It’s a new year and a natural time to think about changes. Without the buzz and distraction of Christmas and New Year’s celebrations, men often find themselves feeling down about themselves. Maybe you feel stuck in an unsatisfying job or want to start or improve a relationship. Men, don’t get down and make poor choices (Indiana Jones movie reference). It’s time to review and restart your life.
I’m in my fifties, and I have restarted my career three times throughout my adult life. As a husband, father, and friend, I have lost count how many times I have needed to adjust my attitude and try again. What I am saying it is natural and normal to sense that something in your life needs to change for the better.
The Big Restart
My first big restart was when I was 19 years old. I was miserable because I was still living at home as a college sophomore, I broke up with my girlfriend, and I was making poor choices with my friends. Nothing satisfied me until I turned to God and truly realized how much I needed God’s love and grace. After deciding to follow Jesus, God has given me daily encouragement and has faithfully put key people in my life to help me.
You need to make healthy choices to restart your life. Follow these ten steps.
10 Steps to restart your life
- Set aside an hour of uninterrupted time.
- Grab a piece of paper or a laptop/tablet to take notes. I prefer a journal or hardbound, blank book. Pencils are great (it will take you back to simpler days).
- Write down your name, date, and then a table of contents: 1) Physical, 2) Relational, 3) Spiritual, and 4) Career
- Start with “Physical” by first making a list of your strengths and then list what is lacking and needs more attention.
- Write what quickly and readily comes to mind (i.e., good endurance, healthy diet, lacking upper body strength).
- Make it brief and to the point; more to come later.
- Repeat with the other main categories: Relational, Spiritual, Career
- You will probably have two to three pages making up your list at this point.
- Go back to the beginning of your list and review each entry and write in extra notes next to the items that mean a lot to you (adding insight or more detail).
- You are going through a personal, brainstorming process so ask the Holy Spirit to help you.
- If you wrote down only a few of your strengths and focused more on your shortcomings, then take a break. Go for a walk. Take a deep breath. The father of lies will tell you that you are worthless, lacking, and hopeless (John 8:44). Don’t believe it! God is not looking for perfection. Jesus is our perfect Savior. God calls us to be faithful and courageous. Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. 1 Corinthians 16:13
- Time to prioritize.
- If your list is long, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out where to start. Since we all have limited resources (time, money, energy), it’s better to spend your time on a few things and be encouraged by progress than feel discouraged by the whole list.
- You can take a highlighter and select your three strongest areas and three most-lacking areas in your life.
- Write your plan.
- Write down your three strongest areas and how they make you feel (proud, hopeful, confident, strong, focused, etc.).
- Write down your three most-lacking areas and what motivates you to change.
- Create a “Small Steps” checklist for each area. Under each area (six in all), write down what small, daily/weekly steps you will take to either maximize your strength or to improve your lacking area.
- Remember that transformation happens first with your mind and small, intentional steps of discipline. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:2
- Seek out inspiration and accountability.
- Set-up yourself for success.
- Success is not without adversity. One of my favorite books as a new Christian was Charles Swindoll’s “Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back.” I learned that despite setbacks and bad days, God would help me as I persevered and trusted in His plan.
- Most men are in favor of accountability – for others! No man that I have ever met has said they like admitting his mistakes – especially to other men. Yet, common sense and physics tell us we all make mistakes and that a band of three is stronger than one.
- To restart your life, I am challenging you to find up to three men who will do the following in your life:
- One man to encourage through listening.
- One man to encourage through challenges.
- One man to encourage through laughter.
- Keep a journal.
- Keep your original list and plan in a journal or folder.
- Update frequently – preferably daily but at least weekly.
- Keep going and celebrate every success big or small!
Your restart may not be fully realized for months or even a year, but keep going! Change for better leaves a bigger legacy than can be seen in one life.
Paul’s letter to the Philippians has been a constant source of encouragement for me. Read these words and know that God is on your side, and so are those you love and care for you.
In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Paul Arnold is a husband, father, grandfather, and currently serves as a chaplain to a senior living facility in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He hosts several podcasts – Man to Man (career advice for men) and Pardon the Confusion (Sports) that are found on iTunes and www.redcircle.com