Happy New Year! I hope your 2015 will be one of significant growth and progress toward becoming the man you were created to be.
Around this time, many people make resolutions for the new year. Some of these are vague — so nebulous as to be useless — such as, “I’m gonna get in shape.” Perhaps people who say these things know what they mean, but without a clear objective and a defined program for achieving it, these resolutions go the way of so many others — abandoned and incomplete.
Cognitive psychology has determined that there is a strong link between thoughts and feelings. That is, what you think will ultimately influence how you feel — not the opposite. If this is news to you, consider now the substance of your thoughts about yourself, your relationships, your work and your future. Then consider whether your feelings are generally positive or negative. If the latter, you may want to consider doing a better job of directing your thought-life.
I bring this up because for most of us the connection between thoughts and feelings doesn’t end with an emotional state. Our thoughts beget feelings. Those feelings lead to actions. Our actions create habits. Habits define our character. And character determines our destiny.
In a previous post titled “You Cannot Eat Like A Sparrow and Defecate Like An Elephant,” I listed several principles for creating a legacy. In this and in future posts, I intend to elaborate on those principles.
The first principle is: decide to live a life of consequence — that is, to live a life that adds up to something remarkable. In his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey advises to “Begin with the end in mind.” Applied to your life, you can see this is much more significant than mere new year’s resolutions.
As we’ve noted, this begins with your thoughts. Think about how you’d like to be remembered by your friends and loved ones after your life is over. What would a consequential life look like? What accomplishments and character traits would you like to be known for? How do those thoughts make you feel?
This last question is important, so don’t duck it. If thinking about your legacy makes you anxious or uncomfortable, understand why that is. My guess is if you think about it honestly you can come up with the reason. So do that. Turn off the music, put your phone in airplane mode and go sit somewhere quiet where you won’t be distracted. Have a pen and paper handy so you can write down any insights.
For many men, the apprehension results from uncertainty regarding their own masculinity. As John Eldredge wrote in Wild At Heart, a man’s deepest question is, “Do I have what it takes?”
For some men, the less-than-stellar upbringing they had causes them to doubt their masculine strength. This could result from the absence — emotional or physical — of their father. The father-wound as John Bradshaw calls it, creates a generalized doubt that one has anything worthwhile to offer. This is a reason so many men fail to live up to the potential planted in them.
Even if you had a great father, there is enough economic uncertainty and political turmoil to make a man feel uneasy about the future. And of course, our culture’s relentless messages regarding the worth (or worthlessness) of men and overall suspicion surrounding masculinity can cause a rational man to question whether it would be worth it to stand out. This is where taking control of your thoughts becomes so important. Capture and subdue these toxic assumptions! Find their root and put them to death.
If you claim God as your Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ, you already have the ultimate reality on your side. He knows what He created you to be, and He knows what is keeping you from it. See k His wisdom and He will shoot you straight. This does not suggest that your life from here on will be free of trouble or that God has promised you a free pass through life. Far from it. He has promised to go with you, however, and in that knowledge, you can have confidence that your Heavenly Dad will see you through each one.
Here’s the payoff: No matter where you’re starting from, you can begin this year to realize your full God-given potential and live a life of true significance. But you must decide.
In Part II, we’ll talk about the process for staying on track this year and in the years to come.
So how about you? What does a life of consequence look like for you? Declare it to the world by adding your comment below.