For years, I had heard about the beautiful scenery at Waldo Lake in the Oregon Cascades. I had never been there until Thursday, when wife and I finally decided to visit the lake and do some hiking. It was a clear sunny day with temperatures in the mid-60s. Perfect for hiking! And with regard to the scenery, Waldo Lake did not disappoint.
There have been a lot of places I’ve heard about in the past that pique my interest and motivate me to want to visit them. Waldo Lake reminded me that the only barrier that stands in the way of me actually visiting these places is my own lack of initiative to make it happen.
After visiting the lake, I wondered what took me so long to finally get up there, when the process to do so was so easy. All I did to make that trip happen was to state to my wife, “Hey, let’s go hiking at Waldo Lake on Thursday.” To which she replied, “That sounds good to me!” Taking the initiative to pick a date was all I needed to do to make that happen. How easy was that?!
So often it seems like the barrier between us and an outcome we desire is simply deciding that were going to move toward that outcome. And part of “deciding” includes setting a date and taking the actions to bring the desired outcome about.
Are there any places you’d like to go, things you’d like to do, or outcomes you’d like to see happen? If so, check and see if possibly, the reason they haven’t happened yet it simply because you haven’t taken the initiative to make them happen. If you find out that lack of initiative is the barrier, I’ve got good news! You can squash that barrier by taking action to make it happen.
“If you don’t put it on the calendar, it won’t happen.” ~ People who know how to make things happen.
We all have things we’d like to do, learn, or experience. In fact, think of something you’d like to do, a place you really want to visit, or something you’d really like to learn. Now answer this question: Is it on your calendar?
The answer to that question will be the greatest indicator as to whether or not that desire will be achieved.
Now go check your calendar. Is it lacking some of the achievements and experiences you’d like to accomplish this year? If so, make a commitment those items by putting them on your calendar.
The days on our calendar will come and go this year. When I get to the end of the year, I’ll be asking myself if I spent enough of those days perusing the goals and desires I had at the beginning of the year. I’m expecting to answer with, “I sure did!”
This week my wife and I introduced a new cat to our house. She’s a beautiful Siamese cat that is a little uncertain of her new surroundings. As she’s getting familiar with us, I’ve been reminded that it’s a slow process that is best done patiently.
What I want to do is pick her up and squeeze and pet her. However, right now she’s still not sure about us, so that would likely be off-putting, if not frightening for her. While picking her up and petting her would be fun, we’re letting her slowly come to us as she feels comfortable doing so. This approach certainly required patience, as it is usually much slower that we would like.
I think it’s like that’s with most positive changes we’d like to bring about in our lives. My experience has been that most worthwhile pursuits take longer than I’d like them to, thus requiring me to be patient during the process. For example, as I continue to learn the bass guitar, I wish I was further along in the process. During this process I’m focusing on being patient and remembering that I need to focus less on being in a hurry to become proficient and more on what I need to do today to improve. The result will happen if I am patient with the process.
Is there anything you’re currently working to improve that could benefit from a little patience; perhaps an improved relationship, an educational pursuit, or anything else that requires time to achieve? If so, focus on what you need to do this day, and be patient that the results will follow.
The arrival of summer in Oregon ushers in blueberry season. I love this, because fresh-picked Oregon blueberries are for superior tasting than anything I could buy in a grocery store. Aside from their superior taste, picking your own berries from one of the local fields is a summertime activity that is not to be missed.
The beginning of the picking season is the best! All of the bushes are loaded with big clusters of ripe berries. This makes for easy picking. You don’t have to work very hard and in a short time you can be done picking and on your way with several pounds of blueberry goodness.
The scene is a little different as the season progresses. The picking gets more challenging as more people get out and hit the field. Gone are the huge, numerous clusters. This is when you have to start searching the branches for smaller clusters that are hidden from site. The more the season passes, the more you have to work to get the results you want. The berries are still sweet and delicious; you just have to work harder for them… but it’s worth the effort!
