Commitments. What do you do that is important to you?
Basically, our life is made up of the things we do regularly. Normal, everyday life isn’t about taking a holiday, a vacation, celebrating, partying, or all the extra-ordinary activities. Real, everyday life holds what’s both enjoyable and task-oriented. That is, we do what needs to get done plus what we like to do.
And there’s a time cost for all those commitments.
Sometimes we commit to something without adding up its actual commitment cost. It just makes sense for a regular life; cooking, cleaning, maintaining, working, etc.
And then there are the less obvious commitments; those things we do as habits.
What’s the first thing you do in the morning – at night before bed – on the weekend – in those floating, waiting, relaxing moments between activities… ?
Maybe a more fitting word for this kind of informal commitment would be “habit”.
watching/binge watching entertainment
social media scrolling
anything else you’d add to this list that you do?
What do you look forward to doing and fit into your day even if it’s busier than usual? Even if the cost is greater than you expect – both in time, money, and focus… what do you make the time for…?
Have you ever made a list? I’ve been playing around with creating a weekly schedule for myself that includes both the fun stuff and the must-do stuff… it’s been enlightening. (And not always in a good way.)
And maybe the word doesn’t resonate with you – other words for “commitment” could be dedication, responsibility, duty, or loyalty…
Let me e-x-p-a-n-d on what I mean by a formal commitment:
Maybe it’s to love and support a spouse or raise your children or provide care for a relative. Perhaps you have a home that needs to be maintained, with taxes, a lawn to cut and so much more. A paid job is another obvious commitment. If you have an animal, then you’ve made a commitment to its well-being. What about in your community – do you have volunteer activities you’ve agreed to because you believe in the focus? If you’re a person of faith – a Christian – have you made a commitment to believe, follow and have a relationship with God, and shape your life to reflect Christ Jesus as much as possible and use your talents to God’s glory? What if you have a health concern – have you made a commitment to recover, to improve?
I’m imagining you understand the direction here…
Make a list?
Could you make a list of all your commitments including the formal and regular habits you have?
Is it a long list or a short one?
Now, consider which formal or informal commitments make the most significant impact on your life…
What’s the time cost for each one – one thing we all have in common is 24 hours per day. No matter age, stage, socio-economic situation, or where we live on this planet we all share the same number of hours in a day.
Let’s just consider that regardless of a good impact
– or bad impact…
those things we do regularly are commitments…
Our commitments shape our life.
Our habits – our commitments – those things we engage in, shape our lives.
Do I like the way my life is shaped?
Food for thought, huh?
Is there a goal you’re aiming toward? Are you making enough space for that commitment? How? What needs to shift to include that goal? Trying to get better at something? Do you need to add more “lines” in your to-do list for that something?
What about people important in your life… where are they on your list? Rob and I try to fit in a special “date” activity into every week because we want to nurture our relationship – we also intentionally spend time with our grands – this time only happens now!
And I have a (first-time) commitment on my calendar for February – I’m making room for that… it’s scary and unexpected but I hope to add value to others so I need to focus on preparing for that commitment.
Commitments add up to fill that time.
We all need to make sure that the commitments (habits) in our life make sense – because our time on this earth is finite. And we cannot get back any time from the past – it’s gone.
If our commitments shape our life, then we need to choose wisely.
How are we doing on that…?
Make your list of commitments and check it…
Check to see if your commitments and habits equal a life shaped the way you’d like. (FYI – The book I’m reading, Atomic Habits by James Clear, has me thinking and checking, and changing my day-to-day habits… I recommend it.)
Does what you read have a positive influence on who you are and who you want to be?
This could be a question we don’t usually ask ourselves.
Sure, we can say that we read a lot, but maybe we don’t consider the value of the words we’re reading and the impact those words and ideas have on our lives…
Do you read something every day?
Yeah – something more than emails… maybe even in a physical book?
(or on a Kindle – that counts too.)
Perhaps you read a daily quote, devotional, Scripture verse exploration, or for a motivational focus on health, profession, or recovery? As an example, one of my favorite Christian daily readings is “Streams in the Desert” – I pull it out in difficult seasons of life and it’s the one I gift to others the most.
Now, I’m going to say something controversial here…
don’t take this as a criticism, because I’m also a partaker…
If the majority of what you read are memes on social media, you’re doing yourself a disservice.
(sorry for calling us all out)
Social media posts and memes, whether it’s on TikTok, Facebook, or Instagram, may make us feel like we’re reading all the time, but I’m imagining (and have personal experience) that that kind of reading rarely adds much value to life.
