Shock The Status Quo. A New Blog Series!

For must of us, I think it’s safe to say we establish a routine and we stick with it for a long time.

At the beginning, we make conscious decisions about individual parts of a routine, but before long, we’re just doing. Doing subconsciously.

Before we know it, months have passed.

Courtesy of Filter Forge on Flickr Creative Commons.

Courtesy of Filter Forge on Flickr Creative Commons.

The truth is there’s comfort in a nice routine, but there are also downsides. Downsides for us personally, for our relationships and for our leadership.

While I’ve not written much here in quite some time, I intend to change that and start a new series called, “Shock the Status Quo.”

It’s all about examining life, determining what needs to change, and being intentional about making change happen.

Here’s a taste of what you can expect in this series.

– How a friend of mine shocked the status quo by starting a note-writing campaign called “Thank You Revolution”;

– How I led a team from “I hate my job” to “I love my job”;

– How developing a personal mission statement and goal setting will put your life on hyper-drive;

– More tips to shock your own status quo.

– And what the Bible has to say about it all.

I hope you enjoy this series, participate in comments section below, and tell others about it.

Question: How has being intentional about making a specific change improved your life?

It’s Not Too Late To Set 2012 Goals. A 3-Step Plan To Catch You Up.

It’s January 23.  If you haven’t set any goals for the year, chances are you probably won’t.

I hope I’m wrong though.  It’s never too late to start goal setting and living more intentionally.

If, however, you are someone who planned to goal set this year but for whatever reason haven’t, here’s a 3-step action plan to help you catch up before any more of the year gets away.

1. Prioritize

If you had a lot of potential goals swirling around in your head back in December, now’s the time to narrow them down.  Pick 2-3 that are most important. Chances are if you haven’t set any goals by this point, there’s a reason for it.  Don’t overwhelm yourself now.  It’s better to pick a handful and work hard toward on those than set 17 goals and achieve none of them.

2. Answer why

For each goal you set, be sure to include why you set it.  Being clear about why you’re doing something is powerful.  While it seems obvious and simple, it’s not.  Consider this.  How many unexpected events happened to you last year?  How many emergencies?  How many requests did you get from other people you couldn’t turn down?  How many times did you start something and not finish it?

Answering why and documenting it with our goals gives us more of a fighting chance by the time May rolls around and life has happened.  This step is critical, especially for important goals we’re not very passionate about like writing a will, for example, or getting life insurance.

3. Write them down and hang them up

Once you’ve decided on 2-3 goals and answered why for each, write them down and hang them up where you’ll see them daily.  Mine and my wife’s goals are printed out and hanging on the refrigerator.  Considering we both need food to survive, we’re guaranteed to see them every day.

And for you smarty pants readers, yes, there’s also dry food in the pantry for us to subsist on.  But I’m sure you get the point!

So there you go.  A simple, 3-step plan to help you get going with achieving your goals and living well.

Question:  What steps would you add?

How To Achieve All Your Goals

For the last few years, I’ve run about 2 half marathons each year.  One year I traded a half for the Marine Corps Marathon, my first full.

My goal for my very first half in Virginia Beach was to finish in less than 2 hours.  I did it.  And I learned a lot in the process.

Six months later I ran my second race and finished 13 minutes faster at 1 hour, 45 minutes on a more challenging course.  I knocked off a full minute per mile because I was better conditioned.

I remember saying to myself during the race, “I feel great.  This is awesome!”

I don’t run with a watch so I didn’t know my time until a friend who’d been tracking me online sent me a text.  I remember exactly where I was when I read it. I was pretty stoked.

The same cannot be said though for some of my later races, those races for which I wasn’t very well-trained.  It’s amazing how much easier it is to maintain an 8-minute mile for 13.1 miles as opposed to a 9-minute mile when not in as good of shape.

In those races, “I feel great” got replaced with “Why am I doing this?”

Goal setting

For many of us, this is what happens with our goals.

In January we’re fired up about them.  We tell ourselves this is the year the weight is coming off.  We’re going to find a better job.  We’re going to start getting out of debt.

By the time May rolls around, we’re 2.1 pounds lighter, in the same job we hate and we’ve only paid off part of one credit card.

Somewhere between January and spring, life happened. We got busy.  All sorts of unexpected events happened.  The roof had to be replaced, and we had to put it on the VISA.

