What now?

September 7, 2022

Today’s quote is from author Ann Patchett’s self-inspired essay “What Now?” — the work in which these reaffirming words appear – Just because things hadn’t gone the way I had planned didn’t necessarily mean they had gone wrong.

Many people spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about or planning things that are to come, as if they really have control over what is to happen. They don’t. At best, they have control over how they react to things that are yet to come. So, considering alternative course of action, based upon plausible scenarios is not a complete waste of time, maybe just not the best use of your time.

Some also waste time looking back on things that have just occurred and regretting decisions that have already been made and cannot be undone. Regret is a terrible waste of time. Better that one should spend time trying to learn from past mistakes, so they do not make them again.

Perhaps you can make the most of your time by starting each day with the little prayer, “Not my will but thy will be done”. That little prayer takes the burden of the events of the day off your shoulders by admitting to yourself that you are not in control of them and surrendering them to God’s will.

Next, take back ownership of the only thing that you do control by praying, “Lord, help me make good decisions today.” It is how you decide to react to the event of your day and the decisions that you make when things occur that will make the day a good thing or not.

If you start each day that way, you’ll be ready for “What Now”.  Try it.

Fish or Cut Bait? How do you make the decisions?

January 18, 2014

“One of the hardest decisions you’ll ever face in life is choosing whether to walk away or try harder.”  (Ziad Abelnour ) from the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

It seems that as I get older I find more and more excuses to avoid trying harder. It is mainly my personal trait of hating to walk away from things that I’ve begun that keeps me hanging in there on many things. I suspect that it is also the wisdom gained through much trial and error in life that gives me pause more often to think about whether I should try some things in the first place.

There is an ad running currently on TV that shows a bunch of people doing things and has the tag line that “there is no fear” amongst the people shown in the activities that they are enjoying with great abandon. I can’t even recall what the ad is for right now; but, it got me to thinking about the influence that letting fear creep into our lives has on us. Fear is probably a good deterrent to doing really stupid things. Fear is something that can be overcome through knowledge and experience. Once one has done something that they feared and gotten through it, that fear is lessened because the element of the unknown is removed. It may still be scary and dangerous and something that you will still try to avoid, but you no longer have to fear it.

women looking at direction signChoosing to walk away from something, rather than try harder may also be something that benefits from knowledge and understanding (which we eventually call wisdom). There are things that are literally impossible, no matter how hard we try. Remember that Albert Einstein defined of insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Sometimes no matter how hard you try the desired outcome cannot be achieved. Choosing to walk away from those things in life just makes sense. Other things that may seem impossible can be accomplished through trying harder and perhaps trying smarter. The ability to differentiate between the two is probably what keeps us from going insane.

Insanity aside, there is also the personality trait sometimes called “bull-headedness” that keeps some people trying things that bull-headedthey should walk away from. The difference between being resolute and being stubborn is a fine line, but one that age and wisdom eventually allow most people to see more clearly. Some, of course, never “get it” and are just bull-headed to the end. Sometimes that very bull-headedness brings that end sooner than otherwise would have occurred.

So, when faced with one of those tough life decisions about trying harder or walking away; it’s important to take a few moments to reflect on what you are attempting (is it really possible) and why you have been continuing the effort up to this point – bull-headedness or intelligent perseverance. In many cases you might find that the time that has passed while you were stubbornly pursuing the goal has caused things to change so much that the goal is no longer worth the stubborn effort. In some cases taking that time for reflection on the situation may allow you to see a different path to preserver and  reach the goal; and, in some cases, it just may make sense to walk away and forget about it.

Dr. Seuss might have made a good story out of this topic…oh wait, he did – are you the North-Going Zax or a South-going Zax?