Seize openness

Yesterday morning I had this strong intuition to be open. I went to bed late and set my alarm to wake up early so I could go for a run. When my alarm went off the last thing I wanted to do was to strap on my running shoes. When 6 am rolled around somehow I was awake enough for my brain to start to think about things. When the brain starts going through items of the day it is hard to stop it, and hard to then roll over and go back for a small snooze.

So I got up.

As I slowly dressed for my run, I kept trying to talk myself out of it. “Don’t go. You will be too tired later. You did not get much sleep last night. Stay here, get some work done. Be slow.” The thing is I was mostly dressed and by then when you basically only have to put on your running shoes, why turn back? I went and it felt great. As I was running I had such a strong sense of urgency that I needed to be “open.” While I have hindsight to look back on, there was not some amazing revelation from my day, but there was a freeness I felt. Uninhibited.

I tried some new foods today. I got to know some work colleagues more. I did not go about my normal routine. I was open for what happened, and I seized the opportunities. I still have no idea why I had that strong intuition, but know that it will stay strong with me. I will think about it so that whatever opportunity comes before me today I will look at it differently. It is freeing really. Say yes to life. Be open to the opportunities. Jump on the adventures. In tiny, small, and big ways.

Hopefully you and I can both be more open today, tomorrow, and the day after that.

Woulda, coulda, shoulda

Often it is easier to look at the life before us and think about all the woulda, coulda, shoulda’s. If you had that different job, then your day would be so much better. If you lived in the house you almost purchased, you would have a better life. If you went on that vacation, you would be more adventurous. If you had not lost your parent or sibling, you would not be so sad or depressed. There are so many ideas we can tell ourselves about how life could be different if something had happened, or if it had not, that we can agonize over all the woulda, coulda, shoulda moments.

What if we just looked at what is?

I am a fan of Jonathan Tropper. I have read all his books, and am always interested to hear when a new one has come out. Recently a daily email newsletter from Oprah contained this quote from Tropper:

“You have to look at what you have right in front of you, at what it could be, and stop measuring it against what you’ve lost.”

So simple, yet so eye-opening. If we looked at what we have right now, appreciate it, take care of it, love it — well life would just be better. I have had many, many times in my life where individuals have asked me, how do you do it losing your parents so early in life? How do you cope? My response: “It is what it is.” If I always compare my life to what I have lost, if I only see what I don’t have, then I am not looking at what is right in front of me. I have a great job, an amazing husband + marriage, my family is healthy, wonderful friendships, all my material needs are met. Of course I have those very tough moments when loss feels great, but those are moments. I live my life from a place of abundance, and gratitude for all that is right in front of me.

The same is true for not getting those opportunities that we want, that person we might want to date, that job we have been preparing ourselves for, or maybe it was an award we felt worthy of receiving. Whatever we think we have lost, does not really matter in the grand scheme of things, what matters is what we do with what is right in front of us. How do we seize the day? How do we make every moment worthwhile in our current job, home, marriage, party, even at the grocery store? Are we letting life pass us by just because it does not compare to what we wished we had?

My life is full, and I want to suck every moment out of every day.

Feedback vs. applause

When you find something that resonates and sticks you have to share it right? This Seth Godin blog just hit the nail on the head. I have been struggling lately with the idea of individuals needing to feel good about the work they are doing in a way that touts them rather than truly looking at the core of the work and see where things were good and where things could be improved. We ALL can do better at what we do. Nothing is ever perfect and there is always room for improvement. Yet, why do folks so often just want to have others tell them they are good? Should our own pride for our work be enough validation?

I can also say that I am not always the best about providing applause. I am better at providing feedback. Maybe that is because I always see opportunities for growth. I have to agree with Seth, if all you are looking for is applause, then where is the growth? I included his full blog post titled: “The feedback you’ve been waiting for” here:

“You did a great job. This is exactly what I was hoping for. I wouldn’t change a thing. You completely nailed it, it’s fabulous. Of course, that’s not feedback, really. It’s applause. Applause is great. We all need more of it.

But if you want to improve, you should actively seek feedback. And that feedback, if it’s more than just carping, will be constructive. It will clearly and generously lay out ways you can more effectively delight your customers and create a remarkable experience that leads to ever more customers.

If you’re afraid of that feedback, it’s probably not going to arrive as often as you’d like it to. On the other hand, if you embrace it as the gift it can be, you may decide to go looking for it.

Empty criticism and snark does no one any good. But genuine, useful, insightful feedback is a priceless gift.

Applause is good too.”

Maybe we all need to start asking for feedback rather than applause? We all learn more about ourselves in the process. It is the deeper, real way to go. Do not be afraid of feedback, if you are open you will find just the answers you need.

Opportunity Cost

Do you ever justify a purchase? Do you think to yourself, I worked hard this week, I deserve this purchase. Or, you might think about how you did not go out to dinner and a movie with friends last week, so you can buy this expensive coat. I justify purchases. Often it is that I should not purchase a specific item, either because we do not need it, or because I believe it is too expensive. Other times, I tell myself, if I purchase this, I will not purchase something else. Or, if I do not purchase something I can save for something better later.

A few weeks ago, I finished reading: “Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work” by Chip Heath & Dan Heath. There was a quote that resonated with me:

“‘Opportunity cost’ is a term from economics that refers to what we give up when we make a decision. For instance, if you and your spouse spend $40 on a Mexican dinner one Friday night and then go to the movies ($20), your opportunity cost might be a $60 sushi dinner plus some television at home. The sushi-and-TV combo is the next-best thing you could have done with the same amount of time and money. Or if you love both shopping and hiking, then the opportunity cost of a Saturday afternoon at the mall might be the forgone opportunity to hike through a nearby park.” page 42

Is that how you make decisions in your life? Do you ever think about the opportunity cost for the choices you make? It is not always a bad way to make decisions. Chris and I spent a few years feeling stuck in the condo we owned. We knew we could not sell it due to the year we purchased it and the market, so we stayed put and continued to save for our future. Last fall we saw a window and found a house we fell in love with instantly. If we had not spent all those years saving, we would not have been able to make the move into our current home. I look at that as our opportunity cost. We stayed in a home for a few years and saved in order to now live in a home we love. It worked for us.

Is that how you look at money and decisions? Is it easier to have the opportunity right in front of you now, so you can see the instant gratification? Does that help you look into the future, or is what you want right now the only way to live? If you are diligent today, tomorrow, and the next day, could that give you more options in a few years? Yes. I can tell you that waiting often gives you more options, but not always. We have to listen for what makes the most sense in each situation. It will be different for everyone.

What do you think?