Posted in know better do better, mindset, podcasts

Sunk costs

A while back, I was listening to Akimbo by Seth Godin and something really stuck with me. He’s said this in previous podcasts, but, like most things, it took repetition before it hit.

It’s about sunk costs—things that you’ve invested time and money into, but that the time and money shouldn’t be part of a current decision (though, because we’re emotional people, it often is).

I went to school and now I’m thinking about changing careers. But I spent all that time and money on school!

“It is a gift from the you of yesterday to the you of today.”

The you of yesterday gifted you with education, with whatever else came from those years. But standing here today, what do you want to do?

This is especially applicable to getting out of unsavory situations, whether they be relational or monetary. Instead of thinking about how much you already invested, look forward, find a path, and follow it.

Maybe it’s continuing on the same path, but make that decision without the burden of the past.

Of course, the advice is also simplistic and there are variables that come into play in some cases and on and on. But the basic premise is solid. And if you peel away layers of your arguments as to why you can’t change paths, how often do you get down to sunk costs? (Often. Not always. But often.)

Eliminate those arguments, and help yourself move forward.

Posted in audience participation, connections, know better do better, mindset, motivation, parenting, thoughtfulness

Our part in creating sustainability

I hate planned obsolescence.

I hate cheap shit.

I hate the “everything disposable” mindset.

I hate WalMart and the Dollar Store.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to pay tons of money for everything, necessarily, but we need to find a way back to well-made things that can be kept for a long time, repaired, upgraded, etc.

It’s better to pay more for a thing up front that you can keep for a long time than to pay half as much that you’re going to need four of in the same time frame.

(And in the case of handheld technology, it’s neither cheap nor long-lasting.)

In order to do this, we need to

1- Buy less stuff. Especially with average incomes as they are and cost of living expenses continuously on the rise, buying higher-quality but more expensive stuff isn’t going to work at the same volume.

2- Be OK with stuff not being the newest. This example pops into mind. When I was a kid, we had an Atari. It was awesome. And then Nintendo came out, and we wanted one of those. We didn’t get one, because we already had a gaming system. So sometimes friends came over and we played Atari, and sometimes we went to their house and played Nintendo.

3- Share. People seem to do this more out of economic necessity, but there are lots of things that we don’t all need to own our own. We bought a giant umbrella thinger when The Kid was doing track last year. A friend’s daughter was doing swim over the summer. Instead of buying an umbrella, they borrowed ours. It worked perfectly. Unless we needed it at the same time, there’s no reason for us both to own one. Less money outgoing. Less storage space. Less trash later. True for many occasional-use things.

Can we stop going to the Dollar Store and buying lots of junk because we can and it’s cheap? Can we stop buying clothes that we’ll only wear for one season? (Kids excepted, because they grow…)

It’s a big shift. But it will help us mentally (less stuff = less stress about stuff—spoken from a place of privilege), it will help us economically, it will help us environmentally. It will help built community (for sharing, and for playing each other’s games). And maybe it’ll bring work back here from overseas.

You in?

Posted in know better do better, mindset, parenting, socializing, vulnerability

Singing out loud

A few years ago, I was driving, The Kid accompanying in the back seat. The weather was nice, the windows were down, and he was singing.

It didn’t matter that the windows were down. It didn’t matter we were stopped at a light and the people next to us could hear him. He was just singing.

I admired him for that and decided that I would try to not care, either.

Because really … who cares what some random stranger(s) in the car(s) next to you thinks?

(The answer is, apparently, most of us.)

Sometimes I can turn it off—the caring what people think—sometimes I can’t.

Because it doesn’t matter what they think. Whether they like my music, like my singing, like my voice. I’m not singing to please an audience when I’m driving—I’m singing because I love to sing and it makes me happy.

A couple of weeks ago, I was at a birthday party, and the playlist was 80s music. I knew almost all of the songs and could sing at least the chorus if not the whole song.

And so I did.

Not if I was talking to someone, of course—that’s rude—but waiting for my turn in a dice game? Waiting for a slice of cake? Helping clean up? Why not?

And you know what? It felt pretty good just to sing along and not care. Sometimes people joined me, sometimes not.

Another piece of that? Whenever I’m out and about and see a person who is happy singing or dancing and not caring that people can see or hear them, it makes me happy, too.

Spread joy.

Good music on in the grocery store? I’m singing. (Doesn’t happen that often, but more than never, now that I’m more often the target demographic.)

Do it! What do you have to lose?

Posted in mindset

Be yourself, unless yourself is a jerk

In this corner, we have Be Yourself! Supported by “everyone else is already taken,” “an original is worth more than a copy,” and “people don’t have to like you,” Be Yourself is solid advice in a culture where following the crowd and keeping up with the Joneses are shouted at us any time we are in any contact with advertising. Which is most of the time.

In this corner, we have Don’t Be A Jerk! Supported by “everyone else on the road or in the parking lot,” “the person sitting across from you while you’re looking at your phone,” “people who know how to use a trash can,” and “retail and food service employees,” Don’t Be A Jerk is solid advice in a culture where the individual is the highest priority and What I Want is definitely more important than anyone or anything around me.

The only problem with these two solid pieces of advice is that they are sometimes mutually exclusive.

Because sometimes people don’t like you because you’re being a jerk. Which means that “just be yourself” isn’t solid advice in this case.

But, of course, “being a jerk” is subjective. And sometimes people feel snubbed because of what’s going on with them, not because of you, or because you’ve offered information they’re not able or willing to accept.

So we need some self-awareness and enough emotional space that we can acknowledge that sometimes we don’t act well. Because we all do it sometimes.

Some of us just do it more consistently than others…

If you’re angry at someone else for doing something that you do or you’re rationalizing doing something that you get angry at others for doing, check your behavior.

As a general rule, if you’re the person who is checking their phone when in a conversation,

or who doesn’t pull forward in the school drop off line,

or who treats wait staff poorly,

or who doesn’t acknowledge a person when they greet you (creepy/unsafe situations excepted!),

or who leaves your shopping cart in the middle of the parking lot,

or who doesn’t pick up after your dog,

or who yells at the low-level employees who have nothing to do with your problem except that they’re supposed to try to solve it using a script —

stop doing that. You’re being a jerk.

As a general rule, if you’re the person who sees the world a little bit differently,

or who sings even though people can hear you

or who creates weird or wonderful or funny or beautiful or poignant pictures or stories or music or theater or jewelry or sculptures

or who isn’t captured by pop culture

or who is very into something off the beaten path

or who is gentle in a “toughen up!” culture

or who just kinda feels like a square peg in a proverbial round hole —

keep doing that. You’re being you, and we need more people who can and will just be themselves.