For about the last 20 years, I’ve never had what I would call a New Year’s resolution. Instead, much like Ben Franklin, I look at areas in my life I want to improve on, and goals I want to work toward.
I guess that’s kind of my small town way of saying “New Year’s resolutions.”
But no matter what you call them, I’m often reminded of that song by Chicago – “Feeling Stronger Every Day.”
It reminds me that every day I should be feeling stronger – not necessarily physically. But by living my life in such a way that I’m working toward my goals and personal improvement, and living in a way that reflects a positive attitude and maybe, just maybe, brings a little joy to those around me. And possibly even makes the world just a little bit better.
There are always several areas that I look at that I think form the basis for our lives. Is there something I could be doing to be living better spiritually? I’m sure there is. As I was sharing with someone recently, this past year was a tough one at times financially. Yet, each month when I often had no idea how I was going to make my car payment, God provided for me. I know He has plans for me this year, and I need to make sure I’m praying earnestly and listening to what He says.
What about physically? Over the years, I’ve been inconsistent, but hope to continue to run well this year, and am currently planning to run two half marathons this spring. If that sounds like too much for you, then start small. Just a 30-minute walk (or whatever physical activity you enjoy) just a few times a week can make you feel great.
Can I be a better father? Well, there’s always room for improvement there. I want to live in the moment with my kids. Not be looking forward to what we might be doing later, or just needing to get this one last chore done so we can do whatever. Each of those moments is part of a family, part of life, and, for my kids, part of growing up. And I need to make sure I’m there for my kids. Not just physically there, but emotionally as well. I need to really listen to what they’re saying to me. And sometimes listening is all I need to do.
Where can I improve professionally? Well, I hope this year to return to graduate school and work on a ph.d. in marketing.
And in the community? I hope that I can lend a hand wherever needed, and find at least a little time to help with the local Hospice group, which has been a group I’ve felt a need to be involved with for some time now.
I’ve enjoyed writing this blog during the past year. It’s been a lot of fun at times, and very therapeutic at other times. I hope to continue writing it in 2014. And I also hope to try writing in a few other places as well.
I usually don’t give advice in my blog, but if I could urge everyone to do one thing this year it would be simply to live by the Golden Rule – basically treat others the way you would want to be treated.
It seems like we have so many new ways to communicate with each other these days. Yet, every day, it seems as a society we become a little more fragmented, a little more distant.
This year, let’s live in a way in which we consider the needs of others as much as our own. Let’s be patient, with our kids, with our friends, with our co-workers, and even with that driver in front of us who won’t turn off his left turn blinker.
One of my all time favorite movie quotes is from Shawshank Redemption, and is also one of the themes of the movie “Get busy living, or get busy dying.”
I would encourage you, as I’m encouraging myself, to get busy living in 2014. Let’s let this be a year of no regrets. A year of reaching for our goals. A time to dust off old dreams and finally pursue them.
Let’s live in a way that does in fact leave us feeling stronger every day.
Mark, if I may ask, where are you planning on getting your PhD at? I will be finishing an MBA this year, and was considering either going after another masters degree or doing a PhD. I would prefer the PhD, but the problem I am running into is that none of the brick-and-mortar colleges that I have looked into have a PhD program that is “flexible” (i.e. – online classes, night classes, weekend classes). I still have a full-time job that I would have to work around. I noticed some of the internet based colleges (i.e.- U of Phoenix) have PhD’s, but I question whether their degrees would carry the same weight as one from a brick-and-mortar college.
Thanks in advance for your reponse.
Brian, I’m in pretty much the same position you’re in. I finished my mba a few years ago, and am currently teaching marketing. But I need that next degree to give myself more job security, a raise, along with other opportunities. I’m looking at Louisiana Tech in Rustin, mainly because it’s the closest place to me (they actually offer a DBA rather than Ph.D, but I understand they’re pretty much the same, and I didn’t figure most of my readers would really know what a dba was. In fact, I’m not sure I would have before I started looking into it.) Unfortunately, I’ve found out pretty much the same thing you have – the “name” schools only offer traditional classes during the day. I don’t understand why in this day and age when I’m sure there would be a market for a few night classes and on-line classes, there are none offered. Maybe one day, but not yet.
I would ask what you plan to do once you finish your ph.d. If you’re planning to teach at a university, I’m not sure I’d recommend U of Phoenix. I can’t get any of my coworkers to recommend it to me, and they basically tell me the degree wouldn’t be worth much in the academic world. However, if you’re looking at the degree as a way to advance in the business world, that could be a different story. I’m really not sure how people in business would view a ph.d. from Phoenix or another online school. But you could ask around and find out how a degree like that would be viewed.
Another option, and you’re probably already aware of this, would be to look at a teaching fellowship while you worked on your ph.d. at a regular school. I don’t know what your family and financial situation is, but basically with a fellowship you teach a class or two while you attend school, and I think they usually waive tuition and you receive a small salary. And from what I understand, the salary is really small.
So, unfortunately, you and I don’t have a lot of good options as far flexible programs. If I happen to learn of one, I’ll pass along the info to you.