After the New Year’s Eve matinee, our little family loaded into the pickup and happily chit-chatted over how cute our favorite bedtime book, Ferdinand, was as a big screen movie. Before leaving town, I pointed at one of the three gas stations in sight, told my husband about the discount we get there, and subtly suggested he fill up.
Jay passed the filling station while assuring me we had plenty of petrol to cross the river. After all, he prefers filling up on the west side … you know, in God’s country where the grass is greener, and vehicles never run out of gas.
Guess what? He was wrong, and I took the opportunity to remind him I was right—not so subtly either.
With my nagging surely fueling the pickup miles beyond its actual capacity, we puttered up two hills and came to a stop with the gas station in sight. At 15 degrees below zero and dropping quickly, the man in charge hoofed it to the station … also most assuredly fueled by my nagging and his desire for it to stop.
I calmed down as quickly as I got fired up, and before we arrived home, all was again copasetic.
Our New Year’s Eve “event,” as it shall forever be referred, didn’t ruin the ending of one year or start a new year off on a bad note. It was an unpleasant moment in the day, but it wasn’t a bad day.
The event reminded me of a quote from unknown origins, “Do not judge my story by the chapter you walked in on.”
If you had walked into our life during the 30 minutes of our New Year’s Eve event, you wouldn’t have been humored or impressed by any part of what you saw. Poor planning, bad attitudes, and no gratitude—a trifecta of mediocrity.
Luckily, that chapter of our story was a short one. A mere fleck of fly poo on life’s great big windshield. But, if that’s all you had seen of us, there’s a chance you wouldn’t have wanted to see more. If you had judged us on that moment in time, you would have done so without context or a sense of our whole story.
On the flip side, our Christmas Day was picturesque. Our children fulfilled Santa’s wish to work as a team before waking Mom and Dad. They were adorable images of excitement and gratitude when opening gifts. Chores went smoothly and quickly. Our home was clean and festive. My wedding China and themed wine glasses were arranged in a proper place setting right from a magazine. The prime rib came out of the oven with a glorious smell, a gorgeous color, and a perfectly rare temperature.
It was a moment worthy Norman Rockwell’s finest interpretation.
You know what else it was? Only a moment. If you had judged our story based on that moment, your perception of who we are would have been totally different. It also would have been wrong.
The truth is we are somewhere in the middle of a flat mess and a beautiful Hallmark moment. And, I’d bet you aren’t much different.
As a new year dawns, I find it incredibly important to reflect and plan but not at the risk of judging ourselves or our businesses based on the moment. We write our stories one page at a time, and those pages turn into chapters. Some long and difficult. Others short and sweet. But none mutually exclusive.
Perhaps the greatest gift we can give ourselves in a new year is the gift of perspective. Where each of us is right now in our business or personal life doesn’t define who we are but rather contributes to the story of where we’ve been and where we have yet to go.
I don’t know where you’re at right now in your life’s story, but I hope you’re at a place where you can see value in where you’ve been and joy in where you’re going.
If that’s not the case, don’t despair. Personally, I feel a lot like our pickup on New Year’s Eve—cold, old, and out of gas. I’ll need to give myself some grace and attention in the coming months. I’ve let too much bog me down, but I know this chapter is merely part of a greater story. I’ll get back to a recharged battery and a full tank of gas. So, will you as long we don’t judge each other or ourselves on merely a moment in time.
“What lies behind you and before you is not as important as what lies within you.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson