A Story Worth Living

“The ambitions we have will become the stories we live.  If you want to know what a person’s story is about, just ask then what they want. If we don’t want anything, we are living boring stories […].”

~ Donald Miller – “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years”

 If your life is a story, would it be a story worth reading?  Here’s the bigger question:  do you want it to be?

We’re blessed that we get to choose what we want to pursue during our lifetime.  It seems a shame therefore, that we would reject this blessing by not having any ambitions, desires, or goals we’re chasing.

Sure, pursuing such things involves struggle and the ability to overcome obstacles, but isn’t that what makes a good story?  Wouldn’t overcoming obstacles in pursuit of something worthy also make for an interesting and fulfilling life?  I think so!

Be aware of your ambitions.  Know what they are and what you need to do to move toward them, and then, take those actions that will bring them about.  By doing so, you’ll be writing a story, and a life, worth living.

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Choice

“Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny.” ~ Aristotle

I saw this quote on a colleague’s email signature this week and it instantly became a favorite! It reminds me how much control we have over our lives by the choices we make.

The quote says nothing about our present situation, our upbringing, or any other excuse we use to explain why we’re not currently living the life we desire. The focus is clearly on intention and intelligent and wise action.  I don’t know about you, but that’s extremely encouraging to me!  We are the ones who get to choose what shape our lives take.  If we want to become something different from what we currently are, we simply need to choose to take actions that move us in our desired direction.

Let’s not let the world shape us because we decided not to choose for ourselves. This ability, this privilege to choose for ourselves is too great a freedom to neglect, so let’s not squander it.  Instead, let’s choose wisely.

Don’t Be Afraid To Struggle

I’m currently struggling; and I’m thankful that I am.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve been playing the electric bass guitar for about 15 months now.  While it’s been fun, it’s also been a struggle.  I know where I want to be as a bass player, and then I listen to myself and realize where I currently am.  Let’s just say there’s a gap!

It takes effort to improve and often that improvement has not come quickly or easily for me.  Yet, as I struggle to make progress with the bass, I can look back over several weeks and realize that I have indeed made progress, and that the struggle to this point has paid off.  That encourages me that my current struggles to master the bass will also pay off in the days ahead.

Most undertakings to achieve a worthwhile outcome will require struggle.  Whether it’s solving a problem you currently don’t have an answer for, learning a foreign language, or becoming a better version of yourself, plan on having to struggle your way to success.  If success didn’t require struggle, we would have done it already.

Be encouraged by the struggle you face in your worthwhile endeavors, knowing that the struggle is what will bring success.  Also remember that you can punch out and quit and your struggle will be over, but so too will the opportunity for success in your chosen pursuit.

Struggle on!

Enjoy It While You Can

Sunny days and Oregon Strawberries! These are 2 of my favorite things about living in the Pacific Northwest in June.

I think what makes each of these items so special to me is that they’re both limited in their appearance, making them somewhat scarce. (The berries more so than the sun, despite what you might have heard!) Since sunny days and strawberries aren’t available every day in Oregon, I enjoy them both as much as I can while they are available.

It’s important not to take for granted the enjoyable things in our life that we only have for a limited time because… we only have them for a limited time.

You’ve Got Enough Information

Imagine a scenario where you’re gathering information and doing research regarding:

  • Taking a vacation
  • Going back to school
  • Losing weight
  • Getting out of debt
  • Quitting a bad habit
  • Starting a good habit
  • Or any number of other activities you’d like to undertake

Now here’s a question to consider: How would you know when you’ve gathered enough information and done enough research?  The answer would be, when you know what action you should now be taking.

Gathering information and doing research is an important step in any planning process. However, once our research has made clear what steps we should be taking, it’s time to stop researching and start executing on what we know we need to do.  Continuing to research at this point provides little more than a barrier to progress.  It can be a comfortable way to procrastinate.

As you’re gathering information for your next big undertaking, be sure to frequently ask yourself, “Do I have enough information to take action?” If not, then continue to gather information.  But if you know what action you should take, stop researching and take action.  Because the sooner you take action the sooner you’ll see results.

Offer Up Your Creativity

A couple of months ago I started playing the bass guitar on my church’s worship band. It’s been a lot of fun, and I always learn a lot each time I play, which is good because I need it!

One aspect I’m eagerly trying to get better at is bringing my own creativity to the songs we play. For each song we play, I have chord chart that shows what chord (note) to play at a specific point in the song.  The cool part is that there are a lot of places on the chart that don’t have any chords referenced.  These are the places where a musician can apply their skills and offer their own creativity to the song and the audience as well.  This is the part I find most enjoyable.

I think it’s a lot like that in life. We’re certainly not given a chord chart for life.  Sure, there are times when we need to “hit a note” at a certain point, but I also think that there are far more times when what we do is up to our own creativity in how we apply our skills and talents.

Let’s make sure that we’re offering up our creativity as we navigate through life. Your mix of talents, skills, and experience put you in a position every day to offer uniquely creative solutions.  Let’s not hold back.

We’re Fortunate

This week in Salem Oregon there were some warnings about the city’s water supply.  Basically, there is some algae bloom going on at the source and people 6 and under, as well as pets, should not drink the water.  This is an extremely rare occurrence and reminds me how fortunate we are to regularly have clean drinking water accessible in our homes.  This blows me away!

It also reminds me of all the other things that “magically happen” like electricity, internet service, heating and air conditioning, garbage pickup, and a host of other services we rely on every day.  I’m thankful for these blessings because I am aware that for many people in the world these things are not a part of everyday life.

While these services can easily be taken for granted, Salem’s water supply issue reminds me just how much we rely on them, and how different life would be if they were suddenly gone.

Is there anything you’re currently taking for granted?  If so, spend a moment or two in reflective gratitude.  And if it’s a person you’re taking for granted, let them know that you appreciate them and ensure that your actions, moving forward, reflect that appreciation.