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Saturday Evening Post

The week has been filled with near misses, almost events and wishful thinking. Snuggle into a rocker, and grab a cuppa. Let’s talk.

missed targetHave you ever noticed when you are after something you can recount your failure rate? How many times have you almost made it to the brass ring? It really is not because you are failing more at this one thing; It really is you are noticing the failure because you want it so badly.

By comparison, we fail at the things we really want with almost the exact same frequency we fail at more trivial things. The main differences are we are less likely to catalog the lesser failures and we are far more likely to accept a facsimile or lesser result.

Why?

The obvious answer is perspective; however, it is incomplete. The truth is value and attention.

Fresh FoodDiscounting obsessive nature, we are willing and able to compromise some goals. We are willing to settle for “almost” what we want. The easiest example of this is food. When we are craving a food, we often will accept something with similar ingredients or a dish someone suggests over what our initial craving is. We do not value the craving as our body telling us what it needs. We eat and consider this a victory rather than a failure.

Contrariwise, when what we are after will change our lives, we are unwilling to settle for less than what we want. For those who do not already have their dream job, carefully weighing the pros and cons of a job offer is a failure. In the end, we are taking the lesser of two evils because the job on offer is not what we want. The cons are fatal: not the right salary, not the right occupation, too much/not enough advancement opportunity… and the list goes on. We chalk this up as a direct failure.

How is it any different than not eating the craved food? It is not. The choice is still the same. The decision is one of taking what is on offer in lieu of nothing whatsoever, the greater of the two evils.

Perspective?

Heigh, ho! Heigh ho! To the work we go!

Heigh, ho! Heigh ho! To the work we go!

Can you honestly say the second-choice job is a failure? You are still getting a salary, the primary reason anyone works. The failure is not a clear-cut matter of perspective. Value comes to bear even harder than the meal choice.

Jobs require commitment of time and resources (energy, fuel, intellectual capital). We want more from our occupations than merely a paycheck because our investment is substantial. When we settle for a less-than-desired job, we consider it a failure as much as we would buying a lemon vehicle.

Chance

Many lament the role chance plays in their lives. Opportunities offered them are not within the scope of their dreams or desires, falling far below the satisfaction line. Although each case is different, some truths are evident. Opportunity has a funny way of being pushed aside.

Rolling Dice

Expecting a seven?

How much of that chance is actually standards? Often, we do not take what is offered because the choice is beneath our standards. This is not chance dealing us a raw hand but choice. Have you ever taken what was on offer, and it led to something wonderful?

How much is merely desire? Being behind the wheel of a luxury sports car is a popular fantasy. Where are you going to put the three children in a vehicle with only two bucket seats? Failing to want what is necessary or desiring a completely different circumstance is chance being neither fickle nor absent.

How much is a consequence of choice? When opportunity is cloaked in requirements we cannot meet, it is no less an opportunity. Whether we are overqualified or educated in a different field, turning down an opportunity which is outside our comfort zone or requires us to learn different skills is not a matter of chance but choice.

What of sacrifice? Some opportunity comes with caveats and catches. For example, the dream job requires giving up the home you have fought to keep out of foreclosure and moving to a city where you know no one. It is no less an opportunity because you judge it more than you can stand to sacrifice.

None of these are chance. Each of them is choice. If we recalculate each of these as failures, we will notice they are not a lack of opportunity.

Choice

People MemoriesSome of the biggest influences on our choices are the people in our lives. Time and again, we allow those people’s opinions to mold or supplant our own. While surveying opinions before life choices is a good practice, in the end the choice is not someone else’s purview.

Occasionally, we choose without asking them what their opinions are. Have you ever said or thought, “BFF/Mate/Parent will hate this.”? No matter how well you know someone, assigning certainty to an opinion you have not sought is an exercise of assumption. Basing actions on assumption is foolhardy.

We cannot meet the needs of others instead of our own. Depriving ourselves of sleep because someone needs a ride to the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night before a double shift serves what purpose? It jeopardizes our safety and that of all around us. Donating to a heart-wrenching cause when we have no money to spare gets us where? In debt, not to put too fine a point on it.