Sure, we nod and “love” a meme, laugh at a cartoon or video, or smile with chagrin at a particularly targeted statement, but… do you remember it 10 minutes later? Or the next day?
Do you take action after reading something on social media?
I’m guessing not. (Unless it’s a “click to buy” link. Whoops.)
In fact, I might even suggest that we rarely change our habits because of anything on social media.
(I have an article about habits almost finished for next week because of a book I’m reading – stay tuned!)
So what am I hoping to inspire you to do?
(By the way, when reading anything, always ask yourself the above question!)
Here’s what I’m hoping to do with this article you’re currently reading:
Pull a book off your shelf that you’ve loved before or bought and haven’t yet read – and READ it!
Yes. Read. Something!
Read a few paragraphs or a chapter in a book that will add value to your life – read something that will change you for the better, help you gather new strength, increase your character, add to your abilities…
Reading is worth the time investment.
What book will you choose?
maybe it’s to strengthen or create good habits (I’m reading this book – it’s fascinating.)
perhaps the book you’ll read will target a recovery – physical, emotional, etc.
Leave a comment below and share what you’ll be reading to add value to your life!
(or click to go the website if you’re reading this in your email)
I keep a running list of books I want to read in an Amazon list – how do you keep track of what you read?
And this year I’ll be using both a digital app and a notebook/journal to record what I’m learning – more to come on that process called “Zettlekasten”. How do you remember what you’ve learned? I write about what I want to remember – here’s a post on the benefits of being optimistic that was created after I read something.
And lastly, to add value to your reading this month, here are two free images to print – in case you’d like to have a new bookmark and bookplate! I try to make something for you every time I write… Click to accessand consider subscribing to PositiveThanksLiving so you don’t miss anything. My purpose is to encourage you!
Hmmmmm… Even a routine can hold those time smashers with few rewards.
Is your routine serving you well?
We all develop routines, even if we don’t mean to… and one set of regular behaviors may work well when we’re parenting children, but they don’t work as well once those children are adults. Sometimes we have habits that are left over from other life experiences…
Sometimes we do things because we’ve always done them. There are times when unhealthy habits creep into our days . And even if those actions are not hurting us, perhaps they don’t make the impact we would really want longterm.
What would you remove from your routine?
What would you remove from your routine if you could?
Let’s say that you have something you do every day or week, and it isn’t helpful. Or maybe you’re not good at it… Could another person help with that item on your list of “to-do’s”?
I have a personal example. Rob and I have been married 38 years. All these years I’ve enjoyed doing laundry. Yup. I’m odd. Even when we had loads of laundry we called “Mount Never Rest” and I had to go down into an unfurnished, unheated basement in Canadian winters, laundry was a chore I embraced in my routine.
Why? I could quickly take what was messy and make it clean and organized. Bada boom – bada bing!
However… all those beautifully clean and folded loads of laundry somehow rarely made it from the basket to the drawers or closets. Oh, yes. That’s where the routine of laundry broke down.
We didn’t find a solution until we were married for 30+ years!
That was when we were traveling full-time in our RV, doing laundry in laundromats, and Rob, having dealt with the issue of often finding his clothes in a laundry basket and not the drawers, took over putting the clean laundry away. I still happily did the washing and folding but he finished the job. He loves to finish things! It’s his strength.
We now have a routine that serves us both. I was no longer a prisoner of my laundry basket! I no longer need to feel like a failure because the routine wasn’t healthy. Ha!
So, there are times when what we’re doing may need a refresh – another set of hands, or even hiring someone to take over where it makes sense financially and relationally.
What other reasons would a routine not serve you well? Consider…
A routine can either serve you or waste your time.
Maybe that’s a harsh statement.
But as many statements go, there’s a little truth there. Maybe.
What are you doing that is a waste of your time? Ponder a bit – how does your day go? They euphemistically can be called “time-sucks”. Checking email or social media instead of completing something? Reading or streaming a few more shows or sports than you’d want admit to? Excessively exercising, working out or playing video games instead of investing time with family, on the pretext of “I need me time.”
Why is this important?
We all have a finite number of days – we need to use them well!
I was listening to a podcast and the fellow proposed an interesting concept. Take the number of days in the number of years most people live – maybe it’s 90 years, or 80 or… (if we said 80 years that would equal 29,200 days.) Now, take the number of days you already have lived, and subtract it from that number.
29,000 days – your days = ?how many days you have to use well!
This idea isn’t meant to scare you, or make you feel depressed… but, if you’re at all like me, the number you come up with is less than you’d imagined. And that feeling is important!
And we have no idea how or when our days are complete. But this is just a “what if” scenario…
Which brings me back to the initial question…
If there was one thing from your routine that you could eliminate, what would it be?
