In the first article on this subject, Identity Crisis: Intro, we introduced the idea that many of us face or have faced an identity crisis. We wonder who we are and how we fit into the world. This can happen at different times in our lives but appears to usually come during or around milestones in our lives. I think it is because once we accomplish or are about to pass a milestone we begin to wonder what is next? We have been striving towards a specific goal for so long and now that it is over we begin to ask what the next step is for us.
In this article we will talk about some of the incorrect sources we find our identity in. This is a universal problem but I will try and focus on three sources I believe may hit men a little harder than woman. They are achievement, money, and athletic prowess.
When was the first time you realized achievement was a measuring stick in life? If you think back I bet it is earlier than you originally thought. Maybe it was a parent, uncle, or grandparent but it happens to all of us. Questions like “what are you going to do with your life?”, “Are you going to become a doctor like your brother?” “You know your dad was valedictorian of his class, right?” Sometimes these queries are well meaning but sometimes not so much. Regardless of the intent they begin signaling us that we need to achieve a certain, usually ambiguous mountaintop in order to matter to those who’s approval we seek.
How much money you have has always been a measuring stick in society for how much you are worth as a person. Especially as men one of the things we begin to think about as soon as we start thinking about our career choice is will I be able to take care of my family doing this? While it is an important consideration it can turn into wanting and needing to make more money than enough in order to keep up with our schoolmates or colleagues. This is when it begins to be a source of where we get our identity and self worth. I was recently traveling through some very affluent areas of Tennessee and some of the homes were just massive! In my mind the devil on my shoulder was whispering, “why can’t you afford a house like that?” and, “some of your friends have homes like that, why don't you?” I would be lying if i didn't say it affected me.
The truth is we all have different talents, desires, and paths to achieve them. A large home may not be in the cards for everyone but it doesn't need to be and shouldn't effect how good anyone feels about themselves. How much money we have is a false sense of identity and if we let it affect our self worth we are setting ourselves us for failure.
While achievement and money may take some time to slither their way into our lives as false senses of identity, athletic prowess starts on the playground. The classic tale of who gets picked first and last for a game in the neighborhood has done its fair share of psychological damage. It continues into high school where the quarterback and star guard are held up as idols for the community and can only get worse into college and eventually the professional rankings. The interesting thing is, even adequately talented high school athletes still feel entitled to a higher sense of self worth well into their adult years. They always seem to draw upon their time as a wide receiver or starting guard on the high school team forgetting that was 20+ years ago. On the other hand, if you never were good enough to play sports or were just a mediocre athlete you still seem to be lower in the pecking order in your circle of peers well into your adult life.
I love sports just as much as the next guy but when you break it down to its core, why do we think someone throwing a ball into a small hoop or throwing an oddly shaped ball back and forth across a field is better than anyone else? Again, it is a false sense of identity and if you are wrapping yourself up in it you are setting yourself up for disappointment.
Why are these 3 topics false senses of identity? Because there will always be someone who has achieved more than you, makes more than you, and is a better athlete than you. Even if you are the top fish in your little pond there are a lot bigger ponds than the one you are in and eventually you will find it out and your ego will be crushed. The other thing is people who find their identities in this fashion are like the guy at the party who always has a better story than you. They always have to one up you and are always concerned with being at the top of the heap. Nobody likes hanging out with those people.
More importantly for your own health you need to focus on loving yourself for who you are. Focusing on becoming a better you and not worrying about these false sources of identity. If you can pull yourself out of those you will undoubtably be much healthier, happier, and fulfilled. Make it one of your goals this to not be defined by these false senses of identity. You are made of more substance than these offer.
J. Matthew King, Co-Founder
We have reached the end of this series, we have looked at the common “buts” we use to excuse ourselves from accomplishing our goals. We looked at “But It would take too long!” “But its risky!” and “But its too hard!”. If you want to catch up on those articles click the links below.
It's Too Hard
It's Going to Take Too Long
It's Too Risky
The last one is, “But I don't have time!” While it sounds similar to, “but it would take too long!” there are some important differences.
We all live very busy, fast paced lives and when we do find a few spare moments they are precious to us and we become reluctant to give them up even if it is to accomplish a goal we have. The reality is we have to give up comfort and accept short term hardship in order to get where we want to go. The question you have to ask yourself is, “do you want it bad enough?” Are you willing to do the uncommon? Most people are not. Don't let this excuse become an obstacle for you. In the following paragraphs I have outlined a few important considerations when you want to blurt out, “I don't have enough time!”
