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.
“Most of the weakness and frailty we blame on aging is not due to getting older but to inactivity.”
When I read the quote above earlier this week in Dottie’s book titled, “Life is an Attitude: How to Grow Forever Better”, it leapt off the page at me, because I’ve also heard complaints from people recently about the negative impacts of aging. These complaints have come in the form of a frustrated resignation that this deterioration is an inevitable part of aging. I disagree.
Every day we get to choose to either be sedentary or to carve out time in the day to move our bodies. If we choose one day not to move about or exercise, that single day really won’t have an impact on us. However, if we decide day after day not to move or exercise, the compounding of those days over month, years, and decades, will certainly have negative impacts on our physical ability as we age.
Likewise, if we choose to exercise and move every day, the compounding effects of those decisions over months, years, and decades, will have a positive impact on our physical ability in the years to come.
By exercising our bodies (and our minds!) we’re telling ourselves that we need our bodies and minds to be in peak shape, because we plan on using them. Here’s the cool think, when we train our minds and bodies to be ready for use… they respond!
What encourages me most to reject the assumption that we deteriorate as we get older, is that I’ve seen too much evidence to the contrary in the lives of folks that have been around a lot longer than I have.
I encourage you to reject the false assumption that aging is a downward spiral and that after a certain age, you’re washed. That statement is only true if you choose to believe it.
We’ve all heard how exercise and diet are key components of maintaining good physical health as we age. You’ll certainly get no argument from me about this! However, I do think there’s more than just our physical health that we should consider as part of a healthy lifestyle. We should also keep our minds healthy as well.
Two of the best ways I can think of to develop a healthy mind is to use it, and to be aware of what you’re putting into it.
This is just my opinion, but I think our minds were created to be used. Just like a car is meant to be driven, and a piano is meant to be played, so too our minds were meant to be used rather than to sit idle. By “using our minds”, I mean we should continuously be sharpening them by:
Exposing them to new and interesting (to us) content
Learning new skills
Listening to new, and even opposing ideas
Talking to people who are different from us
Connecting with others
In addition to using them, we should also be aware of the content we’re allowing into our minds. If you put gas in your car that is full of debris, it won’t run well. Filling our minds with negative content will have the same effect over time. The content we put into our minds is how we train our think, respond, and form our worldview. I want to put content in my mind that will yield positive thinking, not only now, but well into the future.
So the next time you’re taking a walk, exercising, or doing any other activity that benefits your physical health, take a moment to make sure that you’re also developing a healthy mind as well. Because if you’re like me, you want to age with a heathy body AND mind.
September and October are my favorite months of the year. While the cooler temperatures are always nice, it’s the beautiful natural scenery that always captures my attention. The way the morning and evening light colors the surroundings is worth stopping to notice.
It’s easy to be distracted, rushing through life and not noticing our surroundings. For this reason, I think it’s so important to not only be on the lookout for the beauty around us, but to stop and take it in when we see it.
I’ve found that what I’m actively looking for, I usually see more of.
I’m sure you’re familiar with this routine. As you’re getting ready in the morning you look at yourself in the mirror and compare that image with the image you have in your mind of what you should look like before your start your day. You see disheveled hair, so you fix it. You see toothpaste on your face, so you wipe it off. You take one last look on your way out the door to make sure the image of how you’d like to look and how you actually look align. The mirror does an excellent job of telling us when our appearance is falling short what we expect for ourselves. It’s great feedback!
While it’s important to have mirrors to ensure we look presentable before we leave the house, I think it’s even more important to have mirrors that reflect back to us how well we’re living up to the standard we’ve set for ourselves.
As a Christian, I’ve decided that the standard I’ve chosen to live by are the teachings of Jesus, as found in the Bible. So, in order to know whether my life is a reflection of what Jesus teaches, I need compare how I’m living my life to Jesus’s teaching in the Bible and see if my reflection matches. If my life aligns with Jesus’s teaching, then I’m on track. If not, I’ve got work to do. Either way, the mirror of the Bible when compared to my life gives me feedback and informs me where I can make changes.
