Ride the Wave

While pursuing a goal or project, have you ever stalled out on progress because you lacked some skill or knowledge required to take the next step?  I have!  It can be extremely frustrating being stuck and not making progress.  What makes up for the frustration, however, is when a breakthrough finally occurs and you gain the skill or knowledge needed to move ahead.  At that point progress begins to come rather quickly.  When that breakthrough occurs, it is imperative to immediately take action and ride the wave of your new found momentum.

“Riding the wave” is giving focused effort at applying your newly acquired knowledge.  It is taking swift and decisive action to maximize the enthusiasm, excitement, and momentum that result from your breakthrough and causing something to happen that quickly propels you toward your goal.  Failing to take action immediately after a breakthrough allows other forces take hold and keep you in a place of stalled effort and minimal progress.

Be on the lookout for these breakthrough moments and view them as signals to crank up your effort in order to ride the wave of momentum that has been created as a result.  By doing so, you’ll be making huge leaps toward achieving the goals you’ve set for yourself.

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Evaluating Our Routines

Routines are nice because they bring order, structure, and even comfort to our lives.  They help us achieve our goals like exercise or mastery of a particular topic by providing the daily discipline to move ahead in these areas.  Routines also come in the form of who we hang out with, the places we go, and what we do with our free time.  Much like habits, routines occur without a lot of thought on our part.  They happen almost automatically.  That’s a good thing when our routines move us in a positive direction.

Have you ever considered though, that perhaps your routines are holding you back?  Is there a goal you want to achieve that you just can’t get traction on?  Maybe you’re considering a life change, but can’t see exactly how you’ll make it happen.  Perhaps what is required is a change to one or more of your routines.

Several years ago I heard the comment that if you want to do something big or different with your life, your future is going to have to look completely different from your past.  This is absolutely true.  What we’ve done with our lives so far has brought us to where we are today.  However, if we aspire to do something different with our lives, it will undoubtedly require changing our routines, either by adding new ones or removing old routines that no longer add the value required to move ahead.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we need to jettison all our current routines and start anew.  Some routines are good and should be kept because they bring satisfaction and joy to our lives.  However, in our pursuit to cause something to happen, we should evaluate those routines that no longer align with the direction we’ve charted and either adjust them so they can help take us where we want to go, or discontinue them.

What direction have you charted for your life?  What goals and aspirations are you currently pursuing?  Do you currently have any routines in your life that are a barrier, or make it difficult to move ahead with your goals?  If so, seriously examine your current routines and determine how they can be altered to better serve you, whether you should stop doing them, or if there are new routines you need to employ.

Changing our routines may seem like a tough thing to do, but it is crucial if we desire different outcomes than we are currently experiencing.  Be bold and spend some time this week honestly evaluating your current routines and any potential changes to them that may be required.  The achievement of your goals and the life you desire depends on it.

Be Mindful of What You’re Causing

When pursuing a goal, we usually know the desired outcome we seek.  We know exactly what we want to cause to happen and we take actions to make it so.  This is good.  It helps us intentionally progress toward our goals.  However, we can also unintentionally cause something to happen that we might not want, if we are not mindful of how or words or actions can effect others.

Earlier this week I found that my actions had produced a negative experience for my wife.  It was something that I neither wanted nor intended to bring about.  It made me wonder how many times a day I am unintentionally causing something to happen because I am not paying attention.  This experience reminded me of my word of the year:  mindful.

Being mindful is being aware of our actions and how they affect us and others.  It is also avoiding the temptation to go on auto-pilot during the day, but instead to actively engage and give thought to what we say and do, realizing that our actions can have an impact on others, whether we’re mindful of them or not.

None of us intentionally want our actions to yield a bad result.  I think it’s safe to say that we don’t want to unintentionally yield bad results either.  Let’s commit to being mindful, not only in the pursuit of our goals, but also in our interactions with those around us.  I think we’ll be pleased with the positive results that we’ll see.

