Making Choices

Last Thursday my mom called me up to see if my wife and I would be interested in taking her up to see my uncle that Saturday, who lives about 3 hours away. We already had plans on Saturday, so I told my mom that we had something going on. She understood and realized it was short notice. Shortly after I hung up, I got to thinking.

I have been wanting to connect with this uncle via a phone call or in person, but simply haven’t done it. (You know the lame, “I’ve been really busy” excuse, right?) My mom’s invitation/request seemed like a great and unexpected opportunity to connect with family. I thought more about what we had planned for Saturday and realized that on the “Importance Scale”, our current plans didn’t measure up to building relationships with family. So I talked with my wife and we decided to change our plans and take my mom to see this uncle.

When I am faced with similar decisions like this (decisions between 2 good things) I ask myself the following questions:

  • What choice will I remember in 5 years?
  • Which choice will positively impact others?
  • Which choice has the greatest probability of building relationships?
  • Is there one choice I’ll wish I would have made 5 years from now?

When I have a grid like this to run choices through (especially 2 good choices), they often become easy to make. A grid like this helps me determine what’s important and what I want to be spending my time doing. It’s a great tool to help us be mindful about the choices we make.

The next time you have a choice between multiple good options, stop and think about what’s important to you and how you want to live your life. Then make decisions that move you in that direction.

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Serving Others So They Can Serve Others

I’m a Data Analyst at a hospital in Oregon (the best hospital in Oregon in, in my opinion!). The part of my job I enjoy most is being able to take data out of our computer systems and turn it into information that helps our medical staff make decisions or gain new insights into the work they do. Not only is it satisfying to provide this useful information, it’s also satisfying to use my skills in a way that enables our medical staff to focus their skills toward serving our patients.

I love discovering a group of medical professionals that is regularly spending their time culling data from different sources in order to get some information that is valuable to them. This is not the work they were trained to do, and often times they don’t even like pulling the data. However, they find the information beneficial. When I find these folks, I know the chances are extremely high that I’ll be able to provide a solution that will automate the work they were doing to collect and present their data.

And here’s the cool part: when I use my gifts and skills to serve our medical professionals in this capacity, they are freed up to use their gifts and skills to serve our patients.

I love how that works! Not just at the hospital but in life. Our skills and talents can be used to serve others so that they can use their gifts and talents to serve others. What a great way to be part of something bigger than yourself!

Be encouraged that the skills and talents you possess are valuable and needed by others. With that in mind, be on the lookout for people you can serve with you skills who will then be able to serve others, because you first served them.

Measuring Value

Have you ever known someone who only contacted you when they wanted something from you?  How does that make you feel?  Not great, I’ll bet.  No one likes having others determine our value based solely by what we can do for them.  That’s certainly not how strong relationships are built.

As a Christian, I wonder how often I’ve treated God this same way.  How often have I contacted Him only to request He do something for me?  While scripture is clear that God wants to do good things for us, it is also clear that He wants a relationship with us as well.  Therefore, I want to make sure I’m building my relationship with God based on more than just my never-ending requests.

It’s true regarding our relationships with others as well.  The relationships we build with people are important, so let’s make sure valuing people based on their character qualities versus what they can do for us.

Blessings Abound

Earlier this week I was reminded of some of the many blessings in my life.  I also realized how easy it is to overlook these blessings.

A few of the blessings I’m referring to are:

  • Friends I can connect and be real with
  • Meaningful work I enjoy
  • Gifts and talents I enjoy using

I was simply struck this week by the number of blessings in my own life.  When we actually stop and consider how much our lives are blessed, the number of ways is actually more than we likely realized.

Let’s start focusing on (and being grateful for) just how many blessings we have.  Sure, there’s always something we feel we lack, or something more we want.  However, we should never forget just how much we have, and how blessed we actually are.

Listen To Yourself

I’m writing this week’s post while sitting in the waiting room of my dermatologist’s office.  I’ve got a small bump on my face that I’d like to have the doctor look at.  Not my favorite thing in the world, but I’ve been putting it off, even though I think it’s better to get things checked out sooner when it comes to your health versus waiting until it possibly becomes something worse.

I find I can be pretty good at putting off things that aren’t urgent, but could be potentially important.  The excuses I can come up with are endless.  However, putting of important actions comes with a price.  For me, that price is the uneasiness I feel when the recurring thought in my head tells me, “You REALLY need to do something about that!”

And the thought doesn’t go away when I don’t take action.  In fact, the thought seems to occur more often the longer I put it off.  Every time my mind tells me I need to take action, it’s as if I’m again paying the price of uneasiness for my own excuses, lack of follow through, or inactivity.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being nagged.  I especially dislike it when I’m being nagged by my own thoughts that are trying to get me to do what I already know I should be doing!  When this occurs, my best choice is to listen to what I’m telling myself and take the action I know I need to take.

How about you?  Have your thoughts been nagging you to take an action you already know you need to take?  If so, you know what you need to do.  So go do it!

Help Others Celebrate

Several years ago my wife threw me a surprise party after I had completed my masters degree.  It was a fun party, made even better by the friends that were in attendance.

This week I go an invitation to a friend’s party celebrating the completion of his PhD.  After I read the invite I thought about the fun memories I have with friends during my party and replied to the invite with, “We’ll be there!”

Whenever you have an opportunity to celebrate a significant event with a friend, take advantage of it.  They’ll appreciate your support and you will likely create some great memories.

Guardrails

This week in the US there was a news story about a college admissions scandal where parents were paying large sums of money to have their kids admitted to prestigious colleges and universities.  I’m left scratching my head at the decision making process of the adults involved.  My guess is that none of them had a guardrail in their life to keep them from making their bad decision.

A guardrail in your life, just like one you see on the highway, is something that protects you from going too far in the wrong direction.  For example, a guardrail can be as simple as a question you might ask yourself before making a big decision.  A good guardrail question for the adults in the college scandal might have been, “How would what I’m about to do come across if it were broadcast on the evening news?”

A person’s faith can also serve as an excellent guardrail.  When you’re considering a decision, take a moment to see if your potential decision squares up with the teaching of your faith.  If it doesn’t, you should seriously reconsider whether your decision is worth pursuing further.

It’s easy to judge the adults involved, but let’s also remember that without some kind of guardrails in our own lives, we are all capable of personally destructive acts.

Now is a great time to look at your life and see what kind of guardrails you have in place to keep you from getting off course.  And keep this in mind:  guardrails will only help you if they are in place before you need them.