I’m going to turn 35 in 2014. Just a few short months from now.
My life is not what I thought it would be.
But, to borrow a phrase from a wonderful song: Tell me when it ever really is.
I have no choice but to deal in reality.
I’m trapped firmly in the middle class, with just enough money to almost keep up the appearances of moderate success, but not have the financial resources to truly live.
I’m an office drone with about five bosses. I live in the suburbs. I have a five-year-old son who is my top priority.
But I can’t be a good father to him if I can’t even like and respect myself.
And to like and respect myself, I need to live with purpose.
I need to be progressing mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
I need to be progressing in my career—whether it be within the ranks of the corporate world or finding the mettle to strike off on my own.
I need to be progressing in my human relationships. After a 12-year relationship with my ex-wife, I can’t get it out of my head that I want more of that.
Even if casual was my thing, I suck at attracting women like that. I’m not sure who the girl on the couch with me on a Friday night, or on my arm at a Saturday night party, or who I see first thing in the morning is supposed to be. But I’m looking forward to meeting her.
She’s looking for a man.
What does that mean? To be a man?
The Guide to Being a Man
GSElevator—a blog operated by Goldman Sachs—published recently a guide to being a man in 2013. It’s clearly geared toward New York City Guy, not Suburban Ohio Guy.
Even though places like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, etc., have the highest concentration of people, there are still more of us out here in the middle than in all of those places.
So, let’s borrow from the smart guys at Goldman Sachs. And lets toss in a little Random Ohio Guy opinion, too.
As always, your criticism and suggestions are welcome.
Things to do:
Learn how to cook.
For yourself. But mostly for her. I once read a hilarious blogger write that he once overheard a girl say: “A guy who’s hot in the kitchen is hot in the bedroom,” and he’s been honing his culinary skills ever since. I cook because I love cooking. If women like it, too? Bonus dot com.
When in doubt, always kiss the girl.
Cheating and bad breath (always carry gum or mints!) aside, of course. If you’re wondering whether you should, try. Be courageous. Worst-case scenario, she pulls away. The results are the same as you never trying at all.
Act like you’ve been there before.
No matter where you are. Exhibit class. Graciousness. Confidence.
Don’t shirk critical responsibilities. But ALWAYS seek unexpected adventures—big or small.
Never be fatter than you were at 30.
And if you were heavy then, do something about it. Living longer is almost always better than the alternative.
Measure yourself only against your previous self.
You can’t be as tall as him. You can’t be as smart as him. You can’t be as funny as him. You can’t be in as good of shape as him. You can’t be as rich as him. What you can do is walk taller, read books, be yourself, work out, and always be growing professionally.
Buy the drinks. Buy the dinners.
I know it’s almost 2014. I don’t care. Be a gentleman.
If you are wittier than you are handsome, avoid loud bars.
If you’re going to charm her with words, it’s not going to be while drunkenly yelling into her ear.
Never take an ex back. She tried to do better and is settling with you.
All great ideas are born from other great ideas masterfully mixed with your own.
Things to avoid:
Wearing ear muffs.
Do not wear ear muffs. Or mittens. Ever.
Talking about where you went to college.
No one cares. I have four words for you: Google. Scholar. Is. Free.
Having more than one girlfriend.
One’s enough. If you want a new one, let the first one go. Be a player if you must. Just be an honest one.
Driving a compact car that isn’t really fast.
Your Yaris isn’t cool. I’m sorry. Neither is your Smart car with the Rudolph nose and antlers.
That final round before closing time.
You’ve had enough. You’re wasting money, brain-power and sexual functionality.
Saying your clothes match.
They do not. They go together. Look the part.
Dating your friend’s ex.
Saying no to fun because it might shave years off the end of your life (smoking aside).
It’s not stupid to sacrifice part of your 80s and 90s in exchange for guaranteed fun now. We are not promised tomorrow.
As a divorced father, the cause I’ve grown to care about more than any other is wanting to help families stay together. The ripple effects of broken homes and divorce are great.
Above all else, being a man is putting your wife and family’s needs ahead of your own.
Every day. Like a soldier. Words like duty. Like honor. Like code. Can apply to your marriage and parenting, too.
So, when you’re reading those books, take time to learn how to be the best husband and father you can be also.
Because that’s how you help change the world.
That’s how to be a man.