Commitment?

I wish I could have more time and money. I wish that I could travel more. I wish I liked my job. I wish life wasn’t so hard. I wish that I could have x, y, or z. Wishing will never get you anywhere, and your life is a picture of what you are committed to the most deeply.

 

So what does this look like, and if it’s true, then how committed should you be to getting the things you say you wish you could have? This is a big topic. Let’s try to break things down a little and deal with one piece at a time.

What does it mean that “Your life is a picture of what you are committed to?” It means that you are responsible for what your life looks like. If you don’t like your job, you have a couple of choices. You can change your attitude, or you can get a new job. If you don’t do one of these things, then you show that you are committed to being unhappy at work. If the job you have just doesn’t pay the bills, again you have choices. You can get another job, or you can find a way to get paid more where you are through more hours or getting more per hour, etc. If you don’t do one of these things, ultimately you are committed to being broke. If you are overweight, you can change your eating habits, and exercise (this works outside of absolutely obscure medical conditions) to get healthier. If you don’t do this and instead are just jealous, or insecure, you are committed to being overweight and unhappy. Bottom line, to change your results, you have to admit that your current results are your responsibility and a matter of your own choices and commitments.

I’m not trying to beat you down or discourage you if you’ve made some bad choices in the past. We all have. But to someone who is committed to growth, it’s empowering to realize that we’re the ones responsible for the results in our life – because when we realize that, we then have the ability to change the person in the mirror!

So if you are trying to change your circumstances, how far should you go? To what level should you be committed? Obviously, bank robbery is not a good option for changing your financial situation, and cutting off the fat with a knife, while taking a lot of willpower, would not be the best option for healthy weight loss. Trying to start up a new business and putting so much into it that you cannot feed your family would be wrong and selfish.

But what about the simple idea of hard work? The idea that when you are trying to change something for the better it will require effort? It’s okay to run into a road block or two, or three, or four, and keep pushing through. To realize that to accomplish things that are worthwhile you have to put skin in the game. If you want to start a business, create a new habit, get out of a toxic situation, then you can’t give up when it gets tough. Seek God’s guidance. Pray. Look at what you are doing. Ask questions. Often people think that if they encounter resistance it’s automatically a sign that they are going the wrong way.

So how do you know the difference between resistance and a sign of being in the wrong place? Asking the following questions should help.

Does what I am pursuing agree with my values?

Is what I am pursuing morally wrong?

Does my continuing in this direction cause harm to others?

Will achieving my goal result in my life, or someone else’s being improved?

Would I be willing to stop if a harmful, or wrong condition arose?

Asking these questions can help you determine whether or not you are really going the wrong way, or if you are going the right way and doing the right thing is hard sometimes. What you are putting effort into needs to line up with God, with your values, it needs to make you or someone else better, and it needs to be constructive. As long as it is meeting these criteria, then by all means continue, and learn from the struggle. Grow through the pains

As I wrap up, the answer here is that, as you are pursuing change, new directions, looking to start something better for life, remember that how far you go is something only you can answer. Consider advice from trusted people. But don’t give up easily because others get jealous and ridicule, or because it requires more effort than you originally thought. Being healthy requires discipline in eating habits. Getting strong requires hard work in the gym. Being a Christian who knows God requires study even when you don’t want to, or people say you are wrong.

Don’t ever give up on being better and keep asking questions! Don’t work blindly. Do work with purpose. Be committed to life!

 

Are you not sure what direction to go? Do you want to be committed to something, but don’t know what that looks like? Are you willing to commit to being better every day? If any of these sound like you, then take the first step toward learning, growing, and being better by taking my FREE course here!

Do You Know Why You Get up in the Morning?

Why do you live life? What drives you? Do you live just trying to make it to tomorrow? Do you live only thinking that if you make it to tomorrow maybe life will be better? Do you live in the past thinking that best has already come and gone and now life is misery until it ends?

