Time’s Up For Regret

“Regret of neglected opportunity is the worst hell that a living soul can inhabit. “

~Rafael Sabatini

What is that one thing you’ve always wanted to do but you’ve been too afraid to try, or just haven’t gotten around to doing it yet?

In light of the tragic shootings that have occurred in the US this week, I’m reminded that our time, and the time of those we love, could be up at any moment.  With this in mind, let’s commit to doing those things we’ve always wanted to do, to saying those things we know we should say, and to being the people we know we want to be.  Let’s not be left with regret, or leave regret behind, when our time is finally up.

Gaining Knowledge

For the past several weeks I’ve had this mole in my back yard that has been making a mess of my lawn. He’s dug tunnels all over and has infuriated me with dozens of mounds of dirt that have “magically” shown up day after day. In an effort to get rid of him, I cleared out a couple of the mounds he dug and threw some smoke bombs in there. When the smoke cleared (as it were) the only things left were another mound and of dirt and an increasingly frustrated homeowner.

I realized that smoke wasn’t going to cut it, and that I needed to gain some knowledge if I was to defeat my yard-destroying adversary. So, I spent some time online learning about moles. I learned what moles like to eat, how to identify active mole tunnels in the yard, how to trap moles, what kind of trap to buy, where to place it, and how to set it. After some failed attempts, each of which resulted in additional knowledge, I finally caught the little bugger! (He was actually bigger than I thought!)

Aside from ridding my yard of this pesky intruder, what I especially enjoyed about the experience was that process of learning new skills, putting them into practice, and seeing positive results. It’s amazing to me how easy it is to gain and apply new knowledge in order to help solve a problem or find a solution. We don’t have to stay ignorant. We just have to spend the time to gain the knowledge we need and then put in into practice.

The next time you feel stuck or uncertain how to move forward, spend some time seeking knowledge about the dilemma you face. Then, once armed with the know knowledge, apply it!

It feels good to move from being ignorant and overwhelmed to being knowledgeable and able confident in your ability to apply it.

A little knowledge makes all the difference!

Fresh Eyes

A friend of mine will be getting married soon to a woman from another country. He’s known this person for 6 years and this Wednesday she’ll arrive in the United States for the first time. My friend has been telling me how excited he is to have her in the US and to share in all the new experiences she’ll undoubtedly have here. What he’s most excited about are the small everyday things that seem insignificant to most people, but which will be brand new experiences for her. He can hardly wait for her to arrive.

I love how he is able to look at his daily routine with fresh eyes. What has been “the norm” for him, he now sees with newness and anticipation. He has encouraged me to look for the newness in my own routine as well. To notice what I may be over looking. To be aware of people, places, or things that I’ve become so used to that I hardly notice. I’m encouraged to look at my own life with fresh eyes.

How about you? What areas of your life hold potential to be seen anew? There is likely plenty in your life to get excited about. We only have to look for the newness in what’s already there.

It’s Up To Us

The longer I live, the more I realize that any change I’d like to see in my life is largely up to me to make happen. Whether it’s the quality of my health, relationships, career, finances, spiritual growth, or any other aspect, I am the catalyst needed to spark the change I want to see.

I am the one that needs to take action; the one that needs to cause something to happen. There is no one I need to wait on in order to start making changes. All I need to do is decide it’s time to take action… and then take the action I know I need to take.

The same goes for all of us. We are not prisoners waiting for someone else to hopefully act on our behalf. We are the greatest force behind, or the biggest barrier in front of, moving from where we are to where we want to be.

All we need to do is begin moving in the direction we want to go.

A Simple Routine

“But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.”     ~Psalms 73:28

 I love this Psalm. As part of my morning routine, I repeat it as I’m stretching out after my workout. There’s no magic in merely repeating these words. As a Christian however, these words remind me where I want my focus to be as I go through my day. They’re like a compass, in that they help get my day pointed in the right direction by affirming my commitment to God.

I think it’s important to have a simple routine that gives our days focus and clarity. This routine could consist of something like reciting sacred text, listening to an inspiring song, looking at an encouraging picture or view, or any number of things focus your day in a direction you want it to go.

The important thing is to intentionally set the course for your day, versus letting chance, circumstance, or others set it for you. It’s your life. Direct it where you want it to go.

Grateful For A Colleague’s Example

Early in my career I was testing some software updates we received from one of our vendors, when I noticed that there was some functionality that didn’t work exactly the way we needed it to. The vendor explained that the software was not designed to work the way we wanted it to, and provided a clunky workaround we could use instead. Me, being new to the information technology field, accepted this answer. My colleague Tracy, however, did not.

Tracy told the vendor specifically how we needed the software to work and let them know that anything less was unacceptable. I was shocked a couple of weeks later when the vendor released another updated that included Tracy’s fix… exactly as she described it!

That day I learned the importance of speaking up for what you want versus simply accepting the first “No” you encounter. Up until that moment, I thought you got software the way it came. I had no idea it could be changed to fit our unique needs instead of the other way around. That experience was a great life-lesson that taught me not to settle for the first “No” I receive, but to push for what I want, whether in my career or my personal life.

