Life Lessons: Resolutions suck…or why I am going to buy a convertible


Resolutions suck.

As such long time ago I stopped making them.  They are silly and often left me feeling as if I was a failure. I can be hypercritical so I took little comfort in my victories and often obsessed about my failures.

The result is often feelings of shame and frustrations.

However, as part of my mid-life crisis, it has become apparent to me that (1) I need a convertible (or Jeep Wrangler) and (2) any difficulties that I have in my personal relationships or in my business are all basically the result of the same fractures in my life skills.  They may look different to outsiders because the difficulty is framed differently in each environment and each place, but at the end of the day they are the same.  What makes it most difficult is that I know they are the same. As such, I cannot blame ignorance. I know exactly what the problem looks like, how it manifests and how it feels but all too often I act out self-destructively anyway.

Often the problem is an issue of arrogance or perspective or the total lack of common sense. Sometimes it is all those things. Like I said, resolutions are overrated, but there are some things that I need to start doing differently and this time of year is as good a time as any to take an honest inventory and begin to act differently.

I’m not talking about weaknesses. Problems in life are almost never an issue of strength or power. That is not what I am referring too.  I’m not talking about going to the gym everyday and exercise. Great goal. Great resolution. That isn’t what I’m talking about.

I’m referring to procrastination. Avoidance. Self-deception. Self-delusion. I’m referring to the fantasy that somehow “this” relationship, “this” business, “this” situation, is going to be different. And that not only is “this” going to be different but it is going to be different and I don’t need to change for “this” to happen.

For example, someone might claim he or she is only going to get involved with people who are capable of maintaining a stable long-term relationships – as long as they don’t have to do anything differently to make that happen. Honestly, if you are forty-two and cannot maintain a stable relationship it isn’t the other person – it is you.  You are the drama. You are the unstable one. It might also be true of your partner too. Misery does love company.

I’m starting two new businesses that will launch in early 2011. It would be simplistic to claim that I am “only going to get involved in this kind of business and this situation at these times” and if I do those things I won’t need to do anything different.  A lawyer that represents himself has a fool as a client.  A business owner who thinks he or she has all the answers is going to ruin a lot of lives – including their own.

I think it is the same way in personal relationships or business. If you don’t know then you don’t know.  That isn’t a bad thing it is simply the truth.  And the truth is there are things I don’t know and I need to stop pretending that I have expertise and knowledge that I don’t have. I need to ask for help. That is true in my personal relationship and in my business. The reason I pretend is I’m trying to make myself look good and appear better than it actually is.  I’m trying to give it legs and do the “right” thing. But the truth is I don’t know the “right” thing and anyone who does is a scam artist.

However, I can find the next best thing if I seek counsel – business and personal.  I can find it if I ask and if I am honest. If I seek wisdom instead of pretending I have something I don’t have.  Often the “best” course of action becomes apparent if I reason it out with someone else.

Will it go the way I want to go? Probably not.

It never goes exactly the way anyone wants it to go.  All you can do is move in a direction and make the most of the opportunity. All you can do is try the best you can regardless of the hand you are dealt.  I’ve decided life is more like blackjack than poker in that respect.  In a business or in a relationship you don’t know what will happen next but you try to surround yourself with people who are trying to help you, not bankrupt you. Anyone who has sat at a blackjack table knows it is the table versus the house. In poker it is everyman, woman and child for themselves.

Will your tenants set the rental on fire? How about your spouse? Did you partner get run over by a truck? Is your wife cheating on you with the milkman? Is your husband? No one knows when he or she will be dealt an aneurysm.

How will you play your cards?

Double down, split, hit or stand. You won’t know if you made the best call until the dealer turns over their cards. And even then, you might make the best call and still lose.

In the meantime enjoy your free drinks.

I don’t always do that right thing well.  Sometimes I forget what game I am playing and spend too much time trying to talk others out of their cards…or their skirt…or whatever the objective and forget it is the table versus the house and not me against them. The real tragedy for me – and them – is sometimes they play along and then we both end up believing the storyline and creating a drama.

I’m not talking about putting myself only in situations where other people do or act or say the way I think they should do or act or say. That would make me a narcissistic control freak.  The problem is not about them.

