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The Dangers of Settling

There are so many ways we use the word settle that lends to a favorable tone. We use it when talking about someone maturing or possibly getting married when we say they settled down. We talk about it in terms of rest when we have settled in for the night. We talk about children settling down and behaving. We may even view a settlement in a legal case in a positive fashion.

But there are some dangers associated with settling. Even in some of the references above there is danger when we have settled. If we marry someone to be settled down while missing the one God intended, has settling down benefitted us? But there are so many other ways in which settling is dangerous. There are a number of places in the Bible where people settled and found that it led to unfortunate situations. Elimelech and Naomi settled in Moab where he died and their two sons died. The people who built the Tower of Babel settled in a plain in Babylonia and thought staying there would make them famous. Abraham’s father, Terah, started out for the land of Canaan but settled in Haran and never made it to Canaan. Over and over again we see how settling had a higher cost than expected.

The same is true in our everyday life. Settling often keeps us from the very things we thought we were going to accomplish. Settling has so many implications, many of which are not good. While settling is not always bad, many times it is. Here are a few of the dangers of settling and what it may mean.

We accepted less than the best

Many times when we settle we have chosen to accept less than what is available, possible or best. We have chosen to meet in the middle. To accept mediocrity. To take what we can get. We even justify it with sayings like “a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush”. What we mean is we would rather have something than take the risk of having nothing. Gamblers at a blackjack table will often settle for “even money” when they draw blackjack and the dealer has an ace up. Taking even money means we get something. But the odds are the dealer doesn’t have blackjack, and even if they do, over the long haul, the odds are in your favor. But settling adds to the house advantage. So many times we accept something because we are afraid of having nothing, but it also causes us to miss something better or best.

Settling means we stopped moving

From a spiritual standpoint, settling is dangerous because it usually means we have stopped growing. Resting and settling are not the same. Sometimes we need to stop, regroup and rest. But sometimes, rest turns into settling and we make where we stopped our permanent residence which is the opposite of walking by faith or growing into Christ. Growth requires change. Walking requires movement. Settling puts an end to both.

Settling means separation

Orange juice seems to be the easiest illustration here when pulp begins to settle in the bottom and requires you to “shake well” to get the full taste of the juice. This can happen with paint, medicine and many other types of liquids. The important ingredients begin to separate and it is not as useful or as effective as it was in its intended solution state. It does not mean it cannot be used again. It just means that it will have to be shaken to be most effective. Sometimes settling causes us to not be as useful as we once were or should be and it requires major upheaval in our life. Sometimes the upheaval or shaking can be traumatic and wouldn’t be necessary if we had not settled.

Sickness has settled in

Settled is a word that may be used with certain lung illnesses like bronchitis. It suggests a depth to the illness and the time that it will take to recover. Settling may be a sign of sickness or a depth of infection in our life. It may also signify the length of time that it will take for us to recover from our current situation.

Be aware of the places in your life where you are tempted to settle. Settling has so many dangers that may cause you to miss the best things God intended for your life. Live with purpose and accomplish everything God has designed for your life.

The Effects of a Hurricane

Barbara and I have recently been through an extremely busy season. During that time we made a promise that if we could get through the first of February we would take some time off, just the two of us. The island of St. Martin is a place we have visited while on cruises. We wanted to revisit and spend some extended time there, so we made plans around a trip to Peru to go to St. Martin on our return. Our Peru trip was rearranged due to weather related delays, but we still had a few days we could spend in St. Martin.

While making arrangements for a place to stay, I kept noticing comments about the condition of different properties as a result of Hurricane Irma which had passed through several months prior. The hurricane and its aftermath are mostly removed from our memories because it did not directly affect us. We have had our own personal experiences with hurricanes, so we were not sure what to expect when we arrived. It did not take long to begin to see the destruction that had taken place.

When I see things like what we saw in St. Martin, I often begin to think about how those things relate to everyday life and maybe some lessons we can learn from it. This island is a mess. I was brokenhearted by some of the things I saw. There are some lessons we can learn from it since all of us have been on the backside of an ugly storm at some time or another. Here are a few things that might encourage you or help you be an encouragement to someone else in the same situation.

