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10 Year Plan

10 Year Plan

I was in class last Friday. I love this class. I’ve taken it five times. This is my sixth. I’m still learning. The teacher has two PhDs. He makes your head hurt. But like John Cougar Mellencamp says, “It hurts so good.”

The coolest thing for me is that many years ago, I was this guy’s Young Life leader. I was there when he turned his life over to Jesus. Now, he is teaching me about him. It gives me chills to think about it. God is so good.

So our professor, my friend, teaches this class for us on Love. It’s so good – at least the part of it I understand. Like I said, I’m still learning. But the part I understand is so good. Don’t ask me to explain it though.

Anyway, our professor, my friend, asked this question to kick off class: “What virtue would you like to see in your life ten years from now?”

Each one of us had to answer. One said, humility. Another said, perseverance. A third said, joy. It finally came around to me. I said, “Follow through.” (I could have said a lot of things, but that’s what came to mind.)

I’m sure there is a word for follow through other than “follow through.” If you know it, let me know. It’s the word that came to mind. I guess technically it is two words. But you get the point. I would like to be the kind of guy who follows through. (I’m writing this article several hours after my deadline so as you can see there is room for me to grow.)

Enough about me – what about you?

What virtue would you like to see in your life ten years from now?

Love? Joy? Peace? Patience? Kindness? Faithfulness? Gentleness? Goodness? Self-control? Humility? Perseverance? Follow through?

What word comes to mind?

Now, here’s the real question: how do you create the virtue?

Well, I can tell you – you don’t get a virtue just because you want one. At least, it hasn’t worked that way for me.

What works – in fact, what I would venture to say the only thing that does work – is, well, work.

Habit creation takes time and effort. You can’t accomplish in a day or all at once. It is a one step at a time kind of process. That’s the virtuous part. It actually takes some virtue to create the virtue.

I have been working at it this week. On Monday morning I wrote down all the loose ends I could remember and then I made a plan to tie them up. Over the course of the day, I slowly knocked them out. I followed through. Then, I dropped the ball somewhere else, and instead of yelling at myself, I examined what needed to be done to follow through and I did it. Then, I realized I missed this deadline. And I said, “Ned, write the darn thing anyway.”

That’s how it begins. Ten years more of practice and I might get my articles in on time – if I don’t get fired first.

Ned Erickson

Ned is the Founder and Executive Director of the Winston-Salem Fellows, a non-profit dedicated to equipping people to live seamless lives as they grow into the men and women they were created to be. He is the author of four books, including the critically acclaimed novel Clay. He, his wife, two children, dogs, rabbit, guinea pig, turtle, and chickens live in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

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