Don’t let your routine activities become a prison just because you haven’t thought them through in the last while.
Review what you do each day and ask yourself,
“If I have 7280 days to spend, how would I invest those well?“
Just for fun, do the math and leave a comment on how many days (imagining a life of 80 years) you have to use well… maybe even share what you could eliminate in your day-to-day unconscious routines to use those days in better ways!
If you’re a journaling kind of person, use this question in your journal – or download a sheet I’ve created for you to doodle/color on with the question…. And if you’re a “junk journaler” and want to make something, I’ve also created a PDF to download – download the images here.
Practicing. It’s an interesting concept because there’s often no final stop – no end. At least at first. People practice until they are either bored, they can no longer continue or they reach a level of proficiency with which they’re contented… Sometimes practicing something carries on for a lifetime.
Is there something you find intriguing enough to practice – repeatedly – for an extended time period?
For a number of years, I’ve chosen a specific word to focus on for the year. It was through OneWord365 that I was introduced to the concept, and for this year – 2021 – my word is “Today”. And the idea is that I’m putting into “today” all the things I want to practice. Things like being thankful, encouraging, and other tangible skills.
With this in mind, one item I wanted to explore was to learn how to hand-letter. What’s “hand lettering,” you ask?
Years ago I called it caligraphy.
So, pulling from a list of 100 optimistic words, my practice began. And to facilitate this practice of “hand lettering” 100 words, there’s a challenge many use called The 100 Day Project. (You can learn more here.) That’s the framework for my practice.
And now I’m…
One Quarter Done
As this article is published, one-quarter of this practice hand-lettering is done, that is 25+ words of #the100dayproject is completed.
Though the calendar may be a human invention, we can usually see the differences the seasons bring – at least in our outdoor world. The southern hemisphere is opposite to where I live. Right now it’s cold in North America. In Australia they’re at the beach.
Sometimes we see the differences in our view in the mirror. (There are more wrinkles and grey hair this year.)
How do you mark moving from one time to another?
As seasons come and go, how do you plan to learn and grow?
Many people keep a calendar – digital or paper.
Others keep lists of goals.
How have you successfully made a record of time passing? I don’t usually do resolutions when my birthday arrives or the calendar year changes. But I have used a word to focus on… Just one word.
One year my word was “connect” and that’s the year where I made an effort to meet people who have become online friends for years. Some of those friends we’ve met in person and continue to be invested emotionally on the path their lives have taken. Tom and Debi Walters is one couple who come to mind. You can read their encouragement about marriage here, and about Debi’s word for 2021.
In 2018 and 2019 I had the same word: Thankful.
You might see where that grew into this website…
And last year my word was “Make”. I did “make” a lot – physical items, and less tangible output! My focus on making things became what kept me calm in the midst of our mess of 2020. I even completed an entire journal of collaging and 25 videos to commemorate it. What grew out of focusing only on one word for 365 revolutions around the sun became an immense amount of learning.
A plan to learn and grow was encompassed in just one word…
Writing down the plan to learn and grow.
When we pass to another year – whether it’s a birthday, an anniversary, or a calendar year – if we have a plan, (even if it’s just one focus word), there’s a much better chance we’ll grow in a specific direction.
(And yes – I believe even though I make my plans, it’s God who directs my steps. Before I choose my word for the next time period, there’s a lot of questioning and deep listening to hear His will for me.)
In this year – 2021 – my focus word is “today“. Perhaps it’s come from the past year, where it’s been completely evident that none of us are guaranteed a tomorrow… but we are here today. “Today” does have value! What can we put into it?
All the incremental actions put into each “today” will add up. If I choose to put positive things into each day, it should add up to a great year to learn and grow… regardless of how many days the Lord intends for me.
So – how to begin documenting those simple things that’ll go into “today”?
A simple planner to document how I learn and grow.
To follow through, I’m documenting what God brings into my life using a simple planner. It’s a way to record 3 things I’m thankful for each day, to plan out and document who I’m going to connect with through “snail mail”, and record a few things I’m learning – things from what I’m reading and listening to or watching.
When we’re holding ourselves accountable for making each day count, then it’s important to put good stuff into it. Sometimes we think we know what we’re planning, and then comes…
An unexpected resource to learn and grow.
In addition, completely unexpectantly, I found a new journal resource. It’s called, “All Things Are Possible: A Guided Journal for Christian Women with Inspiring Bible Verses and Creative Prompts”by Melanie Redd. I was going to give it away as a Christmas gift but liked it so much, I kept it for myself. *LOL* (I’ll be ordering other copies to give away.) The illustrations are beautiful and there is a great expanse to journal/doodle/collage. The best parts are the questions posed – they’re open-ended and thought-provoking. Rob and I often admire authors who can ask good questions.