Beauty returned immediately

The main attractions of the Caribbean are warm weather, beautiful beaches and crystal clear water. The hurricane that passed over the island was only was there for a few hours at most. Within a short period of time after it was gone, those same attractions were almost immediately present. The highlights returned to normal. The weather was warm. The beaches were beautiful and the water was clear and beautiful. There was some debris around but most of the things that attracted people returned to normal very quickly.

I see the same thing happen in people’s lives all of the time. Some devastating event happens in their life like death, divorce or some disease and the world stands still for a moment. People are concerned and caring for a short period of time then suddenly everything and everyone around you seems to return to normal while you are struggling to figure things out. All of the surroundings are the same, but you are not and most others have lost interest.

Scars will be obvious for a long time

The airport terminal in St. Martin will be closed for another 18 months. Visitors must board planes and go through customs under tents and temporary buildings. Hundreds of millions of dollars worth of boats are capsized all around the island. Restaurants and resorts and damaged, many of which will never open again. The repairs on those that do reopen will take years. There will be marks of this hurricane for many years to come. These are the things people will point to as a reminder of how bad things were. They are the scars of the storm.

Our lives are no different. Catastrophe may have come and gone but we still have the scars that show its effects. Loneliness or depression. Grief that cannot seem to be comforted or tears that cannot seem to be dried. We talk differently. We look at the world differently. We have been scarred by what has happened to us and it shows. It can improve over time, but some of these scars will be visible as long as we are alive. Though the trouble has gone, we still have the reminders of how bad it was.

People are afraid to come which leads to more suffering

There are a limited number of rooms on the island but in general, there are places to stay if you want to come. But even in the information age, people are unsure of how to get the information they need to evaluate the condition of the island. They wonder if there will be restaurants or nice beaches to visit or if companies are still offering tours. The devastation has scared people away which only magnifies the problem. Tourism is a way of life for these islands. When people do not come, there is even less money available to rebuild. Restaurants do less business and hire fewer people. The same is true for every other facet of tourism. Fewer jobs means the people who need money the most are without. The problem gets worse instead of better. The recovery is much slower than it would be with people visiting.

I have seen this play out in so many lives including my own. I specifically recall what abandonment looked like during divorce. People didn’t know what to say or do. They didn’t want to choose sides, so they went silent. At a time when I needed people the most, they were absent. I see this often in other people’s lives. When they need people the most is when they are most often avoided. You don’t need everyone when everything is up and to the right. Life is good. But when things fall apart, you need people more than ever. It is during these times when you find yourself the most lonely, which just leads to more suffering.

I am not sure what you have gone through or what your experience has been. I do know that if you have experienced any of the things I have mentioned above, it should make you more aware of what other people need when they are facing devastating events and difficult days. Be aware of how things play out, both in your own life and in the lives of others. It will help you walk through the most difficult of times and also give you the information you need to help others through the same types of times.

4 tips to improve your marriage

Valentine’s Day can be one the most fun days of the year for couples. It can also be one of the worst. If things are going good and your marriage seems to be solid, it can be a bright spot in a somewhat mundane month. If your marriage is not what you want it to be, it can be a frustrating and even discouraging day.

Even if your marriage is good, there is always room for improvement. If you are struggling in that relationship, one of the best things you can do is to be intentional about improving your marriage. Every marriage needs slight adjustments on a regular basis. Some marriages need major corrections. Either way, finding a way to improve it can prove very beneficial to the long term health of the relationship. Here are four simple ways that you can start using today to improve your marriage.

Make It About Them

We are selfish beings. We can convince ourselves that we are doing something for someone else when it really is about us. Men buy their wife lingerie for Valentine’s. Yes, I am sure that was at the top of her list. It’s possible that what she wanted was for her husband to have a long conversation with her; recognizing her value in the relationship. Women get their husband a sappy card when most likely what he wanted was sex. So both find disappointment because they gave something that was about themselves instead of about the other person. Be intentional. Think about them and not just yourself. You will be surprised by their response when they realize you are putting them first.

