“Monday 5 Things”™ ….. What Else Can I Do? …..

Img 5778 2Photo: D. Paul Graham, “Nellie at Five”, 2022

“Monday 5 Things”™ ….. What Else Can I Do? …..

Over Christmas, a certain five-year-old, that incidentally has me firmly wrapped around her little finger, introduced me to Mirabel, Camilo, Luisa, Bruno (but apparently, we don’t talk about him), Pepa, Alma, Antonio, Felix, Mariano, Julieta, and Isabela, all characters in the movie ‘Encanto’.

A whole number of M5T’s could have come out of my thoughts on this movie. One of the songs that really struck me was sung by Isabela. She had the gift of making flowers bloom and was the symbol of perfection in her family. The song is about her discovery that she doesn’t have to be perfect and that, after reconciling with her sister Mirabel, she can finally be the person that she really wants to be.

A meandering five-hour drive back to Savannah after Christmas weekend gave me ample time to ruminate on what else I could do. This morning’s M5T asks some Encanto-inspired questions.

1. Do I dare start fresh?

Start is the key word here. Take steps, no matter how small, toward your dreams, your goals, your objectives. Change can be frightening, daunting, tense, and agitating. Accept it. Make peace with your past. Clean up – your physical space and your emotional state. Decide to fall away from the old and envision and move to the new.

2. Do I have the courage?

Do I have the courage to ask if all I believe is the fullest knowledge? To break a habit. To avoid group-think and confirmation bias. To question why things ‘have always been done that way’. To experiment with new ideas. To sift through and check sources of information. To think critically. To require evidence. To examine who you are spending time with.  To seek understanding and wisdom. To read and listen to conflicting views.

3. Do I hold back out of fear?

To do something risky, something ridiculous, something outrageous, something that no one would expect of you. To change your perspective on failure. To define the worst-case scenario for things you want to try, for decisions and actions you want to make. Fear can work to your advantage, listen to what you’re feeling, recognize excuses, understand what needs attention, use fear as an ally, and then act on it.

4. Do I understand and accept the costs?

There are costs to every decision we make and the actions that we take in our lives. Newton’s 3rd law applies to all of us: ‘for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction’, meaning that we have to take personal responsibility for the outcomes of our decisions as ours and ours alone. No one else can be blamed for the decisions we make.

5. Do I want to be a part of something greater?

Make a plan, then work it. To end without giving up. Purposefully bend the rules. Re-boot yourself. Cultivate what really matters to you. Check your attitude – change your thinking. Be positive. Shift your focus. Challenge yourself. Reinvent yourself. Get genuinely involved and be present with others. Work for a cause. Dream big. Your personal ‘so that’ requires your full commitment. Make a positive difference in your relationships at home, in your social life and at work. Cultivate a growth mindset. In all you do, keep your legacy in thought and deed. Start living, fully, and without regret or excuses.

Here’s to a week that brings you, in the words and song of Isabela, “Something sharp, something new. It’s not symmetrical or perfect, but it’s beautiful and it’s mine.”

© 2023 D. Paul Graham, all rights reserved.

For over 11 years, D. Paul Graham has published “Monday 5 Things” ™, also known to readers as M5T ™.  Each Monday, Paul shares his observations, thoughts and passions on people, life, and culture.