I hope this series has helped you take an honest look at the excuses you make, I know I have used all these excuses at one time or another. If we can recognize them we can combat them and change our behavior and therefore our outcomes.
J. Matthew King, Co-founder
This is part 3 of our series "Common But's". If you would like to read part 1 and 2, click the link to part 1 "It's too Hard!" and catch up!
Do you ever hear yourself faced with a decision and you say yourself, “I want to do___ but its too risky!”? I would say the majority of us would admit we are afraid of risk, however, we have to make sure we don't let it become a reason for not doing something we want or even NEED to do. If we do we will limit our ability to seek new opportunities of growth and improvement.
What does risk mean? According to dictionary.com risk is, “exposure to the chance of injury or loss; a hazard or dangerous chance.” I want to focus on one word of that definition, “chance”. Yes, when you risk something there is definitely a chance something will go wrong but instead of viewing it as a chance many times we view it as a definite! We think if it CAN go wrong it WILL go wrong. This attitude stunts our growth and prohibits us from getting what we want. Take an example of wanting to move somewhere you have always wanted to live. If you let risk get in your way these kinds of thoughts may invade your mind, “how will I find a place to live?”. “how will I find a new job?”, “what will my family think about moving far away?”, “what if I don't like it as much as where I live now?”
The list of questions could go on and on. By the end of your negative self talk session you could easily convince yourself it is far too risky to move and you need to stay where you are now. Thankfully there are some ways to mitigate risk:
Founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, said “The biggest risk is not taking any risk…In a world that is changing really quickly the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” I would agree with Mark, so stop saying, “but its too risky!” and get to work on deconstructing the risks you have been too afraid to confront and overcome, don't let them hold you back any longer.
J. Matthew King, Co-founder
This is part 2 of our series "Common But's". If you would like to read part 1, "It's too Hard!" click the link and catch up!
We live in a microwave society. We want and expect things to be done quickly without a lot of commitment on our part. Shockingly this isn’t how things work. Big goals like getting a degree, getting in shape, starting a business, and strengthening a relationship, take a big time investment and commitment.
When you are on the outskirts of starting a goal it can seem insurmountable when the timeline to completion is a few years. It can be easy to think I can never get this done, it will take forever! Don’t let your mind go there, take the emotion out of it, try and think rationally.
Let's pretend your goal is to get a Master’s degree and it will take 2-3 years if you go part time. Yes, it can seem like a long time to finish especially if you are working full time, BUT if you don't start the Master’s program now, 2-3 years will still pass and you will still not have the degree. Time is going to pass regardless so you might as well be accomplishing your goal during that time!
Now here is where you can use emotion to your advantage. When you are staring at a time consuming goal, think about what it will feel like when you have accomplished it versus how would you feel if you don't even try. Regret is a horrible feeling to deal with. Anything worth doing takes time. Make the commitment and investment to make it happen and don’t let the excuse of it taking too long get to you!
J. Matthew King, Co-founder
As humans we are all pretty similar. We have the same challenges and struggles, we have the same fears, disappointments and heartaches. We also share the same excuses or “buts”, the reasons we tell ourselves and others we can’t do something. Four of the most common are, Its too hard, Its going to take too long, Its too risky, and I don't have time. I want to break each of these down to see if these are really legitimate reasons not to do something we want or need to do.
IT'S TOO HARD!
When you hear yourself saying this you immediately provide yourself with a way out. It is a ready made excuse not to pursue what you need to do. Maybe it is a job you want to apply for but know it will be challenging. Maybe it is preparing for a marathon a friend wants you to run with them. Whatever it is if you believe it is too hard for you then it is!
When these words appear in your mind you must ask yourself, “Is this a valid reason, or do I not want to put the work in, or am I afraid of failing?” The reality is most if not all things worth doing will be hard! That is just life. If it was easy everyone would be doing it, all the cliches apply here. Do an internal interview of yourself and figure out why you think it is too hard. Once you come to a conclusion you have a choice to make. Give in to the excuse or overcome it. Realize that yes, it will be hard but you CAN do it if you set your mind to succeed.
Once you (hopefully) have decided its not REALLY too hard and you are going to do it, break it down into manageable steps. When we are presented with a sizable endeavor like running a marathon it can be overwhelming but when taken in different phases it can be done. Take some time to scope out a plan and you will feel better about what you need to do. Don’t let an excuse like, “it’s too hard!” Stop you from achieving your goal.
