Living In The Realm Of What Is, Not What Isn’t.

When I was about eleven, my sister and I hatched a plan. My parents had divorced the year before, and my Dad lived three states away. We hadn’t seen him since before the divorce, and we missed him some kind of bad.

We heard that our grandparents were planning a trip to go see him. Our caper was simple, we would find a way to get to our grandparent’s house right before they left and we would stow away in their camper. They always had a camper and we were pretty sure they would take it on this particular trip. Our idea was that they wouldn’t find us until it was too late to drive back. You know, It would be a “Well, we’ve already gone this far”, kind of thing. It never quite worked out. We didn’t get to stow away in the camper.

A photo by Tim Arterbury. unsplash.com/photos/VkwRmha1_tI

Thinking back today, I’m so glad we failed. Eleven year old’s just don’t think very far ahead. When I think back on it and I think about all of the potential problems it would have caused, I just shudder. It would have likely cost everyone a lot of money and we would have ended up where we started. Also, it would have broken my mom’s heart and ruined my grandparent’s trip.  We were so focused on our Dad that we weren’t considering everyone else.

Recently I watched a documentary about Tony Robbins. It’s called “I’m Not Your Guru”. It chronicled one of Tony’s 4 day “Unleashing the Power Within” seminars. One of the people that Tony helped specifically, was a young woman who was there with her mom. This young woman had a fractured relationship with her Dad. I don’t remember what the issues were specifically, but I know he hadn’t been in her life for many years. One of the things that came to light was that she blamed her Dad for many of the difficulties that she had experienced. She felt abandoned. She traced most of the problems she faced in her life back to the fact that he wasn’t there.

Tony said something to her that stuck with me, and I’ve given it a lot of thought ever since. He pointed out that we have a tendency to fixate and obsess over what’s missing in our lives, and completely ignore what’s actually there. When it comes to our absentee fathers, we ascribe a value to them based on what we imagine would have been different, or better, had they actually been there. Everything from the rough neighborhood we had to live in growing up, to the imagined advantages that we never had because we didn’t have a man around to teach us man things.

When we obsess about the missing pieces in our lives, we hurt ourselves in many ways. I’ve outlined four that I had to deal with below.

  • When we focus on what’s missing, we ignore what we have. Spending all our time thinking about the Dad that left often blinds us to the Mom that stuck it out. When I think about the things my mom went through raising us, I am humbled. Against some pretty tremendous odds, she managed to keep us together. And it’s that more than anything else that gives us strength today.
  • When we focus on what’s missing, we develop a victim mentality. We look at our lives with a sense of powerlessness. Situations and circumstances are mostly beyond our control and we feel that we either have no right or no power to change things. This leads to the thinking that everything bad that happens to you is always someone else’s fault.
  • When we focus on what’s missing, we tend to become ungrateful. We tend to overlook the good that we have. We may unintentionally let all the negative overshadow the positive in our lives.  This includes all the people who never gave up on us.  The ones who stuck it out.
  • When we focus on what’s missing, we accept the limits of the wrong story. For many years, I thought that I couldn’t get ahead because my Dad left me without advantage. My friends and relatives who’s Dads were still there, helped them with things. Things like understanding money, basic knowledge of cars, work ethic, and knowing how to build and fix stuff. The first time my grand dad took me to the garage to work with him on my mom’s car, I had a revelation. I was not without help. I began to understand that I had a lot of the help that I thought I was missing. God just brought it to me by another route.

Tony Robbins made a strong statement to the young woman in the documentary. He said that if she was going to blame her Dad for the negative, she was also going to have to blame him for all the positive that came from it. She was going to have to blame him for the fact that she learned how to deal with problems. She was going to have to blame him for making her into a strong woman. She was going to have to give him credit for those things too.

Look at the person you are today. What difficulties or hardships in your past shaped you for the better? What do you possess today that you wouldn’t have had if you hadn’t endured your past? It’s time to focus on what is, and forget about what isn’t.

It’s time to re-frame the picture of our life, let go of the imaginary life in our head that never happened and give real thought to how we can move forward from where we are. Let today be the foundation for a future where we focus on possibilities. Not a foundation that’s haunted by the ghost of what wasn’t, but, at least in our minds, should have been.

You have no choice? Really?

I have noticed a problem plaguing young men today.  Many of them seem to be perpetual victims. They are suffering under some unseen hand that is keeping them down. They don’t know why but they just don’t ever seem to get a break. I know where they are coming from because I had that problem too.  I seemingly had no advantage. I wasn’t born into privilege or opportunity. I didn’t have a last name that opened doors for me and for a long time, I used these things as my excuses for why I wasn’t going anywhere.  All these reasons were not really my problem though. They were not where my limits were coming from.

I have no choice-Lie

Part of my problem was that I was a captive in my thinking and consequently in my saying.  Constantly saying things like It’s not my fault and I Can’t or What choice do I have? I am convinced today more than ever though, that I have no choice is a lie!

