This week I’ve been reading one of my journals from 2015.  Reading old journals is like being in a time machine, because I can read what I was thinking in that particular moment and also know how things turned out 8 years later.  Journaling is a great way to establish benchmarks (where we currently are) and our goals/destinations (where we want to go).   

I was encouraged to see that for several of my personal growth destinations I was writing about, I was able to arrive at the destination envisioned at the time.  This was reassuring, as I was able to read my thought process and understand my desire, as well as actions to take, to get there.

My journals also revealed that I have areas that I wanted to improve on back in 2015, that I’m still working to improve at in 2023.  I was encouraged that there are areas of growth that were important to me then that are still important to me today.  And while my improvement has been slow, I still have the desire to improve moving forward.  My journaling from 2015 is still motivating me to continue to grow and improve, today and beyond.

Are there any areas in your life where you’d like to improve?  If so, I strongly suggest journaling about where you are, and where you want to go in life.  If journaling isn’t your thing, I’d suggest at least writing down the areas you want to improve, and what that improvement looks like.  This will provide a wonderful benchmark for your future self, so that they will know if they are on track or need to recalibrate.  It will also make for a nice conversation with yourself at a future date.


Plan For It

Several years ago, my wife and I opened a savings account and titled it, “Travel”.  It’s where we regularly save money for the sole purpose of traveling.  Not only does having this account show that we prioritize traveling and getting away together, it gives is the freedom to go somewhere on short notice, or add a day or two to our existing plans.  It’s given us the freedom, as well as the encouragement, got travel.

If something is important to us, we need to plan and execute to make it happen.  Whether it’s setting aside time, money, or some other resource, our planning and execution shows our true level of commitment.  If we say we want to do/have/become/change something, yet we haven’t taken any steps to bring it about, that may tell us quite a bit about how committed we actually are.

Is there something you want to do/have/become/change?  If so, begin planning for it.  Then, follow up on those plans with specific action.  That “something” awaits.

A Quick Shoutout To Public Libraries

I love the idea that there’s a place in my town where I can walk in, grab as many books as I want, and borrow them for several weeks at a time.  From this same place, I can borrow audio books, guitars, and ukuleles as well!  From a self-improvement standpoint, I can think of no place more beneficial than your local public library.

If you love to read and/or consider yourself a life-long-learner, I suggest (if you aren’t already) to make frequent visits your public library. 

What a blessing to have such a wonderful gateway to learning right in our own towns!

Before You Say No

My cousins were in town this week, and Thursday evening one of them text me to see if I’d be available for lunch on Friday.  My first thought was that I would be working that day.  After about 2 seconds I said, “Lunch sounds great!”  We all had a great time.

I share that little story as a reminder not to be too quick to say, “No”.  We can always find reasons not to do something, but we can just as well find reasons to engage, especially when it has to do with building relationships. 

In 10 years, I won’t remember what I would have done at work for those couple of hour, if I had said “No” to lunch with my cousins.  However, I’ll never forget the time we had.

I made a good choice!

Grateful For The Example

I was listening to a podcast recently about the book, “Up From Slavery” by Booker T. Washington.  The positive attitude Mr. Washington possessed, both during and after facing terrible social injustices, blew me away.  I’ve since gone to the library and checked out this book so I can read it for myself.

Based on a few of excerpts from the book, that were read on the podcast, I was struck with how Washington chose positivity, focus, and growth, when he could have easily chosen bitterness, anger, and apathy.  Regardless of what happened to him that was outside of his control, he was focused on becoming a certain type of person.  Excuses were shattered by him, and circumstances were simply part of the landscape he had to navigate to get where he wanted to go.  Quite simply, the guy was remarkable.

Washington reminds me that if he can become a positive man of character, in spite of all the roadblocks and injustices he’s faced, then what excuse do I have not to do likewise?  I’m grateful his example.      

Ask For Help

Here’s a simple thought that can yield significant results:  when you’re stuck, ask for help.

