Episode 72: Turn Your * to a !

Do you feel like your 2020 will have an asterisk (*) beside it? In your mind, have you simply given up and moved on to 2021? Jimmy shares three daily routines that help him stay focused and replace the surrendered thoughts for 2020 and replace them with goal achievement and lifetime memories.

Episode Keys

  • The importance of equipping the mind to take on the challenges of the pandemic and excel in your day
  • Why you must control your mindset each day to overcome the difficulties you will surely face
  • Limiting the constant barrage of negative news so that you r mind will focus on powerful, positive thoughts to achieve your goals
  • Salvaging the remainder of you year to be the best year of your life!

Podcast Transcription

Some friends of mine were discussing the other day how the current state of sports and other activities in 2020 would perhaps have an asterisk by their year. It’s one of those things that we feel like this year has been totally stripped from our hands. Taken from our control and commanded by someone that has not our best interest at heart.

Hey, good morning! This is Jimmy Williams with Live a Life by Design your Monday morning moments of motivation. Giving you the opportunity to live life in a bigger, better, and bolder fashion. Thank you for joining me this morning. I have been given some deep thought to the year thus far. We’ve gone through seven months of 2020. How has your seven months turned out? Did the plans that you had for your life as you begin January 1, a new year, ringing in that new year with such fervor and ambition and all of a sudden March came. You know the world’s been a little unkind to most of us across the globe. But one of the things I want you to think about today is, instead of placing an asterisk by 2020 in your life. I’m gonna show you today how to put an exclamation point at the end of it.

This does not have to be a wasted year, as a friend of mine said. I’ll never forget our conversation recently as we were having a brief lunch, just the three of us. We’re sitting at the table and a friend of mine says, ‘You know, this has just been such a really wasted year’. When he said that, now I know he didn’t mean it, but when he said that I thought to myself, wait a minute now. There’s nothing being wasted. Each of us has 24 hours a day. How we spend it, how we invest it in achieving our goals and dreams is up to us. We can either sit back, watch all the negative news all day, read about it all day. Or we can do something about it.

I choose to do the latter. I have not been participating on an active basis, and I desire not too, participate in following the events of Covid-19. I’m certain you have heard all you wish to hear about it. So I’m not going to focus on the Covid-19 impact. I’m gonna with you today and share what I do on a daily basis that helps me maintain the very positive mental attitude that I need to tackle the ways of this world. I will confess to you. I’m not totally disregarding the negative impact. I understand it is impacting others terribly. It has cost family members their lives. My own father, we just got home a few days ago, from the hospital. Had been in ICU for 20 plus days with Covid-19. He’d been in a hospital a total of 30 days. It is an impact that has hit each and everyone of us in some form. Many of us have loved ones we’ve lost. Friends that are ill. Was talking just yesterday to a friend of mine and his son, age 23, a young, robust, strong young man who has now been stricken by this pandemic.

So, let’s talk about some of the things that happen in life with symbols. You know this friend of mine mentioned that they’re just gonna put an asterisk by the year of sports. Well, I thought about that on my drive home. And if you don’t ever do this, I’ll tell you the best time to really think deeply for me, and it may not be the safest thing. But I do enjoy this if I’m on a highway that’s not very congested. I like to turn off the radio, the noise, I like for it to be as quiet as possible. I’ll even mute my phone, and I simply think. Give my mind time to just process what’s going on in the day. I like to give myself this atmosphere of attitude, I call it, where I can just sit in my car alone. Driving down the highway and hopefully give myself some good thoughts.

Well, during this time of just thinking, I came up with this idea that my friend had an asterisk as a symbol indicating that the year turned out in a way different than he had planned. In other words, it was an exception to the norm. So he placed an asterisk on his mind on sports. Now, sure, sports have been impacted in such terrible ways. The NBA is playing not across the country and bringing the various venues fans and opportunities to see them. They’re all down at Disney World in Orlando, Florida and simply going to play all the games at that complex and in essence trying to keep any particular illness they may contract from spreading to those cities.