Pro 6:2  you are snared with the words of your mouth, you are taken with the words of your mouth. (Modern King James Version -MKJV).

Sure, today you may not have the choice to move to the neighborhood that you really want to live in, or drive the car you really want to drive, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have that choice in your future. Here’s where we find a fork in the road.

Path number one is the path of continuing down the road you are on.  You are making only choices that drift in front of you, and hoping that someday an opportunity will float into your life. An opportunity that will change your life for the better in a big way.  This is wish mentality. Wish mentality leaves choice and opportunity in the hands of outside influences so that you are basically the victim of whatever comes along.

Path number two is the path of living on purpose. You may not have the power to make some choices today. But living on purpose, you can make intentional choices today that will create excellent choices in your future. You determine where you want to be, or are called to be, in your future. From there you begin to make strategic decisions that will take you there.

“Living on purpose, you can make intentional choices today that will create excellent choices in your future.”

I have chosen path number two.  Because I am a man of faith, getting vision & direction for my life start with prayer. The Bible says “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Prov 3:5,6).  While I will do research & get as informed as I can with my options, I lean to my heart when it comes to making decisions. If you have a relationship with the Lord Jesus, it is in your heart that He will lead you.

Proverbs 3:5,6  Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (KJV)

Thank God, I am not where I used to be. I am no longer a victim, left to the whims of a life I have no control over. I can’t control everything, but I will control all that I can control and I will continue to make a future where good choices and opportunities show up in my life.

It was a choice that was mine alone to make. So it is with you. You don’t have to leave your life to just HAPPEN on it’s own. You also don’t have to turn over the reins to your life and let others take you where they want you to go. This is probably not where you would want to go anyway.

In order to get where YOU want to go, this path choice is a decision that only YOU can make. Truthfully, you and God are the ones who care the most, and have a vested interest in how your future unfolds.  Are you ready to take control of your life?

What’s one choice you can make this week to start you in the direction you want to go?  Share your answer in the comments.

For more content on choices, see Ruth Chang’s TED Talk entitled “How to make hard choices” by clicking here.  It’s about 14 minutes long but pretty well done.

Please share this post with others & help me expand the reach of this blog.

I appreciate you!

How To Actually Reach Your Goals!

Why does this matter to people? This breaks accomplishing goals into small incremental steps that help keep them organized and help give them clarity.

There are a great many resources for setting goals available to anyone with internet access. I have included three links at the bottom of this post that I have found very helpful. Each has a lot of useful information about goal setting.

Notes & phone on desk

Peter Drucker in his Management by Objectives philosophy created the mnemonic acronym S.M.A.R.T. for goal setting. It has been so widely used and circulated as a useful goal setting guide that you may already be familiar with it. The acronym is as follows:

S = Specific

M = Measurable

A = Attainable

R = Realistic

T = Time Related

We could talk about each of these at length but they are thoroughly covered in some of the links to great resources provided below.

One of the best books I read in 2015 is a book called Born To Win by Zig Ziglar. In this book Zig lays out 7 steps for setting goals and I have found them very useful. I don’t know if Zig Ziglar was the first one to write these down but his book is where I found them. I have found them to be very useful and when they are followed closely, they greatly improve the chances that you can reach your goal. Here’s a brief summary.

  1. Identify your goal. It’s important here while you’re identifying your goal to be specific. Your vision and dreams becomes much sharper when you are specific. Let’s say that you want to buy a new car. The car you choose will determine how much money you will need. The brand may be important as we know that some brands have a reputation for being durable while others don’t hold their value very well over time. Also, determining things like color, interior upholstery and number of cup holders may also enhance or limit your enjoyment of the car. It’s important to be specific in order to give yourself clear guidelines for the rest of the process.
  2. List the benefits. This is where you make it personal. How will this make YOUR life better. Continuing with the illustration of the car; If your old car has proven to be pretty unreliable and has left you stranded more than once, you know what it feels like. Imagine the comfort that will come from having a car you can depend on. Also, think of taking those trips in your new car and using the new bluetooth, syncing your favorite playlists on your phone to your new car stereo & not having to keep finding stations or changing cds. Listing the benefits will keep you energized to push through when things get tough.
  3. List the obstacles to be overcome. Some serious thought here can pay off big time. While you can’t always anticipate every obstacle, list each one you can think of. Once you have developed this list, you can then work toward solutions for each obstacle.
  4. List the skills & knowledge required. These are things that depending on your goal, you can either develop on your own or buy the skill by hiring someone.
  5. Identify the people or groups to work with. This can include potential mentors and also trade groups & clubs. In the illustration of the car, this may be choosing a credit union over a bank or investigating which finance company to use.
  6. Develop a plan of action. Very often we are held back because we don’t understand the inner workings of our problems and obstacles. This is the time to come up with an executable plan that will guide you toward your goal.
  7. Set a deadline for achievement. A deadline will help you to stay motivated. It will also help you to break down your action plan into organized steps that you can create a schedule around. This will help you stay organized and on track.

