Saturday, September 21, 2013

Excuses Excuses

I am trying to learn how to answer doubts and excuses not only in the lives of my readers but also in my own life. Believe me I have plenty of excuses in many areas of my life. I have found that if I look deeply into what I am saying it is sometimes easy to unravel the problem.

Consider the statement, “I don’t have time to read this book.” I have heard many people make this statement when I suggest that the answer to their particular questions might be found in this book or that book. Sometimes I say it to myself when I think about visiting the library or the bookstore.

Let us assume that you can read at 500 words a minute and that a page in a paperback book contains 500 words. This is a reasonable assumption for a thought experiment. That means you can read 1 page per minute. If a book has 300 pages you can read the book in one month, if you devote only 10 minutes a day to the project as you drink your first cup of coffee in the morning. I would contend that you can easily find 10 minutes a day to do something you really want to do. If you could find 30 minutes a day, you could complete the task in 10 days. Even when I was working I wasted much more than 30 minutes a day just surfing the Internet.

We tell ourselves little white lies to excuse our behavior. This particular example does not really involve any risk of failure. Clearly, if reading a particular book is a sufficiently high priority it would be pretty easy to find the time to read the book.

Let’s take it a step further, to an example that contains a certain amount of risk. Let us imagine an individual who enjoys working on the cars he races at the local drag strip or collecting knives or stamps or even repairing handguns. He would love to find a way to spend more time working with and learning about his passion. One day he wonders if there is something he could do to find enough money to at least support his habit. After all, if his hobby was paying its own way then his wife couldn’t complain so much. Perhaps one of friends at work mentions he is looking to buy his daughter a used car. His friend can’t afford very much, maybe for the sake of argument $4,000 for something that is reasonably reliable and inexpensive to operate. Of course there are lots of car dealers in the city. How could one man compete with all those established businesses? He could say to his buddy, give me a week or so to look around. I’ll see what I can find. Let’s say our budding car dealer finds something reasonable that can be repaired for $3,000. He could go to his buddy and say, “Look, this car needs some work, but give me $200 for parts plus $300 for my labor will give your daughter a car that is worth at least $5,000. If his friend takes the deal, he is on the hook to make it good. If he guesses right he picks up $300 and a reputation for finding good deals and for repairing old cars. If he guesses wrong and makes it good, he might lose a few bucks and some time, but he is still building a reputation. I know a man who works on cars when he needs a little extra money. He is very good, inexpensive, and honest. He has no shortage of extra work when he needs it.

It really boils down to your priorities. I know a woman who has five children. All of them have graduated from college. Both this woman and her husband have jobs but neither of them earn a lot of money. To successfully put five children through school would be a formidable challenge for even wealthy parents. Not every child is college material. Not every child is mature enough to make through college. Not every child even wants an education. These parents made education a family priority. The mother worked her way through school as an adult. The parents worked and saved to put their children through school. They managed to transmit these values to five children who also found jobs and drove around in old used cars so they could apply their money to help pay for their education. These children did not escape without any scars. They are carrying reasonably small amounts of student debt. One of them went to school on a ROTC scholarship, so he owes Uncle Sam 8 years. His mother thinks he will make it his career. One of them is completing a PhD in microbiology.

If you make reading a book a priority you can find the time to read it.

If you want to turn a hobby into a part time job you can make it happen. I have seen more than one person succeed at paying for their own particular hobby.

If you want to change your family tree, you can do it.

It all begins with intention.

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