5 a.m. What?

5 a.m. Some people view that time….literally, because that’s when they wake up or are already awake. Most people I know….see 5 a.m. and cringe!

No one wants to wake at 5 a.m!

No one wants to wake at 5 a.m!

I used to think I was not a morning person. But knew I was definitely not a night owl. I liked to say I was an afternoon person….whatever that means.

Anyway, the past several days my husband and I have been attempting to create the habit of waking up at 5 a.m. I mentioned in a previous post (Purposeful, Intentional, Productive) that I had spent the last week of NaNoWriMo getting up that early. It’s easier to rise when you have a very specific goal in the morning. Also, December being a hectic, holiday-filled month, getting up that early was sporadic at best. We have progressed to rising earlier than 5:30, so still in the middle of transitioning into the habit of a 5 a.m. rise and shine. But we’re getting there!

Why?? Why are we attempting something so crazy, when we don’t have to? ….you may ask.

Because all the people we want to be like… The leaders. The achievers. The people who make a big impact on the world around them…. All those people we look up to, and want to be like, were self-disciplined enough to be early risers. At 5 a.m. you don’t have the interruptions that you have the rest of the day. That first hour in the day, you can do whatever you like. Every day. Consistently. Which in turn, enables you to achieve your dreams!

What habits help you to achieve your dreams? Are your dreams important enough to you, to alter your lifestyle?

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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!

Meaningless

I’ve mentioned in multiple posts how much I love to continually learn!

But the more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know. The more I realize I don’t know, the more things I want to learn. The more things I want to learn, the more I realize it will be impossible for me to learn everything I want to before I die.

Eternal

Morbid? Disappointing? Silly?

It reminds me of Solomon, the wisest person to ever live or ever will live. He is know for describing different things as “a chasing after the wind”. See Ecclesiastes 2 for an example.

The reason it reminds me of Soloman is, when I start realizing I’ll barely scratch the surface on some of the things I’m passionate about, I wonder what the point is in continuing down that road? Why do I want to go down that road in the first place? Because it makes me happy? If our lives are but a mist, it almost seems a waste of time. So…what isn’t a waste of time?

What is the whole purpose of life?

What’s the point in what we do if it doesn’t affect things on an eternal level?

So, what is affected on an eternal level? The greatest calling:  to bring others to Christ, so they too might have eternal life through a relationship with God.

That doesn’t mean we have to go to the opposite side of the world and preach the gospel to people of a different language. (There are wonderful people who do that, and you may do that…) But there are an infinite number of ways to reach others on an eternal level.

Maybe that’s why people have so many different passions…so we can try out all those different infinite ways of reaching others.

How do you use your passion(s) to reach others?

To Excel, Or Not To Excel…

Today and tomorrow I’m taking part in a two day Excel class. This may be the nerdiest confession I’ve ever made, but….. I’m loving it!

I used to believe I would grow up, be employed at some mundane job to make ends meet, and when kids came, stay at home. All the while, doing everything mediocre because I saw myself as a person with no talent, smarts, or usable interests.

Sure, I had dreams growing up. But they were the unreachable kind:  being able to fly, having a pet tiger, being a hero, etc. After typing those, I realize I did not fit the mold of a stereotypical girl. Anyway…. Not believing I was good at anything and not having “attainable” dreams led me to not having purpose. And that can be pretty depressing.

But a couple years ago, I discovered the secret. 

Most of my life I was looking at things other people enjoyed, and trying to fit myself into those opinions/desires/preferences. I had to step back. I had to figure things out for myself….and ultimately what God wanted for me.

When I did that, it no longer mattered that I wasn’t good at team sports. It no longer mattered that I wasn’t good at working with children or teens in large groups. It no longer mattered that I wasn’t an extrovert. It no longer mattered that I wasn’t book smart. It no longer mattered….

And when I allowed myself to believe it no longer mattered that I couldn’t meet others’ designs, I was able to focus on discovering what I was good at and enjoyed:

I am a runner. I am good at working with individuals. I can very efficiently and effectively use both sides of my brain–I am both logical and creative. I love discovering. I love learning. I love implementing. I love growing.

I am getting such a high out of this two day Excel class because it involves what I love to do, and it reminds me that yes, I am good at some things. And yes, I can make a difference in the world around me.

Have you allowed yourself the room you need to discover your purpose?

Initial Reactions….from friends, family, acquaintances…and strangers

  • I wish I had the guts to follow my dreams. Our number one response. As Americans we often take the American Dream for granted. And however skewed from the original definition, comfort, job stability, and financial gain are what people seem to think of when referencing that Dream. Maybe that is why more people are not following their dreams. If it takes you out of your comfort zone, the job is not guaranteed, and finances are iffy, you may question the value (or sanity!) in pursing your dream. But worthwhile dreams can be risks and hard work. Maybe that is why people think pursuing them takes guts.
  • I regret not following my dreams. Our number two response. No one wants regrets in life. Sure, we all make mistakes… That doesn’t mean we regret what we have learned. I believe our dreams are usually intertwined with our purpose in life. And I believe everyone has a purpose, even though sometimes I doubted I would ever find mine. It just took a little while before I was prepared to recognize it. I believe a person cannot feel complete unless they are following their purpose. You may never know who you were fully meant to be. Of course, we always have opportunity to get back on track.
  • Are you crazy!? This might have been our number one response if more people felt comfortable telling us we were nuts! Following our dreams can take us away from the ‘safety of the known’. So many people have a preconceived idea about what life should look like. And when anyone deters from that idea, they have a hard time understanding. One of the things we can and do benefit from, from people in this category, is listening to their concerns. We may have good intentions, but our heads may be so far in the clouds we do not see everything we should. These people may not always be right in their opinions, but they offer a different perspective. Listening to them can prove invaluable. It can help us see things from all angles. And may help us recognize a benefit or pertinent downside we would not have seen otherwise.

We appreciate all the responses we receive(d). The one that surprised us the most was the first, with how often we heard it. People seem to have an unmet thirst for what they dream but seemingly cannot attain. Start believing in yourself!

Hold on to your dreams!

Disclaimer:  Everything I wrote above is in context of how my husband and I are pursuing our dreams—with a huge leap of faith. There are those whose dreams require a different approach, maybe along the lines of baby steps…where consistency is key. Those dreams are just as important to follow, and every step is/will be worth it!

Has anyone received different responses?