I heard someone say recently that the reason their life is a mess is because of President Obama. Seriously. They were sincere. Our sense of entitlement and not our responsibility traps us all to often. It couldn’t be they took out a mortgage too large for their income or they didn’t bother to cross-train in other areas of their job or finish their education. No – it has to be someone else’s fault. I understand the desire to blame others – especially when we are hurt or scared – but in the end we are responsible to tending our own gardens.

This is where I am. Short of a convertible, I am left to tend my own garden. I realized that the reason my crops are not always bountiful is I want someone else to tend to them while I read a magazine.

As I said, I’m not talking about a resolution.

Honestly, I’m talking about how I’m approaching some of the difficulties in my life.  I’m talking attitude. Which as a word doesn’t mean a thing to me.  Some people will say, “You need to change your attitude,” or “Your attitude sucks.” However, if someone is a “prick” they will still be a “prick” at the end of the day. It has nothing to do with me changing my attitude.

Really, I have no idea what people mean when they offer their opinion about my attitude. It usually leaves me feeling shamed and stupid.  However, ask them to define the word “attitude” and how it relates to the issue and you will discover they don’t know either. It is like some sort of wisdom fruitcake that every well-meaning person at one time or another gives as a gift when they don’t know what else to buy.

As such, I looked the word “attitude” up, and found a definition of the word that I understand; a definition that doesn’t involve some esoteric intellectual gymnastics or emotionally idealistic moral teaching or prayerfully humming a feel good mantra.  The definition is clear and concise. It suggests that by of changing my “attitude,” I am actually changing my “angle of approach”.

That I understand.

This is as close to a resolution as I’m going to get this year.  I’m going to change my  “angle of approach” in my relationships and in my business.  Here is where it always gets hard for me. There will be chickens that come home to roost.  Change is going to piss some people off.  It is going to make some people unhappy. If there is anything I struggle with it is angry men and crying women. Angry, crying woman push me over the edge. I will do just about anything to make it stop – even if it means selling my soul.

However, changing my “angle of approach” requires me to be less concerned with how my choices look to others or makes them feel. Will I be a prick? Others will probably think so.  It isn’t personal but any change in my behavior is going to make some other people angry.  It will make them angry because change is frightening.  This change is a change in how I approach situations and opportunities in my personal life and business. It is not a change in how I feel about others or a change in my values. The truth is though; if I am honest then my angle of approach on those issues may change too. I don’t know yet. I don’t know what cards I will be dealt.

At the end of the day, I want to like myself. I want to enjoy my day. I want to be happy.  Unfortunately, right now I’m not liking myself much, I’m not enjoying my days much and there isn’t a lot of joy in my life.  It’s immature to blame other people, demand they change to my needs or that I simply need to exert more control or make more money and then I will like myself more or be happier. They are not the problem; it really is the angle of my approach to relationships and business that are causing problems.

And I resolve to change my angle of approach…and get a convertible.

5 Comments

  1. Change the angle of approach….I like that! Good luck with your new businesses, relationships and have fun in the convertible. 🙂

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  2. Wonderful! I didn’t know you wrote so well! I like “angle of approach”, too. But “truthfully” it really is just a matter of semantics. I don’t think I ever liked the word attitude because I didn’t want to change the way I think. I was comfortable with the way I saw the world. But I was also wrong. Somehow it seems easier to change my angle of approach, but in the end, it means the same thing. If we always do what we’ve always done… well, you know the rest.

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    1. Hi Keith. I guess the for me difference is “attitude” implies I have to change how I think or feel.”Angle of approach” suggests I only need to change my behavior.”Attitude’, describes an internal change and the AoA refers to external behavior.

      For example just because I think or feel someone is a prick doesn’t mean I need to treat them that way. All too often I choose my AoA based on how I think or feel, not on what is best for the long-run.

      I don’t believe in changing the definition of a word to fit my worldview. That is sophistry. However, I can certainly can choose the actual definition that fits closest to my experience.

      Thanks for writing my friend!

      Cheers.

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  3. We can’t think our way into right acting, but we can act our way into right thinking. One of my all time favorites, if not absolute #1.

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