I recently overheard the following exchange between a married couple in their mid-40s. As they settled their bill and prepared to leave the restaurant, they were discussing the social problems his mother, an apparently reclusive woman, was having since moving to an Assisted Living facility. The wife pointed out to her husband that he held many of the same attitudes about being socially engaged as his mother – the less interaction with other people, the better.
Her husband’s reply included the following statements (paraphrased): “I understand the importance of interacting with other people. I used to accompany my grandfather to the Senior Center when I was a child. He ate lunch there every day and had a lot of friends. I fully plan to do the same thing when I retire.”
Wife: “It’s wonderful that you have a plan, honey. But being involved is a habit you cultivate now, while you are….”
As their voices drifted away, I thought of the many similar conversations I’ve had with family and friends. It seems we often take a Just-Add-Water approach to life. Think about it. How often have we had discussions in which the following comments have been uttered?
When I have more time, I’ll….
When I have more money, I’ll…
When I retire, I’ll …..
When the children get older, we’ll….
When I reach my goal weight, I’ll….
Time, money, and a myriad of other magical ingredients seem to exist just beyond our reach when it comes to accomplishing our goals. As I finished my own meal, I contemplated how many goals I have on hold until I possess that one elusive element. And I also wondered how many goals go unrealized when that one ingredient remains elusive.
My parents had a dream – to travel after the children left home and they could retire. By the time they made it to retirement, though, my father’s health conditions (diabetes, heart disease, etc.) made it unrealistic to be too far away from home and his doctors. By the time the water was available for their magical future, the rest of the ingredients had gone bad. At the time of his unexpected death nearly four years ago, they had given up on all those dreams of their youth.
I recognize that goals and dreams often seem simple and the path clear cut when we are children. It is only once we become adults that we realize how complex and unpredictable the path is on this journey. The next step is often obscured, requiring us to continue walking in faith that there is a next step.
I can only imagine the rest of the conversation between that couple in the restaurant. He may have been frustrated with his wife, anxious for the conversation to be over. Or, hopefully, he took her advice to heart (I know I did).
Their conversation made me realize that I have to incorporate a healthy balance of daily habits designed to bring achievement and success. Some of the things I’m focused on in my daily living are a healthy diet, exercise, sleep, an always-learning mind, positive social engagement, an open and loving heart, and the ability to change and grow. Some of them come easily (I’m a natural born sleeper), others I struggle with on a daily basis (change is always frightening).
I’m a firm believer that we all have a purpose for our existence. We are born with goals and dreams for a reason.
Today, I challenge you to consider what dreams you may have put on hold. What magical ingredient for success are you waiting for? Are there habits that you can initiate into your daily life now that will move you closer to the accomplishment of those goals?
I challenge you to add the water now and see what wonderful things spring to life!
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