Challenge

uneven scaleLet’s be fair. Rather than beat ourselves up for not wearing the brass ring let’s raise the standards across the board and make choices.

Whether it is a craving, dream job, mate, home or vehicle, be specific and honest. The choices we make govern what opportunities are offered and taken. We do not have to abandon our dreams or desires; we do have to look at them with more scrutiny.

If we look at where we have settled for second-best, we can see benefits and learning opportunities which make first-choice easier to get or we find second-best was better than we ever imagined it could be. Nothing is wasted if we take the opportunity to learn from our choices.

Rather than settle for a burger because it is quick, invest the time in preparing the meal. Be kinder to the body.

Rather than dreading the second-choice job, discover what skills will add layers of value to the résumé. Be kinder to the mind.

Rather than lamenting the mini-van’s practicality, research a sporty cross-over vehicle. Be kinder to the inner child.

Rather than nitpicking Mate’s shortcomings to an ideal, celebrate strengths and recognize unsolicited benefits. Be kinder to the support system.

Rather than claiming no opportunity, recognize responsibility for making opportunity and suffering consequences of choices. Be kinder to chance.

Just some more food for thought,

Red Signature


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22 Comments

  1. Thanks Red!
    I am fifty-nine years old and I just learned the impact of choice on my life three years ago. I had been a recluse for 32 years, choosing to stay alone and limit my social contacts for fear of being hurt again (by mate, friend, parent, sibling.) That choice left me lonely and immature.
    I abandoned that choice for another one. I pursued social contacts. It was a rewarding and fun-filled time for me, and I shed those old fears and expectations.
    I not only developed friends, I found my lifetime mate in the mix. He decidedly was a choice unlike the other mates I had chosen. This one loved me for who I am and is kind, affectionate, funny, and brilliant. I have love along with freedom and autonomy, a mix I have needed but never thought was there for me. Decades ago I would have rejected him for caring for me. I didn’t feel I deserved to be loved.
    I have matured and blossomed and am writing again, we moved from our separate slum like apartments into a gorgeous two bedroom place we can afford (after searching for six months.) I planted flowers, decorated, and we shop together. We’ve started back at the Barnes and Noble writers group, again a choice, which fulfills my social and intellectual needs.

    My grown children are blossoming too, with these changes and I see a ripple effect. They are making choices for the better about their jobs, their love lives, and taking responsibility for themselves. They no longer need to take care of my emotional needs and I have told them as such because I have Frank and we take care of each other.

    I am happy. It has taken me a lifetime to free myself and make the choices which fulfill me. It took letting go of my dying parents in their deaths, opening up myself to the broader world, going for what I wanted, and a little bit of luck.

    Now I’m off to bake cookies and enjoy myself.
    Love to you Red,
    Gailxoxox
    Gail Thornton recently posted..Prose – Of Loss and LoveMy Profile

    Reply
  2. You are so right, yet still I would rather chance were kinder and I didn’t have to do all the work.

    Taking chances, I am all in all the time. With this attitude I am also all to frequently hurt.
    Valentine Logar recently posted..Never EnoughMy Profile

    Reply
    • All or nothing always means nothing is a return. Occasionally, I wish chance would toss me a seven on the first throw. 😉 xxx

      Reply
  3. I guess I’m a work in progress! 🙂

    As you know I’ve been through a lot and I’ve started standing up for myself which has led to friction with my mother over my posting my poetry on Facebook which she said was upsetting the family!

    After a long phone call to stop me posting links she didn’t approve of I broke with her and was astonished at how controlling she became!!!

    Talk about the knives being out!!! 🙁

    Still: My stepdad picked up Malware – don’t ask where – and no longer has a working PC, so I’m now free to write what I want, but mum still sent a message via my niece Marie to have a stab at me!!! 🙁

    Amazing to see the darker side of her nature… 🙁

    Still: I am now free to use Facebook as I wish and when (or if) they get their PC fixed I have the option to block her.

