It was bound to start happening, and it did a few weeks ago. I’m beginning to see subtle changes hinting at the imminent end of summer. However, the most notable change: it’s starting to be dark dark when I wake up in the morning.
I normally wake up at 5:30am and one of my favorite things about summer is getting up in the morning and being greeted by a bright sunny morning. A cool, sunny, summer morning in the early hours just after dawn is hard to beat! I love going for a walk or heading off to some outdoor adventure on mornings like this! The air is still and cool, the temperatures haven’t become too hot yet, the colors are so vibrant from the light cast by the sun that is low on the horizon, and not many people are up and about yet, especially on the weekends. They don’t know what they’re missing, but I don’t mind. It makes me feel like I have the whole morning to myself.
So for me, it’s always a little disheartening, to see the first few dark mornings in the waning days of summer, because it reminds me that winter and its dark, rainy, cold mornings is not far behind. Those first dark mornings also remind me of something else: to enjoy and appreciate each remaining summer morning as much as I can, before the season is over.
There are a lot of other things in life that we only have the opportunity to enjoy it for a season like:
- Living in a specific neighborhood, city or state that we really enjoy, but eventually decide to leave for other opportunities.
- Good friends we enjoy spending time with, who move away or whose life circumstances make it more challenging to spend the time with them that we once did.
- Children, who eventually move out to attend college, join the military, or to follow other pursuits.
While it can be tough to experience the loss of relationships, places, or things as we’ve always known them, I think it should also remind us to be mindful about enjoying and appreciating those people, places, and things that make us happy and bring a joy… while we currently have them.
Enjoy the time you spend with those people most important to you and actively engage with them. Really experience the places you love to visit and the things you love to do. Be present. Be grateful. And take nothing for granted. That way you’ll feel like you took full advantage of the time and experiences you had… in the season you had them.
We give up way too easy. It’s simple to begin a new pursuit or activity, but often, after the fun and excitement wears off, we abandon our efforts and give up.
Perhaps we do this because there are so many things competing for our attention. As soon as we discover something new, we’re captivated by something else that has caught our attention. More likely, when we’re faced with actually doing the work, we quickly find out how committed to we really are… or aren’t.
I’ve struggled with starting new ventures and not following through, usually due to 1 or both of the reasons described above. Now, before I begin a new pursuit, I determine:
- If I has a compelling reason why I want to do it
- If I have the commitment, as well as the time, to daily do the work required to achieve success
I’ve decided that I must have a compelling reason; a compelling “Why”. A reason why I want this? Without a good answer to that question, it’s too easy to quit before starting or when things start to get tough. So, without a compelling “Why”, I move on to something else.
Once I’ve decided to start, I gauge my commitment by thinking of the acrostic FOCUS:
This reminds me that it is not about starting new things, but about following through on those things I’ve started until successful. I find that if I don’t adopt this mindset, I’ll often start a bunch of new ventures but achieve success in few, if any.
So what about you? Do you tend to start ventures and fail to complete them? It could be you started without a compelling “Why” or even the commitment required to be successful. If that’s the case, start being aware of why you’re doing something and whether you’re committed to seeing it through to success. If you are, GREAT! It’s time to get started. If not, that’s great too. Just keep looking for something where you have both a compelling “Why” and the commitment. Then when you find it, dive in and give it your best.
Last Tuesday evening at 9:30, my mom called up with an interesting problem.
My 93 year old grandma (aka Granny) had spent the last couple weeks visiting Oregon from Colorado and was scheduled to fly back home the next morning. In order to ensure Granny had a smooth trip and made her connections, my mother was going to fly back with Granny from Portland to Salt Lake City, then from Salt Lake City to Grand Junction, where Granny’s other daughter would be waiting to take possession. After the successful “Granny transaction”, my mother would then hop on a plane to retrace her route back to Portland.
The problem was that my mother was currently suffering from a bad bout of vertigo and wasn’t in any condition to drive a car or hop on an airplane in the next 24 hours. Granny’s flight was scheduled to leave in less than 9 hours. She asked if I would be willing to fly with Granny back to Grand Junction the next morning.
