Becoming More Mature

“Maturity does not always come with age.  Sometimes age comes alone.”

~ John C. Maxwell

We often think of maturity as the natural byproduct of getting older; as something that just happens on a parallel track with our age.  However, there is a big difference:  maturity comes from being intentional, while age is automatic.

Becoming more mature is something we can do at any age.  For example, we can:

  • Be aware of how our actions impact others, as well as how they impact us.
  • Evaluate our different life experiences (learning what has worked for us and what hasn’t) and apply what we’ve learned.
  • Fill our minds with positive content that will help us become the type of person we want to be.
  • Extend gratitude, compassion, and grace to those around us.

While this isn’t an exhaustive list on how to become more mature, it’s a good starting point.

Maturity doesn’t just happen.  We’re fortunate that becoming more mature is a choice we can all make for ourselves.

Let’s choose wisely.

Investing

Investingto put (money) to use, by purchase or expenditure, in something offering potential profitable returns, as interest, income, or appreciation in value.

We invest money today, like in real estate, a 401k, or an IRA, to potentially have more of it in the future.  And that’s good.  Investing is one way of preparing for tomorrow, even if tomorrow is years or decades away.  But, have you ever considered investing in yourself to ensure a bright future?

Investing in yourself can take many forms and will vary widely from person to person, based on each individual’s idea of what a “bright future” looks like.  For example, investing in yourself may mean:

  • Buying healthy nutritious food
  • Attending classes or conferences to help you grow personally or professionally
  • Regularly buying books in areas of interest
  • Spending time to read those books
  • Regularly setting aside time to exercise and be physically active
  • Spending time with family and friends who lift you up

As this small list shows, our money is not our only resource we can invest in ourselves.  Our time is an equally valuable resource that can yield tremendous returns, if we invest it wisely.

Much like financial investing, I think investing in ourselves is best done early and consistently.  Imagine how many books you can read, and in return how much knowledge or ideas you can gain.  Investing just 15 minutes a day adds up to 91.25 hours of reading in 1 year!  Also consider what it would look like if you invested $20, $50, $100 or more a month into your personal development.  That’s a significant amount!

Now imagine that you’re investing your time and money in yourself like this for several years in a row.  Better yet, imagine that investing in yourself like this is a habitual part of every year of your life.  With habits like that, the thought of each year becomes more exciting and full of more promise and opportunities than the year before!

If you’re not already doing so, consider taking some of your time and money each month and intentionally investing it in yourself.  It’s a great way to ensure that we don’t just get older with each passing year, but that we become better versions of ourselves as well.

What You’re Allowing In

I recently re-read the book “Where Will You Be 5 Years From Today”.  It’s an encouraging book that makes you think of the trajectory you are setting for your life that will lead you to where you want to be in 5 years.  This is one of those books that should be required reading every couple of years.

As I read, I was reminded how much my attitude and outlook is impacted when I actively fill my mind with positive, though-provoking content.  My mind feels sharper, opportunities seem more abundant, and good ideas and positive thoughts are in no short supply.  I just feel better when I’m feeding my mind with good content.

The thoughts we have are a function of what we’ve already allowed into our mind.  Therefore, it seems reasonable that if we want to have good thoughts, we should be sure our minds are filled with good content.  Think of it like priming a pump or fertilizing the “soil of our mind” that produces our thoughts.

Good thoughts don’t happen by accident.  It’s the intentional behavior of not only allowing good content in, but also guarding our minds against the avalanche of negative content that is so pervasive.  While guarding our minds requires work on our end, it is work that will enrich our lives in the form of better thinking.

Guard your mind, for it will produce and abundant return of whatever you allow in.  Make sure that what you’re allowing in is what you’d like to get out later.

Calm in the Midst of Chaos

When I sat down to write this week’s blog, I looked out the office window and I noticed, across the busy 4 lane highway, a Canadian goose lying down in the grass on the other side of the road.  I didn’t see any evidence of a nest or eggs, as this goose had gotten up to move to a new position a couple of times, so it was a rather strange site.

As the busy traffic, only a couple of short feet away, whisked by, this goose seemed totally calm, content, and even relaxed.  He (or she) is the picture of calm in the midst of a chaotic environment.

Goose

The more I watched this silly goose, the more impressed I was with his calm demeanor in his chosen environment.  Ultimately, I thought about how I’d like to show the same unshakable calm whenever I find myself in a chaotic or stressful scenario.

