One of my favorite places growing up was my Grandma’s kitchen. It was an old house with a big pantry full of goodies. It is where I learned the importance of checking the expiration date. I was hungry and dove in to a box of crackers that was left over from a previous party. After my second cracker, I noticed the bugs and couldn’t spit them out fast enough. It was a shock and a great lesson.
Several years later…I found the same thing at my parent’s house. It taught me to look for the expiration date in my own house at the beginning of each season.
Funny how we can learn the importance of expiration dates in one part of our lives but neglect to translate it to others. Things expire there too, don’t they? Think about it. Elementary school, Middle School, High School, College, Graduate School, your first job. They all have an expiration – an end.
I think the hard part is that some endings come with a clear expectation about when. We know what to expect. And sometimes we even plan for it with big fan fare. Others don’t, so the ending surprises us. We feel the sense of loss more deeply and more personally.
So why don’t we think more intentionally about the ending. After all it is inevitable. Not that we can “plan” for every ending but we can expect that it will not last forever. And we can learn to recognize the signs of change, check in with our goals to see if it is time to move on, or we can recognize that the situation will not change so our relationship with it needs to end.
Maybe we should ask at the beginning, when will this expire or maybe under what conditions will this expire? It would help us bring clarity to what we expect and maybe more importantly why we are doing it. The clarity will make it easier to see the signs that tell us the end is near and make it harder for us to build a different reality that only exists in our mind.
This new “discipline” is hard but I think it is worth the effort. By declaring the expiration date at the beginning, it will ensure my “why” and for “what reason” are clear and create the urgency to do my best work.
And isn’t that what leading your life is all about? I look forward to hearing how you take your first steps in practicing your courage to be intentional about looking for the expiration dates in life.