Tag Archives: Planning

The Road, The Inn, And The Flowers Along The Way

Will That Be Cash Or Charge?

So the other day I was down at the gardening shop. It’s a pretty new shop, and they have some nice displays out in front, so I’d been meaning to go in and check it out. I pass by it a couple of times a week on my way over to that other place that I normally go to for those things that I need. The interesting thing about my desire to go into the gardening shop is that I don’t have a garden, nor do I have any plans of creating a garden in the future. Of course, you don’t have to have a garden per se to find items of interest in a gardening shop.

You can have a simple lawn, and I’m sure they sell plant food for all of your household plant needs. But I don’t have any plants, any lawn, and the only organic material in my possession is the mold that is growing on that hunk of cheese that I forgot I had. That of course, doesn’t require any gardening tools or supplies, only a trash can that has been lined with a sturdy trash bag to keep the trash juice from leaking all over my kitchen floor.

But the thing about this new gardening shop is that have it the front set up that really draws your attention. And not just gardening enthusiasts, I’ve seen lots of people that don’t look like the gardening stopping to have a gander. Something about the colors, or the way the things are arranged. It’s like it is a mixture of being aesthetically pleasing, yet inviting at the same time. For example, if you look at a nice flower, it’s usually enough just to look at it. Sometimes you might want to lean over and have sniff, but usually looking is enough.

But they way they designed the front of this combines that desire to look and admire you get from a natural flower, along with something else. Something I can’t quite describe. Like when you see something, and this catches your eye, and you feel yourself just a little bit curious. Maybe not curious enough to come inside right now, but somehow this stays in your mind, so that later on today when you are off doing things, you’ll remember this and wonder what it was that made this so interesting.

And even if you do forget, when you stop by here every day, you’ll remember that sense of interest that you had, and each time it becomes a little stronger, until you find yourself making a conscious decision to really come inside and look around, just to satisfy that vague curiosity.

When I went inside, there was really nothing other than what I expected. They had the normal stuff, arranged where you would expect. The fertilizer was over there, and the pots and hardware were around there. The registers, of course, were all up front, and they had several people walking around helping out people that seemed to be lost, or seemed to have a question, but were too shy to ask.

And they did have all of those knick-knack things they place strategically, those things you usually buy on a whim. This in and of itself surprised me, as you would think that people that went to a gardening store are there for a specific purpose, to buy something specific, and aren’t prone to wander around with their shopping cart, throwing various things in that look good. Of course there I was, not having any garden to speak of (if you don’t count my cheese) wandering around with one of those hand held baskets. You never know what tools you might find that can be used for something other than what they were intended for.

It’s common knowledge that supermarkets are carefully designed to get people to buy all kinds of things that they had planned on. Even if they go in there with a list, they’d have to wander around the whole store looking for everything, and in the process pass by carefully designed displays to grab their attention and their money.

It seems that a lot of marketing is designed to take advantage of the simple fact that most people wander through life without a solid plan. If you went to the store to buy eggs, and only eggs, and you only brought enough cash to buy eggs, then you’d likely buy only eggs. Now I’m not sure if not having a solid plan is a result of not taking the time to create goals and objectives, or just that it’s entirely possible to go through life and enjoy the experience without really worrying about where you’re going. I’m sure a strong case can be made either way.

On the one hand, if you don’t know where you’re going, you’re never going to get there, failing to plan is planning to fail, but on the other hand, according to the old Spanish proverb, the road is better than the Inn.

I suppose you could combine the two. Have a specific goal, and also have a goal of enjoying the path as much as possible. With unlimited time and resources, this can be easy. If you were rich, it wouldn’t be a problem to fill up your shopping cart with all kinds of exotic snack foods every time you went shopping, but most of us aren’t rich. At least not yet.

There has to be some kind of balance between time, money, resources, and the maximum amount of fun and results we can get out of life. I’m not sure if buying a whole basketful of gardening stuff that I didn’t even know existed, let alone realized I needed is going to get me any closer to that, whatever it is.

But it sure is fun to buy stuff.

