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How to make a good thing last (longer)

"How to Make a Good Thing Last Longer" by Amy Eliza Wong, Executive Coach and Keynote Speaker

This blog post is dedicated to all you “planners” out there, to all you individuals that are incredibly timely, and to those of you who fill up your schedule with lots of things to look forward to.

My amazing husband, Arnold, surprised me with a three-night trip to Vegas last week for our eight-year wedding anniversary. He told me nothing other than that we’d be there for three nights. He didn’t tell me where we were staying, what we’d be doing, where we’d be eating, and better yet, who among our best friends would be coming out to celebrate with us. The four days unfolded magically and it was truly incredible – three full nights without kids and only amazing surprise after surprise to be revealed. Not only was it really a dream come true, but I had a revelation on this trip: my neuroses with time and my tendency to anticipate completely keep me from making a good thing last.

You see, I tend to be known for my timeliness. I’m a bit neurotic when it comes to being on time. (So much so that I was named, “on-time” at burning man. Sexy, I know. :/ ) Being so time-obsessed produces a fair amount of anxiety. It’s something I’m quite aware of and though I’ve made some headway on not being so time-bound, it’s still a reality for me. Yet, it does serve me. I always intend to be on time and if I’m not, I make sure those on the other end know well in advance if I won’t be – a plus for all involved. However, for those times that I can’t do either I’m riddled with mindless panic and it’s quite a miserable experience. I could argue that this isn’t too much of a problem since being on-time is desirable. But as a mom of two kids and trying to manage three, sometimes four, schedules, I’m sadly not the only one that experiences my anxiety – EVERYONE gets a good dose of it.

I mention this because my revelation hit me while in Vegas when I recognized that my time there seemed to be drawn out, in the best possible way, and I can still recall every single second of it. (Seriously, I could tell you what third dish came out and what we thought of it at Joel Robuchon. Not always an easy task especially when cocktails are flowing.) It occurred to me that because I did not know the four days itinerary and had no clue as to what would be happening next, I was entirely and completely present.

Surprise, surprise: the secret to making a good thing last, truly last, in experience and memory is…
(drum roll please)


Because I wasn’t worried about being late and because the anticipation was not within my experience, I was forced to be consumed in the present. It was fantastic.

It’s a blessing in so many ways that Arnold is not so time-bound because he definitely enjoyed himself while also being mindful of the schedule of events. I recognize that this is an exceptional experience and I was very lucky last week: us adults don’t often get the luxury of having everything planned out so spectacularly and not have to spend one minute of our energy calling the shots. (See my last blog post on the effects this causes.) But I’m truly grateful, not just for this incredibly meaningful getaway he arranged, but for the realization that it’s my preoccupation with being timely AND with the fun anticipation of what’s next that keep me from immersing myself in the present. While it pays to drop my tendency to be irrationally on time and release my need to worry about the state of waiting that might be true for those on the other end, it also pays to release my anticipation about “what’s next.”

Dropping the anticipation will come with a cost though… there is so much joy in anticipation! Do you remember how amazing it felt waiting for winter holiday during early December? Or how fun it can be to wait through that period of time between booking your airline tickets and the first day of vacation? Joyous anticipation is great fun, BUT, it can rob you of full engagement in the present. I now know first hand of the lasting joy that results when there is no focus on the next moment, next event, next planned activity, or even thinking about what to plan next. Seriously, to sit at a bar and sip a cocktail together and not wonder ONCE what time it was because there was no where I needed to be… priceless.

If this makes sense to you and you’re willing to test it out, here’s how to make a good thing last in experience and memory:

  1. Don’t rush, don’t obsess about being on-time, and stop worrying so much about what’s waiting for you on the other end
  2. Continue to make plans and fill your calendar with lovely things to look forward to, BUT don’t let the anticipation steal your focus from the now moment… especially when this now moment is most likely something you planned some time ago that you’ve been feeling anticipation for. Stop rehashing the past. Stop rehearsing the future. Get present, savor the moment.

It’s a tricky dance, maybe even an art form, to balance planning, timeliness, anticipation, and presence. I don’t want to drop any of these from my focus but after last week my eyes have been opened to a new level of magic in living fully in-this-moment-now as a result of not living for the next moment (because I didn’t know what it was). Like I said, I admit that this was a pretty extreme (and fabulously indulgent) experience. But with my time-bound nature, it took something this incredible to wake me to the realization that I’m (more than I care to admit) looking forward to the next moment while in the current one.

So for all of you parents, friends, spouses, and lovers out there who want to make a good thing last, try dropping the attention and anticipation for the next thing from your awareness and see how alive your good thing really is.

Do you agree? Could you let go of the need to be ridiculously on-time (if that’s your thing)? Could you drop your anticipation for the next event so you could fully live in the moment? Give me your thoughts. Tell me how YOU make a good thing last. Share with a friend whom you know can relate. 🙂

Amy Eliza Wong is a life coach, writer, and speaker in the Sacramento, CA area committed to helping people figure out what makes them tick so they can finally live with joy and real purpose. Learn more about working with her.