Wednesday, June 9, 2010

By Default, or By Design?

I wouldn’t classify myself as “control freak,” but in many ways I do want to have a say-so in what I am going to do, and how I am going to do it. I guess the fact of the matter is that I ultimately trust myself more than I trust someone else to determine my path. But, not only my path – my kids’ paths as well.

I’m going to get straight to the point. I believe one of the major problems with the world is that we have a bunch of scaredy cats running around with no idea where they are going. There’s no target they are aiming for. No goals to be accomplished. No process in place to get them or their families where they need to be – financially, emotionally, spiritually, or physically. These are the people that just let life “happen.”

Priorities are out of whack all around us. It can be sickening. We can make just about any decision seem like the right one, can’t we? We rationalize. But, as Rick Warren once said, when we rationalize, we are feeding ourselves a “ration of lies.” Parents choosing their jobs and financial “security” over their kids or spouse. Kids choosing a false sense of acceptance over doing what is right, what is best. Business owners choosing the almighty dollar over consumer and employee loyalty.

Several weeks ago, a friend of mine was speaking at church. He made the following comment: “It takes no effort to drift.” When you jump into the ocean, splash in the waves, and hop on the boogie board, where do you end up? Usually, you wind up 40 or 50 yards down the beach from where you entered the water. And it takes a ton of effort on our part to fight the current that pulls us away.

It’s no different on land in the “real world.” We have to plant our feet firmly into the ground and take a stand. We have to be intentional with every move, every step. If not, we drift. And, the further we drift, the less likely we are to fight our way back.

Many have no sense of purpose or mission, and lack any direction at all in their lives. Generally, these people “want” certain things – to become wealthy, to be a good mom, or to work in a certain profession. They stand at Point A, occasionally dreaming about Point B, but lacking the discipline and initiative to ever make the necessary changes to get to their preferred destination.

It’s why people don’t put away money for retirement. They choose to spend what they earn here and now, sacrificing their futures all the while. They have this idea that one day they will take it easy, travel, buy a vacation home. But how? It’s no wonder that nearly 1/3 of Americans’ current retirement plan is to “win the lottery.”

Perhaps you have a vision for your kids to really become something special one day. You want them to be well-educated, have impeccable manners, be physically fit, have a profound impact on others. In order for you to help pave the way for 20 years into the future, you’ll need to make some changes now. You’ll have to scrutinize and alter the TV shows they watch, who they hang out with, the types of music they listen to, the way they talk to others, the way you talk to them, what they wear, what they eat, how much effort they put into their studies. If your son listens to heavy metal, stays up until 1 a.m. watching WWE wrestling, talks back and shows disrespect, looks like a slob, eats and drinks whatever he wants, and rarely studies, you can probably guess where he’ll end up in 10-20 years. And, in order to prevent that, you’ll have to do the tough things now.

Otherwise, you’ll continue to drift – and so will he. So, choose to live your life by design, not by default. Your future – any probably others’ – hangs in the balance.

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