Very soon, this decade comes to an end. The average person only experiences about seven or eight decades in their lifetime. Not that we should wait for the end of a decade to take stock, but it does mark the passage of time and tends to remind us that the clock is ticking. It’s good to look at where we are, what we’ve done, and where we’re going. Are we headed in the right direction?
“An unexamined life is not worth living” Socrates
If you’re twenty and reading this blog, a decade seems HUGE. If you’re fifty and reading this blog, a decade doesn’t seem quite as large. However you view a decade, odds are your life has changed a lot in the last ten years. Are you where you thought you would be? Or is it time to make some changes? If you’re stuck, you’re not alone. Maybe you’re stuck in a job you hate, stuck being overweight or out of shape, stuck in a lukewarm faith. It might be time to take a long look at what you’re doing, make some changes, and move in a better direction. Small decisions can have a massive impact over time.
I recently saw a tag-line for an exercise clothing company that kind of set me back; I had to mill it around and let it stew for a few days. When was the last time a marketing tag line did that? The line was, “Nothing changes if nothing changes.” This is deeper than it seems at first glance. It kind of goes back to the idea of, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Unless we change what we’re doing, nothing is ever going to change. If you’re exactly where you should be, great, you’re the only perfect person. The rest of us have a long way to go.
Here are a few points to consider if you do need to mix things up:
Examine your friends. Nothing has a more significant impact on us than with whom we spend time. We become the five people we are closest to in our life. Are the people in your life negative, toxic, and making bad life choices? Or are your friends people of substance who are moving in the right direction? You WILL become like them, good or bad. Choose your friends wisely.
Get on a plane. Almost nothing changes us like travel. Go somewhere, anywhere, and see the world from a new angle, a new perspective, and a new heart. It’s one thing to know there are other cultures and attitudes. It’s very different to dine with someone in Africa, Cuba, or China and listen to them at a deep level. It will change the filter you use to see the world and everyone living around you.
Watch, listen, and read something different. Turn off the 24-hour cable news (please), or at least mix it up. Watch the “other” side for a while. Visit a different website, take a break from social media. Read a book entirely out of your norm. (This year, I read some Steinbeck, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, and On Writing by Stephen King, among many other books. It’s good to mix things up.)
Lose toxic issues in your life. Many people have their secret sins. Maybe you like craft beer a little too much, perhaps porn is a poisonous issue in your life. Do you have someone for whom you’re holding real hatred or unforgiveness? It’s time to stop. Pray hard, talk to a trusted friend, and get help if you have to. Work on that one issue that came to mind when you started reading this paragraph.
Quit your job. “What? I need my job!” I’m not saying you don’t work somewhere, but are you dreading each Monday? Have you lost passion for what you do, and you’re now just going through the motions? I know many people work at jobs they hate and believe they have no choice, but there might be options. I know SO many men in their 40s and 50s who feel trapped. The ones who’ve taken a huge leap of faith and started over are the ones who are the happiest. You can’t steal 2nd base if you’re afraid to leave 1st. I walked away from a successful business when I was thirty, and it was one of the best things I ever did. I’m currently in the middle of career transition again, and I’ve found joy again. Take a chance.
Find a way to help someone at a profound level. A talk show host on an LA radio station I listen to casually mentioned a while back that he was on dialysis. Last week a person he’d never met stepped up and donated a kidney to him. I’m not suggesting you give up a body part, but what can you do to make a profound difference in someone’s life? Give someone a used car, maybe leave a ridiculously massive tip for your regular waitress, be creative. No one ever became poor by helping others, and it will enrich your life more than you can know.
During all the holiday craziness, take a breath. Spend some time examining your life and where you’re going. It’s a gift you can give yourself that is well worth the effort.
Please share on Facebook or wherever you hang out online, it helps more than you might know. Thanks.