What’s Guiding You?

Trains are a powerful, efficient way to move large amounts of goods and people from one place to another.  The economies of many countries rely heavily on them to do just that, and those economies would be severely impacted if trains were all of a sudden not available.

As important as trains are, what enables them to be so effective are the tracks they run on.

RR

Think about that.  A big, powerful train requires the guidance a track provides, in order to travel swiftly and safely from Point A to Point B.  Without the guidance of a track, a train is rendered useless.

Although we don’t require the guidance of a physical track as a train does, I would suggest that we could all use a “track” of sorts, to help guide us as we travel through life.  However, the guidance I’m suggesting is less tangible than a physical track, and would take the form of something like:

  • Sound principles
  • Sacred writings
  • Wise teaching
  • Examples from people who have lived well

For me, I choose to be guided by the teachings and principles in Bible.  Its wisdom and instruction, much like a track for a train, provide me with the direction I need for any situation I may face.

What are you using to guide you as you travel through life?  We are all guided by something, even if we haven’t chosen what that “something” is.  In the absence of a specific choice, we’re likely to be guided by things like:

  • Convenience
  • Peer pressure
  • Popular opinion
  • Expectations of others

Decide today what will guide your life.  Once you do, you’ll be on track to better navigate the ups, downs, and day-to-day occurrences of your life’s journey.

How Will You Live Them?

According to the World Health Organization, the overall life expectancy in the United States is 79 years.  That’s a long time!  What’s encouraging to me is no matter what our life expectancy, we get to choose how we live our years.

Think about that for a moment.  We get to choose:

  • How we will spend our time
  • What areas of interest we will pursue
  • What we will study and learn
  • The skills we will develop
  • The attitude and world view we will adopt
  • How we will treat others
  • Our level of intellectual development and learning
  • Who we will spend time with
  • What contribution we will make in the world
  • The experiences we’ll have
  • Whether or not we will stretch out of our comfort zone

What a significant and exciting responsibility!  We get to choose what we do with our years and how they will shape us, now and in the future.

Last Sunday, my pastor was preaching on a similar topic regarding life expectancy and what we do with the years we’re given.  During his sermon, he made the following statement:

Don’t live one year 79 times.”

That got my attention.

The statement reminds me that as we get older, we are not required to grow, develop, discover, learn, and get better with each passing year.  That’s optional.  It is something we get to decide to do, or not.  I am also reminded that growth is not automatic.  Getting better as we age doesn’t just happen; rather it takes intentional action from us.

What is automatic is being exactly the same at the end of a year as you were at the beginning.  Unless we decide, and take action on how we will spend our years, we can be assured we will be exactly the same this year as we were last year.  And so on, for as long as we choose not to be intentional with how we spend them.  Without intentional effort, the current year will look just like the previous one.

What are you looking forward to in 2016?  Is there anything you’d like to attain, learn, experience, or become this year that you didn’t in 2015?  If so, start planning specific actions you can take throughout the year to become better this year than you were last year.

Seventy nine years is a long time, but it sure feels like they go quick; and even more so the older we get!  Let’s decide today to learn, grow, and become better as we get older.   Aging and getting better doesn’t always go hand in hand.  If we’re not intentional about getting better, then age comes alone.

Daily Behavioral Goals

I’ve been thinking about my goal setting for 2016 and have decided to try something a little different this year.  While I will still have goals in the 7 areas of Zig Ziglar’s Wheel of Life, I think I’m going to also adopt some daily behavioral goals that I can focus on every day.  Here’s what I’m talking about.

Usually my goals consist of targets that I’m trying to achieve in a month, quarter, or year.  That’s good, but I also want to have goals that will help me daily to become more like the person I want to be.  For these areas of my life I am putting together behavioral goals that I plan on demonstrating every day.

For example, a behavioral goal I have for the year is to be a more engaging husband.  The behaviors for achieving this goal look like one or more of the following:

  • I will make sure I’m giving my wife at least 15 uninterrupted minutes every day where I am communicating and giving her my full attention.
  • My attitude toward her will be positive and liberally sprinkled with words and actions that show love and acceptance versus judgement and frustration.
  • My thoughts toward her will also be positive and I will not expect that her thinking or actions should be the same as mine. See last week’s blog.

When I lay my pillow down at the end of each day, I will easily be able to tell whether or not I achieved my goal of being a more engaged husband.  All I have to do is ask whether or not I did one or more of these behaviors today.  If the answer is, “Yes”, nice work!  I achieved my behavioral goal that day.  If the answer is, “No”, then I have an opportunity to do better at it the next day.  What’s cool is that even if my answer is, “Yes”, I still have an opportunity to do better the next day!

Daily behavioral goals give you immediate feedback.  They can also pave the way for stringing several days of success together, which will ultimately lead to the formation of a good habit.  With each good habit we work toward and form, we become more like the person we want to be.  We become an even better version of our self.

Are there any behavioral goals you’d like to start working on that will help you form some good habits?  I’d suggest starting with just one and focusing on it for several weeks until you start having several days of success, then focus on another behavioral goal.  Repeat this process until December 31, 2016, and then on January 1, 2017, begin the process anew.

Use the power of daily behavioral goals to get immediate feedback as you journey toward being the best version of yourself.  There’s no need to wait for 1 year to see if you’ll hit your goal.  You’ll be able to tell as soon as you go to bed this evening.

 

 

Letting People Know

During our Thanksgiving dinner this year my mom asked a question of everyone at the table.  She wanted hear from each person about someone who has had an impact on our life over the past year and what that impact was.  What a great question and conversation starter.

As everyone shared, it was evident that we had all been blessed by the kindness of other people that had been willing to make meaningful contributions to our lives.  However, the conversation didn’t end there.  After everyone had shared, my mom took it one step further.  She encouraged each of us to contact the person we talked about, be it with a phone call, letter, or email, and let them know the impact they had had on us.

What a great suggestion!  Most people I know want to make an impact in the lives of others, but I wonder how many of them have actually been told that they indeed made an impact.  My guess is that the number is rather small.  Sadly, it’s likely the impact people have made in the lives of others is often not talked about until someone’s funeral or memorial service.

I don’t want to wait until someone’s funeral to talk about their impact on my life.  I’d rather tell them while they’re still around.  Therefore, I’m going to do what I’m mom suggested and write some letters, not only to the person I mentioned, but to others who have impacted me as well.

So who has impacted your life?  Who has made a difference to you or has made your life better just by their presence and willingness to invest their time into you?  As my mom did for us, I encourage you to let them know?  Make a phone call, send an email, fire off a text, or send a hand written note.  It doesn’t have to be something lengthy or formal.  It can be as simple as a couple of sentences stating what they have done for you, how it has impacted you, and your gratitude.

Imagine the impact your words of recognition and gratitude could have one someone who has impacted you.

 

 

Challenging Assumptions

I love going to lectures and presentations to hear people talk about topics I’m interested in.  However, I’ve always lamented the fact that the towns around me didn’t offer such events.  My thinking has been that I need to move to a bigger city if I want to be closer to this kind of experience, because the region I live in just doesn’t support lectures and speakers.

That’s what I use to think… until starting looking.

A couple of weeks ago I got online and really started  to investigate to see if there were any types of lectures going on in and around the area I live.  I was surprised at how many opportunities there are every week to hear people speak on a wide range of interesting topics.  I found people talking about planets in the solar system, art history, world events and a whole bunch of other interesting topics.   (I know those topics probably sound kind of geeky, but I like them.)  I have no shortage of interesting events to attend!

I was amazed at how much is available and how false my assumption was.  It caused me to wonder what other false assumptions, beliefs, and mindsets I’m carrying around and how they might be limiting me.

Have you ever held a belief or assumption, only to have it proven false?  These assumptions can occur in many areas of our life, including:

  • Relationships
  • Career
  • Personality ability
  • Religion
  • World View

I think it’s good to challenge assumptions that hold us back and determine whether or not they are really true.  It keeps us from getting stuck in a rut that limits our growth and potential.

Start to challenge your potentially false assumptions with investigation and action.  You may find many of them to be false barriers keeping you from the life you want.

We All Respond Different

My wife’s dad just passed away today (13-Mar-15) after just short of 7 years on dialysis.  Her father wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so it’s been fascinating to see how people are responding, based on their experiences and perspectives.

It reminds me that we don’t all see the world the same way.  Our views are shaped by our unique experiences and perceptions.  Since no 2 people have the exact same experiences in life, it makes sense that people often have differing views.

I think we can get into trouble when we believe that our view, based on our own personal experience, is the only way to view a person or situation.  If we’re not careful, we can do great damage to our relationships by trying to convince others that their perspective is wrong, and that we know, better than they do, how they should think and feel.   We clearly don’t, and it would be arrogant of us to think otherwise.

The next time you’re in a situation where people have perspectives that differ from yours, realize that that’s ok.  Not everyone will feel the same way you do about a topic or person, so allow people respond or have their own opinion, even if it’s different from your own.  Who knows, you might gain a whole new perspective that changes your thinking.

What Can I Bring?

It’s a common question to ask when you’re invited over to someone’s house for dinner, a barbecue, or any other get –together, “What can I bring?”  When we ask this question, we’re stating that we want to contribute something to the event that will hopefully make it better and enhance the experience for everyone in attendance.

Have you ever thought of asking that same question of yourself in the context of:

  • Your work
  • Your marriage or relationship with your significant other
  • Your family
  • Your closest friendships
  • Your community
  • Your life

Just to be clear, I’m not talking about what you can bring in the form of snacks or something to eat.  I’m talking about what you can bring of yourself to your life, and the lives of others, that will cause them to be better because you showed up and brought something.

Take your work, school, or community; can you bring leadership, perspective, or vision?

What about your family, friends, or significant other?  How would your relationships change if you brought love, encouragement, compassion, grace, or maybe forgiveness?

And how would your life change if every day you decided to bring to it a positive attitude, a sense of humor and adventure, and an eagerness to learn,  grow, and apply what you’ve learned to positively impact the lives of those around you?

For me personally, I’m eager to find out!

We all have something good we can bring to our life and the lives of others.  Be aware of what you have to offer the world and constantly ask yourself, “What can I bring?”  Then once you have determined what you can bring…BRING IT!

There are untold lives waiting to be positively impacted by what you bring; most importantly, yours.