Tempered Expectations

When I go out to eat, I have certain hopes for the experience.

We will be greeted soon after walking into the establishment. We will be seated soon or told to the length of the wait. We will be given menus when we are seated and our drink order will be taken without too much wait. Our drinks will arrive without too much of a wait, and generally the drinks shouldn’t be empty for too long or ever. I hope to make our food order not too long after getting our drink order and any appetizers should show up sooner rather than later.

Once the food order shows up, I hope it is cooked to order, all arrives at approximately the same time, and delicious. Must be delicious. The server will usually check in once or twice after the food has arrived to make sure we have everything and it all tastes good. Then eventually show up later with the check and pick up the check without too much delay.

I try to temper my expectations. A fast food establishment isn’t going to be as delicious as a high end establishment and a high end establishment is not going to be as focused on huge portions as the fast food establishment.

However, we have one place that breaks all the rules. I have come to expect them to break the rules.

Servers are generally ambivalent, slow, and varying degrees of friendly ranging from not friendly to non-existent. The food is always good. Which is why I keep going back. But I know better than to ask for anything other than what I am being given. And if I need anything, I know I can get it myself. And I do. I have seen where they keep most of their supplies and if I need something, I go get it myself.

This might seem extreme, but truly, they do not care. Servers have watched me get up and grab a high chair for my toddler, extra napkins, and refill my own water, get condiments, utensils, and menus. They all watch and say nothing. They are completely ambivalent to me and my resourcefulness.

Previously this establishment has frustrated me to no end. But now, I have tempered my expectations to know, I do it myself and I am better for it.

How do you temper your expectations? Do you prepare yourself for the moments when you know your expectations are too high? When you are consistently dissatisfied with an experience, do you change your expectations to be ready for dissatisfaction and take action?

Shouldn’t you be able to do better than silently suffering?

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Schedule

Your schedule is a product of how you allocate time.

Each day we have allocated our time. There are the eight or nine theoretical hours you are sleeping. The two and a half hours you are eating. The eight hours you are working, (and sometimes more.) And then then the two and half hours you spend as “recreational time” whether watching TV, exercising, spending time with your spouse/child(ren). You decide all of this time.

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Your schedule is as full or empty as you make it.

Your to do list. Your calendar. The sports and events your family does are all decided by you (and probably you and your spouse.)

Whether or not you have time to go to coffee with friends is decided by you. Your calendar does not decide these things. You are not owned by this digital or paperback calendar with words and time written in it.

Your calendar is filled by you and only you have the power to stop filling it.

But when it is full, you are then considered “busy”.

So when your friends ask you how you have been and you reply with, “So busy.” It is not because of external factors that make you busy. It is your own fault. You make yourself busy. And the issue with getting busy is, busyness breed more busyness.

You have to start purging your schedule of the things that do not belong on your calendar. You have to develop your priorities and cut out the cancer like a surgeon with a scalpel, cut out the parts that do not belong.

Too many work meetings? Running late? Start rescheduling them. I would venture a guess when your work meetings regularly run after hours, you regularly start choosing the fast option for dinner rather than cooking. Paying a few dollars for some cheeseburgers, fries, and pop becomes the easier option rather than getting home and preparing dinner.

Then, because you are SO busy, you have to reschedule whatever it was you were supposed to be doing instead of working and getting you and the family dinner. So you reschedule it to another day. Not because you have time on that other day, but instead because you need to reschedule your plans and that day now has too much going on and you will definitely be exhausted by the end of it.

And thus, busy-ness breeds busy-ness.

When was the last time politely said in a meeting, “I’m sorry, I need to go. My family is waiting for me.” In the meeting notorious for running past the scheduled end time?

Does your schedule rule you? Do you actually stop and calculate when you need to go to bed to get eight hours of sleep?

Or, like a sickness, you do wait until you have symptoms of being tired before you get in bed?

When was the last time you set your priorities in life, built your calendar around your priorities, and purged the rest?

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Keep On Trucking

Long haul truckers have a special place in my heart.

My grandparents were, for as best as I can remember, long haul truckers my whole life till they started winding down to retire. They bustled all over the US trucking around hooking up loads, hauling them to who knows where, dropping them off, and grabbing a new load locally and doing it all over again.

They were pretty good at what they did and it meant a couple times a summer they would visit us for a weekend or a couple days or a weekend when they had a load that needed to come our direction.

I loved seeing my grandparents.

I so appreciate the many long hours and millions, maybe even a billion, miles they put on their truck bouncing all over the US. Mile after mile, load after load, they dutifully delivered their haul.

Much like any project, they started the load with a full tank of gas and a clear destination. And just the same, the more they worked the gas ran down. They had to stop and refill their tanks. It was not sexy or awesome, but they had to do it to keep going.

They paid attention to the maintenance their trucks needed. Kept food in the truck’s fridge. They kept going and took care of whatever it was that needed done as they went.

They did not get the load on the road and then walk away when the trip was longer than they expected because of bad weather.

They did not give up because they hit traffic and were slowed to a crawl because...rush hour.

They kept going despite being rerouted due to construction.

How are you doing with your life’s goals? Are you still moving forward despite the bad weather you have run into? What about the part of life that is incredibly slow? Are you sticking with it, knowing that it will pick up soon? How are you doing with the parts of life being unexpectedly rerouted? Are you keeping to the new course, knowing it eventually leads back to the road you were on?

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Name Time

Giving your money a name or a category is nothing new. Dave Ramsey even says it is essential for budgeting. You give your money a name before you spend it so it ends up where it needs to go.

Ideally, you would prevent yourself from spending money frivolously. But there are tools like YNAB [You Need A Budget] or Mint that will automate the process helping you retroactively finding out where your money through classifications.

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But still, why stop there? What about time?

Our time is worth more than money. We have a limited number of years, months, days, and hours. Why do we only dictate the purpose of our money. We can earn more money. We only get so much time.

We cannot invent more time. We cannot rewind the clock.

How can we create categories for our time. Fill our calendars with intentional blocks of time dedicated to what we care about. Instead of letting our days be wasted by people who want to constantly steal away our time for pop up meetings and unplanned non-emergent meetings.

Where are you spending your time? How are you keeping track of your time? When you look back on what you have done this last year, month, or week, did you do what is most important to you?

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Chapstick

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I have never finished a stick of chapstick.

They have melted in the car or the drying machine. They have been lost in my regular routine and while traveling. I have accidentally thrown them away. And I have loaned them out and they were never returned.

As much as I would like to assume there is some creepy gnome out there with a hoard of partially used chapsticks, I am sure the issue is my ability to keep track of this little tube of lip balmy goodness.

What would it take do you think to finish a stick of chapstick? How much time, concentration, and routine would it take. Would it be the difference of buying some bulky Bluetooth tracker and then making sure it was in my vicinity at all times? Or maybe I need to take the gas station bathroom key approach and attach a one foot long piece of 2x4” to my chapstick.

In comparison, I have finished many sticks of deodorant. I do not struggle with losing them or misplacing them. They are always right where they need to be.

I use deodorant less than I use chapstick. I use chapstick multiple times a day but deodorant, for better or worse, only once a day. Why then do I struggle with losing one but not the other? They are both similarly important. They both require me to be consistent and careful about putting them away in the same place And still. I continually lose one but not the other.

How many other things in my life are like this? How many other things could easily be more useful if I was more careful and attentive to them? What other details am I missing or losing because I am not being careful enough?

How many relationships are you as careful with as you are your deodorant?

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