Our next article we will look at the next common but, “It’s going to take too long”.
J. Matthew King, Co-founder
Identity theft is a major problem in our current technology based world. Despite our best security measures it doesn't take long for someone in the next apartment or halfway around the world to steal your identity and set off the long and slow process of trying to fix the problem. As unfortunate and sad of a scenario it is for someone to steal your identity, an even more shocking reality faces many people who have never discovered their true identity or have lost it along life’s path and cant seem to find it.
“Who am I?” has been one of life’s biggest questions. Philosopher’s through the ages have batted about this question only to leave it largely unanswered and left to the next generation of thinkers to try and solve. Our identities can be wrapped up in so many incorrect people or things including our spouse, career, looks, money, school, girlfriend, etc. We look to these for our satisfaction and source of identity and ask them to fulfill the impossible task of making us feel good about ourselves or to make us feel worthy.
When we base our identity off of our jobs, education, relationships or anything else other than who God made us to be we are missing the big picture. We are missing who we truly are. Any other source of identity pails in comparison to who God made us to be and we will end up disappointed in ourselves and in life if we do not identify and discover ourselves.
This is the first article in this series on identity crisis. In the next articles we will dig into some of the incorrect places we get our identity from, reclaiming our identity, and discovering our true identity. Please come along as I believe this an issue most people struggle with at one time or another. My goal in this series is to provide you with practical tools to address this critical issue so you can get back on the path to real fulfillment in your life.
J. Matthew King, Co-founder
I wanted to take a minute to introduce you to a new series we are starting called, “Don’t Forget the Struggle.” Often we see someone who is successful in business, athletics, politics, or the arts and we don't consider what it took for them to get to the pinnacle of their career. It can be easy to look at the three pointer Steph Curry drains and think it must be easy! He’s an NBA player after all. He has the resources, time, and training to be that good! I believe this type of talk is an excuse we use to let ourselves off the hook for not achieving success in our given arena.
Many of us have seen the graphic of the iceberg below:
What we think is the iceberg showing above the water is in reality tiny compared to what lies beneath the waves. When we see ultra successful peoples incredible actions we are merely seeing the culmination of all the hard work that laid the foundation of their success.
I believe we can learn applicable lessons from these people’s struggles if we dig into the backstory, dissect the struggle they all went through and see how they overcame them to reach their goals. With that information we can apply the same principles to our lives when we run into roadblocks to our goals that will come at one time or another.
I am particularly interested in individuals who at least at one time were viewed as underdogs. I believe their stories will be most relatable to most of us. It cannot be denied that some people are blessed with God given talents that put them one foot in front of everyone else. Not to say they don't have struggles of their own but I think we can learn more from the underdogs.
I do not have a timetable or length to this series as their are many who could fit into it the theme. I already have a list, some gathered through readers input, but if you have any suggestions of who you would like us to write about please let us know!
I am excited to begin this series and I hope you will benefit from it as much as me.
J. Matthew King, Co-founder
If you are anything like me you may struggle at times with feelings of ingratitude, unhappiness or a lack of focus. One of the tools I have been using to combat these feelings is called "The Five-Minute Journal.” This journal is a simple tool tthat literally can take 5 minutes or so and you are done! The creators of the journal described it this way, “The Five Minute Journal is your secret weapon to focus on the good in your life, become more mindful, and live with intention. With a simple structured format based on positive psychology research, you will start and end each day with gratitude. Side effects may include: increased happiness, better relationships, and becoming more optimistic. You’ve been warned.
The journal is laid out in a straightforward manner (see picture below).
In the morning you write 3 things you are grateful for. They don't have to be big ticket items. It can be as simple as your morning coffee, a good nights sleep, and your job. Next you write 3 things that could happen today to make your day great. Again, these do not have to be what we typically consider significant things. They could be things like, if I got my homework done, if I got to be outside, if I go on a date with my girlfriend. Finally you finish up with an affirmation about yourself. Affirmation isn’t necessarily a word we use a lot but according to dictionary.com it means, “1. the act or an instance of affirming; state of being affirmed. 2. the assertion that something exists or is true.3. something that is affirmed; a statement or proposition that is declared to be true.” In this case the affirmation in your journal would be saying something true and positive about yourself. It might be something like, “I am a valuable employee and indispensable to my team.” Or “I am healthy, strong, and athletic.” The idea of this journal is to gradually rewire your brain to think in a positive and grateful manner about yourself and see the significance and meaning in even the small things in our lives we often take for granted.