What I appreciate about these goal setting tools is that when thoroughly thought through and followed, they remove so much of the guess work in reaching our goals.

What goals have you set for the coming year? Join the conversation & share your number one goal for 2016 in the comments.

Additional resources:

https://michaelhyatt.com/goal-setting.html

https://www.mindtools.com/page6.html

http://qz.com/160701/the-complete-guide-to-setting-goals/

Three Tools That Have Helped Me In Reaching My Goals.

Many want their lives to change for the better, but they don’t know how to move forward. Their future may look murky and undefined. Because of this, many NEVER take even the first step toward making their goals come true. Templates, workflow & scheduling help to create predictable results, streamline the processes & keep things on track.

If you are like me, you have big dreams. Sometimes I get frustrated with myself in the pursuit of my dreams because I seem to be easily distracted. I absolutely do not like suddenly realizing that I have wasted time on trivial things and without realizing it, have traded what I want most for something that doesn’t really matter to me. That’s why I’ve been talking about goals & reaching for what you really want. The things I’m sharing today are things that since I’ve found out about them, they have helped me to reach further and get more done. Today I want to share with you how templates, workflow & scheduling have really helped me get important stuff done. I want to share them so you can get the same traction in the things you want to get done.

So, are you ready to dig in? Let’s start with templates first.

A template is a pattern or a gauge, used as a guide to make something accurately. Templates are used in woodworking and are often referred to as “Jigs”. They are also used in Foundry work and are called “Patterns”. Foundry patterns are usually made of wood and sand molds are made with them.

When faux painting & texturing walls became popular back in the 1990’s, my wife bought several thin plastic templates. They had various shapes cut out of them. They allowed her to paint specific patterns on the wall. In some cases she would use these to create a complete border around the top of the wall. They worked out very well and they gave her predictable results.

Today, very often I will use a template to begin the construction of a blog post. In the case of the blog post, I think of it kind of like a skeleton. It gives the post the general form or shape. When I write, I first create the outline. I then just “flesh out” the skeleton. This helps me to create a post that is coherent and doesn’t seem like a bunch of rambling thoughts. This works a lot like the anatomy of a speech with a headline or title, a lead paragraph, a transitional sentence & so on.

Workflow on the other hand, is a sequence of actions used to actually create the work. Workflow is the part that you can optimize, document, master and once all that is done, you can delegate.

Every morning I go to the gym. I usually do a cardio workout for about 30 to 35 minutes with a 10 minute cool down. I shower at the gym and go straight to work from there. Because I actually get ready for work at the gym, I have to prepare myself for success in advance. Trust me, finding out too late that you forgot your socks can be a morning spoiler. How do I avoid that?

My workflow starts the minute I get home the day before. The first thing I do is get my workout close from that morning into the laundry. I then pack my lunch for the following day. Next I get my workout clothes & shoes for the following morning ready and set them in the bathroom. Then comes the packing of my gym bag with the clothes & shoes I will wear to work the next day. I take a minute at this point to get dressed in my head. This helps me to keep from forgetting things like a belt, my wallet, (or my socks). I then put my packed gym bag by the front door. By running through this daily workflow, I have made it so that I go from being awakened to going out the front door in 10 minutes and I do not forget anything. I have optimized the process. The rest happens at the gym.  If for some reason, I didn’t have time to do this for myself, I could document this, train someone else to do it and delegate it to them. This is how workflow works.

The schedule for me has been a real difference maker. It has helped me to capture and efficiently use my time. Time may be the most valuable thing we all have. It’s also a non-renewable resource. In order to be effective, we need to bring order to our time by creating a schedule. I use my calendar to make sure important things get done. That includes time to write. Michael Hyatt says it this way. “You’ve got to be able to make appointments with yourself, then keep those commitments.” This is hard sometimes because there are bucket loads of urgent but trivial things also fighting for your attention. Having a well planned schedule will help keep you focused on your goal, and keep you on track.

I wanted to share with you how templates, workflow & scheduling have helped me get important stuff done. I want to share them with you to help you get the same traction in the things you want to get done. Through using templates you can get repeatable results. Through workflow you can streamline process and maybe even delegate them. Through scheduling you can stay organized and continually remind yourself of what’s important.

Even using one of these tips can save a lot of time but imagine if you could get all three going? So here’s my challenge for you in the coming year. Spend some real time putting these to work for you. By using these things in your approach, you really can reach your goals. I can’t wait to see your results.

Share with me one area you plan to tackle in your 2016 goal setting by leaving a comment. I’ll be gutsy & go first. Check the comments for mine & then join the conversation.

Art

The Secret Sauce to Getting What You Really Want.

Goal Setting – Why?  Why does this matter to people? Because through goal setting, people can make their dreams come true.

