Live It Forward

Do you remember the movie, Pay It Forward? For a school project, a little boy came up with the idea of paying good deeds forward as opposed to “paying back” for bad things. It’s about being proactive rather than reactive, taking initiative rather than revenge, and making the world a better place rather than living solely for self.

That’s what I’m thinking about on this New Year’s Day. Come December 2015, what would I like to look back on and say, “2015 was a good year”? What accomplishments would I like to be able to list when 2015 starts ticking to its end? There’s no better time to start thinking about the end than right now at the beginning! Starting today, we all have a clean slate, a clean calendar. What would you like to fill yours up with?

In my birthday post last month (57 Things I’ve Learned in 57 Years), the last item on my list was, “You can suffer a little now (by denying yourself), or you can suffer a lot later (by indulging yourself now). Choose wisely.” That is the basis of living life forward. Any changes you want to make in your life will most likely include a little pain, a little suffering—denying yourself food, demanding some of your “free time,” sacrificing sleep, putting others before yourself, expending effort, not taking the path of least resistance, etc. But once you make those sacrifices—suffer that pain—you will have lost some pounds, gained some strength, deepened relationships, completed projects, built your internal core… Next December, you can write in your journal (or however you commemorate your successes), “I lost X pounds this year, read X books, ran a 5K, finished a major project, had X ‘dates’ with my spouse/child/friend, read the Bible through, walked X miles, started taking ___ classes, traveled to ___, etc., etc., etc.” Hopefully, you can see past all the X’s in that statement and fill in the blanks with your desired outcomes. Can you envision your desired outcome? Do you know what you want? If you can “see” it, you can have it!

On the other hand, you can forget all that striving and straining and sacrifice, and indulge yourself to your heart’s content now. Eat whatever you want, live completely for yourself, sleep your life away, give minimal effort in all your responsibilities, be a couch potato, live the easy life, look out for #1, etc. Next December when you’re wondering what you’re really doing with your life (Another year has passed, what do I have to show for it?), you will be heavier, feel and look older, be professionally stagnant, be absent a few more brain cells, and be relationally and spiritually decrepit. And if you’ve been indulging yourself for years, your pain may be significantly greater. You could be relationally and spiritually bankrupt, be physically disabled, be hopeless and aimless. And you’ll wish you had lived differently in 2015. You’ll suffer regret. And that suffering—and the by-products of self-indulgence—is much worse than the “suffering” associated with self-discipline. Self-discipline actually rewards you during the process (ever heard of endorphins?). But the suffering of “what could have been” is not only detrimental to you, but it often affects many other people, as well.

So why not adopt the “live it forward” attitude. Instead of suffering regrets next December for “what could have been” this year, commit today to living this year in such a way that will bring you joy and satisfaction on December 31, 2015—and beyond. Suffer “a little” now so you can reap much later. And then do the same thing next year.

Each day, each moment, live life forward. When making choices, consider “How will I feel about this in 5 years, 20 years, 40 years?” Live with the end in mind.

“The pain of discipline is far less than the pain of regret.” Sarah Bombell

Photo complimentsof Theen Moy via Flickr
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6 Responses to Live It Forward

  1. Is says:

    Brilliant. ‘Begin with the end in mind’, Stephen Covey – a really helpful way to reverse engineer big and little decisions, thanks Diane. I’m setting a number of goals for the year; some of them are big and easily quantifiable – I want to run a half marathon in October, so I’ve designed a training plan for the year with milestones to get me there – but others are more nebulous – I’ve identified that I’m regularly ill-disciplined at getting to bed at a sensible time when I don’t need to stay up for work / meetings, so I’m aiming to have a generally improved approach on that (referring back to one of your blogs late last year, outlining those 3 successful habits of busy people). Also my older children are at an age when they need more time in the evenings and no longer go to bed so early, so designing in targeted quality regular one on one time feels like a new must for us – I don’t want a year of regrets and missed opportunities, knowing they wanted some time to talk, read and pray with me, and u wasn’t available. Thanks for a year of encouraging and inspiring blog posts Diane, and a happy 2015!

    • Diane says:

      Thanks for the kind and encouraging comments about the blog, Is. Sounds like you have some good, quality goals for the New Year. I agree; your children are at a key age when you need to be conscientious about building relationship with them and planting seeds every opportunity you get! As for designing strategies for bedtimes and times with the kids, this is where the idea of partnering with the Holy Spirit will really serve you well. We don’t have to figure out everything on our own! 🙂

  2. Baraka says:

    Happy New Year Diane, it’s always a pleasure getting insight and a different perspective here, this post takes me back to a conversation I had with my friend last night, she’s on medication and was feeling rather bad about it and I told her that the good thing is she’s started the year all the same… What matters isn’t how you start but how you finish it and the attitude you embrace in it. This is lovely and intentional and I’m personally challenged to take it up.
    thank you.

    • Diane says:

      I trust your friend will find her way to “live it forward” and have no regrets at the end. She’s fortunate to have you encouraging her. Any forward movement is progress. It doesn’t have to be fast or far, just forward.

  3. This post touched my heart while reading it. Not in the sense of it being another nice thing to think about but, there was a part of me that had been feeling so low over the past few years that it can get to be a routine way of thinking. It got me thinking about true change and the way it begins. It is always in small changes that make big impacts. This is truly conformation as to some things that God has been pointing out to me that cannot go further now. Wonderful thing is that I have the grace to do it.I am 32 years old and have no reason to allow history to hold me back any longer. I am encouraged and challenged. Thank you!

I love to read your comments!