At night there is another area where you will do a journal entry. First you will write 3 amazing things that happened today. You might wander how you will be able to think of 3 AMAZING things that happen each and every day. This is exactly the point. Amazing things DO happen to us every day we just take them for granted. For example, getting a good grade on an assignment, having your best workout in a long time, kissing your wife goodbye in the morning, seeing the sun rise. All of those are amazing! The last part of the daily journal entry asks the question, how could I have made today even better? This is an opportunity to reflect on your day as a whole, figure out what you could have changed, and set in your mind how you will make tomorrow great. This question is prepping you for a better tomorrow and putting the responsibility on YOU to make it a good day. The responsibility is NOT on the environment or other people.
You can get the 5 Minute Journal in 2 formats. One is the physical journal you can find at: https://www.intelligentchange.com/products/the-five-minute-journal. There is also an electronic version you can download on the Apple application store by searching for “5 min journal". Either choice is great but I prefer physically writing so I have the actual journal.
On our quest to become the best version of ourselves this is a great tool to add to our toolbox. I challenge you to try it for at least 30 days and I think you will notice a big difference in your gratefulness and positivity. Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or if you will accept the challenge!
J. Matthew King, Co-founder
Are you a front windshield or rearview mirror thinker? This time of year you will see many articles focusing on goal setting and new years resolutions. Those are worthy and valuable topics but I want to take a deeper dive into our though process in the hopes it will help you as you plan to have a successful 2017.
When you think about how you view your life are you focused on the past or on the future? I have heard it described as focusing on looking out the front windshield when you are driving vs. constantly checking the rearview mirror. When you drive a car you have to focus on the road ahead (the future) or you risk serious injury to yourself and others by only focusing on looking out the rearview mirror (the past). When you think about 2016 for some of us it was a great year and for some it was a rough year. I imagine it was a little bit of both for most people. Regardless of how good or bad 2016 was, if you only focus on what went wrong it will assuredly negatively impact 2017. When I look back at the goals I set for 2016 I accomplished some of them but I also failed at a few. It is disappointing to admit, but I missed the mark on some of my goals. Now what can I do with that information?
Unfortunately having a good memory can be a detriment to our success when it comes to dwelling on the past. One of the best attributes of a quarterback is his ability to forget the last interception he throws. If he dwells on his mistake he is prone to be too scared and too cautious to make the big plays that are needed when the opportunity develops. We need to adopt the same mindset. All of us had failures in 2016 but we have to let them go and be ready for the opportunities we have in 2017.
Here is what I suggest, write down the goals you did not achieve or any other kind of failure from 2016 that is bothering you. mentally accept and acknowledge you didn't accomplish what you needed to in those areas. Now crumple up the piece of paper and throw it away. It is over and time to move on.
2017 is a blank slate. Everything that you want to accomplish is waiting for you if you put in the work and build it. Don't let the mistakes of the past ruin your future. Keep your focus on what lies ahead and make it happen!
J. Matthew King, Co-founder
A “designed man” is a redundancy. That is, all men-- all humanity-- are products of intelligent design. Evolutionary theory deserves its crater-sized holes. It cannot account for the craftsmanship inherent in the human race.
But a good beginning is no assurance that every man will build a life that is effectively designed. Stephen Covey says that “all things are created twice.” The first is a mental creation of vision and plans, and the second is an execution of those plans. There is a difference in being formed by design and consciously living by it. This decision--to live intentionally and deliberately--spares us from the lazy life lived on autopilot. And the sooner we as young men embrace this dilemma, the better. Either we choose to live deliberately or we choose to live by default. And making no choice is the choice. Before we know it, all the old adages come home to roost. Days turn to years, youth vanishes, old age stares us in the face and time slips away. Whatever time we did have for our career, health, spirit and world was squandered.
Contribution and meaning give context to our existence. With them, even the mundane has purpose. Without them, even the profound feels hollow and unsatisfying. Identifying how these principles speak to us, personally, is a huge step in designing a life with a worthy legacy at the end.
Young men look ahead. Old men look back. Prepare for the backward glance now by fashioning a blue print for the road ahead. Become a designed man. In the end, an undesigned life is as wasteful as an unexamined one.