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Entries in Goals (16)

Tuesday
Jul092019

5 Excuses that Hold You Back

Kathy Carlton Willis is not only an encouraging cheerleader for writers and speakers, her practical wisdom as a life coach helps people move forward in faith. In this Goals UPGRADE, Kathy identifies five excuses that hold us back.

“How would your life be different," Kathy asks, "if you could ditch excuses for good?"

As a long-time excuse maker, I (Dawn) understand the distraction and loss that comes from living with excuses. In fact, my goals mantra has become, "There may be reasons, but not excuses."

Kathy continues . . .

One of my biggest blessings, but also biggest struggles as a life coach, is to recognize what causes someone to feel stuck, and to strategize biblical ways to help them be free of those restraints so they can function in freedom. It is challenging because some prefer to stay stuck rather than step out in faith into unfamiliar territory.

Faith gives us the bravery we need to move forward, one foot in front of the other, until we get to the destination God has for us.

Are you feeling stucik? What’s holding you back from pursuing the goals God has for you?

First, let’s look at the typical excuses we give.

5 Common Excuses

  1. I don’t have time.
  2. You don’t know my story, my hang-ups, my trials.
  3. I can’t afford it.
  4. I have a broken relationship.
  5. It’s out of my control.

You make your own list. What’s holding you back? Why can’t you or won’t you take the next step needed toward your goal?

6 Ways to Ditch the Excuses for Good

1. Is it an excuse or a reason?

  • If it’s an excuse, learn not to listen to it.
  • If it’s a true reason, learn a “work around” so the reason is merely a detour rather than a dead end.

2. What fear is attached to your excuse?

If you find yourself in a place where you aren’t comfortable moving forward, usually it’s because there’s a fear holding you back.

What do you fear might happen if you move toward the goal God has for you?

  • Fear of failure?
  • Fear of success?
  • Fear of change?
  • Fear of what others think?
  • Fear of it costing something you hold dear?

3. Kick the excuses to the curb and use godly self-talk instead.

Evict the excuses out of your head and heart. Then learn a new truth statement to repeat to yourself instead.

You can find what God thinks about you in Scripture and can apply it to your situation.

4. Make moving forward a priority.

Don’t wallow in stuckness.

Don’t give your excuses permission to have control over you.

Determine what God wants for your life and don’t let anything hold you back from it.

Even if you have to wait for something out of your control to happen, you can have “active waiting” by learning how to adopt the right thinking so it’s in place when you get the green light to move forward.

5. Spend as much time seeking the solution as believing the excuse.

Evaluate what it would take to tackle the problem.

Decide if you were aiming for the wrong destination—maybe the solution is a different destination or outcome. Seek God for that direction and then ask Him to help the next step become apparent to you.

6. Embrace the work of change.

Many people don’t move toward their goal because they’re comfortable where they are and don’t want to put in the extra effort necessary to get to where they wish they could go in their lives.

Sweat equity isn’t just for house projects—it’s for life projects.

We might get a little uncomfortable moving to the next step. That’s okay if it’s a temporary discomfort. And hey, that’s one reason Jesus sent the Comforter, right? He knew we’d be uncomfortable living out the deeds of His will in our lives.

“You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? It certainly isn’t God, for he is the one who called you to freedom” (Galatians 5:7-9 NLT).

Would you allow a thin rubber band wrapped around your middle to hold you back from rescuing a child from a burning building? Of course not.

Don’t let a thin excuse hold you back from what God wants in your life—from what you know to be a desire you have as well. Risk the momentary pinch or snap of that rubber band as you disable it from holding you back, and then all of a sudden you realize there’s less resistance than there was before.

What’s holding you back today?

Kathy Carlton Willis, God’s Grin Gal, shines the light on what holds you back so you can grow. She’sspeaker and author with over a thousand articles online and in print, as well as her Bible study, Grin with GraceHer popular blog, Grin & Grow with Kathy is featured on CBN. She just released a training manual for speakers called, The Ultimate Speaker’s Guide. Kathy and husband Russ are trying to raise seven-month old Hettie the Boston Terrier—but in truth, she’s training them.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Geralt at Pixabay.

Thursday
Jan242019

Busy, Busy

Insightful and practical, Susan K. Stewart challenges women to consider what they're doing in light of God's Word. In this Biblical Thinking UPGRADE, she asks us to consider the busyness in our lives, and if there might be a better approach to goals.

