What has this year taught you?
For me, it’s been a stark reminder that nothing in this world is guaranteed, things that you’ve worked very hard for can be taken away from you by forces out of your control, and that no matter what you think you’re owed by your efforts, the work is never “done”.
Over the years, I’ve worked hard to be more grateful for what I have: my family, my business, my friends and my health. However, just being grateful isn’t always enough. There’s still work to do. I have to work to maintain balance in those relationships: with my wife, my sons, my clients, my body and my mind. They all work together, they all stand to benefit by my attention to them.
I am grateful that I have the gift of waking up each day with a breath of life to start fresh and refocus my attention on those things.
It’s never perfect.
I am never perfect.
But each day, I’ll try again.
Just get better…a little bit better.
The first question I want you to answer for yourself is:
What are you grateful for?
I’ve learned that the things I want in life, whether they be within those relationships or with my health, require sacrifice. I must be willing to give something up in order to have something else that I feel is more beneficial.
As an addict in recovery, I’ve sacrificed a lot of myself to a master that could never properly serve me. It affected my mind, it affected my body. Learning how to change my body through strength training and consistency with exercise was a way to rebuild what drugs took away from me. Learning how to eat in a way that complemented what I needed exercise to do for me was the other piece to that puzzle.
Sacrifice, in this sense, meant I had to give up vices that took my eyes off the prize. The goal was better health. I’m closer to that goal now than I was 14 years ago when I got clean. That journey never ends.
When you consider what you may need to give up (permanently or temporarily) in your life, ask yourself:
What is a sacrifice worth making?
Lastly, there’s compromise. My wife and I have been learning a lot about that this year. Things that used to really get to me in our relationship tend to bother me less now. There are certain battles not worth having and many things I could justify getting upset over just don’t seem worth it anymore or can easily be fixed by myself.
As a result, she and I treat each other differently now. We listen to each other differently and we respond to each other differently. It’s less about one person feeling like they won and more about both of us feeling like we’re winning (even in less than ideal situations).
As you can probably imagine, our marriage has improved significantly as a result. We’re still working out some of the hiccups but when you start from a place of respect, you end up with a much better result. (Hint: It’s taken a lot of years and a lot of misfires to get here).
Compromise, for me, also meant going back to therapy. There was a part of me, mentally, that felt as if going back to therapy was a regression in my life.
Why go back to something I haven’t needed in twenty years?
I felt I had conquered enough of my demons (trauma, addiction, and grief) that going back to therapy would have only felt like backsliding.
I was wrong.
I needed therapy over this past year more than I have arguably ever needed it. There were days where I hated the thought of unloading on my therapist more than anything. And yet, I could still walk out of my sessions feeling like I got something of value from it.
This past year has shown me that sometimes you have to swallow your pride and work on the things that simmer beneath the surface before they boil over and burn those around you.
The question became: Do I stay the same and let the world accept me as I am or do I compromise my position and make changes I can feel better about when I look in the mirror?
It was a compromise worth making and a price worth paying: work on your mind to work on your life.
When you consider the areas in your life where you’ve been inflexible to change in the past, ask this:
What compromises can be made for the betterment of yourself and those around you?
I’m keeping this week’s post intentionally shorter in efforts to ask you to think about these things for yourself and to look at the year 2020 through a different lens:
What have you learned this year? Anything of value?
If so, make a list.
The answers matter.
“We Make Great People Greater”