I'm not overly fond of New Year's resolutions but I do firmly believe in reflecting and tinkering. This story begins on 12/31/15.
The wife and I had a fairly benign but thoroughly enjoyable New Year's celebration this year: more than a few drinks, lots of laughs, lots of reflection (we do that a lot), and then in bed well before midnight. The next morning I woke up at my usual "you've got to be kidding, really?" time, began to manage through my lightly hungover state and then sat to reflect (see, there it is again).
I landed on the following: I never did anything I'm proud of while drunk; whilst all my proudest moments and accomplishments never included an ounce of booze.
And I know I'm not the only one. Google "drunk regrets" and you get endless, often painful, stories and visuals.
More importantly, as a self-diagnosed health nut, I've tried all sorts of health challenges and fitness routines; and I'm super conscious of what I eat but yet I've never tried being stone-cold dry (which I find interesting considering that I don't drink that often anyway). So to that end, time to experiment with a 100% dry year in 2016.
Salud! (he says with water)
How many times have you heard the phrase, “You’re making a HUGE mistake!”? I’ve heard it 18 times (yes, I keep track) that I can distinctly remember in my professional life. Add in the personal life decisions - to get married young, to have kids close together, to get tattoos, to get ears pierced (c’mon everybody was doing it right? right?), etc - and I come up with more than two dozen times when I was told that I would be making a mistake. Fortunately, that type of foreboding response doesn’t seem to resonate with me and I shall attempt to explain. Let’s start with the dictionary.
1: a wrong judgment : misunderstanding
2: a wrong action or statement proceeding from faulty judgment, inadequate knowledge, or inattention
1: to blunder in the choice of <mistook her way in the dark>
2a : to misunderstand the meaning or intention of :misinterpret <don't mistake me, I mean exactly what I said>b : to make a wrong judgment of the character or ability of
3: to identify wrongly : confuse with another <I mistook him for his brother>
Based on definitions above, I would argue that for the individual to judge my decision as a mistake, the individual providing the opinion would have to have specific, intimate knowledge of the potential outcome. Is that possible? Can a person really know exactly what is going to happen to you if you make a choice to change careers? Pursue a project? Relocate? How can they possibly know how you’re going to react? Can anyone truly foresee the long term impact of your decision? Perhaps people weren’t really saying, “you’re making a HUGE mistake!” Maybe what they were trying to say was, “you’re making a decision that I don’t support”; or perhaps “you’re choosing a path that I fear”; or better yet, “a path I don’t fully understand.”
So how does, then, one handle naysayers? Do as George Jean Nathan said and treat them with “polite inconsideration”?
I’ve heard countless stories from friends and family lamenting how they wished they HADN’T listened to their negative Nellies and jumped at the opportunity to pursue crazy project X; or conversely, wished they HAD listened to such and such who told them that they SHOULD do crazy thing Y. For me specifically, if I had listened to what I'm sure was well-intentioned advice, I would not have experienced the events, or met the people, or accomplished the things that I have in my life.
Now, to be clear, I’m not arguing in favor of reckless abandon or doing hurtful, spiteful and certainly not illegal activities. I think it’s a carefully weighted balance of filtering out the fear from the productive counsel; then, above all, DO something, ACT on it.
I recently mused that one can waste an entire lifetime lamenting how things should be...instead of how they can be. If you find yourself fearful of the potential outcomes, you may never find the possible outcomes. The take-away for me is this: one day you’re going to wake up and be 80 years old, how many different experiences will you have chalked up? My wife and I created a manifesto for our kids (call it our family operating plan) and in it we say “that only experiences count”. I truly believe that. When all is said and done all you will have in the end is your memories, your stories; and stories require action.
Try it for yourself. Take an inventory of all the times you were advised that you were making a big mistake. Don’t have that many? Maybe it’s time to consider “making a mistake.” As I said in a previous post, “If you don’t step in it once in a while, you’re probably on a too-well trodden path. Take a detour.”
By my last count, I've lived in 2 countries, 7 states, 15 different cities and have had 20+ address changes. Personally, I have never seen anything "wrong" with my personal statistics. Quite the contrary in fact, I relish - and if asked - will brag about them. Even so, the other night a student challenged my position by asking me, "what about your kids? Don't they want to grow up around the same friends?" I replied that they, nor I, know anything different. I've been on the move since I was kid, moving back and forth across the US and Mexico border and spending large swaths of time in Central Mexico as well.
So will all the relocating negatively affect my kids? Ben's bias is that "geographically rooted childhood tend to be more confident and happier, if less interesting." I lean more to what some of his readers comments: you can't change your childhood and it all comes back to parenting. My kids appear to get a great deal of joy from being able to send Christmas cards to 4 different continents and across 16 different states (when my wife pinned the addresses on a world map, their eyes lit up!). More so, whenever they start a new school, they seem to radiate when they are asked to present of picture collage of themselves. It's not too many elementary school kids that have experienced as much as they have in such a short time frame.
As I told my student, my kids grew up relocating with the military and now in Corporate America, the same stays true - they've only known this life. More importantly, my wife and I ultimately determine their relocating response: If our attitude radiates positivity, then so shall theirs.
What is the difference between being comfortable versus being complacent? I have no idea, so I challenge myself. Challenge my thinking, my parenting, my husband-ing; attempt to challenge my assumptions and my understanding of things. I won't get it right all the time so I welcome all constructive feedback. The goal? To "...be satisfied with life always but never with one's self." (George Jean Nathan)