It all seems too hard.  “Why am I doing this?”

Why?

Achieving goals isn’t always easy.  We don’t establish action plans to achieve our goals.  Emergencies occur.  We get lazy.  And so often we forget.

We forget why we set a specific goal in the first place.  But there’s something that can be done to get us back in the game.  Something wonderfully simple.

Writing down the reasons we set a goal.

Some call these “internal motivators.”

When I lost 55 pounds my junior year of high school.  I knew why.  But if I’d written down the reasons, the list would’ve probably looked like this.

I don’t want to be fat anymore.

I want to feel more confident.

I’d like to have a girlfriend.

I want to look more attractive.

Once I decided to lose the weight, I was committed.  When the pounds started coming off, I got even more committed.  Nothing was going to stop me from achieving my goal.  The treadmill was my close friend, where today, it’s my nemesis.

Back then though the treadmill represented something bigger.

But we’re not always hyped up about some of our goals.  Some we set because we know we should, and we know it’s going to be tough to achieve them.

We know ourselves.  We know our flaws and weaknesses.  We’ve all had those conversations with ourselves about feeling afraid or like a failure.  These aren’t usually things we tell others about or share on Facebook.

But when months have passed and we’ve either done nothing to achieve a goal or it’s just been hard, reminding ourselves why we set a goal can save us.

Pulling out the list of goals and reading…

Goal:  To lose 20 pounds this year

Why?

I want to feel better about myself

I want to be healthier

I want to know my grandchildren

…can literally be a life or death situation.

My next half marathon is the Oak Barrel Half Marathon in Lynchburg, Tenn., April 7.  I have a training plan hanging on the refrigerator, and it’s going well.  My goal is to run it in 1 hour, 50 minutes or less.

But more importantly, my goal is to trade in “Why am I doing this?” for “I feel great.”

Question:  Have you written down the reasons for your goals?  Do you see the value?

The One Thing I Won’t Do This Year

This year I will run 2 half marathons in under 1 hour and 50 minutes per race.

I will read at least 5 books on personal development.

I will write 2-3 blog posts per week.

I will pray with my wife every night.

These are 4 of the many goals I’ve set for 2012.  All of them have action plans behind them to help ensure I accomplish what I’ve set out, and nearly every goal is activating my why, my purpose – to advance others through personal-growth education.

Hopefully by now you’ve also set at least one goal for the year.  But here’s a twist for you.

What one thing will you make it a goal to not do this year?

Right now you may thinking, “What a sec, Joel.  Goals are about getting stuff done!”  If you’re thinking that, you’re right.  Goals are typically aimed at doing rather than not doing.  But really goals do more than that.  They help us live the most balanced, accomplished lives possible.

Well unless you’re perfect, you have bad habits, characteristics and tendencies that prevent you from living as well as you could, accomplishing your goals and activating your why.

So what is it?

Spending too much time at work?  Being online too much?  Checking your email during date night with your spouse?  Prioritizing the game over everyone else?

Perhaps it’s as simple as interrupting people when they talk.  Or always assuming the worst about others.

The one thing I will not do this year is check email, Facebook or Twitter during date night with MaryBeth.  Nothing says I’m not here, my mind is somewhere else, more than whipping out the smartphone to see what you’re up to.  No offense but MaryBeth and my marriage are simply more important.

I encourage you to give this some serious thought.  We all have weaknesses and problem areas.  Think about what you want 2012 to look like.  What you want your life to look like.

What’s standing in your way?  When you decide on it, write it down and place it somewhere you’ll see it regularly.

We hang our goals on the refrigerator so we see them every day.  My “won’t do” will be on the same sheet of paper.  If your “won’t do” is a bit too personal to showcase along with your magnet collection or kid’s drawings, put it in your sock drawer or somewhere more private.

Like all goals though, don’t write it down and shove it in the desk you never use.  Trust me, you won’t not do it.

Question:  What one thing will you not do this year?

Insulate Yourself From Life Crises. Be Weird.

Before I was even old enough to get a learner’s permit, my dad let me drive his truck on part of the acreage we lived on.

For me, it was just pure fun.  For my parents though, it was all about helping me learn to operate a powerful machine long before I ever tried to with other drivers on the road.

