37 – February 6
“When I’m about to take a risk, I consider the down side. If it’s not death, I do it.”—Nancy Sardella
Amy Frelinger, one of my class participants, came in one afternoon exasperated about an experience she had at the grocery store. She had seen an older woman in the produce section looking over the artichokes. The woman picked up one, then another, of the vegetables, turning them around and around in her hands, frowning. Noticing Amy watching her, she smiled and said, “I don’t know how to cook these, do you?” Amy said that she did, and gave her some simple directions on how to steam the artichoke and then eat it with melted butter.
Another woman overheard the conversation and chimed in with the suggestion that she dip it in herb salad dressing. Soon there were several people making suggestions on different ways to cook artichokes, encouraging the woman to try it. The woman listened and seemed to enjoy the conversation, but eventually put the artichoke back, saying, “I’m just not sure about this.”
Amy was aghast. She was incredulous that the woman couldn’t take the risk to cook an artichoke. “It only cost $1.49!” she exclaimed. “How big a risk could it be?”
Step outside your comfort zone today. Take a risk. You don’t have to quit your job, get divorced or move to another country yet. Practice with little risks. Shop at a different grocery store. Drive a different route to work. Try out a new restaurant. Watch a foreign film with subtitles. Cut your hair. Go to a concert. Sleep on the other side of the bed.
Cook an artichoke.
“I relish new experiences that enrich my life!”
I give this exercise in my workshop – to make some little changes. Simple ones like part your hair on the other side (feels really weird), put your other shoe on first (didn’t know you did it the same every day did you?), or change the way you put the toilet paper on the toilet paper holder (if you always have it going over the top, put it so the paper comes out underneath).
Truly compulsive behavior is changing the toilet paper in other people’s homes (and yes, I’ve done that).
It took me awhile to figure out that there were some people in class who had no trouble changing things up. They didn’t have many routines at all, and never did things the same way twice. So the exercise never made them feel awkward or out of sync.
When I figured that out, after giving the exercise instructions, I asked if anyone found that an easy exercise because they were always changing things? Several people smiled and nodded, exclaiming that they never did the same thing.
“Well, don’t feel so smug,” I said, “because you’re going to do the opposite exercise. I want you to invent a routine of seven or eight steps and do that same routine every morning without any changes.”
“Oh, no!” they moaned and groaned and complained, just like the others who had to mix it up.
Once a man who was very ordered and compulsive went home and changed all the toilet paper rolls in his home and at work. It drove him crazy every day, and when he came to class, he reported how it upset him to have his routine broken that way.
His wife, who was one of the creative never-do-it-the-same-way-twice types, looked at him in amazement and said, “Honey, I didn’t know you did that!”
I tell them then that if they can’t change a little thing like the toilet paper, how are they going to change a big thing like their money? Take a look at what you are resistant to changing, and also where you never make a decision about the best way to do something. Both the ability to change and the ability to set a routine are important to establishing a good relationship with money. You need some structure, and some flexibility.