Monday, October 28, 2013

Not Too Little, Not Too Late

I’m saving money in a jar to buy a house near the beach.  I probably don’t have enough yet, but it’s okay, because I’m not ready to buy yet.  But I will be ready one day.   Emotionally ready.  Logistically ready.  So I also need to be financially ready.  A problem I’ve often had is that I was not always ready for the big moments.
Once at work, when I was an elementary school teacher, the night custodian walked into my classroom and said, “The principal’s coming.  She’s really mad about how messy the rooms are.”  Looking around at my disaster and at the frightened look in my eyes, he said, with some pity, “You’d better clean yours quick.” 
It was too little, too late.  The window in front of me announced her imminent arrival. There was nothing to be done but stay frozen in fear like a rabbit and await my doom.  I wasn’t doomed, but it wasn’t exactly a comfortable interaction either.  She came in, looked around in disgust and exasperation and said, “Mr. Farrell, please!  Clean this room.”  This was a big moment and it was a bad one.  It was one more bad moment in a year of them.  In fact, it was one of the worst years of my life because it was consisted of moment after moment like that.
Many of those moments were bad because of other people’s decisions, or that’s what I’d like to believe.  The truth is that most, if not all of them, were bad because of my decisions.  And they were all momentary decisions.  Here are some of the decisions I made that year:
·      I took classes that I had no interest in.
·      I stayed in a job that I was not well-suited for.
·      I did not spend enough time trying to improve my work.
·      I spent a lot of time complaining and blaming others.
·      I stayed up too late doing nothing.
·      I didn’t take a good look at how unhappy I was.
·      I didn’t take care of my health. 
·      When I did try to make some changes that were true to who I was, I didn’t stick with them.
·      I didn’t write down my goals.
·      I overcommitted myself to other people’s agenda.
·      I allowed my room to get messier rather than keep it clean.
·      I let many, many moments slip by when I could have been doing more.

Every time one of these things happened it was because I made a decision in the moment to not do my best or to not follow my heart.  Perhaps I thought I was doing my best, but I really wasn’t.  As I said, I decided to make some changes in my life and when I did, I felt happier than I had felt in years.  That happiness should have been the clue.  That should have been the turning point.  Instead, I got scared and kept things the way the way were.  And I did this for five more years!  How many moments was that?
Still, no lesson truly learned is wasted.  Though I don’t always practice it, I understand the power of the moments, when decisions for action or inaction are made.  I understand that they add to or subtract from our lives.  I understand that every penny I put in my jar adds up.  I also understand every penny I save or spend poorly adds to or subtracts from my life as well. 
So I put a little in every day.  It adds up quickly and I don’t miss the money I contribute on a daily basis.  There are other ways I can add to my life:
·      I can smile kindly at others.
·      I can speak kindly.
·      I can exercise for just 30 minutes a day.
·      I can read a little more.
·      I can get up and go to bed a little earlier.
·      I can drink a little more water.
·      I can spend a little more time with my girls.
·      I can be a little more thankful.
·      I can write a little more.

Who knows what the pay off will be for doing these things?  I don’t want to do them because I think there will be a payoff, but because they’re the right things to do.  But if a big moment comes, then it won’t be too little, too late.   I will have been saving for it.  Every time I Get Started and Keep Going, I’m creating the potential for good moments, like money in a jar.