Get Counseling

I have heard it said that every couple should go to a counseling session at least once per year no matter how good they believe their marriage is. Counseling should not be viewed as some activity that has to be done in secret. A great wealth of assistance and wisdom can be found in counseling. You can find professional counselors in almost every town. If you do not feel comfortable with a professional counselor or do not think you can afford it, most clergy will offer some type of basic marital advice, even if it is only to serve as a mediator for a conversation. Don’t allow your pride to keep you from getting the assistance your marriage needs. It is the most important earthly relationship you have.

If your marriage needs an intervention, check this out

Be Around Other Couples Working On Their Marriage

This is one of the most important activities you can participate in for your marriage. Be around other couples who are striving to have good marriages. If the only people you are around are people in toxic relationships, that might be a key indicator as to why you are struggling in yours. There are no perfect marriages, but there are many committed couples who want what is best for their relationship and are working it out. You can often find these relationships in church or maybe even your workplace. They may be neighbors or other parents where you children participate in activities. Being intentional about the people you hang around will have lasting effects on the relationship that you have.

Use Resources

There are plenty of resources available to help you with your marriage. There are books, videos studies, courses, conferences and more. These are things that you can do privately and if applied, can put your marriage on a better track. I have found over my lifetime that a book or a simple video or sermon has spoken to me in specific ways that allowed me to make changes that improved my relationship. It is one of the reasons why I spend much of my time creating resources such as this blog to help people find the help they need for their relationship.

Wanting to help people have the best marriage they can is one of the reasons why I created the 30 Day Marriage Healing Journey. 30 days of specific and practical teaching about the timeless principles that support every successful marriage. You will learn:

  • How to stop fighting (and start talking again)
  • How to build (or rebuild) trust when it has been lost
  • What your spouse really needs from you (hint: they probably haven’t told you what it is)
  • The power of forgiveness and how it can transform your marriage.
  • And so much more.

 

Get it here at 50% off

But, that isn’t all.

This week only, you can get the 30 day marriage healing journey for Half-Price. But that isn’t all. I am also throwing in:

  1. 6+ hours of additional video bonus teaching
  2. A free copy of my book Four Keys to a Successful Marriage
  3. And, early bird access to a destination Marriage Retreat happening later this year (I will be sending you details soon)

 

All of this for less than $50.

Make this Valentine’s day one you will never forget.

What Do I Get For Valentines?

Before the shelves were even cleared of the remaining Christmas decorations, stores began filling them with candy-filled hearts, stuffed animals with flourishes of red and pink and giant cards professing “I love you”. There are a few minor updates to these familiar gifts but they still look almost exactly the same as they have for many years. Merchandisers place them front and center in their stores so we don’t forget to get something for that special someone to supposedly signify our love. We don’t have to put a lot of thought into what we are giving; it’s right there in front of us packaged in red and white.

The interesting thing is that I have yet to meet the person who would tell me that receiving one of these annual gifts has been a turning point for their marriage. I have never heard of how a heart-shaped box of chocolate turned the tide in a failing marriage or how a stuffed animal has broken down walls that have been building for years. I am not opposed to giving these types of gifts on this special day. My wife and I usually exchange cards and we have exchanged stuffed animals or other things to signify something important, but these must be the icing on a much larger cake. These are not the things that make your marriage great. They are the things that signify the strength of a marriage not the afterthought of a relationship.

If you want to give a great gift on Valentine’s Day this year, let me offer a few suggestions that will have much longer lasting effects than a teddy bear or chocolate. They will build a foundation for you that will make the bears and chocolates more appreciated, not resented. This is not a comprehensive list, but it is a great start to building a long lasting marriage. Here are four you can start with.

Acceptance

This seems so simple, but it’s not. Everyone wants to be accepted, especially in the covenant of marriage. The problem is that we tend to spend our entire marriage trying to change our spouse. We use words like train or tolerate which do not signify acceptance. I am not talking about accepting things that are destructive like adultery, abuse or addiction, but rather accepting things that annoy us to the point of argument when in hindsight realize they don’t really matter that much. Each of us is unique. None of us are perfect. One of the easiest things in the world to do is to find fault. It requires intention to be accepting. The greatest marriages are the ones that focus on the good qualities of their spouses, not the flaws that all of us have. Focus is the key to acceptance.