These are questions that I think we have to ask ourselves if we ever intend to make real change in our lives, or have any real joy. Think about it. When someone becomes a Christian their focus changes to living a life of obedience to Christ and a hope of eternal life. When a great athlete such as Lou Gehrig, or recently Tom Brady, plays, they are playing from passion, either for the game, or for someone they care about. It drives them. When someone starts a new small business they put in a lot of effort and really pour their energy into it. If you were to talk to these people right after change took place, or while they were getting started, or while they were working hard at being the best, I would bet that you would see someone who gets up in the morning learning from the past to shape the future.

I have worked with hundreds of young people over the last few years, and want to share two examples. There is a young man I know of 28 who does not have plans for the future. When he comes to work, his life consists of trying to make enough money to pay bills. He is working for tips. This leads to stress and a great deal of job dissatisfaction that comes out almost daily. He gets upset about how much people underneath him make. He gets upset about how much other positions in his workplace make. He complains about the hours. And yet, he is not actively looking to change his position by leaving his current job and getting a different one that is a better fit, pays more, or just “appreciates him more,” like he claims to want. Why? Because he has trapped himself. He has a four year degree, workplace experience, and a great mind. But he won’t think bigger picture.

On the other end of the spectrum is a young man working at the same place, same pay, same workplace responsibilities. But he wants more out of life. He hasn’t even fully formulated what that looks like, but he knows that for anything to be different he has to want it first. To look for it. To seek what his different and better looks like. In the time I have known him he has gained control of his money, begun to resolve some relationship issues with his parents, and gained leadership experience that will help him for the rest of his life.

The difference between these two young men? Perspective. Purpose. Wanting something more. And, interestingly enough, you have to not be so self-centered that you don’t take care of yourself. The first young man is so focused on how he feels he is being wronged at work, that he is letting time and opportunity pass him by. The second young man is more focused on being his best self and helping others in a way that he will have unlimited opportunities open to him.

If you want a different life you need to think beyond the problems of today. You need to put something in front of you that you’re passionate about and meant to live for. When you do that, it’s a whole lot easier to get up early, to work hard, to stay focused, to say ‘no’ to distractions. You can be a lot more fulfilled and happy when you know that each day you get up is a day that matters. A day to help someone, a day to make yourself the best version of you yet, or a day to inch closer to a realized dream. When you’re just living to get through the day, it’s a sign of insecurity, dare I say selfishness, and an unwillingness to let go of your problems long enough to grasp something better. It may sound harsh, but often misery is self inflicted. Living for something that gives you purpose, looking to be better, makes the here and now matter more. It’s easier to be content when you know that life isn’t about surviving another moment. It’s about making your moments count. What are YOU living for?

 

If you want to begin the journey towards discovering your purpose, click here to take my FREE course, 14 Days to Stress Less and Achieve Your Dreams.

Contentment or Complacency?

Is it possible to be content and want more? Does it make you greedy to be driven and desire to gain more out of life? Too often we think that contentment excludes drive, or we mistake complacency for contentment, and being driven for being greedy. We think that somehow if we want to be more than we are, or have more than we do, that we are selfish, greedy, materialistic, or arrogant. Often we use the excuse of not wanting to think too much of ourselves to get out of growing and to remain complacent, stagnant, and just generally lazy and drifting.

It is easier to criticize someone who has accomplished something and label them than it is to actually challenge ourselves to achieve something better.

Here is something to consider. It is generally thought that if you are driven you are greedy. And if you are greedy, you can’t be humble and are therefore a snob labeled as only out for themselves. Greed is greed. Drive is drive. Someone who is driven but not greedy can actually show great humility. Here is how: If they are always striving to be more, they have recognized that they have more to offer people, more to give, more to be, and they are dedicated to the pursuit of being that better person. They realize that they have been given a greatness that they are responsible for developing. Some people look at this idea of having greatness as being stuck up, but I feel that if someone can understand that they are made for more than they are right now, and that life is not about them keeping everything for themselves, but rather to be more so they can be more for others, that sounds like a very not stuck up person to me.

