Every January, as the new year begins, I sit down to write out my goals. The process is pretty simple, and I tend to come up with my goals based on what I want to accomplish.
Pretty straightforward, right? Nothing outside the normal approach most goal-setters take.
But as 2017 became 2018, and I put together my financial goals, my goal weight, and the amount of books I want to read this year (among others), I couldn’t help but wonder if there was something more. Yes, it’s good to accomplish things. Yes, it’s good to seek new challenges. But, there’s more to my life (and all of our lives) than a list of accomplishments.
So, I decided to make a shift. For years, I asked myself, “What do I want to accomplish this year?” And it yielded great results. I ran a marathon. I have a shelf full of books that I’ve actually read. And our family is debt-free, except for our house. And while all of those are good (and I will continue to strive for various accomplishments), I’m asking myself one more important question as we begin 2018.
What do I want to be known for?
Now, at first glance, this may seem like a question of fame. But I’m not talking about what I want to be well known for. It’s much more simple than that, and it really gets to the heart of who I want to be in this world. For example, “Do I want to be known for the amount of money I have or the generosity I show toward others?” Or let’s try another one, “Do I want to be known for the title of my job or the way I serve my co-workers?”
And the question can be different based on the audience.
- Do I want the family living next door to know me as a reserved curmudgeon or as a hospitable neighbor?
- Do I want my kids to know me as a frustrated and impatient man or as a loving and mentoring father?
- Do I want my wife to know me as a selfish and arrogant significant other or as a selfless and humble husband?
The answer to each question is obvious for me. And yet, I don’t always behave in a way that reflects those obvious answers. Too often I ignore my neighbors, lack patience with my kids, and put myself before my wife. But imagine a world in which I lived according to the way I would answer these questions. What could it do for my marriage, my family, my community, and more?
You see, it’s not that accomplishments are bad. They’re good. Set goals and achieve them. The world needs it. And I’m certainly going to continue doing so.
But don’t stop there. Because right now, the world also needs each of us to take an honest look in the mirror and choose to be the person God is calling us to be. And that begins with asking a simple question, “What do you want to be known for?” After all, losing 20 pounds may make for a healthier you in 2018, but practicing patience will make for a healthier world far beyond.
Question: As we begin this new year, the question is simple. What do you want to be known for? (Share with others in the comments below.)