When I was in Junior High School, we had an executive from John Deere Harvester Works named Robert Anderson come into our class & talk to us about career choices & opportunities. One of the ideas Mr. Anderson tried to convey to us was to look at what we wanted in life and then try to determine what needed to occur in order for that desire to become a reality. The hypothetical example he used was that as we were going home from school, we might pass a nice, large, white house on a quiet road. If we liked the house, we should ask ourselves “What needs to occur in order for me to be able to one day buy a house like that?” In his way, he was trying to teach us about goal setting.

Any Road Social card

I think it’s worth pointing out that there is the potential for two lines of thought when we talk about this. When Mr. Anderson spoke to us about what needed to occur, some heard what I need to do, while others heard what needs to happen. The difference between these two statements is huge. While one sees personal responsibility to carry out the vision, the other puts everything over in the arena of “if things work out” or “If those are the cards I’m dealt”. I say this because when I was in this class, I was part of the second line of thought. I didn’t see that I had any power at all to change whether or not the right opportunities came my way. In my mind, the power was always in the hands of someone else. I had to basically live within my reach and accept what ever drifted into my life. The big white house would be mine if life’s currents decided to cause it to drift into my life all by itself.

Why should goal setting matter to you?

If you’re like I was, then you are exactly the person I am writing to help. When I was a young man, I didn’t know enough about this. As I look back from where I am now, I wish I has someone to dive deep into this kind of stuff & help me understand it better and to help me see my own potential.

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” is a quote that actually is a paraphrase of dialog between Alice & the Cheshire Cat in the original Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. While it does not appear in the original work, it’s actually a pretty solid statement. If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.

Goal setting is really about making big decisions that will guide most of your small decisions. In his book Born To Win, Zig Ziglar says that every one of us has unique gifts that give us the power and the opportunity to accomplish great things. When people ask “Well, then why doesn’t everyone achieve greatness?” Zig’s reply is simple. Not everyone wants to be great. And many that want to be great are not willing to do the work, planning & preparing that it will take to make it possible.

So, what is the difference maker?

Desire!

There are several words in the original text of the Bible that translate into the word desire. In 1st Timothy we see Paul instructing Timothy concerning people in the church who desire the office of a Bishop. 1 Timothy 3:1 This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. The word desire here is the Greek word Oregomai. It means to stretch or to reach out after and long for. Another word translated desire in the Bible is found in the letter Peter wrote instructing the church. 1 Peter 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: The word desire here is the Greek word Epipotheo. It means to intensely crave possession. To long after.

Not everyone wants to be great. And many that want to be great are not willing to do the work, planning & preparing that it will take to make it possible.  -Zig Ziglar

So you can see how desire comes into play when we are setting & reaching goals. The truth is that when you desire something, you automatically begin to move toward it. When my desire for something is strong, I begin thinking on it almost continually. I day dream about it. I begin envisioning the possibilities. This very thing happened for me with this blog. As the idea began to form in me to create this, I began to day dream about what it would do in the lives of the readers. I began to picture specific young men that I wanted to read it, and I began to picture what I wanted it all to look like. I’m still doing this. When I write, I’m often imagining myself when I was twenty and the struggles I was facing. This helps keep me connected with my Why. When I stay connected to that, my desire gets engaged and I get motivated.

The setting and pursuit of an important goal brings us a sense of purpose. The accomplishing of that important goal brings a sense of fulfillment. I like to think of goals as the blocks I use to build my life.

I want to encourage you to take some time and think about what is important to you. What could you do different in 2016 to bring more purpose and fulfillment into your life? What are some things that you really want to do but can’t seem to find the time to go after?

Next week I want to talk specifically about how. How to set goals so that you can reach them. Maybe there’s an important goal you failed at and so you’ve given up. It’s not too late. I would ask you to take some time this week and write down some short and long term goals.

I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment and tell us one goal you have for yourself in 2016.

Your Success Is Closer Than You Think.

When I was younger, I was always looking for the magic bullet.  The truth, thing, event or person that would solve my problem. Then, presto – all the tumblers would just fall into place, the door would open, the birds would sing…Hello Easy Street!  If you are anything like me, you find yourself looking for the hack.  I like hacks, easy ways of doing difficult things.  I really like finding a better way to do almost anything.

Dart board bullseye

While that “Magic Bullet” idea may be pretty unrealistic, your success and victory are closer than you think. What if I told you that you could improve your life, build strong relationships and enhance important ones, now. You wouldn’t even have to pay separate processing and handling to get two for the price of one. While this is worth a lot, it’s absolutely free. Well, kind of.

How you might ask?

By doing what you know to do. That’s right. You and I already know that there are things we should be doing. We already know that there are things we should be quitting. We  already know that there are things we should be and should NOT be saying. How do I know so much about this you may be asking?  Because I deal with it too. But I recognize that we are limiting our own success and happiness in many ways because we are not doing what we know to do.

