Setting the Bar Higher

Around age eleven, I participated in track and field. I wasn’t fast, so sprints weren’t my thing, which also ruled out relays. I didn’t even attempt the hurdles. However, to my coach’s surprise, I managed to do well in the high jump.

I perfected the approach, the twist and moving my body over the bar. Just as I mastered a level, the bar was raised. My track career came to an end when I couldn’t compete with others who were able to keep raising the bar higher.

I think about my short-lived track career whenever I fail to clear the bar on my goals.

But over the years, I’ve done something even worse— not setting the bar high enough to begin with.

As I contemplate 2012, I’d like to make some premeditated good choices for better living. To set the bar higher for the New Year, I’m using Ben Franklin’s 13 virtues.

1. Self-Control  The things I need to control in my life may change as I get older, but the will power to do it is something I still need to strengthen.

2. Silence Speak less and my need to apologize should be less as well (reminding myself that  sarcasm is not always appropriate).

3. Order  Keep things organized. My older memory will be able to find what I need (when I need it).

4. Resolution  If I know it’s suppose to get done, then I need to do it (tax forms, pulling weeds, flossing, you get the idea). I'm  old enough not to use the same lame procrastinating excuses. 

5. Frugality  Hopefully our economy won’t make this any harder (love those amazing finds at Goodwill).

6. Industry  I need to use my time wisely. Same 24 hours as always--but I can't expect to always have all the time I want. Um, it's been 36 YEARS since I graduated from high school.

7. Sincerity  Examine my motives. Sometimes I do the right things for the wrong reasons. If I can see phoniness in others, they probably can see it in me.

8. Justice  In the big picture, I need to see unfairness and right
what wrongs I can. Even a small act of kindness can help.

9. Moderation  This isn't just about food and drink. This is about dealing with people. Strive for cooperation over conflict. It’s not giving in; it’s just giving.

10. Cleanliness  Of all 13 virtues, this one is easiest for me (maybe I'll tackle my closets...)

11. Tranquility  Chill out. Not easy for my Type A, but peace is connected to joy.

12. Chastity Franklin advised taking our closest relationships very seriously. Wise advice. Be careful with the heart that's closest to mine.

13. Humility  I have a long ways to go to become more like Jesus, but giving love comes with a big return on the own happiness.

 I’ve got 12 months to tackle 13 virtues. Raising the bar will help me be a better me, but it also makes life better for those around me too.

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