Reasons to say yes

Like a lot of folks, the election at the beginning of the month have left me…okay, look, I have opinions that are perhaps best left for a venue where I am clearly speaking only for myself and my not-at-all coherent thoughts and the swearing involved in expressing them will reflect only on me. That said, I think it’s safe to say here that I was, and am, extremely disappointed by the results, and concerned about how many human beings will be affected over the next few years.

Another thing that came up for me, in particular, is an awareness that I do a lot of talking about doing good things, and less actual doing of those things. An example: Some years ago, I had this idea to get a group of people together to do what I’d call a donation club. The idea, simply put, was that I’d find 11 other people, and we would each contribute a set amount of money to a common fund on a monthly basis. Then once a month, one of us would be able to decide how that money would be contributed to a worthy organization. So we’d each get a chance to choose, once a year, how to direct the month’s donation.

The idea didn’t quite get off the ground at the time, in part because I ran into logistical challenges, but mostly because I was wedded to the specifics of the form and when I found fewer than 11 other people who were into doing it, I wound up dropping it.

I decided, on November 9th, to give it another shot, and this time I was committed. Even if it was just 5 of us, I would get this thing done. If we could get 10 people, even better. With that hope in mind, I posted an invitation to my friends on Facebook, and waited to see if anyone would bite.

For the record, the group includes 29 people now, which is (as you have likely noted) more than 5 or 10. Or, indeed, the 12 that I thought was the maximum that the idea could easily support. This brought up a series of OTHER questions and roadblocks, including but by no means limited to…

  1. What if someone chooses a cause that another person in the group can’t support? That’s going to be really hard to address in the moment. Maybe it would be best to skip it.
  2. With that many people, doesn’t that mean that someone could go 29 months without directing the contribution? That seems unfair, especially if folks drop out over time. Maybe it would be easier just to drop the idea.
  3. How often should financial statements be posted to the group? Oof. That means making copies of a bank statement, redacting personal information and posting it to the group. That’s a pain…maybe this isn’t worth doing.
  4. How will I handle tracking down people who haven’t made their contributions for the month? Those would be really awkward conversations, especially with a group this large. You know, this is sounding like more work than it’s really worth.
  5. The group needs a name. Maybe I should hold off until we come up with a good name, and then try it again (yes, seriously, that is a thing that I thought).

There’s a not-particularly-subtle pattern there, which is that I find it EXTREMELY EASY to talk myself into dropping an idea once it seems like it might actually come to fruition. Or, to put it more bluntly, when something looks like it might require work, I’m generally looking for a reason to say that it’s not worth doing.

I’m pleased to report that in this case, at least, I’ve stepped away from that pattern. The group (even with its tragic lack of a name) has been set up, too-long instructions about logistics and schedules have been sent, and contributions are being made. I’m excited to see what happens over the next year – not just for the donations that we’ll be making, but for the opportunity to hear from the other group members what causes and organizations are important to them. I don’t know nearly enough about the good work being done in the world, and this will give me a chance to learn.

I’m also excited to be looking for reasons to say yes, rather than reasons to say no. That feels like an important shift both personally and globally, and I intend to both see and manifest more of that particular magic in the world around me.

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