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Entries in Too Busy (2)

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
Oct062016

5 Excuses That Sabotage Personal Growth

Gail Goolsby is a professional who implements practical counsel rooted in scripture. In this Spiritual Growth UPGRADE, she offers 5 excuses that sabotage our growth and success.

“You have a calling from God—a destiny,” Gail says. "So why aren’t you moving forward? What is holding you back?”

Sometimes I (Dawn) think the person who most needs posts by my guest bloggers is ME! I recognized myself in Gail's analysis and am taking her counsel seriously.

Gail continues . . .

The roadblock to personal growth and success in life for many people is: EXCUSES.

As a career educator, counselor and life coach, I have heard multiple reasons people give to explain away their failures and lack of achievement.

Here are 5 excuses that sabotage personal growth:

Excuse #1: I don’t have time.  

People believe this answer gives permission to say no or be released from an activity they want to avoid. They may follow up the statement with details of their schedule-packed day or week or year.

“Okay,” I say. “I have 24 hours every day—the same as you do, as we all do. How should we determine the use of the time? It will pass for us all. What do you have to show for your time spent?”

No time is a common complaint in today’s fast paced world, but a real problem when used to explain lack of progress toward selected goals.

Use time for what it can do for you—not an excuse for not doing.

Excuse #2: I am too busy.

This popular justification is a twin to #1 but deserves its own mention, as it frequently hijacks rational discourse about setting priorities.

I refuse to use the word "busy" in my conversations. I think the term makes people insecure, comparing their significance to those who claim such demanding lives. What does busy really mean anyway?

I try to help clients unpack their "busy" and see what activity is worthy to keep, but reorganize. Other endeavors may need to be booted out to make room for balanced living and growth.

For both these excuses, hear God’s answer: "So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom" (Psalm 90:12, ESV).

Excuse #3: I tried before and I failed.

Fine. That was then and this is now.

“Define failure,” I say. “Tell me what happened.” I listen carefully to help the client discover the lessons, the take-aways that can help inspire him/her to try again.

Perhaps the goal needs tweaking or releasing altogether. Together we can often find the gain from the pain of failure.

Romans 5: 3-4 (ESV) says: "Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope."

Excuse #4: I am too undisciplined.

Here is some honesty, but still a cop-out.

All of us need training and new behaviors at various points in life.

When something is important enough, valuable enough, desirable enough, we find the strength and endurance to obtain the prize.

How do handicapped and semi-paralyzed individuals run races and create amazing artwork? They learn new things—hard things—by pressing through the I-want-to-quit stage. You can too.

Work hard. Be proud of your accomplishment.

Hebrews 12:11 (ESV) says:  "For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."

Excuse #5: I am afraid. I need help.

Now we are getting somewhere.  

Sharing your hopes and goals with a trusted friend, counselor or coach can be the first step toward moving ahead and busting out of the failure box.

God gave us one another. His power multiplies as we combine our giftedness and ask for His guidance.

"Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others" (Philippians 2:4, ESV).

Together we can push back the darkness and enjoy the radiant lives we have been given.

Which excuses are sabotaging your personal growth today? What action will you take to press toward the hope of your calling?

Gail Goolsby, MA, MEd, is a lifelong educator, including past leadership at an international school in Afghanistan. She and her pastor husband of 38 years live where the wind blows over the prairie in south Kansas. She counsels and coaches using God’s Word to help others learn to live well. Learn more about Gail and the services she offers at her website.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Morguefile.