I recently worked very hard on a project for a week and then completed it. I put my best effort into the design and definitions of this assessment instrument. And when I sent it off to our partners, I had a distinct sense of accomplishment. I felt good and fulfilled as I pushed that send button. This is the sense of accomplishment that we are intended to have when we do our work well. Work that makes a difference in the Kingdom. It has only taken me decades to figure out what can only I do which produces this sense.
Too often, I would get mired in work that simply doesn’t fit the way I am wired. I would find myself working for hours at things that others could do so much better than I. In fact, only several months ago did we realize that I am very good at psychometric work but mediocre at best at project management. So now I have hired someone to manage the whole instrument creation process. That is what bogged me down so often. So, I am still learning what I am good at and how to focus specifically on those kinds of activities and allow others to shine in their strengths.
I know that most people my age are slowing down and retiring. However, as I just illustrated, I am more productive and enjoying it more now than ever. Why would I slow down? One of the reasons Mary Kay and I are so enjoying our lives at this stage is that we actually prepared for this stage for most of our lives without really thinking about it.
One of the aspects that helps maintain our healthy and happy outlook in life has been our sleep, diet, exercise, and spiritual centering over our lifetimes. From early in our twenties, MK would insist on going to bed early and being consistent in that discipline. I adapted to her practices and adopted her habits. The same has been done in our eating and exercise. We joined a health food co-op in the 1970s. I was always one who tried to stay in decent physical shape, albeit differently in every decade. For spiritual centering, I have journaled for over 40 years.
It wasn’t always like this. I started eating healthy in my early twenties because I lost a bet with a guy over whether there was sugar in Morton’s salt. I ate junk food all the time and drank sugared soda with almost every meal. As a result of losing that bet, I could not eat sugar for 30 days, and it radically changed my eating habits for life.
If you want to make a significant impact in the next decade, you must choose to live that way in this decade.
If one wants to enjoy their 50s, 60s, and beyond, one must live in their 30s and 40s in a way that prepares for it. Too often, we only decide to address something when it becomes a problem, this is the problem. Because by the time an issue is a problem, it very well may be too late to rectify the problem. This isn’t just true of the physical body but also your emotional, mental, and even social life. And let’s not forget that all these areas directly impact our walk with Christ, our impact on the lives of others, and our ability to labor for a lifetime.
It is interesting how I accused those in the church I grew up in of hypocrisy because they would criticize those who smoked, and yet many were obese and saw nothing wrong with that. I told them that their weight was as much a strain on their body as smoking. They didn’t listen. But obviously, I was mindful of physical health while in my teens, even before I was a follower of Christ. It appears I have always felt it was important. Only after coming to Christ did I see my body as a place where the Holy Spirit resides. Therefore it was best for me to present him with a useful abode.
In my twenties, I began a ruthless evaluation of every area of my life. I began to read a lot and widely. I began to work on my emotional health through mentors. I began to build into my life small habits that, over five decades, would produce significant dividends. Because I am not an especially disciplined person, many of those habits had to be built on a solid Why. For me, the why was to be a sharp tool in the hands of my Maker for his purposes. Little did I realize those same small habits in diet, exercise, sleep, and mental/emotional acuity would pay significant dividends later in life.
I have maintained this lifestyle for the past almost 50 years. I could die tomorrow of cancer or in a car accident. I must commit my life and the timing of my death to God. However, as much as it relies on me, I will provide him with good tools (body, mind, soul, and spirit) to use in his Kingdom.
So don’t wait until the future to take of yourself. Take care of your future by creating habits today. If you want to make a significant impact in the next decade, you must choose to live that way in this decade.