Prone to work: Motivation month

Motivation monthI’ve written before how I love all things goals/lists/motivation. I’m a sucker for New Year’s resolutions, to-do lists, motivational blog posts, etc. This morning, I was lamenting how many of my goals and ambitions weren’t anywhere near where I had hoped they would be by this time of year. Then I realized that the year isn’t yet over (obviously), and I can still work toward some solid next steps in many of the areas that need some attention.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve also got a few items on your original list of goals that may not be quite where you wanted for one reason or another. Personally, I had a bit of a disruption this year with a cross country move that shifted a few of my projects and put others on hold (read more about that here, here and here).

The good news is that we’ve still got a month to go! While we can’t create more hours in the day, we CAN be intentional about the time we have left. And the fact that the last month of the year is often one of the busiest is no excuse. Just think of how great it will feel to begin 2015 on a high note after finishing this year strong!

So, admitting that I CAN’T accomplish EVERYTHING I’d like to in the next month, here, in no particular order, are the things I’m hustling on:

  • Do something physical once a day. I ran this morning for the first time in WEEKS. The move and drastic weather changes got me out of sync, but I’m back on the horse after signing up for the half marathon in Nashville in April (any other hustlers running that one?). For me, it’s always more helpful to have something external to aim for and schedule around.
  • Do something professional once per day. I transitioned to a part-time, remote role once I moved to Denver from Florida in late September. I’ve been diligent about sending out job applications, updating my resume, and networking with professional contacts, and I want to continue making this job hunt a priority. Shameless plug: check out my profile and professional experience on LinkedIn if you know anyone who’s hiring 😉
  • Get the side project up and running. Before making the move this fall, I had an idea for a writing project that I wanted to tackle after I got here. While I’ve made some strides, it’s certainly not launched, but 31 days is more than enough time to stay diligent and see this idea through.

While these are the “big” things, there’s plenty more on my agenda that I’m looking forward to: freelance project deadlines, Christmas activities, travel, editing projects, Christmas shopping, etc., and I’m excited about the month ahead.

But what about you? Taking a look at your “original” list of goals, whether that’s for the year or the season or whatever, what are you going to focus on–realistically–for the next 31 days? How will you finish 2014 strong?

Comment below, and I’ll check in with you around the middle of the month to see how things are going!

Prone to plan: 2014 resolutions and goals

One might assume that a blog post about new year’s goals and resolutions should be written sometime around the new year. Then again, you know what they say about assuming…

In fact, I’ve had this post written a few different times, but I was never quite ready to press “Publish.” Part of the hesitation was “going public” with goals and the accountability that comes with it. But I got over that. Then I wrote about my friend, Elise, and didn’t really feel like writing anything for a little while. But I’ve pushed through that, as well.

Picking out goals for the year was somewhat tricker since I have have a whole list of things I want to accomplish before April 10. But I’ve resigned myself to the fact that my “30 list” won’t be completed in the next 4 months (like the story of the hike), and I’m OK with that.

Before I get to my actual resolutions/goals for 2014, I thought I would share some that I briefly considered but knew I wouldn’t keep. Thus, these didn’t make the cut for obvious reasons:

  • Eat less pasta. Clearly not going to happen.
  • Say something nice about Urban Meyer. I’m fairly certain this one isn’t even possible.
  • Stay current on my ironing–one of the few chores I absolutely loathe. Sadly, I knew this one was bound to fail.
  • Maybe possibly consider eating at Chick-fli-a slightly fewer times each month. With a Christmas stocking sporting a few gift cards, this one was also out of the running. Plus, eating there feels like tithing–they do the Lord’s work.

So here are the resolutions and goal’s I’ve settled on for 2014:

  • Faith: Read the Bible each day, preferably before skimming social media in the morning. Recently, I’ve been convicted about how much time I spend mindlessly reading about my friend’s cousin’s kid’s teacher’s latest class activity and how little time I spend in the Word. So I’m hoping to change that, even with a few minutes of reading a chapter in the morning. Then once that’s done, I don’t have to feel so guilty about finding Pinterest recipies for new desserts.
    • Fitness: Exercise at least three times a week. Getting presents for Christmas is great; getting fat is not. I’ve gotten into a fairly consistent schedule with this over the last few years. It’s normally easier for me to stick with something if I’m training for a race (like this past fall), so without anything on the calendar for the first part of 2014, I’m hoping that making this a resolution will keep me accountable and on track.
    • Focus: Write a blog post twice a week. I honestly hope to keep this one, but I’m not making any promises. It’s a goal, and I’ve declared it here in hopes of my other blogging friends (here, here, and here) keeping me accountable. But this is the one that seems to fall by the wayside when things get “busy.” But if you can’t count on me for two pithy posts a week, I’m not sure that you can count on me for anything.
    • Furnish: Complete one house project per month. I’ve got a house plan a’brewin, but that likely won’t come to fruition until 2015. Between now and then, I want to prioritize some time each month to work on a home project (like this, this, or this): something that will be fun and/or functional. Because let’s be honest, the joys of homeownership aren’t all painting walls and making curtains (though my friend, Mariah, just helped me make some great ones). Someone’s got to fix the sink drain and get the dryer serviced. If I can stay consistent with this (and build up some of my handyman skillz along the way), that will make the future idea that much easier.
    • Finances: Save for goal #1 by June 30; save for goal #2 December 31. I read and learned a while back that when coming up with things like money saving goals, it’s better to break them up into smaller chunks so you can see early wins. I’m fairly good at putting some cash away every month, but this year, I want to be deliberate in prioritizing this in the budget. Like I mentioned above, I’ve got some long term plans that I want to prepare for now, and this is the year to make that happen.
    • Word for the year: Each year, my pastor challenges us to pray about a word that will serve as a “guide” of sorts throughout the year. Last year, I settled on (post). This year, my word is…revealed in a future blog post. Sorry–I’ve got to have something for you to come back for!

