Look to the Future – Make a List to Be, Do, and Have

Look to the Future – Make a List to Be, Do, and Have

Look to the future. Sure, you can learn from the past, but stop making the past your focus. It’s the future that holds promise!

“Instead of looking at the past,

I put myself ahead twenty years

and try to look at what I need to do now

in order to get there then.”

~ Diana Ross

Diana Ross is an American singer, songwriter, actress, and record producer. Her career began in 1959 with the Supremes, and she’s been going strong ever since. I’m guessing her view of looking 20 years into the future and doing what it will require has served her well!

Look to the future.

What’s life going to be like in 20 years for you? Nobody has a crystal ball to see the future, but you can look at where you’d like to be…

Where to start this looking into the future?

Just for fun, create three “20-things” lists as you look to the future:

  • be – 20 qualities you’d like to add/enhance in your character
  • do – 20 activities you’d like to try or get better at
  • have – 20 physical things you’d like to own (for a bit, anyhow)

I created three worksheets to do this exercise!

Now – what could you do today to make it possible for you to experience something on this list?

Yes, I’ve done this to inspire me about my future. I’ve made lists with 30 things on them – because I find that if I keep on going and force myself to keep adding to the lists, after the first obvious items, then I get deeper into what I really value.

One of the items on my “do” list is to experience a River Cruise with Rob. That’s not in the budget right now, but if I save my pennies in the next 20 years…  I’ve told Rob that I’m going to get a large jar and put a photo of a cruise boat on a river on that jar, and we can add a dollar or two to give us a start. Another item on the “be” list is to be a better writer. I’m struggling with passive voice in my writing, so the next year will hold some grammar courses!

What’s on your lists for the future?

What one thing is on one of your lists (be-do-have) that you’d begin saving for today? 

Complete the worksheets and leave a comment!

(keep scrolling to find out how to download the worksheets)

Look to the future! Instead of looking at the past, I put myself ahead twenty years and try to look at what I need to do now in order to get there

Need some encouragement about the future? Read this!

Developing Good Character – 7 Ways

Developing Good Character – 7 Ways

Character = Who we are when no one is watching. Hopefully it’s good character!

“Good character is not formed in a week or a month.

It is created little by little, day by day.”

~ Heraclitus

Social and News media is filled with scathing reports detailing the faults of individuals in all walks of life. No person is born with all these character deficits. Negative character qualities develop one at a time, day by day, just like as good qualities.

Do you relate? I’m sure you have a few character qualities you’d like people to overlook, just as I do… right? However, with this attitude, we might be adding to the problem, rather than improving it. Chicken or egg?

Is this good character just supposed to show up…? 

If we are the only ones who can change ourselves, how much time and effort do we put into developing our own good character? And by acting and reacting, demonstrating a good character, how could we impact the world around us for good?

Developing Good Character

Perhaps I’m going out on a limb here – assuming the development of good character is important to you… <grin>

Parents care about the character of their children – but where do children first see examples of how to be? From their parents and caregivers, of course.

Perhaps it’s in our best interest to care about developing our own good character if we are invested in how the world around us behaves, rather than merely joining in on the criticism-fest.

Easier said than done? Maybe. Maybe not!

7 ways we could focus on developing good character:

  • PEOPLE: surrounding ourselves with people who demonstrate good character – it’s said we are the sum of those we spend time with.
  • READING: reading to develop our character – our brain needs sustenance, what are we feeding it?
  • WATCHING: being discerning in what we watch – oh, yes. TV – Movies – YouTube – streaming <sigh>
  • BOUNDARIES: setting boundaries in our life to manage areas where our character might be tempted or swayed. We are all susceptible.
  • DECISIONS: making decisions with deliberate care and consideration, not on a whim or in the middle of intense emotion.
  • HABITS: designing our habits to support our good character development. Habits. It’s the small things that make up the great things.
  • GREATER THAN OURSELF: following a higher ideal. The belief and adherence to something greater than our self will make a difference even when we fail. Rob and I are Christ followers and often speak of the Fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) as a barometer of our character.

Have I overlooked something? Would you add anything to this list? (Leave a comment to share, please! What has worked for you when you’ve been focused on character development?)

Resources to develop a good character.

Have you read any books which impacted your character? I’m thinking of classics such as Robert McGee’s “The Search for Significance: Seeing Your True Worth Through God’s Eyes”, and Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search For Meaning” or even C.S. Lewis’ “The Screwtape Letters“…

When we homeschooled our children we used “The Book of Virtues” by William J. Bennett.

