Category Archives: Reminders

Choosing Joy

choosing joy

I am spending a few glorious (and warm) days at the beach visiting a dear friend. On the drive from the airport my friend told me about the island’s beach renovation project. The Corps of Engineers situated a big ship offshore a couple of miles north of us to suck sand from the ocean floor. They then push it through a pipe they progressively lay down close to the water. The Fresh sand is sifted and then deposited along the eroded shore, and then big trucks even it out. It is quite a production.

choosing joy

Unfortunately the crew set up shop right in front her place 3 days before my arrival. When they moved down the beach after a couple of days, they left a big pipe stretched across the sand in front of us, and– for a while– a plastic orange fence that kept us from approaching the ocean.

I had a decision to make.

This week I will choose:

Will I focus on the rusty pipe,

or the panorama of ocean and sky?

choosing joychoosing joy

On the orange fence, or a shore free of beach walkers?

On an occasional beeping truck, or gull cries and crashing waves?

 choosing joy

All through our lives we make decisions.

We choose.

To enjoy life’s beauty, or to be annoyed by its problems.

To appreciate what we have, or to wish for what we don’t.

To be content, or to be restless.

 choosing joy

In our walk with God on this earth we choose

To trust, or to worry.

To be thankful, or to be dissatisfied.

To embrace joy, or to wallow in self-pity.

Thank you God, for

Your presence within and around me.

The magnificence creation before me.

The beauty of me – your ultimate design.

You – Your personality, intellect, creativity, compassion.

The incredible power you possess and restraint that you practice.

 choosing joy

Thank you God,

For renovating my heart, just like this beach – restoring fresh sand, minus the debris.

For Your incomprehensible love, vast as the sea.

Thank you, that you have made it possible for me to choose You,

For me to choose Joy.

Overwhelming GRACE

0verwhelming GRACE

overwhelming GRACE

Overwhelming GRACE

by Lydia Floren

When life seems overwhelming, it is hard to wait on God. And even when we choose to be still,  our minds can continue to race, robbing us of this precious time to re-energize and refocus.

Praying GRACE is an awesome way to break free of swirling thoughts, and drink in God’s peace and love.

Give thanks:

Thank you, God, that you are here. You love me, and those Iove. You know exactly what is going on. You meet me right where I am and are leading me in the next step. You are powerful and have everything under control. I am safe.

Release:

Father, you know all of these things swirling around in my head. I just leave them one by one at your feet. You are in control. I don’t need to be, and frankly, I can’t be.  Thank you for helping me to see that. Forgive me when I try to take control instead of trusting you.

Accept:

Father, I accept the lighter load of following you, instead of trying to figure out everything on my own. I accept Your leadership and direction. Right now I choose to listen as you speak through your word, and your still small voice within me.

Continue:

God, I choose to continue moving forward in the way you have already led me, trusting you to make clear any changes that need to be made.  Thank you that even if/when things don’t seem clear, you will open doors, close others, helping me to see plainly which way to go.

Enjoy:

Father thank you that I can just enjoy the day in front of me, knowing that You’re with me–reassuring, guiding, loving. I can enjoy each moment knowing that you’re taking care of everything, and that you have the big picture in mind.

                This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

you are lovely, and loved.

God's grace is overwhelming

NOMB Part III: Curbing the Impulse to Fix Myself

NOMB 3 curbingNOMB (None Of My Business) Part III: Curbing the Impulse to Fix Myself

by Lydia Floren

One time, when I was particularly aware of my failures and inadequacies (this happens a lot to perfectionists, BTW), I decided I would make a list of of each of my faults. It took awhile. It was quite a list. Finally I finished, and then wrote this prayer in my journal:

“OK, God, here are all the things that need changing in me. Where do you want me to start first?”

Here was His answer: “Why don’t you start with the perfectionist part?”

I was stunned. And then I laughed.

Perfectionism wasn’t even on my list. But once I thought about it, perfectionism, in a sense, WAS my list. The very act of writing down that string of deficiencies was my attempt to perfect myself, albeit with God’s blessing. But God had different ideas of what needed fixing. He knew I needed to change my tendency to perfect myself at all, and the audacity, in fact, to think that I could. Suddenly, I saw how prideful and foolish it was to attempt any self-improvement on my own.

I not only need God’s strength to carry out any change in myself, I need His wisdom about what really needs changing. His words, His wisdom, didn’t come from within me, it came from Him, and it is changing my life. Slowly. Recovering from perfectionism is a long process.

