Archives For Priorities

A new year is a great time to evaluate life . . . to reflect on successes, failures, hurts, disappointments, losses — and to look forward to the promise of new beginnings. Even though we are free to ‘start fresh’ anytime, there’s something psychologically powerful about turning the calendar page to a brand new year.

Of course, there are many who will make resolutions to improve themselves in some way during 2012. Surveys have indicated that most resolutions don’t make it past the month of January. Today I offer you ten secrets to guaranteed success:

1. Don’t personalize your goals. Simply read one of those New Year’s articles in Sunday’s paper and use that as your goal-making guide. Better yet, just ask your friends what their goals are and resolve to do the same. Just think of all the time you’ll save.

2. Don’t write down your goals. Not on paper. Not on your computer. Not on your bathroom mirror. Nowhere at all! Before a week has come and gone, you’ll have forgotten any of these silly little dreams and can get back to being the same ol’ you that you’ve always been.

3. Don’t be realistic in your thinking. Shoot for the stars! Don’t settle for  just a little self-improvement. Go all out and aim for a total life transformation.

4. Don’t pace yourself. Accept no waiting! Do you really want that perfect body in 30 days? Then flip on the TV and order the latest, greatest gadget from one of those overnight infomercials. They really work. Plus, you almost always get a free gift or two if you ‘order now.’

5. Don’t believe in yourself. Adopt a ‘No I Can’t’ mentality.This is a well-kept secret of some of the most successful people in the world. For example, if you really want to drop some pounds, just say ‘no’ to every temptation that comes your way. Not one Hershey’s kiss. Not one potato chip. Not one carrot dipped in extra Ranch dressing. Ever!

6. Don’t set a deadline. By keeping your options completely open, you can be your own judge of progress made toward your goals. In six months’ time when you haven’t really seen any change at all, you can honestly say you haven’t failed but are just waiting to identify the perfect moment to break out of your rut.

7. Don’t tell anyone about your goals. Not. One. Soul. Once people know your business, they tend to lord it over you acting as your moral and spiritual compass. They’ll ask how you’re doing . . . remind you of your target . . . encourage you — and maybe even pray for your success. You certainly wouldn’t want anyone interfering like that.

8. Don’t do anything too hard. Simple is often better. Keep breathing. Keep eating. Keep sleeping. Basically don’t attempt to do anything a cat wouldn’t. Success is sure to be yours.

9. Don’t evaluate your progress or adjust your goals. Of course, if you follow #2 carefully, then this one will be a real piece of cake.

10. Don’t ask for God’s help. There’s what . . . seven billion people on this rotating rock called Earth? Surely He wouldn’t be interested in you. Do everything in your own power, and just think of the boasting you can do at the end of the year.

OK, so maybe you’ve picked up on a bit of sarcasm in this post. Someone once said that they weren’t making resolutions for the new year because last year’s resolutions were as good as new. Don’t let that be your testimony. I encourage you to take some time to identify just a few areas in which you’d like to see some improvement. Even if you haven’t fully specified your goals as of January 1, a few extra days of sincere and thoughtful planning will likely pay big dividends in the long run.

If you’re serious about making some changes in this new year, then I wish you all the best. Aim for S.M.A.R.T goals: Specific, Measurable, Action-Oriented, Realistic, and Time-Sensitive. Remember that moderation is preferable, and accountability is almost always essential.

In closing, consider these powerful and familiar words from the Apostle Paul:

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:12-14, ESV

May God richly bless you and your family in this new year of life.

IT’S YOUR TURN!
What are some things you wish to improve upon in this new year? What are the biggest challenges to reaching your goals?

The Art of Thanksgiving

November 23, 2011 — 1 Comment

It hardly seems possible that the holidays could be here already. After all, didn’t I just get all those boxes of Christmas decorations back in the attic? Well, maybe not, but in my estimation this has been an incredibly fast year.

While there are still several weeks left in this calendar year, one thing is certain: This has been a year of dramatic changes. From political uprisings and civil unrest to record-setting weather patterns, 2011 will leave an indelible mark on this world. With all the negative news coming at us ’round the clock, it’s sometimes hard to focus on the good things.

America has long been the ‘land of plenty’ — or, you might say, the ‘land of excess.’ You have to wonder what the early settlers to Plymouth Rock would have to say about the way we live. After all, those folks — who, according to H. U. Westermayer, constructed seven times as many graves as huts — still saw fit to set aside a time to give thanks to God. These Puritans were arguably the most impoverished Americans ever, yet they acknowledged God as the source of their blessings. They understood the art of thanksgiving.

In this time of persistent protests and rowdy upheaval, there’s a lot of talk about ‘the  99-percent.’ I contend that pretty much all of us constitute the one-percent . . . at least figuratively speaking. Consider this:

Americans are some of the wealthiest people in the world, with a very high GDP per capita. Americans are top in the world for most material possessions. The number of televisions, vehicles, and other such products per person are considerably higher than in any other country. For instance, the United States has some 754 televisions for every thousand people. No other country is even above 700, with Japan being closest at 680/1000. [Source: economicexpert.com]

While Americans don’t necessarily blow every country out of the water, particularly when you consider the long hours so many of us work, we as a people are undeniably blessed. Even with higher-than-usual levels of unemployment, continued home foreclosures, and rising costs of living, for all intents and purposes Americans are indeed blessed. One thing is generally true about tougher times: We are forced to evaluate priorities, strengthen relationships, and develop character — and hopefully a much deeper appreciation for God.

This Thanksgiving, consider yourself blessed if any or all of the following statements are true for you: Continue Reading…