This book is a collection of stories and fables on virtues – character qualities. These moral stories provided the opportunity to ask questions and discuss ideas in areas like friendship, courage, honesty, compassion, and responsibility. Rob and I found some of the stories quite challenging and personally convicting. I’m looking forward to getting that book out of storage!

Another book I’ve been researching is called “What Do You Stand For? For Teens: A Guide to Building Character”. It has a teen version and a child version, along with the option of a game. If you don’t have teens in your home right now, the lists and questionnaires would still be good exercises to go through as an adult. What we need to learn isn’t defined by age.

And finally, here’s a one-page checklist to download as a reminder to focus on your character – it’s the above 7 points as questions to ask yourself. Post it on your bathroom mirror for a bit, and see if it sparks something positive. No email needed, click HERE to download.

Have your children been introduced to character building resources in school? Perhaps you’re a teacher… do you have any recommendations? Please leave a comment!

“Men of character are the conscience of the society to which they belong.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


Today Is My Everything

Today Is My Everything

Today Is My Everything. (Notice the first letter in each word of that sentence creates an acronym.)  Use TIME wisely today to make an impact on all your tomorrows.

We can’t change the past. Though we can prepare for the future, today is the only resource we have. 24 hours, 1440 minutes.

One moment after another and the day passes.

Are you pursuing a goal? Think you don’t have enough time to make it work?

Chances are you have a few extra moments to create a small dent in that goal. Close the Facebook App, turn off the TV, and if you’re like me, put down the book and/or Kindle.

What one thing will you do today to move forward on that goal? 

I’m writing this post because my focus is to be positive and to encourage others. In the month of July, my goal is to write 31 positive articles. It’s a part of the #blogboost initiative, which is a way to keep myself accountable. Last month I decided I’d avoid eating sugar. (That went quite well, by-the-way! I’ve decided to carry on in this month!)

A few months ago I was exploring the idea of challenging myself and downloaded a Kindle Unlimited book called, “The 30 Day Challenge Book: 500 Ideas to Inspire Your Life” by Clare Hudson. Just like everyone else, there are things in my life that need to change. So I picked out a few challenges that I’ll do for a month to motivate myself. For me, doing a shorter-term challenge to change behavior, works!

What about you? Have you challenged yourself to something? Are you reaching for a long-term goal? How do you reach that goal?

Have you decided?

If your TIME today will bring you closer to your goal, then what one thing (or more than one) will you do today?

Leave a comment!

“TIME = Today Is My Everything”

~ Richie Norton quote

Here’s the book I referenced, and it’s free if you have Kindle Unlimited.

Kindle Unlimited is reading option with a fixed price per month and thousands of books to borrow. If you are curious, like to learn/read and own a device that supports the Kindle app,(or you own a Kindle), then this might be a good choice for you. It’s free for the first 30 days. Kindle Unlimited Membership Plans


Remind Yourself of these 10 to Overcome Analysis Paralysis

Remind Yourself of these 10 to Overcome Analysis Paralysis

Success happens one decision at a time.

Stop the cycle and overcome analysis paralysis. Choose and move forward.

Rob and I took six months – 182 days – to choose our first new couch. (“Chesterfield” if you’re in Canada.) We analyzed everything about each couch we saw. We went back to stores to look at the same couch many more than a few times, I’m embarrassed to say.

In the end, our choice was good. It wasn’t perfect, but it was good… enough.  The downside? We missed out on having a new couch for more months than was necessary. We bought our second new couch, a loveseat, in an afternoon.

Most times the decisions you need to make aren’t the last nail in your coffin. If you find yourself going ’round and ’round (and ’round again) … STOP! You’ve got analysis paralysis.

Perfect isn’t necessary. (Except in brain surgery, I guess. <grin>)

Go for good and move on.

Make the decision!

If you’re finding it hard to move out of the cycle of analysis paralysis, here are 10 thoughts to spark some movement.