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Success with NLP

Success with NLP

What’s the Main Course of Your Mind?

I was out shopping this morning, and I bumped into a friend of mine. She is the kind of friend that you can catch right back up with after along absence without missing  beat. It’s great when you can make friends like that. She was shopping for a dinner party is planning on having next weekend. She belongs to a book club, and they get together to read different books and discuss them. The group only has six members, but she says they are a tight group because they all share the same interests as far as books go, and they can discuss the latest novel for hours on end.  They usually meet in a bookstore or a coffee shop, but once every couple of months they meet at one of the members house, and this is her turn. When I bumped into her, she was having trouble finding what she was looking for. She’d found this really interesting recipe, but she neglected to bring it with her to the supermarket, so she couldn’t really remember what was in it, as she’d never cooked it before. She was on the fence between guessing, and going home to get it.

Sometimes when you have a difficult decision to make, it can be frustrating. You think about going one way, and then you suddenly change your mind and think about going the other way. Sometimes it seems that the more you think about it, the more difficult the decision can become. What can even make things worse is when you have several people involved and everybody wants to go in different directions. It can be absolutely maddening. I was on a hiking trip, and we didn’t take the time to plan ahead, so when difficulties came up, we had to spend a long time discussing which way to go. Once we came upon a trail that was closed due to maintenance, and we stood there and argued for what seemed like an hour trying to figure out what alternative route to take.

And when you think about it, there are always alternative routes to take. Even if there is only one road, there are different times you can travel this road and find things of value here. I took a seminar once, shortly after new years, on goal setting. The guy said that setting goals is much better than making resolutions. He said that the more clear you are when you choose your desire, the more flexible you can be with how you get there. The problem most people have, he said, was that their desire that they’ve chosen is kind of vague, so when they think they are making progress, they are actually going in the wrong direction. Because they weren’t able to set a clear goal, they aren’t able to see the results they achieve when they get there.

As it turns out, while we were standing their arguing, a couple came walking up from one of our two choices. We asked where’d they came from, and they said that down this trail was a fantastic lake, and a big meadow with many wildflowers. And we decided to take this way, in part because they seemed to describe it so enthusiastically. And when other people describe things enthusiastically, you know there is something good here.

So I asked my friend if she was having some old friends over for dinner, or trying to impress a first date. She knew where I was going with this and realized the recipe wasn’t the most important thing. The most important thing was having a group of close friends over to discuss this really good book they’d all separately had the experience of reading and enjoying this, and were going to share it. The dinner was just a side dish, not the main course of the evening.


Increase Your Abundance of Perspective

This morning was another exploration into my new neighborhood. To those of you who haven’t read my previous articles, I’ve recently moved, and because I like to go for a walk every morning, I’ve been finding it a good opportunity to see what’s around me. Like when you are in some kind of environment, and you really don’t know what kind of things you have to you can use these things to your benefit. Just like that I find myself walking new paths every morning as I find new things of interest.

One thing that I found interesting was three different perspectives on my neighborhood from three different levels. And from each level, you can see different things, if you can open yourself to what is around you all the time.

The first level, of course, is ground level. On this level you can only see just what’s up ahead. And if you look behind you, you can see that as well. Only if something really big is on the horizon does it come into your conscious awareness. Like big buildings, or the Ferris Wheel that is on top of the department store downtown. Other things, which are big and important, you really can’t notice them until you are right on top of them. You need to be careful, because when you are out walking around, you have to make sure the path you are traveling on doesn’t end abruptly. Because then you’ll have to turn around and go back, and hopefully find your way on to where you were going in the first place.

The second level is up higher. I live on the fifth floor, so I’ve been stopping on stairwell landing just outside the hallway. From there you can see where you’ve been, and where I want to walk tomorrow morning. The long roads around the small rice fields look very neat and organized from higher up. And the things that seem so big up close, don’t really look that big when you compare them to other things, like the hills in the background, and the sea that you can’t see but you know is off in the distance somewhere, as they always are. Of course I only have a limited view, so I can only see one direction. I don’t really know what’s behind be.

