Every industry encounters trends and changes that require understanding and thus, adaptation in order to stay current and relevant to its market. Awareness of technology, customer attitude, and economic health are three factors to which I pay close attention as I seek to grow and sustain my business over the long term.

My industry certainly has its ups and down, but one thing that settles me and makes me glad is that at least you aren’t able to download a meal, nor does it appear that you will be anytime soon. The need for food is still a fundamental human requirement and there is no substitute for drawing together around a table to share conversation over simple food and drink.

It struck me the other day at how much change our current society must undergo just to stay conversant in the modern language of business and social interaction. The amount of irrelevant tasks and knowledge you and I have discarded would not be comprehended by a person living a hundred years ago.

I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, or if it’s just a thing, because I don’t imagine it will slow down anytime soon. But this constant reinvention of how I will carry out my daily life seems on the one hand unsustainable, and quite possibly, unfruitful. Consider these introductions and retirements of the recent past:

Landline/cell phone/smart phone – I remember getting my first cell phone about 13 years ago. It was huge, but novel at the time. It took me forever to master T9, and now that skill is irrelevant. When it dawned on us that every person in our household had a phone, we finally cancelled our landline service. We don’t even miss it or ever find ourselves needing it.

Facebook/Twitter – These are such recent phenomenons that even my tech savvy kids can tell me about the lame olden days before Facebook. The most common question I hear from people who don’t have an account with these two services is “Do I really need it?” I’ll address that below.

Online commerce – I seldom write checks anymore, nor send any kind of bill payment in the mail. It’s all done online. I make purchases weekly for supplies for my kitchen, for spice orders, for equipment parts, etc.

Texting – Are you like me and find yourself texting someone first to see if you can call them? Texting has changed the simple practice of talking on the phone.

Change is something every generation must address, Folks had to adapt to the motorcar when they probably thought the horse and buggy worked just fine. It just so happens that our generation is facing an overabundance of these same kinds of demands. The general rule I keep in mind is this: will I let these rule me or will I allow them to serve me?

I regularly take inventory here in this last month of the year as I look back over the goals I set for myself and my business. I see what I accomplished and what didn’t get done. And this year I include in this account an assessment of the invasiveness of technology. Where do I need to cordon off a boundary so that technology doesn’t creep past, like varmints into the henhouse? Here are a few technological boundaries I have set:

1. I refuse to do email on my phone. It does not need to have that kind of access to my immediate attention. The phone keeps me in contact, esp. in emergencies, like yesterday morning when my daughter called and said she was stuck on the ice. In this way, the phone serves me, not vice versa

2. Facebook – Do you need one or not? Again, ask the question, “Does it serve you, or are you its slave?” Karen had an account for a short time but eventually felt an obligation to it. When I reminded her it was OK to cancel it, and that life would return to normal, she was amazed at how quickly a person can get drawn into something so trivial.

3. Creating quiet space. How instinctive has it become to get in the car and turn on the radio out of habit rather than wanting to listen to a particular program or music? Or to turn on the TV or CD player at home to fill the silence? I am seeking more quiet space. I enjoy writing when it’s quiet. In this way, I can hear more.

No Trespassing