Make the Most of the Next 12 Months  

Several years ago I got a birthday card from my co-workers.  It was a nice card filled with kind words of birthday cheer.  Of all the notes written, there was one encouraging message that really stood out.  It simply read, “Make the most of the next 12 months, for you will never be this age again!”

I’d never thought of birthdays like that.  Sure, I know how the calendar works, but I‘d never really considered that we get the privilege of being a certain age for only 12 months.  This encouraging note reminded me that I get to decide how I want to spend the next 12 months of my lives.

It’s easy to think of birthdays as a reminder that we’re getting older, but my co-worker’s wise words continue to remind me that we have a role to play in what we do with the days between our birthdays.  We can choose to become “old” by complaining that we’re getting old, or we can choose to be grateful for the days we have and get about the business of living them well.  It’s absolutely up to us.

A Quick Though On Sharing Yours

Whenever you’re in a large or small group, professional or volunteer, and the opportunity arises to share your thoughts and opinions, do so!

When we silence our own voice by withholding our thoughts, we willingly hand over the ability to make or influence a decisions to those who do share their thoughts.  We trade in our role as leaders and resign ourselves to passengers on a course someone will chart for us.

You have thoughts, insights, and ideas that could benefit those around you.  However, they benefit no one, if they remain solely in your head.

Keeping Busyness In Check

I like being busy.  Not busy just for the sake of being busy, but busy doing things that are meaningful and fulfilling.  To me, life is more fun when our days are full of activities that give us purpose.  However, it’s crucial that we remember to make time for those important things that can easily get lost or overlooked in the midst of our day-to-day busyness.

Some important things are extremely easy to put off because of how busy we are.  Consider how easy it is to tell ourselves, “When I’m not so busy I need to:”

  • Make time to connect with my friend…
  • Schedule that annual checkup or routine medical screening
  • Start exercising daily
  • Begin saving for the future
  • Make some healthy changes to my diet
  • Pursue that goal or dream of mine

Our intentions are to do these important things, but the reality is that they often get forgotten or pushed out because we are busy.  The reality is also that putting off these things could have significant negative consequences if they are neglected too long.  Those consequences could be things like:

  • The drifting a part of a once great friendship
  • A once easily preventable/treatable condition has turned into a full blown medical emergency
  • Our health has deteriorated
  • Our lifestyle will drastically change, because we don’t have the resources we need for the future
  • Our goals and dream go unrealized

All because we are too busy to address them today.

Let’s make sure we’re not being so busy today that we neglect the things that will lead to a fulfilling and healthy future.

What Do You Want It To Look Like

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.

Keep Learning  

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:

  • Books
  • Podcasts
  • Webinars
  • Websites
  • Audio books
  • Seminars
  • Classes
  • Computer-based learning
  • Meetups
  • Lectures
  • Magazines
  • 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.

Putting Compounding To Work

“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.

Giving Attention

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.