Begin with the End in Mind

How often do we neglect developing new habits because we think a positive outcome will take too much effort? Or maybe we start to improve our lifestyle only to give up prematurely because we don’t get what we want fast enough. It’s easy to allow today’s challenges to become tomorrow’s excuses.

Have you wondered how you became  a member of the Start-Big-Finish-Small-if-at-All-Club? Perhaps, you’ve set targets that are difficult to reach. Often, the pain of disappointment may leave you feeling burned out with little desire to follow through. Remember, you do have options. The breakthrough you’ve needed could be to practice thinking small to help you transform your life.

Often, we may be full of ideas and eager to establish a new plan. We may soon realize it’s easy to bite off more than we can chew. We want rapid success and no hitches. The size of the task and the time it takes to get there may make it tempting to throw in the towel. By focusing on the here and now, it is easier to find a steady pace.  Besides, slow and steady worked for the tortoise!

Whatever you hope to gain in your endeavors, you need to decide precisely what it is you want, and be specific as you define what exactly it is you hope to achieve. Reflect in why you desire this outcome. Goals are often more “real” if they are written. Decide what is a reasonable length of time to realize your desire and be realistic. Make it measurable so you will have a target at which to aim. Once you have a clearly defined idea of the what, why and how long to reach your goal, you can break down the entire process.

Here are a few tips for breaking it down into bite-size pieces:

1. Brainstorm all of your options and determine what can be divided into smaller, detailed steps. Each task is a stepping stone towards achieving your end result.

2. Simplify the action plan. Think of the steps as actions. When you understand what actions are needed to achieve your desired result, you can pull these together into a plan.

3. Establish daily and weekly tasks. When you create your action plan, work out a series of targets that you believe are possible to reach on the way to your goal. Keep it simple with many small victories to keep the momentum.

4. Keep on track. The small-scale approach is flexible and allows for instant changes.  Continue tweaking and completing the simple tasks so the end result will be well within your grasp.

5. Focus on your daily actions plans and not so much on the end date. Like the tortoise, concentrate on one small step and repeat consistently.

6. Master the art of delaying gratification. Though you may be tempted, avoid trying to rush things and bite off more than you can chew. Refer to the reasons why you want the desired goal. Concentrate on where you are in the journey, and not on what’s next. Reflect on how far you’ve come and what a waste it would be to throw in the towel.

In order for us to grow, we will need to allow ourselves to be stretched at times. In most endeavors, if we don’t grow, our plans and goals won’t either. Long-lasting lifestyle change requires an investment of your time and effort, as well as some patience. The road to achieving great things is much less intimidating when you break down the end result into smaller steps.

And absolutely nothing can compare to how you will feel when you finally make it to the place you wanted to be.

If this encourages you, share it with a Friend!

Sheri 

What is the Value of Living Simply?

I don’t know exactly when I fully realized that what I really enjoy is a small, slow, simple life!

It’s here where I recognize that truly special days can be a rainy afternoon and a good book, or a lingering lunch with a friend or loved one where we reminisce about the goodness of God or share the ups and downs of life.

Enjoying simple things allows me to manage my stress and reserve my energy for the unplanned and unexpected times and be prepared to respond in a manner that will not bring regret.

If I allow it, life can be a noisy place with loud voices pushing or driving for me to hustle, to improve, build, strive, yearn, acquire, compete, and grasp for more. All the striving can leave me drained of joy and wondering if I am simply not enough.

When I stop spinning, I can listen for God’s still, small voice whispering for me to know that He is in control.

What if I never really achieve accolades beyond the people who are my primary circle of impact? What if life as I have chosen it is good, even amazing, in light of the fact that my heart is fully engaged?

Since leaving the frantic pace of life and learning to not keep up, I have found that I truly enjoy solitude and calm, an abundance of rest, and swaths of unscheduled time in order to be healthy.

I have found great delight in sharing my deeply rooted faith, doubts and insecurities, in quiet ways and through genuine relationship with some very special women in my life who have invested in me.

We haven’t had a fairy tale romance and I follow hard after God to be the wife that will always be for Jeff’s best. This keeps me humble and I need it!

I am a mom who delights in her girls and in knowing they are free to choose their appointments with life. I consider it a special privilege to affirm and support them in their passions!

I seek the Lord often to learn to embrace my limitations and stop railing against them. I am at peace with who I am and what I need and believe it to be an amazing gift of God to walk in this knowledge.

I enjoy a simplified life. A beautiful, quiet, gentle life. And for me, it is enough!

Sheri

Encourage Enlightenment 

Each of us has a powerful message in our hearts. God ignites a candle in all of us. Once we come to the understanding of ‘why’ we are here, our pursuit becomes to find the ‘what’ that we are to be doing.

We often have big dreams of doing great things! We imagine the view from the top and it is the finished project and in our ‘vision’ it is fabulous. Then we roll up our sleeves to begin the grunge work. Not as delightful as our envisioned view from the top!

How do we gain and retain the motivation to stay the course? To build the house, write the book, start the business, make the long term commitment?

