Is Your’s a Wonderful Life?

This Christmas we started a new tradition–watching the movie It’s a Wonderful Life. A classic.

I cried throughout. Despite the positive title, it revolves around situations, people, and events that keep George Bailey from the life he’s always dreamed of. And to top it off, a seemingly impossible crisis finds George a very desperate man.

Many people have been there, or will be some day. What makes life worth living? And how can we follow our dreams?

Here are two key factors:  God and being intentional.

I believe God makes life worth living because he gives me unconditional love, forgiveness, true freedom, purpose, and a hope for the future. And in turn, I can share those with others. Do we really have those things without God?

We can’t always plan how our lives are going to go. Look at George Bailey:  Nothing seemed to be turning out the way he wished, but he was a happy man in the end. At the same time, the dreams we have for our lives won’t happen unless we are intentional with how we live. For example, say you want to be a famous painter, but you spend every spare minute watching TV. A few years later, those hours watching TV haven’t brought you a single step closer to being that famous painter. (You might be able to tell I’ve been reading Quitter, by Jon Acuff)

So. New Year’s Day, I will be working my way through Michael Hyatt‘s Creating Your Personal Life Plan. That is my first step toward being intentional with my life.

What’s your plan for New Year’s Day….or your life?

Purposeful, Intentional, Productive

Okay, wow.

I did it! I reached over 50,000 words in the month of November. For those of you wondering what I’m talking about, it’s NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo Winner 2012-180x180

The month was a crazy one:  Moving everything we own one weekend, working on a church project every night another week, and of course, the Thanksgiving holiday with family. On top of having a full-time job. I spent the last week getting up at 5:00 a.m. to catch up on my word count. And strangely enough, it turned me into a morning person. Which I now love!

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to write about this last Thursday–I was sick for an entire week. Which brings me closer to the point of this post…

After training for and running a marathon (see Here We Go Again… and Good vs. Crappy Runs and My First Marathon:  The Wonderful in the Horrible), after trudging through NaNoWriMo (see NaNoWriMo!!!!!!!!!!!!), and after a week of being sick, I decided to take an evening “off” from everything by watching TV and surfing the net. Of course, I did a few productive things like eat supper, play with the dog, and put laundry away/organize my closet (it’s still a little crazy after moving). I expected to feel relaxed.

Nope.

I felt like the evening was a complete waste. And I was frustrated because I had no idea why. Well….. Having spent every spare minute in the last six months working productively and intentionally toward huge goals, I have reprogrammed myself. Just like a person can “become” a morning person (see Michael Hyatt‘s post, How to Become a Morning Person), a person can become other things. I am becoming purposeful, intentional, and productive.

So now I’m struggling with conflicting feelings about the “new me”. I’m excited because being purposeful, intentional, and productive will propel me toward my future goals, life dreams, and crossing things off my bucket list. But I’m also a little saddened because I wonder if I will never feel relaxed again. But my husband reminded me, relaxation could just be redefined.

All in all, even if I have lost the ability to feel relaxed doing “nothing”, I am beyond excited at the future accomplishments and realization of dreams before me!

Goal Setting, Self-Discipline & Dreams

I mentioned in an earlier post that I rediscovered my joy of writing fiction. I am more than ready to jump right in!

There are two things I have heard over and over, when it comes to seriously attempting something:  Make your goals very specific, and write them down. So here I go…

I am attempting to finish and publish a novel. And there are four things I have implemented, or plan to:

  • I contacted my former writing accountability partner. We plan to hold each other accountable for our use of time, and any specific goals. I am so excited! Getting feedback from another writer can be a ton of fun.
  • I purchased Michael Hyatt‘s Get Published. This is information I have always wanted to get my hands on! I have mentioned before that we are doing Dave Ramsey‘s baby steps, so this material was purchased with money made from selling our mower.
  • Once I am done training for my marathon, I will use that time to write. Marathon training has definitely upped my self-discipline ability!
  • I plan to participate in NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month promotes quantity–50,000 words to be exact–over quality. But it will enable me to get the gist of my story out. I can go back to tweak and research later.

This is going to take a lot of self-discipline! But I figure, when’s a better time to start? Just this evening I told someone there are too many people who never pursue what they’re really passionate about…not enough time, not enough money, too many other things to do, or they spend too much time in front of the TV. If I have the chance to accomplish my dream, I’m going to go for it!

Of course, I haven’t given myself a specific deadline to have the first draft done… Maybe it should be January 1, 2013, considering I will be participating in NaNoWriMo. What do you think?

How have you used self-discipline to pursue your dreams, or to reach a goal?

Learning (from a cat and dog) that baby steps can be effective

The other week we brought home a new addition to our family!

A little girl, with big brown eyes, we named Chloe…

Our three-legged cat, Lester, wasn’t too thrilled when he came in the house to find a 1 ½ year old brindle boxer pup staring at him. And after the first encounter with Lester’s claws, Chloe wasn’t too thrilled to spend time with the cat. Thus began the process.

Lester & Chloe

In the beginning, it typically went like this:  Chloe got too close to the cat. Lester did the stegosaurus—the hair down his back would stand on end. Lester did the snowman—all his hair would stand on end, making him poofy. Lester would hiss with his back arched—like a Halloween cat. Chloe would back up. Lester would swipe, claws extended, but made contact only twice. And all that would happen in just a few seconds.

Second stage:  Chloe would get too close to the cat. Lester did the stegosaurus with his back arched, and his right paw lifted as a threat. But no swipe. Or….Lester would voluntarily get close to the dog. Chloe would become stiff as a statue and advert her eyes. If the way seemed safe, she would slink off.

Third stage:  The dog and cat are finally willing to lay in the same room and even come within a couple feet of each other. There have been a couple nose sniffs, but interaction consists mostly of ignoring each other. Though, when Chloe’s taken outside to play, Lester has to make sure he can watch her.

And now we’re in the fourth stage:  Chloe attempts to play with the cat, by pushing a toy toward him. Lester looks at her really weird and when Chloe looks away, sneaks off. Lester attempts to play with the dog, by running alongside Chloe, but startles her. Which in turn startles him and he runs off. At the very least they are perfectly content being pet at the same time by the same person.

It won’t be long before they are playing and napping together.

Should we have taken Chloe back, instead of keeping her, when we hit the first cat vs. dog stage? If we had, we would not have the wonderful, adorable, well-behaved, loving boxer-girl we have always wanted. Lester would never have learned how to get along with a dog.

Should you quit your dream as soon as conflict arises? If you do, you will never know all the wonderful things that could result from pursing your dream. You won’t grow as a person, into who you were created to be.

Don’t forget, there are stages. It doesn’t happen overnight.

A post that explains this concept wonderfully is The Power of Incremental Change Over Time, by Michael Hyatt.

What stages, or steps, have you gone through to reach a goal?