The writer, speaker and life coach explains how the way we progress through the world is a little like traversing a giant menu at Life’s Diner.
Nate ’n Al’s deli has been a Beverly Hills staple for 75 years, and it’s such a cool place. I used to go about twice a week, and I would see the likes of Steven Spielberg and Larry King, who was there almost every day for breakfast. I met and ate with a lot of powerful people there, including Vidal Sassoon and Lee Iacocca. This was their go-to place, with plenty of energy and guests always stopping by each other’s tables.
During my visits, I got to know the staff, many of whom had worked there for more than 20 years. The waitresses offer everything abruptly: They ask if you want coffee right away, and, if you want a meal, they toss a couple of large menus your way.
One day, I asked a group of the waitresses, “When people are asked what they’d like to eat, are they ready?” They all laughed. “No,” they said. “They always ask us to come back, and even when we return, they’re not ready. So they end up placing a rush order, which doesn’t leave them pleased.”
I realized that, much like ordering at Nate ’n Al’s, every day we’re making selections in Life’s Diner. Sometimes we place a rush order, not understanding or considering the results, and when it isn’t to our liking, we ask ourselves, “How do I re-order my dis-order?”
When you have a really big menu in front of you, you have to take time to come to the proper conclusion. In life, most people don’t carefully study the menu in order to make a choice that is right for them. Rather, we gravitate toward what we always order. When the waitress offers the specials, we push those aside. But consider those specials: They can redirect your focus, get you out of the mundane. A special is an experience that you haven’t had, a new hue that changes your life’s palette.
I had a client who suffered from anxiety and sleep issues and who had gained 15 pounds. I offered him the special, telling him he should take time off and go see a physician. I asked him to lengthen the deadlines for his goals and not do everything so fast. He didn’t listen, gravitating instead toward the rush and the stress he always ordered. Sadly, he ended up with a physical illness and depression.
In 2020, we’ve been overwhelmed, making it all the more easy to reach for what is familiar. But in 2021, Life’s Diner may ask you to try the special— perhaps a change in career, location, or lifestyle. If we don’t take the time to pause and reflect and think about possibly making different choices, we may find ourselves in similarly challenging positions next year.
That’s the beautiful thing about Life’s Diner, though: There is a new choice to be made every day. And today’s decisions are tomorrow’s realities.