So what standard are you trying to live your life in accordance with? What mirror do you need to check your reflection against? Whatever it is, just be sure to check your reflection regularly, receive the feedback it’s giving you, and make corrections as needed.
Done over a long period of time, this habit will move your life in the direction you want it to go.
I’m blown away of the power of our brains and all the good use we can put them to. What’s even more impressive (aside from the fact that each one of us owns one of these wonderful things free and clear!) is how our brains are constantly running. I liken our brains to a race horse that wants to run. Similarly, our brains need to be trained to run where we want them to run, versus just letting them run wild in any they’d like.
Can you imagine the owner of a highly valued thoroughbred race horse allowing the magnificent creature to run through any rocky pasture, hillside, or street it wanted? That would be a horrific use of such a valuable investment. Instead, such a horse’s diet, training, facilities, and environment are all conducive top performance, because that is how you treat a thoroughbred.
I think our brains should also be treated as the thoroughbreds that they are, or that they can become. We should give them the proper care and training that they are worthy of, in order for them to perform for us at the high level they are capable of.
So, how do we train our minds so they perform like thoroughbreds? The following items are good places to start:
Monitor the content we’re allowing into our minds to ensure its productive and positive.
Take our negative thoughts (toward ourselves or others) and quickly redirect them toward a more productive line of thinking.
Expose our brains to new ideas through books, classes, podcasts, computer-based training, or conversations with others.
Continue to apply our brains toward learning new skills we’d like to acquire.
Use them to solve problems and come up with solutions and idea.
Engage your brain daily.
What a blessing to be in possession of such a creation! May we treat them (and train them) like the valuable thoroughbreds that they are.
“What’s it like on the other side of me?” ~ Pastor Amy
During the sermon at church last week, one of our pastors referenced this question that she often asks herself in relation to what it’s like for others to interact with her. I though it was a great question I should start asking myself!
We all know what it’s like to be us. We’re aware of our opinions, our values, and what we think. However, are we aware of how those opinions come across when we’re talking to others? Are we aware of possible no verbal signals, attitudes, tones of voice, judgement, or perceptions we may not mean to send, that others experience when communicating with us?
Pastor Amy’s question causes me to think about how I treat others (intentionally or unintentionally) when communicating with them. It reminds me that communication is so much more than just words.
This week’s post is a quick reminder to daily be on the lookout for those things we’re grateful for. They’re always there, but often unnoticed, unless we’re looking for them.
With the start of summer, and sunnier weather in the Pacific Northwest, I’ve been reminded how grateful I am for early sunny mornings. The bright sky, the cool air, the birds singing, and the stillness of the day before things start ramping up is an experience that always gets me excited about the day to come and the possibilities therein.
Whenever I experience one, I’m reminded how much they mean to me, and how grateful I am for them.
As we go through our days, let’s develop the habit if keeping our eyes open for those things we’re grateful for. It could be something we’ve loved for a long time (like sunny summer mornings!) or something we’ve just experienced (like great services from a business, organization or person).
The important part is that when we experience it, we don’t let it pass without recognizing our gratitude for it.
We just finished a 6 week house renovation project this week that included some painting, carpeting, and hardwood floors. Our house is 23 years old, so it was time to spruce everything up and give it a fresh new look. I think it’s important to keep my house in a good working order and condition, not only because it’s such a big investment, but because it’s more enjoyable for me to live in when it’s in this state.
I also think it’s important to maintain the other big things in our lives that are important to us like our:
Spiritual well being
Intellect and thinking
Maintenance, whether it be for a friendship, a home, or our health, involves a commitment of our time and resources, because things that are neglected usually aren’t maintained well.
Spend some time thinking about the things that are important to you and determine whether they could use a little maintenance from you. If so, take action to get them the attention they need. You’ll enjoy what you have even more when it’s properly maintained.