Problem Solving

The previous topics, finding your why and asking questions, are not only important for planning but also for problem solving. We must make decisions everyday of our lives. A perfect example of how my “why” helped me to press forward. At the end if my freshman year of college, I made two “C”s. I felt so sad and I walked around looking pitiful. My friends did everything but laugh at me as I sat in despair thinking I was doomed. They did not understand the damage two “C”s had on a GPA. I had an academic scholarship that was dependent on me maintaining a 3.0 at all times. I felt lost and did not know what to do.

I gave myself a few weeks to recover, but once I refocused, I was able to make additional plans. Let me be honest with you, it was hard to stop myself from fearing the worse. I actually had to spend long hours in bible readings and prayer before I could realize new plans that would compensate for the loss of revenue. It was going to be hard work but I was finally ready. The summer before my college sophomore year, I worked and saved most of the money for the purpose of registering for the new school year.  Unfortunately, I did not have anyone to help me with paying for college. All of the financial and emotional pressures were on my shoulders to carry alone, but in the planning process, I realized this would be one of the challenges. I was already committed to persevering. Quitting was not an option.

First semester was the focus and I was going to tackle second semester after I had jumped that hurdle of first semester. I asked financial aid questions and their answers helped me toThe registrar accepted what I had as a deposit and I signed a written agreement regarding the monthly payments. Work study earnings were all saved and it paid the remaining semester balance.  I finished the semester debt free and regained my scholarship for the second semester when my GPA hit above the 3.0 requirements. It was a year full of excitement, heartache, and a beautiful victory.  Doing the homework during the planning process helps us to consider options that are available. Remember, you always have choices. I asked financial aid questions and asked for arrangements. This process of problem solving has helped me to push through many tough situations.

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Why Finale

We have reached our finale for why do we plan. This third and final part will conclude the questions we need to ask ourselves when making realistic and accomplishable tasks.  Planning is a very personable thing. It can be frustrating at times or even overwhelming, but it also can be a most helpful tool. Since my family growing up used planners on a limited basis, I never viewed planning as a chore. I did not HAVE to do it, but I chose to. Today, I still see it as a choice and an opportunity for self reflection.

The last questions will challenge us to think of our goals as being important. A challenge to see them as bigger than a thing to accomplish by ourselves. Accomplishing our goals will require support. We must remember that true success is best achieved with helping hands. This support can come from simple words of encouragement to someone actually working beside you to help you win in this game of life. Let’s take a look at our last few questions.

Where do I go to get help in achieving this goal?
(This all depends on the goal. There are associations and groups for just about every interest. There are also Conferences of various types that bring ideas and products together to help with one general type of need. For further direction, you can test your knowledge on topics you need to know. Then, think about who can answer those questions. If it is a fitness goal, the “where” for you may be the gym to speak with personal trainers.)

When do I want to complete this goal?
(This is your timeline. Does this goal have a deadline? Is this a long term goal?)

How will I accomplish this goal?
(Review all of the questions and your answers from the “Why” series. All of the previous questions will help to make this part easier. When you pull all the answers together, you get an idea of how. The how serves as the outline for your plans.)

I think we all would like the satisfaction of feeling complete peace and celebratory praise after accomplishing a goal. The best way to WIN is to make sure your goals and plans are a honest reflection of you. You are unique and complex and so are your goals and plans. Don’t let fear of failing or success snatch your dream. Please be patient with the process of reaching goals because surprises can still manage to pop up here and there. It is your “why” that will help you to maintain focus and keep moving forward.

Why Part Two

Our last post helped us to understand our why in setting goals and making plans. There is more to it and we dive into a few more questions that will help you understand the planning process. This is part 2 of a 3 part series. Let’s jump right into it…

What will hinder you in achieving this goal?
(This is the time to be honest with yourself. Do you self sabotage by procrastinating or allowing distractions? Is there someone in authority who will pull you in a separate direction? Are there demands on your time or schedule that you can not compromise or change?)

What will change or need to change?
(Will you have to move? Will your schedule have to change? Most things require time and energy and it is very important to be very realistic about where all of this will fit with your lifestyle. It is this part that people overlook, but must not when making realistic goals.)

