Don’t Scrimp on the Small Stuff

Don't Scrimp on the Small StuffWhile we’ve all heard the expression “don’t sweat the small stuff,” I recently had an experience that reminded me that it doesn’t pay to scrimp on the small stuff…whatever that small stuff may be in your life. The lesson came in an unlikely place, my kitchen. But the pain it caused was memorable enough to make me act to correct the situation almost immediately, and it got me thinking...

Here’s what happened: I was baking a pie. When I went to check for doneness, I used an old pot holder to remove the baking sheet the pie was on. Apparently the pot holder had lost its insulation and I practically threw the baking sheet, pie and all, on the stove top to keep from dropping it on the floor. Even so, the damage was done. I had burned the ends of three fingers on my right hand. Not only did it hurt, it compromised my ability to use that hand for the next couple of days, relatively minor, but still awfully inconvenient.

A day later, I threw out all of the old pot holders and turned most of my kitchen towels and other linens into rags (actually they already were, but I just hadn’t noticed until the pot holder incident brought them to my attention).

Of course this story isn’t about pie or pot holders. It’s about all the ways we cheat ourselves by scrimping on the basics in our lives and businesses. It’s about the story we tell ourselves about “little things” not being important. It’s about the misguided notion that we have to wait for some future date to gives ourselves the best we can afford. What are the old pot holders in your life or business? What are the things you use everyday that have deteriorated in attractiveness or functionality? What little things are you tolerating that would require a small investment to upgrade or replace but that would make a big difference in either your efficiency or appreciation of everyday?

I’m not talking extravagence here. I’m talking about paying attention to little things that make everyday more pleasant, even special, and possibly even safer. The pot holder incident could have been more painful or dangerous. Is there something you’ve ignored that might be compromising your health or well being?

Whether it’s new pot holders, windshield wipers for your car or upgraded virus protection for your computer, take a look around this week. Make a list of all the little things it’s time to upgrade or replace. Then start doing something about it before you burn your fingers, have the computer crash or simply because it will bring a little more joy or beauty into your everyday life. For a wonderful guide to transforming the everyday into the extraordinary, I recommend Alexandra Stoddard’s “Living a Beautiful Life.” Make this the year you decide to stop scrimping on the basics and start treating yourself as if you matter. Because, my friend, you do.