Communication

I have yet to meet the couple who said they communicate too much. Isn’t it amazing the lengths we go to to communicate with our co-workers, friends and other family members while assuming our spouse knows everything we feel or experience? A project at work and no stone is left unturned. A decision at home and we assume they will be fine with whatever. No marriage over-communicates (especially on important things). The majority of marriages could stand more. Hopes. Dreams. Desires. Parenting. Finances. Set aside time each day to have conversations. Carve out time from your schedule when there are important decisions to be made. Communicate daily about the normal things of life. Marriage is your most important earthly relationship. Communication signifies that to the other person.

Attention

We are often present but rarely attentive. There are so many things that distract us; from children to televisions to smart phones. Our bodies are in proximity but our attention has been taken away. Our spouse wants our attention, not just our presence. They want to know they are more important than anything else around. I must admit that this is a danger area for me. I can look right past someone talking to me if something else grabs my attention. It is a terrible trait and one that I have to really work at to overcome.  I know this is annoying at times, but it is especially annoying to my wife. As technology advances and the pace of the world moves faster, there will continue to be things that seek to grab our attention much like the front of the store displays with their candy hearts and stuffed animals. If we aren’t careful, we will go in the store, get a bear and leave without what we really came for. The same can be true in our marriage. If we do not focus on the thing that is most important, we may leave with a novelty  and forget the very thing we needed the most.

Affection

Every woman reading this is saying “of course this is what a man would say”. Yes, this can include physical touch. Physical affection is critical in marriage. However, affection is much broader than that. We talk a lot about love languages, but speaking our spouses love language is a form of affection. My wife would rather I take out the trash or change a light bulb than to hug her tightly. Acts of service are her love language. It is affection for her. Speak the language your spouse needs. Show them the affection they need. I am convinced that if you don’t, someone else will.

These are just a few gifts you could give your marriage this Valentine’s Day, but often we need the most help giving these intangible gifts. 

So, if you need a little help in this department…

Click here if you want to get your spouse a gift you will both remember forever.

Are you going to grab the last Teddy Bear on the shelf, or a generic card from the store, and hope that it is enough?

You’d better not.

If you could give them a gift that would deepen your bond with each other, inject more passion into your relationship, show them how deeply you care about them, and could improve your marriage for years to come, would you?

The 30 Day Marriage Healing Journey might be the epic gift you have been looking for.

To celebrate valentine’s day, I am cutting the cost of the course by 50% AND, throwing in these some additional bonuses:

  1. 6+ hours of additional bonus video teaching
  2. A free copy of my book The 4 keys to a Successful Marriage
  3. Early bird access to a destination marriage retreat I am hosting in the Fall (Space is extremely limited and when we open this to the public spots will go fast!)

You can get all of this for less  than the cost of a nice Valentine’s Day dinner (but you should do that too)!

Get the gift of a lifetime now

Stephen Mizell

Why You Need to Work on Your Marriage

When young couples dream about getting married, work is rarely part of the conversation. We have dreams of fairy tales and happily ever after. Then after we get married, we realize that a ceremony or license is not the answer to all of life’s problems. We are suddenly faced with the reality that two people in a covenant relationship require a lot of work. In the story of Adam and Eve we are told, “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24 NIV). They key word here is “become”. That act of “becoming” does not happen by accident or proclamation. It requires intentional work. There are multiple facets this could be broken down into, but I think there are three specific things we can gather from this one verse to help us understand the work that needs to be done.

Leaving

The Bible says we are to leave our father and mother. This doesn’t necessarily mean physically. Actually during biblical times, it would not have been uncommon for multiple generations of the same family to reside at the same home or the same location. What it is describing here is the fact that our parents have been our main source of strength, encouragement, support and wisdom. It is not that they no longer offer those things, it is that now your spouse becomes the main source of those things in your life. Or at least they should. That is where part of the work begins. Parents have a difficult time letting go. Children have a difficult time letting go. There is a lifetime of connection that suddenly has to be rearranged. It requires work and usually this work begins even before you say “I do”.