True, there are probably plenty of things you ARE doing that you know you should, but we all seem to have things that we either don’t want to do or we are simply afraid to do. Maybe we have a deep notion that we need to reach out to a loved one who has grown distant, but we’re afraid of rejection or making things worse. Maybe we are yielding to personal immaturity and are trying to punish a loved one for a past hurt. Either way, we really know what needs to be done, we’re just not doing it. It takes guts but…do what you know to do.

James 4:17 in the BBE says a Man who has knowledge of how to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.

You can even take it a step further by doing ALL you know to do.

When I was a younger man, I lost my license. Yep, the state said “That’s enough out of you”.  As time went by, it became a real problem in my life. I prayed about it but I also feared it. It was a big mystifying problem and I didn’t know what to do. I remember the night I got my breakthrough. I didn’t hear an audible voice but it was a still small voice deep down inside me.  Here’s what I heard, “Have you done all you can do?” I thought about that for a few seconds and I realized that there was really only one step that I could take that was small enough to actually take. That was to pay the $40 reinstatement fee. Everything else was just too big and scary. I knew that paying the reinstatement fee was something that I should be doing after I had resolved all the other things, but it was literally all I could do. So I did it!

A couple of weeks later I got a phone call from the State that had my license, asking me why I had sent them a $40 check. I told the lady on the phone that I didn’t know how to fix my problem but I was taking the only step I could see to take. She then began to unravel the whole problem for me and in just a few minutes, I had a clear road-map to get completely out from under the suspension and get my license back. It was just a few weeks later that I was able to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles and get my license. I know I’ve talked about this before but I just can’t encourage you enough. If it seems too big and mysterious, take that step that you can see to take. Begin doing not only what you know to do, but start doing ALL you know to do.

It helps me to break things down into steps. Steps allow me to make incremental progress and at the same time record little wins that help me keep my fire stoked.

  1. Decide. You need to make a decision that you will not hold back anymore. A lot of the pain and suffering that we experience is partially in our control. Often, we have the power to make it better if we would just quit holding out, waiting for someone else to make the first move. Decide to do.
  2. Pray. Ask the Lord for guidance. How should you move forward? He knows. Two things you can be sure of. If you are going to do it His way, Love will be in your words and your actions. And, you will do it by faith. You will not necessarily see immediate results. You will have to walk and stand by Faith.
  3. Make a list. Honesty Time! Write down the areas where you know you’re not doing all you know to do. It’s important because once you get it down, you can now start to make a plan of action. I will often write it down and then work backwards, asking myself questions & writing down the answers to get clarity about how to move forward. This also gives me something to physically mark off when I’ve followed through and completed a step. Great victories are compiled of lots of little wins

If you are dealing with difficult or broken relationships, YOU take responsibility to make the first move.  You may be surprised at how little it takes to make a huge difference.  You will at the very minimum be able to breath easier knowing that the distance between you and them is no longer because of you.  You have done what you know to do and ALL that you know to do.  Also, by acting by Faith, you are giving God an open door to get into your business and work supernaturally.

What steps could you take that would help you move from being a hearer to being a doer this week? I would encourage you to write down at least two actionable items & make it your goal this week to follow through and be a doer. Join the conversation & leave your comment.

Recommended reading = James 1.

I love our community and I look forward to more awesome interactions with you all in the coming year!

Happy New Year!

Art

Simple Guidelines For Making Great Decisions In 2016!

Jeff Walker in his book Launch said that in a workshop that he was hosting, an attendee came up and asked him what was the one thing that made all the difference to him and his business success. The thing this man should be focusing on as his business grew. Jeff ‘s answer was this – Opportunity Cost.

Opportunity cost is a theory in Micro-economics.

www.netmba.com defines it this way – The value of the next best choice, that must be given up when making a decision.

www.wikipedia.com defines it this way – The value of the best alternative foregone, where a choice needs to be made between several mutually exclusive alternatives given limited resources.

Opportunity Cost image card

When I was a teenager, I started learning to play guitar. I used to lay in bed imagining myself playing my favorite songs in front of large audiences. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s ever had rock-star dreams. The thing is, I also liked hanging out with friends and I was getting interested in girls. While I did learn quite a bit about playing guitar, I knew several guys in my school who could play far better than I could. Why? Because they didn’t spend the majority of their time hanging out with their friends. When they had spare time, they were sitting on the edge of their bed practicing scales. Here is where we find the Opportunity Cost. There has to be a trade off.

We all have the same amount of time every week. We all get 168 hours to work with. While we would like to be awesome at everything we pursue, we simply can’t. We humans develop excellence through study & practice, so we can’t realistically expect to be stellar in every area of our lives. We need to make choices as to what we are going to give our time to because for everything we say yes to, we have to say no to something else. You will be saying no to opportunities in order to say yes to (hopefully) better opportunities.

