Below are 6 elements for total wellness referred to as “Life On P.A.R.O.L.E.”. However, it’s a different kind of “parole” which actually lets us live free from the restrictions we often placed on our own lives. These are strategies that we can apply to optimize our wellbeing both personally and professionally, getting us ON MISSION through a life of service and accountability. The whole idea is to make each of these steps a habit and ultimately a way of being. Doing this will require both disciple and consistency, and will also require taking ownership of your life. However, in the end it will be worth it. There is no greater way to live, than to live ON MISSION for God, your family and yourself. Make no excuses, start taking ownership of your life today, and get ON MISSION through P.A.R.O.L.E. What you feed and nurture will grow, but what you starve and neglect will die.
Below are the 6 elements of P.A.R.O.L.E.
P – Understand and stay rooted in PURPOSE:
Purpose is the foundation of “why” we do what we do. It is easy to explain to someone “what” you do and “how” you do it, but it takes deeper thought to explain to someone “why” you do what you do. The “why” is the driving force that makes life worth living, provides us with meaning and value, and keeps us grounded in knowing the greater purpose in life. When you ask yourself “how can I help” and make it a daily goal to leave people and things better off than the way you found them, as simple as it is, that alone is enough to drive your “why” each day.
Constantly evaluate your purpose, and whenever you think about giving up, fall back to remembering why you started. Living ON MISSION for God is incredibly noble, and even though it may be implicit, you are making a difference each day you serve God and serve others.
As much as you should take pride and be committed to a successful career, it should never take priority over your faith, your family and your home life. It is critical to keep your home life and work life separate. Purpose runs deeper than just your career, however, it is not unlikely that if your purpose is to make a difference, it is fitting for both realms. Yes you should view success as retiring when and how you want to, looking back at an honorable career of service, but if you fail to go home and love your family, you are missing the bigger picture of success itself. The destination of success is only one part of purpose, so don’t miss the journey. Ultimately, the true value of life and success is measured by how much of life itself you are willing to give away in service.
A – Find ACCOMPLISHMENT through ACCOUNTABILITY:
At the end of the day, we all look for a true sense of accomplishment, and people often over complicate it. It’s not about being better than others, it’s about being better that you were before. It’s also about making others better. In fact, the more it is about doing unto others, and the less it is about personal gain, the more fulfilling that sense of accomplishment is. The little things really matter when it comes to fulfilling purpose, value and accomplishment, and they come in all shapes and sizes. You do not need to move mountains to make a difference. Sometimes a random act of kindness makes the largest impact. There is also a deep intrinsic sense of accomplishment when you help someone out in need. As you recapitulate at the end of the day, a random act of kindness can be the very thing that you find gratitude in, which you can then express, and in turn strengthens relationships, promotes positive thought and emotion, and makes life truly fulfilling.
This doesn’t mean stop setting goals for yourself. Just don’t make those goals the defining factor of accomplishment. Also, each time your brain has a success, do not change the goal post for what success is supposed to look like, just continue to set realistic goals, and stay disciplined in accomplishing those goals one step at a time. Find accomplishment in the present, don’t define it just by the future.
The quickest way to tear down the bridge between goals and accomplishment is both a lack of discipline and a victim mentality. Discipline, consistency, and having an “I can” attitude despite the circumstances is what bridges the gap between goals and accomplishment. This takes practical wisdom in knowing the right way to do the right thing, with particular people at particular times. Cutting through the black and white, and into the grey of situations. It’s knowing how to play and win the game, placing principle before rules, without compromising safety, integrity and honesty. When you learn to master this craft in doing not only the right thing, but the wise thing as a servant, you start to find victory in even the smallest successes.
Additionally, you must also have accountability in your life. Someone or something has to hold you accountable to the accomplishment you set for yourself. You must acknowledge and own the problems and challenges that occur, as well as your current circumstances. If we have nothing to hold us accountable, we tend to cheat ourselves. Accountability requires courage, discipline and consistency, which in turn pave the path to accomplishment. You must do the best you can, with what you’ve got, in your current circumstances, leaning on friends and mentors for support, wisdom and accountability. It’s perpetually reminding yourself that as long as you’re breathing, you never lose, you either win or you learn.