I certainly don’t know what my feathered-friend’s secret is, but I do think there are some behaviors we can practice to help us stay calm and in control when things or people around us are not.

  • Don’t over-react when the stakes are low.  When we’re under pressure, I think we tend to react rather than respond.  Reacting is more automatic.  Responding involves deciding how we are going answer the situation before us.  When we respond we are intentional.  If we can train ourselves to respond calmly to small scale events, we will be training ourselves to do likewise when the stakes are higher.
  • Maintain the proper perspective. When you’re feeling stressed out or like things are getting chaotic, ask yourself if wigging out is really warranted.  With few small exceptions, it’s usually not.
  • Practice being calm. Make it a point to spend time every day engaging in calming activities.  This could include things like:
    • Reading
    • Praying or reading the Bible
    • Meditating
    • Yoga
    • Going for a walk
    • Listening to relaxing music
    • Having a good conversation with someone you care about

While the list is endless, the point is to make sure we’re doing something calming every day.

This goose’s appearance is very timely, as I’ve been focusing on integrating more calming activities into my own life recently.  I’m grateful I got to witness this example.

Act Like a Baby

Persistent

Determined

Tenacious

Focused

When you hear those words, does any specific type or group of people come to mind? Perhaps you think of a high achiever or someone who seems to get things done regardless of their circumstances.  For me when I hear those words I think of… babies.

Think about a baby that’s learning to walk.  They struggle to stand up, even with the support of a solid object, they wobble around, and they fall down.  But what makes me think of babies when I hear those words, is that after each setback or failed attempt, babies get back up and try again.

Once they get it in their mind to start walking, they will not be stopped until they achieve that goal.   They don’t quit because it’s hard.  They don’t complain because they suck at their first attempts.  A baby will repeat the process of getting up and falling down until they have mastered walking.

I stand in awe of the persistence, determination, tenacity, and focus of babies.

Is there any skill you’re currently trying to learn that has you frustrated and wanting to quit?  If so, I encourage you to act like a baby and embrace the process of falling down and getting back up to try again.

If a skill we’re trying to learn is truly important to us, we should approach it with the same level of persistence, determination, tenacity, and focus.

May we all be more like babies in this regard.

You Won’t Stay There For Long

Last Friday I bought my first bass guitar.  The following Wednesday evening I had my first bass guitar lesson.  I’ve been learning to play Louie Louie, Peter Gunn, Smoke on the Water, and Iron Man.  It’s been a lot of fun, but I’ve also realize something:  when it comes to playing the bass… I suck!

And you know what?  That’s exactly where I’m supposed to be.

Think about it.  We don’t go from being a beginner to mastering a topic in 1 lesson.  Learning is a process, and that process starts with not being very good (sucking) at whatever it is we’re attempting to learn.  It’s here where we begin identifying what we need to do to become better and then focusing our efforts toward that end.

When we suck at something, we have clear benchmarks to measure our progress.  In my case as a bass player, I’m sure I’ll suck next week too, but not as much as I do this week.  I’ll be able to see where I’ve improved over the last week and what I need to improve on in the week ahead.

The problem comes when we equate sucking at something because we’re new to it, with being incapable of learning.  As a result of this line of thinking, we often give up way too early without ever embracing the learning process and trusting that as we diligently progress, we will suck much less in the future that we do today.

I encourage you to get comfortable with the discomfort of the learning process.  If there’s’ something you’d like to study, learn, or pursue, go after it knowing that you’re GOING TO suck at first.  But also know that if you stick with it, you won’t stay there for long.

It’s Happening Now

This week I saw the following statement on someone’s T-shirt:  “Enjoy it because it’s happening now”.

I love this timely reminder!

With the beginning of a new year, it’s common to focus on goals and what we plan on doing in the upcoming weeks and months of 2017.  While looking ahead and planning are indeed both important endeavors, it’s equally important that they not occur at the expense of enjoying the good things we’re experiencing in the present moment.

It seems to me that we create our history, our memories, our relationships, and even cement our legacies by how we choose handle what’s happening to us in each moment.

What kind of memories are we creating when we’re overly focused on the future?  What kind of relationships are we creating when we’re too distracted slow down and connect with the people we love and care about?  How will we be remembered by the people with whom we have the pleasure of crossing paths with?  Will they feel like we were looking over their shoulders to see what was next, or will they feel like we actually cared about and were interested in them?

