As we travel through life we all follow many paths – some lead to success, happiness, health and enduring relationships while others can lead to ruin, pain, regret, grief and disappointment. We all take the paths that our inner guidance system, experience and circumstances nudge us along as we take this very personal journey.
Too often as we travel day by day many of us fail to admit or are even aware of the consequences, outcomes and the potential destination of each path.
Like you, I have traveled many routes; some have led to success while others, as I look back have ended badly. I am not suggesting that these negative paths don't bring with them the potential for growth, learning and maturity, but the bigger question remains – could we have achieved these same benefits if we had traveled more productive or wiser paths rather than the ones that often led to destruction whether short or long term?
I would like to share with you what I believe are twelve of the important things to consider as you travel on your paths into the future so you can look back with satisfaction, peace, joy and a sense of fulfillment.
1)Be honest with yourself – We are all flawed in some way – we are human. Some of these are insignificant issues that don't have a serious negative impact on our life while others can send us down a path of self-destruction. I have known many people during my life who were unable or unwilling to admit or confront some of their traits or behaviors that were contributing to increased stress, anxiety and often regret. Why is this? Why are we unable to see ourselves clearly – acknowledging traits or tendencies that do not add to the quality of our life, but steal valuable years or joy and happiness?
Being honest with yourself takes courage, maturity, honesty and often humility, but in the end if we can come to grips with things that are hurting our present or future that need to change and then change them – we will – in the end, gain self-love, confidence and inner peace. We will always be flawed in some way, we are not perfect humans, but this doesn't mean we can't take actions to move in the right direction in life – in other words follow the right or best path rather than the wrong or worst one.
2)Be honest with others – Integrity – one hundred percent of the time -regardless of a person's circumstances for many people is impossible and for most of us variable. Truth often hurts, but in my experience the pain of truth is nothing compared to the pain of delayed truth with lies, misrepresentation or misleading actions. The pain of living with untruth will always be more costly than the pain of being honest. I know that this is not always possible given various circumstances and the behavior of others, but in the end we have a choice – are we going to let others potential reactions to us or potential circumstances determine our integrity or are we going to find the courage and compassion to always tell our truth? Notice I said OUR truth.
Our truth is dependent on our views, mindsets, attitudes, beliefs and circumstances, but THE truth is not a variable. What we often do is adjust our version of truth to avoid conflict, hurting others feelings or avoiding present pain or stress.
In the end, being honest with others is always the best policy, a principle that is losing ground in today's political correctness way of life.
3)Keep asking – If you want better outcomes and answers you have to keep asking yourself better questions. If you are unwilling to confront your inner weaknesses with clarity and integrity it's doubtful you will ever make the changes necessary to achieve better or different results.
4)Know your passion – Too many people settle in life driven by temporary and unsatisfying activities. They are asleep. For whatever reason they are afraid to follow their dreams or passions whether a hobby, career, relationship or business venture. When we lack true inner passion to accomplish something, anything – we are setting ourselves up for disappointment and regrets. If there is something inside you that yearns for you to do, what are you waiting for? Excuses in the long term will leave you feeling empty and discontented.
5)Trust God – Many people say they trust God and have faith in His actions; possible miracles and responses to prayer, but most of these folks are only spouting words hoping to satisfy their need to feel that they are doing enough. Real trust equals faith and real faith equals trust. Without living both moment by moment you will always feel let down as things didn't turn out the way you wanted. You may blame, point your finger or even scream – God – why me, why now, why not etc. but in the end we are all on God's schedule and the sooner we live day by day with this faith and trust we will never find inner peace and joy.
6)Keep learning and growing – I'll keep this one short – Are you learning and growing every day? Reading, studying or some other form of self-development? If not, you have no right to expect better outcomes in the future. Period.
7)Confront your fears – The single biggest issue and challenge when it comes to following the right path in life is learning to overcome or at least manage your inner fears that can prevent you from finding the confidence, courage or ability to achieve your dreams. Too many people let their fears get in the way of their happiness, success and joy. When fear masters or controls your life and its decisions, actions and beliefs – this is a recipe for self-destruction in either major or minor ways. There should be no loss of self-respect when you fail unless you have attached your value as a person to your success and achievements or the opinions of others.
The only way to avoid failure and mistakes is to do nothing. Whenever we try; something new, something different or something better we will always have to deal with potential disappointment, unrealized expectations or downright disaster, but we don't have to let these outcomes define us.
8)Pay attention to your thoughts – Everything that happens in your life are the results of your thoughts. I'm not saying that things you can't control like the weather or other people's actions, but feelings, decisions, actions and behavior are ultimately the result of your thoughts or thought patterns or what I call your mind map. If you want to change anything – you have to change your thoughts first. If you feel afraid – ask yourself why? If you have lost your confidence, passion or belief in something ask yourself, why? If you are feeling a negative emotion, ask yourself, why? If you have lost trust in yourself or others, ask yourself, why?
9)Be willing to change – Change is constant and relentless. Everything changes sooner or later. People who refuse to accept change as a normal part of everyday life live with constant fear, frustration and stress. We can't stop change. We can't slow change down. We can't accelerate change. All we can do is make it our life partner or resist it to our peril.
10) Leave a positive legacy – Your legacy is built every day of your life – it is not something that is suddenly created during you last years or even days. You can leave a legacy of love or fear and your choice will determine how you are remembered. Leaving a positive legacy requires a few simple attitudes; the desire to serve others, the ability to contribute to people's lives in a compassionate, understanding and loving way, the ability to let go of arrogance and self-importance and living a life that you will look back in the end and say – I did my best, I put others needs ahead of my own and I fought the good fight with integrity and love in my heart.
11) Learn to love – Love is the foundation for all positive relationships whether with your family, friends, customers, fellow employees and even total strangers. I'm not talking here about romantic love, but the simple concepts of respect, compassion and empathy. If you are not living your life from a love perspective then you are living it from a fear orientation with emotions or attitudes like; envy, greed, selfishness, jealousy, anger, hatred, distrust etc. You can't have it both ways – it's living one way or the other.
12) Say thank you often – Gratitude and appreciation are the foundation for all of life's continued blessings. Just learn to say thank you no matter what comes into your life. I know this is not always easy, but again we have a choice – feel gratitude or resentment and appreciation or disapproval.
As we travel our very personal paths through life – where they lead is totally in our hands. You can blame others, circumstances, God or even yourself, but in the end our decisions, beliefs, behaviors, choices, actions and values determine where the paths will lead and how they will end.
"We meet ourselves time and again in a thousand
disguises on the path of life."
In His Service, Tim