As a man thinks in his heart, so he is. Proverbs 23:7

My older son Michael graduated from high school at the end of last month.  For the last four years, the most obvious label for him would have been “High School Student”, but in the length of time that it takes to move a tassel from one side of a mortar board to the other, all of that changed.  Suddenly he is a “Graduate”.  His actions and responsibilities changed immediately.  But unlike the previous label, this one was very short lived.

On Friday, my son  went to his college orientation.  He came home with a schedule, a parking pass, and i.d. card proudly proclaiming his new label:  College Student.  Again, immediately, his actions and responsibilities changed.

I have experienced this many times before in life.  I have been a baby, toddler, child, elementary student, middle school student, high school student, graduate, college student, boyfriend, fiancé, husband, father, and many other labels.  Many people don’t like labels, but I think that they give us the ability to sort and organize things into groups. More importantly, some labels help us to guide our actions.

When my son became a “college student”, it changed his priorities and planned actions for the next few months.  He knows that he will be going away in the fall, and needs to be prepared for that. He has many things to get ready for and he will spend much of the next few months preparing for the next chapter in his life.

As I think over my own labels, I realize that not much has changed in the last 18 years or so.  My last significant re-labeling was when I became a dad.  Suddenly everything changed.  I don’t want to give the impression that I am not satisfied. I love my kids and my wife and my life.  But I think that we need re-labeling from time to time.  

I have been running consistently for about two years (as I write this, I realize that this “recreational runner” is a new label for me).  I have increased my endurance and set a few goals for myself, but I have not really labeled myself a “competitive runner” or “athlete”.  I am almost 42 years old. Who am I kidding, right?  But I realized over the last couple of weeks, that a lot of my struggles with consistency in training and realizing goals, are due to this lack of a label (or having the wrong one).

If I am an “athlete”, then that label helps to give me accountability.  An athlete doesn’t just eat anything.  An athlete doesn’t skip a training session. An athlete does what is necessary to succeed.   

So this is my notice to the world (and more importantly to myself):  I am an athlete. I am training to run a sub-23 minute 5K and a sub-50 minute 10k this summer.  I am running my first marathon in October and I plan to train to run a 3:45 (or better) time.

But what other labels need to be changed?  I have been a husband to a beautiful wife for almost 20 years.  I am thinking that I need to add an adjective to “husband”.  Perhaps, “fully-devoted” or “world’s greatest”?  Seriously, with this seemingly minor change, lives can be altered forever.  When we take the label seriously and change our behaviors to match our new name.

When we realize that what we believe ourselves to be changes what we do, anything is possible.

What about you? What labels are you going to RE-label today?

You better Get Started.


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