Monday, June 21, 2010

Plans vs. Goals

I feel like I’ve learned a lot about myself in the last year or so, and especially in the last 6 months. Big life changes seem to stimulate these revelations. One thing I’ve learned about myself is I am not a planner. You know those people who [think they] know where there are going to be/do in 1, 5, or 10 years from now? Then when the plans are foiled they fall apart and stress until they make a new plan? I am not one of those people.

This self-revelation came to me more forcefully as I approached the end of my college experience. I had (and still have) so many people ask about my plans. When broached with “What are you going to do?” nobody seemed satisfied with “Whatever I want”, presumably thinking I was being cheeky.  Little do they know I’m completely serious. I really feel empowered to do whatever I want. That is not to say I will be irresponsible with my time and resources. I have bills to pay and duties to fulfill, which I pay and fulfill respectively. But I don’t let those things keep me from filling my life with satisfying experiences beyond duty and purse.

Being without definite plans for the future does not mean I am without direction. And not having a plan does not mean I don’t know what I’m doing. I handle what’s in front of me, anticipate what’s coming, and adapt to manage whatever actually happens. Though I don’t have concrete plans, I do have goals. Those do not change, even when plans do. Plans to me are simply means, not ends in themselves. Therefore, if circumstances change and plans have to change, it’s not devastating because I’m still headed toward the same goal(s).

Of course, living this way is not always easy. If the goal is to have fun on the weekends and I fail to make plans for myself, I will waste a Friday night. And if a goal is job satisfaction when I have no prospect of future employment after college graduation, that can be a little unsettling. But really, I’ve never been disappointed at how life works itself out. My weekends get rescued, a job opportunity comes. None of this “plan for the worst and expect the best” because really, if you are only prepared for the worst, how are you going to enjoy the best? You are only prepared to treat it like the worst. I’d rather just expect the best and when it doesn’t happen (though it usually does) I just change my expectation of what is “best” under the new circumstances. And when the best does happen, well life just got that much better!

Please don’t thing I’m stagnant, waiting for good things to happen. On the contrary, I try to stay actively engaged in pursuing happiness—my ultimate goal. The trick is allowing my definitions of what brings happiness to stay flexible. Sometimes it’s this book, sometimes it that person, sometimes it’s a place. I put together loose ideas of what to do and where to be, but changing my mind is always an option. Close friends and family have witnessed my track record of making somewhat sudden, life-changing, and occasionally expensive decisions, but I never regret any of those decisions. In fact, if I had resisted those opportunities to change my mind, so much of my life that I value most would not exist! Sad thought!

Are you a planner? Does it stress you out when plans change? Try just being a goal-setter for a while and see what it does for you. Embrace the freedom of change! Never change the goals when they are important, but rather change the way to work towards them depending on your circumstances. I can’t promise health, wealth, or happiness, but I can suggest you can gain appreciation for a new way of looking at life that might prove useful.

* Photos, in order of placement:
    -storm approaching over Orderville, UT
    -me riding a scooter in Taiwan
    -me in front of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem
    -on the road somewhere in Missouri

Inquiries for additional explanations may be left as comments

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Throw Me a Rope

"Throw Me a Rope" is a song by a girl named KT Tunstall.  You may have heard her song "Black Horse and a Cherry Tree" on the radio.  She has a lot of great stuff, and I think the songs not playing on the radio are her best.  This is one of them.  Sometimes I listen to it on repeat, over and over and over.  It's a rare song if I don't tire of it quickly.

This song reminds me of many people, especially at this time when I've headed off into a great unknown, not knowing anyone but my brother and his little family.  Sometimes the song makes me think of one far away person, sometimes another. A family member, a friend.  People I miss and I wish could be near.  There's something about being physically close to someone that satisfies like nothing else.  Sometimes I'd rather be next to someone in silence than apart and talking.

Sometimes the song reminds me of places, especially places where I've learned to be me.  It's scary to leave the security of familiar places for a new place, a place where I haven't learned to be me yet.  I love to explore new places and meet new people, but it's not as fun to have only new people.  I like to have a few old people and places around me, ones who know me already, who I don't have to explain myself to.  I find it very restful to be with these things who know my freckles, my laugh, my jokes, my stories.

Don't think I'm lamenting my lot.  This is a good place with good people.  I'm slowly putting down little roots, meeting people, learning where to go and how to be.  I just wish I had a best friend here holding my hand through it.

Listen to the song here.  Below are the lyrics.  Enjoy, and think of me.

Throw Me a Rope

I want you between me and the feeling I get when I miss you
But everything here is telling me I should be fine
So why is it so, above as below,
That I'm missing you every time

I got used to you whispering things to me into the evening
We followed the sun and its colours and left this world
It seems to me that I'm definitely
Hearing the best that I've heard

So throw me a rope to hold me in place
Show me a clock for counting my days down
Cause everything's easier when you're beside me
Come back and find me
Cause I feel alone

And whenever you go it's like holding my breath underwater
I have to admit that I kind of like it when I do
Oh but I've got to be unconditionally
Unafraid of my days without you

So throw me a rope to hold me in place
Show me a clock for counting my days down
Cause everything's easier when you're beside me
Come back and find me
Whenever I'm falling you're always behind me
Come back and find me
Cause everything's easier when you're beside me
Come back and find me
Cause I feel alone

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Business Trip

I took a trip to Oakland, CA, last week for my new job to train with the office people who have been doing my job so that I can now do my job. I work for DPW Parking, and offshoot of Douglas Parking headquartered in Oakland. My brother Luke is their Denver Regional manager, and I’m the Denver office manager/account manager/assistant [to the] regional manager. The girls in the Oakland office taught me how to use their system to do invoicing and billing for all the monthly parking accounts in Denver. (You don’t need to understand what that means.)

In case you didn’t know, parking management is big business. I didn’t know until I got this job. (In passing, I realize I have a habit of doing things with knowing exaclty what I'm getting into.  I think it makes life exciting.)  David Douglas, one of the company owners, picked me up after I flew in and took me on a mini-tour of downtown. He pointed out unique features and buildings of Oakland…and their associated parking facilities that Douglas Parking manages. It’s very interesting to be around people in parking. They always notice parking lots: who runs them, how full they are, rates. It’s similar to watching a sport with someone who plays the game. They will always notice technique and mistakes that the untrained spectator will not. A player doesn’t just see the touchdown; he sees the awesome block by the offensive line that opened the hole for the tight end to run through.

I have discovered that parking management is an exercise in predicting human behavior. And it’s kind of fascinating. Not the managing part, but observing the people who do the managing. They don’t just see a place to park. They see how full lots are, and if they aren’t full, why not? If some lot is usually full, why isn’t it full today?  Where are people parking instead?  How can we change that?  An empty lot is an anomaly, and anomalies can seem paralyzing. Where is the miscommunication? Do we need a sign? What kind of sign? Will people understand the sign? Initiate panic mode! (Not really…but sometimes.) They are trying to predict human behavior—predict where people will park and why they will park and for how long—and when their prediction is wrong they are in a flutter to rectify their worldview. 

I use this information to understand how to communicate effectively.  I have to evaluate what people tell me, why they tell me, and what they don't tell me (what they don't tell me is presumably what I should already know).  I do not have a parking manager's brain (and I don't really want one; don't take it personally, Luke) but I do want to understand the parking manager's brain.  Actually, I must if I want to keep my job.

For those of you who wonder when and where I will ever use my anthropology, the answer is I already do, all the time, everywhere.
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