Know your friends – spend time with them

We live in a day and age in which many people do not know each other. Neighbors do not know one another very well. Adults commute to the office, work a long day, drive home, eat dinner, watch television, and then off to bed before starting another day. Some weeks it is a struggle to figure out what day of the week it is since they all seem to run together. In fact, we use sayings like hump day, Throwback Thursday, and TGIF as verbal cues to remember what day it is.

Technology keeps us connected

Modern technology has made the situation even more challenging in an unexpected way. We are connected to many others via social media, but we don’t really spend time with them. We can text, call, and FaceTime someone whenever we want, but do we really spend time getting to know them. The ability we have to connect with others is truly amazing. Nowadays you can login to Facebook or Instagram and see what all your friends are doing. You can contribute your own pictures and videos so that others get a glimpse into your world.

I upload pictures from our vacation to Facebook so others can see them.
I upload pictures from our vacation to Facebook so others can see them.

I grew up without all the technology

The world was different when I was your age. We did not have many ways to connect with our friends or endless forms of entertainment. If we wanted to touch base with friends, we would go to their house and hang out. I cannot recall how many hours I spent over at Jim Fuhs house growing up. Companies like Netflix, YouTube, Google, Amazon, Snapchat, and Spotify did not exist, so we had to come up with other ways to entertain ourselves. Lord knows, we were up to no good on a regular basis, but the fact is that we knew each other.

Be present when with friends

I am not suggesting that all the new technology is a bad thing, at all. I enjoy watching movies on Netflix like many other people. Rather, I am challenging you to spend some quality time relaxing and growing meaningful relationships with your friends and others. Stop staring at your screen and talk to people. Ask them questions so that you know what is going on in their world, and share what is going on in yours. As I have mentioned previously this area has been a struggle for me over the years, so I am making an effort do more of that nowadays. In fact, Jill and I just spent many hours with friends catching up, and it was great. I hope you do the same.

I’ll be there for you
(When the rain starts to pour)
I’ll be there for you
(Like I’ve been there before)
I’ll be there for you
(‘Cause you’re there for me too)
– Theme from Friends, a popular 90s TV show

The weather can change quickly – just like life

Wow – what a week. We went from great spring weather to a snowstorm within a matter of hours. I was on the road late Monday night, and it was miserable. Snow, rain, and ice wreaking havoc on the area. I cannot recall the last time that the weather changed so quickly. I have to admit that I was caught somewhat off guard. I knew it was going to snow but did not prepare myself for the change, unlike last year. You will recall that last year we experienced the blizzard of 2016. The storm lived up to the hype, dumping over a foot of snow.

Bad weather makes us slow down

Three life lessons come to mind when I think about how a storm affects us. First, we have to slow down. The roads are slick, and it is dangerous to drive too fast. If you do not slow down, you will end up in a ditch. The roads on Monday were rather dicey, and I was not sure I would make it home unless I took my time. In life, sometimes slowing down is the right thing to do. We tend to rush through life without paying much attention to what is going on around us. If you are not careful, you may end up in a dangerous situation.

Riley, Ruger, and Gavin in the 2009 snowstorm. It was a big one.
Riley, Ruger, and Gavin in the 2009 snowstorm. It was a big one.

We stick to the basics

Second, the storm forces us to prioritize our needs. Everyone flocks to the stores for supplies to stock up before the storm hits. Notice that we buy what we need like milk, bread, beer and toilet paper. This lesson is helpful when thinking about how to spend your money and your time. Both are limited resources. Don’t waste them on things that are not important. You will regret it.

Riley and Gavin standing on a snow pile in Reston Town Center.
Gavin and Riley standing on a snow pile in Reston Town Center.

We change our plans

Third, the storm teaches us to be flexible. Think about all the plans that had to change. Thousands of flights were canceled, stores and schools closed, and we all had to hunker down during the blizzard. Being flexible is critical because you cannot control the weather at all. You may experience a similar situation at some point in your life. It will change in ways you do not anticipate and you will need to be flexible to deal with it. Hopefully, Spring is here, and we will not have any more weather surprises…but you never know.

And you may ask yourself, “What is that beautiful house?”
And you may ask yourself, “Where does that highway go to?”
And you may ask yourself, “Am I right? Am I wrong?”
And you may tell yourself, “My God! What have I done?”
– Once in lifetime, Talking Heads

Stay in touch with your friends over the years.

Over the years I have not done the best job staying in touch with my friends, especially my buddies from high school and college. As the years go by, and your responsibilities grow, it is easy to lose contact with your friends. For some reason, we men are not good at maintaining male friendships. Like many men, I fell into this trap and did not keep strong ties with many of my friends over the years.

It is fun to catch up with old friends

I was reminded of this fact several times the past few years. Two years ago I attended my 25th college reunion at UVA. It was a fun time. I saw many college friends that I have not talked to in years. It was great to catch up with old friends. We all change and many of us dealt with similar challenges in our life. Another example – last year I was able to spend an evening with several of my good friends from high school. They are all great guys, but I did not really talk much with them at all the past twenty plus years. We were making up for lost time. Something similar happened when I attended my 30th high school reunion. Once again it was great to see everyone.

Photo from a high school social event I was able to attend.
Photo from a high school social event I was able to attend.

This past weekend I was down in Charlottesville and spent some time with one of my best college buddies – Joe. We both are busy, and it is a challenge for us to get together on a regular basis. Even though we only had a few hours together – it was great. We talked about getting more of us together later this year. I am already looking forward to that event. Reuniting with old friends is always fun.

Women are better than men by far

Studies show that women do a much better job at being friends for life. How do they do it – by spending time together. Facebook helps – I have reconnected with many old friends, but nothing replaces face to face communications. I challenge you to keep in touch with your buddies – it will pay big dividends over the years. Don’t make the mistake I made and lose touch with your friends.

Proverbs 14, verse 20: The poor man is hated even by his own neighbor, but the rich many has many friends.

Some planning will move you towards success

I have noticed that many people do not spend much time planning for the future. It seems like they are waiting for success to happen, for life to get better, for things to change. I believe that a little planning will take you far down the path of success. I am not saying that you need to plan every step of your life – that will drive you, and everyone around you crazy. Rather, it is worth investing some time in planning when it comes to fulfilling your dreams and succeeding in this world. The bigger your dreams the more planning it takes.

Making a dream reality

For example, many people dream of taking a European vacation, but few actually go. In fact, most Americans do not even have a current passport. I lived in Europe years ago and love traveling, so I set a personal goal of visiting there on a regular basis. You will remember that we spent some time brainstorming, discussing, and planning our trip to Germany and Austria two years ago, and last year’s adventure to Germany and France. We identified the places we wanted to see, the resources to pay for it, and made our reservations in advance. Every minute was not set in stone, but we had a general agenda for every day. All that planning paid off – we had two great trips. The pictures prove it. The video below is about the plan we used for our Germany Summer vacation in 2015.

Now we are figuring out the details of this summer vacation. I challenge you to do some planning for your future. It will be worth it.

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
– Antoine de Saint-Exupéry