I think it’s a lot like that when we’re learning new skills. Starting out, we often see results quickly because we’re going from total ignorance on the topic to acquiring the most basic skills. We go from knowing absolutely nothing to knowing something about the topic. Although this basic knowledge often comes quickly, we soon realize that there is a whole lot more that we don’t know about the topic. We also realize that if we want to get beyond a beginner’s skillset, it’s going to be challenging and require significant effort on our part.
I think it’s here that people often give up pursuing something they want. They’ve gotten past the initial easy steps and arrive at the point where it’s going to take more effort than before to get where they want to go. If that effort seems too great, they give up.
We’ve all been here in some form or another. It’s where we ask ourselves just how badly we want it. How much do we want to:
Improve upon or learn a new skill
Learn a new language
Be able to use a new piece of technology
Improve a relationship
Become a better leader
Or simply pick enough blueberries to fil the large container we brought with us
Knowing that the challenges increase after starting is helpful, because we can anticipate them and be ready to address them when we might otherwise be caught off guard by them and give up.
When you hear those words, does any specific type or group of people come to mind? Perhaps you think of a high achiever or someone who seems to get things done regardless of their circumstances. For me when I hear those words I think of… babies.
Think about a baby that’s learning to walk. They struggle to stand up, even with the support of a solid object, they wobble around, and they fall down. But what makes me think of babies when I hear those words, is that after each setback or failed attempt, babies get back up and try again.
Once they get it in their mind to start walking, they will not be stopped until they achieve that goal. They don’t quit because it’s hard. They don’t complain because they suck at their first attempts. A baby will repeat the process of getting up and falling down until they have mastered walking.
I stand in awe of the persistence, determination, tenacity, and focus of babies.
Is there any skill you’re currently trying to learn that has you frustrated and wanting to quit? If so, I encourage you to act like a baby and embrace the process of falling down and getting back up to try again.
If a skill we’re trying to learn is truly important to us, we should approach it with the same level of persistence, determination, tenacity, and focus.
Last Friday I bought my first bass guitar. The following Wednesday evening I had my first bass guitar lesson. I’ve been learning to play Louie Louie, Peter Gunn, Smoke on the Water, and Iron Man. It’s been a lot of fun, but I’ve also realize something: when it comes to playing the bass… I suck!
And you know what? That’s exactly where I’m supposed to be.
Think about it. We don’t go from being a beginner to mastering a topic in 1 lesson. Learning is a process, and that process starts with not being very good (sucking) at whatever it is we’re attempting to learn. It’s here where we begin identifying what we need to do to become better and then focusing our efforts toward that end.
When we suck at something, we have clear benchmarks to measure our progress. In my case as a bass player, I’m sure I’ll suck next week too, but not as much as I do this week. I’ll be able to see where I’ve improved over the last week and what I need to improve on in the week ahead.
The problem comes when we equate sucking at something because we’re new to it, with being incapable of learning. As a result of this line of thinking, we often give up way too early without ever embracing the learning process and trusting that as we diligently progress, we will suck much less in the future that we do today.
I encourage you to get comfortable with the discomfort of the learning process. If there’s’ something you’d like to study, learn, or pursue, go after it knowing that you’re GOING TO suck at first. But also know that if you stick with it, you won’t stay there for long.
With 2017 looming, many people are beginning to express their intentions for the New Year in the form of goals and resolutions. I love this time of year, because it causes us to pause and think about how we’d like to change our lives to be better in the next 12 months.
While we have no problem expressing our intentions, we often lack the commitment to take action that will move these intentions toward becoming reality. Dr. Steve Maraboli states:
I would agree. It’s easy to talk about our desires, because it doesn’t require anything from us. The more challenging step is to parlay that talk into action, which often requires a potentially uncomfortable or unfamiliar step out of our norm. Our willingness to take that step is a strong indicator of our commitment to what we say we desire.
Consider this, as you look ahead to 2017; what if the only thing standing in your way of achieving what you desire for the New Year is your willingness to take action?
Ever since visiting the Grand Canyon in 2012, I’ve had this goal of doing the Rim to Rim hike. It’s a hike from the North Rim of the canyon to the South Rim and is a very unique hiking experience with some beautiful scenery. Many describe it as a bucket list item. However, aside from wanting to do this hike, I haven’t taken much action to make it happen… until this week.
