How to know, How to not, Screw Up My Life

Can I mess this thing up? Is that possible? Isn’t that the fear that creeps into my every activity, my every thought about the future, and is the source of the regrets of my past?

What if I thought that I couldn’t.

What would that change about my attitude, my actions and my well being?

Just everything, that’s all…

I wanted to share in this space this week, a worry, that I may be sliding into a complacency, a neutrality and a ‘good’ mode, that I’ve spent the last couple years in protest of. Certain things have shifted recently. My wife has accepted a new job, meaning I too have accepted a new job. I am excited about it. I will be now spending much more time and energy at our restaurant, The Brand’N Iron Bar and Grill, in Princeton, KS.


I like that 🙂

I still will be the art dept for a local tee shirt and sporting goods store, Front Row Sports. Good! I like that 🙂

I also am quite involved with church, being a part of the leadership at Westminster Presbyterian Church. Good! I really like that 🙂

And, I have regular life stuff, like gardening and mowing, bicycle riding, writing a blog, maybe a book, being a husband, riding a motorcycle, planning a honeymoon, seeing my favorite band next Wednesday, delivering kittens to Mom and playing with a nephew… good stuff like that…

BUT, what about Coaching. What about my Big Dream, to share with people a creative space of possibility and assist a movement in their life. To witness an opening, a transformation. Feel the heat as they ignite and delight as they bloom. Singing praises as they prosper, and sweat and toil in the trenches, as they laboriously drop their limiting crap… What about this GREAT SERVICE, I could offer to REAL GREAT PEOPLE??

Uhh, well… Ahh, ya’ see… I kinda’… sorta… well… I’m now so busy.. I mean… really… like… ya’ know… life is what it is… ya’ know… I got all this ‘good’ stuff goin’ on… I just, now have more stuff, less time… I know… I’ve spent like 3 years going after this… but well… I’ll backburner it for now… I have new things… and with my busy-ness… and the restaurant… and Church… and SHUT UP!! (Me)



I see my stories loud and clear here. I actually watch myself choosing Good, instead of Great. I’m even looking at the title of Good to Great, by Jim Collins on my bookshelf, which I know, starts out with the quote, “Good, is the enemy of great.” When I see someone else choosing to play small, instead of reaching for their own potential, it burns me. Why would we do that! Why would we decide to have less, be less, stay comfortable, instead of pushing and growing and living into excitement and adventure!

Cause, it’s scary. Cause, it’s hard. Cause, it’s not easy. That’s why we don’t. I was taught by my mentor Melissa Ford, that our subconscious loves to keep us safe. It wants us to be in the habit of the known, in the space we already have defined and conquered. It doesn’t want us to bust through our walls and find ourselves outside the comfort zone. It says ‘Noooo!’ And for me this week, my subconscious, like a nuclear submarine, Won. Under the surface, it shot it’s powerful torpedoes, and blasted holes in the vessel of my Big dreams. It used all the reasons and excuses and BS stories to keep me from sailing onward, forward, out of safer harbors…

So, here again is the question I posed first: “Can I mess this thing up?” Is the victory of my subconscious a death blow to my dreams? Is the thought, that I can screw up my life, helping me? Nope.

What if I didn’t think that? Simple right. What if I didn’t think I could screw up my life? Woah! Crazy! Stupid! Irresponsible! Unholy! Bad Boy! Really?

Is my life screwed up right now? Debatable. Is what I am, what I have, what I do, anything that can be exactly quantified and counted? Nope. It’s nailing jello to a tree. The answers to these questions lie in my own thoughts about the questions. My own self-judgments. My own ‘atta-boy’s or my own ‘oh-shits’. I really am the last line of defense against my own thoughts. At some point God will judge. At some point, a higher authority than me, will show me my life story, and hopefully not a huge pile of missed opportunities to change the world, that I passed on, because I wanted to stay safe.

But still, I do have a thought, on the answer to the question, ‘Can I screw this thing up?’ Some truth lies in a story we read this week, at Men’s Bible Study. From I Samuel, chapter 9. Saul and his servant were out looking for some donkeys that were lost. He searches high and low. He goes from town to town to town. Eventually, the servant says, ‘maybe we should ask the Seer, about the way we should go.’ Saul wanted his donkeys back. He wanted his trip to be worth the effort. He was a great man, but from a small tribe. He had his plan. God had another.

When Saul shows up, to get the wisdom of the Seer, Samuel, he is served the choice portion. He dines with Samuel, the prophet and judge of Israel, and Man of God. He just wants his donkeys. God wanted him to be King of Israel. Guess who’s wishes won out.

If you read this chapter, it almost appears that Saul, couldn’t have messed this thing up. In fact, he’s clueless. He’s out of touch. He’s one-minded in the midst of huge moment in the history of his people. Saul was doing the thing that was in front of him. He was following his own path, doing what he thought was right. His anointing, and his promotion was out of his hands. It was all handled by others. It was his servant who suggested they see the Seer. It was Samuel who recognized him, and followed through with God’s orders. It wasn’t about what Saul wanted. Saul wanted donkeys. If he got what he wanted, it would have been the herd, then back home.

Israel wanted a King. God chose Saul. Saul didn’t choose himself to be king. He didn’t read the top 10 ways to be more kingly, and then implement a 7 steps plan to kingly success. He went searching the world looking for his lost ass.

I can start to do that too. I can do these things in front of me. I am a lost ass. I am a wanderer. I have spent years now, searching around, looking for something, leaving so much of home behind. I don’t know if God wants me to be a Coach. I seem to have wanted that. It must be that for now, God wants me to make a difference in this restaurant that I married into. To help and to serve people, the business and the customers, my wife. It must be that I can take a little rest from the pressure of having to create all of my own successes, in every little endeavor, and know that on a very important level, it’s out of my hands. I will choose to work hard. I will choose to keep stepping forward. I will choose to struggle and wonder as I continue to search for my lost life, out among the prairies.

If I’m doing that, I can’t be screwing up. If I sit at home and just try to forget about the dreams, the donkeys, that took off (and I chose to sit at home instead), I may not come across the right place at the right time. I cannot however, claim to know when or how, or if ever that will be. And, if that day comes, that a promotion or a serendipity brings me to a new level, I can see as well, that it may not be all roses either. But a position given by God, must be taken, there is no other way. It simply will not be avoided. Only in hindsight, will that moment be visible.

Today I set out again, another day of searching for something lost. I will take step after step, and I’ll get frustrated too. I’ll wonder if I’ll ever find. I’ll lament the strain. I’ll miss home. I’ll fondly remember the olden days with friends. I’ll appreciate new views. I’ll be a stranger in a strange land again. I’ll try to listen, when someone points the way to a Seer. But I guess it’s time to focus on the donkeys, and nothing else…


Aaron Nichols

5 thoughts on “How to know, How to not, Screw Up My Life

  1. So Big A– sounds to me like you are learning to “allow” things to happen, rather than trying to “make” things happen. Your grandpa Bill Nichols was one of the greatest life coaches, and he never intended to be- he just let it happen , mostly at the “community” table at Lee’s Downtowner. Now- there’s a role model to follow- Love you!!!!

  2. Aaron – God is ALWAYS up to something, preparing you for SOMETHING. He’ll show you what it is in time, even if you’re training for something else. EVERYTHING IS TRAINING my friend! In the Brand ‘n Iron – you are being trained. As a husband, you are being trained. Do the next best thing you know to do and let God settle the details.

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