In the Scheme of Things: Under Construction

While living in Montana’s Flathead Valley, there were years when significant construction happened in our development. Some days the hammering echoed hard against the mountain slopes making it was hard to tune out; other days the sounds were muted. One year we were stuck in the middle — construction one lot away on one side and two lots away on the other.

Both houses started their foundations the same month, and their evolution intrigued me. Not for the construction interest per se, but as a glimpse into differing styles. The house to the right plodded along with one or two people periodically showing up on any given day to do work; then nothing for weeks. By contrast, the second house swarmed with crews Monday through Thursday.

The first builder wasn’t in a hurry it seemed, while the second couldn’t move fast enough. Their contrasting styles reminded me how some of us can plod along with seemingly little accomplished, treading water for awhile or showing little improvement or change. Other people appear to speed through life, as if they can’t post enough selfies, acquire enough passport stamps, collect enough “friends,” or accumulate enough stuff or experiences as they check off their bucket lists with fervor.

Of course, there are reasons why we might plod sometimes and speed at others. I notice I’m more plodder in some areas, particularly those where I’m learning or not naturally drawn to. Here I can get stuck in a mindset do-loop, an unrealistic expectation, or a wait-and-see mode that keeps me languishing for something to happen, or someone to do something before I can move forward. Turns out, that someone is often me.

In other areas, I’m in high planner-mode, leapfrogging from now-thinking into future-thinking with accelerated passion moving toward what’s next, envisioning what’s to come, creating new elements. Like a child I’m asking “Are we there yet,” fixated on getting there. These are the times I need to increase awareness and not miss the subtleties and interesting offerings along the way.

I’ve learned, in the scheme of things it’s not so much the approach taken since we’re our own construction project. The question to ask — to notice in ourselves is — are we making progress? Interestingly, those two houses finished within months of each other. In the end, the style used didn’t matter; consistent progress did.

In this second month of a New Year, I’m pausing to remind myself of that, and to regroup around the promise a New Year brings. Sarah Overstreet put it this way: “A new year is a clean slate, a chance to suck in your breath, decide all is not lost and give yourself another chance.” The great news is we don’t need a new year to do that. We can give ourselves a new chance any day we choose. Not happy with your New Year’s start or the plodding or speeding style you’re using? Already break those resolutions? Start again — any day, any week, any month you want. The goal is progress; just keep making progress.