The best view is the third one. This is if I only go up one flight of stairs higher. Normally, I wouldn’t go up any higher, because I live on the fifth. But when you increase your viewpoint just for the sake of looking rather than needing a reason, you really can see all around. I can see the Ferris Wheel downtown, the baseball stadium that is behind me, and a whole nother set of hills that I didn’t even know where there. And all this time I thought I was getting a good exploration simply by walking around on the ground level.

It’s really amazing what you can see when you raise yourself up so you aren’t blocked by things in your way. And it’s kind of silly to think that one can let themselves be blocked by something that can’t move. Because all you need to do is go around.


What’s Important About That?

I met an old friend of mine for dinner the other night. He seemed really upset about something. I kept pressing for details, but he didn’t want to upset my seemingly good mood. I have been on an interesting diet lately, and many people have been telling me that I look like I’ve lost weight, so I’ve been able to act a little happier than normal. But finally, my friend caved and told me his problem.

Turns out he and his wife had been planning on taking a vacation as soon as they could get their respective vacation times at their jobs to coincide. Their bigger plan is to take on last vacation together, kind of like a second honeymoon (even though they’ve only been married 2 years) before starting to build a family.  Seems that they take a pragmatic approach. Get married. Save money. Have kids.

“So what’s the problem?” I asked. “You guys sound like you’re really together! You guys are able to plan your life together, and make your plans that that you an easily achieve them. You are a lot better than most people. Most people shoot first, then maybe think about aiming in couple weeks. What gives?”

After my friend explained his problem to me, I understood. It seems that they both had their respective hearts set on a specific vacation place. And they both assumed that the other person had agreed to go to their place. And when they sat down to plan their fun, they realized that they weren’t on the same page. And since they both kind of viewed this as a ‘last vacation together’ kind of thing, neither of them wanted to budge.

Which is interesting in and of itself. Most people can make plans, and then follow through. But we can run into problems when you don’t communicate well with others who will be involved in those plans. It’s like when other people don’t object, we assume that they will go along with us. I reminded my friend about this, as raising a kid requires that you be flexible and communicate well. I asked my friend that since they were both guilty of the same thing, if they could compromise.

“What do you mean, compromise?” My friend asked. “I want to go here, and she wants to go there. They are totally different. One person has to lose for the other to win.” Aha. I thought I saw the problem.

I was reminded of a business negotiation seminar I took. We would role play being different business situations, and practice these negotiation skills. For example, a Union Boss would want more health benefits, more vacation time, and higher pay. The Business Manager would want to save money wherever possible. The trick in being a negotiator, was to keep asking “What’s important about that?” Until you got a point where the Union Boss and the Business Manager could find a solution that would satisfy both of their respective deeper needs.  

For example, the Union Boss’s underlying concern was that the workers would realize that the company was serious about taking care of them, as the increases in health benefits and wages were really only symbolic. And the Business Manager was concerned with the long term growth of the company. As a ‘pretend’ negotiator, I explained to the Union Boss that the more stable the Business manager thought the future of the company was, the more willing he’d be to extend their long term contracts. And I explained to the Business Manager that by giving just a little bit of a raise, they would be much more willing to lock in that rate if it were for an extended contract period.

It was an interesting seminar that taught a lot about negotiating, and the importance of communication. Especially when you are able to find out what’s important to the people you care about, so when you make plans for the future, you can be sure to involve everyone.

I explained this to my friend, and we actually role played a few scenarios between him and his wife.  After a few practice rounds, he was convinced that they would be able to find a new place which would satisfy both their vacations needs for their second honeymoon. 

They invited me over to dinner a few days later. I tepidly asked them about their vacation, hoping I wasn’t precluding myself from any future dinners by starting world war three.

They both immediately broke into huge grins. Aha! I thought to myself. Maybe they would at least give me partial credit for solving their marital problems. Where would they go? Greece? Italy? Mexico? Maybe they’d let me house sit. They have a really nice, really HUGE flat screen HD TV.

“We canceled our vacation!”


“We decided to put the money into an extra room. We’re building a nursery!”