A reclamation project usually refers to the practice of taking a piece of land in some state of distress or disruption and returning it to a productive state. By analogy it has come to mean any kind of repair or restoration project. I know many people who have old vehicles that are reclamation projects, but for me, the ultimate reclamation project is the guy in the mirror.
You see, I want to be better. I want to grow and to be more productive. That means that I need to put in some work to get me up and running at full capacity. I’m the one person in the world that I have the ability to change and so that’s where I’m most likely to get a return on my investment.
I reflect on a regular basis on how and where I need to be “reclaimed,” what areas of my character or skill set need some work to become productive. Sometimes I find something that needs a complete overhaul, sometimes it’s just fine-tuning. But I always have room to grow.
Since reclaiming cars is a pretty big thing I’m going to use that analogy to share my most recent reflections.
I have work to do on:
The engine: Obviously without an engine the car doesn’t move. If I don’t have my heart, mind, and will lined up neither do I. I have spent a lot of time in the last couple of weeks assessing what is the most important thing to me and then making sure that is reflected in my schedule and how I spend my time. This really is just a combination of self-knowledge and courage. I know what I want, and I have to overcome the obstacles, the biggest being fear, to get it.
The cooling system: I overheat way too much. It’s rare that I totally lose my cool anymore but sometimes even when I show a calm exterior I’m steaming inside. I need to worry less about things outside of my control and not let them bother me. When I am overheated from anger, stress, worry, I don’t do anything as well as I could, not even sleep!
The steering system: I have to regularly check the steering, am I able to go where I decide I want to? When I decide to turn right, does the car (my life) respond? Sadly, not always. Sometimes I lack the discipline to follow through with changes I want to make or projects to tackle. I need to develop the discipline to come through when I decide to turn the wheel. Too often I turn the wheel and my trajectory hardly moves. It’s one thing to set a goal or make a decision, it’s another thing to make it happen.
The transmission: The transmission is all about efficiency and providing the necessary power for the task at hand. I have to know myself and my abilities to judge what it is that I need to keep moving. Am I powering though something and I need a low gear to get enough juice? Maybe I’ve got something in the works that needs to be maintained more than worked on, and I can set cruise control and keep it in 5th. Or did I make a mistake? Do I need to put it in reverse and back up? The one I really struggle with though is actually park. I don’t always give myself a break to recuperate before the next challenge arrives. Fortunately my wife is really supportive and helpful in that regard.
The air filter: Ok this one is easy on a car, not so much in real life. I need to get better at filtering all of the negative and useless input out of my life. This goes for the media I ingest, the topics of conversation I choose to indulge in, and most importantly the self-talk I allow to take place in my brain. Hard to run an engine with junk in it or a clogged filter, and it’s hard to run a successful and fulfilling life when I don’t filter the things I take in. Nothing ruins a good thing like negativity.
I’m sure I could go on but this is a pretty good list to start with. So little of life is what happens to us and so much is what we do with it. By improving myself then I improve everything about my life. That’s a pretty valuable return.