A couple of weeks ago in the adult Sunday school class I lead, I made a comment about a section of Scripture. To preface my comment I stated, “We all know this […]”. After some discussion, one of the newer people in the class spoke up and said, “You mentioned that ‘we all know this’, but I DON’T know this.” The comment got my attention.
It’s so easy to assume that just because we know something, everyone else must obviously know it as well. I was reminded that this is usually not the case. For me, it’s important to be aware of this reality, so that I don’t inadvertently exclude people from classroom discussions, dialog in a meeting, or even a simple conversation by assuming they know what is being discussed.
I like to include people versus excluding them. What I learned from the Sunday school class exchange is to stop assuming that folks know something and actually give space to check that assumption. If my assumption is correct, great! We can move forward. If, however, my assumption is incorrect, then that presents a great opportunity for discussion to help bring others along, and event to learn something new myself.
There’s enough division and exclusion going on in the world, that I don’t need to add to it in my conversations and interactions. How much better it is to test and assumption and gain clarification, than to move forward with the assumption, only to find out that it was incorrect.
“There is no shortcut. There is no hack. There’s only one way, so get after it.”
~ Jocko Willink – “Discipline Equals Freedom”
Within the context of our goals, there is a gap between where we are currently and where we want to go. And usually, the bigger the outcome we’re striving for, the bigger the gap that exists. While there is no shortcut to bridging that gap, there is a simple remedy to get us to the other side. That is to take the first step today.
We’d never sit in our car on one side of a bridge with the transmission in park, hoping that we could somehow make it to the other side. In order to cross the bridge, we put the car in gear, step on the accelerator and start moving across the bridge to the other side.
It’s no different with our goals. Sure, we can sit on our current side of the gap we need to cross and talk about how much we want to be on the other side, but unless we take steps to move toward our goal, we’ll never make progress at bridging the gap and reaching the other side. At some point we have to take the actions that will cause us to bridge that gap.
Is there anything you’d like to achieve that you’ve been hesitating on starting, or have even just been lazy about starting? If so, determine what that first step you need to take is and do it today. Then tomorrow, repeat the process and take the next step. Repeat this process daily, until you find yourself on the other side of the gap.
Although the steps might not be easy, the process is, and it involves taking the first step and doing the work.
It’s time to go! The other side awaits.
Disciplined behavior in the moment can be challenging when we’re trying to achieve a goal. Whether it’s fitness, good health, financial, relational, or any other long-term goal, it’s easy to get knocked off track in the moment. What I’ve found helpful for staying disciplined toward the pursuit of a goal is to play the long game.
By that, I mean to look way into the future to what achieving this goal looks like. For example, I want to live a healthy life. That goal is way too vague to withstand the temptations (like ice cream!) that that present themselves on a daily basis that are perpendicular to my goal. Instead, I frame my goal with a bent toward that future. Rather than having a goal to “live a healthy lifestyle”, I have a goal to be an active, engaged, curious, ninety-year-old who is in excellent physical condition.
I’m playing the long game by focusing on the person I want to become when I turn 90. This focus helps me consider my choice on a daily, monthly, weekly, and yearly basis. The question I present myself with is, “are the choices I’m making (in relation to diet, finances, relationships, intellectual development, and spiritual growth) or have been making, leading me closer to or further from the person I want to be in my 90s”? If the answer is, “Yes”, I move keep making those choices. If my answer is “No”, then I consider modifying my behavior.
Playing the long game helps give my life daily direction. I know where I want to go, so all I need to do now is make sure my choices are taking there.
On Wednesday afternoon, I heard from a friend that her husband’s surgery that we’ve been praying about went great, with “no surprises”. I love that kind of news! I was so grateful to hear it and prayed a prayer of thanksgiving and gratitude to God. As I was praying, and enjoying the moment, I was reminded that I don’t have time.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got time to give God praise all day long, but in that moment, what struck me was that I don’t have time for things like:
- Things that cause division between people
- Holding grudges
- Judging others
- Needless worry (which most worry is)
- Spending time with consistently negative people
- Harboring negative thoughts
- Listening to the endless stream of outrage, hate, and anger
- Consuming content that leads to any of the bullet points above
I’m so grateful to God, not just because of my friend’s good surgery report, but because of who He is and what He’s done for me.
Out of that gratitude, I realize that I don’t have time to waste like that.