Answering Two Of Life's Most Important Questions
Question 1: How Big Are Your Buts?
Question 2: How Long Can You Hold It?
If you were expecting other, seemingly deeper and more important questions when you clicked to open this post, stick with me, I think there is some good stuff here.
I will get to answering the questions shortly. First, some explanation.
I have been giving a lot of thought lately to the terrible relationship we often have with time. We think things will take too long, or we think they will happen quickly, which leads to frustration before we even begin. Often, it leads to us quitting early or not beginning at all. We forget about the power of compounding that time and effort, when working together, can have on our lives.
We complain that something will take years of our lives, yet, the alternative is to remain exactly where we are now. If that were a place we were fully satisfied, we would not be looking into "time consuming" alternatives. Yet, once we make the calculations, we are indeed unwilling to change. We choose to tay where we are and complain, rather than make the slow, steady effort that is required to change.
Part of the challenge, beyond the commitment to time, is there is no certainty in regards to the outcome. We must commit along a path, certain of only the fact that we can't be certain about when or if it will pay off.
And it struck me, recently, how poor of a relationship we have with time. We can't get out of our own way in order to commit to something that might take a little longer than we'd like. In order to get out of debt we may have to work two jobs for 12 months or so. Maybe we'll have to live in a fixer upper or an apartment for a couple of years while we save up for a down payment. Perhaps we'll have to eat the proverbial s&^! sandwich for an unknown period of time, while we ______.
But again, the weak and sabotaging mental midget that lives inside of us can't handle this. Two years is too long. In two years I'll be older and my life will be wasting away. I don't want to "waste" two years, or three, or four, etc. We can't get our heads around the idea that two years could change the next twenty. Or that a sacrifice for 6 months might be the thing that changes the trajectory completely. These aren't promises, for sure, but the point is that we are not willing to exchange some of the now for what it could mean for our future.
My wife and I recently stayed at this tiny house community in North Georgia. There were enough interesting experiences over the course of two and a half days for me to write an entire book, and maybe one day I will. But the guy who ran the place is like the Grand Poobah of tiny houses in the state of Georgia, and has influence, I think, across the country. He hosts these huge festivals attended by thousands of people, and donates all of the money to charity, all the while living this happy little life in the North Georgia woods. And, the interesting thing, is that he used to be some genius doctor of some sort, and his wife, I believe, is from somewhere overseas. You can read about him here: https://unitedtinyhouse.com/about/https://unitedtinyhouse.com/about/
This guy didn't grow up with the tiny house silver spoon in his mouth, nor did his wife. They didn't live in the woods and one day just decide to plop some old buses down and start declaring themselves Grand Poobahs. It took time, and work, and when they first started they probably (I'm assuming) didn't know about the 12 different types of chickens they'd one day raise, or how to build a tiny home or how to care for goats or that they would one day be sitting on top of the tiny house world.
While we were there, we had conversations that went something like, "How in the world does someone become the Grand Poobah of tiny houses?" And you've asked that same question too, just about someone else or something else. You've wondered about how that guy was able to do that thing, or how that woman was able to achieve that thing , "and...I would never be able to do that".
What we don't like to admit is that the Grand Poobah, that man, that woman, that "unattainable", used to be just like us. Argue all you want, but there are way, way fewer naturally gifted, supremely blessed, once in a lifetime people out there than we trick ourselves into believing. Most of those people were like us at one point.
They just did something. And they kept going.
So, I want to challenge you to answer two of life's most important questions.
Question 1: How Big Are Your Buts?
This is not a posting looking for models for an early '90s rap video, though I once did create an alter ego by the name of B-Fresh. However, he was not focused on robust rumps. He was, however, very cool.
This question is important. I have written about this before in various forms, but it is worth revisiting from a different angle.
I encourage you to rework your statements, so that your want, desire, value or improvement is at the end of your but, not the beginning.
For example, rather than: "I love to play with my children BUT I'm just so tired at the end of the day" we would instead focus on, "I'm just so tired at the end of the day, BUT I love to play with my children"
For today's encouragement, a positive example might go something like this:
"It will be very difficult for me to cut expenses and take on extra work, BUT I'm committed to getting out of debt so I can make my decisions free of the financial stress I'm currently under.
What happens too often, as explained above, is that our but becomes smaller and smaller and weaker and weaker until we switch the sentence back around and start to talk ourselves out of what we had once decided was a worthy and valuable pursuit for our lives. We say it's important, we say we want to make a change, we say we want to get to a new place in our lives, our buts are simply not big enough to withstand the barrage of self-doubt, criticism, bumps in the road, or time uncertainty.
It's important to know and remember why it's important.
As we embark on a new journey towards whatever that next challenge might be, just remember, you are going to need a strong, healthy, good sized but to help you get there.
Question #2: How Long Can You Hold It
If you've had kids, you've asked this question before, and hoped for both an honest answer, and one that was just a little bit longer than however long it was going to take you to get to the next available bathroom opportunity.
Generally speaking, the answer to this question improves as our children get older. There is a little more control, a little more will power, and a little more actual understanding of what they are able to do as they mature.
While this question can certainly feel like a very important one when it comes to whether or not your child or your wife, may wet their pants during your family vacation, I find it even more valuable when it comes to our personal pursuits.
Our Buts question related to why is it important, and is it important enough for us to keep going when it gets hard, or if the outcome is uncertain.
"How long can you hold it?" asks you to consider how long you are willing to stick with this pursuit, when your miserable relationship with time rears its' ugly head and challenges you to hang on or let go. Hold back the floodwaters, or release the dam, as it were.
How long are you willing to work on your writing while nobody is reading it? How long are you willing to post your fitness videos on instagram with limited engagement? How long are you willing to study and learn and grow in your field with no final promise at the end of your hard work? How long are you willing to put up with the pain that seems to grow and grow with each passing moment? How long are you willing to watch the road go by, waiting for an exit with a gas station, seeing nothing but open road that seems like it will go on forever?
How long can you hold it?
Two of life's most important questions. When you decide to embark on a new adventure, and I'm praying hard that you will, consider these questions before you get started, and remind yourself of your answers as you go.
I'm pulling for you,