Well hello there! Way back at the beginning of the month I started talking about self improvement and invited you to join me all month long as we look into the hows and the whys and the ways that we can develop ourselves. And then I kind of disappeared on you. I went on the most difficult, yet still fun, camping trip ever, and then returned to work after two weeks off to find complete and utter madness, which meant that my house exploded into a pit of camping gear, dirty clothes, sand, toys, and food. This month has been all about go, go, go.
We all have seasons in our lives when its all we can do to catch our breath, much less actually think about improving ourselves. It might be a time when you or a close family member is dealing with a major health issue, or a few weeks working on a major project at work, or a time when your dealing with an issue with one of your children that takes all of your energy, wisdom, and time. Whatever the reason, some seasons we simply “just keep swimming” until we find a more peaceful state on the other side.
And yet sometimes we fill our lives with a lot of “busyness” that is really just being busy. We over-commit to things that aren’t even important to us. We pack our schedule with a hundred activities and allow our children to get involved in so many things that we push the limits of our sanity and their abilities. Sometimes, we just need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. How are we spending our days? Everyone has limited time, everyone is given the exact same number of hours in a week. Might it be a good idea to occasionally examine what we are doing with our limited hours to determine if our activities actually come close to matching up with our goals and desires? Are we spending all of our time driving our kids to practice and meetings and play-dates when what we really want is to spend more time with our children and enjoy their presence during this limited time we have with them called childhood? Are we scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest telling ourselves that we are keeping up with friends or learning new things or coming up with creative ideas for our home when we really just want to have more time to hang out with our friends, go back to school, or clean our house?
It’s easy to think of things that we would like to do. I would like to read more books. I’d like to get a Master’s degree. I want to run a marathon. I want to learn how to can more things like spaghetti sauce and salsa. I want to figure out how to keep up with my household chores more consistently. I’d love to save more money in our emergency fund. It would be great if I could improve my organization skills and de-clutter our home. I wish that I worked with my kids a little more on teaching them things, instead of leaving it all to their teachers. I’m sure you can come up with a similar list of things that you would like to do. Our lists could go on and on and aren’t very difficult to create.
And yet, I’m doing very little to make progress on any of these goals. None of these goals are very earth-shattering or huge. Technically, I could probably find a way to fit in all of these things into my schedule. But, I haven’t made them a priority. They’re really just dreams. I haven’t done enough thinking and work and prioritizing to actually turn them into goals that I can achieve.
I think the first step in turning these dreams into goals and eventually into realities is to figure out your why. Why do I want to read more books? Why do I want to get a Master’s degree? What am I trying to accomplish? What will change if I achieve this goal? How will things be different?
Without digging deep and figuring out your why, its easy to let the day to day busyness of life trap you into thinking that you don’t have time or that your goal is too difficult. But if you take the time to figure out why you want to do something, you can continually remind yourself of the importance of following through on your plan.
Take going back to school to get a degree, for example. This is a huge commitment. It will require some great sacrifices, a lot of hard work, and some major shifts in scheduling and priorities. So why do it? Many people will simply say, because I want to make more money, or I want a better job. To that, I’d say great. But why? Why do you want to make more money? Why do you want a better job? What’s wrong with where you’re at right now? Continuing to ask the why question to peel back the layers of your motivation will help you discover the real reason that you want to achieve the goal. And discovering your deep, real reason will help you to make the adjustments in your life to see your dream become reality. Your real motivation will allow you to push on when you’d rather quit.
You see, once you peel back the layers of your motivation, you’ll get an answer like, I want to go back to school to earn a degree so that I can obtain a position at work that I can feel proud of. I want to be an example to my daughter to teach her that she can achieve anything in life and become whoever she wants to be. I want to make enough money to take my children on vacations to different places so they can learn about other cultures and open their eyes to diversity. That, my friends, is something motivating that can keep you trudging through the difficult moments.
So think through your list of things you’d like to accomplish and start asking yourself why, and then keep asking why until you uncover enough motivation to get you going…and keep you going. When you start feeling frustrated or too busy, remind yourself of your why. When mindless Facebook scrolling tries to trap you in, think about your why.
Perhaps you’ll start working through your list and realize that you don’t really have a good why for one of your dreams. Try as you might, you just can’t come up with enough of a motivating why to get you going. This might be a sign that your dream isn’t really your dream after all. Sometimes we think we’re supposed to do something because everyone else does it or someone told us that we should, but if you can’t ignite a bit of a burning desire within your belly for something, then go ahead and release that dream to someone else. There are plenty of dreams that are within you to pursue. After all, our goal is to become the best version of ourselves, not the best version of someone else. Or even the best version of the person that our mom or our spouse tries to tell us to be.
Life is hectic and difficult and it doesn’t slow down for anyone. That doesn’t mean we can’t do better. It simply means we need to take a deep breathe and figure out how to change our hectic into something that works for us. Something that helps us become the person we want to be and accomplish all of our dreams. Reshift your focus to the things that matter most and you will find peace, prosperity, and abundance.