6 More Mottos
Back in 2021 I blogged about 6 mottos I lived by. I like the word motto, defined as a short expression of a guiding principle by Merriam-Webster. I’ve jotted down 6 more, since then, that seem to stand the test of time. So as I’ve just passed a birthday, let me spout some wisdom and share this next installment of 6 more life mottos.
Interesting side note the word motto had modest beginnings. It is taken from the Italian, meaning ‘word’, referring to a short phrase on an emblem, but further back we find the latin word muttum, meaning murmur or grunt.
1. Preparation is Key
Always prepare. Have an outlook, short term and long term. Think ahead, decide what the boundaries are. What you will and will not do. How much you are willing to give up? What or how much will you settle for? How important is this in the overall scheme of things? What can go wrong? What is the worst case scenario anyhow will you cope? Whatever it is, have a plan. Bring water, pack a jacket. You get the idea.
But how can I palliate to every eventuality? This isn’t a guarantee, anything can happen. True. But it provides a guideline for when things go sideways. If you’ve thought about the potential pitfalls, you’re not caught completely off guard. It reassures. Worst case scenario, it is straws to clutch at.
2. Decisions are a Process
I’d written ‘List Pros and Cons’ on my draft. But that didn’t sound like a motto. In fact, when it comes to deciding something of any import, I always go through the same steps, which consists of writing down the pros and cons.
This is a go to for me. If I need to get clear on a decision, wether deciding if something is a yes or no, or choosing between two things, I list them. On paper, or a whiteboard app. But write it down so you can see it. It’s not the same as trying to carry all the details in your head.
Make two columns, one positives and one negatives. Put everything down, brainstorm, ask for opinions if you want. You may get some even if you don’t.
I also weight them. Perhaps a choice has a few negatives, but there is one positive that outweighs them. This ties in with Preparation is Key, in that there are certain things you just can’t compromise on; so that one positive or negative may be the deciding factor.
If it’s choosing between two things, I use a four-square grid: two options and the pros and cons of each. Again one option may have only one drawback but it is big. Such as a very long commute. Maybe that is overridden by a huge salary increase or your willingness to move.
Ultimately it’s personal. This isn’t a process that will tell you what to choose. It’s not one of those questionnaires where you add up the points and get a read out (although maybe one day Artificial Intelligence could do that for us). But it will help make it as clear as possible based on facts and aligned with what you prioritize. Which is a lot better than flipping a coin, or going with your gut, or your heart, or any other organ, because you’ll know why you chose what you did.
On a side note, I am a fan of intuition. Sometimes there’s just a feeling. But that too can be put into words and be a factor. But beware of feelings of the moment. Confusion intuition with fear or elation is…well, confusing. But that’s whole other blog.
3. It’s not Always Someone Else’s Fault
Alas, I wish it were. But it isn’t. And it’s important to take an honest look at where we went wrong and how much of it is attributable to self. Not easy, I know. I still get that wave of shame or guilt when I remember how badly I messed up at times.
And while we’re talking of placing blame elsewhere, this includes any that stem from self but we qualify as out of our control. The ingrained trait that (supposedly) can’t be changed. Things like “Oh, I’m impulsive!” “I can’t help it, that’s always how I react” ‘That’s just the way I am”, “I was raised like that”, I could go on. There’s the self-diagnosed issues: “I’m ADD, I have anxiety, I’m probably on the spectrum”. Are you really? Because first, that needs to be addressed. And secondly, there are people who really do struggle with these and labeling oneself as an excuse is disrespectful.
Also the concomitant factor excuse: “This was going on so that explains why I did that.” The this being out of our control, we can’t be responsible for the that. That’s compounded errors: a lack of control and messing up. Stop that cycle. See Preparation is Key above.
4. Don’t Dwell on What Could Have Been
You’ll never know what could have been. And our imagined future is always better than reality would have been. Because we imagine things being perfect. But nothing is perfect. Sometimes we can imagine a whole life unfolding from that one missed chance. We imagine the outcome if that one thing had gone the other way. Then we hinge other events on that and so on and so on until we’re convinced that if we had made that one choice, or got that one chance, our whole life would have been infinitely better. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig is all about that.
5. Living Well is the Best Revenge
This is my personal all-time favorite, my maxim. Forget those who have wronged you, who weren’t there for you, who would trip you up given the chance. Put failures behind you. Dismiss people who did not appreciate you or see your worth. Move on and move up. Live well. Your time is finite and valuable. Speaking of which…
6. Your Time has Value
Subtitle: Pay a professional/Stop wasting time and energy.
Many years ago I began factoring a time value for projects I was thinking of doing myself. How much time would it take considering I was not a professional? And in evaluating time, think of potential errors, having to undo and redo, or worse making an error that is costing you, but never knowing it. Add to that the cost of investing in tools or equipment, if applicable.
Many years back, in a total act of getting ahead of myself, I got a cover for my book. There were other steps, I still have not published. That’s another story. But here’s my point. I paid hundreds of dollars for a book cover, and I loved it. But it was incongruent with the genre of the book, in style, image and font. As I started learning more about indie publishing and consulting a few experts I realized my mistake. Now, working with an editor, that cover is out of the question. Moreover, I learned I should have asked, for the exorbitant price, for other formats that could be used for promotional items. As well as font names and color codes, in case I want to do another similar cover for a sequel and that designer was no longer available or I went with someone else. Duh….
Years ago we tried to install crown moulding. That’s the decorative trim that goes where the wall meets the ceiling. We struggled because we did not have a table saw, or is it a mitre saw? And because I don’t cut 45 degree angles every day. We called a carpenter, who did an amazing job by the way. When he saw the one length we had installed it took him a split second to tell us it was upside down. There’s a direction? See what I mean?
Yes, it does take money. But it can also save you money or help you make more. Or make you better, because therapists and health care professionals fall into this too. If you’re struggling with a situation, why not ask someone trained to help?
I’m still budgeting to publish my book. But when I do, I know it’ll be my best effort and have the best possible chances. And the moldings looked amazing.
Regardless of what ‘rules’ you live by, if they’re based on principle, if they make sense in relation to what or who you value (loved ones, time, money, joy, avoiding pain), you’ll avoid making the same mistakes over and over, because you’ll know why you and how to correct it.
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