It’s a new year, gentlemen. So what does that mean for us? Maybe you are on this site because you feel that itch. Something telling you that you can be better. Something deep inside of you wanting to be better. I found this website about a year ago in the same position. I didn’t like where I was as a husband, a father, or a child of the Most High God. I resolved to change how I approached everything in life to position myself to be what God created me to be. I am still not there but I must say, I am a lot closer than I was one year ago. Maybe this is your wake up call. If you need guidance on where to start, try some of the things I used. I am not claiming to have all of the answers but if you are anywhere close to where I was one year ago, you will take anything you can get. Even if you are in a good place spiritually, you should never stand still.
I will start this off with something I just found recently. I am sure the author didn’t intend for it to be spun this way but I think it is a great thing for us as men of God to strive for. I borrowed this from the Marine Corps. and made some slight edits to the language used to make it Catholic Dad appropriate.
From the moment you open your eyes, your goal should be to please God and while doing that frustrate the Devil. Before you get out of bed, talk to God. Fight the urge to start the day negatively. Think “Good morning, Lord” instead of “Good Lord, it’s morning”. Every decision you make should make you better and fight what Satan would want you to do. It is not enough to ignore him and pretend he isn’t there. You must actively do the opposite of what he is luring you to do. So to my list on how to get that going each day:
Set Goals and go back to them often
I cannot stress this enough. Think about the man you want to be. Think about what you would need to achieve in order to be that man. When you decide what you need to do, WRITE IT DOWN. I did this last year for the first time in my life. I wrote a paragraph of where I thought I would be on New Years Eve 2014. I had some things in there that I felt fairly confident I would achieve with ease. I had some that would be a little tougher and I had one or two that seemed near impossible at the time. I reviewed that paragraph on a weekly and sometimes daily basis. So where was I in reality on New Years Eve 2014?
I re-read that paragraph with my wife. I had accomplished almost every single goal I had set. The ones I didn’t, I had made significant strides to get closer to them. I cannot express to you how powerful this was for me. Write down your goals. Write it in a format you can relate to “On New Years Eve 2015, I will be…”. I felt silly when I wrote all of this stuff down a year ago. But seeing it all come to fruition was beyond rewarding. Whether you believe it or not, just by having those goals written down, subconsciously, throughout the year, you will make decisions that bring you closer to those goals. Try it. What do you have to lose?
Daily Scripture Reflection:
If we aren’t in our Bibles every single day, then there is no way we can live out God’s plan. A lot of people are intimidated by the Bible. It is big, the language is tough and it does not read like a normal book. But the Catholic church makes this easy for us. Following the USCCB readings each day will get you readings from every book of the Bible in three years time. You can get them sent to your email each morning. Sign up for this right now and make it part of your morning ritual to read and reflect even for a few minutes:
Automated Conviction Notices:
I often look to things that happen to me or things that I read as direct contact from God. One of those resources is from DynamicCatholic.com. The Daily Inspiration emails send you a line or two from one of Matthew Kelly’s books. Quite frequently, these little passages help me to look inward and see something I may not have before. It makes me think about what I am doing and how I am doing it. They don’t always apply but they always make you think, which is just as important. Sign up here:
Keep a Journal
We have a lot going on in our heads as men. You don’t often realize how much there really is because quite frankly, we don’t have time to dwell on anything for too long. It has helped me immensely to write down my thoughts in a journal. I have sorted out things, made revelations, and even changed the path of my life by actually thinking about and writing down what is running through my head. Even if you don’t have something to write, just write “Don’t feel like writing today”. It doesn’t have to be a physical journal you write in, personally, I use a Google Drive word document so I have access from anywhere. I typically do this right when I get to work before I start anything big.
After you have this going for a while, it is amazing to look back on what you wrote about a year prior and compare yourself in your current state. It gives you a concrete vision of your progress. Make it a habit and it will open doors you did not know existed.
While at work, it is so easy to get caught up in the issues that arise. It often clouds our ability to be one with Christ. You cannot let this happen. While at work, even if you only have a few minutes, you have to take time for God. I keep a Bible at my desk. If I come across a situation where I am stressed or can’t quite figure it out. I play Bible roulette. I open to a random page and find how God is speaking to me. More often than not, I find the answer.
If you can, take a quiet lunch break and just read the Gospels. Read some other positive material. Get re-centered. If you don’t have time then just use this simple prayer; in tune with your breathing, inhale “Son of David,” exhale “Have pity on me”. There are countless ways to pray throughout the day so I won’t list them all here but one thing I do suggest, download this app immediately. Three Minute Retreat. Everyone has three minutes in their work day. Don’t make excuses. Just make it happen.
When you get home, unplug and plan for tomorrow – Enjoy the journey
When I get home, I am drained and want to just sit and relax. I have to fight the urge. Stay off the phone, the iPad, the computer, shut off the TV. Spend as much time as you possibly can with your wife and family. This is time you will never get back. If you spend your weeks just waiting for the weekend, you are wishing away more than 71% of your life (5 days out of 7 for the math gurus out there). Cherish every day you have.
If you go to Genesis 1:5, notice this:
“God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.” (emphasis mine)
Why does God mention the evening first? Because that is where you truly start the next day. Use the evening to prepare for the day. Think about what you did well that day. Think about what you could have improved upon. Make a plan on how you can be better tomorrow. Lay out your clothes, make your meals, decide what you want to get done tomorrow. Plan out your entire day. It might not go the way you planned but just by doing it, you are going to be that much more likely to succeed.
Each of these things make up my daily routine but I think it is important enough to mention it on its own. Figure out what makes you feel better and make it a routine. I know we are all busy but if you aren’t taking care of yourself, it will spill over into your family life, your work life, and your personal life. Whatever you love to do, make sure you are doing it. Make time. For me each day:
- I wake up between 4 and 4:30.
- I read scripture or some other spiritual reading for 20-30 minutes
- I workout for about 45 minutes
- I get my daughter out of bed and play with her, read her a book or watch part of “Frozen” for the hundredth time.
- Eat breakfast
- Listen to Catholic radio, mass, motivational materials on the way to work
- Go to mass if time/traffic allows before work
It is different for every guy but if you aren’t taking care of yourself, you can’t possibly take care of the needs of others. Figure out your routine and be consistent.
The bottom line is that we are all busy. We all get caught up in the world we live in. We must all remember that the one living inside of us is greater than the one living in the world. Satan wants to weigh us down with the day to day garbage we face at every turn. He wants us to get frustrated when things don’t go our way, he wants you to blow off that workout, he wants you to say you don’t have time for the Bible. He rejoices when we don’t think about God. This goes without saying but each of these things should be done in unceasing prayer. If you are alive and breathing, it is because God wills it. And nothing God does is without purpose. So make sure you are using that time wisely. God has a plan for it so you should be doing everything you can to realize that plan and live it out. You might not know what it is, but if you are doing the right things, God will reveal it to you in time.
You do not have to be perfect but you do have to be consistent. Let’s make sure when our feet hit the floor, Satan is not happy about it. Happy New Year and Blessed Be God Forever!