Vision2020: Keeping Perspective

Vision2020: Keeping Perspective

A few days ago life gave me an opportunity to reflect on keeping things in perspective. I was off work and had just finished at an appointment when I came out to my car. Clicking the key fob to disarm the alarm, the horn let out a pathetic bleat. It didn’t sound good. “How much is a horn to repair?” I wondered. I sat down in the driver’s seat, closed the door, and turned the key. Nothing happened. In disbelief, I turned the key again. Still nothing. Always the persistent bugger, I took out the key, inserted it again and turned. The car struggled, but the engine turned over. Battery light was on, but at least it was running. From there I drove to my Honda dealer, and they ended up changing the battery out.

On the drive over, I started thinking. “Ever notice how just when you get a little ahead, something comes up?” I had just received my tax return last week and had yet to spend it. But as I came to that first light, I took a moment and turned that on its head. “Ever notice those times that something comes up, but rather than being caught in a bind you find you already have what you need to cover it?” So often it is a choice in perspective that put events into a negative or positive light. So, I continued the exercise: My battery nearly died & left me stranded, or at least calling a tow truck… -=- No, I was able to start the car and drive it to the shop, AND if it had happened either 12 hours earlier or later, I would have just been leaving for work and would have been several hours late to work! So, in many ways, this was the most convenient time for the car to act up. All in all, about an hour of my time and little over $100 and all is right again.

In the moment, it is often difficult to see events from the more positive perspectives. Going negative is much easier to do, but not nearly as valuable. So, there’s the goal: Whatever life throws my way, try to see the positive side of it, no matter what the negative is.


Vision 2020: Minimalism or Living Simple

Vision 2020: Minimalism or Living Simple

What is Minimalism? Strictly speaking the dictionary attributes it to a style of art or music. For myself I think of it as a reduction of clutter. A simplification of everything and the removal of noise. For day-to-day life, we could call it Living Simple. The simplification is only a part of it. That is the process by which one can get from a cluttered state to an uncluttered state. But Living Simple to me is more than just the process, it is also a mindset. As with so many others, growing up in a capitalist, consumerist society, I have been bombarded with the message that having more stuff results in happiness. That having the latest, coolest stuff somehow might keep various troubles of the world away. What I’ve found, in practice, is that stuff collects. Stuff takes up space. Stuff can be overwhelming and confining. That is not to say that I’m immune to the emotional gratification that obtaining a new bit of stuff can produce, but overall I find myself yearning for a simpler space with less stuff.

As family, former housemates and anyone who has ever helped me move could attest, I have had quite a bit of stuff that I’ve carried along with me from place to place. Some of it dating back to before high school. I had the fortune/misfortune of having a bedroom twice as big as a typical kid (thanks to a converted garage), and my stuff grew to fill it, much like a goldfish and his fish tank. It takes a lot of effort go through all this stuff and weed out the good from the useless. Over the years I’ve made significant progress, but there is still a lot of stuff that I know needs to just go away. I’ve been in my house for a little over 3 years now. When I moved in I had the lofty goal of getting through everything in those first 3, 6 or 9 months. In reality, what happened was I reached a certain level of livability, and more or less stopped. Major things I needed had found their place. Those things I hadn’t needed immediately had found nice little corners out of the way where they could stay until I went through them. And as they say, out of sight, out of mind. =P

So, with my look into the new year and the years beyond, I’m re-evaluating the current state of my stuff. The Stuff, and the process of going through the stuff are a major distraction and cause quite a bit of resistance when trying to move on in life. It needs to be dealt with eventually, and the sooner the better. But even so, I am trying to find a balance between de-cluttering and maintaining creative momentum. Do I think I’ll get through it all in the coming year? Unlikely. Do I think it will take me until 2020 to complete this goal and be free of clutter & unwanted stuff? I sure hope not!

To that end, I’ve defined success as “Forward Progress”. Keeping current as new things are added (managing paperwork, etc.) and making some progress on the backlog on a daily basis. As I get further along in reducing my Stuff, the results will be more apparent. Success, to me, means also not ignoring the creative projects by getting too wrapped up in that forward progress. That is the point of this, after all, to foster an environment where creativity thrives. Ultimately, de-cluttering is a means, not the goal itself.


Vision 2020:

As with the end of every year, I looked back on what happened and what didn’t. What was planned and what wasn’t. The expected and the surprises. And after looking back for a little while, I started looking forward. To the coming weeks and months of the new year. But this year was a little different. This time I extended my focus beyond the immediate. I decided, rather than try and set those must have goals for the new year, I’d look a little further: Where do I want to be in 3 years, 5 years, 7… The things that crossed my mind don’t happen overnight. Even the decision to pursue them doesn’t happen overnight. I gave it some thought, and some more thought, and let it soak in over the first days of the year and decided I’d start cataloguing my vision for my future. Sort of an ongoing time capsule of where I see things going, in any aspect of my life.

And then, life got busy and January zoomed by. So here I am in February already finally getting the first of these thoughts down into concrete words.

Hindsight is supposedly 20/20, but I think our view of the past is influenced by our emotion of the present. As an exercise I’ve explored “what if…” I had either done or not done some key action or decision in my past. It is a surprisingly complex series of dominoes trying to follow all of the things that wouldn’t have happened, both good and bad, if key choices had not been made the path that is my past. It is hard to hold on to regrets for long when you realize all the good things that eventually come from a bad decision (hopefully).

So… what does that say to looking forward? Is it over planning? Not if adjustments are made when things turn out differently. Not if those plans remain flexible enough to adapt to the unexpected and unintentional. The next 7 years will take me to the threshold of 2020. That is a long way to project out. I certainly didn’t see a lot of today in my mind 7 years ago. However, I did have some of the pieces starting to form at that time. Do I expect this exercise to guide me directly to my intended and hoped for future? No. But it will give me a chance to look back and see where plans changed. To see where the unexpected arose, both good and bad. And most importantly to me, a place to go back to and re-evaluate the goals I hold today and see if they still apply tomorrow

So, if you’re still here and interested, check back from time to time as I update on how my life evolves over the next 7 years and beyond. We’ll start getting into the meat of things next time.