What unexpected resources are showing up for you?
But wait… there’s more! 37 more.
We will be married 37 years in May 2021.
It’s crazy to think we’ve been dating for more than 40 years. Yet we still need to continue to work on our relationship – to make it good… better… more… And that goes for every couple no matter how long they’ve been dating each other!
To that end, Rob suggested we plan 37 dates this year – no two will be alike – and it’ll be to grow a bit.
Sure, we’re like everybody – sometimes a date night is a movie (at home in 2020 style) and dinner. It’s easy. Convenient. And even pleasurable. But…
Not in 2021! (Or at least we’ll only allow ourselves one of those dates in front of the TV. LOL) We need a plan to learn and grow!
The book just arrived, so we will need to take time to go through that book to find the dates we both will like. In the meantime, our first date will be this week – and it’s going to be an idea from Debi and Tom in an article from 2011! I’ll post a picture on our personal Instagram if you’re interested.
Summing it all up…
We all need a plan to learn and grow. And it doesn’t need to be a big plan… it can be as simple as one word.
I encourage you to make your plan!
Do you choose One Word for your year? Or do you have favorite resources you use to plan? What are your go-to ways to plan to learn and grow? Leave a comment!
Completion may be messy, but it does have its positives… To elaborate, I just completed something. And to be specific, I completed two different – but related projects – and have the results to show for it!
Do you enjoy the feeling of completion?
Rob, my husband, is a great proponent for the value of Achievement. And in his vernacular, completing something is a part of the achievement. Needless to say, he’s very happy for me. Our adult children have also encouraged me along the way and complimented me on finishing.
But it’s been messy. Yes, completion can be messy.
All the paper bits and pieces, all the inky and glue-y fingers, and all the embroidery thread and everything else strewn around our living space is messy. I don’t have a dedicated spot to craft, so use our dining area until it’s time to clean up when we have a meal as a larger group.
One solution to the “paper-poop” (so named by a fellow crafter) has been a sticky clothes roller to use on the carpet to pick up the tiny corners clipped off of each piece of paper. This helps between vacuuming events.
Another wonderful solution to the mess has been the on-going patience of my beloved, who sees the benefits – it shows up in my uplifted mood. *wink* He’s the one who is neat and tidy, so this is a huge gift to me.
While there have been many ways to deal with the mess, one includes focusing on the end product.
It feels good when the end product works out well, doesn’t it?
Now, let’s be real here. Not everything we do in life has a start and end date…
And sometimes completing something won’t have a tangible outcome.
And that’s OK.
Don’t beat yourself up! (Hey! I consider having done the laundry a completion — at least until the next dirty thing hits the bottom of the basket!)
Regardless, I’m sure you have had experiences in life with the feeling of completion. Consider:
moving from one place to another
pulling off a festive event
birth of a child (or an idea)
the journey to a healthier “you”
completing an educational endeavor
one growing season to another (literal or figurative)
If you need some encouragement on taking a step toward a goal, read this!
What have you completed recently?
How did you deal with the mess?
And how did you feel when the project was completed?
What did I complete?
I finished 30 little Journaling booklets as homes for a project of 30 words exploring courage. For each word, I did a journaling card with portions of hymns on it. Here’s one as an example.
It was a challenge through a Facebook Group called “Jesus Journal Junkies” – August’s challenge was to use 31 words to explore how God encourages us to be strong and courageous. (I didn’t like the last word so I only did 30. *wink*)
And now I’ve completed 30 journals – one for each card.
That’s two big crafting things complete!
Along the way, I’ve “met” many other “Junk Journalers” Including Marci at the Creator’s Call Shop. She did a challenge and I WON! (insert big happy face here) I’ll show you what I won when it arrives… (or you can check out Marci’s video where she announces it!)
I invite you to take a look at some of the videos I’ve been making about the process of moving from doing to completion on my latest project:
A few days ago, in a post, I promised ideas on ways to challenge yourself in the upcoming month. Remember – our whole life is filled up with little increments 60 seconds at a time, 1440 minutes a day, 52 weeks, 4 seasons…
So, here they are – 31 options for your consideration.
Are you up for a challenge?
Choose one idea.
There’s a chance your little action, over 31 days, might make a bigger impact than you imagine. A good habit, growth or development, or even a renewal of heart, mind, and soul can come from simple, small, positive actions over time.
Do one for 31 days.
