Saying Yes

As I was sitting down to write my weekly blog post, I got a text asking if I’d like to come over to someone’s house for dinner.  Initially, I thought about all the stuff that I wanted to get done that night, and that I should say, “No”. However, I then pondered just how important, really, were the things I’d be doing if I said, “No” to the invitation.  I replied to the text with, “I’ll be there!”

Sometimes when we get opportunities to do things, we think about reasons that would keep us from saying, “Yes”.  I’m going to challenge that line of thinking and start looking for reasons to accept.  This is just another reminder for me to be intentional with my choices versus defaulting to getting stuff done.

Sorry for the short post this week, but I’ve got a dinner engagement to get to!

When It’s Time To Wait

We’re getting ready to do a bathroom remodel, and as part of any home improvement project, I like to get people that will be doing the work lined up and scheduled early.  For this project, I’ve had a hard time doing that because we’re waiting to know when fixtures will arrive, because the work can’t start until they do.  I was telling my wife that I feel like I’m not getting anything done or moving the project forward.  Her response was simple and accurate.  “We can’t line people up until we have all the fixtures, so right now, our job is to wait.”

She’s right.  Worrying or trying to “do” stuff won’t make things arrive any quicker.  Our next step can’t be taken until everything arrives.  Therefore, since we’ve picked out and ordered what we want, our job is done for now. 

Once I thought about her comment, I felt much better.  I can’t cause something to happen that is beyond my control.  We’ll be able to move ahead when everything arrives.  In the meantime, we just have to be patient and wait. 

Let A List Remember For You

Last week was the first week since January 2013 that I haven’t made a blog post.  I’d like to say it was because we were busy traveling last weekend, but I’ve traveled many times since 2013 and have still created a weekly blog post.  The simple excuse is, I just forgot.

Beyond just forgetting, the real reason it didn’t get posted was because I didn’t write, “Post blog” on my list of To-Do items.

I find that when I have a lot of things going on, I need a list to help me keep track of the tasks I need to complete.  Much like a grocery list, a task list helps me ensure that I don’t forget anything important I’m supposed to do.  More importantly, a task list frees up my mental capacity from having to remember to do something.  Once it’s on my list, I don’t have to spend any energy remembering to do it, because the list will remember for me.

I heard a quote once that said, “Our mind are great places for having ideas, but they’re a horrible place for storing them.”  I totally agree!  Whether paper or digital, lists are great places for remembering things like:

  • Groceries to buy at the store
  • Chores you need to complete
  • Things you need to pack for a trip
  • Books you want to read
  • Destinations you like to visit
  • People you need to contact
  • Appointments and meetings you have during the day

The next time you have a number of things to remember, instead of keeping them in your head, consider making a list.  Not only will a list help you remember what you need to do, it’s fun to cross completed items off the list!

It’s Time To Go

There is no shortcut.  There is no hack.  There’s only one way, so get after it.”

~ Jocko Willink – “Discipline Equals Freedom”

Within the context of our goals, there is a gap between where we are currently and where we want to go.  And usually, the bigger the outcome we’re striving for, the bigger the gap that exists.  While there is no shortcut to bridging that gap, there is a simple remedy to get us to the other side.  That is to take the first step today.

We’d never sit in our car on one side of a bridge with the transmission in park, hoping that we could somehow make it to the other side.  In order to cross the bridge, we put the car in gear, step on the accelerator and start moving across the bridge to the other side.

It’s no different with our goals.  Sure, we can sit on our current side of the gap we need to cross and talk about how much we want to be on the other side, but unless we take steps to move toward our goal, we’ll never make progress at bridging the gap and reaching the other side.  At some point we have to take the actions that will cause us to bridge that gap.

Is there anything you’d like to achieve that you’ve been hesitating on starting, or have even just been lazy about starting?  If so, determine what that first step you need to take is and do it today.  Then tomorrow, repeat the process and take the next step.  Repeat this process daily, until you find yourself on the other side of the gap.

Although the steps might not be easy, the process is, and it involves taking the first step and doing the work.

It’s time to go!  The other side awaits.

Play The Long Game

Disciplined behavior in the moment can be challenging when we’re trying to achieve a goal.  Whether it’s fitness, good health, financial, relational, or any other long-term goal, it’s easy to get knocked off track in the moment.  What I’ve found helpful for staying disciplined toward the pursuit of a goal is to play the long game.

By that, I mean to look way into the future to what achieving this goal looks like.  For example, I want to live a healthy life.  That goal is way too vague to withstand the temptations (like ice cream!) that that present themselves on a daily basis that are perpendicular to my goal.  Instead, I frame my goal with a bent toward that future.  Rather than having a goal to “live a healthy lifestyle”, I have a goal to be an active, engaged, curious, ninety-year-old who is in excellent physical condition. 

I’m playing the long game by focusing on the person I want to become when I turn 90.  This focus helps me consider my choice on a daily, monthly, weekly, and yearly basis.  The question I present myself with is, “are the choices I’m making (in relation to diet, finances, relationships, intellectual development, and spiritual growth) or have been making, leading me closer to or further from the person I want to be in my 90s”?  If the answer is, “Yes”, I move keep making those choices.  If my answer is “No”, then I consider modifying my behavior.

Playing the long game helps give my life daily direction.  I know where I want to go, so all I need to do now is make sure my choices are taking there.

Reminder That We Need Each Other

I had a good laugh with the pastor of my church a couple weeks ago when a few of us were working on something in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.  As he was navigating the spreadsheet on his laptop, a couple of us were telling him what buttons to press to make something happen.  As we were all laughing at the process, he stated, “They didn’t teach us how to do this stuff in seminary.” 