Unity

Once more than one person is involved, unity is work (and then even some people can’t agree with themselves). Being united as husband and wife requires communication more than anything else. Unity does not always mean agreement, but it does mean that you are whole. There is nothing that cannot be resolved to a place where you are not divided. Division will bring your marriage down. It requires work to stay unified; to come to a place of wholeness. Whole does not mean perfection. It just means we are committed to being together no matter what the decision or opinion. At times, unity requires submission for one or the other party. Submission does not make us a doormat, it just indicates that unity is more important that our opinion at the moment. Submission is not just about one person. Mutual submission is required for successful unity. Unity requires work.

Become One

“Become” is the first thing we need to understand in this equation. Becoming is an ongoing process until there is no more time. Becoming is this continuous pattern of growth that we should be on in life and in marriage. Opinions change and life begins to look different the longer you live and the more you grow. All growth requires change and change can be difficult. It may require us to change or it may change our spouse (which will still require adjustment on our part). Becoming one is something that is never finished. It is something that must be worked at every day of every marriage. The opposite of becoming one is remaining two and that may be the definition of divorce, even if papers have not been filed.

Valentines Day is next week. And, I know that for some of you, this time of year reminds you just how much work and attention your marriage needs. So, I will be sending out a few extra things next week to help your marriage. Take it from me, a little help in this area can totally transform your life.

So, keep an eye out for an email from me early next week, I guarantee you won’t wan’t to miss what is inside.

Looking Over Your Shoulder

Recently, Barbara and I were traveling and stayed overnight at a hotel. The next morning I got up and went down to the lobby to get us breakfast. It was around 9 AM on a weekend morning and there were plenty of people in the lobby getting breakfast as well. After gathering some food, I headed back to the room. There was a young girl just ahead of me headed down the same hallway. I would guess she was between ten and twelve years old. She was apparently nervous about me walking behind her and kept looking over her shoulder every few steps to see where I was. One time, she was so intent on assessing if I was staying far enough behind her that she almost ran into the wall.

I could relate to her and her nervousness. I have found myself in similar situations both as a youth and an adult where I was in close proximity with a stranger in a place that I was not familiar with wondering if this person had ill intent. My heart went out to the little girl and even though I normally walk fast, I intentionally kept a distance so she didn’t worry too much. The distance that I followed her was just down one hallway and she continued around the corner as I came to my room. It probably was a maximum of 30 seconds total but I suspect, based on her physical signs of anxiety, that it seemed like an eternity. My suspicion is based on of all of the other times in my life when I have found myself in that same exact place. Unsure. Anxious. Afraid. Contemplating someone else’s intentions. When I got to the room, I sat down and made a couple of notes to share because I think all of us have been in that same place. A place where anxiety or fear has created moments of panic based on unrealistic probabilities.

Bad Rarely Happens

As a matter of fact, I would say that the unknown is rarely bad. We spend a lot of time worrying about things we are unsure of, unaware of or that are just new to us. Out of all of the times that I have been around a person that I did not know or that made me nervous or fearful, I have yet to be attacked or harmed. But with all of the experience I have with not being harmed, it has not stopped me from being afraid of the possibility. We spend a lot of time worrying about things that almost never happen. The unknown cripples us because we think of everything that could go wrong instead of enjoying what could go right. I could relate to that girl. Fear has overtaken my mind more than once worrying about something that rarely happens. Statistics bear out the fact that millions of people safely walk down hotel hallways everyday. Add to that truth that there is plenty of light and the room is close by and there are lots of other people around. Fear, however, is not founded in all of those safe statistics and facts. It focuses only on the “could-ofs” that can harm us. Our mind leaves us crippled; consumed with what could go wrong but usually never does.

Fear Distracts Us

As I mentioned earlier, the girl almost ran into the wall because she was looking over her shoulder so often. She couldn’t focus on where she was going because she was too busy looking behind her. How many times has fear distracted you from getting where you were going? I can think of times when I was so focused on something behind me that I missed something more important in front of me. If, while driving your car, you spend too much time looking in the rearview mirror, you are bound to have an accident. Fear will often cause us to focus on things that distract us from where we need to go and what we need to be doing. It tends to consume our thoughts and our focus. In hindsight we think how unnecessary it was to worry. That is, until the next opportunity for fear comes along and it takes our attention right away. Don’t allow fear to distract you from what is most important in your life.