Just try one…
As you read through these ideas, stop and consider what it would or could look like in your life. Don’t let a negative “But…” creep in. Rather, imagine what it would feel like if you did do it!
Here you go:
1. Go to bed early 31 days in a row.
Ah, sleep. It’s a beautiful thing.
2. Drink 6 glasses of water every day.
Many times headaches and fatigue can be linked to dehydration. What if in this month you felt energized and clear-headed and all it took was drinking more water?
3. Use only cash for 31 days.
(No credit or cards.) Would you be more aware of your spending? Could that have a positive impact on your overall money situation?
4. Take a break from social media for the month.
What could you do with all the hours you spend on social media? Would you be able to pray more, move more, visit others, read a good book, or… Fasting doesn’t just mean food.
5. Read every day for 15 minutes.
Talking about reading – what topic are you curious about? When was the last time you went to the library? Find a good book and finish it in 15-minute increments. This is a book Rob and I have read that we enjoyed.
6. Write down 3 things you’re thankful for each day.
This one is huge. Many, many people have talked about the power of gratitude. I’ve been researching thankfulness for the last two years, reading books on the topic and making my own lists. Do this practice for 31 days and you’ll see an immense shift in your head and heart. Here’s a journal to print out for your 31 days. If you want a more intense experience, make each item (93+) unique. (It’s not as difficult as you might think.)
7. Eat only at home for 31 days (no take-out).
So, maybe you can’t be “at home” to actually eat, but you can make your food at home and bring it with you! The idea is to not eat food prepared by a restaurant. You decide whether that means all from scratch foods, or if frozen/prepared meals bought at the grocery store are included. The idea is to not to give your money to a restaurant/take-out and explore the beauty of re-discovering your home – the peace, the loveliness of your own kitchen.
8. Do a stretch and weight routine once a day.
If you sit at a computer for any time at all, then stretching is important! What if you stretched every day – deliberately – to become more flexible, to raise your physical abilities, and become stronger? In what way would that change your life? Weights don’t need to be fancy – use water bottles or cans. Stretching can be done in a chair. (Use YouTube to find videos to follow.) This is about doing more than you regularly do – without stressing yourself or costing money. Remember – it’s about small incremental change…
9. Complete a jigsaw puzzle – a little bit every day over 31 days.
Relaxation that you can see develop. It’s simple. Easy. Tangible. Set up a table, find your puzzle, and begin. Do a little bit each day. Rejoice over the finished end product. I’ve talked with people who like to do a jigsaw puzzle on holidays – why not build a bit of holiday into each day?
10. Initiate a random act of kindness each day for someone.
Here’s a list of 51 ideas – and another list with 75 ideas – or another list with 100 ideas. I’m sure you can find 31 ideas from these lists. <wink>. How would it change your life by being kind all month long?
11. Take a photo every day – document your life.
Your life has worth. You’ve been put here on this earth, at this time, for a reason. Use your smart-phone as a way to document your life. If you need ideas, then use this list, or this one. But you could just take a photo of the same tree, each day, as the leaves turn…
12. Go to bed each day with a clean and empty sink.
That’s the first step in an organized space according to the FlyLady – or – do her 31 baby steps! Many years ago, when our kids were small, I found The FlyLady. Her baby steps made a huge difference in our life as a young, busy family.
13. Compliment someone in your family (your spouse!) every day.
Very often we can find ourselves in a negative spiral – only seeing the mistakes, the failures, the overlooked, etc. By demanding of yourself to find one good thing, and saying it aloud to that person you love, can change an atmosphere completely! 31 days to a better relationship can begin with one compliment every day. Try it and see! (This can even be done long-distance.) Think character qualities you admire, accomplishments, happy memories…
14. Knit or crochet every day for 31 days.
Make something! And if you don’t know how to crochet/knit, then use YouTube to learn. At the very least you’ll have a gift for Christmas to give someone!
15. Send 31 cards of encouragement to friends – one a day!
Snail mail! This one will take an investment. But it’s small. Less than a Starbucks a day… How will you feel at the end of the month after telling 31 people how much you value them? Invest in relationships. Isn’t it time?
16. Give away 31 items you no longer use – one per day.
Less IS more. Really. We lived in 282 square feet for 5 years. I can say confidently, that you don’t need all the stuff you think you do. Purge. Feel free!
17. Make your bed each day for 31 days.
Come on. It’s one small action. You could…
18. No complaining for 31 days.
None. About anything. Could you? I think you can.
19. Have a conversation with a stranger every day for 31 days.
There are times in our life where we become stale – isolated – small-minded, even. Each day when you’re out and about, ask a stranger a question. (Start with the weather – ask if they’re enjoying the sun, rain, temperature, etc.) Here’s a list of 48 questions you could ask. Expand your world!
