The New Year is upon us. It’s a time of making lists, setting goals and resolutions, and making promises to yourself and others. But men, if you’re going to do one thing next year, I challenge you to this: preserve your manhood.
What do I mean? Over time it’s easy for men to deprive themselves emotionally. We continue to make mistakes yet refuse to forgive ourselves. We get frustrated with a dream we’ve been chasing and give up on it. We give in to temptation. We forget that just because we’re married, we shouldn’t stop trying to woo our wives. We quite trying to boldly lead our children against the counter-productive grain of society. Men, especially dads, we quit too easily. Preserve your manhood!
Here are five things you can intentionally focus on in 2018 to help you live up to being a true man.
Face Your Fears
Being a man is refusing to hide from challenges. It’s facing your fears as well as your personal demons or those who aren’t necessarily your friends. It’s playing the hand you’ve been dealt and making the most of it. It’s eating the elephant one bite at a time, rather than tricking yourself that you have to eat the entire thing in one bite. It’s putting one foot in front of the other, one day at a time.
When the flight attendant instructs you to put the oxygen mask on yourself before placing a mask on your child or companion, there’s a good reason. If you’re not getting oxygen yourself, you’ll be dead before you can help anyone else around you. The same rule applies in life. If you’re not growing, you’re dying. Shut off the TV and read a book, journal, pray, listen to a podcast, attend a networking event, take a friend out for coffee, or tend to the pile of to-do’s you’ve been putting off for weeks. When you grow yourself, you fill your cup. When your cup is full, you can more effectively help others.
Boredom is the gateway to sin. My advice: stay busy! Don’t interpret this as busyness for the sake of being busy. And I’m not advocating being a workaholic. There’s a fine line between a healthy work ethic and finding your identity in your work. I’m simply suggesting to keep yourself busy in ways that will (see above) grow you in a positive direction. Another way to look at this is to spend your time working on something that’s bigger than yourself. Something that will demand your time, talent, and treasure. When you’re focused on a big mission, you won’t waste time on insignificant things.
Find Your Focus
Your focus determines your reality. If you’re distracted, you’ll accomplish little. When you’re focused on a goal, working towards a larger mission I just mentioned, nothing can stop you. But it’s ridiculously easy to lose focus in this age of over-stimulation. My advice: take a retreat. Get out of town for a day or two. If that’s not possible, carve out a few hours and do something that breaks your routine. Because a change of pace + a change of place = a change in perspective. Getting out of your routine helps you step back and analyze the big picture. When you achieve this, it’s much easier to regain clarity and focus in your life.
Define Your Values
Our values tend to drive our decisions as well as our lifestyles. They point us in a specific direction. And most of us know what we as individuals value since they’ve been impressed upon us since the days of our youth. But the problem with keeping it in our heads is that someone else, like our spouse or kids, may have a different perception of our shared values. And it’s difficult to lead your family if you’re not all on the same page in terms of what your core values may be. So here’s a simple exercise: brainstorm a list of values you all share as a family. Define them on paper. And my advice is to filter them down to four, because just like a compass has four cardinal directions, why not four cardinal values?
There are plenty of guys in the world but few real men willing to do the hard things. Few men willing to invest in themselves for the betterment of those in their sphere of influence. And even fewer willing to rise up, out of the noise and distraction of the world and stay focused on what truly matters. I believe that if you’re reading this, you’re already a step ahead and are quite capable of doing what it takes to be a real man. Make 2018 your best year yet!