Some people may ask “where do I began?”
(Take time to gather information about the topic. Make sure to note if there are various steps indicated in obtaining your goal. Also note if those steps also have timelines. Are experts in that area available to answer questions? Can you find a mentor in that area to help you understand all of the expectations?)

The next post will conclude our “Why” series. What other questions do you ask yourself when setting goals and making plans? Share them with us in the comment section below. We would like to hear from you.

Goals First

The Little Red engine faced his biggest challenge, and as he climbed the hill, he encouraged himself. He repeated, “I think I can, I think I can.”   Getting to the top was his goal and pure hope and determination gave him the strength to push forward. Like that engine, we will face mountains we will need to climb. Goals strengthen us because the only way to the other side is to push past challenges.  I define goals as a hope for a specific outcome. It serves as motivation and a guide. Goals are to be placed as the first priority in the planning process. It is most important and should not be overlooked.

Years ago, I worked in direct sales, and controlled when and how I worked my business. I decided what I would do after I established my financial and leadership goals.  I worked very hard, but I was disappointed at the end of each month. I had to ask myself, are these the wrong goals?  I gave myself time, and and after a while, I began to understand the company’s sales algorithms. The top salespeople sold a certain  number of units each week consistently. They encouraged us to only work on the things we could control. We can not control who would buy or what they would buy, but we could control how many people we spoke to each day. We could control how many phone calls we made each day. I began to realize that consistency in the things that I can control was my best form of accountability. It was also my favorite measure of success. Success was not based on the outcome but on my consistency as I met each challenge.

My goals changed from being result oriented and became action oriented in describing my desired outcome.  For example,  instead of saying I want to sell $1,000.00 in products, I say I want to sell 100 units to reach my goal of $1,000.00. In turn, I’ve changed the way I plan.  My plans became task oriented and served as helpful action points in achieving the prize. For example, I can plan to speak to 10 people a day (which can make approximately 3 sales).

This example of an action oriented goal can be changed to even meet student’s needs. For example, instead of saying I want an A on my math test, I would say I want to study 2 additional hours this week to make an A on my test. My task oriented plans may include studying math facts and practicing additional problems for 30 minutes each day.  Those 30 minutes do not include the normal time I take completing homework assignments. You may need 30 minutes with a tudor or a teacher, and that is to be written into the plan. These are only examples in helping you to understand goal setting and the role it plays in planning.

I conclude with words of encouragement. Life is full of the unexpected. There will be times when things do not work out. Planning does not shield us from people hurting our feelings. It does not shield us from disappointments.  I have learned to have faith in God and this has produced true confidence.  I believe that God blesses beyond anything my efforts alone can produce, so I include prayers as an active part of the planning process. Planning is not a perfect remedy, but God gives me perfect peace with whatever comes. “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” – Proverbs 16:3

Using A Planner

I’m not an organization expert or planner guru. This is not an advertisement. This is for people who are looking for wisdom regarding planning.

Planning is for the wise and the strong. It is also for the weak and faint at heart. In grade school, I had problems focusing. After almost an entire year of fun and games from the back of the class, the teacher finally contacted my mother to tell her of our failure. It was a failure to complete assignments, a failure to determine how much I had grown, and a failure to succeed in making me third grade ready. She could not allow me to ascend to the next level if I was not proficient in the basics. That year I made an amazing discovery and realized that I was easily distracted. It was a wake up call and I understood all that I could loose if I did not focus. Planning is my way of making sure I’m remaining focus.

When I pull out my planner, I think about the appointments I have during the week. I then think about my goals for the week. Do I have any assignments due? Am I responsible for organizing an event or gathering (small or large)? These are things I must think about when sitting to plan. Just a side note, I am a bit “extra” when it comes to planning. I am beginning to break almost every task down into smaller steps. This helps me to evaluate how much I can realistically accomplish in a certain amount of time. For example, if I need to make a phone call, I need to place the number beside the task listed. If I do not have the number, then a phone call is placed on the “to do” list and I leave space for finding the number. It becomes a two part action.

