Month: January 2016

SMARTER not Harder

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In writing the previous post on my miraculous making it happen, I have to admit I was excited, inspired, and ready to face my fears and do the do to truly make it happen. I felt like I could take on the world, that my mustard seed faith could really move mountains (yes it can for real, but I felt it too!), and my fingers could somehow type a million words a minute and fill this blog before I knew it.

I was also quite comfortable in my favorite spot at my favorite coffee shop all by myself sipping my favorite winter tea latte. 😉

Until I looked at my watch.

And all of a sudden, my two hours of write time while the boys were napping and my husband was watching them (also napping LOL), was over and I was throwing all of my belongings into my bag and rushing out the door to complete the many errands on my to do list before running home.  Just like that, my making it happen that was so fresh, so invigorating, and so within reach… moved to the back of the line where it has been for so many years.

What happened? Why did it change? What shifted?

To be honest, my IT sits at the back of the line because it seems so HARD in the midst of everything else. Have you ever felt that way? It sounds good, it sounds fun, it sounds meaningful and awesome when you are dreaming about it or even starting the beginning stages, but when you actually start the doing of it, that IT is just a little harder and more difficult than expected. And because it is hard, I choose to avoid it and delay it instead of doing it.

I have found this to be truth with just about everything worthwhile in this life: attaining any degree or license, embarking on the adventures of marriage and parenting, starting a new career or ministry, getting in shape/exercising, etc. Anything that seems awesome in the moment will at some point have a challenge or obstacle invoking the descriptor of being HARD. And while this truth is important to acknowledge because as of yet, there is no way that I know of to reap the full benefits of all of the above without enduring the challenge as well, I think the real issue is how I view the HARD.

What does that mean? How I view the HARD?

My view of HARD is often the picture of a person (me) standing in the middle of a tornado of things swirling all around. My tornado would have all the great and not so great things in my life: my hopes and dreams, my husband, my children, my family and friends, my work, my church, anything and everything that is a part of my everyday existence that requires my presence. In my tornado, nothing is within reach and I have absolutely no control as everything swirls around me. And as most tornados are considered, my primary response is always two-fold: FEAR (we talked about this last time) and being OVERWHELMED (here we go).

When I was sitting in the coffee shop dreaming dreams and sipping tea, I was not thinking tornado. I was swept away by my positive emotions and the singular focus of the fun of writing: the ideas, the outcomes, the great moments when something clicks. My IT was a cute and cuddly baby that was small and wonderful and sleeping soundly. But when I returned to my reality and the associated responsibilities and demands, I was able to see that this became another projectile swirling around in the chaos! I realized this baby, which was still small and cute, also had demands: time, effort, and pieces of me like everyone and everything else.

Your view of hard might be different than mine. It might look like a huge elephant blocking your path or an incredible mountain unable to be scaled. Regardless of the picture: elephants, mountains, and tornadoes all tend to leave us OVERWHELMED. And my instant reaction to being overwhelmed, like many, is to avoid. For me, it is procrastination. For others, avoidance can take a variety of forms that let us seemingly escape: exercising, eating, sleeping, business, etc.  The truth though is that avoidance is never a true escape; the thing we are running from is still there and unless we finally confront it, we will never accomplish the amazing experience of making it happen. Think about it: the coolest stories are about surviving the storm, taming the wild elephant, and scaling the mountain, right?! 🙂

So, what do I do? How do I still MAKE IT HAPPEN when I am OVERWHELMED?

And therein lies the title of this post: to make it happen and maintain my sanity, I have to work SMARTER not harder. 🙂 I actually tell my students and clients (as well as myself) this all the time: to utilize their resources wisely and get the best outcome with the most efficient means to do so.  In this specific situation, it means making the hard more manageable, more realistic, and using the well-known goal SMARTER acronym:

S: Specific

M: Measureable

A: Attainable

R: Realistic

T: Time-Limited

E: Evaluate

R: Reward or Re-Work

Specifically, I want to start with a weekly post (Measurable). Although I have dreams to do so much more, this seems both Attainable and Realistic for me (hence the existence of this post). Since I usually have write time on the weekends, I am setting Mondays as my Timeline. As we go along, I will be able to Evaluate (and you will too) if this is working and Reward or re-work as necessary.

So, what might this mean for you? You might be at the beginning stages of still figuring out what your IT really is 😉 This is a great place to start, but even that can have a SMARTER goal: “By the end of this month, I will have spent 30 minutes a week journaling and dreaming about my calling, the thing I would love love love to do if there was nothing in my way.” Or maybe you know what your IT is, even if you have never shared it or are still trying to convince yourself otherwise. What might your SMARTER goal be to take one step closer to making it a reality? Or maybe you’ve been living out your IT for years, and are basking in the glow of a fulfilling life. Even then, what is one thing you would like to continue doing (being intentional about it) or something you’ve secretly dreamed of but never gone after? It might be fun to go for something again, and see what happens!

For me, this means taking this writing and blogging thing one step at a time. To begin to bring order to my tornado by using my God-given will and reaching out to take hold of the things most important to me.  It may seem small, but its this first step that will create the foundation (and the momentum) for the future.

And what better time to do this than at the beginning of a new year! 😉

As we embark on the adventure of 2016, I encourage us to go for it!

To take those first steps of the rest of our lives, and begin truly making it happen… by working SMARTER not harder.♥