After talking about it with my wife we sat down, picked some dates and made reservations with a hiking outfitter to do the trip in 2017. After I made my reservations, and paid my deposit (I had to commit money, so I’m all in!) I felt great, because I had taken action that will cause this event to happen in 2017. The part that was so interesting to me was how easy it was to just take action.
I often find myself researching or continuing to think about doing an activity, when instead, what I really need to do is take the step before me. Put even more simply, I just need to take the action I know I need to take.
After I hit Submit on the on-line registration form, I wondered to myself why it had taken me so long to do this. If it was that easy to get on the path to achieving this goal, imagine all the other goals I could achieve over a lifetime, if I just take action and get on the path.
How awful would it be to get to the end of life and wonder how different our things could have been if we had only had the courage to take initiative and get started on the path toward doing some things we really wanted to do?
Is there anything you’ve wanted to do, that you keep thinking about, but have yet to take action on? If so, take action today. Stick your neck out there and do something that commits you to getting on the path and seeing it through.
So what’s on your bucket list? Whether written down or kept in our head, we all have a list of things we’d like to accomplish before our time on Earth is up.
Here’s a follow up question: How many items on your bucket list have you checked off in the last 12 months? Not as many as you’d like? Me neither.
For me, the biggest barrier to checking off bucket list items is my own lack of commitment to consistently take actions that will bring about the items on my list. Put another way, my biggest barrier is… me.
Here’s the good news, though: If I’m the biggest barrier, I am also the strongest force that can propel me forward toward checking things off my list. What a great thought that is! I’m not required to wait around for others to light a fire or make things happen for me. I can do that all on my own, by simply choosing to take action.
The same is true for all of us. If there’s something you want to do or experience in this life, all you have to do is start making plans and taking action to bring it about. Consistent effort over time toward a goal is a powerful force; a very powerful, bucket-list-checking-off force.
So, 2 final questions:
What items on your bucket list still remain unchecked?
Will you act as a barrier or a propelling force toward bringing them about?
It’s getting close to the time of year when people will start looking ahead to 2017, and part of that process will likely included listing goals for the upcoming year. It’s an exciting and encouraging activity that I enjoy doing; however, my thoughts about goals shifted slightly this week after listening to Jon Gordon on Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeadership podcast.
Goals are great because the provide direction for where we’d like to arrive in the future. Consider the following goals:
Earn $X per year
Lose 30 pounds
Earn a degree
Complete a marathon or other significant physical activity
Buy a house
Pay off a debt
Those are all great goals, and similar to what many people list at the beginning of each year. But here’s where my thinking has changed. I think that just a list of goals is incomplete and misses the mark, because the list alone says nothing about how these goals will be attained. What’s missing from the list is our commitment
Consider our list of goals above. It’s aspirational, for sure, but that’s about it. Now consider that same list with a corresponding list of actions we’re willing to commit to in order to bring these goals about.
Our revised list might look like the following
Earn $X per year
Study 1 hour per day toward the mastery of a marketable skill that would yield the salary I desire.
Lose 30 pounds
Stop eating sugary snacks and fast food and instead opting for healthy whole food alternatives.
Earn a degree
Devote 2 hours after work on week nights and 8 hours during the weekends to study and class attendance.
Complete a marathon or other significant physical activity
Work with a coach to develop a training and nutrition plan and adhere to it.
Buy a house
Save X% of my earnings to apply toward a down payment.
Pay off a debt
Stop using credit cards and cut out discretionary spending and instead throw that money toward eliminating debt.
Now that’s a much more compelling list! Not only is it aspirational, it has more “punch” because it describes what we’re willing to commit to in order to achieve the goal. Without commitment, we’re relegated to just hoping our goals come to pass.
As you’re considering goals for 2017, I encourage you to join me in also listing what you’ll commit to doing in order to achieve each goal. I think we’ll be amazed by what we can accomplish when we add commitment to the equation.