Whether it’s a problem you’ve got that you’re trying to solve, some expertise you need that you don’t have, or wisdom you lack that you need, seek help from those who have the knowledge you do not.

Why should we spin our wheels trying to solve something when we don’t have to?

Follow Through On Intentions

I was really impressed with something our pastor did in church last Sunday.  As I was reflecting on it later in the day I thought, “I should send him a hand-written note and tell him how much I appreciated what he did.”  That’s a good intention.  However, as the week got busier, I could feel my intention slipping to the back burner toward inaction.  If I didn’t do something, the likelihood that this intention would ever bloom into realized action, was not looking good.

So last night I just decided (and actually followed through) that I was not going to do anything else until I got the note written and put it in an addressed envelope with a stamp.  As I type this, the note is in the care of the USPS and on its way to the recipient. 

When we have a good intention, we should honor that intention by taking the necessary action to bring it to life.  Not only will be feel good about following through on our good intention, we’ll hopefully be blessing someone else as well.

Looking For Excuses

It’s so easy to find an excuse to get out of doing something you don’t want to do.  Have you ever thought of looking for excuses to do what you know you should be doing?  

For example, maybe you go to the gym every morning when you wake up.  However, on this particular morning, it’s dark, cold, and rainy out when you wake up.  The easy excuse to get out of going to the gym is, “It’s cold and wet outside, but it’s nice and warm in bed.  I’m going to skip the gym today and go tomorrow.” 

At this point, you could also look for an excuse to go to the gym, regardless of the weather.  Your excuse to do what you know you should do, might be, “It’s kind of crappy out, but I’m already awake, and I’ll feel good once I’m done.  There really isn’t a good reason not to go.”

Looking for excuses to follow through, instead of mailing it in, is  a way to reframe the discussions we often have with ourselves when we’re trying to take the easy route.  Often times we just need to give ourselves a little pep talk, or light a fire for ourselves.  And often, a good excuse is just what we need. 

Changing For A Change

Journaling is something that I really enjoy doing.  I like its reflective aspects, as well as how it causes me to look forward with an eager anticipation of the good things to come.  I just feel like I do life better when I’m journaling versus when I’m not.

The problem I have, is that I’m incredibly inconsistent in my journal writing.

I’ve decided that I need to greatly increase the frequency of my journal writing this year.  As such, I’ve changed a couple of things that I expect will cause my journal writing frequency to increase, not just this year, but for many years to come.

For starters, I’ve been waking up 15 minutes earlier.  (I know, “What a novel idea!”)  I’ve also, integrated journaling as part of my morning routine, right between reading the Bible and eating my morning oatmeal.  My morning routine is solidly established, so by getting up a little earlier, and adding journaling between 2 regular activities, I stand a very high chance of making journaling an established part of the routine as well.

I’ve also made a couple other changes that are more conducive to journaling, like where I sit when I read the Bible, and keeping my journal in that location.  That way, it’s already there when I show up to read.

This year, I determined that I needed to make a change (or two) in order to make journaling a regular habit.  The problem I’ve had in the past is that I’ve always wanted to journal more, but I didn’t change anything significant to cause that to happen.  So far, I’m off to a good start!

Are there any changes you need to make for a change?

Decide How It Goes

With 2023 just a couple of hours away, consider this thought:  You get to decide how the new year goes for you.  That’s a pretty empowering statement!

Yes, we all know that things will occur that we did not choose, that will adversely impact us.  That’s just part of the deal for waking up with a pulse. 

However, we do get the privilege of choosing:

  • Our attitude
  • The speech we use
  • The thoughts we think
  • The actions we take
  • What we want to achieve this year
  • Who we spend our time with
  • What we learn and how we apply it
  • The kind of person we want to be during the next 12 months

So, remember throughout 2023, that we’re not just buckled into an uncontrollable year-long rollercoaster ride.  Rather, we are in the driver seat of our lives, and can steer it any direction we want in the coming year.

Let’s make choices in 2023 that put us in position on 12/31/2023 to look back and say, “That was a great year!”