Thursday, February 23, 2012

Get Ready to Change Your Life

I know most of my blog posts are probably not "life changing." Interesting? Maybe. Informative? Perhaps. Funny? Of course! But, life changing? Probably not.

This post, however, is different. Not because of something brilliant I'm going to write (sorry to disappoint you), but because of something I'm going to share.
I'm reading a book called Success Is Not an Accident by Tommy Newberry. I wanted to wait until I was actually finished reading it to write about it, but I just can't wait! I have been telling everyone I know about this book since the day I started reading it. It really isn't a long book, but I only get to read when I can squeeze it in, so it's taking me a little while to finish it. Plus, it is so full of information that I like to take my time and really absorb what I'm reading.
Success Is Not an Accident: Change Your Choices; Change Your Life

Obviously, the book is about success and being successful with your life. The thing I love about this book is that it lets you define what success means for you. There are actually short assignments at the end of each chapter, and one of your first assignments is to write your definition of success. Because, how can you be successful if you don't know what that looks like?

Once you have defined success, the author gives you very concrete, detailed instructions for writing out your goals, so you can ultimately achieve them. He has you look forward to where you want to be in 30 years. You imagine what your life looks like, what you're doing, what your family looks like, what your free time looks like. Your only limit is your imagination! Then, you work backward from there.

You write down specific goals you want to accomplish in 30 years. Then you figure out what you need to have done in 15 years, so those goals can be accomplished. Then you look at what needs to be done in the next 10 years, 5 years, 1 year, 6 months, 1 month, 1 week, all the way to what needs to be done today. He starts at 30 years out, but you could really start at any point in the future and work backward from there. This may seem really simple to all of you, but to me, this was an "A-HA" moment.

You look to where you want to be, and then you figure out what you need to do to get there. And then...get do it! It sounds so simple when you think about it that way, and you can apply this to absolutely any goal you have.

For example, if you want to lose weight: How much do you want to weigh in 1 year? What do you need to do to get there? What do you need to have done in 6 months? 1 month? 1 week? What steps can you take every day to reach your goal?

It is so practical and helps you focus on what you CAN do. One of my favorite quotes from the book says, "Focus on reaching your goals rather than the obstacles that stand in your way. " So often, we focus on what we can't do, what we can't control. We look at everything that's going to stop us. This hinders us from doing what we CAN. This moves our focus away from the daily things we can do to get us where we want to be. Another great quote from the book says, "The moment you want a goal more than you want an excuse, you can succeed."

What's your excuse? It's easy to come up with them. I can come up with all kinds of excuses not to pursue my dreams. I'm too young. I don't have enough money. I don't have enough education or the right education. I have a one-year-old. I'm too busy. I'll do it someday. I don't have the right personality for that. I don't have the proper training to do that. I might fail. People might think I'm crazy.

Get my point? I could go on and on and on, creating one excuse after another about why I can't do something. But what if I stop thinking about what could go wrong and start thinking about what could go RIGHT? What if I don't focus on the obstacles, but instead, focus on the destination and what I can do to get there?Anything worth having is worth working for, and those obstacles that come up only make us stronger.

I love that the author is a Christian and repeatedly asks you to think about what God has created you to do. God created YOU to do something unique and special with your life. There is absolutely no one else like you on the face of this earth. You are truly an original, and God has a specific plan for your life.

What does it look like? What does God want you to do? What does He want to use you to accomplish? The book asks, "How do you believe God wants the world to be different because of your particular life?" You see, God has big plans for all of us. He wants to use us to change the world, but if we don't embace those plans, if we don't pursue Him and what He wants for our lives, He will still accomplish His plans...He'll just use someone else to do it. Don't you want Him to use YOU? Don't you want to be part of something big?

I know I do. I want to use every ounce of potential God has given me. When I get to Heaven, I want Him to say, I had to bring you home because you had absolutely nothing left in you. This book truly has inspired me to do whatever it takes to be the person God created me to be. If you're looking for encouragement and direction on how to reach your full potential, I would highly recommend that you read it, too. In the next several posts, I'm going to be sharing some of the dreams and goals God has given me and how I plan to pursue them.

Just remember...He created YOU to do great things.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! I must admit...I'm not the biggest fan of Valentine's Day. Maybe a little bit of my husband's cynicism has actually rubbed off on me over the years. According to him, Valentine's Day is a meaningless holiday created by people who sell chocolate, flowers, and greeting cards. In a way, I sort of have to agree.

I always received a Valentine's Day gift from my parents (and still do)! Thanks, Mom and Dad, :). I always celebrated with friends and boyfriends throughout the years. We got Will a gift this year...a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse DVD, which he loves! So, I'm not a total Scrooge, but when you really stop to think about it what is the point of Valentine's Day?

Theron and I really don't get gifts for each other. We discussed this while we were dating and agreed that we'd rather do nice things to show our love and appreciation for each other throughout the year, rather than buying each other gifts one day a year just because it's Valentine's Day. Don't get me wrong...if you love Valentine's Day, I'm not judging you. This is just something we decided before we even got married.

Here are my thoughts. I would rather my husband buy me flowers just because he feels like it or because he knows I would like them. Like a couple weeks ago, for example. I had a really rough day. Will was in a terrible mood and had thrown multiple temper tantrums that morning. By lunch time, I'd had enough. Theron came home to eat with us, and I lost it. I told him I quit. I said, "I am NOT cut out to be a stay at home mom!" I don't have the patience. I want to go back to work where people are nice to me. (I tend to get a little irrational from time to time). After patiently listening to my tirade, he gave me a hug and said, "I'm so sorry you're having a bad day. I hope it gets better." He went back to work, Will took a nap, and our day did get better. Theron was supposed to run that evening after work. Those of you who know him, know his running means a lot to him, and he's worked really hard lately to get back into shape. That evening, instead of running, he came home...with favorite flower. He also brought me a box of Thin very favorite Girl Scout cookie ever. He took Will to his room and played with him, so I could make dinner in peace and quiet. I love my husband every single day, but I appreciated him so much that night. He knew exactly what would make me feel better and sacrificed what he wanted to do in order to make me happy.

Folks, this is what true love looks like in my opinion. I am not perfect. My husband's not perfect. We get mad at each other, we argue, we don't love each other the way we should each and every day. But we do our best to put each other's needs ahead of our own, to forgive quickly and wholeheartedly, to show appreciation for one another, to do nice things for each other, to make each other laugh, to give each other space when it is needed, to support and encourage one another in our daily lives, to push each other to be better every day, to help each other pursue our goals and dreams. Simply put, we strive to love the way God first loved us. Obviously, we fail, but we pursue that kind of love anyway.

Marriage and relationships in general can be hard. They can take a lot of work. For us, we believe that the key to successful relationships is putting God first. When we are both seeking Him, we are growing closer to one another. When we even attempt to love each other the way God loves us, it is better than anything we could ever do on our own.

So, enjoy your Valentine's Day. I won't judge you. But I am constantly grateful for my Valentine who chooses to show me his love and affection throughout the year, not just on February 14th.