“Ask yourself this question – will this matter a year from tomorrow?” ~ Richard Carlson, author of Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
I love this quote but I sometimes need to take it even one step further and ask myself, “Will this matter NEXT WEEK?” I have to laugh at myself because, sometimes, I can get caught up in the small stuff and be rolling around so deeply in the minutiae that I lose all sense of perspective.
Here’s an example.
A few weeks ago, I bought my daughter’s Halloween costume (Princess Merida from Brave) at a Disney Store in San Diego when I was there on a business trip. I was so proud of myself for thinking ahead!
But when I got it home, it was too big. And not in a I-can-pin-this-up-and-make-it-work way but in a she’ll-trip-and-fall-and-lose-her-new-teeth kind of way. Clearly, I needed to exchange it for a different size. Problem is that we don’t have a Disney Store in our town.
But then I got busy and forgot about it until last night. Oops. I looked online and they have the right size but express shipping is $20. Ouch. My thrifty Scottish heritage got the best of me so I started looking at other options. If small stuff had a sound track, this is when it would start playing…
I happen to be going to LA today to see a show downtown so I hopped online to find the Disney Stores en route. I figured I could call and put the right size on hold, take the dress with me and “pop by” one of the stores on the way. (Those of you who live in urban areas are probably ready to slap me but us Santa Barbara folks don’t really ever have to deal with traffic so I knew not that there is no such thing as popping by in a city.)
Then I started calling the stores to find the size I needed. Ventura – nope. Oxnard – nope. Sherman Oaks – nope. That’s when the quote rang in my head. I realized I was spending way too much of my time and just to save $20! I had already wasted that in the phone calls, and we hadn’t even gotten to the popping by part.
Luckily I realized that I was mired down in the small stuff and I placed my order online. Problem solved. But this is a lesson I keep having to remember – that the small stuff is everything that steals little bits of time and energy from the life I want to be living.
Because it’s easy for me to forget, I have a couple of warning signs that I look for:
- if it takes more than 30 minutes OR
- causes me to clench my teeth
I need to stop and reevaluate what size the stuff is. In this case, it’s clearly tiny stuff.
What about you? What small stuff should you let go of this minute? How about next week?
And more importantly, what kind of warning signs would help you know when it’s time to reevaluate?
Developing this kind of practice for yourself can really help shift the quality of your life. It has for me. Once I ordered the costume, I used the rest of my time to read an enjoyable novel.