Not only are we unable to fix others’ problems, we are not even very good at fixing our own. We are quite blind to our blind spots. We don’t perceive the fixed false beliefs deep in our psyches that are obstacles to freedom and joy. And when God shows us one of those blind spots, only He can help us navigate the complicated path needed to free us from the lies and lead us into truth.

This is why Paul says, “I don’t even judge myself.” God is The Master Physician. He alone sees the big picture of my life, the unseen pain and distorted misinformation that unconsciously drives destructive thought and action. He alone knows the best way to blast me out.

God has serious skills.

Recent Series: NOMB Part I: Letting God Be The Fixer, NOMB Part II: Curbing The Impulse To Fix Others

NOMB Part II: Curbing The Impulse To Fix Others

 

NOMB curb others-recby Lydia Floren

NOMB (None Of My Business) Part II: Curbing The Impulse To Fix Others

When I see someone else’s struggle and “feel their pain”, I want so much to make it better. WHAT’s a person to DO? Here are a few tips:

#1 Face yourself:

  • Check your motives. Be honest with yourself about why you want to make it right. Your urge to fix is probably not as altruistic as it seems. Our motives are often mixed: sure we want to help, but we may also want to avoid the discomfort of watching others suffer or the annoyance of their “imperfection.”
  • Accept your limits in understanding and skill, and the specific ways God has asked you to serve in this world.

#2 Remind yourself of truth:

  • Pain is important. We are programmed to avoid pain at any cost, but experiencing pain is necessary; the stove’s heat or the wind’s cold prompt us to practical action. Leprosy is a malady where the nerves that detect pain are destroyed. Much of the disfigurement of leprosy comes because of the lack of feeling, not from the disease itself: a burn goes undetected, or an infection untreated, which leads to irrevocable tissue damage. Pain notifies us of danger or a need to change, even if that is just taking better care of ourselves.
  • Suffering is a part of life on earth. “In the world,” Jesus said, “you will have tribulation. But take courage: I have overcome the world.” He understands that we will have suffering—He experienced it himself many times. But he also knows that accepting hardship is not admitting defeat: far from it. God works all things out for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.
  • God uses all the pain in our lives, and sometimes He allows us to suffer for a reason. If He does so, He can be trusted: He has a good purpose in it, either for us or for someone else.
  • Your fixing can actually do more harm than good. What you think is helpful for someone else can often be downright harmful; how could you possibly know?

#3 Pray:

  • Thank God that
    He is at work in this situation, and good will come of it.
    His love for you and your loved ones is much greater than your own.
    His ideas, His strategy, His perspective, His understanding are far beyond you’re own.
    He will let you know if He wants you to do something in this situation.
    He will give you the self-control to resist the urge to step in where you don’t belong, and        the courage to step forward when He leads you to act.
  • Talk to God about the specifics. He already knows what is going on, but also knows that you need the listening ear of a loved one to hear your concerns. (It really helps. Trust me.)
  • Ask God what He wants you to do or not do.
  • Listen for His answers.

#4 Act: There are many ways God MAY ask you to help. You might be led to do one or a combination of the following:

  • Intercede. Often when I see difficulties in another’s life, I feel like God’s primary request is for me is to pray for that person. This is not a last resort. It is actually the most powerful action I can take because prayers invite the power of God’s spirit into the situation. Perfect power and perfect love, working on the problem! Who doesn’t want that?
  • Encourage. The most important thing a person can do–outside of praying–for someone in difficulty is to encourage them. Encouragement can be as simple as a smile, a hug, a note, or a shared laugh. It is easy to encourage via phone, text, Facebook, or email. A moment of thoughtfulness can make a world of difference in someone’s day, especially when they are going through a hard time.
  • Listen. God gave us two ears and one mouth, right? Listening is a powerful encouragement. Giving someone a safe place to articulate a problem or vent emotion is actually therapeutic. I have seen this over and over in the practice of medicine.
  • Serve. Practical acts of service, such as a gift, a visit, a meal, an offer to babysit are “cups of cold water” given in Jesus’ name. They help lighten another’s load in the most literal sense.

“It’s God’s problem. He should worry”
To be honest, it is a relief to acknowledge my limits, and accept my inability to fix others. When I do, I find I worry less. I pray more. My focus centers on God’s sufficiency rather than specific problems. And I am more likely to pay attention when God leads me to how and when I should act, or if it is best for me just to concentrate on prayer.

At most I might be a small part of a solution to someone’s problem. I am certainly not meant to be The Solution. Only God can be that; when I try, I just get in the way.

Accepting my limits frees me to do what God has already asked me to do—what we are all called to do in this world: love people. This love may take the form of prayer, encouragement, listening, and/or serving.

