Saturday, January 23, 2016

How is That Working Out?

Three weeks ago we welcomed a new year. We welcomed it in hope. We welcomed it believing "This year, things will be better. This year, I will be different. This year, I will do different things. This year, I will do better things."

Some of us set goals. Some of us even considered actions to reach those goals. 

A lot of us purchased apps, notebooks, journals, day planners, goal planners and task lists to help us track progress to our goals. Some of us took the time to set them up. Some of us use and carry them every day. Some of us don't. And some of us have forgotten the purchase and leave our planners, journals, and lists lying neglected on a shelf or in a drawer.

So, how is all that working out for you? 

Where are you on the path to achieving your goals?

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Have you considered what the first step will be? For example, if you intend to get in shape, have you considered how to do it? You could, for example, join a gym, hire a personal trainer or design your own exercise routine.

Having identified a first action, have you taken it? Have you made the phone call, visited the gym or trainer, or done the research to design your own routine?

Having taken the first step, have you identified the next one? Have you allotted time to do it? If I were to look at your calendar, would I find time scheduled to do the research, visit the gym or trainer or perform your exercise routine?

Do your schedule and your actions support your intent? 

How are you doing keeping these appointments?

If so, you're moving toward your goal. Keep it up!

Or is your goal stuck in the realm of "things I intend to do"?

Intentions are great, but attaining a goal requires action.  It's easy to say "I want to lose weight", but losing weight takes actions like limiting food intake and increasing activity to make the loss happen.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions; the road to success is paved with actions, and therein lies the difficulty. Actions are not always easy. Actions can be be repetitious and boring. Taking action requires an act of will and altogether too often, it's easier to not act that than to act.

By not acting, we are saying in effect "Our goal is not worth achieving." We say to ourself "It would be nice to achieve this, but it's not worth the effort." And with that admission,  achieving our goal becomes as likely as winning the lottery.

Without action, we will continue doing what we've been doing and getting the results we've always gotten.

It is written "when the going gets tough, the tough get going." You've had the intention. You've set the goal. You've mapped out the actions you need to take to get there.

Are you tough enough to get get going and get there?

If you've taken the first step, are you tough enough to keep to the next step and the one after that all the way to the goal?

If you take action, you will move toward achievement. If you don't take action, it is certain you will not.

Are you tough enough to take action?

If you're taking action, how's that working out for you?

Monday, January 18, 2016

Inspiration and Guidance from Dr. King

Today, we celebrate the life and remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., leader and soul of the civil rights movement in mid twentieth century America. More than a leader, Dr. King was a minister of the Gospel, an orator and inspiring speaker. He is probably best remembered for his "I Have a Dream" speech delivered on August 28 1963 from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. 

Even today, we are lifted up and inspired by the strength of Dr. King's dream, excerpts of which are below:

"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal.

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood. 

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. 

I have a dream that little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character... 

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places plains, the crooked places straight, and the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together."

It was, arguably, the most significant speech of his career, but to my mind, his most useful speech was made not to crowds in Washington, DC in 1963, but to the students of Barrett Junior High School in Philadelphia, PA on October 26, 1967, practical words of advice to all who have ears to hear them.

"What I'm saying to you this morning, my friends, even if it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, go out and sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures! 

Sweep streets like Handel and Beethoven composed music. 

Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. 

Sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will have to pause and say, "Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well!"  

If you can't be a pine on the top of a hill, be a scrub in the valley, but be the best little scrub on the side of the rill.  
Be a bush if you can't be a tree.  
If you can't be a highway, just be a trail.  
If you can't be a sun, be a star.  
It isn't by size that you win or you fail; be the best at whatever that you are!"

In my life, my mother urged me to "Be the best you possible."

The Army challenged me to "Be all that you can be!"

My church preaches "Whatever you do in word and deed, do it with a whole heart, as to The Lord."

We are to seek excellence, to over deliver, to do above and beyond the minimum.

Aristotle is quoted as saying "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."

Follow the words of Dr. King. In whatever it falls for you to do, be excellent.

Are you the best you can be?

Is excellence your habit?

Tree, scrub, highway, trail, sun or star, are you the best at whatever you are?

Why or why not?

Monday, January 4, 2016

2016: Looking Forward

"We know not of the future and cannot plan for it much."

          -- Josiah Chamberlain

Happy New Year! 

I wish you the best year ever! 

I love New Years wishes. I want them to come true. I want to end 2016 healthier, wealthier, and wiser than I ended 2015. 

I want to be a better husband, father, grandfather, and friend than I am now. I want to become a better and more consistent writer. I want to grow a more productive garden both at home and for others. I want to visit new places and have adventures with family and friends.  

Having goals is necessary but having a goal does nothing to get me where I want to be unless I take actions to make the goal happen. If I keep doing what I did 2015, I will keep getting the results I got in 2015. If I want 2016 to be my best year ever, I need to either do things differently, or do different things.  

  • If I am to be healthier, I need to make it a habit to exercise regularly and watch what I eat and I need to put specific actions on my daily class list to make sure these actions get done every day. 
  • If I am to be wealthier, I need plan actions to track spending and encourage savings and frugality.
  • If I am to be wiser, I must dedicate time to reading and study.
  • If I am to be a better friend, I need to do more things a friend would do.
  • If I am to become a better and more consistent writer, I need to make writing and publishing a habit. I set aside time to write every day, and I need to publish on a schedule. 
  • If I want a productive garden, I must prepare the soil, plant at appropriate times, water and weed. If so, I should be rewarded with a harvest.
  • If I want to travel and enjoy adventures with family and friends, I need to do the research and make the arrangements. 

And I need to track my progress in accomplishing each task. 

Situations may change. Circumstances will almost certainly change. Goals established early in the year may become untenable. If so, I can and will adjust. But, if I translate my goals into every day doable actions, and track my progress doing of those actions, then 2016 can very well be the best year ever.

How about you?

What are your goals for the New Year?

What actions do you need to take, what habits do you need to establish to make your goals for 2016 happen?