Well, well. 2012. What a year. As I reflect on it, I almost feel manic. Sometimes I was doing just fine and other times I was on the brink of ripping my hair out. In all, it was a tough year, but I learned some lessons that will make 2013 a lot better. I’ve heard that one definition of insanity is doing the same things over again and expecting a different result.
So here’s to growth.
What I learned in 2012
The wheel of life
I first heard about the Wheel of Life from Dan Miller, but it appears that it was popularized by Zig Ziglar, a business and sales guru (you can read a good summary of the wheel here). It sounds a little weird, but the basic idea is that you can envision your life as a wheel with six components forming the spokes of the wheel: financial, career, family, social, physical and intellectual. When one or more of these areas is lacking, you’ll have a flat tire.
However, my big takeaway is that it’s easy to devote all your attention to a major problem area and neglect all the others. In my case, I focused almost entirely on my career and financial areas and I definitely let the other areas go. It didn’t work out so well for me and I plan on never making that mistake again.
This is one of the biggest lesson I learned this year. As I mentioned above, our finances have been one of our issues and, for a variety of reasons, it’s been an issue for years (yes, plural). We have amazing friends and families that have helped us along the way and we’d be in a far worse position if it weren’t for their generosity. What I realized, though, is that I was so used to being financially strapped that I forgot to think about being generous toward others. Houston, we have a problem.
Being generous is a major part of the Christian life and includes gifts, quality time, and service. What have I been? A sponge. A leech. And I hate it. It’s time to change.
Input = Output
What we put into our minds directly correlates with what we get in terms of our mood, creativity and outlook. This is actually something I did well this year and will continue to do for the rest of my life. Since I drive a lot to get to and from work, I listened to hours upon hours of podcasts, sermons and lectures (from universities and seminaries). I believe this redeemed a lot of the time that would have been otherwise spent listening to the negative news or even to music (which isn’t bad in itself!).
What I choose to listen to is intended to help my personal development. I first made this change in 2008 when I realized that my mindset was almost entirely negative and it was due to the lack of positive messages to which I was exposing myself. I listened to the news way too much (they’re almost entirely negative and overreactive), and the music I loved had really depressing lyrics. So I turned off the radio and downloaded a bunch of great podcasts. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!
It’s all about grace
Each year that passes further confirms to me that we have nothing without the grace of God. The good things we have are a gift of God and it ultimately means that we can relax and be comfortable with who we really are. There is so much I could write here, but I want to keep this one simple. I believe a verse that sums up how I feel is from Psalm 16.
Keep me safe, my God,
for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
apart from you I have no good thing.”
Thank you, God, for your goodness and grace.
F.I.D.O.: Forget it, drive on
I believe I first heard of FIDO on the Michael Hyatt podcast, but I’m honestly not sure of it. However, whoever I was listening to said that this is a Marine Corps saying and that makes it cool, period. The saying means that we need to leave the past behind us and keep moving forward. The last four years have been a desert experience for us and, after each of those four years, I let the experience drag me down. Nay, I let those experiences define me, and that’s not cool.
This brought to mind something my pastor said once: don’t think the middle of your story is the end of your story (paraphrase). Do not give up hope. God is not done with you until you take your last breath. So this lesson is a summary of all other lessons for 2012. It was a tough year. It beat me up. But it doesn’t define me and I need to forget 2012 and drive on. Life carries on. Figure out what needs to change and change it.
What big lessons did you learn in 2012?
You can read my wife’s lessons learned here.