“Long intros are cool because there’s a little bit of anticipation, you know?”~ Miranda Lambert
When I was in sales the boss would often ask us at any given time what we had “in the hopper”. This was his way of asking what deals were we in the middle of, and when did we expect them to come to a (hopefully profitable) conclusion?
I always liked this phrase a lot; but never for the reasons it was being asked. Because whether it’s selling food, paper products or used cars, “sales” is an unscrupulous, fickle and cutthroat business – no ifs, ands or buts about it – and to be honest this situation was no different, and unpleasant at the best of times.
And it’s because of these not-so-fond memories I’ve never really felt comfortable with this interpretation of what having something “In the hopper” means… I mean seriously, under such circumstances who would?
The good news is that I found this same saying to be extremely useful in a personal sense, and use it frequently to this day – something which I’ll explain in a second. But first let’s answer the question on everyone’s mind:
“What the hell is a hopper?!”
The dictionary offers two predominant definitions: First is being someone or something that hops; as in an over-caffeinated pogo stick enthusiast or a extremely randy jackrabbit during springtime – which is not the definition we want.
The second is a container used for pouring material into a machine or opening – think of a silo that first stores, then releases grain when the time is right – used in processing.
Now THIS is the definition we want! Woo Hoo!
On it’s own this is still a bit of a shaky metaphor; so allow me to explain how I use the phrase “In the hopper” to both visualize my goals, and then motivate me to achieve them.
When grain sits in a silo, we know that at sometime down the road it will be moved along the pipe before eventually spilling out into an opening where it will goes into production; in other words, while the grain may be secured, it’s dormant for the time being with a crystal clear plan for it in the future.
Now switch the word “grain” for “goals, events or activities”…
When we have things to look forward to like exciting goals, events or activities that are a few months off, we say that they are “in the hopper”; as in they are sitting there but won’t be fully active until later on. Here’s why this is important for us:
We all know that at times, day-to-day living can be mundane, right? We have work tasks to do, family commitments to attend, dentist appointments, etc.
We need to go grocery shopping for tonight’s dinner, pick up the dry cleaning after work and take kids to soccer practice Tuesdays and Thursdays – you know the drill.
And with all this routine stuff going on, it’s easy to see why anyone can get caught up in the funk of it all! One day can easily blur into the next, and the next, and the next until life just seems like one long thread of frantic, busyness strung together by a few comatose hours of sleep.
Inertia sets in, and we feel frustrated and anxious at the familiarity of it all; which is This is when having something “in the hopper” is a huge help.
For instance, as I write this post I’m also writing a book. I’m approximately two-thirds my way through my end goal of the finished manuscript, and once I’m done, it’s onto the editing and publishing pieces.
When I think about it now, along with everything else I have to do each day, I have to say that it’s all pretty overwhelming project! So how do I stay motivated to keep pushing through and write each day?
Simple! It’s because I have good stuff in my hopper to look forward to. For example:
I know that in two weeks I’m going to see a speaker I’ve wanted to see for years. I know in January I’m going to Seattle to spend time with friends. I know that come springtime I’ll be going on a trip to either Africa or South America; and that come next July I’m going to Portland to see all my friends at the World Domination Summit.
Do you know how I know that all these things are in the hopper? It’s because I’ve made firm, tangible commitments to achieving each one of them. Here’s what I mean:
• I met with the organizer of the event, and will be volunteering my time so as to be able to both see, and meet the speaker I’ve always wanted to see
• I’ve arranged with my Seattle friends to visit, and reserved a ferry ticket already
• I’ve saved the air miles needed to fly to these countries, and am now deciding which destination will be the winner
• I bought my ticket for WDS last July, and have already booked accommodations
Having exciting goals, events and activities in our hopper gives us two things: First and most obvious is that as we trudge through our daily chores and obligations, it gives us exciting things to look forward to.
But almost more importantly, having things in the hopper gives us inspiration. It gives us motivation. It gives us a sense of working towards achieving something extra out of life, usually being something we really enjoy, and a sense of pride when we do accomplish it.
And that’s why it’s always good to have things in our hopper at all times; to help us move towards living the lives we want to live, by always having something to work towards. Typical “In The Hopper” activities might include (but are not limited to):
• Holidays and/or Vacations
• Live Concerts or Events
• Conferences or Conventions
• Classes or Workshops
• Seminars or Courses
• Live Sporting Events
• Live Plays or Performances
The list goes on and on! And most likely what will be in your hopper will most likely be far different from mine, and so it should be! Because individual hoppers need to be filled with the personal interests and enjoyments of the people who are doing the filling.
So the trick is not whether someone choses to put a live hockey game or a classical piano recital into their hopper, but rather that they keep a few interesting and exiting things in their hopper at all times, and solidify their commitment to them by laying down some hard, cold (preferably non-refundable) cash.
Because as Miranda Lambert noted, having to wait for cool things we want creates anticipation; and that helps us working towards the moment we can actually have them.
Besides, if we don’t take the action to secure things in our hopper, then the things we say we want to have, do and experience are nothing more than a bunch of unfulfilled wishes; and we can’t have that now, can we?
So what are you waiting for? Get moving and stuff your hopper!
PLAN OF ACTION
• Look for opportunities to put things in your hopper
• Make the commitment by laying down some serious green
• Set up the countdown until you achieve the goal