It’s Time to be Intentional

How many times has a scenario similar to this happened to you?  You’re talking with a friend about something fun you’d both like to do and someone says, “That sounds fun!  We need to do that!”  You’re both genuinely interested in the event, and have every intention of scheduling a time to get together and make it happen.  But you get busy and the event, along with everyone’s excitement about it, gets pushed to the back of everyone’s mind, where it is soon forgotten until the next time you get together with this friend and the topic comes up again… and the cycle continues.

This was the same cycle me, my wife, sister, and brother-in-law have been in for several years regarding a day trip to Oregon’s Fruit Loop in the Hood River Valley.

Hood River Oregon is known for its agriculture, specifically apples, pears, and peaches.  (Once you’ve had a Honey Crisp apple from Kiyokawa Family Orchards you’ll be spoiled for life!  No other apple will ever compare.)  The Fruit Loop consists of a bunch of farms, orchards, and wineries in the area that sell produce and other regional goods they produce.  While the Fruit Loop is open most of the year, for my wife and I, fall is the best time to attend.

hoodriver

Anyhow, my wife, sister, brother-in-law and I finally decided that September 24, 2016 would be the day that the 4 of us would at last go to the Fruit Loop together.  It turned out to be a perfect day!  The weather was sunny and in the mid-70s with spectacular views of Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams.   We picked Honey Crisp apples right off the tree, sampled delicious seasonal fruit, along with jams, jellies, and pastries, and ended the day with a late lunch at Mt Hood’s Timberline Lodge.  A beautiful end to a fantastic day!

This trip reminded me about the importance of being intentional about making events like this happen.  It’s too easy to just say you want to get together with folks and do something special, and then never make it happen.  However, but I would argue that it’s also pretty easy to get out the calendar and pick a day make it happen.  Being intentional is not that hard.  Especially when we realize the positive impact it can have on our lives.

What about you?  Are there activities you’d like to do that you’re putting off for no good reason, or people you’ve been meaning to connect with that you never get around to putting on the calendar?  If so, I encourage you to go get your calendar or send an email to those you’ve been meaning to connect with and set a date to make it happen.

It’s time to stop being too busy and start being intentional.

I’m Ok With That

Two and a half months ago I started a position with a new organization as a Data Analyst.  I’ve been extremely happy with the change and continue to be excited by tall the opportunity.  The only thing I wish were different was that I was further along in the learning process.

I love learning new things.  To gain knowledge and successfully apply it in a real life situation is exciting and causes me to be eager to go to work every day.  However, two things I have to continually remind myself are that:

  1. Learning is a process that takes time and consistency
  2. I have to be ok with that

When it comes to learning, I’d always like to shorten the process and spend less time fumbling around as new concepts slowly become familiar, so that I can start contributing sooner.    The reality is that I can never gain understanding or mastery of a topic if I’m not comfortable with the discomfort that comes during the learning process.

If you’re currently in the process of learning something new (which I hope you are) and perhaps you’re frustrated with process that may be slower than you’d like, be encouraged, because you’re on the right track!  Just know that your commitment to the learning process will pay off in understanding, if not mastery, of the topic.  And if it takes longer than you’d like, be ok with that.

Goals Aren’t Enough

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

My Goal My Commitment
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.

Answer the Call

Last Saturday, three friends and I completed a hike that has been on my list for a couple of years.

The hike was to remote Golden Lake in Oregon’s Three Sisters Wilderness.  About a mile beyond Golden Lake was a glacial tarn at the base of Broken Top that was the ultimate destination for me.  Ever since I first saw pictures of this tarn I have wanted to experience this beautiful setting for myself.  So last Saturday I finally did!  The beauty of this tarn was greater than I imagined.  It did not disappoint!

Glacial_Tarn

I think it’s important to have a list of goals we’d like to accomplish, whether they’re personal, professional, financial, physical, or any other type.  Life is more interesting when we have goals and take steps to make them happen.  Not only does it make life fun and exciting, it makes our world, as well as us, more interesting in the process.

Do you have any goals or activities you want to accomplish?  If so, take a step today that will move you closer to making it happen.  And once that goal has been achieved, set your sights on your next goal and take action on making it happen as well.

Your life is calling.  Will you answer?

Evidence of Commitment

Is there something you’re currently trying to achieve or change in your life?  Maybe it’s an educational or financial goal, or perhaps you want to improve a key relationship or even your health.  No matter what change you’re looking to make, it will require commitment on our part.

