Through various seasons of my life, I have taken on specific projects that required my complete attention and most of my time.
Within my house, we refer to this as a push.
Recently, I started another one. My Becoming a Better Man book had some formatting issues and my website wasn’t as user friendly as it needed to be. So, I declared it was time for a push.
Discovering a necessary project, making the effort to make it happen, with a clearly stated list of requirements and a defined end goal, is what we call a push.
I don’t remember where I picked up the phrase, but it has been something that defined my very existence. The problem, for guys like me, lies in not knowing when to push and when to let it go. Without understanding the parameters, a push can evolve into a never ending rabbit trail.
Until a few years ago, whenever I began a push, there was a tendency to charge in to whatever project or mission I had chosen, like a race horse wearing blinders. All I could see was the finish line. Even when the end was miles or years away, I often jumped into a project without considering an exit strategy.
Every project that came up became the most important thing in my world. My family tends to be neglected whenever I take on a push. But, since I finally woke up to the reality of my thought processes, I do things a little differently now.
Although my results generally received accolades and I even earned a few notorious nicknames regarding my ability to make things happen, I was missing a few key ingredients in my recipe.
Joel explained his version of a push.
LegalShield does fairly regular promotions, offering substantially larger payouts for new memberships. Whenever they announce the bonuses or extra benefits, Joel digs deep to figure out the very best way to utilize the promotion.
Once he has weighed the terms, time frame, benefits and time commitment estimate… He talks to his wife about it. He doesn’t just charge in and tell her what he is going to do and leave her to deal with it. He doesn’t just dive in and wreck their family routines without discussing what his thoughts are for the next few weeks or even months.
If Kathy understands the benefits as well as the terms of the commitment, they agree to start the push. It’s a team effort, since it will affect both of them. That conversation is essential to keeping peace, since the push often means longer days and later nights with less family interaction for the duration of the push.
During an eye opening conversation with them, I disclosed my standard technique for making a push…
My tendency had been to run a rabbit trail, chasing some idea that seemed like the most important thing in the world at the time. After weeks or months of figuring out how to make this decision that would affect the entire family, I would tell my wife the plan. Meaning that I kept her in the dark about what I was doing, only to spring it on her all at once… After my mind was already made up.
“Nope.” That’s about all she would say. “I don’t want any part of that,” or “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
She occasionally used the longer sentences when she felt more generous.
Kathy asked me why I didn’t get her involved earlier. If I had talked with her before spending all that time and effort, I would have known she wasn’t interested. I could have changed plans or abandoned the project altogether.
But, being the immature toddler that I was for those bad years, I just got mad at her for not understanding or even trying to understand. I thought she wasn’t being flexible or supportive. So, fairly regularly, I did it anyway. Normally producing the exact results my wife predicted.
Keep in mind, the things that tend to upset me might be different that yours.
A tree explodes in my yard from a hurricane, leaving me days of chainsaw work and cleanup… Not a big deal. Missing an exit on the interstate and having to turn around… Utter insanity.
Historically, whenever I commit to a push, it’s going to be miserably stressful. I would just lean my indestructible bone head towards whatever I wanted and charge right in. Poor planning, poor execution, poor results, and…
Wait for it… The anticipation of an “I told you so.”
The simplest solution for taking on extra work, planning a move or change, deciding on a major purchase or additional expense, even considering an investment of time or money all comes down to one choice.
Talk to your wife first.
Nobody else in the entire universe is more invested in your success or failure than she is. Regardless of whether or not you believe she will even comprehend the intricacies of whatever mission you are about to undertake, get her involved early.
Since this little revelation first entered my mushy grey matter, life has been substantially less stressful. The number of projects I have taken on, along with the amount of unnecessary frustration in my world, has diminished considerably.
What about the guys who aren’t married? Well, chances are that you have someone in your life who cares about you. Whether it’s parents, siblings, coworkers or friends. Get some input from someone. Read and research. Make a plan.
Don’t always be so quick to choose your pastor, either. Many good pastors have the ability to admit they don’t know everything, some can’t seem to acknowledge that concept. Hearing your pastor admit that he doesn’t know something is a much bigger deal than you might think.
We have all heard the lines about fools rushing in and how wise men seek counsel before building a house or going to war, we just don’t always know how to apply those ideas.
The best start is within your own family. I don’t make any decisions without considering how it will affect them. I don’t jump into making plans without talking to them. My wife has been offered a trump card to stop me in my tracks if she feels like it’s a bad idea.
It may not sound like it, but there’s a lot of freedom and peace in having a support structure like that.
After all… Hearing her say “no” is a lot easier to process than “I told you so.”
For more random advice like this, check out my Becoming a Better Man book.
M. Erik Matlock is a self-professed recovering knucklehead with more than 500 articles and four books in print. He shares his hard-earned wisdom at ErikMatlock.com, ProSoundWeb.com and through his books, which are available at Amazon.