“The chief cause of failure & unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want right now.”  -Zig Ziglar

One of my favorite Zig Ziglar quotes is: “The chief cause of failure & unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want right now”. Isn’t that sad? We sometimes short circuit our own long-term success because we run off after vain, short-term satisfaction.

Another favorite Zig Ziglar quote is “Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation.” Let’s take that to heart and take the time as we enter the new year to build a plan. Set a goal to make the life we dream of, a reality. As we make our plans, here are some things to consider:

  1. Look through the corners; Another thing I learned from Jeff Walker. If you only focus on what’s immediately in front of you, things will “suddenly” pop up in your field of vision and you will not be able to react in time. Make it a practice to look around the turns & see what’s coming before it gets here. Also, consider how your actions will affect your future. Wisdom sees down the road.
  2. The value of a good reputation is immeasurable.  Therefore, sacrificing a good reputation is not acceptable. When considering Opportunity cost, saying no to a solid, honorable reputation in order to achieve short-term gain is not worth the trade-off. Above money or power, your reputation will work for you, or against you. Protect it constantly.
  3. Money should be a byproduct of making the world a better place. When we focus on enriching the lives of those around us, we stand a better chance of finding happiness and fulfillment in our own lives. There’s a book by Marsha Sinetar called Do what you love and the money will follow. I believe this to be true unless your love is sleep. I haven’t seen anyone making a long term living at that one yet. I will say this though. There are now people making a living playing video games on youtube. No joke. The bottom line is that when money is at the top of the priority list, things are on shaky ground.

“Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation.” – Zig Ziglar

As we stand here staring square in the face of 2016, let’s examine not only our goals for the coming year and beyond, but also the opportunity cost to make them happen. If we carefully choose only the few truly important things we want this coming year, we can use these to guide our decisions about all the other things. The things that while eating up all of our time, don’t really get us where we want to be. Let’s get where we want to be in 2016! Let’s be strategic with our “Yes & No”. Say NO to good opportunities so you can say YES to great ones!

Happy New Year!

“Someday” is Never a Safe Bet!

The day Elvis died is an important day for me. It marks a change in my thinking about the meaning of Someday.

When I was in about second grade, I remember asking my dad if we would ever see Elvis live in concert. At the time my dad was an Elvis fan and we often had Elvis playing in our house. My dad answered “Someday”. I didn’t give it another thought. Several years later Elvis died. We never found it. Our someday never happened.

Someday social card

Not seeing Elvis live and in concert didn’t destroy my childhood, but for me it does represent a missed opportunity. A chance to share what could have been a very special time with my dad was lost.

Someday, we will do that important thing. Someday, we will have more time. Someday, we will fix the broken relationships in our lives. Someday!

Author George Saunders wrote: “The scariest thought in the world is that someday I’ll wake up and realize I’ve been sleepwalking through my life: under-appreciating the people I love, making the same hurtful mistakes over and over, a slave to neuroses, fear and the habitual.”

We allow all the trivial, non-essential, unimportant things in our lives to steal our time and attention away from the weightier things that would help us build a better life.

Someday

Nail it down!

Why can’t Someday be today? Why wait? If we can’t act now, can we at least start today to make a plan or set a goal? Zig Ziglar said “A goal well set is half reached”. There are too many things that we want to happen, but we’re not doing anything to make them happen and they will not happen by themselves. How our future turns out depends on what we do.

Let’s make someday more than a wish. Let’s decide to take action today & make our desires a reality.

Are you putting off something you should be acting on? I encourage you – don’t wait. Make a move today.

Motivation. The off-road tire for the muddy road of life.

In the last post I talked about getting stuck. Getting stuck is no fun. We’ve probably all been there. For some reason, we are unable to move forward creatively. Often we identify this as being stuck in a rut. We are doing the same things again and again and it seems that the song of our life only has one note. When you are stuck and unable for whatever reason to move forward, it often creates pressure. Self-imposed pressure to perform, or outside pressure to meet a deadline. Either way, if not dealt with, pressure can lead to anxiety.

I wrote that, at least for me, there were two main areas where I have been continually challenged. I have to take intentional action in these areas or I will find myself standing still instead of moving forward to pursue my goals. The first one is time. Ever since I decided to do important things with my life and be all of the influence I can be, I have also had difficulty with time management. I wrote last week about steps that I’ve taken to better manage my time.

Female hiker on mountain

Image courtesy of StockSnap.io

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.   –Thomas A. Edison

The second area I mentioned was my struggle to stay motivated. What I was facing with motivation was simple. I was having difficulty mentally disengaging from all of the other demanding things in my life in order to engage in the things I am passionate about. Because of this, when I would have some time to work on blog posts or website content, I would sit down and just stare at the computer. Emotionally I would be like a flat glass of soda. Absolutely no fizz. I am very passionate about what the Lord has put on my heart to do with this blog and website. I can see a little bit of what the Lord intends for it. When I spend time thinking about this, I get pretty stoked. When I’m in that frame of mind, I have no trouble coming up with things I want to do and what to write about. But because of the daily distractions, I would sit down to write and be mentally disengaged and emotionally cold. I couldn’t flip the switch & quickly turn on the passion. The weekend would come and I would spend a lot of time thinking about the things that are important to me. I would then start getting fired up again. Often though, it seemed that I wasted a lot of time stirring myself up that I could have been using to create quality content. More self-imposed pressure.