It’s our job to love folks. It’s God’s job to fix them.

Recent Series: NOMB Part I: Letting God Be The Fixer; Patience

NOMB Part I: Letting God Be The Fixer

by Lydia Floren

NOMB (None Of My Business) Part I: Letting God Be The Fixer

Fixing Things

I am a fixer by nature and nurture. By nature, according to the Myers-Briggs personality test I am an Extroverted-Intuiter-Feeler-Perceiver, and ENFP’s like me enjoy solving problems. You could say that my tendency to want to fix things is hardwired in my DNA. By nurture, I grew up the middle child. As such, I was the de facto ambassador in parental negotiations and the swing vote in sibling disputes. My fix-it-ness was reinforced in medical school, where I learned to analyze and diagnose and advise and treat all sorts of ailments. You could say I had a “license to fix.”

But nothing has fine-tuned my fixing skills more than motherhood. As every parent knows, moms are required to fix all kinds of stuff like scrapes, scuffles, bad manners, and hurt feelings. Oh yeah, and spilled milk, throw-up, and crises in the carpool. And—lest we forget–moms are more often than not responsible for fixing dinner.

No wonder it is hard for me to turn off that fixing nature. (And why would I want to? I’m so good at it! But I must—MUST– resist the urge. Fixing other people’s lives is waaaaay out of my job description. It is one thing to help someone solve a problem when asked (such as in my role as physician), or when someone depends on you (as in mothering a small child). But most of the time people don’t need—or want–me to diagnose what is wrong with them and try to correct it. That is almost always the worst thing a person can do. Ask any teenager.

Folks, including teenagers, just want to be loved and accepted. They want to be enjoyed for who they are. They want someone to believe in them and pray for them. People want someone to listen while they talk out their dilemmas so they can come up with their own solutions.

SIGH.

OK, so how does one curb this fixing habit? Here’s a great start: Remind yourself every day that YOU ARE NOT GOD.

Note to self: I am not God.

I am not God. I know this shocks those of you who know me, but I just wanted to get it out there so you could get used to the idea.

Here are a few additional reminders that are helping me curb my fixing habit:

  • I don’t know the big picture. I do not have enough information to even judge what another person’s problems are, much less to solve them. I might see glimpses, but they are just that—flashes of insight. It takes much more information than this to make an accurate diagnosis and recommend a remedy. As we in medicine like to say, “A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing.”
  • I don’t have the skills. Another axiom in the practice of medicine is, “Know your limits.” Not only do I lack adequate information, I also lack the ability to “fix” someone else.
  • It is not my job. As much as I might act like it sometimes, God has not asked me to fix anyone. I don’t think He ever would, and it would be beyond me if He did.
    My “fixing” might hurt more than it helps.

What about you? Do you ever have the inclination to try to FIX THINGS?                                            If so, then repeat after me:

“I am not God. I am not God. I am not God.”

Oh, gracious! There I go again. Now I’m trying to fix YOU! Ugh!

note not God-rec

Recent Series: Learning to Fish, Our Problems Are Not The Problem, Four Practical Steps

Four Practical Steps to Overcoming Problems – Overcoming Series, Pt. III

by Lydia Floren

In the Overcoming blog series, we have been talking about—well—overcoming problems. In this process, it helps to:

  • Remember who Jesus is, and what God can do.
  • Accept the truth that problems are a part of life.
  • Jesus has overcome the world. He has conquered the ordered system of evil we live in.

But how do we apply this to our everyday lives?

4 practical steps

Four practical steps to overcoming problems:

1. Face your problem

  • Face the problem honestly. Don’t avoid it, blame someone else, or pretend it isn’t really a problem. In intense emotional reaction to a situation, especially if it seems out of proportion to the facts, may be a clue to you that you have an unidentified issue; examine it with courage.
  • Identify YOUR problem. Ask questions. For example, if you have a problem with a coworker, ask yourself, “What is happening? What is my reaction? What reasons might I be reacting this way? Am I making false assumptions? Generalizing? Why?” Asking questions helps you get to the real problem, which may be that this co-worker triggers something from your past and brings up old pain.
  • Don’t let problems become your identity; keep the problem the problem. For example, say “I experience anger in certain situations” not “I am an angry person.” And don’t generalize about someone else, as in, “They are a no-good-very-bad person because they make me angry.”
  • Be willing to change in your reaction to the problem. Problems are opportunities and avenues for change. Be flexible and teachable. Own your own emotions. Be willing to change.

