Through Small and Simple Things
New Years Resolutions 2016
“The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra.”
~ Jimmy Johnson
Another Christmas season winds itself down as another cultural surge pushes forward. This surge is as relentless and cleansing as an incoming tide on a sandy beach leaving little or no trace of prior human activity. Like those restoring waves, retailers everywhere waste no time clearing aisles of holiday wrappings, trinkets and bows only to roll out colorful containers, bins and organizational paraphernalia almost erasing the holiday season before it comes to its predictable conclusion.
If ever there was a soul that thrives on organization, it is mine. There is no shortage of products available to organize every possible aspect of one’s life. The irony of all of this is that I am not amazingly organized. I am a compulsive organizer “wanna be.” I want to LIVE at the Container Store. My inner classifying, categorizing, codifying “nerd” fights the impulse to hyperventilate as I walk down aisle after aisle of beautifully constructed boxes, files, and compartmentalized products. I almost believe that these products can and will change my life.
Organizing is only one aspect of a process of renewal that happens at the beginning of each year. There is something about this human desire to start anew. Whether myth, ridiculous fantasy or, for some, absolute reality, the notion that each January presents another chance to right the wrongs, refocus the confusion, simplify a life that has (once again) gotten away from us. Thus, the notion of New Years resolutions is alive and well in the twenty first century.
My personal preference for making resolutions is to craft a “theme”. A theme is a focus or an attitude for change rather than a list of resolutions that are quickly forgotten by February. This busy holiday season has worn me out and the resounding notion rattling around in my head is to focus on “the small and simple things” in my life. Sure, we can get caught up in the minutia of small things and lose sight of the big picture or the ability to dream big. That is not what I am talking about. I am talking about the little details that take something from good to exceptional. J. Willard Marriott, Founder of the Marriott hotel chain, knows a little something about dreaming big and having a grand vision and yet he said, “It’s the little things that make the big things possible.” Winston Churchill had a tremendous impact on our modern world and the outcome of World War II and yet he claims that “success is in the details.” Other noteworthy quotes suggesting a narrow trajectory separating good from great are:
“The difference between something good and something great is attention to detail.”
~ Charles R. Swindoll.
If there is anything, as right brain oriented person, I have learned over the years it is that beauty and art are made in the details. The details are where unique design brings personality and panache to all that we do. Details are the difference makers - the add-ons, the perks, the creme de la creme. For some reason it feels like I have focused on big things for quite some time rather than the refreshing details. I am a bit of an overachiever and my nature has always been to run faster than I am able, except, of course, when it comes to actually running. There are so many small things that I have overlooked that need my attention. I run marathons, but have overlooked the supporting muscles that would actually assist me in lifting a bag of groceries from the car. My body gets plenty of exercise but what of my aging mind and my ability to stay on task? Day in and day out I complete project after project, but am I giving my body the rest it needs as I flop into bed after setting the alarm for another ungodly hour? Perhaps I need to take a deep breath and slow it all down just a bit and focus on improving what is already available to me.
Without question, I can be more resourceful in recycling, repurposing, and reconstructing things around me. Deliberate and careful thought can go into the way I spend my time and my money. Stacks of books that have already been purchased for me to study and discover just await. It wouldn’t hurt me to drink more water, eat more vegetables, stretch more after my morning run. After all, we are only given one life and one body and this body is getting old.
“Is our journey sometimes impeded when we forget the importance of
small things? Do we realize that small events and choices determine the direction of our lives just as small helms determine the direction of great ships?” ~ Russell M. Ballard
I borrowed an illustration of how big differences can come from small things from whitehatcrew.com.
“Consider this. If you’re going somewhere and you’re off course by just one degree, after one foot, you’ll miss your target by 0.2 inches. Trivial, right? But what about as you get farther out?
- After 100 yards, you’ll be off by 5.2 feet. Not huge, but noticeable.
- After a mile, you’ll be off by 92.2 feet. One degree is starting to make a difference.
- After traveling from San Francisco to L.A., you’ll be off by 6 miles.
- If you were trying to get from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., you’d end up on the other side of Baltimore, 42.6 miles away.
- Traveling around the globe from Washington, D.C., You’d miss by 435 miles and end up in Boston.
- In a rocket going to the moon, you’d be 4,169 miles off (nearly twice the diameter of the moon.)
- Going to the sun, you’d miss by over 1.6 million miles (nearly twice the diameter of the sun)
- Traveling to the nearest star, you’d be off course by over 441 billion miles (120 times the distance from he earth to Pluto, or 4,745 times the distance from Earth to the sun.)
Over time, a mere one-degree error in course makes a huge difference.”
Just as changing the course of a ship five degrees or ones own steps just one degree will make a huge impact over time; making course corrections by improving my daily routine with some level of consistency might do more for me in the long run than many more ambitious goals.
No time is better than the present to change things up a bit by shifting focus to the small and lovely details of love and life through redirecting some energy of making complicated things more simple. Of course, this will mean I accomplish less. (This sentence is even difficult to write, let alone to consider for me.) But in another way, it could ultimately mean accomplishing more because I think real joy resides in small things - the extra touches; the embellishments.
“Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your
strength lies.” - Mother Teresa
Would it be too bold to say I have high hopes of big outcomes from my new plan of focusing on small changes? After all, an overachiever can’t change completely in one year.