John Maxwell talks about the need to define how success will look for you. He writes: "If you truly want to succeed in this life, you need to ask yourself a question: Is your pursuit of success drawing you closer to or farther from the most important people in your life? If you want to redefine success the way I did, here are some ways to put your decision into practice:

Determine your priorities. How much of your calendar is devoted to your family and/or close friends? On your budget and to-do list, where do you write in your loved ones? No relationship can survive for long on leftovers. Early in my career, I focused so much on work that I neglected Margaret. After I realized this, I changed. I carved out time for her. I protected my day off, and we dedicated money in our budget to facilitate special times together. It’s been said that a lot can be learned about what people value by examining two things: their calendars and their bank statements. They show where people spend their time and money. What do those things say about what you value?

Decide on your philosophy. Once your loved ones are a priority, you have to decide together what you want your family to stand for. What values will you live out? For us, the bottom line was to cultivate and maintain:
• Commitment to God,
• Continual growth,
• Common experiences,
• Confidence in God, ourselves and others, and
• Contributions to life.

This was my family’s list. I’m not suggesting that you adopt our philosophy, but I encourage you to take time together to list your non-negotiables. Keep the list short so you are able to remember and apply it.

Develop your problem-solving strategy. I think a lot of people go into marriage expecting it to be easy. Maybe they’ve seen too many movies. Marriage isn’t easy. Family isn’t easy. Close friendships aren’t easy. The best plan is to expect problems, stay committed, and develop a strategy for getting through the rough times. Talk to your loved ones about how you could improve your problem solving together. (NOTE: Do this during a calm time, not in the middle of a conflict!) Many problem-solving strategies exist from family meetings to fair-fighting rules. Use the ones that work for you. Be sure they foster and promote three things: 1) Better understanding, 2) Positive change, and 3) Growing relationships. (Read John’s full article.)

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