Overcome Analysis Paralysis

10 things to remind yourself for an antidote to analysis paralysis:

  1. Everyone makes mistakes. It’s not the mistake that impedes long-term progress, rather, it’s not moving past a mistake that’s the real killer of dreams. If you make a mistake, you can pick yourself up and keep on going. Read this on getting back up again.Everyone makes mistakes 1 of 10 things to remind yourself to overcome analysis paralysis
  2. You know the outcome you want. If your decision sends you off-course, you’ll know. And you’ll be able to make a different decision to get yourself back on course.  You know the outcome you want -2 of 10 things to remind yourself to overcome analysis paralysis
  3. You can eliminate the bad options for a shorter list. Make a list. Cross off the options that probably won’t work – be brutal. With a shorter list, it’ll be easier to decide. Studies have shown that consumers make a decision much more quickly when given fewer options.
  4. Is what you believe… true? Are you trying to make a decision based on emotion or fact? Our emotions can lead us in circles. Include a trusted advisor in your process to help you identify the truth. (And to point out where your emotions are leading you astray.)
  5. You can add an accountability partner or process to make the decision easier. Read more here on 8 ways to hold yourself accountable.
  6. Opinions don’t need to impact your self-worth. You’ve read the Eleanor Roosevelt quote, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”, haven’t you? It’s true. I once responded to a criticism of a decision by saying, “Fortunately, my sense of self-worth isn’t dependent on your opinion.” (I’m not usually so candid – I shocked myself.) However, this statement improved our relationship so much that this person is now just a little bit friendly when we meet. Astonishing.
  7. Deadlines are your friend. Set a deadline to make your decision. Keep it. Deadlines are your friend - 7 of 10 things to remind yourself to overcome analysis paralysis
  8. Fear is your enemy. -> False Evidence Appearing Real -> Fear lies to you. See #4.
  9. You can pray about this. So often we forget to pray about these decisions… Release your concerns to the God who created everything, and knows everything. He cares about even the tiny stuff. (Perhaps because it’s all tiny to Him?)
  10. All big things are done in small steps. If the decision seems too big, then chunk it down. Choose the right size decision for this point in time. Go with it.All big things are done in small steps10 of 10 things to remind yourself to overcome analysis paralysis

I imagine this will not be the last decision you make in life. You’ll feel empowered when you finally decide.

Deciding feels good. You can DO this!

One step.

One step.

It only takes one step.

Just one.

One step in the right direction – today. It’s further than you were yesterday.

Got a goal on the horizon? What’s one task, idea, activity or step you can take in the right direction toward that goal? Now’s the time – be further along tomorrow by taking that one step today!

Herculean Task?

Got a huge goal? Chunk it down.

  • write one page
  • pull one weed
  • do one load
  • make one call
  • clear one surface
  • make one
  • toss out one
  • give away one
  • do for one what you’d like to do for everyone


It’s a small number that makes a big difference if done every day! 

What one step will you take… today?

Rise Again

Rise Again

Celebrate rising again as much as reaching the finish line.

Life holds many disappointments. Sometimes even failure. Few walk through their life without being touched by that sour twisting of loss, and being thrown down by circumstances… but then they get back up.

They rise again. And again.

“If you have made mistakes, even serious mistakes, you may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call “failure” is not the falling down, but the staying down.”

~ Mary Pickford, Canadian born actress 1892-1979

Getting back up needs to be noticed – it needs some celebration. 

Are you standing up again… yet again? Or it might not be you, but maybe someone you love is rising again.


Rise again and gather those you love around to celebrate with you! Rising again may be even more important than reaching a finish line…

There’s a song by a Canadian folk-singer, Stan Rogers, that Rob and I love – it’s about a ship and maritime fishermen …  however, the last stanza seems appropriate for this post.

And you to whom adversity has dealt the final blow
With smiling bastards lying to you everywhere you go
Turn to and put out all your strength of arm and heart and brain
And like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again.


Rise again! Rise again!
Though your heart it be broken and life about to end
No matter what you’ve lost, be it a home, a love, a friend
Like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again.

Rise again… rise again…


~ last stanzas of Stan Roger’s song “The Mary Ellen Carter”

Stan Rogers – Canadian folk-singer 1949 – 1983


Enjoy the YouTube video below (click HERE if you can’t see the player.)

This is a section from a film on Stan Rogers where a fellow recounts being shipwrecked in a wicked storm, and how the song made the difference between him giving up or hanging on until the Coast Guard arrived to rescue him.

Then you’ll see Stan Rogers sing the song, “The Mary Ellen Carter” in concert at minute 1:40.

Accountability Starts With You – 8 ways to hold yourself accountable

Accountability Starts With You – 8 ways to hold yourself accountable

Accountability starts with you when reaching for a goal.

