As I promised I am writing this article to dig deeper into what I shared in my Youtube video. As I shared, I recently achieved a new level of enjoying life’s experiences. For my wife’s birthday, her mother took us to Medieval Times. It is a castle-shaped restaurant that features an awesome show of jousting, fighting, and general kightly stuff. Google it. This is one of the times I was fortunate to have had a close-minded experience to compare to.
When my wife and I were engaged her family took us to Medieval Times. It is a bit pricey and I felt bad that I could “never afford to do this for us.” So instead of enjoying the show, I saw people sitting in better seats and wanted what they had. I saw many shiny things in the sword shop that I couldn’t afford and had to have them. Side note – I bought my first sword on credit there and regretted it. I totally missed the experience of everything, showed myself to, in the best of terms, make bad decisions, and took away from my wife’s experience.
This time I have had many years to grow and change my outlook and here is what I learned.
1. The negative destroys the experience.
If all you can do is see what you can’t have you, will never realize what you do have. We talked in eager anticipation leading up to the night out, made certain we were involved in the planning to maximize the experience, and over all, lived in the moment. The first time out all I focused on was what everyone else had. This time I focused on making it a great experience for my wife and in doing so, had an amazing experience.
2. You can never enjoy the experience with a “broke” mentality.
For most of my life I didn’t have money. That was doubly true when I was first married. I struggle today with trying to squeeze the most out of a dollar sometimes. What I have learned is if you are squeezing the dollar, you are draining everyone’s experience. I could have picked apart the dollar-to-fiscal-value ratio of my wife wanting to spend $25 for the kids to be “Knighted”. That would have killed the mood and ruined the event. Instead I saw what she truly wanted. She wanted to experience her kids experiencing something awesome. We all have something we don’t hesitate to waste money on from game rentals, to movies, to the soda out of the vending machine. Yet when it comes to something outside of our comfort zone, we pull back our money. Don’t do this to the extent you ruin the experience for yourself or the ones you love.
This goes the same for overreaching. Don’t waste all of your money chasing the “experience Mcfall talked about.” Focus on what you want to achieve and on what you want to achieve for others. If it’s all about jealousy or what you don’t have – well refer to issue #1.
3. Focus on the experience of every dollar.
Many years I went wishing I could someday experience something awesome. And during that time, I wasted money on junk. Everything from bass guitars I didn’t need, to extravagant meals out, to buying junk food from the corner store. While I was wishing away, I was throwing away the one thing I needed to achieve what I wanted. If you want to go to Disney, you have to plan for it. Then you have to know that every dollar spent elsewhere is one less dollar closer to your dream of Disney. That simple idea killed my desire for $100 dinners, new phones, or bigger tv’s. I focused on creating an experience for myself and my family. Then when we did get there, I held nothing back and it was amazing. Once you can truly see the experience of that dollar you spent on a lottery ticket vs the dollar you spent on, say, Medieval Times, it changes everything.
4. Own the experience you live in.
I referenced going to an Atlanta Hawks game in my video. In that experience, my kids earned two free tickets by reading all summer. At the time, we could only afford the nosebleed section. But we loved it. I chose to not focus on what could have been – floor seats, sky box, meet the players, etc. – and owned the fact that even this “low” level of experience was better than sitting at home. Between the time we bought the tickets and then attended the game, we saved up some money. We were able to get the kids some cool souvenirs and that made their night. Choose to enjoy the level you can experience or wait until you get to the level you desire. I have found that by waiting and saving more money, I have achieved a better experience than if I just went at the first level I could afford. The reverse is also true. If it is time sensitive, seize the opportunity and enjoy that you are there right now on that level, because the alternative is not having any experience.
5. Experience takes planning.
I have referenced this idea a few times already so I will be brief. You can have everything you ever wanted if you plan for it. The experience at Medieval Times could have been drastically different if we simply showed up and blundered through. We would have missed many an opportunity to level up the experience by simply not looking for them. Plan your path so you can maximize your opportunity.
6. Focus on others to exponentially grow your experience.
My first thought when trying to plan a birthday experience is to leave the kids somewhere so I can spend time with my wife. When it comes to her celebrations, she usually wants to bring the kids when there is an experience to be had. I used to fight her on this, become negative when I did it her way, and basically ruin it for myself and others. This time I acquiesced gracefully and it changed everything. See, my wife gets more out of an experience by including others. Besides me, the kids are her most important “others.” Getting them knighted thrilled her more than any trinket I could have bought. Seeing them have the excitement and wonder during the show thrilled her to no end. And I have no words to describe the joy on her face when our daughter was chosen by the knight to be the Lady he fought for. By focusing on making my wife’s night the best for her, I experienced the rabbit hole like never before. (It was hard to choose between Alice in Wonderland and The Matrix, but I guessed more people would get the Alice in Wonderland reference.) It changed me.
If you are not having the similar experiences to what I am, then it is time to change something in your life. Focus on the positive of what you are doing and you will find joy, live in generosity and more will come to you, determine what experiences you desire and you will find them, own the level you live on and realize you can level up anything, plan for the experience you desire, and above all else – Help Others Be Awesome.