I try every day to be content. That is, to know and be comfortable with who I am. It is being comfortable with who I am that allows me to be more. You see, if I am not comfortable in my own skin, I will spend my life trying to make others happy. The problem with this? I will never be good at being them and achieving the things they think are the most important. And vice versa. I shouldn’t try to achieve all their goals. They shouldn’t try to achieve my goals. So I should be content being me, and that will allow me to be comfortable making myself a better version of who I am. So you see, being content isn’t mutually exclusive to wanting more, and wanting more does not make you a self-centered arrogant person with no regard for others. Quite the opposite may be true.

We should all want to be more, and when we see others who have achieved greatness, instead of ridiculing them out of jealousy, why not be inspired by them? Usually when we find fault with someone who is successful, it can be traced to wanting what they have, but not wanting to work for it. It’s easy to shrug off what you want and don’t have and label the person who has it as too ambitious or greedy. Wouldn’t it be better if we spent time trying to find our own greatness? You can have things that other people have, but you have to be willing to work for it. This starts with knowing that you don’t have to try to be them, or to be someone else that you’re not. Next, you need to be okay with saying “I have awesome in me, and I want to bring it out.” That statement is neither selfish nor arrogant. Then, you have to recognize that who you are is good (contentment), and being okay with that, you can work at making your talent a skill, a habit, or a tool (drive).

There is a vicious cycle that happens that tends to kill the whole ‘being better’ thing. It starts with our fictional character Marvin. Marvin grows up in a house being told he can have or be anything he puts his mind to. As Marvin gets older he works hard and sometimes gets the things he wants, and sometimes doesn’t. When he sees his friend down the street get a new car from his parents, he decides that he wants one too, but knowing his parents can’t afford it, he gets a summer job saving every penny he earns. For awhile. Then it begins to get hard. There are other smaller items to buy that he has money for. His motivation begins to fade, and not many people are around to help motivate him. His friend is already driving the dream car. Marvin’s parents tell him it is good for him to value what he gets so he should keep working. But no one helps him set up a timeline, game plan, or any other milestone for that matter. Then the point is reached where he is either inspired by something to finish, or he gives up. If he doesn’t reach his goal, he is left if not properly encouraged or coached to reach one of two conclusions: 1) he failed and is a failure, which doesn’t help his self worth at all, or 2) he reasons in his head that somehow he was cheated, and that it isn’t fair that the other kid got the car with apparently no effort. Rarely would someone at this point say to themselves “Cheerio, better luck next time.” On the other hand, in the scenario where he gets the car, he becomes the target of criticism from people jealous or insecure. Often in the first circumstance the idea of resentment begins to form, and out of seemingly nowhere, the idea begins that those with things that we have not been able to achieve either cheated, rode on the backs of others, or brown-nosed their way to the top. The reality is that most of the time this isn’t even close to being true. It takes hard work to achieve success, and even if you inherit success in the form of a family business, or fortune of some sort, it still takes work to maintain it. In the second circumstance, the path of success can become hard and lonely and may make young people who have succeeded in an area belittle their own achievements in an attempt to regain the approval of less successful peers.

To have more you have to expand your thinking to include more. You have to be open to contentment going hand in hand with improvement and drive. You have to know the difference between greed and motivation. And you have to understand that sharing success is not arrogance. It is inspiration. To be humble is not to resign yourself to mediocrity, but rather to recognize your potential for more, and be prepared to grow where needed.

With all of this out there, do yourself a favor. Be okay with being you. Be okay with becoming awesome. Share your success. Encourage and be inspired! Don’t be jealous, or hold grudges against success. Find someone who has become what you want to become, and do what they did. You can’t control what people think of you. It’s up to them if they choose to be inspired by your achievements, or choose to be jealous of what you have accomplished. Continue to share so that those needing a beacon of hope can see that light, and swim out of the ocean of mediocrity. Own it! Do it! Be Better!

Do you want to be more comfortable in your own skin? Do you want to have tools to be more? Do you want to learn more about yourself to better prepare for your future? Then subscribe here to take my FREE course 14 Days to Stress Less and Achieve Your Dreams.