don’t have more events, am not making lists (and checking them twice), and have time to sit and wonder why there aren’t more birds at my bird feeders.
How busy we are, at this time of year and at any time of year, is a choice. Some activities and events can feel like obligations – things we do and participate in to keep others in our lives happy. I understand that sometimes we make choices we might not prefer to make to preserve a relationship, and this is not a bad thing. But we also have the choice to suggest that maybe we don’t need to buy as many gifts this year (or any for that matter), we can choose to take a day off of work to do the holiday activities that are important to us (like today I’m off from work and going to do some baking and get greenery for the outside of my house).
If you are happy with the pace of your life, this blog about slowing down is likely not relevant to you. We each have to decide what works for us and our families. However, if you are feeling rushed, feeling like you are missing the special Christmas moments, be reminded that slowing down is a choice. The choices may not be easy, but things will never change or slow down until you change the choices you are making.