There’s great value in being held accountable, even if it’s only an informal accountability. 

  • accountability keeps you engaged and on course
  • accountability validates and challenges your thinking
  • accountability makes it easier to measure your progress

Writing on a topic has held me accountable. If I’m writing about a topic, it feels disingenuous if I don’t follow through.

Many times I’ve written about something in marriage on EncourageYourSpouse, and realized I’d better “up my game” in that area! It’s humbling. The good part? Our 34-year marriage, by God’s grace, has benefited! Writing a post here on PositiveThanksLiving holds me accountable – it’s not a formal accountability, because you’ll never know if I follow through… but still, there’s a definite nagging feeling if I’m not practicing what I write about. Yes, accountability starts with me and, I suppose, ends with me.

What if writing isn’t your schtick? What else could you do to tap into the strength of accountability?

How could you hold yourself accountable?

  1. The most obvious way to be held accountable is to tell someone your goal and ask that person to check in with you on how you’re doing.
  2. Prayer is a powerful way to be held accountable. Ask someone to pray over your goal – and to pray with you for your goal.
  3. Or you could be proactive and learn something new about your goal every day or week – educate yourself to practice accountability.
  4. Create a specific statement describing what you’re reaching for and post it where you’ll see it often, and perhaps read it aloud every morning or evening.
  5. Make a date with yourself to pursue that goal. Block off time on the calendar that’s unavoidable. Add buffer time into your calendar to make sure you can achieve what you’re working toward.
  6. Give yourself milestone rewards. Rewards along the way can be a powerful way to celebrate being held accountable.
  7. Record your progress, even if it’s crossing off each day on a calendar or filling in a little square on a numbered sheet.
  8. Ask for advice or feedback regularly from those you trust. They don’t need to know what you’re reaching for, but their input could be what inspires you to keep going.

All of these ideas require you to start. Because…

Accountability starts with you.

What are you reaching for – how will you hold yourself accountable?

What would you add to the list – have I missed a way that’s worked for you? Please comment  – you’ll be helping all of us in the accountability area. <grin>

Accountability - 8 ways to hold yourself accountable because accountability starts with you

Click to Download this list to remind yourself!

Accountability starts with you.

Light Tomorrow with Today

Light Tomorrow with Today

What you’re doing today will have an impact on tomorrow… Be wise with your minutes and hours… 

Light tomorrow with today.

~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning quote

Elizabeth Barrett Browning was a prolific writer of poetry and prose, born in England in 1806 and died at 51 in Italy. For most of her life, she struggled with severe health issues, and yet she challenged slavery and child labor laws, learned Hebrew to read the Bible, and became one of the most popular writers of her time period. She disobeyed her father and was disinherited when she married her love, Robert Browning, who was also a writer. You’ve probably heard/read at least one of her poems, including, “How do I love Thee, Let Me Count the Ways

Be wise with your hours and mintues - Light tomorrow with today.

Light tomorrow with today.

No More Circles – Find Your Fixed Point

No More Circles – Find Your Fixed Point

I came across an interesting study where a researcher had people walk in unfamiliar territory and they went in circles when they couldn’t see the sun. The circling was even worse when they were blindfolded. The researchers were trying to collect empirical data to support the age-old idea that when humans get lost they walk in circles.

Here’s a piece of the beginning of the study so you know to what I’m referring:

Common belief has it that people who get lost in unfamiliar terrain often end up walking in circles. Although uncorroborated by empirical data, this belief has widely permeated popular culture. Here, we tested the ability of humans to walk on a straight course through unfamiliar terrain in two different environments: a large forest area and the Sahara desert. Walking trajectories of several hours were captured via global positioning system, showing that participants repeatedly walked in circles when they could not see the sun. Conversely, when the sun was visible, participants sometimes veered from a straight course but did not walk in circles.

We tested various explanations for this walking behavior by assessing the ability of people to maintain a fixed course while blindfolded. Under these conditions, participants walked in often surprisingly small circles (diameter < 20 m), though rarely in a systematic direction. These results rule out a general explanation in terms of biomechanical asymmetries or other general biase. Instead, they suggest that veering from a straight course is the result of accumulating noise in the sensorimotor system, which, without an external directional reference to recalibrate the subjective straight ahead, may cause people to walk in circles.

~ read the entire study HERE

Now, as fascinating as this research is, let’s take the idea into a more abstract thought… and go farther.

