I was giving a presentation yesterday for a SCORE group of small business owners on financial planning, and I made the comment that 90% of financial planning is common sense, which I believe is true. The remaining 10% is working out the details. The sad part is that even though it’s common sense, most people don’t apply the principles.
And this triggered my mind to think of other things that are common sense, and we all should do more of – but we don’t, for whatever reasons. Just off the top of my head, here are five of them:
1. Admit we don’t know. There is this perceived negative connotation that not knowing something makes you less of a person, when in fact, I find that the ability to admit you don’t know makes you an even better person. It shows humility, and honesty. However, the “I don’t know” should be followed up with “But I’ll find out as quickly as I can” in most cases. And when we really think about it: what’s worse – admitting you don’t know the answer to something, or pretending that you do and then getting called out on it?
2. Ask questions. This is tied into the first point, but is important enough to stand alone. We, as a general population, don’t ask enough questions – questions to our doctors, our financial planners, our waitresses, our spouses. Some of this is laziness, and some of it is pride.
3. Say thank you. Lydia and I drill into Adrianna, now almost 1 1/2 years old, to say thank you for everything, and yet often I find myself skimping out on gratitude to others in my life. Like saying thank you to Lydia for picking up the house, or a heart felt thank you to the servers at Prince St Cafe, or to my parents for putting up with so much of my nonsense over the years. Gratitude fosters appreciation, which fosters contentment, which fosters more gratitude. I’ve actually created a “Gratitude List” in Google Docs which I try to read and add to each day. It serves as a reminder of just how many things I have to be thankful for in life.
4. Take Sabbaths. Not in a legalistic way, but just be more intentional in finding time to rest – and not just for a few hours, but a good chunk of the day. I taught a lesson at a men’s retreat several years ago about the need for Sabbath taking – and I defined the parameters of Sabbath activity as “doing what which brings you life, and not doing things you feel you have to.”
5. Ask ourselves “Why?” I think too many of us are victims of inertia – doing things just because that’s the way we’ve always done them. Some quick example questions: Why do I believe in God? Why am I working this job? Why did I choose to live in the city? Why am I attending this church? Why am I writing these letters? Why am I nervous about this meeting? Asking the questions, and working out the answers, helps bring more clarity, direction, and purpose to what we’re doing with our lives.
There’s a lot more things that all of us should do more of, but here’s just five of them. Try them out today, Jack, and see if they apply to your own life. Till next time.