Motivation is defined as The act or process of providing a reason to do something. I would put my own emphasis on the words DO something. Motivation is what causes motion. It’s the why that causes us to act. Motivation is the off-road tire for the muddy road of life.  When we start to feel high drag and heavy resistance trying to climb out of a rut and move forward, it’s the motivation that gives us the traction to keep moving. People would announce to Zig Ziglar that they didn’t believe in that “motivation stuff” and would complain that motivation didn’t work because it didn’t last. It faded, and over time people would lose their zeal. Zig would respond with the statement that Bathing doesn’t last forever either but we didn’t give up on that. That’s why he recommended both motivation and bathing daily.

So how do we stay motivated? How can we keep the switch turned on? I found that I need to expose myself to the right things – constantly!  I need to be seeing, reading & hearing the right things in order to keep my focus. In the Bible, God told the prophet Habakkuk to “write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that reads it”.  (Habakkuk 2:2).  To stay motivated, I need to keep the vision ever before my eyes.  I find a lot of help in not only who but what I listen to.  I like to listen to people who exhibit the kind of character that helps keep me stirred up.  I don’t listen to just anyone.  There are certain things I am looking for.

“Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.”
― Lou Holtz

  1. Look for Enthusiasm. One of the things I have noticed about me is that I like being around enthusiastic people. I often find my own level of enthusiasm rising when I’m around others who have high enthusiasm. This is one important thing I’ve learned over the years. Seek out peers & friends that have enthusiasm in what they are doing. I like hanging around & growing with people who are going somewhere to do something. They are focused and goal oriented. They are looking for a place to “Happen”. Galatians 4:18 says that it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing.
  2. Look for a Positive Outlook. Henry Ford was quoted as saying “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” Recently I heard someone say that we all fail, so what we need to do is to fail fast so that we can get it out of the -way. Then start again and use the lessons of our failure. This is healthy thinking. Philippians 4:8-9 tell us that whatever is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of a good report, virtuous or praise worthy, we are to think on these things.
  3. Look for Determination. Negative people look for the failure and use it as an excuse to quit. Many years ago I was driving east on interstate 74 Champagne, IL. Suddenly all traffic came to a near stop as the Illinois State troopers diverted everyone off of the interstate. It turned out that there was a overturned semi tractor & trailer laying all the way across east bound 74 and it was literally impassable. The state troopers ran us through a detour that put us on State highway 150 for a little while and then we went back onto 74 and away we went. I tell that story because too many times, people will allow difficulty and setbacks tell them that they are on the wrong path. Sometimes these people will cast away their vision and abandon their goals. They say things like “What’s the use?” We shouldn’t let difficulty and failure determine whether or not we accomplish our goals. What if I had hit that traffic detour and threw up my hands, turned the car around and went back home? I wouldn’t have arrived at my intended destination. I wouldn’t have accomplished my goal and I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy my mother in law’s cooking. Failure and difficulty may force us to change our path to get there, but they should never keep us from going. Don’t quit!

You may not know too many people who possess these traits but don’t let that hinder you. I get a lot of my insight and encouragement from podcasts. There are some really good podcast out there and they help me stay stirred up. If you have an iphone, you can use itunes to get your podcasts.  There is a free app in the Google Playstore called Stitcher that works similar to Itunes for android phones. This is what I use to get my podcasts. I look for people who are enthusiastic, positive and determined. People with a “can do” attitude who are making things happen. Here are a few podcasts that I listen to regularly. You can also access them on the web by clicking the links.

This is your life – Michael Hyatt

Eventual millionaire – Jaime tardy

The Portfolio Life – Jeff Goins

The EntreLeadership podcast – Ramsey Solutions, hosted by Ken Coleman.

You can go to https://www.stitcher.com/ to learn more about Stitcher.

How do you stay motivated to reach your goals?  I would love to hear from you.  Please share by leaving a comment.

Here’s How To Get Important Things Done!

Last week I was listening to a leadership podcast & the guy who produces this particular podcast began to share how he had become stuck. He talked about his difficulty producing the podcast because of both personal & professional challenges, as well as other difficulties that had arisen and were stealing his attention. I went back to check and this man had only produced two podcasts the entire summer. He really was struggling.

Clock image

I can relate to his issues. There are many things out there that will steal our time, energy and even our enthusiasm. If we let them, they can distract us from giving our attention and energy to the things that are the most important to us. If not dealt with, they could lead to a life where we can never seem to get traction.  We get derailed by things that don’t really matter and fail to accomplish things that do.  Goals that we hold dear are left undone.