The way a goal achieved or a change is made is by our commitment to consistently act in ways that lead in the direction of our goal.  More simply stated, our commitment to a goal is evidenced by the choices we make.

For example, are you trying to live a healthier lifestyle?  Great!  Your commitment to this goal will be evidenced by the choices you make regarding eating and physical activity.  What kind of choices are you consistently making regarding snacks?  Do you choose fresh fruits or other healthy choices, or do you find yourself regularly opting for Twinkies, Snickers bars, ice cream and soda?  The former shows a level of commitment to the goal.  The latter, however, presents evidence that suggests a wavering or even non-existent level of commitment.

A great question to ask, when we’re about to make a decision is, “Will this choice I’m about to make move me closer toward my goal or further away from it?”  If the answer is “closer”, congratulations!  You are presenting evidence of commitment to your goal.

It’s easy to simply talk about a goal, or to have unfulfilled intentions that don’t lead anywhere significant.  Let’s choose to be different and present mounds of evidence, through the choices we make, that reflect a strong commitment to our goals.  For it is the consistent evidence of commitment that will pave the path to achieving whatever worthy goal we’ve set for ourselves.

Evidence to the Contrary

MiddleSister

There seems to be a mindset that aging is a bad thing and that the older we get the more we must take on an increasingly sedate and less active lifestyle.  For example, have you ever heard anyone say or imply some derivative of the following…

 “You know, when you turn <insert an age> you start to <insert bullet list of looming ailments and physical limitations that supposedly accompany aforementioned age>.”

“Well, that’s what happens when you turn <insert an age>.  That’s just the way life is.  What can you do about it?”

I reject this line of thinking for the single reason that I’ve seen too much evidence to the contrary in the lives of multiple people I’ve had the pleasure of crossing paths with.

One of my favorite encounters occurred during a backpacking trip around the Three Sisters mountains in Central Oregon back in 2010.  My buddies and I met with 3 people on the trail riding horses:  An older gentleman, a lady and a guy in his late 20s to early 30s.  The gentleman leaned forward in his saddle with a relaxed yet confident posture as we all exchanged pleasantries.  “So, what are you all up to today?” I asked.  “Well,” the gentleman responded, “today is my 85th birthday.  This is my daughter” he said as he gestured to his right, “and this is my grandson.  We’re camping across the meadow down by…”

I was so blown away by what he said, and what I saw, that I don’t remember a thing he said after that.  This guy was celebrating his 85th birthday on horseback in the back country of the Three Sisters Wilderness, while other people several decades younger have a hard time getting off the sofa without getting gassed!

The one thing I remember most about this man, besides his comment, were his eyes.  It’s hard to describe, but it was as if they sparkled with the flame of life that was obviously burning bright behind them.

I never got his name, but I will never forget him, or the lesson he unintentionally taught me about aging that day.  We’re not required to adopt the mindset that tells us we should slow down or throttle back on what we enjoy doing, simply because we reach a certain age.  We have a choice not only in how we age, but in our attitude toward aging as well.

This 85 year-old-young guy was just one of many people I’ve meet who, through their continued active lives, are calling “BS” on the lie that as we age we need to slow down, do less, and become less.  I agree with them, and call “BS” as well; because through their examples, I’ve seen too much evidence to the contrary.

Impose a Deadline

I recently took a position with a new organization that requires a specific professional certification within 6 month of my hire date as a condition of employment.  Failure to obtain this certification within the designated time will result in termination.  Period.

Roger that!

I’ve been in this new position for 4 weeks and have been studying a little every day for the certification exam, and making good progress.  However, in an effort to make sure I’m focused in my study, I imposed a deadline by registering to take the exam on August 18, 2016.

For me, having a deadline causes me to be more focused and purposeful in my study, because I know the test is only a couple of weeks away, and I need to take steps today so I can be ready when August 18th arrives.

It is easy to slack off or lose focus during the pursuit of a goal if we don’t have a very specific target in mind.  Consider the following goals many people have:

  • To get out of debt
  • To lose weight
  • To start a business
  • To write a book

My question to people that state these and other goals to me is, “By when?”

Without a deadline in mind, it’s just a desire or a wish that may or may not ever be started, let alone completed.  If I ask someone the “By when” question and they instantly give me a date, the probability of them being successful is quite high.  They have a hard deadline they are working toward, rather than just a lofty dream.  A deadline provides the motivation, the game clock on the scoreboard, to let you know if you’re on the track toward reaching your goal.

Do you have a goal or objective you’re working on that could use the boost of a deadline?  If so, set yourself a deadline and use it to help you make consistent daily progress in the direction of your goal.