"By the end of 2016, I was tired," Susan says. "I accomplished many of my goals. I had a stack of check-offed to-do list. I had been busy. Why did I feel as those I hadn’t accomplished anything?"

Oh, I (Dawn) know a lot about checked off lists. I've lived by them since I was a child. But Susan makes me think—is there a better way?

Susan continues . . .

I had accomplished a lot that year:

  • published an award-winning book,
  • spoke at national conferences,
  • taught classes online,
  • and many other achievements, which say "success".

I met my goals for the year.

That’s was the problem. I had met my goals.

Each year we are bombarded with resolutions, goals, and focus words. We are encouraged to plan out our year for success.

Midway through the year, just as we begin to think we’ve failed, more articles and podcasts land in our email boxes telling us how to pick up the goals we haven’t finished and move forward.

Even Christian material tells us how to make plans and we can accomplish them. It might be a three-step list or a twelve-step program. The point is, “make a plan and work the plan.”

This can seem like a circle of life—no, more like a race track of life with no finish line.

I needed not just a pit stop; I needed off the track.

Here are some of the ways I’ve conquered the busyness.

1. Don’t buy a planner.

If you already have one, put it at the bottom of the bottom drawer.

We can become slaves to the lists and boxes. It can steal our joy in what we do.

I choose to have a plain calendar. Once a box is full, I don’t schedule anything thing else for that day.

2. Nix the goals and resolutions.

Instead, determine your priorities for the year. And it’s fine if you have the same priorities each year.

Some people tell me priorities are the same as goals. I don’t think so.

The month of July, my priority is my granddaughter’s visit. It’s not a goal; she comes every year. Those tasks take second chair to my priority.

3. Limit the number of items on a to-do list.

I have sticky pad to-do lists. It has space for four items. That’s truly manageable, there’s no space to keep adding on.

I don’t take the top sheet off until I’ve completed the tasks on it. I do add items to the next pages, but I don’t see them until I get there.

Long term projects get their own four-item to-do lists, which I pull out only when I’m working on that project.

Without a long to-do list I don’t feel overwhelmed, and I have a sense of accomplishment with each sticky note I pull off.

These are some tangible ideas how to not be bogged down in the endless cycle of resolutions, goals, and failure. They help me keep perspective on my day and my life. I feel more in control.

But this list in not the real answer.

Henry David Thoreau said, "It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?"

I answer this question each time I get bogged down in accomplishments, when I think I should be doing more, when I’m tired of being busy. Yes, it happens even with the above steps.

Jesus was busy about doing good and His Father’s will.

  • Yes, He got tired.
  • Yes, He needed to draw away from the daily tasks to rest.
  • Yes, He needed to spend time with God the Father.

We are told by Jeremiah God has a plan for us, a plan for good.

God's plan doesn’t require to-do lists and goals, and it doesn’t leave us exhausted.

God’s plan also has hope and future. What more do we need? (Jeremiah 29:11)

The reason 2016 was so exhausting and lacked fulfillment is I was working from MY goals and plans. I was busy about busy work, instead of doing good and God’s will.

For those of us who need a final step, it is this:

4. Seek His kingdom first (Matthew. 6:33), and make it your priority.

God will add what you need to your to-do list.

Which of these action steps could help you get off the busy-busy treadmill right now? What can you do to seek the Lord and do more of His will?

Susan K. Stewart teaches, writes, and edits non-fiction. She is known for practical solutions to real-world situations. Susan is senior nonfiction editor with Elk Lake Publishing, blog content manager for Mount Hermon Writers Conference blog, and has published five books. Susan lives in Central Texas with her husband, Bob, three dogs, three cats, nine chickens, and two donkeys. Discover more about Susan's ministry at www.practicalinspirations.com.

 

Thursday
Jan172019

What Makes Bite-sized Upgrades Work?

I have written about UPGRADING our lives since 2013, and in that process, the Lord has shown me how to cooperate with Him to upgrade my own life.

In that process I've also learned an important lesson:  

Personal upgrades can be overwhelming.

It's true no matter what we're tackling:

  • weight loss,
  • toning our bodies,
  • creating a more joyful or contented spirit,
  • moving forward without fear toward a personal goal or dream,
  • learning to be a better parent or grandparent,
  • becoming a prayer warrior,
  • making decisions that lead toward financial freedom,
  • and a host of other upgrade choices!

