Picture is courtesy of The Uh Oh Company
Have you ever got halfway on a trip you were on and had what I call an “uh-oh” moment? You had that moment because you realize that you forgot something important. You either decided to turn around and go back to get what you forgot or you just said “screw it” and kept going regardless of the consequences. This is the way I would describe 2016. While there were some high points (accepting the call to preach the gospel, starting graduate school, etc), this year presented a lot of moments when I had to come to some very harsh conclusions about myself and the life I was living. Regardless of the conclusions I came to, I continued to live regardless of what I honestly saw. With what I’ve shared in mind, allow me to share some lessons I’ve learned from 2016 that will help me (and hopefully others) in 2017.
- Talk is cheap. I wish I could literally count the amount of things I said I was going to do. As a matter of fact, when I look at what I wrote down in terms of vision casting for 2016, a huge majority of what I wanted to accomplish didn’t happen. So many times I said this year “I’m thinking about doing…….” and yet it never got done. This year taught me that we can talk a good game all we want, but what we actually do is what matters in the long run. That’s why I believe it’s best to talk less and do more. As I shared in a post earlier, the time we use to talk the game could be used to just play the game (or do whatever we’re suppose to do). When it’s all said and done, all that matters is what we actually do.
- Never take for granted the blessings of life. Too many times in 2016 I complained about certain things going on in my life instead of being grateful for all the blessings I have. What we have today can be gone today or tomorrow. Everyday my goal is to give thanks to God for another day of life and for every blessing I have in my life. Something as simple as having a roof over my head is something I should never take for granted. I have to be reminded that there are people out in our world that do not know where they will sleep tonight. Instead of complaining about what I have, I choose in 2017 to be more grateful for everything I have.
- Our mindset is almost everything. Carol Dweck in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success defines mindsets as “just beliefs.” Our mindset is a reflection of what we believe about life, ourselves, and anything else. I’ve learned the hard way that if our minds aren’t right, the rest of our lives will be messed up as well. Many of us do not excel in life because our mindset is stuck on negative things instead of what is positive and will help us move forward. I believe my mindset was a part of what held me back this year. My thoughts and perspectives on certain things blinded what was possible and could be achieved. I’m challenging all of us in 2017 to feed our minds the things that are positive (books, friends, perspectives, etc). There is too much that needs to be accomplished for us to have limiting views of ourselves and life as a whole. Let’s get our mind right in 2017! Start with Philippians 4:8 as a key to getting our minds right!
- Consistency is the name of the game. Doing it one time is great. Doing it consistently over time is where the results come in. One of my biggest fatal flaws that showed up yet again this year is my tendency to be inconsistent. I don’t know if this describes you, but I have the tendency to start certain things and not finish them. I believe inconsistency is another aspect of laziness. We’re lazy when we do not put forth our best effort to do what we’re capable of doing. I’m praying that 2017 is a year that I’m consistent in every front. Consistency is the key to success in many areas of life including but not limited to leadership, our daily occupations, family, etc. As I said, doing it one time is great, but the challenge is if we can do it over and over again to get the results we desire.
- Not paying attention to details can cost you tremendously. In the last week or so, I’ve done a better job at paying attention to small details of mostly anything I was associated with. I had an experience earlier this year that kind of hurt me because I did not pay attention to details. As a matter of fact, a lot of the failures that took place in my life in 2016 happened as a result of not paying attention to every detail. As I go into 2017 with positive momentum in this direction, I am determined to continue focusing on the small things. It is the details that may not appear large but can determine the success or failure of whatever is going on. We have to do a better job of being as detailed as possible starting with me.
- Making a difference should be our ultimate goal because we will not be here forever. While death takes place every year, for whatever reason it seems like there was a lot of death that took place this year. On a personal note, one of my best friends and classmates passed away about a month ago at the age of 29. The biggest saying of his that I’ll always remember is “look here, I don’t have time for foolishness.” It makes me wonder if he knew something that we didn’t know. Having to view his body in a casket is something that will most likely never leave my memory, but it also showed me harshly how short life is. Tomorrow is not promised to any of us. As a result, we should be doing everything possible to live our lives as difference makers. As someone said, life isn’t about how long we lived, but about what we did in between our birth date and death date. My best friend only lived 29 years, but his refusal to put up with foolishness will stick with me forever. Life is too short and too valuable to put up with things that do not push us further to accomplish God’s will for our lives. Let’s make an impact on others while we can because once breath is out of our body and our heart stops, we can’t do anything else on this earth. Make a difference while you have the chance!
I pray that something I’ve shared will be a blessing to your heart and soul as we move forward into 2017. I pray this coming year is the best one of your life. Stay encouraged and keep on making a difference in the lives of others!