We Get To Decide

Just a quick reminder this week, that we get to choose how we respond to events in our life. 

It’s easy to think that we can’t help ourselves, or to blame others (or our emotions) for how we respond to the stimulus in our life.  While we can blame, the truth is, we get to decide how we respond.

Let’s decide, and then follow through, on making good choices. 



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.

Lift Or Limit

As I was journaling this morning, I was reminded how our self-talk can limit or lift how we see ourselves.  Think about that, the words you tell yourself, about yourself (whether audibly or simply thought), have a direct impact on how you feel and think about who you are.

Taking this thought a little further, what we think/feel, about ourselves, will influence our actions.  And, the actions we consistently take are what shapes the lives we ultimately build for ourselves.

The question that feels like it needs to be asked is, “Do you like what you’ve built?” 

If your answer is, “Yes”, great!  However, if your answer is, “No”, it might be reflecting on you’ve talking to yourself to discern if there’s any negative thoughts or talk you’ve regularly had with yourself.

It might even be time to start a new, positive conversation with yourself… because you’re worth it.

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!

Take A Closer Look

Last night after work my wife and I went to the national wildlife refuge by our house to look at the birds in the area.  (There is a nesting pair of bald eagles that has been cool to see!)  At first glance, when we pulled up to the big duck ponds, it appeared that they were full of the regular birds you see all the time.  After a closer look, that turned out not to be the case.

As we combed through the crowd of ducks with the binoculars, we started noticing out-of-the-ordinary birds we hadn’t seen before were also part of the mix.  We saw a Green Winged Teal, a Cinnamon Teal, and a Ringed Neck duck.  It was amazing to me how much variety there was hidden within the crowd.

That experience got me thinking that it’s probably a lot like that with how we see the world around us.  Do we see all the negative things happening, or are we on the lookout for the good being done.  Are we on focused on just what’s popular and mainstream, or are we looking at other forms of music, film, literature, people, food, and experiences? 

There’s a lot of different and interesting things in the world that can be easily missed, unless we slow down and take are time to have a closer look.

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?

Know When To Create Margin

I had a lot going on this week.  Between work, family stuff, and other events I had scheduled, I could see that I wasn’t going to have enough time to do everything without being frazzled at the end.  And even if I didn’t get everything done, it wouldn’t be done well, because I left myself with no margin.

So, Tuesday evening, I made arrangements to cancel my participation I an event that I had for the upcoming Sunday.  Doing so freed up time during the week I would have spent in preparation, in addition to lightening the load on Sunday.  I’m grateful for the time I was able to free up to spend on the other things I need to do this week.  I’m also grateful for the reduced stress and for not having the sense of being hurried through the week, that I would have experienced, had I not created some margin.

Is there anywhere in your day, your week, or your life where you could use some margin?  If so, begin looking for ways to create that margin.  Once identified, take the steps to make it happen.