At one point on my family’s Christmas vacation this year I found myself at the top of a water slide.
In broken Spanish I asked the teenage slide attendant, “Is it fast?” as I inched my way up the line.
“Not too fast.” He promised.
“How deep is it?” I attempt again.
He holds his arm up to his waist and in a reassuring manner says, “Not too deep.”
“Ok, well is the water cold?”
At this the sweet child looks at me in mild exasperation and what I think is a hint of pity, “Laaaaady don’t worrrrry, it’s fun.”
Making my way down the not too fast, not too deep, not too cold slide I thought to myself, dear God, I’m such a worrier. Something needs to change. My solution? Trim tabs.
Chalk it up to being married to an engineer who loves a good metaphor, but I learned about trim tabs because of my husband’s endless reading and researching (original idea from Buckminster Fuller) and thank God I did. The trim tab answers the question – How does a large ship like an oil tanker change direction? The large ship moving forward could be related to any organization – the family, job, church, self etc. So how do you move these vessels with the least amount of energy, for maximum effect? Stick with me on this.
A trim tab moves the oil tanker because it’s attached to the primary rudder. The trim tab moves left pushing the large rudder right, and then eventually the large rudder turns the whole ship’s bow to the right. The energy required to move the trim tab is minimal compared to what it takes to move the large vessel on it’s own.
Trim tabs are small, non-obvious, sometimes seemingly insignificant decisions or movements that contribute great and lasting impact. Seems simple enough. And it is.
The problem was, my resolutions were too big and too vague. Get in shape. Don’t worry. Stop stressing over little things. Keep house organized. Get more sleep. With no specific “how-to”, my resolutions glared back at me, overwhelming me before I even got started. The change I was trying to make seemed too big and what’s worse-I tried to make a million large changes at once. Fail.
Keeping the idea of trim tabs in mind I’ve made a short list of a few things I’d really like to do differently this year.
Get In Shape
Before I used to tear out workout ideas in magazines, buy videos and make lists. Now my goal is much simpler. Just run. Where? At my apartment’s gym. When? Three times a week in the morning. How long? Three miles. Once I get thing going, I’ll try more. But for now this is a big enough change for me. I’m also going to set my workout clothes in the bathroom the night before, so they are ready for me in the a.m.
Just telling myself not to worry never, ever works. I simply can’t will myself to stop worrying. So I’m trying something new. Every time I start to worry even over the silliest thing, I start to pray, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” Repeating this to myself quickly puts my worry in perspective and reminds me that spinning my wheels over things does absolutely nothing to change them, but for me, prayer does.
Don’t laugh, but grocery shopping is causing me unnecessary stress. It takes three hours to hit all the places I need to go and fight lines and traffic all along the way. Then I come home exhausted, starving and quite frankly a little fussy. Every single Monday. The solution? Split up the trips. Instead of trying to knock out a three hour trip on Mondays after work, I’m going to try a little on Monday and some on Tuesday too. My husband has agreed to make dinners on Monday, so it’s ready when I get back from the store. Starving monster averted.
Get More Sleep
I know it sounds ridiculous, but I go to bed late, wake up super early and then wonder why I am exhausted. The small change? Get in bed 30 minutes earlier. This small change is helping me to wind down a bit rather than staring at the ceiling, wide eyed and making my to-do list for the next day. Just 30 minutes, that’s it.
Brandee’s Chic Tip: Start by making a list of the things that are on your mind. Ask yourself, “What’s not working for me?” Write everything down. Nothing is too small or too insignificant. Now think of the smallest change you can make to move you towards that goal. If it feels too overwhelming, scale back and start again. Once you have determined the next small step, try it tomorrow. What’s on your list? I’d love to know!