2. Focus on God by giving thanks.
Giving thanks is a powerful way to return our attention to God, and put our problems in perspective. Give thanks for the following:

  • The situation, and that you are learning from it.
  • Who God is, and his faithfulness to you.
  • What God is showing you about the dilemma you are facing, and what His perspective might be.
  • What God offers you: strength, direction, His presence, and–most important–his promise to work everything to a good end.

3. Follow God’s Leading: ACT

  • ACT: Step forward in the direction you sense God is leading.
    If you really don’t know what to do, wait for clarity, if possible. If a decision is pressing, align your choice with previous ways He has led. Use your best judgment, after reviewing as much information as possible.
  • Sometimes you will misunderstand what He is telling you, and head off course. That’s OK. It happens a lot, actually. It is part of the process of learning to listen and follow. Think of it like this: it is much easier to steer a moving ship than one that is dead in the water. As you go, God will adjust your path and redirect you as needed.

4. Repeat

  • When you face difficulties, it is great to have a solid habit in place for dealing with challenges. Repetition creates habit. As you choose over and over to face, focus, and follow, you will build a pattern of strength and wisdom to address the next problem. Which, after all, is only two weeks away!

‘Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ Isaiah 41:10 NASB

Share with us! What practical tips do you use to overcome problems in your life?

Related posts: Learning to Fish, Our Problems Are Not The Problem

Learning to Fish on the Right Side of the Boat – Overcoming Series: Part I

boatPainting by Alexei Birvukoff

by Lydia Floren

There is a great story in the Bible where Jesus was at the shore of a huge lake, looking out over the water. He was watching a boat approaching:  His disciple Peter was returning home from a fruitless night of fishing.  Peter must have been discouraged.  Who wouldn’t be after working their tail off and seeing no results? As he stowed away his gear, he glanced up and noticed someone standing on the beach: Jesus.

“Hey Peter, throw your nets out on the other side of the boat”.  Jesus hollered out to him.

That’s nuts, Peter thinks.  He just doesn’t understand. We’ve been at this for hours and hours.

“I’ve been fishing all night,” Peter hollered back, “we haven’t caught a thing.

Silence. I can just hear Peter talking to himself:

OK, Peter, that was kind of stupid. Jesus knows everything.  I’m sure He is aware that it’s not been a good night of fishing. Yet still…he said to put my nets back down, this time on the other side of the boat. Maybe he knows something I don’t know about where the fish are. I’ve seen him do some pretty amazing stuff.  Like the whole feeding the 5000 thing. [sigh] If Jesus says to do this, it is probably worth a shot to haul up the nets and throw them out one more time, wherever He says to throw them. 

  “OK guys let’s do this,” Peter ordered.  “Grab the nets, and cast them on the far side of the boat.” 

His crew might have just stood there, incredulous.  They were as bone-weary as Peter was, and were savvy enough fishermen to know when to pack it in.  Maybe they muttered a few choice comments to each other, waiting for Peter to come to his senses.

Peter didn’t care.  He knew Jesus.  They didn’t.

“Well, what are you waiting for?” He shouted. “Get moving.”

The sailors suddenly scrambled into action. They gathered the nets, and then cast them once more, this time in a most unpromising place. Or was it?  Their skepticism shifted to awe as their nets immediately started filling with a catch so huge that they started to break.

511046.TIF

Peter just shook his head, bemused.  He’d seen Jesus do this kind of thing before.  Yet even with all Peter’s experiences–after having witnessed miracle after miracle–it was still so easy for Peter to forget who Jesus was, and what God could do.

2000 years later, nothing has changed.

It is so easy for us to forget who Jesus is, and what God can do.

In our lives today, it is so easy to forget who Jesus is, and what God can do.  We have seen God do amazing things in our lives–and the lives of others–yet when we face difficulties, we tend to focus on the problem instead of keeping our eyes fixed on The Solution.   We worry about what we see, instead of looking beyond to what God is doing.  When we fixate on the problem, we might get to work trying to find a solution on our own.  The busier we get “solving problems,” the more distracted we can become, and it gets harder and harder to remember what—and Who—is important.

In overcoming problems in our lives, we must stay focus on God, and do our best to follow His lead.

                Next week:  our problems are not the problem.

How do you stay focused on God when you have problems?

it is so easy-fish-rec

Recent posts: Circling Back, Sharing a Sunset, Enjoying God’s Presence.

The Right Things For The Right Reasons: Goals series part 3

by Lydia Floren

Can we learn to be free from our performance-based roots, and still be “in the game” of life? Yes. Paul advised this:

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2 NLT

Transformation of the way we think is crucial to following God. First this involves a change of focus, as we discussed in the last two blogs on goals. Instead of adopting our culture’s definition of “success,” we must embrace  the more compelling goal to “make love our aim.” When we focus on things that matter for eternity, our “success” has far-reaching consequences.

