Feeds:
Posts
Comments

A friend of mine recently received feedback anonymously. The feedback raised some questions my friend wanted to ask. The problem with anonymous feedback is that when you receive it, you don’t know the perspective of the person who gave it. You don’t know what factors influence that feedback. And you can’t ask questions to understand specifically what caused that person to give that sort of feedback. This is true whether the feedback is positive or negative.

When you choose to give feedback, it’s best if you can give it in person. If nothing else, attach your name and contact information. If you care enough to give feedback, care enough to be willing to be engaged in a conversation about it. For those of us who seek to improve, having that conversation is crucial, and details often matter. Looking at it from the other side, I have found that those conversations can be more informative for me than for the person I offered a comment to. It’s an opportunity for both people to grow.

However, if you leave the comment anonymously, that conversation never has a chance to happen. Neither side can grow from it. Therefore, if you choose to leave feedback, do so prepared for that conversation and attach your name.

Not all change is good. For instance, developing a destructive habit is not a good change. Therefore, having the mindset that “something has to change” but not having an idea of what should change and how it should change is fraught with unnecessary risk. 

I mentioned yesterday about wanting to a better husband. That is a vague goal. It isn’t measurable. It puts out there that I need to change, but not what or how. I’ve seen too many relationships where change did occur, but in the wrong direction. How do I prevent this in changing myself? One way is to consider how to be a better husband:

  • I listen better.
  • I actively help out with the household chores.
  • I put the needs of my wife before my own.
  • I pay attention to my wife’s moods and respond accordingly.
  • I remember my wife’s love languages and show my love frequently using those languages.
  • I actively plan and make happen times when we can be alone – date lunches or nights, weekend getaways, etc.

Admittedly, some of those are still on the vague side and I will need to consider them further. However, note that I have an idea of how to change. I am planning my change. I am acting with purpose. I am actively seeking to control my change.

Don’t just let change happen. Think about how you want things to change. What direction is a positive one for you to change? How will you know you are moving in that direction? What can you do to actively make progress? What can you control? Then take those steps. Maximize the positive change in your life. You have a choice. Execute it. 

“I’m not going to change. He/She has to take me just the way I am.”

I heard this from a friend who is adamant about not changing for anyone. This friend would potentially give up a relationship where both people have invested much time and energy. When my friend said it, I became sad. Somehow my friend has bought the lie that you can have a fulfilling relationship and never change at all. 

Yes, every relationship leaves us changed. The change might be minute. We might not recognize that a change has taken place. However, we are changed. My friend recognizes that and that isn’t the sort of change being referred to in the “no change” declaration. My friend was referring to intentional change: change you seek after to be more compatible for the relationship. 

After 20 years of marriage, one thing I can say I have learned is that I must be continually changing. My wife deserves for me to be a better husband. That means improving myself. When I look at where I should be and where I am, I shudder. I am surprised my wife puts up with me. However, when I compare where I am to where I started, I am even more surprised that we have made it this far. I love my wife. I want to be that better husband. Thus, I desire to change. 

If you’re in a serious relationship, it is implied that you care about the other person. If you’re in a dating or marriage relationship, one would expect that you would want what is best for the other person. Eventually that comes back to looking at yourself. After all, if you want the best for them, doesn’t that also mean the best partner? And that’s where change comes in. Moreover, that’s where a desire for change should be. None of us will ever be all that we can be for the other person. That should never stop us from trying to make progress in that direction.

We all want to feel safe and secure. I am not just talking about physical security. I’m talking about security in our finances, in our living arrangements, in our relationships, in our employment, in every aspect of our lives. We want to feel like we are in control. To be successful, we need to act as if we are in control. We need to try and focus on those things that are important to us, and as the Hagakure says, we need to keep moving forward. 

However, the reality is that there are a lot of things in our lives that we have little to no control over. Our situation can change in a moment. For instance, friends of ours were alerted by a neighbor to the fact that there was smoke coming from their house. A fire had caught in the attic and by the time the fire was put out, the house was a total loss. Or in my case, I found myself at the emergency room with my wife. She needed surgery. She had an extended hospital stay. Another friend has recently passed away. She was in great shape. She was 32. 

