Dashboard Life-Hack

Russell Minick think~be~do 0 Comments

Q: “I want to be a good person. I want to live a good life. What should I focus on?”

  • Beliefs? – What I think is true and meaningful
  • Identity? – Who I declare myself to be
  • Productivity? – What I contribute through actions

A: “Yes.”

Wisely Integrated Living is Good Living

Life exists in systems with cycles. Elevating one aspect of life i spy an ecosystemagainst another is unhealthy and unhelpful to individuals and communities. What we need is an appropriate integration of beliefs, identity and productivity. That is when we experience “abundant life”. That is the ecosystem of shalom.

But truly abundant life, abiding shalom, is not common or easy. Life is complex. We sometimes ignore complexity in a broadly passive way of processing life (beliefs, identity and responsibilities) that is dangerously imprecise.

But complexity is difficult to understand in a useful way. What we need is a simplified version of life’s complexity; a type of dashboard. Well calibrated simplification helps us monitor forces in our lives we need to engage to stay on track. Even if we discover a narrowly focused path we need to continually process info, make choices and execute purposefully.  We ReThink our beliefs, ReAlign our identity and roles accordingly, and actively ReNew internally and externally through intentionally life-giving actions.

The dashboard Life-hack I use is “…Think~Be~Do…”

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~THINK~

Beliefs come from processing information and ideas.

We get our ideas from our experiences, the ideas of others, stories, imagination, study and so on. Ideas are often vague and fluid. Ideas need to be processed.

We focus on a range of ideas and try to apply a responsible filter to process those vague ideas into more solid and clear beliefs. If we are really confident we may call our beliefs “facts” (but asserting a belief as a fact does not make it more or less true).

Beliefs, even good beliefs, are a part of life; they are not Life. What we believe to be true needs to be considered in light of our relationship to those beliefs. That is our chosen identity.

~BE~

Identity is who we are in relation to our beliefs.

Our beliefs will shape the options for our identity. This is true whether we process our experiences and ideas or not. The better our beliefs correspond to reality the better our options in regard to our identity. This is our most crucial struggle. Our beliefs and our sense of identity forms before we are consciously aware of our ability to correct our beliefs and choose our identity. Maturity is rethinking our beliefs and taking ownership of how we realign our identity.

Beliefs matter because they affect our choices of identity in relationship to reality. If our beliefs do not correspond to reality our identity will not harmonize and life will suffer. Wise beliefs make wise choices possible, but even then the choice must be made and owned. Ownership of our identity frees us to have authentic productivity.

~DO~

Productivity is contributing to life from our true identity.

Determining who I am, including what I value and the roles I assume, guides what I do. Productivity is more than just doing things. Productivity is meaningful in relationship to our identity within reality. Busily achieving goals that do not appropriately extend from my identity (which is shaped by my beliefs) is not productivity; it is just tiring. Confidence in my identity gives direction to what I should do.

Direction in life makes the pursuit of goals easier. My goals are ways of extending who I am through intentional efforts. The clearer a goal is connected to the values that come from my identity the more motivating it is. Because my goals are meaningful I will make sacrifices and adjustments for them. I make progress without losing momentum because I am not just trying to be (or look) busy. I actually want the goal to be completed because it matters. Those accomplishments I produce are part of my contribution to the life I believe I am a part of.

My productivity is part of life. But my life is not just my belief, identity nor productivity. My life is the ongoing cycle of my thinking, being and doing.

So, what do I need to focus on?

Like any healthy system I need to consider giving attention to the parts and to the whole. There are times when I need to isolate one aspect for extra consideration. However, the isolation of one part is only life affirming when it is meaningfully integrated with the others.

Isolate as needed, but aim for integration. That is the Think/Be/Do cycle for healthy living.

Step by Step Guide

  1. THINK about your beliefs.
    1. Focus on a manageable range of perceptions and information
    2. Process ideas in search of meaningful beliefs
  1. BE committed to your identity.
    1. Take ownership of your relationship to your beliefs:
      1. True and wrong? Intentionally renounce them.
      2. True and right? Intentionally affirm them.
    2. Extend your declared allegiances to your complete self:
      1. Physical expressions of identity (represent clearly)
      2. Relational connections of mutuality (belong graciously)
      3. Spiritual alignment of loyalty (follow faithfully)
  1. DO actions intentionally.
    1. Clear goals motivate you to start.
    2. Sacrificial adjustments enable you to progress.
      1. What do you need to decrease?
      2. What do you need to increase?
    3. Intentional execution moves you toward completion.
      1. What you have already done helps.
      2. What you need to do next should be your focus.
    4. Authentic celebrations make our actions “life-giving”.
      1. Our productivity is not Life.
      2. Our productivity is participation in Life.
        1. Physical celebration rewards intentional living.
          1. Your body delayed gratification for the sake of the goal
          2. Reward your body with appropriate gratification
        2. Relational celebration enhances connections.
        3. Spiritual celebration is worship.

My Christian Example of “…Think~Be~Do…”

Journal - 3
THINK – My ideas processed into beliefs

I think through experiences and ideas in light of what God has revealed in his word. I believe that God is the source of good and bad is from separation from God. In Jesus I see the problem of good and bad resolved through his life, death and resurrection. Life in Christ offers stability of identity already but the full resolution of pain and struggles is not yet.

BE – My ownership of identity in view of beliefs

I consider who I am and I choose to reject rebellion against God and accept peace through Christ. I submit to him in humility and follow him in hope. My purpose in life is to give and receive appropriate love with God and people while being useful in this world.

DO – My goals extending from my belief informed identity and roles

I work to learn and teach and serve in various specific ways according to my identity. As a disciple, a husband, a father, a teacher, etc. I set goals, make adjustments and work to complete concrete tasks. When I do this, even with partial success, I offer gratitude to God and celebrate with those who value the goodness of what my efforts have produced. I also enjoy taking a break.

Then? Repeat the cycle…

 

Post Script Warning

Taking ownership of life is hard. The “…Think~Be~Do…” cycle is continually challenged by false beliefs about reality, distorted personal identities and assumed obligations. By taking ownership we do not prevent these distortions from plaguing us. What we are able to do is stand firm and resolute in the course that leads to a rich and meaningful life. Taking ownership is costly, but most things of value are. Liquidate your coping systems, regardless of the equity you feel they have earned. Invest everything in one thing: Life as it is meant to be lived.

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