Or rather, further.  “Farther” is for physical distance and “further” for metaphorical, or figurative, distance.  (Sorry-not-sorry for the word-nerd-ism.)

What is your fixed point?

A goal might be a fixed point…

  • if your goal is to be a doctor, there’s a direct path to get there. It might take a long time, but you can discover which schools to attend, courses to take, and what practicum is needed.
  • if you want a thriving marriage, you focus on your spouse and learn each other’s nuances. You read, attend marriage workshops, and perhaps even look for a couple to mentor you.
  • and it works for small goals too – if you want a vegetable garden, you need to prepare the soil, plant seeds of the specific vegetables you want to eventually harvest, water the seeds and wait.

This isn’t hard.


Too often we drift. We wonder why we are feeling like we’re going in circles in life. There doesn’t seem like there’s any progress.

If this is the case, I’m going to suggest we don’t have a fixed point – a goal. Or a particular goal is too big – it needs to be broken into smaller goals.

Are you clear on your goal? Or goals…  

1- Have you written your goal down?

A written plan is important for any goal. Perhaps you’ve used the SMART method to determine your goal? (S = specific | M = measurable | A = achievable | R = relevant | T = time limited) —  Click HERE for a worksheet to do this exercise.

2 – Do you have accountability partners for your goal?

Many people can handle reaching a goal on their own. However, having accountability partners makes the goal much easier to achieve. And then you have someone or many to celebrate with when you achieve it! Perhaps “accountability” is an uncomfortable word. What about a “mastermind group”?

3 – Are you reading and learning about your goal?

Most individuals can’t know everything about a topic. We all need input from other sources to solve a problem along the way or make better choices when we’re reaching for a goal.

4 – Mentors help you visualize the goal.

Do you have mentors who have already been where you want to go? Even if they don’t know you, it’s possible to have people you can learn from just by understanding their decisions and the path they’ve followed.

5 – Do you have milestones to mark your way to the goal?

Have you broken your goal down into various milestones? Sometimes a goal is huge, and you need smaller successes along the way to remain motivated.

If you’re going in circles…

Try one of these actions to find your fixed point. 

What goals are you trying to reach? Make sure your path is straight…

You cannot walk a straight line without a fixed point to follow. What is your fixed point

You cannot walk a straight line without a fixed point to follow. What is your fixed point


You’re not stuck – you’re in a cocoon!

You’re not stuck – you’re in a cocoon!

Ever feel stuck waiting? At a dead end or caged in? Don’t know how you’re going to get out of where you are?

Just consider:  maybe it isn’t a cage – maybe it’s a cocoon. 

Amazing stuff happens inside a cocoon – nobody can see what’s happening, but when that waiting time is finished, what happens next is miraculous.

Be patient in your cocoon – let the transformation go forward!

When you're feeling stuck waiting consider that perhaps it isn't a cage - it might be a cocoon

When you're feeling stuck waiting consider that perhaps it isn't a cage - it might be a cocoon


Your Gift May Be Hidden By Your Fear

Your Gift May Be Hidden By Your Fear

Does fear stop you from using your gifts?

“Our greatest gifts are often hidden in our deepest fears.”

I read a post by Annie at Gracefully Living titled “Fear is a Liar” – that’s where I got the above quote. She didn’t know where she’d heard it, and after a bit of research, I couldn’t find an attribution. Check out her post – it’s insightful!

So —  I’ll echo Annie’s point in her post:  FEAR IS A LIAR!

Take a moment today – during your drive home, or while preparing dinner, or brushing your teeth  – to reflect on what fear is telling you about activities, items, issues, relationships, opportunities etc…

Could your fear be incorrect? Is it possible that fear is lying to you?

If you don’t think your fear is a liar… is there any actual evidence that the fear is correct?

FEAR = False Evidence Appearing Real

What gift could be hiding within your fear?

I think you know what I’m referring to – someone has seen this in you, but you’ve discounted it.

Don’t worry. I’m not asking you to actually do anything with this gift. Not today.

But today, it’s OK to think about that gift. Quietly.

Let your gift, the one that’s hiding behind a fear, show its face.

Say “hello” to your Gift. Acknowledge it. Smile at it.

That’s all.

(Unless you want to take a step further and call your fear a liar?)

Our greatest gifts are often hidden in our deepest fears.

Our greatest gifts are often hidden in our deepest fears - What gift could you acknowledge that your fear is lying to you about?