How To Get Your Swagger Back

A Wade Lowe creation – For all intents and purposes the year is over. Obviously, there are still a couple months left, but as it relates to accomplishing what you wanted to accomplish, you likely either did or didn’t. I’ve been in a contemplative mood recently and have been reflecting on my 2013. That has lead to designing my intentions for 2014. In this post, I’ll share how things played out for me in 2013 and what I plan on focusing on in 2014. I would love to create an interactive group that helps each other improve their lives and accomplish their objectives in 2014, so if you’re down, let me know and I’ll work on putting it together.

Going in to 2013 I was not in a great place emotionally, mentally, spiritually or otherwise. Long story short, I was generally dissatisfied with my life. The previous couple years I’d had my ass kicked pretty good, primarily in business ventures, and it was taking its toll on my state of mind. I wasn’t hopeless, but more frustrated and generally uneasy about how things were going. Writing, and specifically lists, help me get clarity when I’m unsure as to what’s going on inside my head and why. Late last year I wrote a list. One column was dedicated to all things I was satisfied with. The other column dedicated to all the things I was dissatisfied with. Which do you think was longer? You guessed it. Dissatisfied had it in a landslide.

My dissatisfaction ranged from money, to relationships, to career, to marriage, to where we lived, to just about everything.

My dissatisfaction ranged from money, to relationships, to career, to marriage, to where we lived, to just about everything. My satisfied list was short in comparison. At least I had clarity on the specific areas that I wasn’t happy with. Although the list at first appeared to be slightly depressing and daunting, upon reflection it was actually very empowering.

Here is why. The only common denominator in everything I had listed was me. There was no other common theme or link between the items on the list. My first thought was “great, you’re a loser and a jerk.” Years ago, it probably would have remained that way for some time. Shortly thereafter though, I realized that if I was the “problem” then I could also be the “solution.” I felt a sense of relief and energy that I had been lacking for some time and immediately knew what I needed to do. Stop “doing” so much and just work on “being” a better person.

It’s worked. That day, I committed that the only thing I was going to work on in 2013 was being a better person, and compared to 10 months ago, I am. This has been validated by my wife and other people close to me so I know I’m not just smoking my own pipe… if I smoked pipes, which I don’t because they’re gross. If you want to know what specific actions I was in, you can find them here (last blog post).

Here are the two primary lessons learned from this year long experiment.

  • By focusing on being a better person, the things I wasn’t specifically trying to improve, improved
  • I got some of my swagger back (in a humble way)
As a result of focusing on being a better person, the side affect was that many areas in my life improved, including areas I wasn’t trying to improve.

Let me explain. Going in to this year I genuinely just wanted to feel better, enjoy my life more and be happy with who I was. That was it. Nothing more, nothing less. As a result of focusing on being a better person, the side affect was that many areas in my life improved, including areas I wasn’t trying to improve. My marriage improved, my work improved, my money situation improved, my family situation improved, my friendships improved and several other aspects got better. Who knew that to get better results in all areas of my life all I had to do was focus in one primary area… me. Not me in a narcissistic way, but me in the since that my focus needs to be on being a better human being and the rest will follow. That was a revelation and will likely remain with me for the rest of my life.

Regarding a comment about getting my swagger back, let me clarify. There was a point in my life where I was confident, humble and self-assured… think childhood. That was followed by a time where I was cocky, arrogant and self absorbed. That ended very badly. That time was followed by a time of insecurity, lack of confidence and general uneasiness about my ability to be successful and make good decisions. As described above, I’d had my ass handed to me a few times over the last few years and I was struggling to regain my confidence.

This year though, helped me change the story and narrative in my head. It helped me remember that I’m not to judge myself by “stuff” but rather by how I feel about myself. It helped me remember that simply doing little things consistently over time, and to stay committed, is the best way to build confidence and get results. It helped me remember that I have more lessons to draw on than most people twice my age. It helped me remember that if I want to change, I can. It helped me remember that if I want to do something I need only decide to do it. It helped me remember that the fall isn’t what matters, but the rise that builds character. And so, I remembered that I have the ability to design and build the life I want, meaning I got a little bit of that swagger back. I’m not talking about arrogance and cockiness, but just a level of confidence and security in myself that I have the ability to do the things I want to do, and more importantly, help other people do the same.

So, with 2013 behind me… almost anyway, I’m now focused on 2014. The temptation is to be grateful for the lessons learned in 2013 and take what I’ve learned to start aggressively pursuing my old desires around money, lifestyle, ambition etc. Doing that would mean I likely missed the entire point and the results would almost certainly put me back in DissatisfactionLand. Instead, I’m going to build on what I’m already doing, meaning continuing to focus on being a better person, but also include three additional specific areas to focus on.

Those three areas are as follows.

  • Family
  • Career
  • Fun

I’m blessed to have a wife who was willing to give me the time I needed to reflect and get my shit together. I’m grateful for that, but I wouldn’t expect her to do that forever (that day may never come) so this year my primary focus is my family. With two very young children in the house, both parents working and a heavy travel schedule sometimes it feels like all we can do is survive the day. This year, I’m committed to having our family thrive more than survive.

Regarding career, it has taken on a different meaning lately. Career used to mean money, ambition, ego and most importantly, ME. I now see career as much less about me and much more about helping other people succeed. I’m confident that the bi-product of helping other people succeed will be my own success. My career has also taken on additional meaning in that it is a lot less about me and much more about it being a vehicle to take care of my family. So the bi-product of number 2 (career) will be an improvement in number 1 (family). I don’t think they are mutually exclusive and each can be used to help make improvements in the other.

Lastly, I need to consciously take time to have fun. Whether it is with family, friends, work, on my own or whatever, I often have a tendency to be way too serious. This year, I’m building into my plan a conscious effort to have fun doing whatever it is I’m doing. If I can’t find a way to have fun doing it then I should probably stop doing it.

Simple, but not easy, is how I would describe a good plan and I think my plan for 2014 meets that criteria. I would love to know what you’re planning for 2014 and help you in any way I can to have the most meaningful year of your life.

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