What life events will transpire from the time of the first twist of the toothpaste cap to the last squeeze? The mundane, often monotonous, the surprising, spontaneous, joyful, sad and sometimes hurtful things of life. Our stories are diverse but similar because of our common thread, the thread of human emotions. My story is your story. We’re in this together. Whether spoken or written, our stories are meant to be shared. It takes courage and vulnerability to do so. Like love, sharing involves risk. But also, like love, the risk is always worth it. I share my stories with you in mind.
We live in an age of distraction. We can actually be addicted to it! Don’t believe that? How many times during a typical day do you find yourself checking your social media accounts?
The quote by Pogo in a cartoon clip years ago holds true;
We have met the enemy, and he is us.
We must all fight our natural tendency to engage in self-defeating thinking and activities. Like a trapeze acrobat, letting go isn’t enough…..we must let go of the negatives, but just as important – grab hold of the positive!
All of these suggestions have business, personal, and spiritual applications. With that, I submit the following ten ‘stops’ for your consideration for 2020 and beyond. …
- Stop doing things that aren’t working. When the horse is dead, it’s time to dismount, but often we hold on, professionally or personally, to things that aren’t working. Why? The answer is fairly simple – change is hard and it can be scary. I may be in a rut, but it’s a comfortable rut, I’m used to it….it’s predictable. You can’t walk on the water unless you get out of the boat. Don’t live your entire life in your comfort zone!
- Stop investing in relationships that are pulling you down. Unless you’re a therapist or work in a prison, you generally make a choice to stick around negative people. You know the type; they have the ‘gift’ of sucking all of the positive air out of a room – or an auditorium! Unless you’ve committed yourself to the relationship for counseling purposes, cut the anchor chain! You’ve done your time, enjoy your freedom! Scrape off the barnacles and enjoy smoother sailing! (I’m not suggesting this in regard to a marriage relationship; that commitment deserves an entirely different level of consideration and is not one we should walk away from so readily).
- Stop trying to change people! (unless they happen to be your children) Recognize the difference between being a positive influence and beating your head against a brick wall! Yes, you may be the instrument God is using to bring about change in their lives OR they may the negative air sucker/barnacle described in #2 (above).
- Stop trying to please everyone! If you supervise more than one person it’s likely you already know this. Get comfortable with some folks being unhappy with you, or with a decision you’ve made. Think it through, get the input you need, listen to good advice, make your decision and move on! Some ideas may not work out…..those are valuable learning experiences. Learn to be okay with small people and “I told you so” attitudes.
- Stop looking for the path of least resistance! It’s way past time to get out of this relational, emotional, spiritual playpen and grow up! The easiest way is very frequently not the best. Don’t let an opportunity pass by because it was the hard thing to do. Relationships (business or otherwise) are work, and most are worth the extra effort. If success was easy everyone would do it!
- Stop procrastinating! Make a list and faithfully check items off as you accomplish them…..it makes you feel good! There’s something personally energizing about putting an item on your list, but only if you know that doing so means that thing is gonna get done! Only if, in reality, your list lives up to its title, “To DO”.
- Stop blaming others for where you are in life! You may have come from a bad neighborhood, had a not so good childhood, whatever. Let’s see…how can I say this in the most compassionate, caring way possible……GET OVER IT! Yeah, you may have had it rough out of the starting blocks but now the race is up to you (ya gotta love metaphors). Where will you be one year from today? Five years? Still stuck, making excuses, blaming people or circumstances, or taking responsibility for your situation – whatever it is – and putting one foot in front of the other? The choice is yours. I used to work in corrections. I’ve witnessed too many success stories to think that you’re the one who can’t climb that mountain.
- Stop being so hard on yourself (and stand on the grace of God)! The first part of that statement applies to everyone – and my hope is the second part applies to you also. Don’t become a victim of that inner voice that tells you you’re not good enough….reminds you of past failures. Focus on the future….don’t dwell on the past. Paying too much attention to the rearview mirror will get you in trouble – on the road and off. Learn from the past but don’t live there. You may not believe as I do but, believe it or not, God is real, He’s there, He cares, and His grace (undeserved favor) is sufficient, and is there whenever you decide to turn to Him.
- Stop doubting and start believing! Believe in your (God-given) talents, skills, and abilities. The Bible defines faith as the “substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”. ‘Doubting Thomas’ (as he has become known) would not believe that Jesus had risen from the dead until Jesus appeared before him and invited him to place his finger in the wounds that were a result of Jesus’ crucifixion. Jesus’ response after Thomas voiced his belief, “you believe because you have seen…blessed are those who believe without seeing.” Again, whether you share my faith or not, believing in greater things than yourself…..building a legacy…..developing a sense of purpose…..better yet, having an eternal perspective – helps put the problems of the day, the trials of life, the challenges that lay ahead in their proper place.
- Stop expecting people to do for you what only God can do! There are things in life that are out of our control. For me, there were changes I needed to make (I was an angry person for many years) that proved impossible for me to accomplish using my will power (try as I did) or by relying on those around me. In the end, God was true to His Word (“I will give you a new heart and put a new Spirit within you…”). I’m a guy, guys like to fix things…..but this was going to take more than Black and Decker. Once I surrendered (bad in war, critical to personal spiritual growth) to His control, slowly but very surely, things began to happen. Now I am perfect (not).
Here’s wishing (okay, I’m praying actually) for your best in 2020 and beyond!