I am grateful for Tracy’s example.

Being Bound

“Those who are bound by the compass have the freedom of the sea.”

Being bound by, or to something, often has a negative connotation. It conjures up thoughts of loss of choice and freedom. Like being bound by an oppressive mortgage, for example. However, we can also have tremendous freedom and choice by what we decide to bind ourselves to.

Take our quote for example. Being bound by the compass means we operate within the principles of how a compass works. If we decide to reject these principles, and navigate based solely on our own intuition, we are almost certain to miss our destination. In the worst case, we are likely to lose our life in the process.

Yet when we are bound by the compass, when we embrace its principles, we are able to navigate anywhere we choose, knowing that the likelihood of reaching our destination is certain.

There are things in our life that are good to be bound to. For me, I’ve found freedom by choosing to be bound to the following:

  • Healthy nutrition and exercise habits
  • Timeless financial principles
  • My marriage vows/covenant
  • The teachings of Jesus

Spend some time this week to determine if there’s anything you should be bound to that would cause more freedom in your life. If there is, bind yourself to it. There’s freedom to be had!

You Know Enough To Make An Impact

This Saturday I’m teaching a beginning fly casting class at our church. A buddy approached me a few months ago to see if I’d be interested in doing this. After I said, “yes”, I briefly began to wonder if I was qualified to teach this class. It didn’t take long for me to come to the conclusion that, while I’m not a professional fly caster, after 24 years of fly-fishing I’ve probably picked up enough skills to help others get started on their fly-fishing journey.

Casting at log hole

Why is it that we so often doubt the value of the skills or experience we have to offer to others? We don’t need to be at a professional level or have more skills or talent than we currently possess in order to instruct or lead others. If we have knowledge and experience about a topic that another person does not, and that they are interested in learning what we know, to them we are an expert. We have the ability to share what we know with them, and potentially enrich their life. It really isn’t any more complicated than that.

We already have enough to offer in order to make a positive impact in other peoples’ lives. We don’t have to be perfect. We only have to be willing to share our knowledge with those interested in learning what we already know.

What Are You Doing

FACT: You are what you repeatedly do.

This statement is both sobering and encouraging to me.

It’s sobering because it reminds me that we can easily fool ourselves (and perhaps others, to a degree) into thinking we are something we’re not. We can think we’re health conscious, but in reality, we continually make poor health choices. Maybe we think we’re an attentive friend, spouse, or parent, yet when we’re with those around us, our faces are buried in our smartphones. Do you think you’re smart with money? Would your decisions with money confirm that?

We can easily fool ourselves with our words or thoughts regarding our self-perception, but our repeated behavior is the most vivid indication of who we really are.

The encouraging part of this fact is that if we don’t like who or what we are, we can change it by simply changing out behavior.

Would you like to be more health conscious? Simple! Just start making health conscious decisions. Do you desire to be a better friend, spouse, or parent? That’s easy! Start putting down the smartphone and engaging with those close to you. Ready to be someone who is smart with money? Ask some people who ARE smart with their money (based on what they repeatedly do, not what they say) how they got that way an begin doing those things… repeatedly.

Aren’t you grateful that if we’re not pleased with who or what we are, we can change simply by beginning and repeatedly doing those things that will cause us to become what we want to be? I am!!

So, what are you repeatedly doing?

Planning In Smaller Pieces

My wife and I are taking a trip to New England this year. We love traveling and exploring new places, but we both realize that a nice trip doesn’t just happen. There are so many details that go into a successful trip such as determining a rough itinerary, scheduling transportation, finding places to stay (especially if you’ll be staying at multiple locations), and figuring out what attractions you’d like to see and activities you’d like to do. A successful trip requires planning, but it can be overwhelming to get all the details nailed down, especially if you’re life has a lot of other things going on as well. This is why it’s so important to break down the planning process into manageable bites.

For example, once we have decided where we want to go and a high-level idea of what we want to see, we begin setting aside blocks of focused time to plan the trip. Since the weather has been nicer lately, we like to go to the park for about an hour on Sunday afternoons for our planning sessions. On our way to the park we decide what we want to accomplish during this specific session.

For our first session we determined what in New England we wanted to see. During session number 2 we laid out a route we wanted to take in order to see everything we wanted to see. Our last session included figuring out where we wanted to stay each night. Once we’ve accomplished what we set out to do for that session, we’re done! It’s been amazing how much of the trip we’ve been able to plan within a few short yet focused sessions.

Without some clear objectives I feel like I’m “shotgun planning”; jumping from one aspect of the trip to another without ever making significant progress. I also find that shotgun sessions usually take longer and require more of them to achieve significant results than a few focused sessions would. Focused planning sessions seem to have the added benefit of building excitement and anticipation for the trip versus frustration. I can’t imagine that a trip planned in frustration wouldn’t also bring some of that frustration on the trip as well.

If you have something to plan, whether it’s a trip, an event, or anything else, start the planning process early and try breaking it down into small, focused sessions. This will keep you from waiting until the last minute and being forced into a situation where you have to get everything planned in one session. It will also give you time to adjust and hone your plan, which will likely help you create the successful experience you’re after.