R – Maintain meaningful and authentic RELATIONSHIPS:
As social animals, people were made to be in relationship with one another. Relationships and healthy human connections are one of the most vital aspects of life, as they enhance trust and unity amongst each other. It is easy to feel isolated and get caught up in the tasks demands of the day. However, tasks do not override people and relationships. You need strong, healthy and meaningful relationships and those do not exist without trust. While you should trust carefully, you should also keep a mindset of curiosity rather than suspicion, looking at intention over perception. Make it a goal to acquire trust from those you interact with and especially those you live life with. This requires practicing good emotional intelligence in recognizing and regulating emotion. It’s okay to have bad days, but be able to own it and recognize it. This falls back to servanthood and purpose, in asking “who and how can I help?” Negative and broken relationships can not only cripple the flow of a fulfilling life, but also affect your wellbeing. However, strong, meaningful, positive and authentic relationships can be the driver in flourishing life and a thriving culture.
Again, relationships at home are the most important. Your family always comes first, so don’t neglect them. Go to work, work hard, then go home and love your family. Family needs constant investment and nurturing. Nurture positive, meaningful and authentic relationships, remembering they are one of the most important aspects of life.
O – Stay perpetually OPTIMISTIC:
It’s easy to look for the negative in everything, but it’s not productive. The difference between pessimism and optimism is the same comparison as a victim and a survivor. One loses, the other either wins or learns. So don’t be part of the problem, be part of the solution.
Yes, the small things matter, and it is important that you pay attention and do not compromise the small things. However, that does not mean you should sweat the small things, just fix them. You have to surround yourself with positive relationships but not expect everyone and everything to be compatible with you all the time. We must remain flexible, empathetic, and open minded in how we harmonize with the flow of life and our relationships. Optimism starts with managing positive thought and emotion and staying mentally and emotionally fit. This is paramount in solving problems. You have the choice to be part of the problem or part of the solution. Gossip, complaining and pessimism are all cancerous vices that will pollute a culture and damage relationships. However, being part of the solution fills the void of achievement and accomplishment, and is the easiest way as a leader to humbly set the example in solving problems. Ideas are important, innovation matters, and having a creative mind will not only promote positive thought and emotion, but create safer and more effective operations. Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.
L – Live with LOVE and gratitude:
Life is full of both battles and blessings, so we have to stay strong, fight the good fight and live with gratitude and love. Love God, love our neighbor and love ourselves. Gratitude is one of the most powerful and healthiest emotions we have and it is one of the purest forms of love. It is incredibly contagious, and the more gratitude we identify and express, the more that expression of gratitude becomes a daily way of being. Despite any circumstance, there is always something to be grateful for. It is a matter of perspective, and when we are rooted in purpose, and realistically optimistic, gratitude is literally the cherry on top to our mental and emotional wellbeing. Make it a habit to journal 1 to 3 things you are grateful for at the beginning or end of each day. You can learn to relive positive experiences. However, do not just capture that gratitude, but express it as well. It is not enough to just feel grateful, but the expression of gratitude completes the circle for meaningful and successful relationships, and successful relationships complete the circle of a successful life.
Gratitude stems from thought, so you must also manage your thoughts and emotions. With the millions of operations it performs each second, and the 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts it has each day, your brain is one of the most powerful tools you have in determining the course of your life. Many think that it is the circumstances themselves that define happiness, when in reality, you hold the key to almost every situation. Your thoughts are the very thing that shape your subconscious, and your subconscious that ultimately shapes your reality. Sure genetics and circumstances can definitely be factors in your state of happiness, but approximately 40% of that happiness is your choice. Be mindful and perpetually optimistic of the past, present and the future. Also, be very careful where you spend your thoughts and energy. Unmanaged depleting emotion and unhealthy thought will only cripple relationships and a fulfilling life.
Keeping a glass half-full perspective will not only improve your view of work, but your relationships, creativity and performance. Studies show that humans are actually 31% more productive in the positive, than in the negative, neutral or stressed. In a work environment, not only are you more productive in the positive, but safer as well; and safety is always the top priority. James Allen said it in this way “a man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all of his thoughts.” While God has ultimate control over all, He gave us control over our thoughts, even though sometimes it doesn’t feel that way. It is okay to have depleting emotion such as anger and frustration, but we must recognize and regulate that emotion so that we can use it for good purpose. Our own mind can sometimes be our biggest enemy. So as you go throughout your day, look at things through a positive lens under Gods will. As you practice emotional intelligence, don’t just be good at recognizing emotion, but master the regulation of your emotion and use it appropriately. Constantly ask yourself “how do I feel, and how do I make others feel?” Constantly ask yourself “how and who can I help?” Constantly ask yourself “is the lens in which I am viewing things the right lens?” If not, change it. Remember that love and gratitude are not based on conditions or compatibility, they are base on principle, choice and action.
