The only thing I was sure about was that something needed to change. Something big.
And I knew I needed to start with me.
I had been lost in a sea of success without significance, thinking that one more win, one more client, one more accolade, would be just what I needed for my family to achieve peace.
I had to find my way. I had to finally become an effective leader at home. And someone who I would want my children to model.
I was really, really nervous. I knew what I had to do. But I didn't know what to do or how to do it.
And I was really worried that it might be too late.
I looked around me and saw heartache. I looked carefully for people who had done what I had been doing and stayed married for decades to their first spouse.
The numbers were terrible. Out of hundreds of couples less than five couples had done what I had been doing and been married for 25 years or more. To this day I can think of two.
My suspicions were confirmed.
I had to change. Big time.
I knew it wasn't going to be easy. But I knew it would be worth it.
The first month was tough. I had just committed to working tirelessly to improve my marriage and surround myself with people whose marriages looked like what I wanted mine to become.
In person and online. From hanging out with friends watching sports and complaining about their nagging wives, I shifted my time to reading and watching real businesspeople who had strong marriages.
These are people who were succeeding in business and in life.
I have learned more about marriage and business just watching those folks go about their regular routine in a way that models family first and having your priorities straight than I could imagine learning in a leading MBA program.
Sometimes I'd get frustrated when I caught myself comparing where I was to where they were. I was doing well in business, but on shaky ground, and struggling mightily at home.
They were thriving in business and life.
And then eight words from Jon Acuff echoed through me:
Never compare your beginning to someone else's middle — Jon Acuff
There were several areas in which I was in the middle of my story. Most of them had to do with law or business.
But in marriage I may have been 5 years in, but I was still at the beginning of my story.
So instead of becoming frustrated by comparison I became motivated by aspiration.
I knew that each of those couples had worked hard anywhere from a few years to almost five decades prioritizing marriage over anything else.
And because of that, they achieved success in both marriage and business.
I had just spent 5 years doing the opposite.
Their relationships were not a relevant comparison to mine.
I was still in the beginning of my story.
I've learned three things over the last year and a half since I took control of my story:
1. It can and does get better.
2. Marriages have seasons.
Some are more hectic than others. Some have a lot of responsibilities like kids, work, or extended family obligations. Some have less. But a lot of the important details like how you treat your spouse with the time you have are controllable in any season – and that's what matters most.
3. Finally, comparisons are rarely helpful.
You will never find a comparison that is accurate. So stop looking. A vacation picture on Facebook is just that – a snapshot. Your life is not a snapshot. It's a movie. A long story.
And if you catch yourself making a comparison, remember that you may be in a different season in life or marriage than that person.
So instead of comparing yourself with other people and getting frustrated, surround yourself with people who prioritize the things you want to prioritize and provide information that will lead you there. Take their examples as something to aspire to, rather than become frustrated by comparison.
Turn your comparisons into aspirations and start heading intentionally in that direction.
Never, ever compare your beginning to other people's middle.
You'll get there too.
Because one truth remains.
No matter what season of life you're in, today is the beginning the rest of your story.