It Was Nothing

When you are afraid, it seems to be this big thing that lasts forever. When it’s over, you feel silly because it was nothing. I have no doubt that this tall, strange adult in the hallway took over this young girl’s thoughts while she walked. The entire encounter couldn’t have lasted longer than 30 seconds. When she got in her room, she may have thought to herself how silly it was to have been afraid. The reason I say that is because most of the time when I look back at the things I was most afraid of, they were either insignificant or never came to pass. Fear tends to magnify our circumstances and impending possibilities. However, the overwhelming majority of things we worry about never even happen. In spite of that, it doesn’t stop us from worrying or being afraid. If we could ever view our fear and worry with this perspective, it may help us overcome some of the anxiety we experience.

What would your life look like if you took a bigger view of things? If you realized that bad rarely happens? Where is fear and worry distracting you right now? What are you missing out on because you are afraid of the unknown? The things you are worried about most likely will never happen. Enjoy your day. Enjoy your life. Don’t spend your life looking over shoulder. Enjoy the journey that is before you.

Google Home Isn’t Alexa

While visiting the electronics department at Walmart recently, I passed by their display with smart devices. On this particular display the Google Home products were displayed. In our home we have the Amazon Echo device that answers to Alexa. The Google products answer to “OK Google”. The devices use similar technology to answer questions and operate smart devices in your home, but they come from completely different companies.

As I passed by the display a man and woman walked up to the devices and the man asked what they were. His wife told him they were “Alexas”. The problem was that they were Google Home devices. To show her expertise with something her husband had little knowledge about she repeats what she had seen advertised on television by saying to the device “Alexa”. Clearly it did not respond. She proceeded to say Alexa again. Still no response. To get it to work, she leans closer to the unit and repeats. By now she is getting frustrated both because she was attempting to impress her husband and she realizes she is in public. The next time she gets louder but still repeating “Alexa”. Finally she gets frustrated and just says it must not be working and walks away.

As I watched this, I thought about how often this happens to all of us in so many areas of our life, but especially in relationships. We are trying to communicate with other people and we wonder why we are not getting results. Maybe there are a few lessons we can learn from the lady calling Google Home “Alexa”.

Know Who You Are Talking To

It was a Google Home but all she saw was a small device with a speaker. Because she had most likely only seen Amazon commercials for the Echo, she assumed that all of them must answer to Alexa. She did not know there was a difference between devices and she proceeded under the assumption that they were all the same. This is an assumption we all make from time to time.

We assume all children are the same. All women or all men are the same. All bosses. All Republicans or Democrats. We just start talking to people and assuming they will respond because it worked on someone else or we have seen it work in other places. Everyone does not respond to the same motivation. Even people with similarities do not respond to the same words or actions. You have to be aware of who you are communicating with. Understand that communication is as much about what they hear as it is about what you say.

Use The Right Language

I am not sure whether these smart devices are always listening or not. There is a lot of conspiracy conversations about whether or not they are listening even when you have not addressed them. What I do know is that the device will not respond unless you use the right language. Google Home will not answer to Alexa.

Gary Chapman famously wrote a book called “The 5 Love Languages”. It talks about how we receive love based on our love language. One of the hurdles we have is that we usually also speak love in the language that we like to receive it. The problem with that is the person we are expressing love to may have a completely different love language. They may completely miss the message we are trying to send because we are talking in our own language. Understanding how other people receive communication best allows us to speak their language; even down to email, texts and phone calls. I have one child who would rather you call them while another would rather you text. It is all about the language they speak. If you want people to hear what you have to say, speak in the language they understand.

Louder Rarely Helps

I somewhat anticipated this is where the smart device incident would go. I had seen it happen too many times in too many different situations. She got closer to the device and she got louder. She assumed she was right but the problem was in the device. She did not change who she was talking to or what language she was using. She remained the same but just got more forceful. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen this traveling internationally. People who cannot speak the language in a foreign country think that if they slow it down and get louder that suddenly a person who only speaks Russian is going to understand their loud English.