Baseball has trimmed down to only, I believe, a 60 game season versus 120 plus. It looks like football season as we come into it now in August of 2020, looking far differently than in the past were most division one teams, which that’s what if you’ve been listening to the podcast for over a year now, you know I’m a big time D-1 football fan. And I will say to you this season is gonna be unique. Some of the particular conferences, particularly in the power five have now gone to a conference only plus one non-conference game scheduled. And our instance, here in the Big 12, we will actually only be playing 10 games this season. And if there is a postseason, which there’s a big if, if there is, we’ll tackle it when it comes. But at the end of the day, I appreciate one thing about our head coach, Lincoln Riley, he’s doing all that he can to work within the CDC guidelines, but still provide these young men, and the staff that supports them an opportunity to do what they love in a safe manner. And that is to get out on that football field and bang some helmets.

I have often thought that if I had to take a year and place an asterisk by it to indicate that we have some kind of issue, well, 2020 may be it. You know, it’s one of those things though, that that symbol says so powerfully to the world that they don’t understand the context and in generations to come they’ll look back and wonder, hopefully with medical advances of their time what was the big fuss about. What was the issue with this pandemic? So, at the end of the day, I know life’s been disrupting for you. I do want to say, though, if you’ll listen today for just these few moments and take to heart these strategies and routines I’m going to give you today, I can assure you if you put them into practice, your days will look better, your goals will be achieved and I assure you the smile on your face will be wider than it ever has been.

But symbols to me are very, very powerful statements. You know, there are many symbols we use in today’s world in the form of communication. We have emojis on our phones, we have texting shorthand. I’ll be honest with you. I have to ask my teenage daughter what half of those shorthand words mean, but anyway. We have gifs, or pictures that are animated, for example, to convey our message to the listener. You know one of the most powerful symbols we note is the dash. Now by itself, this one character, the dash, does not really mean much to the reader. But where it is placed in context with other information gives it its power. This is one of those things that I noticed after attending funerals over the years. I would be walking back to my car after the service of a loved one or a friend had been conducted. And I would look at the tombstones, or headstones, on the graves as I walked back to my car. I’d always take note if it had some special saying or some epitaph that had a really unique statement to it. I also noticed that a lot of the older headstones would just simply have the dates of birth and death. But then they may have such words as father, son, husband. There was no other written commentary but those three words in addition to their name, dates of birth and death.

It leaves the reader to look at this from the standpoint of, well, was this person’s life really all that fulfilling? It could be that this was just the norm of their time of life. In our history there was not an adornment of certain headstones and things as it might have been for the elite, if you will, the princes and kings and queens of the day. But at the end of the time you look at this and wonder, that dash, what’s representing in that dash. Was this person a good husband? Was he a great father to his kids? Was he a wonderful respectful son to his parents? All of those, I’m sure, were in the positive. But at the time of creation and at the time of really focusing on doing what was best for this person’s legacy these three words rang out.

Some stones would simply state the name of the deceased and didn’t have a date of birth, but a question mark. Another symbol that says we do not know the origins of this person. In the early stages of our country, people immigrated from other countries across the globe. They may not have had an accurate history. May not have had accurate birth records and so forth. They just had a question mark. Now how would you feel if your legacy began with a question mark? The question mark on his face simply says to us, wow, we do not know the origins of this person. Or we do not know the answer to this question. Or we do not know why this occurred.

This causes me to reflect on the simple yet powerful succinct statements. So, the historical author Mark Twain quoted, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why”. Remembering this quote while walking to my car from the funeral service gave me a foundation to ask this simple question. What does the dash represent? I am referring to the dash between the dates of birth and death. This small, inconspicuous line carved in the granite represents a lifetime of events. Were these life changing events? Sad, happy? We don’t know. By simply looking at the stone placed on the grave the observer would never know the impact of life on the person.