In a very practical way, personal UPGRADES begin with a choice toward a goal, and then we break down that goal into small (bite-sized) action steps.

Case in point: I wrote on Facebook recently that helping some loved ones pack and move motivated me to clean out my home of my own overflow of "stuff."

I decided:

  1. I no longer use or want many things that still are cluttering my shelves, cabinets and garage—why am I keeping them?
  2. I want to move forward into new adventures and new ministries, and don't want to be "encumbered" by unnecessary and distracting clutter.
  3. I do not want to leave so much "stuff" to my children to dispose of—so this became a "legacy issue" for me.

But considering this UPGRADE goal, I soon became overwhelmed with the thought of the "how" of making that change.

But then that old adage—"How do you eat an elephant?"—came to mind.

We "eat an elephant" one bite at a time!

One bite.

So what was my "one bite" for clearing out the clutter? I decided I could manage one box per week to Amvets or some other charity. That would equal 52 boxes of "clutter" and unused-but-useful items gone from my home in one year!

I am tackling weight loss the same way. Losing all the weight I need to lose is overwhelming, but I can choose bite-sized goals for each day.

I want to write a book this year. It feels daunting. But the Lord is giving me some bite-sized goals, and my "elephant" doesn't seem so huge.

Now this is not a new insight. The "eat an elephant" example has been around for a long time.

But what makes it powerful is when we take action.

Author Pam Farrel recently wrote about the many action steps the Proverbs 31 woman took that changed her life, enabled her to bless others, and earned her well-deserved praise.

Pam even wrote an action planner to encourage wise action steps.

We have to take that one bite... and another... and another.

The key to bite-sized actions making a difference is PERSEVERANCE!

We need to stick to it—or as Pam Farrel says—"Get It Done, Girl!"

  • We can't make a resolution and forget it the next week.
  • We can't make a decision and then back away.
  • We can't set a goal and then suddenly think it doesn't matter.

Perseverance is a steady pursuit of a goal or a repeated action despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.

It includes tenacity, determination, resolve, purposefulness, courage, endurance and staying power.

With that in mind, I will persevere in cleaning out my home, losing weight, and writing a book in 2019.

The Bible encourages in this regard. It speaks much about practical perseverance in the Christian life.

One of the scriptures currently motivating my life is to be a "doer" of the Word and not a "hearers"  only (James 1:22-24).

A successful life doesn't grow out of hearing and nodding in agreement or even expressing good intentions.

To be a success, we must take action and persevere.

Even when it's hard.

Even when it takes courage.

The more we persevere in our walk with God, the more God teaches and blesses us, and the Holy Spirit empowers us to continue to persevere! Christians should desire to persevere and cooperate with the Spirit as He works to change our hearts and make us more like Jesus!

Ask yourself this question:

"What is God trying to accomplish in my life, and how can I cooperate with Him in complete surrender and obedience?

Then ask,

"How can I make little decisions every day—bite-sized upgrades—to persevere in that cooperation?"

It is perseverance in the right direction and with effective actions that make our intended upgrades work!

What upgrades do you want to make this year? What bite-sized choice can you make today ... and tomorrow ... and all year long?

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is a speaker and author, and the creator the blog, Upgrade with Dawn. She is a contracted researcher/reviewer for Revive Our Hearts  and a writer at Crosswalk.com. She and her husband Bob live in Southern California and have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Geralt at Pixabay.

Tuesday
Jan152019

Happy Productive New Year

Pam Farrel is one of the most "get it done" women I know. In this New Year UPGRADE, she desires to help us be "get it done" women too!

"Achievement, attainment and accomplishment feel GREAT!" Pam says. "Completion brings a certain satisfaction and fulfillment, especially if our goals and tasks positively impact our life."

I (Dawn) have personally seen how many accomplishments Pam has made over the years. She must have some secret, I thought. Turns out, she does! And she's sharing it here.

Pam continues . . .

Our productivity has even more value when it means that other people are blessed and built up too. When our accomplishments encourage and equip others, the joy is multiplied!

People sometimes ask me, “How did you write and publish 46+ books, speak almost every week, run a ministry, keep a vibrant marriage, raise three great kids, build a wonderful friendship circle and keep your home in order?

Honestly, I was inspired long ago by the Proverbs 31 woman.