Determine Where You Want to Go

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”

~The Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland

I’ve found that statement to be true in my own life in years past.  Early on I didn’t have real, specific goals.  Sure, I had some like, earn money, have fun, and be happy, but those aren’t very concrete.  They’re much too vague to be useful and didn’t give me any direction with regard to how I would go about achieving them.

As a result, I found that I wasn’t really focused in my career pursuits and personal goals.  I lacked direction as to where I wanted to go and how I would go about getting there.  Life was ok, but I wasn’t intentionally going anywhere specific.  I would take jobs that came along instead of actively pursuing opportunities that helped move me closer to a destination or goal I had intentionally set. I felt like a leaf that had fallen in a creek and was being carried downstream in a gently tumbling current. Life was fine.  It wasn’t bumpy or turbulent, but it wasn’t great either.

It makes sense, right?  How can we know what path, opportunity, or direction is best for us if we don’t know where it is we want to go?

It wasn’t until I began spending time thinking about what direction I wanted to take my life that I started to get a sense of where I intentionally wanted to go.  It was exciting as I realized the unintentional path I was on would no longer do.

In January of 2011, as part of this thinking process, I began journaling.  It is a discipline I have stuck with ever since.  For me, journaling has been one of the most productive and rewarding undertakings of my life.  It is a great way to dive into your mind and engage yourself with questions like: “What do I want out of life?  What’s really important to me?  What am I good at?  What am I excited about? Where do I want to be next year at this time? How do I want my life to look now and in the future?  Where am I going?”  The questions you can ask yourself are endless, but they all start to bring clarity to your thinking when you put pencil or pen to paper and begin truthfully answering them.  Journaling helped me gain a clear picture of where I want to go, what I wanted out of life.  It has even helped me identify the steps needed to move me toward the new goals I have set for myself.

Have you ever been unsure of exactly where it is you want to go in life?  Do you feel that way now?  If so, I encourage you to give journaling a try.  It doesn’t have to be complicated.  You don’t need an agenda.  Rather just write your thoughts down as they come to your mind, and write down your reactions to them.  Don’t worry if your thoughts are jumping all over the pace.  Just follow the train of thought with your pencil and see where they lead.

Commit to journaling for 30 days, or set a goal of writing for 10 minutes 3 times a week for a month.  Cause something to happen by simply starting.  You will be amazed at the clarity and motivation you’ll gain.

What Are We Afraid Of?

I had been putting off making a phone call that I needed to make for the last 2 weeks.  It wasn’t anything major.  I just needed to call someone up and ask a couple of “how to” questions.  I don’t really like talking on the phone, so I kept putting it off.  The problem was that doing so stalled progress on a specific goal I am currently pursuing.  I kept telling myself, “I’ll call tomorrow”, but tomorrow turned out to be several days.

Eventually I got fed up with myself, grabbed the phone, and made the call.  You know what?  The call went REALLY well!  Not only did I get my questions answered, I also met a nice person that I will work with in the future.  It turned out to be an enjoyable conversation.

When I hung up the phone I thought, “That wasn’t so bad.  Why didn’t I do that sooner?  What was I afraid of?”  Probably fear.  Probably also getting out of my comfort zone.  Whatever the reason, it cost me 2 weeks of potential progress toward my current goal.  I squandered the opportunity to cause something to happen during those 2 weeks in order to stay in my comfort zone.  How lame is that??!!  Nothing great ever occurs when we act (or don’t act) out of fear.

Moving forward, I’m going to be on the lookout for those the fears and thoughts that keep me from doing what needs to be done, and when I recognize them, I will combat them by taking the action I know I should take.  Have you ever experienced thoughts or fears that hold you back?  Are you experiencing them now?  If so, it’s time to stop letting fear and comfort run the show.  I invite you to join me in defeating them with intentional action.  Doing so will not only cause you to move ahead faster, you’ll also feel great as a result.