But I want to focus with you today on another symbol that is too often thrown out when it comes to a date or time or activity of exception. As my friend noted about our sports this year in 2020. This is the year we may put an asterisk by the year. It’s remarked that 2020 has been nothing as it was intended by everyone I’ve talked with. I will say to you that everyone says, ‘I had planned to do this’, ‘I was going to go here’, ‘I had my family visiting there’. And none of it has transpired. The thing that we have to take advantage of during a time of disruption that we are currently experiencing is we must take control of those things we can control.

I’ve said it many times on this podcast. You are in charge and responsible for you. It is critical that you understand that you are the soul person that can provide the mental support you’re in charge of the inputs you allow in your brain. You are in charge of the words that come out of your mouth and the attitude that you maintain is all your doing. Now granted I’ve always said these words too, that you have to allow this negativity to get into your skin and into your mind. It does not force its way in. You see the big difference? The point I’m making is today, if you’re listening on your way to work and you usually have the radio on and you’re listening to some news I can assure you it will not be positive. Knowing that one fact, does that help you to turn off the input of the negativity and listen to something more positive? I hope it does.

This year, because of these unforeseen incidents has caused many of my friends and family members to have a negative attitude. It has hurt them to the point that their jobs were affected. It has hurt them to the point they’ve been hospitalized, as I said about my father. It has hit them so hard in areas of finance, it has been a total disruption. And one of my relatives said to me, how in the world can you be so happy all the time when we’re facing this horrible pandemic. And I said, ‘I’m not facing the pandemic’. And she looked at me kind of strange. And then I said to her, ‘the reason we’re not facing the pandemic is simply this, I can’t defeat it’. I can only manage what I do and I can only manage what I control. I do not control the world. I control the world of Jimmy.

Now, for those of you listening and you’re married and your wives tell you the world does not revolve around you, well, I don’t know but I seem to think it does some days. If my wife listens to this, I’m sure I’ll get that point brought back to me. But the better approach to this, instead of saying, ‘Well, I’m wasting the year of 2020’, let’s do something different. Let’s take away the asterisk and put an exclamation point and make the remainder of this year be the best of all years you’ve experienced. Many times the thought of applying an asterisk to this subject means that I did not get what I meant out to do. For example, Lance Armstrong. The famous American, well, now infamous I should say, American cyclist. Won six Tour de France races. A world record. This boy looked like a robot climbing those hills and mountains on a bike. I could assure his legs were so burned, probably, by the time he was done he couldn’t walk. But in years after his last win, the disgraced cyclist was stripped of his medals for using performance enhancing drugs.

When viewing the winners list of the Tour de France, you will see a second place competitor with an asterisk by his name indicating the special circumstances in which the medal was awarded. This means that asterisk is going to catch the eye of the reader to go, he didn’t beat Lance Armstrong, but Lance Armstrong didn’t follow the rules. According to their governing body. So don’t allow your year to become emblazoned with an asterisk. Here are three simple routines for redeeming your year and placing an exciting exclamation point at the end of it.

First, refocus your efforts on your intended goals set before January 1, 2020. List the accomplishments and see yourself in your mind’s eye achieving the outcomes you desired. You can and will salvage a great year for 2020 by doing this simple act. What it does for me, is on a daily basis, allows me to paint an even more vivid picture of becoming that person I wish to become by the end of 2020. I want to become a more wise individual. I want to become a better leader with our team. I want to be an even more impactful industry leader. I want to meet and in some way help change the lives for good, for everyone I meet. These are bold and these are big goals. And I have achieved many of them already during a pandemic.

It is critical that you must place yourself in the environment where you see yourself accomplishing what you set out to do. Too many people have discarded their goals that they set before the pandemic. They have allowed these outside circumstances to dictate their internal feelings of self worth. This is not our way. We don’t allow these types of external influences. What we can do is control the mindset that we have and refocus on what our goals were and bring them to light with one day at a time. Now we have five months left in this year. How will you double down and focus on those important goals so that 2020 will be an exclamation point to you? So the first thing, refocus your efforts on your goals.