It’s interesting how we spend an enormous amount of time doing things like learning to operate an automobile safely and having a home well-inspected before we enter a mortgage.  We’re intentional about things like this because we’re trying to decrease risk and insulate ourselves from crises.

So why don’t we practice this with our finances?  Why aren’t we as intentional about our marriages?  Why don’t we go to these lengths with our lives?  All things that carry much greater risk if they go wrong.

Normal is broke.  Most marriages end in divorce.  People work too much in jobs they hate, covet other people’s lives, and lack purpose.

As pastor Craig Groeschel says, normal isn’t working.  It’s time get weird.

Part of being weird in today’s increasingly secular, fast-paced society is to strengthen your relationship with God.  If you’ve never known God, find him.  Say a prayer.  Read a few Bible verses.  He’s been waiting on you so finding him won’t be difficult.

If you do know God, work on strengthening your relationship with him.  Let him in more.  Pray more often.  Take your anger, fear, joys and concerns to him with regularity not just on Sunday morning.  Give more of yourself to him.

Next, start taking steps to insulate yourself from crises.

Get Your Money Right

If you’re struggling with debt, which millions of people are, get help.  As a huge Dave Ramsey fan, I recommend enrolling in Financial Peace University.  Classes are starting all over the U.S. right now.  If you commit yourself to the 13-week course, you won’t just learn how to beat debt and build wealth, you will change your life and your family tree…forever.  This is a promise.

If for whatever reason you can’t do the course right now, but want help, contact me at joel@bluebridgecomm.com.  I’m not joking. MaryBeth and I are debt free because we learned how not to be, got out debt and are building wealth for the future.  And, get this.

We do everything we want in life like go out to eat at really nice places, travel overseas, shop and most importantly, give.  Financial discipline provides freedom, not the other the way around.

Work On Your Marriage

Marriage takes work.  We’ve all heard it.  Why then aren’t more of us doing it?  Guys, if you’d rather not be lumped into the 65% of men who commit adultery, work on your marriage.  Work less at work and more at home. Ladies, if you want to avoid being in the 55% of women who commit adultery, do the same.

Attend a marriage seminar every year.  Read a marriage book together and dedicate time every week to discuss the material. Schedule a weekly, or at a minimum, monthly date night.  Do not break the date!  And when you’re on the date, do not check your email, Facebook or Twitter feed.  I had to learn the hard way on this one.  Let my stupidity benefit you.

Treat your marriage like a job.  Be intentional about it.  It won’t grow itself just because it’s a gift from God.

Goal Set

Goal setting is not just for work.  It’s how we happen to life rather than life happening to us.  Goals are action steps toward living a full, rewarding life.  If you’re new to my blog, read this post on how to set goals.  There are right and wrong ways to do this.

While I could go on and on about how to be weird with more parts of your life, I chose money, marriage  and goal setting for a reason.  We’re all incredibly vulnerable in these areas because the minute we don’t respect them, we lose.

Money is an inanimate object. It does nothing, but remarkably we can make it do some of the most amazingly stupid things.  I swear we’re all magicians at times.  There’s a reason stress from money fights is the leading cause of divorce in the U.S.  But it doesn’t have to be.

Marriage is a sacred covenant given to us from God.  Choosing the football game over quality time with your spouse is not a tactic for honoring it.  Working 12 to 14-hour days every week followed by dinner in front of the TV every night is not how you get closer to your spouse.  Before too long, you both will have grown apart because one or neither of you did the work to stay close.

Putting life on cruise control, accepting the status quo and living completely unbalanced is a recipe for burnout, depression or at a minimum unhappiness.  Figure out why God put you here, and activate that purpose with well-defined goals.

So much of the time crises in these areas are totally self-inflicted.  We unknowingly work toward them until it’s too late.  Instead, let’s learn from millions of others’ mistakes and misfortune and take the necessary steps to help insulate ourselves from pain and suffering.  Let’s make 2012 the year we get weird.

Question:  How are you living a weird life?

Craig Groeschel is the founding and senior pastor of LifeChurch.tv. Meeting in multiple locations around the United States, and globally at Church Online, LifeChurch.tv is known for the innovative use of technology to spread the Gospel.  His book, Weird: Because Normal Isn’t Working, can be purchased on Amazon.com.