In August I had the pleasure of hearing Bill Hybels speak at the 2009 leadership Summit, and even more so the pleasure of experiencing an “ah ha” moment thanks to him. In short he was amazing; along with almost all of the speakers, and his topic made me think the most and for that I am giving him a shout out blog-style.
As we head into another holiday season, many thoughts are running through my head. “How am I going to afford gifts this year?” “How is anyone, especially families with little ones, going to afford gifts this year?” “What do I usually spend money on this time of year that I could save and put into gifts for my family?” And so on, and so on…
As I selfishly try to ponder the financial aspect of the holidays and how they’re going to impact my bank account, Bill’s words keep ringing in my ears, “this is the new reality. Not just a phase”. The light bulb went off in my head as I heard him describe the times that we are facing right now, because up until that point I had the mentality that what we are facing was a phase, a bump in our economic road if you will. The harsh reality is that this phase is not going anywhere anytime soon. And really once it does start to turn around, we’ll all have lived through it and learned to manipulate our lives to survive in it. Is that not a new “reality”?
Knowing what I do, thanks in part to hitting rocky times in ’08 when I was laid off as a new homeowner, I hope to have grown and begun to thrive in our new reality. I’ve learned to look at what I spend and examine what’s really necessary and what I can do without. I’ve learned in my career that some of the things we think we need to do, we do not, and we’ve all learned to do more with less. I’ve seen families enjoy stay-cations without spending thousands of dollars. I’ve seen my friend’s excitement levels increase as they found new ways to have a swanky date night without breaking the bank by uncovering “specials” nights at downtown restaurants, and I myself have enjoyed searching my city for new adventures that I never would’ve known about had I not been thrust into this new reality.
And as I bring my mind back to the holidays, I am going to focus more on where I am and who I am with, and what everything really means during this time of year. Sure the presents are awesome (who doesn’t want a new iPod or sweater), but having to do more with less makes me want to give things that mean something to those I love and not just what’s flashy. And although this new reality hasn’t been the easiest, I am thankful for being forced to slow down, re-examine, adapt, and even thrive at times. I hope I never lose the lessons I am being taught as we head into whatever realities await us.