Just as today is the first day of the rest of your life, so the New Year 2015 is the first year of the rest of your life. Why not make it the best year of your life?
What do I mean by ‘the best’? Well, make it what you want it to be. There are three types of people in the world. Those who ‘make’ things happen, those who ‘watch’ things happen and those who say ‘what happened?’ A good father is one who makes things happen, but they have to be the ‘right’ things.
Therefore the question before us today is, “How do we make the right things happen for our families and ourselves in 2015, and make sure that at the end of the year, we are not scratching our heads and thinking, ‘What happened in 2015?’?”
We are all captains of a ship, charting a course across the sea of life. As fathers, this captaincy contains even more responsibility, as we are responsible for our families. It is all the more critical that we chart the right course. How do you chart the right course?
Firstly you must reach down deep inside. In the proverbs it says, ‘Guard your heart with all diligence, for out of your heart flow the issues of life.’ Steve Biddulph, author of ‘Stories of Manhood’, which is a collection of short stories which are ‘journeys into the hidden hearts of men’ says, “We have four essential aspects to our being – work, family, community and spirit. Neglect any one of these and you will fall over in the slightest breeze.”
I am a big believer in setting goals. Goal Setting has both destroyed me and made me. Mostly made me. Some destruction is inevitable in life. Most of it, if we are honest, is self-induced. You just have to learn to accept the bad things, self induced or otherwise, roll with the punches, then come up again smiling and have another go.
Sometimes I feel like a failure when I contemplate goal setting. I have stumbled many times and failed to reach the goals I set but I take courage in the words of Theodore Roosevelt; “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
In the Good to Great Fathering Course I talk a lot to fathers about planning their life and the need to establish what are the really important goals in their life. The hardest thing in life is deciding what is really important and making sure that what is important is first and not the last. If we don’t establish the really important things first, we will get swamped with the trivia and busyness of life and never do the things we really want to do. The important goal groupings in life are:
1) Spiritual Goals
2) Relationship Goals
3) Integrity & Character Goals
4) Financial Goals
5) Self & Self-Development Goals
How do we decide what is really important? We must first acknowledge that we are spiritual beings and therefore develop spiritual goals for our life. Sting writes in one of his songs, “We are spirits in a material world”. Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added to you besides”.
Strongly related to our spiritual goals are our integrity / character goals. The hardest thing is to be completely honest with ourselves. I find myself lying to myself all the time. Hence the famous words of advice by William Shakespeare to Hamlet, “To thing own self be true and as night follows day you can be false to no man.”
That is why we must reach down deep inside our hearts and pursue what makes our heart sing. But we must pursue our goals in a spirit of integrity. Thieves and murderers have goals too and they achieve them, but that does not make them right. The key thing is to have the right goals. The right goals come from having a right heart. That is why prayer and meditation are so important.
Last week in the lead up to Christmas we talked about the gift that keeps on giving being the gift of prayer. We must still ourselves in the busyness of life to hear the still small voice of our Father in heaven, because only then do we know the truth and of course it is only the truth that can set you free.
Stop and listen to your heart. Wait for the still small voice. Try to figure out what makes your heart sing. Plan your life and make sure your relationships are at the top of your plan.
Make 2015 the best year ever.
Yours for a singing heart