Imagine you were going to build a house (or have someone build it for you), but you had no idea what kind of house you wanted. You didn’t know how many rooms or bathrooms it should have, how many square feet it should be, where it should be located, or even how much it should cost. It would be impossible for anyone to build the house you wanted, with such lack of direction. In this scenario, at best, you’d have to settle for whatever got built.
It’s like that with our lives as well. If we don’t have any idea what we’d like our lives to look like, we’ll have to settle for how they just turn out. For example, do you know:
- What kind of health you want to be in
- What kind of marriage you want to have
- What kind of career you desire
- What interests and passions you’d like to pursue
- How you’d like to spend your retirement
- What kind of relationships you’d like to have with friends and family
- How you’d like to spend your free time
When we know what we want our life to look like, we’re in an excellent position to take steps to create the best life we desire. Otherwise, we’ll just settle for whatever happens to come along.
Do you have a clear picture of how you want your life to look? This doesn’t mean you have to have every detail figured out. I certainly don’t! However, we should know what we want our lives to look like so we can take steps to move in that direction.
Make sure you know where you’re going, so you don’t end up somewhere you really don’t want to be.
“I haven’t read a book since I was in high school.” ~ Someone on a poor growth trajectory
It’s amazing how much information we have available to help us learn new things. What’s equally amazing are all the different ways we have to consume this information. No matter what topic you’re interested in, you can easily access information, as well as people, who can help you learn more about it. This reality is a tremendous blessing for anyone interested in personal growth and life-long learning.
Consider a topic you’d like to learn more about. Now consider all the ways you can learn more about that topic, such as:
- Audio books
- Computer-based learning
- Coaches and instructors
- Self-study courses
- People already doing what you want to learn
I don’t know about you, but I find this encouraging, from a personal growth perspective. No matter what I want to learn, I can easily find content on the topic in a format that works for me. Let that sink in for a minute.
If you think you don’t have time to read a book then listen to an audio book. If you need more in depth explanation or assistance, you can hire a coach or instructor. Whatever content you want to consume, there’s a medium to consume it that’s just right for you.
You simply have to avail yourself to it.
“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. Those who understand it, earn it… those who don’t… pay it.” ~ Albert Einstein
When we invest money, the interest we earn on that money also earns interest for us. Over years of consistent investing, the interest-earning-interest can wind up being a significant sum. While we might not see big results right away, the impact of compounding will soon become significant. This is the concept of compounding interest.
Here’s thing about compounding that most people don’t realize… it’s just as effective in other areas of life beyond finance.
The healthy habits we intentionally develop, and continue to practice year over year, yield desired results.
- A healthy diet yields good health
- Healthy spending habits yield control over your finances
- Healthy saving and investing habits yield financial freedom
- Continuous learning exposes you to new ideas and fresh perspectives
Here’s one more thing most people may not realize about compounding… it can also work against you. Compounding is not limited to yielding increasingly good results. Our bad habits, practiced year over year, can unintentionally yield undesirable results.
- A bad diet yields poor health
- Poor spending habits yields a consistent lack of money and debt
- Failure to save and invest yields financial insecurity and potentially poverty
- Deciding not to learn lead to becoming stagnant, outdated, and irrelevant
The most important thing we can know about compounding is that it will do its work in our life whether we invite it to or not. The most important thing we can do with regard to compounding it to make sure we’re putting it to work for us.
ACTION: Develop and regularly practice the habits that will compound to bring you the results you seek.
Here’s a quick mental exercise. See if you can think of an area of your life that gets better instead of worse as a result of being neglected. Here my attempt at a list and whether or not these areas get better when neglected:
- Relationships – No
- Health – No
- Finances – No
- Career – No
- Family – No
- Personal development – No
- Possessions – No
- Outlook on life – No
- A garden of wild weed – Yes
Most areas of our life don’t get better as a result of neglect, they usually get worse. I know, that’s obvious, but here’s what may not be so obvious. While we may not intentionally decide to neglect an important area of our life, neglect is what happens when we fail to give something our attention.
To make something better, or to at least keep it good, requires our effort and attention. With so many things clamoring for our attention it’s essential that we purposefully give attention to those important areas of our life, lest they be unintentionally neglected.
The 2018 mid-term elections are over (thank goodness!). While I don’t know whether you’re happy with the results or not, I do want to make you aware of a very important person who is still in power… YOU.
YOU are the person with the power to create the life you desire. No political party, or person in office has more power to positively impact your life than YOU do.
So no matter who “won” politically as a result of the election, YOU still retain power over yourself and your choices.
Let’s use that power wisely.
Here’s a piece of information I find liberating: None of us are perfect, nor are we expected to be. While I make an effort to do my best at whatever it is I’m doing, in my imperfection I often miss the mark, screw up, or fall short.
While knowing that I’m not perfect frees me up to try, fail and improve, knowing that I’m imperfect also reminds me that with imperfection comes responsibility. When we screw up or say the wrong thing, or a host of other things imperfect people do, we should be quick to:
- Apologize to those we’ve hurt or negatively impacted
- Own our mistakes instead of giving excuses or looking for someone else to blame
- Ask for forgiveness when needed
We should also be quick to avoid expecting perfection from others and be equally quick to show grace to others when they fall short, because isn’t that what we’d like from others?
Let’s work at being responsible with our imperfections, and graceful to others in theirs.
On Thursday my wife sent me an email letting me know that my mom was having some people over for dinner that night. One of the people attending was a person from Guatemala that my mom thought my wife and I would be interested in meeting, so she invited us to join them for dinner. My initial thought was to say no for a bunch of lame reasons, (it’s been a long week, I’ve got stuff to do, blah, blah, blah). Fortunately for me, my brain saw this as an unexpected opportunity that I shouldn’t pass up.
I’m always interested in meeting folks and hearing some of their story (everyone has a story!!), especially if they come from a different background, country, or culture than I do. The person from Guatemala is the daughter of a pastor, who happens to lead a Guatemalan church in the same denomination as the church we attend. Already had some common ground for good conversation! So I emailed my wife back and told her to let my mom know we’d be there for dinner.
An unexpected opportunity to meet someone different from me lands in my lap on Thursday and I was about to say, “No”. What would I gain by staying home, except for some free time? As I thought about it, I realized that I get a lot more opportunities for free time than I do to meet an interesting person with a common interest.
This experience reminded me that I’m trying to take advantage of opportunities that present themselves. It’s too easy to automatically settle for our routine and, as a result, let these unexpected opportunities go by. That’s a great way to maintain a routine, but it’s no way to live an exciting life.
The dinner and the conversation on Thursday was a lot of fun! I’m so glad that I went and didn’t settle for the perceived comfort of my routine. There is a lot that happens when we step outside of our routines.