GET A GOAL

“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” ~ Jimmy Dean

For most of us, January 1 is like a clean slate, an opportunity to start over, and permission to try again. Oprah Winfrey says it best, “Cheers to a new year and another chance to get it right.” But as I wrote in last year’s blog, where we shoot ourselves in the foot is by making resolutions instead of goals.

 Why?

Resolutions are determined thoughts that weaken over the months. They lose their freshness. Then life takes over and chokes our good intentions for the remainder of the year and our gasping resolutions hold on to enough life to make us feel guilty because we have failed—again.

Goals are the groundwork to a plan. They give structure and support. How fast or slow the plan works doesn’t change the goal. We just keep moving toward it, even if it isn’t accomplished in a year.

 What makes a strong goal? Here are a few of my thoughts:

  • Goals should be purposeful. Think them through, design a step-by-step plan and follow that plan. If we should stumble along the way, that doesn’t change the goal. We get up, dust ourselves off and keep moving forward.
  • Goals should be realistic. In 2010 when I set my goal to lose weight, I wanted to lose 50 pounds in three months, but that wasn’t going to happen and I knew it. Actually, it took me a year to lose 30. The most important thing I had to change was my mind and realize this goal could not be a temporary practice until I lost my excess weight. It was something I had to do for the rest of my earthly life! This year I have set my goal to exercise in order to strengthen my body and make me more flexible. I’m also going to exercise my mind.
  • Goals should be multidimensional. We need to have “vision” for what these goals will accomplish. When I set my goal to lose weight, I not only wanted to look better, I also wanted to feel better. I wanted to have more stamina and be able to keep up with my blossoming career as a writer and speaker. As I just mentioned, 2012 will be a year to exercise my body through aerobics and weight training, exercise my mind by reading and working some sort of word or number puzzle, and exercise my spirit by meditation. We are all three-part beings. Why not take care of our whole self?
  • Goals should dream big! I know I said to be realistic, and when it comes to something that leans heavily on our personal responsibility, we should be reasonable with ourselves. But, I also believe we should “dream” big and see where life takes us. Imagine, ask “What if?” take risks. Have a big goal in your heart’s pocket. You never know where it will lead you! As C.S. Lewis says, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” And remember, you do not have a 12-month time limit. Goals are set in place and will remain until you reach them.

 I’m sure there are more things that could be added to this list and I’d like to hear from your thoughts.

 I like to write down my goals. There is just something about writing them down that really makes a difference. I usually begin my year with writing a “workable” list of 5 things I’d like to accomplish and one “dream big” goal. This year I want to:

  • Be flexible enough to do the splits. (I was a gymnast in my younger days)
  • Finish the rewrite of my novel (This was last year’s goal. However, once I started it has turned out to be an entirely different story. So, you see, it is taking longer but that is okay. I’m moving forward.
  • Write a devotional book
  • Increase my speaking and workshop engagements on the East and West coasts.
  • Go to Europe

And my BIG DREAM, to have my novel made into a movie.

 What about you? Do you have any goals to start in 2012? Notice I say start. They may not be finished in 2013. That is the beauty of goals. They are there until we cross the finish line, whatever the year. How we run the race—fast and determined, slow and steady, or undisciplined and sporadic— is up to us.

 May you have a successful and fruitful 2012!

Advertisements

THE BEST CHRISTMAS EVER!

Business? Mankind is my business! ~ A Christmas Carol

In my 56 Christmases I’ve seen society change from a hardworking mentality to an entitlement mentality, to greed, to not accepting personal responsibility, and now we face a bankrupt nation. 

 But all is not lost. As I watch our dollar grow more worthless each passing day, I am actually finding myself again. Instead of getting lost in the orgy of spending for the perfect Santa Claus morning, I’m spending time with those I love. Instead of debt bending my back with worry, I stand straight and look to the future debt free. And since my gaze is on the horizon I see others and recognize their need. 

 Am I describing you? Have you undergone this change of mind? If not, I encourage everyone to use this holiday season as a springboard into the future. Change your mindset. Don’t regret the past, think forward and ask yourself, “How can I make someone’s life better?” Helping others doesn’t always require money. Time invested in their lives is just as needed. 

 Lift up your eyes and be sensitive to those around you. Don’t grumble about the rich or the poor. Do something. Don’t feel that anyone owes you anything. Do something. Make the same choice as our forefathers. Have the attitude and the willingness to do what it takes. 

 If you have two cents to your name, give one to someone else. If your house is only 300 square feet, invite someone over for coffee and encourage him or her. Start giving to the poor and continue giving throughout the year. Help those who have dedicated their lives to the poor. Teach your children to give. Make that the most exciting part of Christmas for them. 

 Christmas is the anniversary to renew my resolve to celebrate Christ’s command in Matthew 22:36-40 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”

 

 

Heart to Heart and Hand in Hand

“God places the lonely in families . . .” Psalm 68:6a

Last December Neal and I went to New York City. We spent a week enjoying the city in her Christmas finery.  If you want to see the world in one place, visit NYC. As I walked down the street I heard people conversing in French, German, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, several Indian dialects, Hungarian, and many other languages I do not recognize. And instead of the usual preoccupied rush down crowded sidewalks, people walked along the streets wearing their holiday faces—making eye contact and smiling— while carrying bright packages.

All seemed well.

However, as some of you know, this can also be the loneliest time of the year, especially for those of us who have lost someone we love through death or divorce. Maybe strained family matters separate us and this season magnifies that loss. If you know someone who is alone this Christmas and there is room at your table, why not invite that person to join your family? He or she may decline, but the invitation sends the message that this person is important and not forgotten. If you are the lonely one, maybe you can contact another person who is alone this season you and go out together.

I thought of another emotion of the season when I read a quote by Carol Nelson, “Christmas is a time when you get homesick – even when you’re home.”

I get that.

Looking back when my children were small I remember all our fun traditions. We baked sugar cookies and ate most of them before they cooled enough to decorate. I’d make fudge and the kids crowded around me with spoons to “clean the pan.”  We always had a tree decorating party. While we hung ornaments — the majority of them winding up on the bottom half of the tree — we ate chips and dip, candy, cakes, egg rolls, sausage balls and drank eggnog. When the children went to bed, Neal and I enjoyed a glass of wine together and moved some of the ornaments to the top of the tree!  And then there was the many evenings spent drinking hot chocolate and watching holiday movies.

How I miss those bygone days. I could really get lonely for my little babies and our sweet times together. However, life goes on and I must move with it. I must realize the importance of making new memories with my children, children-in-love, and grandbabies.

I’m not the only one who could let nostalgia run my present. My kids miss their childhood, but they realize the importance of creating holiday magic for their own children and family.

Nonetheless, there are those who cannot reconcile the joys of their past with their present. They are sad because things had to change and their regrets to rob them of opportunities to make new memories, my grandmother being one of them. How I wanted her to realize the capacity in her heart to expand with love, and not let it shrink with regret.

This is my Christmas wish for you, that you’d make this Christmas special for yourself and for others. Open your home and your heart. Let the 2011 holiday spirit of hospitality, warmth, laughter, and kindness offer hope. Dwell on the positive aspects of life and let this begin healing in your soul as well as in the souls of others.

I think Dr. Suess says it best, “Christmas will always be as long as we stand heart to heart and hand in hand”

May this Christmas be a new beginning of hope in your life.