24. Pray with a specific focus each day for your spouse.
Here’s a list for women to pray for their husbands – here’s a list for husbands to pray for wives. Prayer is a positive, action-oriented way to add value into your marriage. And if you’re not married (but waiting for the right one) you could still pray over your future spouse. If you’re a widow or widower, do you have a son or daughter who is married (or wants to be)? Pray these over their future spouses. This is powerful.
25. Eat at the dining table at home at least once a day.
No social media, television or even a book. The only conversation you can have is with another human being – in person! Or enjoy the quiet. <wink> Light a candle – you can make even a simple sandwich into a romantic meal.
26. Use the next 31 days to focus on people – not your phone.
Be fully present. Pledge you’ll put away your phone when with others. Specifically, only use your phone as a source of interaction/amusement when alone.
27. Answer this question over 31 days (so, 31 answers):
“What character qualities in people, and/or which actions do you notice daily and admire? (You’re putting Philippians 4:8 into action!)
28. Bring your own lunch to work every day.
This will cause you to think about what you’re eating, and may very well cost less than a restaurant/take-out lunch. Extra points if you have something to share with co-workers!
29. Write out a Scripture verse each day.
Here’s one for October by Sue at Woman of Noble Character. It’s 31 days focusing on what Scripture has to say about worry and anxiety. Writing is a powerful way to focus your attention.
30. Explore a new place on the planet every day.
Use EarthRoulette if you need inspiration! Even if you can’t travel physically, you can in your imagination. Let yourself dream…
31. Smile at everyone you meet all month long!
You may be the only friendly face someone meets that day. It could make all the difference in their life. Sure, you might not want to give the wrong impression, so a closed-mouthed small smile counts with strangers – a pleasant expression may be less creepy than a full-out smile. <wink>
There’s great satisfaction from completing something!
Many people have seen positive benefits from using 30-day challenges to boost change in their lives; reading through their stories can be uplifting.
How could your story lift up others?
Think about it
– let’s make the most of the 2,678,400 seconds in October!
October 2019 is just around the corner. Yes, there are all these autumnal colors and themes floating about in social media, in the stores, and probably in our workspaces and homes. That’s all good.
Noticing the change in the seasons is important – it identifies how time is moving forward, even if you’re experiencing what I am… 90-degree weather. <eye-roll> Or, if you’re in the southern hemisphere of our world, October is heralding the arrival of new growth. (Because we have flipped seasonal experiences.) If you’re closer to our equator, then likely there are few weather indicators to show a change in seasons…
October is almost upon us.
A new month.
31 days to make a difference in your own life, and those around you!
How will you begin? And end? What’s going to be different, noteworthy, and extraordinary in this next month?
Invitation to challenge yourself!
31 Days of …
How will you fill in the blank? What’s on your agenda? Here’s your invitation to challenge yourself:
With what would you like to challenge yourself? It’s personal. But we all still have 31 days – it’ll either be more of the same, or it can be MORE!
more activity: dancing, walking, stretching, travel, exploring, adventure…
enhanced well-being: in positivity, prayer, eating, tidiness, relationship building, thankfulness…
Our lives are built with small habits. 30 or 31 days is a way to practice. In which areas could you enhance your life?
In the next few posts (before October) I’ll suggest some ideas. I invite you to choose ONE. Yes, just one. A single challenge for your own October.
Leave a comment with your ideas!
In September I challenged myself to post on Facebook a different hymn each day. This is part of my desire to enhance my own ability to follow-through over the long term and to make time to explore a facet of my faith. One challenge. Multiple gains.
Near the beginning of 2019, I read this book. It’s filled with 500+ random ideas on where to challenge yourself. I believe we can do (almost) anything in the short term… and isn’t our whole life filled up with little increments 60 seconds at a time, 1440 minutes a day, 52 weeks, 4 seasons…
What are you developing with your little increments of time?
One of his notable works was a dictionary. Can you imagine the detail it would take to write and compile a dictionary?
One word at a time until the ordinary becomes extraordinary.
Samuel Johnson’s dictionary took 8 years to complete and was the most commonly used and imitated for the years between its first publication in 1755 and the completion of the Oxford English Dictionary in 1928.
All of us have the same number of hours in a day, days in a month, and months in a year. That’s ordinary. But if we practice Diligence, Perseverance, Dedication, that’s where our ordinary changes…
What’s your “extraordinary” going to be?
What step will you take today?
Because you’re not ordinary… you’re extraordinary!