Most arguments and conflicts in relationships come because there is someone speaking the wrong language and they are not being understood so they think the solution is to get louder. What was intended to be communication turns into a conflict. Often we look back on these moments and wonder why something so simple escalated into something so big. It is usually because one person is trying to communicate something that the other person is not responding to, so we resort to getting closer and louder, which rarely helps anything.

Have you ever been frustrated communicating in a relationship? I have. Most of the time we walk away blaming the other person for not listening when all along we may not have taken the time to know who we were talking to or what language they spoke; we just get louder and both people get frustrated. Take time to learn who you are trying to communicate with and the language that they speak. It will make all of the difference in the world for both parties.

Why New is Good

It’s a new year. By now you have heard it said or read it in a social media feed hundreds of times. The odd thing is that we don’t really know when we should stop saying it. Is it only good for a 24 hour period? Do we say it the entire first week of January or the entire month? Do we say it to everyone? What if they are not looking forward to a new year? Maybe most importantly, why do we make such a big deal about another day on the calendar?

We throw parties. Lots of people stay up later than normal to see the clock turn to the next day. We watch with anticipation as all kinds of things drop to the countdown of midnight. In New York City, a crystal ball drops. In St. Andrews, New Brunswick a red maple leaf is dropped. In St. George’s, Bermuda a paper-mache Bermuda onion covered in Christmas lights is dropped. In Sarasota, Florida a glowing pineapple is dropped at midnight. In my home state of North Carolina they drop things like a pickle in Mt Olive and an acorn in Raleigh. A lot of time, money and energy is expended making a big deal about a new year.

If we make such a big deal about it, there must be some significant benefits that go along with it. What are some advantages to a new year? What are some things we can take advantage of with a new year? There are only benefits if we take advantage of them. Here are a few things that can come with the new opportunities of a new year.

Energy and Excitement

There is plenty of energy and excitement surrounding all of the parties and festivities that take place for a new year . As a matter of fact, there is usually energy and excitement associated with most anything new. Opening a new business, buying and new house or car or having a new baby to name a few. “New” brings energy and excitement to our lives. There can also be a certain amount of nervousness associated with new things as well as the anticipation that comes along with exploration and new experiences. A new year gives us an opportunity to experience that excitement of walking into something that we have never been to before. Most of us could use a little more energy and excitement and a new year (and new things in general) can provide that for us.

Fresh Start

Every year has its challenges. Even our best years have things that did not go quite right or that we wished had been different. For some, things could have been a complete disaster. A “1-1” on the calendar will often signify a fresh start. It doesn’t mean there is not some lingering issues from previous struggles, it just signifies an opportunity to start again with new ideas and a new outlook. Much of life is about our mental outlook and how we respond to what happens. The flipping of the calendar can give us that refreshed mental outlook that is needed to meet lingering challenges and find the new successes that we hope to have in the coming year.

Stretches Us

“The good old days” and “when I was your age” are probably used way too much in our vocabulary. We think of days past with much more fondness than we did when we were living them. Part of the reason for that is we have had time for our minds to realize the bad things were not that bad and the good times were really what life is about. We don’t have the perspective of the days ahead. Change, even when it’s just a digit at the end of the date, stretches us and will keep us alive to experience many more of the good things that life has for us. Things that do not stretch eventually get brittle and crack. Things that do not grow will die. With new technologies and opportunities being introduced rapidly, a new year will present all of us with a chance to continue to be stretched and to grow.

I am not sure how you feel about a new year and all of the hubbub that surrounds it, but use it as an opportunity to improve your life. Find new excitement and energy to get the fresh start that you need and stretch yourself to create the life you desire. New is good!

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About Me

I currently serve as Lead Pastor at Open Door Church and I am a certified trainer & coach with the John Maxwell Team. I am also an Associate Trainer with EQUIP training leaders around the world. I currently own two businesses related to the foodservice equipment industry. I am a certified speaker, teacher and coach with the John Maxwell Team. I can offer you workshops, seminars, keynote speaking, and coaching, aiding your personal and professional growth through study and practical application of John’s proven leadership methods. Working together, I will move you and/or your team or organization in the desired direction to reach your goals.