E – EXERCISE and find flow:
Living in vitality means staying resilient, coherent and fit. Often when people think about the term fitness, they think salads and treadmills. Bottom line is that your physical health is only a quarter of your overall resilience in being fully fit in life. There are 4 domains to resilience, and they should all flow with one another as they deplete and renew throughout the day. Below are the 4 domains of resilience:
- Physical – nutrition, proper rest, exercise
- Mental – positive thoughts, optimism, proper rest, exercise
- Emotional – positive relationships, positive thoughts, flexibility, patience
- Spiritual – faith, morals, values, tolerance, servanthood, PURPOSE!
It is easiest to think of each of these 4 domains as rechargeable batteries that all sync with one another, and require balance and charge. The heart, the mind, the soul and the body all require exercise. When you exercise physically, generally you feel better mentally. When you think positive, you generally feel better emotionally. Staying rooted in purpose, thinking positive and expressing gratitude as listed earlier, are just practicing habits that keep your mental, emotional and spiritual batteries charged. This leaves the one domain that people often neglect, and requires discipline and consistency in eating healthy and exercising. Unfortunately, “I don’t have time” and “I don’t have a gym” is not a valid excuse. All you need is 10 minutes a day to get up an move. Remember, exercise is also a contributing factor to your mental and emotional wellbeing. Below is a simple Tabata exercise that requires no equipment and only takes about 10 minutes of your day depending on the number of sets you decide to do:
- 20 Seconds: Exercise (push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, burpees, planks, body squats)
- Repeat 8 times (4 minutes total)
- Do at least 2 sets (8 minutes total)
- Rest 1 minute in-between sets
- Try to alternate between exercises (push-ups, rests, sit-ups, rest, body squats, rest, repeat)
Life can be physically, mentally and emotionally demanding, so stay disciplined and keep those batteries charged. Exercise regularly, eat healthy, and get adequate rest. Most importantly, don’t forget to breathe. Heart focused breathing is the quickest and most effective way to align the heart and mind, and come back to a state of coherence. When safe to do so, clear your mind, close your eyes, find that feeling of inner ease, breathe in for 4-5 seconds, hold it for 4-5 seconds, exhale for 4-5 seconds and hold it for 4-5 seconds. Focus on your heart as you do this for 1 to 2 minutes. This is like the CTRL, ALT, DELETE for the human body, and we all need a reset every once in awhile.
Remember that there is a deeper meaning to the term “fit”. Fitness and vitality requires balance, discipline and consistency, and when you become engaged with life and find your flow, you’ll realize that a body in motion stays in motion. Get out there, get moving and start fighting the good fight.
It’s important to also remember that practical wisdom and a survival mindset play a critical role in not only your metal and emotional wellness, but are key players in finding daily flow. This doesn’t mean choosing the path of least resistance, it means learning how to improvise, adapt and overcome while staying balanced and in control.
Bottom line is, your wellness matters, so take charge of the life God has given you. Each day is a gift and tomorrow is never promised. These are steps that you can apply starting today that will help you change that pattern and lens through which your brain perceives reality, and help your body, mind and soul harmonize with the current flow of life. A happier and healthier you, means a happier, healthier and safer work culture, more effective operations, a happier family and an overall better life. You have to take care of yourself because you cannot pour from an empty glass.
Getting ON MISSION starts with you.
MY WHY / PERSONAL MISSION
The first step of this packet starts with defining your WHY. Write out a person mission statement that you can live by and reflect on each day, and bring you back to the WHY of your life, helping you stay rooted in purpose.
My WHY and personal mission is:
RECAPITULATION AND EVALUATION
It is critical to take time to recapitulate and re-evaluate at the end of every day. Along with taking time to journal thoughts, problems and ideas, mentally replay your day and your interactions and ask yourself:
- “what happened today?”
- “so what did I do?”
- “now what do I need to do?”
- “Is my attitude productive and beneficial to me or others?
- “Am I giving my best, or is my best yet to come?”
- “ Where and how can I do better?”
Re-evaluate your purpose, your attitude towards life, friends, family, and your career. Do you need to control alt delete? I think we all do every once in awhile.
21 DAY CHALLENGE
- Find flow for 21 days in a row by going through each of the following steps:
- Start your day early and thank God for it. Each day is a gift to be grateful for, so own your current circumstances, smile and find flow with the day. Reflect on your purpose by asking yourself “what’s my why?”
- Spend some time in prayer, asking God to guide your thoughts, words, actions and decisions for the present day.