His words hold answers to mysteries, they cause me to stop and wonder and then make me smile. I feel encouraged.
Sometimes a phrase causes me to take a breath – stop – and give thanks.
This is one of them.
Courage, dear heart.
Encouragement has the word “courage” embedded. Undeniably, reading with a positive focus will encourage you, and ultimately cause you to feel courageous.
That’s why I like “children’s” literature. Most times authors write with a bent toward encouragement. It’s rare to feel discouraged after reading a child’s book. Have you noticed? Pull out a few of your childhood favorites, and experiment…
The quote above is from C.S. Lewis’ book “Voyage of the Dawn Treader” in the Narnia series. There are 7 books in the whole story about the land of Narnia. And it’s just as relevant for adults as it is for children. Never, ever, feel like you’re too old to read a child’s book. We’re all children at heart!
Specifically, I like to read this series in chronological order – but everyone has their favorite way to read. C.S. Lewis wrote and published them differently from the land of Narnia chronological order, and expected us to make our own choice in where to start. Wise man.
Aslan in Narnia
If you step back from the Disney movie versions of these movies and read the original book series, you’ll realize, eventually (or possibly very quickly) that Aslan is special.
Ultimately, discovering why that’s so will be a beautiful adventure, should you choose to accept it…
In the meantime:
My wish for you today is to hear that small, still voice whisper…
Learn how to be optimistic. Basically, you aren’t required to be born a positive person – optimism can be learned. Don’t give up just because you’re not good at it! Because there’s a way to…
Learn how to be optimistic.
But how, you ask?
If I’m being candid with you, (and my husband, Rob, can attest to this,) compared to some others, I am not naturally a positive person.
Did I really say that?
Yes, I did. I’m a learned optimist.
It’s a choice.
I believe anyone can learn how to be optimistic, and with deliberation, choose to act that way.
If so, then all of us can take action in a strategically positive way.
In all areas of our lives:
in how we think about ourselves,
as we talk to ourselves (our inner dialogue),
how we make choices in our life,
when we interact with people,
in our business world, church world, and family,
as we pursue our side-hustle, our hobbies,
and/or entrepreneurial life,
while setting and embracing our goals – large or small
and everything else life holds!
Here’s the path – with 4 aspects – on how to learn to be optimistic:
1 – Begin with love.
Start by feeling love for yourself. (Yes, it’s a journey.)
Firstly, I believe I was born on purpose and for a purpose. As were you! No person is an accident. Everyone has value.
For all those mothers who long to get pregnant, and parents who are trying and trying to conceive a child, this concept of a child being born on purpose is real. (As is the heart-wrench and ache when a child dies before you can hold her or him in your arms.)
Plus, as a Christian, I believe God loves me. He loves you. There’s a plan for us. As a great example of true, perfect love, Jesus, the Son of God, gave up His life in a horrible death for no reason other than He loved me. And you. And everyone. All people. Regardless. (If you’re looking for a romance story, the Bible is the ultimate one.)
Maybe your life thus far hasn’t shown you much love. If that’s the case, I just want to tell you:
It’s not the end of the story!
You can feel loved. There’s time.
Just as you have time to love others. It’s a journey.
Gratitude is so much more important than the world around you wants you to believe. Being thankful is a special sauce, a magic formula, the ultimate elixir on the way to being positive.
How do you track your thankfulness?
Being aware of what you’re thankful for is one thing. Because of this, it’s powerful when you see all the items concretely logged with writing or images.
Whether you use an app, a journal, a planner or a plain old notebook, keeping an ongoing list of all the items you’re thankful for on a daily basis is important!
Did you hear that?
I can’t think of another way to state it. Make it a habit at the beginning, middle or end of a day to list what you’re thankful for. Begin recording your thankfulness.
I challenge you to start with a list of 100 items. A while ago Rob and I did an exercise like this together and it was so much easier than it seems… From this, we realized that the greatest to the least little item provides many, many reasons each day to give thanks.
” Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”
Therefore, you can learn how to be optimistic if you use gratitude as a tool!
So, being loved and being thankful. Right.
And after that – what’s next?
3 – Being encouraged and encouraging others helps you to learn how to optimistic.
Thirdly, what is encouragement?
“Encouragement: words or actions that give someone confidence or hope and words or actions that help something to happen.”
~ from MacMillan Dictionary
To learn how to be optimistic means you understand the importance of encouragement. Encouragement is an action. It’s having hope for the future. People who are positive-focused know how to help themselves and others make something happen – something good for the future.
Optimists are confident that if they keep trying and continue to persevere, regardless, there will be an improvement.