While I recognize this description of a godly woman was penned as a tribute and likely covered the accomplishments of her lifetime, while studying the passage, one VITAL trait consistently popped off the page:

The Proverbs 31 woman didn’t just hope, dream, wish or plan—the girl took ACTION!

Let’s look at this famous passage. (I have emphasized the action verbs):

An excellent wife who can find?

    She is far more precious than jewels.

11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,

    and he will have no lack of gain.

12 She does him good, and not harm,

    all the days of her life.

13 She seeks wool and flax,

    and works with willing hands.

14 She is like the ships of the merchant;

    she brings her food from afar.

15 She rises while it is yet night

    and provides food for her household

    and portions for her maidens.

16 She considers a field and buys it;

    with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.

17 She dresses herself with strength

    and makes her arms strong.

18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.

    Her lamp does not go out at night.

19 She puts her hands to the distaff,

    and her hands hold the spindle.

20 She opens her hand to the poor

    and reaches out her hands to the needy.

21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,

    for all her household are clothed in scarlet.

22 She makes bed coverings for herself;

    her clothing is fine linen and purple.

23 Her husband is known in the gates

    when he sits among the elders of the land.

24 She makes linen garments and sells them;

    she delivers sashes to the merchant.

25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,

    and she laughs at the time to come.

26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,

    and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

27 She looks well to the ways of her household

    and does not eat the bread of idleness.

THE RESULT

And what is the positive outcome of her proactive action plan?

28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;

    her husband also, and he praises her:

29 “Many women have done excellently,

    but you surpass them all.”

30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,

    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,

    and let her works praise her in the gates.

In summary . . .

  • Her kids rave about their awesome mom;
  • her husband proclaims her strength, value, talent, and character;
  • she is held up as a role model of virtue and godliness, a woman to be praised by people; and
  • best yet, her OWN WORKS—those accomplished tasks and the character developed in the pursuit—provide an extra dose of praise!

Inspired by her diligent action, I thought,

“How can I replicate this hard-working woman’s 'get it done' style?”

In Get It Done, Girl! Maximizing Your Moments Action Planner, I share a simple acrostic that helps me plan and then take A.C.T.I.O.N.

A—Ask God.

Invite the Creator to give you a heavenly perspective. 

I begin each day asking Him to order the steps of my day. By taking the time to pray, it has helped me recall a person, an opportunity, a need, or inspired a creative thought for a book, a blog or a business.

C—Clear the “Must Do’s.”

I keep the Due Date next to each task in my action planner and also, as a reminder, on my phone’s calendar.  

I ask, “Which of the many things I have written has the worst consequence for inaction?” I mark these MUST DOs with a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 in order of priority.

T—Tackle Tough Tasks.

Mark Twain once said that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day.

Your “frog” is the most vital task each day.

I try to handle the hardest things early in the day—then I greatly reward myself!

I—Invest in the Future.

At this point, I get to select the tasks and actions to make progress on. 

For bigger projects,

  • I break them down into more bite-sized portions,
  • assign due dates,
  • then select time blocks to work on these items.

I track my projects and try to make forward movement.

O—Organize Space and Personal Life.

Being organized can lower your daily stress and raise your productivity.

You can either:

  • pay a maid,
  • delegate chores to your children—which helps them grow up to be responsible adults,
  • or handle your tasks yourself.

The key to our happy, long-lasting marriage is this:

The one who has the RESPONSIBILITY has the AUTHORITY to handle that task, their way, their time, with their creative ingenuity.

And the spouse’s role is to THANK and APPLAUD their mate for handling the job.

N—Nurture Those I Love.

Just because you are a “Get It Done, Girl” kind of woman doesn’t mean you are all work and no play! 

The most productive people I know have a healthy work/play balance. Their motivation for the work is to provide, protect and bring a peaceful environment to their life and family.

A happy family is a more productive family.

And while we are talking about nurturing, treat yourself as kindly as your Heavenly Father would treat you.

How can you press in and take not procrastinate? What in this blog will help you take A.C.T.I.O.N. so those in your life arise to bless you?

Pam Farrel is an international speaker, author of the Get It Done, Girl: Maximize Your Moments Action Plannerher 47th book. She and her husband, Bill, are Co-Directors of Love-Wise. To help with your productivity, in their book 10 Best Decisions a Parent Can Make there is a list of what chores and responsibilities children and teens can handle by their age and stage of life. In Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti, the Farrels share how they divide and delegate work, ministry, home and family responsibilities.