I believe we do this by encouraging the process of enlightenment in our lives. We begin the process of establishing the small, often simple, daily habits that lead to success in our endeavors. This will be a different recipe for each of us based on our unique desires and personality. It’s the variety of life that opens us up to be enlightened.

These habits are established by drawing a firm line in the sand and determining our willingness to do whatever it takes to experience the growth we each need on a personal level. This is the grunge work! 

To be successful in implementing our daily plans (the series of simple daily habits), we must first breakthrough our resistance to the things that will be diabolically opposed to our success. These will be different for everyone because each one of us is a unique individual.

These little “oppositions” may come in the form of negative attitudes, self-berating words, limiting beliefs, fear and doubt, laziness, believing the things about ourselves that come from an internal or external critical evaluator, and a possible myriad of other factors.

Finding the support and encouragement we need requires pro-activity. This involves putting one foot in front of the other and diffusing every thought, word or behavior that begs to do otherwise.

Another much needed addition to our lives to be our best (read: ‘our best’ NOT ‘the best’ – usually a fear or characteristic that impedes growth and success), is accountability. Allowing ourselves to build strong and trustworthy relationships helps us set in motion the relational capital with significant relationships, whereby, we give permission to someone to raise the questions that help us to stay on track.

This whole picture equates to living the authentic life God has designed for each of us. Authenticity requires vulnerability and transparency. No more hiding and deceiving ourselves about the what, when, way and how our best life can happen!

As we live in authentic relationship with others, and they see our willingness to truly be ‘who’ we are, we give them permission to be who they are as well.

This is what I like to call ‘Encouraging Enlightenment’. 

If we give and receive acceptance and freedom to be the person we truly are (requires relinquishing what isn’t working), we give others the gift of strength to step into a growth plan that affords them the same opportunity.

Acceptance and freedom from pretense and judgment are key players in learning to live our best life. We create that for ourselves but not by ourselves, by choosing to lay down our resistance and step into the growth process.

And why, you ask. Because our relationships, work, business, and our world, will only grow as much as we do! 

What is it that may be hindering you from your best life? Find your encouragement and be open to enlightenment. 

You will never be the same! And you can thank yourself later 😊

Sheri 

It’s the Little Things…

While it may be tempting to believe that people only pay the most attention to the “big” things we say or do, in reality, it is the little things that shape our character and help others determine who we are. The kind of image we present to the world is often determined by our actions, comments, attitude, behavior and even appearance. These little things are often observed within the first few seconds of meeting someone, as well as when the unplanned event happens in our lives.

18 simple little things you can measure that can have a huge impact. 

1. Dress the part.  The appearance of our clothes, hair, shoes, etc., can make a difference in the way we are perceived . Consider those you will be meeting with on any given day, and make an effort to demonstrate that you value the time you have with them.

2. Be on time.  Being late gives others the opportunity to judge you without you even being there. If you say you’re going to be somewhere at a certain time, then be there at that time or communicate in a timely manner. (This is an area that I need improvement).

3. Keep your word. Down the road, if you don’t follow through, the comfort that person felt turns into discouragement, frustration and even anger. If you can’t keep a promise, don’t make it. If you do make a promise, do everything you can to keep it.

4. Respect others.  This includes all people regardless of the level of relationship that you have with them, as especially requires a concerted effort for those who have differing opinions or actions. If you look for attributes you respect in people, you will find them.

5. Say, “Please,” and, “Thank you”.  Small words. Lots of mileage. Expressing your gratitude to people for each act of kindness you receive, however big or small, shows that you see the good in people.

6. Smile often. Smiles are contagious and often will remind others that there are things to be grateful for and that life is good.

7. Be faithful to your partner. By being honest and true with your partner, you are showing that you know where your priorities are. You understand what it means to be in a healthy relationship. This holds true for relationships and business.

8. Speak clearly and make eye contact. Affirm the person you’re talking try letting them know you value the conversation and are engaged in the discussion.

9. Use humor. Used appropriately, humor can lighten the mood and bring people down from a tense state.

10. Greet people with a handshake or hug. Use the appropriate greeting to employ a warm and welcoming environment.

11. Be authentically You. Know what you want out of life and do everything you can to achieve it. Enthusiastically encourage that for others.

12. Listen to others.  Actively listen to what others are saying and resist the urge to craft your response while they are still talking.

13. Perform acts of kindness.  Open doors for others, get a neighbor’s mail while they are away, bring dinner to someone who is sick or just had a baby.

14. Be organized.  Schedule your day and know where you keep items at home, work, and in your car, etc. Life is less complicated when you aren’t constantly missing appointments or searching for needed items.

15. Compliment people.  Genuinely look for the good in others and make the time to let them know you noticed.

16. Be positive and focus on the good. Look for a solution instead of focusing on the problem.

17. Move past hurts.  Choose to let go of things people may say or do whether purposefully or accidentally. Confront in kindness when necessary. It is much more freeing than reacting in anger or becoming resentful.

18. Own up to your mistakes.  When you make a mistake, admit it, own up to it, do what you can to fix it and move on.

Sheri