By Craig Funston
As we hinted at last week, there is a restless change and a restful change. One is the product of growing pains; the other, the product of growing up. The shift from one to the other takes time, energy, and pain. And sorry, there are no shortcuts.
I have learned a few things things in the past thirty years, lessons that you can learn from me, without going through the hassle and frustration of beating your head against the wall—like I did. The context is “change,” and what I have learned from harnassing its awesome power.
In other words, a change in this approach, a tweak in that response, and I suggest four keys to a successful life:
1. Be true to your word. If you say it, mean it. If you promise it, deliver it. If you blew it, admit it. I am finding more and more that it is a character quality that is becoming a rare commodity.
It’s at every level—parent and child, teacher and student, employer and employee, law and citizen, politician and constituent, for starters. In a world of passwords, checkpoints, and political correcness, there still remains nothing so effective and reassuring as one being true to one’s word.
2. Live within your means. I am coming across more and more people within my varied worlds who have massive debt issues. They buy things they don’t really need and can’t really afford, so by the time the end of the month comes, there are more days than money left.
Home by home and nation by nation, it is a colossal problem. I have learned the hard way, and thanks mostly to my frugal wife, we do our best to live within our means, though it can still be a monthly struggle. Again, in those care-free (and actually careless days) of that prolonged adolesecnce, such was not the case. We want it, we buy it, regardless of its affordability. And we ‘re “paying” for it now big time, pun intended.
We buy beyond our means because we want to change our wardrobe, follow the latest fashion, or well, everybody’s got one. Once maturity kicks in, you tend to see the folly of a trendy lifesyle—and can get your financial house in order.
Whim and wish get replaced by pause and plan. Measuring once, then cutting twice, has now been replaced by measuring twice and cutting once. This is part of economic change that kicks in at maturity.
3. Think through conseqences. You are a freedom-loving, independent human, and this is how you have been designed. Good for you. So far, our freedoms to choose have not been completely shut down by Big Brother, the PC Police, or the mindless liberals. But just remember that all choices have consequences—financial, sexual, vocational (and I’m just warming up). Look before you leap; pause before you buy; think before you speak. And don’t foget to read the labels.
And think generationally. It’s not just about you: It’s about the next generation, and the one after that.
4. Cherish the simple things. “Simple” means unencumbered and uncomplicated, foundational and fundamental. Such things could include any or all of the following: time for relationships; appreciating the wonder of nature; speaking a good word here or there; taking in a good book, movie, or CD. Again, this list is suggestive, not exhaustive
Life gets increasingly complicated as one gets older, so there has to be a concerted effort to slow down, take a breath, and embrace the essentials, the things that really matter. It’s hackneyed but true: Slow down and smell the roses. For me, I’m still looking for the roses; I don’t even know what a proverbial rose looks like. In fact, I don’t even know how to spell R-O-S-E.
There is also the issue of semantics, which I have alluded to this already. Don’t be afraid of your “comfort zone.” It has a weary and wary connotation with it. It suggests the timidness of a wallflower (translation: someone is afraid to move out of what they are comfortable with).
Well, not quite so, Zorro. Sometimes, at least from this sixty-two-year-old’s perspective, there is a place for the tried and true, always being there. There is that steady, dependable perspective, one that could be miscontrued as “comfort zone.” It usually takes years to arrive at this place.
Comfort zone, then, can be seen as the space for one who is at peace with themselves, secure in their identity—and that’s a good thing, not a bad thing.
Change? Or change! Well, what do you want for the “rest” of your life—rest-less or rest-full?