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5 AM mistake

If you read last week, I told you that this week my goal would be to wake up at 5 AM every day this week in an attempt to reclaim some time in my life to work on the things that I can’t seem to squeeze into my schedule. Let me just say, it didn’t happen this week. I wish that I could tell you that I persevered and made it five days and accidentally turned off my alarm on day six. No, not even close…

Let me explain…

Tuesday, I woke up at nearly 5:00….okay it was 6:30. But I woke up earlier than somebody who doesn’t have a 9-5 job usually does. I woke up at that time not to reclaim the time, but to do something for a family trip that was coming up the next day…because I love staying away from home and waking up early sleeping on a couch that isn’t my own. When I don’t sleep in my bed or on my own couch, I might as well be sleeping on a prison cot. I need my bed. I am a baby…a bed baby. But enough about my prison-baby sleep patterns…Now the reason I was awake was that I was going to an unnamed auto care center, let’s call it Fobb’s. So I called Fobb’s two days before to set up my wife’s car getting an oil change and two front tires. Tuesday morning I throw some shorts on and drive sans coffee to Fobb’s. Determined to reclaim my time as well, I brought my notebook and another book that I am reading to get some blog post ideas and prepare for the next episode of the podcast (since I would be out of town for 4 days and had to prepare three episodes in a world of unknowns).

I arrive at Fobb’s on time. I hand the guy my keys and I take a seat with their always fresh coffee…Not bad, but nothing like the holy grail that is Dunkin Donuts (or as New Jersey people like to call them “Dunkies”). I take a seat in the back room with all the other car-deficient vagrants, settle into my notebook, ready to get some things done and reclaim my time. No more than five minutes after I sit down, the guy calls me over and tells me that the tire size I selected is wrong. I go “Well, I know little to nothing about cars other than they get me from here to there, so please give the tires that will allow me to remain in my ignorance.” I go back and I sit down and I find myself in an hour long text debate with a couple guys I talk baseball with all the time.

In the middle of one of my sure to be furious replies to one of them, Rachael calls me to ask if I am home because the car is still in the driveway. At that same exact time, the guy from Fobb’s tells me that my car is ready to go! I am frozen. I just put two tires on the wrong car…well not me…greasier men than me, but it’s still my fault, and I know I have to go home and look my wife in the eye explaining how I mixed up the turquoise or seafoam or blue sedan that she drives, with my clearly taller, white, SUV. I have to admit that I, Seth Tripp, am an idiot… imbecile… dumbo.. .box full of rocks… or as Linnie McAllister tells Kevin McAllister in an unnamed, but solidly top five Christmas movie right after he makes Buzz choke on pizza and spills Pepsi everywhere while also smushing Fuller’s face in a chair “You’re what the French call Les incompetent.”, which of the French to English words, has to be the laziest. But anyway, I get home and I tell her to not say a word to me or anybody else about this ever again. She sort of agrees and has yet to blabber about it because she loves me.

But the point is not just to tell you how you can be a moron like me, but to tell you that I tried to bite off more than I could chew. Do you know what percentage of people will meet the goal they set on New Years this year? 8. Most of us will fail. Not only that, only 2 out of 10 of us will make it out the first month! Why? A couple of reasons. But one I will talk about exclusively. We are not able to give up other things in order to be great at one or a couple of specific things. We have to keep up with TV, watch sports, hang out with friends, go to charity balls, listen to podcasts, listen to podcasts, even maybe, listen to podcasts… Our to-do list is long and exhausting. And we believe that we need to be perfect at all of it, especially when it comes to completing our goals.

What day do you believe would be the most likely day that someone would quit their goal? What landmark day? A number? A milestone? It’s the day after they don’t complete their goal for the first time. People set a goal, and then the first day they forget or life gets in the way or they cheat just a little bit on their diet, they quit. Why? Because a lie that perfection tells us is if we do something we must be flawless. Why? Because we are also convinced that if something is worth doing it must be hard and it must be done to perfection. We don’t give ourselves a break.

We hit snooze one day and we just stop getting up early. We give in and have a scoop, some might say a dab of ice cream at a family reunion, and the next three days we have something a la mode. We dedicate ourselves to spending 15 extra minutes at school to grade every day so that we don’t bring anything home with us, but we have a doctor’s appointment one day and don’t grade that day at all and decide that the old way is fine. Or you decide to tell yourself that the kids will take baths once a month and then you miss the whole month of February because it wasn’t a leap year and you are used to giving your kids baths on the 29th of every month and forgot that this wasn’t a leap year, and before you know you it, your kids are running around with dust falling over their bodies like some modern 3D version of Pig-Pen in the Peanuts and you feel like Charlie Brown after going to Lucy for psychiatric advice.

My point is this. You will always be your hardest critic. You are not your biggest fan most days. But it’s okay not to be perfect. It’s okay to be blissfully ignorant of some things. But you shouldn’t let those one-time failures determine your full-time life. Be gracious with yourself and remember to give yourself some grace.

Enjoy the week, everyone, and thanks for reading.

Seth Tripp