Monday, December 21, 2009

Sweating the Small Stuff

You know that book, "Don't Sweat The Small Stuff"? I first saw that book on the shelf of my then-boyfriend (now husband). When I saw it, I thought to my self, hmph. Not sweating the small stuff seemed highly unlikely for someone like me. I am a freak for details and order, how could I ever not sweat the small stuff?!

This is the kind of person I am: when someone gives me a printed out excel sheet and a line is missing, I send it back and ask them to fix it. When someone gives me a present with a bow on it and the bow is crooked, I fix the bow before taking it off and opening the present. When a colleague is erasing a pencil written sheet, I check the sheet, re-erase to make sure there is absolutely no trace of it ever being written and give it back to her. I spot mispellings of people's names in magazines. I clean a whole row of tv screens on an airplane to make sure my friends and I can watch spotless on-demand movies on our 13-hours flight (ask Boris, he'll confirm this!) I plan a minute-by-minute itinerary for all my business trips, including a scheduled bathroom break and try to squeeze in 15 minutes of shopping after lunch.

Yeah. Detail freak. Or OCD maybe - I am confused which one is more appropriate.

Anyway - not sweating the small stuff was near-impossible for me to do. Until recently, when I discovered that sometimes, letting things happen out of the norm and order is actually OK to do.

So here's the story: normally, on the last day of my trips, I would book a taxi in the morning to go to the airport. If my flight was 12, I'd book the taxi at 8 to leave at 9 and reach the airport by 10. But last week on Wednesday (my flight home was Thursday), I was coincidentally speaking to the reception and she offered to book me a taxi early. Normally, I would have said, "Oh, it's OK, I can do it in the morning." But that night, I sort of thought, well, why not?

It would have been out of the ordinary habit, and it would have meant me changing my minute-by-minute schedule the next day, but hey, why not?

So I agreed to it, and the lady booked me the cab. I went back to my room, thinking it was such a big deal that it changed my routine, but whatever.

Thursday came, and it was snowing cats and dogs outside, and the minute I got to reception, the guy on standby for the morning shift said, "You're so lucky you booked a cab last night, otherwise you would not get one. It's snowing today and taxi's do not want to take passengers when it's snowing."

I stood there with my mouth opened and my jaw nearly touching the ground ala Ally McBeal. It would have taken me forever to get a cab had I insisted on ordering one in the morning, and I would have missed my long-awaited flight home. Amazing!

Now, to some people, this might not be a big deal. To some people, this may only be making something out of nothing. But for me, it was a no bullshit kind of way to smack me in the face and tell me that life needs to take it's course sometimes, and made me realize that I can't try to plan and schedule every single thing. And sometimes, the course that is set out for us is better than what we planned.

Cutting the long story short, I'm home, I'm happy, and I'm a bit more open minded now. I can let go of some of the small stuff because my perspective has changed: (a) they don't matter that much and I shouldn't waste time and energy on them, (b) it's OK to make mistakes or miss a few things because if they work out, they work out. If it's a mistake, I can learn and move on.

The new year hasn't started yet, but I'm starting early with my resolutions. I'm not going to sweat the small stuff.

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