Second, take charge of your emotional state. The pandemic has created a significant amount of depression and negative attitudes in people. It is time you control the controllable. Check the bad attitude at the door and recognize you are responsible for you. Fill your mind with positive powerful reading material. Or positive activities such as exercise. Stop watching and reading the negative news about the pandemic. You can’t do anything about the world’s issues, but you can control your own mindset. This is where I place a shameless plug, to listen each week to our podcast. Don’t allow your mind to become preoccupied with negative thoughts. Or as Zig Ziglar, my mentor, referred to it stinking thinking.

This is important in more ways than I can explain today. You have the ability to shut the door on the negative impact on your life. If it’s someone that’s a friend of yours that’s been negative about every time you talk to them it’s kind of whoa as me, having this pity party if you will, just because the world’s not spinning in the direction they wish. It’s time to maybe reevaluate that friendship. It’s time to reevaluate perhaps keeping that friend, but how much time are you spending with them? And what time of day are you talking with them? You’ll find that I do not immerse myself in any negativity whatsoever until I’ve put on the full armor of positivity to leave my home. It is one of those things I have done for many, many years in my life when I realized way, way back as a teenager I just can’t control certain things in this world and I’m not gonna drive myself crazy trying to do so.

As a matter of fact, I can’t control anyone else in this world or their thoughts. I can hopefully influence, which I’m attempting to do through this podcast. But I cannot control you. But if you see the value of making each day count, of being there as a positive leader for your family, your work team. If you are involved in your community. I understand there have been tremendous impacts in a negative nature for our communities. But you know what? No one ever defeated a pandemic. We merely found ways to live with it. The key there is you must control those things you can control. Work within your particular skills. Control those inputs into your mind and I assure you that you can take charge of your emotional state.

And third and most important, deepen your faith. Everyday, this is a step that helps you add the brick wall against negativity coming into your mindset. If you will, the helmet that you put on that keeps away the negative thoughts of the day. The doubts that assail you when you see the world falling apart and you realize you’ve got a challenge of your own for the day. During times of crisis, it’s often these doubts of our faith that creep in to our thoughts. You can change this course of action, though, by returning to the study of your book of faith each day. Now I enjoy my time of reading and prayer first thing in the morning. It empowers my mind during a time of peacefulness and places an impenetrable armor on my mindset as the world throws its worst at me during the day.

You’ll find I do get tired. I’m just like anyone else. I go at it 110 miles a day. You can talk with my day team, I do not tire during the day. But boy, once I’m home and I’ve done battle all day, and I come in and take that hot shower and I relax for a few moments. It’s not uncanny that I lay down and close my eyes for just real quickly. It takes me no time to fall asleep at night. And one of the things I do that helps my day is repeat these three routines on a daily basis. I first and foremost everyday review my goals. What I want this year to be for me. How I want this year to affect my growth, that’s all about me. The second thing I do is I take charge of my emotional state. That is so vital to me in a world that is so negative. Even before the pandemic there was nothing positive going on in the world if you talked to some of my friends. That’s why I don’t spend a whole lot of time with negative people. I do not believe that misery loves company. I think misery attracts it. And I do not want to be a part of that. And then thirdly, I like to deepen my faith. Everyday you must grow in not your strength, if you exercise physically, you must grow in your faith by exercising your reading, prayer time, and understanding and worship.

These three routines are simple, yet powerful steps that taken each day will help you gain control of your year. And place it in a place of importance and regard in your life. Don’t be like everyone else and simply wander around in 2020. Bring to focus the reasons for your life and the ones you love and spend time with them each day. You are critical. Each day is a time to build on your goals. Every day of life is critical and serves as a potential empty chest to be filled with memories and treasures galore.

This week, apply these three steps everyday, then go to our Facebook page, Live a Life by Design, and leave a comment as to the effect this process has had on your emotions and mental state. I promise you today, your days will be better when you’re living them by design.

Let Us Hear From You

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Related Blogs

See More