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Lessons We Can Learn From Rainy Days


10Aug 2008

August in the Midwest is usually the “dog days of summer” — hot, intense sun, and humid.  It is uncomfortable and physically draining.  But we have had some unusual weather this past week — cool and rainy. Three solid days of rain, in fact, in a time of year that we don’t expect it.

So, as a result, I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on rainy days, how they represent other aspects of our lives, and what we can learn from them.

We are not in control of everything. There are obviously aspects of our lives that we do not control. Weather is one. Global economic forces is another. Random events of nature and the choices that others make are two others. Rainy days can help remind us of this reality.

Learning to flex with changes in circumstances is healthy. When circumstances change in our lives, we have a choice of how to respond. We can complain, get angry and frustrated. Or we can say — “okay, what do we do now?” and develop a replacement plan.

“Rainy days” (and other circumstances) give us an opportunity to slow down and rest. Many of us live at a fast pace, even overbooked. Rainy days, canceled appointments, and other events that disrupt our schedules can “force” us to slow down. And for some reason (I think it has to do with barometric pressure) rainy days are great for taking naps. Sometimes it may be better to slow down and enjoy the interruption, rather than scurry around and try to repack your schedule.

“Saving for a rainy day” is a wise thing to do. The adage that we should “save for a rainy day” came from the time when people were largely living hand-to-mouth, getting paid for a day’s work at the end of the day. However, if it was raining, they would not be needed in the fields to work; so they would not earn any money — which was often needed for food for the following day. The same principle can occur in today’s economy. Work to be done, sales orders, accounts receivable — can all go away. And if you or your business is living close to the edge, the loss of income can put you at risk. It’s best to not spend (or even reinvest) all of your income, assuming it will always be there; rather, save some for your life’s version of a rainy day.

Use the time and space to do other things that need to be done — specifically, maintenance and clean up. I remember when growing up that rainy (or cold, icy) days were a great time to go downstairs to the basement in our “working area” (where we had tools and wood projects) and clean it up. Similarly, when we have breaks in our schedule, it can be an opportunity to do some cleaning or maintenance activities (filing, lower priority emails, reading through the pile of professional magazines on your credenza) that we usually don’t get to.

If none of these responses fit, maybe you should just go outside and play in the rain. Experience it. Enjoy it. And leave the work for another day.

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