    I am no longer willing to put up with ANYONE’S crap and that for me is one BIG step forward!!! 🙂

    Love and huge hugs sweetheart!!! 🙂

    Prenin.
    Prenin recently posted..Saturday – Internet Blues.My Profile

    Reply
  4. Life is full of opportunities and mixed fortunes but instead of wallowing in self pity we have to acknowledge that not everything that we want is possible. It would be a perfect world if everything that we desired came into fruition, but reality often deals a different set of cards, and that is the route that we have to take.

    It is not all doom and gloom however, as for every missed chance there is often a light at the end of the tunnel shining the way forwards. Keeping an optimistic view helps one achieve a lot more than what is first expected and sometimes a lesser opportunity can turn into something marvellous.

    I have enjoyed reading this one Red.

    Andro xxxx

    Reply
    • You know, because I am contrary about all, I do not see a world where all desires are granted as a wonderful one. Mayhap, were those subversives curtailed in their wishing I could. As it stands, too many know too little about what they truly desire. Reminds me of a quote I put up on FB a few days back. Looks like it needs to become a post. xxxx

      Reply
      • I love your new profile picture Red,
        and this is definitely my favourite 🙂

        Have a lovely Monday my dear friend…

        Andro xxxx

        Reply
        • This was the one Lizzie made for me for International Women’s Day. She entered it into a contest, and she finished in the top 50 with more than a few thousand entries. So many people laugh when I tell them it is a selfie. 🙂

          Reply
  5. Carl D'Agostino

     /  August 3, 2014

    Lotta wisdom here. Some things I tried I knew there would not be an end accomplishment and would not succeed but my goal was to learn the process. Some things in which I wanted turned out as desired, some complete failures and some things I wish I had not gotten-they were terrible. We must learn what I call “flexible stubbornness” and a degree of acceptance for things not meant to be. That is not quitting but redirecting our style and redefining or amending goals. No matter what ends up, having been in the contest is better than merely being an observer at the arena. I am wiser, more experienced and more polished due to even having wins ad loses.

    Reply
    • I love your concept of flexible stubbornness. As I commented to Gray, I feel it unwise to get what we want all the time. In that falling short or merely failing grows character and wisdom. Thank you, Carl!

      Reply
  6. Why can’t we settle for ‘almost’ what we want? Gives one an opportunity to sort yourself out, rethink, adjust, and reboot. Maybe your approach is all wrong.

    No, I’m not saying everything you want the universe will give you and we do learn from our mistakes. Sometimes life is stubborn and wants to show you this is not something you need.
    Tess recently posted..Beijing Day 5, Part 4: Special Peking DinnerMy Profile

    Reply
    • I think you may have missed some steps along the way… I specifically said: “If we look at where we have settled for second-best, we can see benefits and learning opportunities which make first-choice easier to get or we find second-best was better than we ever imagined it could be. Nothing is wasted if we take the opportunity to learn from our choices.” Most people count second best as an automatic failure, when in many cases it is not. You are correct: “sort yourself out, rethink, adjust, and reboot.” It is precisely the message. 🙂 xxx

      Reply
  7. Fear is the biggest challenge to taking chances. Probably why I live in the same city that I grew up in. Then again I wouldn’t have met my wife so it was a good choice.

    Sometimes you have to count your blessings versus your missed opportunities.
    Bearman Cartoons recently posted..Cards Against Humanity With In-LawsMy Profile

    Reply
    • Many times what we did not plan is the better than what we had planned in the first place. Often we discount the people we gain as true assets.

      Reply
  8. Grant Helms

     /  August 12, 2014

    Beautiful. Once more I feel like you are speaking to my soul and giving me yet another tutoring session.

    Reply
  9. Hi Red
    Thought I’d lost your feed, but found your email from a month or 2 ago. I think I followed you again. I’ll check back at some point if nothing pops into my mailbox. Working my way out of my summer sabbatical.

    Reply
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