The more people I talk to and interact with, the more I hear it. Oh, it isn’t necessarily the same words, the same circumstances, or the same reasons but at the core, so many of us are overwrought with fear. There are plenty of sources that we blame for it, and certainly, almost a year into a global pandemic and all of the socioeconomic repercussions and fallout take it to the top of the list.
The truth is, if we didn’t have a pandemic we would create other excuses. Although most everyone knows what they need to do to overcome it, few people actually do it. Why is the pullback to comfortable so, well, comfortable? I don’t have all of the answers but the prevalence of this phenomenon cannot be ignored, and I hope to not only expose it with this post but to give you suggestions for how to overcome it beginning today.
Perhaps you have heard the old saying, “it’s always too soon to quit, and it’s never too late to start.” Which got me thinking this week about how resolute I and we have become in the face of calamities, uncertainties, and fears that none of us could have ever imagined one year ago.
Perhaps I am just getting old(er), as I celebrated another trip around the sun earlier this month, nevertheless, time seems to be passing very quickly and a year goes by in the blink of an eye. Yes, even 2020. Sure, we all have long days, but I’m telling you the years keep slipping away.
I have some very good news for you this week. I hope you can receive it not only from the purpose for which I intend it but also with an appreciation for the clarity I hope it begins to bring to your life. My friend, I am convinced beyond the shadow of a doubt that you were created for a specific purpose that only you can accomplish.
I believe that you are uniquely gifted to do something that only you can do, using only what you have at this moment, and with whatever you have experienced in your life up to this point. Whether you believe it or not (yet), I hope in the next few hundred words to convince you of this fact.
While this message might be better suited for a few weeks back before we started the new year, I believe it is still relevant, and perhaps even more so for right now. At the beginning of the year many of us, myself included plan, project, and attempt to do many things. That never gets finished, assuming they ever got started in the first place.
So as we begin to settle into 2021 and find our stride, I want to encourage you today to take a 360-degree view of yourself. For some of us, even looking at ourselves in the mirror is a struggle. But I really want you to open yourself up to introspective thinking and evaluation. And I want you to focus on more than just your physical appearance, but to take a look at your life holistically and determine in each role you have what needs to change and what doesn’t.
One of the detriments of our distracted, byte-sized addictions to all of the opportunities for distractions that exist in our world today is that I believe we have lost the ability to sit still for even a few seconds. Especially to sit still and think, without being distracted. I confess I struggle greatly with this.
I am neither proud of this, nor am I content to allow it to continue at the ever-increasing rate that it has overtaken my life in the past several years. I am committed to creating more margin in my life to be able to sit quietly and think. Indian-born philosopher and writer Jiddu Krishnamurti said this: “The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.” Whoa!
My handy dictionary app on my phone (my primary distraction) defines observe: To see, watch, perceive, or notice. To regard with attention, especially so as to see or learn something. Ok, let me see your hands, how many of you in the past week took time to perceive or notice something? How many in the last month regarded something with enough attention to learn something. Yeah, me either.
Let’s take it one step further. My dictionary app says this about evaluating: To determine or set the value or amount of. To judge or determine the significance, worth, or quality of. Now, this is convicting. Again, a show of hands for everyone who has not been conditioned by our world today to look at something quickly and not make a snap judgment. Yeah, I didn’t think so.
Here is the conundrum. Can we observe without evaluating? Of course, we can. But it takes patience, practice, and intentionality. Is there a place where you can go that makes this easier to do? Some room in your house, a coffee shop in town, or even just a favorite chair where you can sit and think with no distractions?
For me, there is no better place than outside in nature. I love being outdoors. Of course, a beautiful day doesn’t hurt, but even if the weather is less than perfect, I find that doing outside allows me to connect with myself and to connect with my Creator. It could be almost anywhere. I prefer the beach or a golf course but since I don’t get to do that every day, an early morning walk with my dog is a good substitute.
No matter where you do it, and how you do it, I believe we need to fight for our intelligence and create some margin to think, to ask ourselves questions, and to listen to the answers that come. I like to do this with God too. I have to admit, I don’t always get the answers I think I am looking for, but I rarely come away from such a session without feeling more relaxed, more clarity, and more purpose as I go through the rest of my day.
I’d love to hear from you. What practices work for you? What do you need to stop doing to create more margin to start thinking? What questions or comments do you have? I’d love you to share them below.
I also invite you to review my coaching page on my website here. I have only a couple of spots left in my Personal Development Coaching Practice. Each week I offer two free strategy sessions on a first-come, first-served basis to people interested in exploring how to become a person who pursues their goals and dreams. These highly valuable hour-long sessions prove again and again to be invaluable to those who participate. You can book these directly on my coaching page – I look forward to serving you.
By now, I certainly hope you have figured out how much I love quotes and sayings. They sometimes may seem contrived or even pithy, but even if they are, we like them, memorize them, and most importantly, remember them. Therefore, I offer for your initial amusement, followed by a knowing acceptance, finished with a nod of gratitude the following:
Yesterday is history and tomorrow is a mystery.
Before you accuse me of being Captain Obvious, allow me to expound slightly. Why do we (which most definitely includes I) spend so much time worrying, wishing, and wasting time thinking about the past? For that matter, ditto for the future. I have some ideas which I hope you will consider and then follow me in directing your focus where it belongs.
As we settle into the new year, I want to encourage you this week to continue to keep at the forefront of your mind those ideas, dreams, and goals you started the year with. Many people who are not reading this article and are not focused on becoming the best versions of themselves have already long forgotten all of the things they said they were going to do this year.
This brings me to my first encouragement for you in this post. Ideas are just dreams until they’re written down. If you haven’t already, it’s never too late to start but wherever you fall here, get your dreams, visions, ideas, goals, and any and everything else you want to accomplish down on paper. Got it? Good.
Famous American poet and philosopher, Henry David Thoreau famously said, “The question is not what you look at but what you see.” On some level, we were all horrified by the events that took place in our nation’s capital last week. Not surprisingly, it has stirred up even more division and vitriol than existed a week ago, which seemed palpable even on its own.
I have no interest or inclination to get into a political discussion. If you’re looking for that, you won’t have to look very hard. I have determined that I will focus my time on building solutions by offering grace and kindness rather than looking to become involved with the many opportunities available to engage with strangers and especially close friends in a moral online battle. My solution is straightforward; I try to ignore it.
Happy New Year! As the year begins and we are all on 1,200 calorie diets, going to bed by 10:00 p.m. so that we can get up to exercise by 5:00, and reading three new books while focusing on how to break revenue and income records, let me welcome you back, perhaps abruptly, to reality.
I certainly do not mean to throw cold water and by no means do I intend to do anything other than to encourage you to make 2021 a year you will look back on with gratitude twelve months from now. I am not a proponent of New Year’s resolutions, so my tongue in cheek poking fun is just that. But seriously, where will you be on January 5, 2022? That is entirely up to you.
Full disclosure, I am using the headline and my message in the year’s final post from Reverend Joy Gonzales of Highland Park Methodist Church in Dallas, where my wife and I attend church online every week. Joy’s message yesterday was too good and impacted me too significantly to not share it with my audience.
Many people I know, watch, and listen to cannot wait to turn the calendar this Friday and waive 2020 goodbye and greet 2021 hopefully. Indeed, a New Year always brings new hope, new ideas, and the promise that we can be and do better than we did last year. The truth of the matter is, however, that even though 2020 will soon be in the history books, its troubles aren’t going away any time soon.