Thursday
Jan102019

Making Good on Good Intentions

Grace Fox wrote nine books. She's well-acquainted with the discipline and perseverance it takes to buckle down and write. She also knows how easy it is to stop at "good intentions." In this New Year UPGRADE, she invites us to examine our new goals and consider how we can "make good" on them.

"You and I—and millions of other women—know it’s easy to begin a new year with good intentions," Grace says. "Following through on them is often a different story."

Following through. Yes, I (Dawn) identify with that. I can't tell you how many times my good intentions ended up being forgotten intentions. But I can choose to change; and so can you!

Grace continues . . .

A traumatic experience helped me understand the importance of making good on my good intentions.

January 11th marks the sixth anniversary of my suffering leg injuries that left me wheelchair-bound for three months. Recovery required surgery, physiotherapy, and a lot of hard work on my part for two years.

I’m embarrassed to admit that my injuries were self-inflicted. As a writer, I sat at my desk for hours every day without getting up to stretch.

Granted, I woke each morning with good intentions. I promised myself that I’d take short exercise breaks, but soon my writing projects absorbed me and I’d think, I’ll take a walk later, after I finish what I’m doing.

Later never came, and I paid the price.

I’m grateful for the wakeup call. It forced me to admit something I knew all along—that good intentions alone won’t bring the benefits of good health.

Living long and strong for Jesus requires action on my part:

  • use my gym membership,
  • eat nutritious foods,
  • track my food intake,
  • practice portion control, and
  • be accountable on a weekly basis to a small group of women walking a similar path.

The same principle holds true for other aspects of life.

Say, for instance, we want to build relationships with our neighbors this year. Our intentions are admirable, but they won’t build friendships unless we take time to talk over the fence, to listen, and to demonstrate kindness.

We may want to grow in our relationship with the Lord over the next twelve months. Our desire is commendable, but it won’t result in spiritual growth unless we create space to study His Word, engage in dialogue with Him, and obey His commands.

Perhaps we intend to become more effective intercessors. This might mean facing our fear of praying aloud in front of other people. We may have to grow willing to pause and to pray right then and there for someone who’s just expressed a concern.

The examples I listed are among my good intentions for this year. Perhaps you’re nodding in agreement because like me, you hope to become more proactive about your health, about relationships with your neighbors, about knowing God more intimately, and about praying for others.

Or maybe your list includes a plethora of totally different ideas. Regardless, here are several prayer-focused points to ponder as you think about your good intentions for 2019.

1. Ask God for FOCUS.

It’s easy to make a list of impressive intentions. Trouble is, sometimes our list is too long or lofty or misses the mark altogether.

Ask the question, “God, what are Your good intentions for me this year? Where do you want me to focus?”

Jeremiah 33:3 promises that He will answer—“Call to me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wonderous things that you could never figure out on your own” (The Message).

2. Ask God for STRENGTH.

Following through on good intentions sometimes demands more emotional or physical strength than we can muster.

The good news is—God promises to strengthen us when we partner with Him to accomplish His purposes for our lives.

Psalm 18:29 has been especially meaningful to me as I continue my wellness journey—“In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall.”

Sometimes following through on my intention to avoid unhealthy snacks is like fighting a battle, but God’s power at work within me gives me the strength to do the right thing. He’ll do the same for you.

3. Ask God for PERSEVERANCE.

We might think that making good on our good intentions will guarantee instant results.

For instance, extending kindness to a neighbor will automatically open the door to sharing the Gospel with her.

Unfortunately, sometimes our good intentions don’t yield the results we want, but that doesn’t mean we toss them aside. It means we learn to practice perseverance. We choose to hang in there for the long haul, trusting that God is at work even though we don’t see things happening.

Sometimes our good intentions are only the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. We might think we know what God wants to do in and through us but in reality, He’s doing something much deeper, and that takes time.

So, my friend—what’s one of your good intentions for 2019? What actions will you take to make good on it?

Grace Fox is a career missionary, international speaker, and author of nine books. Her latest release is Forever Changed, a Bible study published by First Place 4 Health. Discover more about her ministry here. Purchase her Bible study through First Place 4 Health.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Ben White at Unsplash.