This past weekend I had dinner out with a friend who always requests something that's not on the menu. Rather than choosing from the specially prepared entrees, she goes to great lengths to describe exactly what she wants to eat and how she wants it prepared. Honestly, I find this behavior annoying and embarrassing. What's so hard about finding something on the menu that sounds appetizing?
When I have a meal in a restaurant, I almost always order from the menu. I think it's the polite thing to do. After all, it's only a meal.
But, when it comes to how I order my life, the rules change. If I don't get one meal right, it's no big deal. Don't get my life right, well that's another story. So here is where I often choose to ask for something that's not on the menu—instead of selecting from available options, I imagine what I need, how I want to live, and then create and pursue those options for my life.
I'm not saying that what's on the menu is bad—quite the opposite. Usually these options have been carefully selected and tested. They're proven to be favorites, and so they may be a good choice. Examples include volunteering to deliver Meals-on-Wheels to the elderly or helping to build a home for Habitat for Humanity. You're wise to carefully research and consider available choices. I think of them as over-the-counter (OTC) options. Take one off the shelf and get started.
But, when the OTC options don't fit you or excite you, then it's time to create your own menu. To help you get started, consider these questions:
- What do you need to wake up curious and excited to start your day?
- What have you always wanted to do but didn't have the time, courage, money, _____ (you fill in the blank)?
- Where are you settling in life? What will change this?
- When reflecting on your life, what do you want to talk about at your 90th birthday party?
According to authors Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, "When you lift the limits of your thinking, you expand the limits of your life. It's only when you can imagine a bigger life that you can ever hope to have one." In other words:
"Don't order from the menu."
Copyright 2014, Patrice Jenkins, Ph.D.