“It takes discipline to focus only on high-value targets instead of giving in to the temptation of the low-hanging fruit life serves up daily.” Mark Divine (“The Way of the SEAL: Think Like an Elite Soldier to Lead and Succeed”)
In our “fly by night” culture it is easy to get swept away by the waves of “busyness.” When this happens, the days can easily turn to weeks, the weeks to months and the months to years and we can find ourselves dissatisfied with our lack of progress in one or possibly many ares of our lives. If we don’t press “pause” on a regular basis, we can easily lose our focus and direction. Below are a few practical steps that we can implement to stay the course:
- Set daily goals (glorified “to do” list). I find the ideal time to do this is before I get into bed. I will grab a pen and paper and jot down what I want to get accomplished the following day. The can be as general or specific as you need them to be. For example a recent list of mine included: workout (before work), drop off donations to library and Gospel Mission, enter new business contacts in database, clean desk, clean bathroom (they don’t have to be glamorous goals), follow up call to a particular client, set up email on new phone, quiet time with God and call my brother. I will try and look for balance in my daily goals (physical, spiritual, relational, practical, etc.) If I see that I’m too heavy in one area I will add something to get things in balance.
- Determine your mental outlook prior to diving into your day. When you wake up, remind yourself of your blessings (I want you to literally pause and thank God for them by name) and be determined to be a blessing to others. I often find myself doing this on the treadmill while warming up for my workout that morning….two birds, one stone. The world is filled with negativity. Ask God to help you be a light in the darkness and no matter how you “feel,” be positive in your interactions (acknowledge hardships, the reality of a bad day, etc. with others but search for that silver lining). I have found that most of the time my day will follow my mindset. This isn’t about being “fake.” Again, acknowledge and validate yourself if you’re feeling stressed or bad about something but be determined not to stay there for too long. Get your mind right. God loves you and is control even when it’s brutally hard. Set your feet on the Rock. “The rain came down, the streams rose, and the wind blew against that house, yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” Matthew 7:25
- Be available. Although we make plans, God may have other ideas. Be ready for God’s detours because they will happen. His ways are higher than our ways. So go ahead and plan but hold onto it with an open hand. As I tell my 10 year old son: Keep a “squishy brain” (be flexible and able to roll with the punches and changes that can happen during the course of a day).
- Practice grace. I’ve found that the hardest person to offer grace to is myself. If we don’t get through our daily goals it is easy to be hard on ourselves. Give yourself some leeway and just add the item to tomorrow’s list. Checking off the list itself is not the goal. The true goal is where the list (the cumulative effect of our daily goals) can take us and what our goals can develop in us.
“Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day.” Jim Rohn
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.” Matthew 5:14 & 15