Own your past, change your future.
I’m sure you’re a good person. I’m also sure, like all the other humans, that you’ve done bad things; things you’re not proud of and things you’re embarrassed of.
We’re capable of a lot. Everyday, we act selflessly and magnanimously. And everyday, we act selfishly and uncharitably.
While it’s worthwhile to reflect on our good works, it’s more valuable to explore, identify and name our missteps. That’s because the bad stuff haunts and weighs on us. While it’s common to brush it under the rug, and to keep them hidden, it’s far more constructive to bring them into the light, and to exercise our demons.
The more we can take ownership and responsibility for our past indiscretions, the better our chances of taking ownership of our futures. And the world needs more people who accept ownership and strive to lead honorable lives.
Humans are capable of a lot.
I’m honored to be named to Investopedia’s list of the top 100 financial advisors many years running.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- The necessity of strong, honorable people
- What does it mean to be honorable?
- How do I become one?
Let’s get started.
The necessity of strong, honorable people
“Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. And, weak men create hard times.” – G. Michael Hopf
While history may not repeat, it most certainly rhymes. We go through similar cycles where the pendulum swings too far one way, then corrects and swings too far the other way. Because there will always be people who lie, cheat, deceive, and are willing to do anything to get their way, we need strong, honorable people to do what’s right.
This was true 1,000 years ago, 100 years ago, 10 years ago, and today. And it will be true into the future as well.
What does it mean to be honorable?
Honor is doing what you believe to be right and being confident that you have done what is right. Honor is the embodiment of your standards.
Being an honorable woman or man requires you have standards. You must understand and internalize your values, and use them as your guide throughout life. To help you gain clarity over your values, you can access our Values course for free.
What happens when you make the commitment to live with honor? It means you accept responsibility for your life. It means you own the mistakes of your past, and take control of your life’s direction.
You stop saying things like, “That’s above my paygrade,” or “That’s not in my job description.” You no longer pass the buck or abdicate responsibility. The buck stops with you and you find meaning in responsibility.
To live honorably, we must own our past. Specifically, you must accept personal responsibility for your part in everything you’ve done. When you start digging into your past, you’ll discover painful experiences you had zero control over. You’ll also find things that we’re 100% your fault and responsibility. As you dig, you’ll be the one making the determination on your level of culpability.
Make no mistake, the path to living an honorable life will not be an easy one. But it will be some of the most important work you’ll ever do.
How do I become one?
The Man in the Glass by Peter Dale Wimbrow Sr.
When you get what you want in your struggle for self
And the world makes you king for a day
Just go to the mirror and look at yourself
And see what that man has to say.
For it isn’t your father, or mother, or wife
Whose judgment upon you must pass
The fellow whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the one staring back from the glass.
He’s the fellow to please – never mind all the rest
For he’s with you, clear to the end
And you’ve passed your most difficult, dangerous test
If the man in the glass is your friend.
You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years
And get pats on the back as you pass.
But your final reward will be heartache and tears
If you’ve cheated the man in the glass.
To be an honorable person, we must reconcile our pasts. The idea is to be as brutally honest with ourselves as possible.
It’s important to remember and celebrate our wins and accomplishments. These are things we’re most proud of and are our most light and airy memories. And, it’s important to go into the basement.
We must explore, identify and name the bad stuff. Anything and everything in your past you’re ashamed of, feel guilty about, these are the things to dig into. The stuff that we try and keep down that has a way of resurfacing and occupying our thoughts, is the stuff that demands our attention.
What I want for you is to conduct a thorough and honest accounting of your life to this point. I want you to write down your good experiences, and your bad experiences. Don’t leave anything out.
Start by getting a pen and paper and write the first things, good and bad, that come to mind.
When you run out of things, start segmenting your experiences into “good” and “bad.” To help get you thinking, use these prompts:
- Art and music
- Times you disappointed yourself or others
- Times you broke the law, cheated, lied, or deceived others
- Times you betrayed yourself of the trust of others
- Times you sold out
- In your interactions with others, how have you acted?
- When have you acted in bad faith?
- When have you been disingenuous?
As you’re spending time on this remember, “To thine own self be true.” That famous saying tells us to be true to ourselves, and to never engage in self-deception. Put another way, don’t BS yourself. Don’t sugarcoat anything. Look for and accept responsibility.
If you’re doing it right, this will not be easy-it will be hard.
Once you start connecting dots, and going down rabbit holes, you’ll start to recall more memories and experiences. Your subconscious mind will catch on to what you’re doing and aid you in your search. Because of that, I encourage you to carry a notebook or journal with you everywhere you go. Be prepared to write about your thoughts as they come up.
Identify the skeletons in your closet, leave no stone unturned- identify and name all of them. Don’t allow any saboteurs or terrorists to continue roaming around your mind.
When we own our pasts, we’re in position to own our futures. Accept personal responsibility for all that you can. Don’t lie to others and never lie to yourself. And remember, when the final curtain falls, we’ll all answer to God.
If you’re ready to take control of your financial life, check out our DIY Financial Plan course.
We’ve got three free courses as well: Our Goals Course, Values Course, and our Get Out of Debt course.
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