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
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.
First, I can only accomplish living well and traveling well with prayer. I can not take credit for the favor that my family received on these trips but I can share the process. In fact, this summer we took a short family vacation. It was a small getaway of four days and four nights to Pittsburgh, PA., “Home of the Steelers”. Nice people by the way. We had so much fun bonding and catching one adventure after the next. This was truly an adventure full of grace.
Secondly, to travel well, we must refer to our foundational principles for positive posture, we definitely will need to have clear goals. Without established goals, you can get lost. Many people get lost in “chasing” the best deal and forgetting all that glitter is NOT gold. This applies to all things in life, not just traveling. Once you have outlined the things that will make your trip comfortable, you begin to realize that the best deal is not just about money. It is about how things align with the experience you are trying to create. This recent trip to Pittsburgh was an idea that originated from my husband’s desire to attend a Steelers game with our six year old daughter. My nine year old, a Redskins fan, and I only planned to tag along to just getaway. I think of this short trip as a bucket list item for my husband. He wanted to be downtown in walking distance to everything. He added that he wanted to expose the girls to nice things, so he wanted to stay in the best hotel in Pittsburgh. As a budget savvy Mommy, I do NOT mind. I just need clear goals so that I can look for the coupon for it. And even if it does not go as planned, at least you have a strategy or game plan to serve as your default.
The third step, you must have a good attitude in order to travel well. Earlier I mentioned that plans may not go as planned, but the right attitude will help you to feel that it is part of the adventure we call life. Every challenge carries with it an opportunity, but most of the time you can not see it until the hard part passes. To smile in the heat of adversity is almost like you are standing and seeking the face of God.
Finally, make sure you have tip money. It is better to give than to receive. Tipping reflects on you. It relates a message that says “you believe in adding to the quality of life for others”. Inadvertently you add to your trip by showing appreciation for others. This also helps you to fight the temptations of filling your trip with empty pleasures, missing the purpose of any trip. I see a trip as taking a date with yourself, and part of being good to yourself is being good to others. It is a time to reconnect with yourself and those you love. Sometimes we can loose touch with what matters in our day to day. Most trips remind us that the world is bigger than just what we see every day. I hope this helps you to reboot.
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?
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
The 40 Days to Positive Posture was full of hard work. I challenged myself for weeks to walk greater distances. I was determined to smile more and chose to rejoice even in difficult circumstances. My view on life was being transformed. When I welcomed challenges, I realized they were doorways to opportunities. A variety of opportunities but the best was choosing to grow into a better person.
I concluded this personal posture challenge with an “all out” two-part finale. I participated in the 2017 Mrs. Maryland America Pageant on a Saturday. It was not going to cost me anything but efforts in working on my posture. The next day, to add to the fireworks, my family ran in our first 5k. A dream of mine is to participate in Marathons. I ran in high school and college but did not want that to be it for something I enjoyed so much. Since college, life became complicated. My legs gave out and walking became difficult. Last year at this time I was exercising under strict supervision. So this 40 day challenge was my way to share a recovery journey with you.
This challenge encouraged me to reflect on my attitude when facing physical challenges. I conquered some of the tough things with grace when I was determined to do so with positive posture. The way I carried myself garnered positive responses from others versus the times I didn’t care. When I walked in Positive Posture, I actually grew in an understanding of my own personal worth. I did not win the state title, but I was more honored to walk away with the title of Mrs. Bethesda America 2017. I was a winner whether they crowned me or not.
The 5k was its own challenge, and my 5 year old felt it the most out of all of us. This was her first full year of doing various runs, so a run of this distance was definitely a stretch for her. Although I had the experience decades ago, it felt like it was my first race as well. Early in the race, I saw a girl in a wheelchair being pushed by her sister. It was the most beautiful thing and I could not hold back the tears. Living with a disability will carry its own challenges, but it isn’t a limit on how much of life we are able to experience. We can choose to conquer challenges with grace when we choose positive posture.
Positive Posture is a choice. It is more than just physical stature. It is a way of thinking. It affects our personal abilities to overcome challenges and it affects how others see us. It is the decision to finish gracefully.
How many people truly share the truth on how they are doing when asked, how are you? I am NOT saying that is a time to vent. I am saying that is the time to connect. Since most people don’t expect lengthy responses, there is no pressure to make it long. So we are faced with the question, how do you honestly share without overdoing it? Well first, you need time to daily reflect on how you are doing and what you are doing. You may have started a new hobby, but apprehension about your skills may stop you from sharing this exciting new interest. It is not so much about the details of roller coaster emotions but our personal response is what really makes the difference. For example, when how you are doing, you may respond hopeful with a brief description.”Hopeful. I’m learning to play a guitar.” Wouldn’t that act as a great icebreaker? Humor works great, but never at the expense of honesty. If you are grieving or suffering, you may respond with just prayerful. “Prayerful.” In this this case, explanation is only given when asked, but honesty is our intention.
Let’s brainstorm on honest responses for different scenarios.
For days you are in physical pain
For days we are feeling persecuted
For days we have disappointment
You maybe asking, what does this have to do with Positive Posture. Well, honesty is the key that can unlock the doors to miracles. As a person that’s recovering from hurts, hang ups and habits, I realize the first step in healing is acknowledging that I have a problem. This level of honesty with myself first, empowers me to go to God and ask for help. It frees me to share both trials and triumphs with those who walk beside me in the fight. Honesty will strengthen self esteem in how it builds confidence in myself to make good choices. Confidence is the most beautiful thing about an attractive personality.
Had such an amazing stretching session with my husband. 45 minutes and I’m feeling so relaxed. Stretching helps with posture. Positive posture is almost impossible with tight chest muscles. It took months in physical therapy before I saw improvements in my posture a year ago. That was the best I ever felt concerning posture. I definitely want to include stretching into my daily routine.
Took the walking from my home to the streets. I had a Dr. appointment that was a little over a mile away. We have a trail within our community that makes walking to places nearby a sheer joy. I worked up a sweat but nothing too embarrassing. So glad I took the challenge.
I have included walking to my posture routine. I click on YouTube and allow Leslie Sampson to lead me in walking a mile. It is always difficult to start something new. In fact, starting is the HARDEST part. I’m glad to come across this video because she has made walking a mile so much easier. 15 minutes and I’m done!