As part of the work I do, I’m required to occasionally take proficiency exams related to the software we use. Even though exams are multiple choice, they aren’t easy. They require significant study and focus. I usually do pretty good on multiple choice tests, but that wasn’t always the case.
Back in college, my multiple-test-taking-ability was not very good. One of the main reasons why was because I use to tell myself, “I’m not any good at taking multiple choice tests.” If I didn’t immediately know the answer to a question on a test, I’d usually just guess. As you can imagine, this didn’t lead to great test scores. It also reinforced the story I’ve been telling myself about how bad I was at test taking.
When I first realized that exams would be a regular part of my tenure in my current position, I was worried. Then I started thinking about why I was bad at test taking, and realized it wasn’t a sentence, but rather a story that could be changed. So, I changed the story I was telling myself about my test taking abilities. I started telling myself that, “I will easily pass tests on the first try because I will be prepared and will critically think about the answers I give, versus just guessing.”
Just like I became a poor test taker, because of the story I told myself in college, I have now become a good test taker who is prepared and easily passes because I decided to tell myself a different story about who I was.
Do you have story you’ve been telling yourself that hasn’t been serving you well? If so, consider telling yourself a more encouraging story, and then start living into it.
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.
I’m going to talk about one of Jesus’s principles this week, so be warned. If that’s not your thing, come back next week. 😊
“If you only love the loveable, do you expect a pat on the back?” Luke 6:30 Msg.
It’s easy to love those who love, us, or to be kind to people who are kind to us. However, Jesus teaches that we’re also to be kind to those who aren’t kind to us. And to love those who don’t love us. This is challenging teaching. It’s even more challenging to put into practice.
I’ve had the “opportunity” to put this teaching into practice with a couple of people for the past 11 months. It has, indeed, been challenging, but I can also report that with prayer and commitment to Jesus’s teaching, it has gotten a little easier. Not easy, just slightly easier that it was 11 months ago.
Jesus’s teaching is for our benefit, because he wants what’s best for us. Following this particular principle has kept my heart from festering with disdain or hate toward others, and has instead caused me to regularly cast my gaze toward Jesus for his assistance, strength, and peace. All of which I have received.
So, while it’s been challenging, I can also report that it’s been what’s best for me. I have peace instead of anger, and gratitude for His teaching instead of animosity toward others.
It’s a nice place to be.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
I made a focused effort this year to be more consistent with my journaling, and it seems to be working! I’ve been writing 6 days per week since the beginning of 2023! All I needed to do was weave journaling into a part of my daily morning routine. Who knew it was that simple?
One thing I’ve been doing to start my journaling is to write 3 things that I’m grateful for. I’ve heard a lot of people suggest that, so I thought I’d give it a try. It’s amazing after a few weeks how many things you have to be grateful for. We all know that, but it’s different when you actually see them written down.
I’ve enjoyed recalling things I’m grateful for when I journal in the morning. Not only is it a good reminder of how much I have to be grateful for, it also points me in the right direction mentally every morning. When I start my day with thoughts of gratitude, it feels like I’m setting my mind up to be grateful all day, which is right where I want to be.
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.