New Beginnings- How a Small Diner Gave Me the Best Advice of the Year

I'm not always accused of being a good listener but every once in a while I accident myself into catching words of wisdom, usually from someone not known for spouting such, and when I do, I'm transfixed. In 2018 my favorite quote came from the owner of Regency Cafe in London, a place that is a wonderwerk unto itself. Small, always queued out the door, always good food, and always a seat suddenly available once you've ordered, it's a model of efficiency. It's also home to my favorite philosopher Marco who, with his wife Claudia, know how to belt out “Full English, beans, no mushrooms!” as passionately as Pavarotti's Nessun Dorma. My friend was in line before me and tried to order just such a multi-component meal deal but there were a few items she didn't care for so she began ticking through the “but without's.” I agreed, it was getting complicated. Marco had the response ready,

“Don't tell me what you don't want, tell me what you DO want. It's much easier that way.”

I stared at him, dumbstruck. My God, he's right. Stop talking about what you don't want and start talking about what you do want. And it suddenly broke down in front of me, thusly...

When you talk about what you don't want, you create an empty space waiting to be filled

That's a real problem if you don't have a plan to fill it with things you do want. The space WILL get filled somehow, that's how it works. But if you haven't chosen HOW to fill it, then you will have little control over how it gets filled. That's a bad trade and will eventually end up being a worse trade.


When you talk about what you don't want you only resist the bad things of life

Life isn't avoidance, though I've watched plenty of people work hard at it. My stepfather, unqualified to offer any advice on any subject no matter how simplistic, sees mistakes as a weakness to be pounced upon; he's never made one. It's difficult to make a mistake when you only avoid. First, that's been his biggest mistake- he's never tried anything, so his life and his legacy are just blank sheets of paper, which makes his eulogy easy, to be fair. I have said for years that I fail more than anyone I know, because I try more than anyone I know. So just saying what you don't want takes all the action verbs out of your life and leaves you only with passive statements. You get a blank sheet; someone else will be happy to fill that out for you.

When you shift to talk about what you DO want, you talk about filling your life

There's a statement of purpose in saying, “I want X,” or “I want to do X,” or “I'm going to conquer X.” Nothing flouncy or weak in stating that you want something. Think it's too much to wish for? Why? Small dreams produce small realities. Go big; if you don't exactly hit the mark, you'll surely at least hit the tree.


When you talk about what you DO want you provide a direction

A statement of intent is a signpost directing you to an end goal. “I want X,” points specifically toward an objective. You may not know the route yet, but you know the destination and that's an excellent start toward steering your life toward fulfillment.


When you talk about what you DO want, you'll find a way to eliminate what you don't

We had a dream to travel the world. People have often said, “Wow, you're so lucky to be able to do that.” Hey, we do feel quite fortunate but this all started by stating firmly what we wanted. And in stating that, we had to give up some things, finances had to change, purchases had to be scrutinized...we had to go through a process of cutting off the things that didn't matter to get to what did. The whole system weeded and fed itself when we firmly stated what we wanted and what we were willing to do to achieve it. The rest was easy.

That crazy Marco, he nailed it. Shift the conversation in your head. Shut up about what you don't want. You're solving nothing. State plainly to yourself what you DO want. You'll find the route if you stay focused on the destination. What you don't want will naturally melt away as waste products when you fill your thoughts and your life with what you do want. Like he said, It's much easier that way.

Also, I recommend the steak and ale pie...