I was having dinner with some friends the other night and it being Christmas, we had crackers. Someone at the table found a short measuring tape inside theirs and amidst the ongoing cracks (and non-crackery pffts of the failures), it had to be played with, particularly due to its shortness. Would it go round their waists, the ladies wondered, as in fact did some of the men.
At only 25 inches long, I wasn't entirely surprised when it barely reached round both sides of my torso! For me it was better emplyed for examining neck, biceps and such like, but it did provoke a discussion about what was important. In the midst of this we started to wonder about the value of a stretchy measuring tape. If we want to be a 25 inch waist, how brilliant would it be if we had a device that would unfailingly peg us to that standard, particularly in the post-Christmas expansion phase that we are about to embark on. One of my friends posted a status that said, "stomach now waiting to be filled repeatedly to well past its normal 'full' limit over the next few days" and I'm sure he's not alone in thinking like that. I very much doubt though that he will be joining the ranks of those concerned about the consequences.
I started to wonder how often we try to fool ourselves into thinking we have met the standard by simply changing the measurement to match where we have got to - stretching the tape to fit round us no matter how many mince pies it needs to girdle.
Whilst it would be great to know we will meet our targets, if we can only do it by cheating then it devalues our efforts entirely. A stretchy measuring tape might sell well to the self-deluded of our nation but I would far rather help folks to really get where they want to be.
So I trust that as you sit down over the Christmas period and recognise your achievements for the past year, both large and small, that you will do so with an air of celebration for something measurable and that you will set realistic goals for 2012. Enjoy what time you have to pause and reflect and I wish you all a very happy Christmas!
After a less successful afternoon on Monday I now appear to have finally finished my Christmas shopping. Big sigh of relief. I wrote recently about Happiness coming at Christmas, or not, (click here to read it if you've not already) and now I'm starting to feel it myself.
Now, I don't want to imply that shopping for my family and friends is something I don't want to do. On the contrary, I love giving presents and buying them is part of that enjoyment. But because I want to give the perfect gift, I become frustrated since it is never available to buy. And I'll then go from shop to shop to weigh up the available options to find the best of what is out there.
Anyway, I can relax now and wrap them, which I enjoy, and then see the smiles on people's faces as they open them (hopefully) - the hard bit is done and I can get happiness from the rest of the process.
Christmas is definitely a stressful time, more so for some than for others but hopefully there's some enjoyment, rest, relaxation and happiness to be wrung from the next week or more, as the Christian world celebrates. I wonder where will you look to find it.
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Nick has been writing for mass consumption ever since he was sending newsletters home from the Philippines 20+ years ago. He has carried on putting finger to keyboard, branching out into magazines, manuals and recently submitting lots of words for books. He has always aimed to be entertaining but at the same time challenging. If you like something, feel free to pass it on to someone else, but if you are challenged by it then even better - write a comment, start a debate, add to the fun.