2014 Resolutions
At this point, 20 days into the new year, I’d give myself a B- on the goals above. I’ve been doing OK, but not great, and in keeping with the grade school motif, there’s always room for improvement. But I’m excited about the prospects to stick to these plans.

How about you? Have you made any goals or resolutions for the year? If so, how are you doing on them now? If you don’t make any commitments at the beginning of each year, why not?

The 30 project: Hike a 14’er in Colorado

This is a tale of well-made plans and good intentions.

You see, many months ago, I decided that I wanted to celebrate the 30th anniversary of my birth in a special way–by accomplishing some goals that I had wanted to do for a while. And I wanted to do fun things with fun people.

 

Several friends have moved to Colorado over the past few years, and I’ve had the good fortune of getting to visit them about once or twice a year, normally in the winter so we can include some skiing. One of the friends and I hiked Yosemite several years ago. I had heard about the mountain peaks in Colorado and knew that my friends would be up for the challenge. Thus, the goal of hiking a 14,000′ mountain was born and added to the 30 list.

 

Plans were made. Schedules were arranged. Plane tickets were purchased. And expectations were high.

 

On Tuesday, two days before I was to fly out to Colorado, I got word that my friend–the same one who I had hiked with years before–had torn his ACL in one of his knees playing indoor soccer. “Disappointed” doesn’t begin to describe it–not for my sake or the possibility of the hike, but I hurt for my friend, especially since he had suffered a similar injury to the other knee several years before. Not to worry, his wife informed me, there was still a group interested in hiking. Nick would ride with us to the mountain and accompany us back to town.

 

And then it flooded.

 

Shortly before I arrived on Thursday night, many parts of the state were underwater, suffering the worst flood to hit the area since 1976. I flew in on Thursday night just before they closed portions of the interstate. We didn’t realized this little gem until Friday morning, when we discovered that there were few options for us to make it very far outside of town.

 

Between my friend’s injury and the terrible weather, I began to question whether this hike was meant to be.

 

My friends and I spent much of Friday considering various options: different mountains, or different routes to avoid flooded areas. But by the time we had to decide whether to make the drive on Saturday morning, the roads out of town were still closed. The hike wouldn’t be happening on Saturday.

 

Since the hike wasn’t happening that day, we found ourselves with no plans on Saturday–a rarity for this group. The weather improved considerably, and we attempted a morning run (at least those who could stand the altitude), and spent much of the afternoon in the park. But according to the forecast, there was still more rain to come.

 

Conditions improved. Roads opened. And we started talking about one last possibility: make the hike on Sunday morning. But I would have to do it solo.

 

The scenario would go like this: wake up well before everyone and drive to the nearest, most accessible mountain that we felt the roads would be open for. Admittedly, there was more than a fair bit of reluctance on my part as my friends and I discussed the options. I wasn’t completely comfortable with the idea of driving in the rain. I didn’t come out to Colorado to do the hike by myself (though this protestation was less about safety and more about community–we picked an easy hike that would be entirely doable solo). And there was no guarantee that the mountain would even be open.

 

But after considerable convincing from my friends, I agreed to make the effort. I had come too far not to make one last attempt. Whether I climbed the mountain or not, I had to try.

 

Sunday morning arrived. I checked the website–all of the roads to the mountain were open. I put on the warmest clothes I brought, filled up a mug of coffee, and started to 2ish hour drive southwest. I arrived at the trailhead just as the sun was coming up, though the only way I could tell was that the clouds were getting brighter. There was no sun to be seen, and the rain was still coming down, alternating between a light mist and a heavy drizzle.

 

I turned onto the road up the mountain–a winding, 9 mile stretch that would finish about 2 or 3 miles from the summit, leaving just the last stretch to climb.

 

Image

 

Closed.

 

I talked briefly with an official looking guy in an official looking truck, who had no idea when or if the mountain would open that day. I walked around, misting rain mixing with a touch of disappointment, and finally succumbed to the realization that the climb was not happening.

 

There was nothing left to do.