I have noticed that, at least for me, it has been challenging in two main areas. Time & motivation.

When it comes to time, we all have the same amount. I heard Rev. Keith Moore say in a recent message that the Lord had been dealing with him to do a certain thing, and he was resisting. He felt that he didn’t have enough time. The Lord showed him that if he didn’t have enough time to do God’s will for his life, he was wasting time. The Lord knows how much time we have and would not ask us to do something that we simply could not do. If God has the plan, He also has the schedule. We just simply need to be led.

For me it seemed for quite a while that I didn’t have time for the things that were important to me because I was too busy doing all of the regular maintenance things. Things like mowing the grass or changing the oil.  I believe this blog is one of the most important things that I do, but it has been hard to keep up with because of all of the “urgent” demands on my time. I want to stay in shape and it seemed like the optimum time for me to work out was right after work. The gym that I go to is right off of a highway that I am already driving so it is easy to get to. The problem was that commitments, errands & the mundane every day stuff kept demanding my time right after work and it became difficult to be consistent with my workouts.  It also became difficult finding the time to be consistent creating good content for the blog.

Consider this. One of the most important assets you have is your time. It’s what your employer is paying you money for. Why is he or she paying you for your time? Because they have too much to do and don’t have enough time of their own, so they buy yours. It’s interesting to me that even though our time is so precious, we often treat it like it’s trivial and meaningless. Have you ever heard the expression Just wasting time or Killing time? If we would only realized how valuable and limited our time is, I think we would be “like a man on fire” trying to spend it in meaningful ways, and strive not be wasteful of even one precious moment.

We all have the same amount of time. We all have 168 hours per week to work with. So how do we make these hours work for us? What can we do different that would make the difference?

I just finished reading a book called Born To Win by Zig Ziglar & his son Tom Ziglar. This was the last book Zig wrote before he went to Heaven in 2012. Zig related a story about his mentor P.C. Merrill who told the young Zig Ziglar that while he thought Zig had great potential, he was currently a waste. He then said that if Zig would just believe in himself and have what he (Merrill) called an organized work schedule, he could go straight to the top. Zig believed him and this turned out to be a defining moment in Zig’s life. If you have followed or read after Zig Ziglar even a little bit, what becomes apparent was his passion for helping people and that he talked a lot about goals & getting things done. Without doubt we can see what he accomplished in his life and I believe it came from seeing himself as God sees him – a success, and learning the secret of setting goals & working to a schedule.

I have heard it said that if you don’t have a plan for your time, someone else will, and their plan will not be to your benefit. We need to take some time and observe where our time is leaking away and fix the leaks. This may involve saying no to people. For me this required making some decisions. First, I didn’t know that much about time management but I found help. Michael Hyatt offers a free e-book when you subscribe to his email list to receive his blog posts. The book is called “Shave 10 Hours Off Your Workweek”. You can find more about it at michaelhyatt.com. Also, I had to make some decisions about how I spent my time. I needed to cut back on television. The New York Times reported that the average American watches about 5 hours of TV a day. Wow! I made some solid decisions concerning TV. I no longer have any shows that I HAVE TO watch. I also try to schedule my TV time so that I can spend it with my family. I have also realized that the hour or two right after work need to be “wild card” hours. There are too many variables that can change my schedule in that time. I also started getting up at 4:30 AM to spend quality time with God and to work out. No one else wants my 4:30 AM so it’s all mine. I spend the first 3-1/2 hours each day with prayer, Bible reading, working out & reading. I don’t stay up as late these days but I’ve discovered that staying up late doesn’t translate into hours of productivity. It usually translated into hours wasted on Netflix. For me the hours in the morning are far more productive.

If you don’t have a plan for your time, someone else will, and their plan will not be to your benefit.

Dr. Stephen Covey, author of the book Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People had an illustration that spoke volumes about time management. He told the story of a Business School instructor who presented to his class a one gallon mason jar and three bowls. The first bowl was filled with sand. The second bowl was filled with what looked gravel. The third bowl was filled with seven large rocks. He would have a student fill the container from the three bowls assuring them that all of the contents would fit. The student started by pouring in the sand, followed by the gravel and then finally the 7 large rocks. They quickly discovered that most of the big rocks would not fit. He then demonstrated that by putting in the 7 big rocks first, then pouring in the gravel around them and then the sand which filled up ever available space, the container held everything.

The secret to this illustration was simple. Put in the big rocks first. There are an unending supply of trivial, meaningless details in our lives that steal our time and rob us of our goals. If we allow them, they keep us from doing the things we truly care about. We need to schedule our priorities to do the important things first. You define what the big rocks mean. Do you want to help others? Do you want more time with your kids? Focus more on your faith? It’s important to keep in mind that we need to do the important things first or we will never get them done at all.

What tips do you use to keep yourself on track & moving forward? I would love to hear from you. Please join the conversation by leaving a comment.