Benchmarking For The Future

Benjamin from Brothers Campfire here!

Throughout 2023, I considered what was important to me and pondered the direction I would take in the future.

I broke my life down into a few individual components and determined where I was going, what would be cut out or added to get there, and who I would take along on the journey.

I began a priority list. Some things are subject to change, but 2023 brought me these decisions:

Primary Income Source
Secondary Income Sources
Personal Interests

I determined that Jesus would be my top priority for the rest of my life. While having done this before, I did it again. During 2023, I read the Bible cover to cover figuring it is good to hear what He has to say about things.
While I have Jesus at the top of the list, my prayer life was deficient and I did not talk to Jesus in a particularly effective way. Additional focus will be placed on this priority to include praise and worship.

Succinctly, I chose to continue in the traditional, nuclear family route. Marriages and families take work, and my family is no different.
2024 will mark twenty years of this commitment to my family.
My daughter will graduate from High School this year and the fifteen-year veteran of life (my son) just returned from his first overseas trip. They need a solid place to establish themselves and a template to develop their lives.

For extended family relationships, I cut some DNA relatives out of my life, and for the few I cannot, I have gray-rocked them. Positive behavioral changes will need to occur before re-engagement. 2023 included grieving those I let go.

Churches are a conglomerate of family units coming together for a common cause. If the family is deficient, so is the body of a church. With my pastor’s approval, I will continue to be active in all areas of participation. I do not feel you can appropriately hear from Jesus without Godly, spiritual authority in your life and that authority is my pastor.

Primary Income Source
I am a correctional professional and have been so for over 15 years. Proficient in numerous areas of this vocation, I set out to self-promote on LinkedIn. Boasting eight thousand followers, I developed an excellent platform to promote my skillset.

LinkedIn stressed me out. Every time I posted, I received inordinate profile views from my employers. As I am not allowed to talk about my job in public, this proved rather unprofitable. I wound up posting cliche motivational quotes instead. Unable to speak my actual voice, I deactivated my account to ensure no turning back. I have zero regrets. If I return, it will be on my terms.
My career is in a holding pattern. Promotion-ready, the juice is not worth the squeeze in stepping into additional responsibility.

However, this is my primary income source to include a retirement and health care benefits so I place it higher on my list of current priorities.

Much like LinkedIn, the NextDoor application was on the chopping block. I was getting caught up arguing about feral cats, lost pets, and fireworks at the wrong time of year. I even got counseled at work for using public information to expose creepers. It was time to cut ties.

I had no sooner scheduled my departure when I was asked to promote a Nativity scene and bring the public in. During this event, I received a call from an affluent individual in our community.

This person, who prefers to be unnamed, did not see me as I see myself. She observed that I assisted numerous individuals on Nextdoor and substantially spoke with her pocketbook for me to reconsider.

She views me as a community leader, and it led me to some self-reflection on personal direction.

It takes a village to raise an idiot, or a child for that matter. Bringing people together, organizing, and supporting others is important in society and I want this to be a defining part of my life.

Secondary Income Sources
I would add secondary income before the community, but I cannot.
My community has enriched me over and over again.
Benchmarking just the recent year, neighbors gave me anvil material, repaired my deck, built me a duck house and gave me ducks, gave me bees and beekeeping equipment, provided me 30 yards of mulch, numerous cords of firewood, numerous power tools, and all kinds of cash I did not ask for. I even had a broken stove hauled off for free.

I have to give back. It seems I cannot give back fast enough.
I cannot separate building community from secondary income at this time. Through my community, God has greatly enriched me.

Personal Interests
In all honesty,
I want to fight in a ring or cage
I want to love passionately
I want to drive from town to town sleeping outside after eating at the little hole-in-the-wall diners
I want to train hop
I want to travel the world by backroad
I want to look death in the eye without fear

Whether you think I should or shouldn’t is irrelevant.

As a man who has elected to choose other priorities first, these things may or may not happen. That is ok. They remain my true personal interests.

Blogging stories is not a personal interest. It is socially unacceptable and potentially harmful to speak many of my true opinions at this time. I am ok with the compromise of fiction. I will not compromise my interests, but I will sacrifice them as a man should.

In conclusion, I broke my life down into a few individual components and determined where I was going, what would be cut out or added to get there, and who I would take along on the journey.

Author: Benjamin

Benjamin Thiel is a community leader, urban farmer, and author of The Ongoing Tale at Brothers Campfire. He might know a guy...

22 thoughts on “Benchmarking For The Future

  1. Thattamma C.G Menon says:

    So awesome post , beautifully written πŸŒΉπŸ™πŸ‘ŒπŸ’— we always having a hoping future πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ˜may enjoy your body power and mind making decisions glorious πŸ––
    Inspiring lines and it is so beautiful 😊All The Best Wishes my dear friend πŸ’πŸ’•

  2. leendadll says:

    I hope your choices all work out well for you! I worry that train-hopping might result in a quick meeting with death (and maybe a cage-match)… but it’s your life & your decision.

    Good choice on dumping LinkedIn and NextDoor. I got rid of ND within minutes of trying it cause there was soooo much hatred (esp from whites toward black kids in hoodies… in LONG BEACH).

  3. Jacqui Murray says:

    A life well-designed. You picked nothing because it was easy, did you. My niece is a correctional facility officer (in a jail–not sure what they call it) in Indiana. Tough job that she loves. Our family–always the hard right over the easy wrong. Keep it up (also love Herb’s blog!)

    1. Benjamin says:

      Thank you! I can see you and my dad getting along. You are Wicked Smart, and I admire you for it!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Go Benjamin. Having God at the top of the list and a church family will take you where you want to go. I know…

  5. TamrahJo says:

    CONGRATULATIONS! I mean that in every deep, core, in my heart, way I possibly can express to you in public forum, even though we’ve also communicated outside this ‘public forum’ of following/commenting, etc. –

    I may not ALWAYS understand or keep up with your fiction – I may not ALWAYS read/like/comment upon your fictional works, though I am ALWAYS intrigued over the real world challenges by everyday folks and evolving systems we share in common, care about, and how you represent them in your fiction.

    All I can Say IS – GOOD FOR YOU, Brother’s Campfire!

    Signed – Your Sister in virtual land and someday, someway, we’ll find a way to just sit down and visit in person – cuz, I want to travel, too – you held the space for me to help where I thought I could on things that matter deeply to your heart, to help others, where/how you can – and well – do you know how increasingly rare that is??

    Also Your Sister in Faith even though, our ‘church, name, overall tenets in our spiritual community’ might not always, forever, exactly match-Up….

    But I SOO appreciate you, love all the fronts you cover and your understanding while I try to navigate, for YOU options for my own lil loves regarding: what do I have to offer to others, that may be useful, follow my heart and passions, without cheating others that are my core life enhancing relationships, My responsibility/duty/keeping my word and still earning a living, TOO! – πŸ˜€

      1. TamrahJo says:

        well – only thing I can do, for ya, right now, really – is just an encouraging word sent – πŸ˜€

  6. Cassa Bassa says:

    I love that you choose and put Christ first. Hear hear brother. Blessings to you and your household….and I hope the faint spell has passed.?.

    1. Benjamin says:

      Thank you! I believe that the fainting has to do with having lower blood pressure from my diet.


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