Once gone, a present moment cannot be recaptured.  We can’t go back and extract enjoyment we left on the table from a moment that has already passed.  We must be mindful to enjoy what’s happening right now.

 

Get on the Path

Ever since visiting the Grand Canyon in 2012, I’ve had this goal of doing the Rim to Rim hike.  It’s a hike from the North Rim of the canyon to the South Rim and is a very unique hiking experience with some beautiful scenery.  Many describe it as a bucket list item.  However, aside from wanting to do this hike, I haven’t taken much action to make it happen… until this week.

After talking about it with my wife we sat down, picked some dates and made reservations with a hiking outfitter to do the trip in 2017.  After I made my reservations, and paid my deposit (I had to commit money, so I’m all in!)  I felt great, because I had taken action that will cause this event to happen in 2017.  The part that was so interesting to me was how easy it was to just take action.

I often find myself researching or continuing to think about doing an activity, when instead, what I really need to do is take the step before me.  Put even more simply, I just need to take the action I know I need to take.

After I hit Submit on the on-line registration form, I wondered to myself why it had taken me so long to do this.  If it was that easy to get on the path to achieving this goal, imagine all the other goals I could achieve over a lifetime, if I just take action and get on the path.

How awful would it be to get to the end of life and wonder how different our things could have been if we had only had the courage to take initiative and get started on the path toward doing some things we really wanted to do?

Is there anything you’ve wanted to do, that you keep thinking about, but have yet to take action on?  If so, take action today.  Stick your neck out there and do something that commits you to getting on the path and seeing it through.

On Becoming Wise

How do you become good at a sport, a musical instrument, a craft, or anything else you’d like to excel at?  That path to achievement in any endeavor involves:

  1. Learning about your chosen area.
  2. Applying what you’ve learned.
  3. Evaluating the outcome.
  4. Making adjustments and reapplying what you’ve learned.
  5. Proceeding back to Step 1.

Not only is this a good process for learning new skills, it’s also a great process for becoming a wise person.

Much like learning a new skill, wisdom comes from learning new principles, applying them in real-life situations, evaluating the results, and making the necessary adjustments to achieve a better outcome.   It is through this repeated process that a person becomes wise.

If you’d like to work on becoming a wiser person, I’d suggest reading the book of Proverbs in the Bible.  Regardless of where you are from a religious or spiritual standpoint, Provers is LOADED with valuable knowledge and insights for successfully navigating through life.

I’d suggest picking a couple of proverbs that resonate with you and begin applying, evaluating, and reapplying them in your own life.  Then, get in the habit of picking 1 or 2 new proverbs to focus on every week.  You’ll be amazed at how quickly your wisdom will increase.

The Investment of Time

Tuesday afternoon I went to visit a good friend that I hadn’t seen in a few years.  We spent several hours talking about what we are currently doing, what we had been doing recently, and reminiscing about shared history.  My friend’s son also joined us, and the 3 of us had a very enjoyable (and sunny) spring evening shooting the breeze on the front porch.  It was a great time!

That experience again reminded me how valuable time is and how similar it is to money.  Both can be wasted on things of little to no value or they can be invested in something that yields a great return.  The big difference between time and money is that we can always get more money.  Time squandered cannot be made up or recaptured at a later date.

This thought is sobering, and causes me to be intentional about making sure I’m investing significant portions of my time in things that yield a good return in my life and the lives of others.  So what does investing our time look like?  It can take the form of:

  • Consuming good books, spiritual text (the Bible for me), blog posts, podcasts, or any other content that improves your thinking, expands and enhances worldview, or develops your character.
  • Connecting with people who build you up, encourage you, and cause you to strive to live a better life.
  • Learning a new skill.
  • Being active on a daily basis in order to ensure a healthy body that will function properly for many years to come.
  • Connecting with people who could use your encouragement, support, skills, and experiences.
  • Supporting causes and people you believe in.

The options for investing our time are numerous!

Just like with money, we are not required to invest our time in things that will yield a lasting return.  Our time is ours to do with as we please.

I think it’s important to make sure that we are indeed making significant investments of our time over the course of our lives.  How sad it would be to look back at the end and see a life defined by the mishandling of our time.