- Journal 1 thing about the day that you are truly grateful for, and ask yourself “how can I express it?”
- Ask yourself “how can I serve, and who and how can I help?”
- Serve through a random acts of kindness with anyone or everyone. Maybe it is simply expressing your gratitude to someone and letting them know they are appreciated, whether it is verbally, or through a letter or text.
- Find a safe, quiet and calm place of solitude; sit down, relax, close your eyes, and practice 2 minutes of heart focused breathing, or several rounds of power breathing. Meditate on the promises of God and your purpose according to his will, and the positive emotion that puts you at ease.
- Complete at least 10 minutes of physical exercise even if it is simply getting out to move.
- Drink 8 glasses of water and maintain a healthy diet, the mind and body need it.
- Journal all thoughts, ideas and problems that come to your mind. All ideas are worth writing down, and all problems have a solution. Ask yourself “where and how can I do better?” Journal the “what” about the day, then ask yourself “so what, and now what?” Put words into action.
The whole idea is to make each of these steps a habit and ultimately a way of being, turning 21 days into everyday. Doing this will require both disciple and consistency, but in the end it will be worth it. There is no greater way to live, than to live ON MISSION for God, your family and yourself. Make no excuses! If you miss a step or even a day, just pick up where you left off and get back on P.A.R.O.L.E and back ON MISSION.
RELATIONSHIPS AND ACCOUNTABILITY
If you thought you were doing this on your own you were wrong. Getting through P.A.R.O.L.E. will also require support, encouragement and accountability.
Identify 1 to 3 friends and mentors that you can surround your self with and lean on for support, wisdom and accountability.
It is encouraged that you make time to meet with one or more of the above people mentioned. Discuss simply how things are going, and be honest with each other. Build each other up. Go over one or more of the promises of God that have really stuck out in your current circumstances, and pray for one another. Heck, maybe even find time to exercise together.
The final step of this challenge, is planning a serve experience with no other intentions in mind than to serve a person, a family in need or the community with the individuals listed above. This might be giving back to the community through volunteer service or simply helping a family or person in need. Plan it, organize it and make it happen. You will be glad you did.
You’re not given a good day and you’re are not given a bad day, you are given a day, and it is up to you to make it good or bad. Each day is a gift and tomorrow is never promised, so be grateful for the present day and own it. Stay disciplined in fighting the good fight, love God, love people, and let everything else fall in place according to His will.
Below are 21 Bible verses you can bring to memory, and God will bring them to your mind when you need them most. Meditate on these promises of God, loving God himself, and loving His people.
GOD LOVES YOU
JOHN 3:16 – For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
GOD IS FOR YOU
ROMANS 8:31 – What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
ALL WHO CALL UPON THE NAME OF JESUS ARE SAVED
ACTS 2:21 – And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
YOU CAN’T SAVE YOURSELF, HIS GRACE IS A GIFT
EPHESIANS 2:8-9 – For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can.
WE ARE ALL BROKEN AND NEED HIS GRACE
ROMANS 3:23 – for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
CHRIST IS THE ONLY WAY
JOHN 14:6 – I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
WE ARE A NEW CREATION IN CHRIST
2 CORINTHIANS 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
TIME IS LIMITED, LIVE WISELY
EPHESIANS 5:15-16 – Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
PLAN YOUR LIFE BUT TRUST IN GOD
PROVERBS 16:9 – In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.
2 TIMOTHY 1:17 – For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline.
STAY DISCIPLINED AND FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT
1 TIMOTHY 6:12 – Fight the good fight of the faith.
KEEP YOUR PRIORITIES STRAIGHT AND LIVE FOR THE KINGDOM
MATTHEW 6:33 – But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you as well.
CONSTANTLY ASK FOR WISDOM
JAMES 1:5 – If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him.
MAKE WISE DECISIONS
PROVERBS 15:22 – Plans fail for a lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed.
GUARD YOUR TONGUE AND SPEAK KINDLY
EPHESIANS 4:29 – Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
RESIST THE TEMPTATION
1 CORINTHIANS 10:13 – The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
PHILIPPIANS 2:3-4 – Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
DON’T WORRY OR BE ANXIOUS
PHILIPPIANS 4:6 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
STAY IN SCRIPTURE
JOHN 14:26 – But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
LIVE WITH LOVE
1 CORINTHIANS 16:14 – Do everything in love.
A NEW COMMAND I GIVE YOU: LOVE GOD AND LOVE PEOPLE
LUKE 10:27 – Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.
Below is a checklist template for tracking your progress: