Tag Archives: writing

Is February the new January?

I am noticing a new trend emerging on social media and throughout the internet where people are shouting from the rooftops the magic of February 1. Many of these people are declaring that their New Year’s resolutions are just now beginning, and their slates are wiped clean from this day forward. We are already on day number 32 of the new year, and it appears that a majority of people have just now shaken the carbohydrate induced coma of celebration.

Is February the new January, or are February 1, March 1, April 1, and beyond just the ameatuer happy hour? Are they the new excuses du jour?

Is February the new January, or have the “resistance” and monster of “self sabotage” just gotten dressed up as grandmother, and all of us Little Red Riding Hoods can’t even recognize that the wolf pack is in the corner laughing?

The truth is, professionals have a bias for action, and results eventually follow action. Success and progress are attracted to motion.

Amateurs, however, spend a lot of time planning, tweaking, dreaming, over analyzing, debating, lollygagging, justifying, and bellyaching, all while expecting results to find them. After all, they deserve results, “likes”, accolades, trophies, and cheers just because they intended to do something and talked about it for a while.

Don’t get me wrong, my life is a series of fresh starts, new mercies, and big vats of grace piled upon grace. I love nothing more than a fresh month, a clean slate, a new virgin monthly calendar just waiting to be devoured and discovered. Calendars and new days are my thing. I have a phone calendar, a wall calendar, a work calendar, and a personal 3 ring binder of calendars, to-do lists, and productivity hacks. All of these are linked together, and all of these track every member of my family, our whereabouts, and the plethora of things that need managed, juggled, and overseen to make our home, church, jobs,  little league sports leagues/extracurriculars, and marathon training plans stay on the rails and moving in the right direction.

The problem I’ve discovered with juggling all of these things is that it is easy to convince myself that the most important things can wait because the urgent is crying out. I am an expert of what I have identified as positive procrastination. It is not procrastination in the traditional sense of putting off work, but positive procrastination is its own animal. Positive procrastination is where you put off your purpose, your destiny, and the most important life changing tasks and habits in favor of something that brings a more immediate gratification or diversion in the short term, but actually robs you of the gains and growth of just diving into the hard stuff head first.

For example, how many of you have already faded out on your January fitness resolutions because you had laundry to do? When it’s cold outside, it’s easier to fold warm laundry, even if you hate it, then to go out into the cold and log some miles. Laundry keeps you in the comfortable confines of your home (if you are so blessed to own the machinery) and away from the cruel world. In the face of getting a college education, working out, going to the grocery store to buy healthy fresh ingredients so you don’t eat Little Caesars one more night,  laundry sounds like the equivilient of a carnival cruise. After all, those who keep up on laudnry are in the running for sainthood. It appears to be the crowning achievement of the working mother.

We relish in the “how does she do it?” narritive. She works from sun up to sun down and yet her family is robed in luxurious, soft, clean and fragrant linens ornately folded and stacked in color coded piles waiting with eager anticipation for their return to the dressers and closets.

Now, laundry, in and of itself is necessary, and of course evil, thus a necessary evil. Should you keep up on your laundry? By all means. I shudder to think of this household of 4 sweaty humans and all of their piles upon piles of clothes if I decided to abdicate that responsibility. In fact, I just had an argument with my 11-year-old who is now wearing up to 4 different outfits a day. If you thought having boys would preclude you from this nonsense, think again. The desire for swag is real!

However, laundry (or insert other appropriate form of positive procrastination that makes you feel angelic and accomplished and loved and worthy) is not the single most important part of your day.  Taking care of you is. Spending time in prayer and devotion is. Taking care of your loved ones is. Discovering and living out your purpose is. You must prioritize destiny over doldrums, your daydreams will become realities.

You are the missing link between the person you WANT to be and WISH you could be and the person that you are frustrated with right now. What would your future self want you to do today?

What do you want to have accomplished by February 28 so that on March 1 you don’t have to post cute meme’s and selfies of March 1 being when resolutions really start. March 1 is the new January, you’ll be tempted to say.

So, whatever you call them, intentions, resolutions, goals, one words, focus points, targets, etc (See, even the SEMANTICS of life change will distract some of us enough to keep us from actually doing anything. We will just argue in a comment section about why we do or do not set resolutions and why they do or do not work, all the while we are slipping further and further behind in the journey to become our highest and best selves.)

Whatever it is that you want to term them or define them as, just start moving towards destiny today. Make a month-long streak of something you want to do. Try to form a new habit to replace an old habit. Try to visualize yourself on February 28 celebrating whatever accomplishment you have set out for and don’t let month after month after month in 2017 slip by. (Hopefully said celebration will be done with clean clothes on because laundry, although a distraction when inappropriately prioritized, is at some point a necessity. You win some. You lose some.)

Create a vision. Make it plain. Write it down. Do something right this second to move on it. Ready….Set….Go!

Early morning date with myself, some amazing podcasts, the stair master, and my weight/strength training routine. Wednesdays are for cross training. The resolution crowds have dwindled too, giving me my pick of weight benches. When it comes to working out, sometimes the early bird doesn’t get the worm because there are swarms of others looking for their piece too.

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“Ceilings, Values, and How to be anything you want to be”

I am nothing if not a personal growth and development junkie. Even as a child, I asked for books on topics that even some hard working professionals have to force themselves to read.  For whatever reason, I distinctly remember in 1998 waiting with baited breath for the latest John Maxwell title “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” to be published so I could get my hands on it. It still, to this day, rocks my world. I definitely recommend that if you have not yet read the book, you owe it to yourself and everyone around you to do so.

The memory of receiving that specific book at that time is so vivid to me because my dad was a member of Maxwell’s VHS and cassette tape club much of my childhood and to me there was no one smarter, determined, or loved by others than my dad was. I know those words expose my age even though my youthful glow does not.

VHS and Cassettes! What excuse do we have now with the capabilities of all the audio files and knowledge in the world in the palm of our hands?

All of that being said, the principal that stands out most to me is

Law #1: The Law of the Lid – Leadership Ability Determines a Person’s Level of Effectiveness. To reach the highest level of effectiveness, you have to raise your leadership lid.

Essentially, you are your own worst enemy or biggest asset.

What are you doing right now, today, at this very moment, at this very hour (outside of reading my amazing words of inspiration and gleaning from my deep wells of knowledge) to improve upon yourself so that you can go further?

We love to think that the things that hold us back are outside of ourselves. This way we can blame people, places, and things for our inability to produce rather than take a cold hard look in the mirror.

Like children, sometimes we can’t move beyond the slight discomforts of action and execution to gain the bigger prize of accomplishment and achievement.

My sons would often rather lose a privilege and be disciplined then to admit their mistakes. They have more invested in the arguments, nitpicking, and faultfinding than they do in just getting their rear in gear and just do what I have asked them. “I can’t put the leg of the recliner down. I’m not the one who put it up.” “I can’t take the dog to the bathroom. I did it last time.” “It’s ______ fault I have poop on my shoe. He didn’t scoop it off the ground.” (Never mind the fact that you could have just watched where you were walking, especially since you already knew that he didn’t clean it up! Instead of letting me know it needs cleaned up, or just cleaning it up himself, it is much more fun to drag poop into the house to prove some epic point and tattle.)

I have amazing sons, but this competitive and argumentative list of excuses  could go on for eternity when all of the disagreements and conflicts just boil down to the fact that no one wants to accept responsibility and just move forward. Even when I say, “You aren’t in trouble. I just need to know”, the human experience dictates that self-preservation is preferable to self-awareness.

At the end of the day what does this mean to you and me?

We need to:

  • Immediately stop telling ourselves false narratives. While other people, places, situations, scenarios, and things inform our daily life and decisions, they are not in control of them and they do not hold the keys to our success and destiny.
  • Identify where the ceiling is. What is truly holding you down? Once you identify your ceiling, the things that you once thought were ceilings will become floors to your next level of personal growth and development.
  • Establish personal responsibility and growth as a core value from which you make all of your decisions. Core values are constant. They are not descriptions of the work we do or the strategies we employ, they are just simply the basic elements of every day of our lives.

In 2010 when I started my fitness and weight loss journey, physical health and being in shape started to become a core value of who I am.

  • I don’t run. I am a runner.
  • I don’t just fit in exercise. I am a physically fit person.

See how that wording shifts the conversation?

If you just say, “I run”, you can easily dismiss the act of running if you don’t fit into your day. However, if “I am a runner”, it is the essence of who I am and I make it happen. I don’t just “mother” my children. I am their mother. There is actually a big difference. Anyone can “mother/nurture” them in a pinch or for a moment in time (School teachers. Babysitters. Grandparents.), but nobody else in this world can be their mother. It flows from my essence.

To begin exploring your own values and begin taking the limits off what you are capable of, think about your life and all of its components and begin rating them.

  1. Things I value very much: These are the things that are your very ESSENCE. An example for me is my physical fitness. Most people don’t value this as much as I do and therefore make excuses about why they can’t or won’t engage in daily exercise.
  2. Things I value: An example of this for me is financial gain. I do value financial gain and I want to be a wise steward of my family’s income and spend with frugality, however, money is not a top priority for me. I don’t value it enough to chase it over something I value very much.
  3. Things I don’t value very much: An example of this for me is a jam packed extracurricular social schedule. Every aspect of my daily life and work is to be surrounded by people and in relational and social settings, as well as run like wild, dragging kids between sporting events, hangouts, and practices full of even more people to socialize with. Because of this, I oftentimes neglect getting into social settings that aren’t work/ministry/leadership/parenting related because I value a little silence here and there. This can be a slippery slope because I know I need my relational cup filled instead of always being the one pouring, so I’m working on balance, but the point is, you most likely won’t find me at a RAVE until 2-3AM every Friday and Saturday craving a party.

I will continue to write about personal development, growth, and life changing transformation, as it is my sweet spot, I have experience in and with it, and I think it is fun to be encouraged and challenged. That said, Are there any particular topics or avenues in this space you would want me to cover?

Monday Musings: Do streaking and productivity hacking have validity?

“Rule of thumb: The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.”

Steven Pressfield

Today, January 30, 2017, I kick off a writing streak. Notice, I said writing, not necessarily posting. You may or may not be privy to the musings of my mind during the next 30 days as I attempt to improve upon, and even solidify, my calling as a writer. It is possible that what I put on paper will not be fit for human consumption, and that is ok. Not every basket that Lebron gloriously puts in is seen.

They, the powers that be, say that in order to be an author, blogger, or writer (individual that puts words on paper), you must actually be engaged in the practice of regularly writing. This sounds like common sense, except that it is not entirely true. I have long been a self-proclaimed wordsmith and dabbler into all mediums communication related, except that my writing has yet to be read by many people. Sure, I’ve actually been published on a few websites and in a smattering of periodicals. I’m also positive my Master’s thesis was perused by at least 4 people, of whom I have no doubts lined up with eager anticipation to devour it. (We will pretend that payment to do so did not effect their decision to read my work.)

However, to be a writer, in my opinion, you actually need more than words on paper, but an audience with which to share, mothers and spouses not included.

This is where the 21st century has been simultaneously kind and cruel. The kind part is that the internet, blogs, and social media has given everyone the opportunity for an audience. The cruel part is just a repeat of the kind part.

I do not know what it is that holds me back from doing some of the very things that:

  1. I feel called to
  2. People tell me I’m good at
  3. I actually enjoy once I get started

Steven Pressfield, author of many international bestsellers, would say that I’m just a victim of the “resistance”. Resistance is the unseen powerful force that holds us back and tells us lies. Steven may have popularized the concept of “resistance” in his completely life changing and worthwhile read “The War of Art”, but the apostle Paul seems to be the OG because he so eloquently stated in the bible that he was battling it every day.

15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. …..19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.

.Romans 7:15 and 19 New International Version (NIV)

 Alas, here is where the Monday Musings come into play:

  1. When I don’t do something I’m compelled and called to do is it a sin even if the very act itself is not a sin? (IE: I love to write. Feel called to write. Entertain and inform people when I write but, outside of work, past academic achievements, leadership responsibilities, friendly communications, and public speech development, I rarely write).

    Wow! I’d just rather not think about it.  Or, better yet, is the very thing I so expertly push aside the exact thing God is wanting me to think about in 2017?

  2.  Do I have things to say that people actually care about? Well, I guess that remains to be seen. I know one thing, I’m going to try my best not to let imposter syndrome or fixating on “results” hold me back. What good is chasing results if you’re not even putting in the work worthy of a result?
  3. So called experts tell you to have a specific audience in mind and narrow the interest window of those you’re writing to achieve maximum success, but I want to write about all the things that currently are the sum of my life. The good news is that other experts say to write about what you know about and that real life stories and experiences are the most fascinating things one can share. I guess I’ll figure out which expert is correct, the one who tells me to exclusively focus on food, fitness, leadership, theology, women’s issues, family issues, or any topic I chose so long as I choose just one of the above topics, or the expert that says to write about what you know about and love?I can’t let my “fear” of covering the various topics that fuel me hold me back. At some juncture I will maybe settle into a cohesive pattern and rhythm of what is the best for me to share and say, however, until then, the resistance can keep lying, but I’m not listening.
  4.  I will test the “productivity” hack who shared with me that streaking is the best way to start and solidify a habit. The truth is a “productivity” hack is kind of an oxy-moron. Sure you can hack your brain and your life systems some, but at the end of the day success, productivity, time management, financial success, a hot body, and emotional wellness can only be “hacked” if you regularly use 4 letter words, well, at least one 4 letter word WORK.

What, if any, topics would you like my rabbit chasing brain to cover on this blog?

As a prequel, be prepared to hear about my marathon training, what I’m eating (or not eating), coffee, books I’m reading and reviewing, my family, my friends, my public speaking and communication endeavors, my church, leadership, and anything else I’m compelled to share.

Do not worry, I am confident that by February 28, the final day of my streak, daily writing will be such a habit for me that you will have me around for a very long time, thus, will have ample occasion to hear/read it all.