This was certainly not what I thought I would be doing the next day before the phone rang. My initial reaction to the request was to think of all the things I had to do the next day, and how fulfilling this request really wasn’t possible. As a few seconds passed and I thought further, there really wasn’t anything that was so critical that it couldn’t be delegated or even wait a day until I got back. My initial thoughts quickly dissipated and I began to see this request as an unexpected opportunity for an adventure. I would always have routine work related things to do, but how often would I have the opportunity for a trip like this with my lively and spirited Granny? I said, “Yes”. I’m so glad I did! Not only did we make a lot of memories, we had a great time.
Sometimes our initial reaction to a new request or opportunity is to quickly determine why it won’t work or why we “can’t” do it. I think this type of reaction serves only as a factory to crank out lame excuses to keep us from venturing outside of our comfort zone. How can we ever expect to have new and memorable experiences if we think no further than our initial reaction telling us why something can’t be done?
Start recognizing this initial reaction in you when you’re presented with a new adventure or opportunity, and begin to think in terms of “why not?” and say, “Yes!” to these opportunities as often as you can. Not only will you have fun making memories and experiencing new adventures, you’ll have a more exciting and interesting life as well.
If you’re facing obstacles in the pursuit of a worthy goal, congratulations! That’s normal. What’s not normal is pushing through the obstacles with creative solutions. Many people simply give up when obstacles occur and cease their pursuit, settling for what the way things have always been.
When we face obstacles, it feels like a fork in the road where we can make one of two choices:
- Get creative and adjust our approach.
- Return to the status quo.
If you’re pursuing a goal, it’s probably because you’re tired of the status quo. Therefore this choice should be pretty easy. It’s time to get creative.
So what are some things we can do to spark creativity, so that we can push through obstacles and challenges? Here are 3 suggestions:
- Come up with 10 ideas to a problem every day. This comes from James Altucher on the Ask Altucher podcast, where he says coming up with 10 ideas a day will help you “flex your Idea Muscle” and cause you to become better at generating ideas becoming more creative.
- Ask for ideas from others. Don’t critique their ideas or say why they won’t work. Rather use them as building blocks for new ideas that can lead to creative solutions.
- Read or listen to books, blogs, or podcast that talk about creativity or how people solved problems.
One more suggestion to become more creative in the face of obstacles is to remember why you’re in pursuit of your goal in the first place. Think about what motivated you to get started, and specifically what you’ll give up if you do indeed give up on this pursuit! Then ask yourself, “Am I fine with going back to the way things have always been?” For me, the answer is always “No. I wouldn’t be fine with that.” This answer provides me with the direction and motivation I need to press on and move ahead.
No matter what you’re pursuing, the probability that you’ll face obstacles is high. Be aware of the certainty of obstacles, when you begin your next goal. Doing so will enable you to think creatively from the outset about how to will overcome these obstacles when they arrive.
It’s easy to complain, and most people don’t need much practice to get good at it. Sometimes complaining to the appropriate people is the right thing to do, like when you receive a bad product or service or experience poor treatment from a merchant. In these circumstances we should complain, but we should always do so respectfully with tact and the right motive.
However, I think we often complain:
- About people or things that have always been the way they are.
- About things we have no intention of changing.
- To any listening ear that is willing to hear us complain.
What good does this do? How does this benefit you? Complaining like this takes away your power to direct the course of your life and instead fosters a victim mentality. Unless complaining sparks action, it serves only to ensure you get more of what you’ve always been getting. It’s also draining to you and others around you of energy and optimism. Worse yet, it signals to others that you’re not a person of action, but merely a chronic complainer.
Instead of just complaining, try taking action that will improve the situation you’re complaining about. Why allow yourself to be just another complaining voice? The next time you find yourself complaining for the wrong reasons, add the following closing statement to the end of your complaint: “…and this is what I’m going to do to make it better…” Then do it!
Try this for the next week and observe the results. At the very least, you’ll most likely gain a great sense of accomplishment and an improved attitude. You’ll also find yourself becoming a person of influence, impact, and action.