I am a planner by profession, I like planning. I like spending months reading reviews and investigating appliances. Dreaming about what my house will look like when I finally do an addition is how I drift off to sleep at night. My imagination runs wild when I open the possibilities of all that I could do. But then when I actually get the appliance, or make the change that I've been looking forward to for months (or even years), the satisfaction from the accomplishment or purchase is short-lived. I immediately move onto the next goal.
This revelation came to me a few years ago when I was feeling frustrated. I had achieved these amazing things, won fellowships and awards and traveled the world, and yet, I wasn't satisfied. I spent some time really thinking about it. Why can't I appreciate what I've done and feel content with my accomplishments? Why do I have to keep pushing myself? The answer came to me as if by revealing a secret. In my mind's eye I saw a little pearl of wisdom glimmering under what seemed to be obscure leaves. The answer was: perspective.
It seems radical to me. What if I spent as much time AFTER the fact of getting or accomplishing something as I spend in the planning mode? That would mean months of observing and appreciating the details of what this new thing adds to my life. For a new stove, maybe that would mean taking time each day to admire the details or trying new ways of cooking to experiment with all the settings. For a fellowship, maybe that would mean writing about how the experience added to my perspective of the world or enumerating the ways that the fellowship has boosted my career. We live in an "I want everything" world, where we focus on the individual and possession. What if we spent the time reflecting on what we have and how we have been formed by our past experiences? I think it would help us better understand where we are going in the future.