In my life, there are certain things that I call my absolutes – some simple laws for living that I will not break, regardless of circumstances. They are my all-in, 100% of the time, “I will not waver in this area” rules. As the dictionary defines an absolute, it is something that is not dependent upon external conditions for existence. It simply is, all of the time, regardless of what’s going on. My absolutes are my guardrails for life.
I’ve found that creating absolutes in our lives can help create some amazing advantages. First, it helps us define our standards – what we let in and what we keep out. Second, it is an amazing decision-making tool. If something is an absolute, then when we face a challenging decision tied to that absolute, it removes our “easy-way-out” option. Third, my absolutes have helped me choose where I invest my time and spend my energy. Finally, absolutes help us create guardrails for our life that keep us on track and out of trouble.
Let me say this… Creating absolutes can also be a dangerous line to walk. Many will tell you that absolutes are to be avoided at all costs. Absolutes don’t consider our imperfections or give us the grace we need when we slip or make a mistake. The second you say, “I always…” to anything, you’ve created a standard. If you aren’t 100% committed to that standard, you shouldn’t create the absolute.
Say what you do and do what you say.
With that in mind, most of the things in my life do NOT fall into my absolute category. Personally, my life is a lot like riding a slip-n-slide. I stay on track for the most part, but occasionally I slip out onto the edges, and from time to time, I find myself in a full-on tumble across the grass. Unfortunately, absolutes don’t leave much room for the edges or those uncontrolled tumbles.
That’s the point, though. Most things aren’t absolutes in my life. Yes, there are things that I’d like to do or be most of the time, but the things I say I’ll do ALL of the time are few and far between. Absolutes should be rare and treated carefully.
With that in mind, let me share three of my absolutes. You’ll find that they are probably more simple than you expected, and they may help you think differently about your absolutes.
I ALWAYS make time to be there for the people in my circle. My family, friends, team, and clients… if you’re in my circle, you can count on the fact that I will be there for you. I’m never too busy. This means that if someone reaches out, I show up – every single time. I make time, even when it is inconvenient, or I don’t feel like it, to be there when people need someone to talk to, help them move, or unload with. I ALWAYS make time, even if it means getting up early or staying up late.
I NEVER hold grudges. This one can be challenging and has taken a lot of work for me to make it an absolute. Here’s what I found… Holding onto grudges takes a lot of work and is a distraction from my goals. It takes a lot of energy to hold a grudge – energy I could be using on other things. Knowing that, I have chosen to forgive quickly, the same way I would ask others to treat me when I need forgiveness myself. My faith is what allows me to do this, and drives me to make forgiveness an absolute. I am forgiven, so I choose to forgive. I NEVER hold on.
I ONLY work with people I like. When I was younger and my ambitions were less focused on my purpose, I did not make this an absolute. Today, it’s a much different story. Now, I will only work with people I genuinely like – no exceptions. This includes my team and my clients. Life is way too short, and I only have so much energy to give. Sharing that time and energy with people I don’t like or align with is not an option, and I make decisions based on this absolute every day. I ONLY share my time with the right people.
These three absolutes have become a personal compass for me. I use these to decide how I spend my time, where I put my energy, and how I live my life. As I said, most of the things in my life are not absolutes… but for me, these three things are. 100%.
Spend some time thinking about your own absolutes. Maybe there are just a couple, or possibly there’s just one. Understanding your absolutes is the first step to creating your own compass and living a life that is deep, not shallow. Depth not width… that is the goal.
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Follow me here for more insights like this one, weekly encouragement, and inspiration to help you go deeper in what really matters. You can also listen in on the Grit Meets Growth podcast that I share with Chris Cathers. It’s available here or on your favorite podcast platforms. – John