Life’s Little Instructions

One thing I am not is a quotes guy. As I have explained extensively, I find quotes both overused and corny. I am not one to recite them, write them down, or share them over social media. However, I do have one exception when it comes to quotes. For seven years, I have had a desk page-a-day calendar based on the famous “Life’s Little Instructions”.

Before I dive into story time, let me educate those out there who are not familiar with “Life’s Little Instructions”. Basically, the concept of “Life’s Little Instructions” is to educate a person in one or two sentences about the lighter aspects of life. Some of the instructions are helpful, some are funny, some are witty, and some are just downright stupid. To illustrate what these instructions are like, check out the entries from the past five days: Politeness is called for even when you dislike someone (3-6) / Don’t go looking for trouble; it will soon find you (3-5) / Give people a second chance, never a third (3-4) / Laugh more. Frown less (3-2 and 3-3) / Don’t finish other people’s sentences (3-1) . Get the idea? Okay, let’s move on.

This is an example of what a daily instruction looks like.

This is an example of what a daily instruction looks like.

Every year for Christmas for as long as I can remember, my mom would always buy the three of us kids a page-a-day calendar. For me, themes ranged from this day in sports to bible verses to Jeopardy trivia. But that one Christmas seven years ago my mom decided to try something a little different and got me the “Life’s Little Instructions” calendar. As a freshman in college, the little bits of advice helped to keep me in line while also giving me a laugh. Each morning, like never before with my previous calendars, I looked forward to ripping the previous day off to see what the new instruction on the new day said. I enjoyed these instructions so much that as the next Christmas came around, I asked my mom to get me the same themed calendar.

The evolving then started to begin. When I got my second “Life’s Little Instructions” calendar six years ago, I decided that I wanted to share the daily wisdom. Because texting had just started to pick up steam, I used that avenue to spread the advice. Because she bought me the calendar, because I knew she would appreciate the little sayings, and because it was a great way to communicate with her on a daily basis, I started to text my mom the daily “Life’s Little Instructions” tidbit each morning. Although it started out a little rough namely because my mom did not truly understand text messaging and because the texts arrived at 4:30 a.m. for her (during my college years I would get up to work out at 5:30 a.m. and in Montana we are one hour ahead of Washington State), she quickly started to enjoy them. Not only were the instructions good, but it also let her know that her son was okay and up and ready for the day. Presently, my mom is still the first one to get my “Life’s Little Instructions” piece of advice each morning.

It is me with my very special calendar!

It is me with my very special calendar!

Seven years ago I started to get the “LLI” calendar, six years ago I started texting them to my mom, and then five years ago another development occurred…I got a Twitter account! Even with my disdain for sharing quotes on social media, I went ahead and started tweeting out the little instructions each day. I did this because the quotes are really not quotes in the first place…they are instructions. I simply just put quotation marks around the advice to let my followers know they are not my own words. Secondly, I wanted to do something that kind of gave my Twitter account its own special twist. Just like how I sign off each night with “Don’t Blink”, sharing the daily “LLI” gave my account more personality. Thirdly, I just wanted to tweet them because many of them are actually useful while others provide a good laugh. So, it just seemed right to start that little tradition and five years later it is still going strong.

The sharing of my page-a-day calendar has branched off once more since Twitter. Fifteen months ago I got an Instagram account. Knowing I needed to do something to make me constantly update my account, I decided to take a picture of my calendar each day. After I text my mom the daily advice and after I tweet it out, I Instagram it. I take a picture of the specific date, apply the “rise” filter to it, caption it with “Life’s Little Instruction for (month, day)”, and then upload it. I never realized how many people would actually enjoy the Instagram version of “Life’s Little Instructions”.

While my mom responds to about 30% of the “LLI” texts I send her and while I will occasionally get a reply or a retweet when I tweet out the instruction, nothing compares to the response I get from sharing it on Instagram. In particular, nothing compares to the response I get from females about them.

Each day on Instagram I can always count on several “likes” and at least a couple comments on the advice for that particular date (mostly all from women). I have had girls text me and ask “Where do you get those pictures of advice from? They are so cute. Do you know where I can get my own?” Today a friend of mine messaged me and she asked if I could picture message the advice I shared on Instagram earlier this morning. About a few times each week, someone will come up to me and say that they look forward to checking Instagram each morning to see what the instruction will say for that day. If it is a weekend and somehow I forget to upload the day’s instruction right away, people will check in with me to make sure I am okay…and then tell me to get it up ASAP.

Where my calendar sits in my room.

Where my calendar sits in my room.

So what does it say about me that I like something just as much as a bunch of females? Well, I rather not think about that. Instead, I just find it cool that I have started a little tradition that a lot of people enjoy and even depend on. A calendar that my mom purchases for me each year for about $10 yields a much higher return on investment than I could ever calculate. Thank you for sharing with me “Life’s Little Instructions” each morning. Keep the reaction coming! Don’t Blink.

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