And once an optimist is feeling hopeful, then…
4 – Optimists take action.
Lastly, some of the skills on the path to learn how to be optimistic are the ability to make a plan, work the plan and take action on the goals that’ll get you to the finish line of the plan. Does this sound familiar?
What if things don’t work out? Failure is part of the plan – it’s gonna happen, and optimists who take action have contingencies at hand to fail forward.
So, if something doesn’t work out, the optimist finds another way.
Above all, it’s about taking action – not getting stuck in inertia or analysis paralysis. Equally, if a positive person does get stuck, they look for help from another encouraging person! Do you have someone like that in your life?
Are you someone who takes action? Is there a chance you’re also a learned optimist?
Being Positive on Purpose
All in all, life isn’t always what you expect. There are curveballs…
It’s important to realize there are days, weeks and even years where being optimistic is hard. At times it feels almost impossible. I get it. I really do – due to circumstances we all encounter, I’ve experienced it and it’s difficult to be optimistic when in crisis. (Especially if others around you expect optimism from you and you’re feeling like you’re running on empty.)
What can you do when it’s hard to be optimistic?
Actively seek support. To clarify, surround yourself with people, activities, and resources which will support you in practicing:
loving yourself and others,
being thankful – in all circumstances,
accepting encouragement and giving encouragement,
and taking action.
To be transparent – that’s why this site was born. I needed something to keep my focus on remaining and then growing in being positive. So, that’s what PostiveThanksLiving.com is for… it’s for me and you!
On the positive side, there’s no end in learning to be optimistic.
You just get better at it. Certainly, it takes ongoing practice, but the benefits of practicing optimism impact everyone around you for the better.
Indeed, it’s not going to hurt anyone if you learn how to be optimistic… in fact, it’ll help make the world around you a little better!
If so, it’s important to be flexible, and stay positive and thankful because big goals take many turns.
Some are a gentle arc, and barely noticed. Those turns are easy.
Other turns are like the Tail of the Dragon – 11-miles of twists in Tennesee that car and motorbike aficionados use to challenge their driving skill. Sometimes a challenge can be exhilarating.
Regardless of the severity of the turn or turns on the way to that big goal, what thinking skills do you need to navigate your way? These intangible skills will work for the easy turns and the challenging ones alike. And along the way to your goal you’re going to need these skills!
Navigating the turns in Big Goals
Traveling with our 5th-Wheel up and down the coast, into big cities and across expanses, required many different skills compared to zooming in a little car to the store.
Rob often talked about thinking in 3 dimensions – not just length and width, but also height as we navigated through our RV-ing adventures.
Big Goals also need a different style of thinking from everyday duties.
Here are some I’ve practiced and seen others do along the way to a big goal.
Clarity. What do you really want? If you know what you really want, then at every turn you’ll be able to choose the way forward.
Focus. Make a plan to get to your goal that includes all the turns you can imagine. Follow the plan.
Review. Goals need a plan and those huge goals are probably made up of many smaller plans and goals. Review it all regularly, because there are going to be turns you haven’t anticipated on the way to the win.
Flexibility. Be ready to shift. You may be in 1st and 2nd gear for a long haul before you get to that open road where you can let all the power out!
Thankfulness. No matter what turn you hit, be aware of the good stuff and express your thankfulness.
Optimism is going to be the overarching need, regardless of all the different skills when navigating the turns in a Big Goal.
Have you encountered a turn on the way to a big goal? What did you do to navigate that unexpected shift?
Making a Plan…
Plans and goals go hand-in-hand. Rarely will someone reach a goal without one. So, how do you record your plan? How do you keep track?
I currently use notebooks – just the dollar-store kind – to keep track of what I’m working on. I even decorate the cover because I’m playing with paper these days. But I have tried other planners. Some just had the months and weeks listed. They worked just fine. And then on my way to seeking a change, I used this planner for 100 days. (I wrote about it here.)
Planning for a bigger goal requires some reflection. (The kind of thinking included in the above 5 ways.)
I found what I needed to do some reflective thinking with the Happiness line of planners. If you’re interested in what I’m speaking about, there are downloadable printables to do some reflecting and planning. Click here to see – they’re free!
If you wanted an undated planner for 365 days, take a look at this one. (Why undated? Because it’s rare that we start a big goal at the obvious beginning of a year. Life usually isn’t that simple.) This kind of planner is much more – it’ll work toward getting you from where you currently are to your big goal. If you want to, download a free PDF of a page of its style to see if this planner will work for you.
No matter what you choose – notebook, regular dated planner, or something else – your Big Goal will need some way to capture all the twists and turns. I urge you to take the thinking actions first!