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5 Patterns to Keep You on the Right Path

Every day is different. They are different from each other, and they are different than we thought they could be. When you go to bed and recap the previous day's events, you undoubtedly sigh, "That didn't happen how I thought it would."

The unpredictable roadblocks that appear every day have the potential to throw us off track, and land us on a different life path than we wish to follow. If we want to keep taking each step in life in the direction we've plotted for ourselves, we'll need to develop consistent daily patterns that can serve as landmarks for our journey through life.

You can figure out what these patterns need to be for you, but here are some of the patterns I seek to implement in my life. They bring a level of consistency that enables me to begin and end each day making sure I'm still on the path I desire to follow. Borrow what you like, burn what you don't:

Patterns Help Us Stay on Life's Path
1. Find Inspiration.

The very first inspiration for my day usually comes from the coffee pot (it's actually a k-cup machine, but that doesn't look as good in print). Once my eyes are starting to open, I need to find a boost to get my day started. Perhaps it will come from a picture of my children on the refrigerator (reminding me why I do what I do), or from a note a wrote to myself the night before, or from reading a book that inspires me. For some people, a few minutes of meditation or silence can be the inspiration they need to get their day going in the right direction.

Walking the best possible path through my day will be impossible if my first step isn't the right one. Intentionally planning to start the day with a piece of inspiration is the best possible way to start out on the right path.

2. Give Something Away.

We are often held back from success because of our attachment to accumulation. The constant temptation to chase after more "stuff" keeps us from focusing on what is really important. The easiest way to begin combating this habit is to create a daily practice of giving something away. If you are committed to giving something away every day, you will quickly discover that it is difficult to accumulate. You will be so focused on finding people with needs and on ridding yourself of excess that the idea of gathering more for yourself will quickly become distasteful.

Regular generosity is one element of a positive life rhythm. As with most virtues, generosity isn't acquired overnight, it is developed over time through discipline and healthy habits. The daily practice of giving is one of the more powerful habits you can develop.

3. Cultivate a Relationship.

"One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."

The relationships you develop over the course of your life will either enable you to walk life's path successfully or they will pull you off the path and leave you wandering in the forest of ruin. Take the time to develop relationships with the people who will influence you positively, and choose to be the friend who sticks closer than a brother.

The path being walked by the people who influence you is soon the path you will walk. Cultivate relationships with the people who are walking the path you desire to walk!

4. Invest in the Future.

If you never think about the future, you'll never get there. The best way to arrive at the future you envision is to invest every day in that vision of the future. Your investment might be something small like setting aside a couple dollars, or it might be large like signing up to begin a new degree program.The size of the investment is not nearly as important as the consistency of the investment. Creating a healthy rhythm demands that you lock yourself into the habit of investing in the future.

Don't, however, be narrow minded about the future. It may be that the best investment you can make in the future is an investment in others. Your personal future is not the only future. Your children have a future, your friends and family have futures, your neighbors have futures. Investing in their futures may sometimes be the best investment you can make in your own.

Whatever you do, don't get so bogged down in the minutia of today that you forget to think about the potential of tomorrow.


5. Be Grateful.

At the close of every day, you decide how the summary of that day will read. Was it a good day? Was it a bad day? Was it a difficult day? Was it the best day ever? Only you will get to evaluate the day, and only you will determine how it ends.

Remember, you cannot change what has happened during the day; you can only change how you respond to it. The trouble of the day won't go away, but you can decide not to dwell on it. The mistakes of the day won't get changed, but you can determine not to obsess about them. Choose instead to be grateful.

Before you fall asleep, count your blessings. Mentally walk through your day and remember all the good that happened to you and for you. Let yourself bask in all the experiences, relationships, and possibilities that are yours to enjoy. Be thankful and commit to an even better day tomorrow.

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