 

I drove away knowing the next chance for a climb wouldn’t be until next summer, well after my April 10 deadline. The seasons would soon be changing to winter, and I had several other trips already planned, which made it virtually impossible to make another Colorado visit anytime soon.

 

As hard as we tried, it wasn’t meant to be.

 

Image

 

I made the drive back to town realizing that I can’t look at the weekend as a failure: I got to experience a weekend in Colorado with great friends and make some new ones. And ultimately, that’s the point of many of the items on my list–to prioritize time with people. There will always be mountains to climb. And there will always be friends to visit. Just because the dream doesn’t happen according to my schedule doesn’t mean the dream is dead. It just means that the outcome is different.

 

And ultimately, that might have been the lesson God wanted to make in all of this. One of my biggest struggles is “holding loosely” to the plans I make. Every now and then, I need to be reminded that I’m not in charge. That I can make the plan, but God directs the steps. That we don’t always chose whether our plans succeed or fail, but we chose how we respond.

 

My 30 before 30 list

30 before 30

Today is my 29th birthday.

I’m not really bothered by birthdays or “getting older.” But a few weeks ago, I started thinking about my 29th and 30th year, and I realized that I want to make the last year in my 20s significant. I’ve always been a fan of setting goals and making lists, and several of my friends put together lists of 30 things they wanted to do or accomplish before their 30th birthday. There’s LOTS of “30 before 30” lists and blogs around the interwebs. Seriously, just google “30 before 30” and you’ll be occupied for days.

So I decided to do the same thing. I spent a lot of time thinking through things I’ve wanted to do by this point in life. Some of the items are from lists I’ve had for years. Other things are new, and some are inspired by the lists from strangers that I read online. But all of them are things I’ve never done before–or never done in a very long time.

Surprisingly, it was rather hard to come up with 30 things. Generating this list made me reflect on the past 29 years, and I realized just how blessed I’ve been and how many great experiences I’ve already had in my life. It was a helpful perspective to have moving into this next year.

The plan is to blog about each of these items  as they are accomplished, and the goal is to finish them all by April 10, 2014. I hope you’ll stick around this year to see how it all happens. Now, without further delay, here’s my list of 30 things to accomplish in the next 365 days…

1.     Take a professional cooking course
2.     Take dance lessons
3.     Learn a song on the piano and perform it for people
4.     Visit St. Augustine, Fla.
5.     Climb a 14,000′ mountain in Colorado (attempted on 9/12/2013)
6.     Ride in a hot air balloon
7.     See the sunrise and sunset from the beach in Florida in the same day
8.     Re-learn French, and have a conversation with someone
9.     Read the Harry Potter series
10.     Hike the Grand Canyon
11.     Ride a train through Napa Valley
12.     Visit a winery and vineyard
13.     Learn to paddle board
14.     Learn canning with some type of vegetable or jam
15.     Do something generous and surprising for someone unexpected
16.     Pay it forward for a stranger
17.     Go to an NFL game
18.     Visit Disneyland
19.     Watch Amadeus, Best Picture Academy Award Winner, 1984
20.     Go on an airboat ride
21.     Learn how to drive a manual transmission
22.     Teach a class or speak somewhere publicly
23.     Start a garden
24.     Go to a big concert or music festival (Completed on on 5/18/2013)
25.     Volunteer for at least 30 hours
26.     Attend a blogging conference
27.     Eat at a place from the Restaurant Bucket List (Completed on 4/13/2013)
28.     (This one is a surprise item)
29.     Complete the “Exile” blog series and turn it into an ebook

30.     Successfully complete a game of golf.I’m looking forward to a fun year! Also, thanks to my brother, Jason, for the “30 Before 30” image up top.

Prone to grow: My word for the year

Eat healthy food. Get a better education. Lose weight. Quit smoking. Sound familiar?

Each year, my pastor encourages us to find a word for the year. Rather than a resolution that we’re likely to break, a word for the year is meant to be something that God puts on your heart. Something meant more as a broad, guiding principle that you reflect on and act on throughout the year, instead of a short-term goal that only leads to frustration.

My word for the year is purpose.

I’m not entirely sure why I settled on that as my word, and that’s part of the fun. I’m curious about what it will be like to look back at the end of the year and see how God used this word in various ways.

But here’s how I’ve seen it so far. First, I want to be a man of purpose. I want to know my convictions and principles and stick to them. By the end of the year, I’d like to look back and know with a bit more clarity what my purpose here really is. Perhaps that sounds fatalistic, but it isn’t meant to be. Aren’t we all looking for a greater sense of purpose and direction?

Beyond that, I want to make decisions and act with a sense of purpose. I often do things for lots of various and somewhat valid reasons, like fulfilling the expectations of others, or a sense of duty and responsibility. Those are reasons often based on other people, and that’s not always inappropriate. But I don’t want that to be my primary modus operandi. I want to do things with purpose.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

What about you? What are your traditions around the new year? How well are you keeping up with your resolutions? Do you choose a word for the year? How it going now that we’re nearly a quarter of the way through 2013?