His comment reminded me how we need the skills and talents of others.  There’s no way any one of us can know everything.  I don’t know anyone who can do all of the following:

  • Use a spreadsheet
  • Perform dentistry
  • Make gasoline
  • Build a cell phone tower
  • Build a cell phone
  • Fly a passenger aircraft
  • Perform surgery
  • Build a car
  • Make steel
  • Grow vegetable on a commercial scale
  • Operate a railroad
  • Build or operate a hydro-electric power plant
  • Professionally counsel someone through personal difficulties
  • Run a city sewer system
  • Build a skyscraper
  • Compose music
  • Play a musical instrument
  • And on and on and on…

I’m fortunate that we can rely on others to help where our knowledge falls short.  Often times, we don’t even think about all the people that we’ll never meet that are behind some of the technology, infrastructure, and entertainment we use every day.  However, we daily benefit from their contributions.

What I’m also grateful for is that we can contribute our skills and talents to improve the lives of others too!  To me it seems like the best way that we can say, “Thank you” to those whose efforts benefit us, is to give our effort to improve the lives of others. 

Reintegrating Old Habits

There are 2 things I especially enjoy about the month of January.  I love the fact that January means that Spring is only a couple of months away!  January is also a great time to look back on your life and take stock of how you’ve been doing, and to also look ahead and make adjustments.  I love that process!  This year especially, because I’ve identified a few old habits that I’d like to make a more-regular part of my life in 2022 and in the years ahead.

First, I’d like to get back into the habit of consuming personal development material.  Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of books and listening to podcasts about biographies and historic events, which have been very interesting and enjoyable.  However, this month I started listening to personal development podcasts and reading books on the same topic.  I have been reminded what a boost this kind of content is to my attitude and outlook.  This is something I want more of.

I’ve also started exploring options for regional travel.  I live in the Pacific Northwest and there are all sorts of cool places to get out and see and explore.  A lot of our travel over the past few years (not counting COVID years) has been out of the region.  While we still want to do plenty of other travel, we’re also focusing on seeing what’s to us in the PNW.   I’m finding there’s plenty of adventure out there just waiting for us to discover it.

Finally, I’ve started journaling again.  This is one habit that I’ve had a hard time sticking to long term.  I seem to have seasons where I’m journaling more, but I’d really like to make this a regular daily habit.  The reason is because I’m just better personally when I’m journaling regularly.  My thinking feels clearer, I feel more observant and engaged in life, and I like the ability to go review what I’ve read in years past.  It chronicles my own personal growth journey.

What habits to you have (or have had) that you’d like to make a more regular part of your life?  Give it some thought, and when you come up with something, put systems in place to ensure the behavior does, indeed, become a habit.  Your future self is rooting for you!       

More Of

What do you want more of in your life?  Maybe it’s peace or joy.  Perhaps you’d like better health or more close relationships.  Whatever it is that you want more of, get a picture of what that looks like, because you’re going to need that picture for the next paragraph.

Do you have that picture of what more of whatever you decided you want in your life looks like?  Good!  Now, today, take the first step, no matter how small, that causes that picture to become more of a reality in your life.  Then tomorrow, take the next step, and likewise the day after that and beyond.

Without a change, we’ll continue getting more of the same, which can be good if you’re actively moving toward something you want.  If, however, there’s something more you want, you’re only a few small steps away from heading in that direction.

Don’t dely. 

You’re Just The Right Person

I was talking with some folks this week that mentioned they occasionally have doubt whether they belong in the career position they’re currently in, which they both enjoy.  It’s interesting to me how often we doubt our own abilities.  Especially when we’re actually doing, and enjoy, the very thing we doubt we can do.  Seems kind of funny when you think about that way. 

Usually, it’s our own thoughts that cause us to doubt our abilities.  Thought like:

  • I’m not smart enough
  • I haven’t been doing this very long
  • I feel like an imposter
  • Other people could do a much better job than I can
  • And a zillion other self-defeating thoughts.

Here’s a bit of encouragement for all of us when we begin to doubt our abilities in what we’re doing. 

If:

  • You are currently doing it
  • You enjoy doing it
  • You are actively learning and applying yourself to get better…

Then you’re just the right person to be doing what you’re doing.

It’s as simple as that.  Sure, you need a basic level of competence.  However, there is nowhere that states we’re required to be the smartest person, or to have all the answers before we can hold a position or offer our skills to the world.  If you hold a position that you enjoy, and are learning and growing in it, then you belong there.

Now that that’s settled, ditch the doubt and move forward, offering your best to what you do.  The world needs what you have to offer.

The Value Of Instructors

Four years ago, I began taking lessons to learn the electric bass guitar.  I’m sure I could have learned to play the bass by watching youtube videos, but I prefer being able to ask specific questions I’m struggling with to a real person versus a search engine.  I also prefer lessons, because the instructor often know things that will be useful that I’m not yet aware of.

For the last couple of weeks, we’ve been learning about now to write melodies.  When we first started, I was wondering to myself, “how is this going to help be become a better bass player?”  I was really having a hard time connecting the dots between being able to write melodies and being a more skilled bass player.

As we’ve been working on it, I’m seeing how this skill will increase my understanding of music and also help me learn how I can apply this knowledge directly in some of the songs we play on the worship team at church.  It’s a skill I likely wouldn’t have pursued, had I not been taking lessons from someone who knows more about music than me.

While youtube and online search results can be useful in helping you learn a new skill, I think the best way to learn, at least for me, is to enlist the help of a good instructor.  Someone who has been on the same journey, only much longer than I have, and someone who knows what skills would be valuable, that I may not even be considering.

The next time you’re trying to go beyond the basics of learning a new skill, consider enlisting the help of an instructor.  It’s highly probable that you’ll benefit from the knowledge they have that you’re not yet aware of.