All three cases blew apart the llusion that we had things under control. We don’t. We are advised not to stress or worry over those things, but the reality is that most of us do. However, as many things as we worry about, there are so many more that we don’t. Most of those things don’t even register consciously. The advice to not worry is best. Worrying over something we can’t change just causes stress. It just wears us down. But there’s a big difference between not worrying and being oblivious to the fact that our situation can change in a moment. 

That’s why I say safety is an illusion. Don’t count on safety. Don’t get caught in the trap of believing that you are and always will be safe, that your life is impregnable. Don’t live in fear, either. The happy medium is to enjoy the safety you have, so long as it doesn’t limit you, but to be prepared if that safety suddenly evaporates. Relationships crumble. Jobs comes to an end. Medical costs cause bankruptcy. Houses burn down. We can’t always prevent these life events. Let’s not pretend that we can. Instead, let us develop ourselves to handle it when we lose security unexpectedly. 

One of my former youth posted something about wanting to prove wrong those who didn’t believe in her. A few of us quickly commented to ignore them. There are several good reasons why.

First, there are always going to be naysayers. You could succeed smashingly and someone is still going to find something negative to say. If you’re energy is invested in proving them wrong, you’re always going to be pouring it on people who will never acknowledge your success.

Second, people who will always find something negative to say aren’t worth your time. The people who believe in you, who stand by you, who aren’t afraid to tell you the truth even when it’s painful – those folks are worth your time. Invest in the people who care about you, not in the people who don’t.

Third, you should be doing what you do because it’s important to you. That’s not to say that you’re doing something for someone else. For instance, you could work the job you are in because you know that it provides the necessary resources for your family. But you’re doing that job because it’s important to you because your family is important to you. You can get caught up into listening to naysayers in such a way that you start doing things for them. You start trying to do things that are important to them. Except, as we already established, it doesn’t matter what you do, you aren’t going to please them. So why bother? Focus on what’s important to you.

With all that said, just because someone doesn’t agree with your goal or your direction, that doesn’t make them a naysayer. As a parent, I have found myself disagreeing with a direction one of my children is taking. However, I’m still behind them, supporting them, loving them, and wanting the best for them. The reason I disagree is bound up in all of those things. Sometimes the direction they are looking at isn’t the best direction for them. So don’t immediately categorize someone as a naysayer just because he or she disagrees with you. Why is that person saying no? What’s the motivation? That’s how you determine who is a naysayer. 

And once you identify someone as such, learn to tune those folks out. Don’t let them discourage you. Don’t let them distract you from your goals. Use what they say as fuel for your fire, sure, but do so in a way that doesn’t become a crusade to prove them wrong, but rather stick to the fact that what you’re doing is important to you. 

This is a simple concept: you have to put your words and ideas into action. You can’t make positive progress towards your goals unless you do. 

However, so many people don’t. It isn’t that they can’t; they can. Just for one reason or another, they don’t. 

I’m just as guilty. I want to learn Latin. I’ve got a good book. However, I’ve not opened it up for the purpose of actually learning the language. It is time to change that. 

What are you holding back on? What have you thought about but not done? Why not start today?

January has just passed. How are you coming on your goals for this year? If you made any New Year’s resolutions, how are you doing on them?

Periodically, it is good to take some time to assess our progress (or lack thereof). With one month of 2015 in the past, now is a good time to do so. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Were any of my goals or resolutions unrealistic (too hard or impossible to accomplish)?
  • Were any of my goals or resolutions too easy?
  • Are there any goals or resolutions that aren’t applicable any longer?
  • Did I miss capturing any goals I must/should accomplish?
  • Of the goals / resolutions I have listed after the previous questions, what progress have I made?
  • Of the goals / resolutions I have listed after the previous questions, what are my next steps?

If you have failed at some things, remember that failing is a result, not the end. We can learn from our failures to do better. If you think back to your childhood, if you ever played a sport or practiced an art, you failed many times. However, most failures didn’t stop you. You just practiced to get better. That same mentality should be true of you now.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,212 other followers