Although time is like money, never forget people first before things. Planning is only a tool.  With that in mind, using my planner helps me to appreciate how my time is being used. I can even celebrate small failures. What others may call wasting, I call investing. For example, if I spend four hours on the phone with my sister for her birthday, then I am making an investment in her and our relationship. I can look at my huge “to do” list and reflect on how she is more important than all of those items combined. Although time is like money, love should always be first.

Parenting in Grace

Parenting is a tough job, but it is the most important. We all want to get it right because others are depending on us. Unfortunately, we will make some mistakes, but you must remember that perfection is not the goal but love is.  It is no perfect way for raising  children but there are some timeless principles. There is one that I’m just learning myself. The principle of grace.

My mother was pretty tough and a fair  disciplinarian.  She was far from perfect and life in a dysfunctional family was anything but easy. The only saving grace was that she loved me. As I matured, I respected the boundaries she set concerning us. It fostered a respect for her and even when we were away,  I considered what she would say about my choices. She also had respect from others because of her no-nonsense persona. She knew how to put people in their place.  It appeared that she was so good at handling us; hitherto, I believed that shaming a person was the way to put people in their place.

Her tough demeanor became my tough demeanor. Being tough was my way of coping with the challenges of life. I had many coping skills but the only problem is that those coping skills lost their effectiveness. What worked as a child was no longer working for me as an adult.

Recently I read Shepherding A Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp. The biblical approach paralleled with a lot of my personal experiences and beliefs except on one point. I had never seen efforts taken by my parents to preserve my dignity whenever I made a mistake. I am NOT saying that it was my parents’ fault and they had to teach that. They did their best with what they had. I am saying that I never saw it before and did not know how to extend it to my family.

Tripp wrote that our job is to help our children to be honest in recognizing their weaknesses and needs. This is another healthy skill I had to learn as an adult. I was a quiet child at heart and rarely shared things that were on my heart. I had to trust that it was safe before sharing because of the shame I carried with so many of my memories. When I became truthful in recognizing my weaknesses and needs, I was able to handle challenges in healthy ways. Our children will also benefit from being honest with themselves and  in learning how to communicate their needs. This is important in managing the challenges of life.

Tripp used scripture references from The Bible that spoke volume and I see them as instructions for marriage, parenting, friendship and everything else. Proverbs 16:21, Don’t berate with destructive words. Proverbs 16:23, Wounding their spirit only deepens alienation.  On page 207 of his book, I like how Tripp defined our responsibilities. He said as parents we want to teach our children how to take their sins to the cross, find forgiveness, and the power to live. 

Have you ever seen a personal weakness surface in the lives of your children? How did you handle it?

A Plate Of Herbs

I grew up watching my grandmother cook large batches of food. She would feed multiple families and still have leftovers. The amazing part if it all was her attitude; surprisingly, she wanted to serve. She cooked after working all day, preparing healthy hearty meals. She would say we needed food that would “stick to our bones.” I watched her pour her heart into every dish. After our first bite, she would ask with such a gleam in her eye, “how does it taste?” It was always good, because her secret ingredient was LOVE.

I really believe the example she left was a rich legacy in loving and serving others. Although I do not enjoy cooking as much as she did, I try not to forget the secret ingredient each time I prepare a dish. Freezer cooking is one way that I can manage our resources without sacrificing the joys around meal time. Truthfully it is all about the company around the table  that makes the difference. We must focus on pouring into one another as though we are filling a glass to quench a need.

This week I was not feeling well. The flu has been going around but Mommies do not get a day off. My husband tries to jump in and help, but meal time requires a whole lot more. It was good that I could pull out freezer meals to provide healthy hearty meals.  We are still working with the freezer meals from January.

We try to bag dinner to last 2 days each. We plan our freezer meals as if there will not be any days off in the month. We do this because in case they eat more than I originally planned, the next day we can easily pull out something new. My husband, a former college football player and personal trainer, must feed his muscles. Easily my 2 day prep of his favorite foods usually end up lasting a single day. Now my truth, honestly I must work on showing grace when his appetite mess up my schedule 😉.

Love and Peace