Every believer has at one time or another done this, at least for awhile. But it is easy to slip back into old performance-based habits, and just call them by a different name.

For example, we decide to follow Christ. We have a revelation, a turning. We have come to accept that not only is God real, but He truly rewards those who genuinely seek Him. But somewhere along the way, we have lost the vibrancy of those first days of faith, and we are back to the grind. It might be a different grind, but grind it is. Instead of sharing our faith or time, or money, or energy because we have been led by God to do so, we do so out of duty, guilt, or fear. Or if we don’t do these things we feel guilty because we “aren’t doing more.” We find ourselves in a different kind of competition, with a different kind of goal– to be a professional Christian—The Best. And if we are honest with ourselves, we do it to remain a “member in good standing” with whatever Christian community to whom we might be attached.

We are not alone in this. Since the first generation of believers, people have succumbed to the temptation to take matters back into their own hands, and revert to rules and regulations instead of being guided by God. This is what Paul referred to in the first part of 1 Corinthians 13: “I can speak with the tongue of men and angels,” Paul says, “but if I have not love, I am nothing.”

We must choose to remain free
We must vigilantly guard our freedom in Christ, and resist the temptation to reduce a life of following God to a set of rules. God simply doesn’t work that way. He is consistent in His character but unpredictable in his methods. We must remain committed to Him first, not bound to a standard or a norm, or we slide into the pit of shoulds and coulds all over again.

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36

Share with us: How are you choosing to remain free? We would love to hear from you.

Recent posts: Beginning With The End In Mind: Goal Series – Part IITaking Aim: Goal Series – Part I,

Beginning With The End In Mind: Goal Series- Part 2

by Lydia Floren

We have three sons, who all played sports at various stages while growing up, and we quickly learned that youth sports were not only competitive for children, but even more so for parents. When our son made a great play, we would get more high fives from other parents in the stands than our kids would from their teammates. When there was a victory, there was as much or more cheering on the sidelines as there was on the field. (Of course at the early stages, the main reason the players were cheering at the end of the game is because it was time for treats! Aaaah! Those were the days!)

So how does a parent cope with the temptation to be drawn into this ultra-competitive environment? And how does one then teach their child to keep things in perspective? Well, I could write a whole book on this (I made many mistakes) but a couple questions really helped me keep my feet on the ground through the whole kids-in-sports thing:

“Is my child likely to be in a professional athlete?”
“Does he have that drive, that desire, and that amount of natural talent?
“Is that the way I see God leading him?”

I asked myself these question repeatedly over the years, and my answer was invariably “no.” (Sorry, guys.) If most kids aren’t destined for ESPN highlights, the next question is obvious:

“Why should kids even participate in organized sports?”

  • What was the goal, the aim of that activity?
  • If it wasn’t to get him a scholarship to a Division I school on the way to a pro contract deal with commercials, what was and is the point?

Unfortunately for many of us parents, the answer might be more about us than about them. Be honest, sideliners. At some point or some level we have all enjoyed basking in the glow of our kids’ successes, not because of what it says about them, but what it says about us: “you must be a good parent because your kid is a great sportsman.” (How warped is that?)

There are many good reasons for enrolling your kids in organized sports that have nothing to do with grooming them for a professional career. (Years later I continue to see, long after their playing days were over, the great things my sons still carry with them from their playing days.) Here are a few great reasons to have a child in organized sports: physical fitness, learning how to be a team member, being a part of a group, learning discipline, hard work, excellence, selflessness, honesty, restraint, self-esteem, working with good and bad coaches [translate bosses].

Organized sports teach kids how to lose, to win, to encourage, to stay positive, to be consistent, to do the job you have been assigned, to lead, to follow. I could go on. None of these things in any way requires that your child be a standout performer on the fast-track to the pros. In fact, having that star distinction can hamper him/her from gleaning many of these benefits.

What is success?
I am getting to a point here. What is success? Making a bunch of money and having a body that doesn’t work well for the last half of your life? Risking life-altering injury for a few moments of glory? Spending all your college days on the field or in the pool instead of exploring your many other interests and abilities?

How does God view success? What would he consider a worthy aim in life? Jesus was quite clear on this point:

“Love the Lord your god with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. And love your neighbor as yourself.”

Or as Paul put it in 1 Corinthians 14:1:

“Make love your aim.”

Now that is a goal worth aiming for.

Share with us: How do you decide and review goals? We would love to hear from you.

Recent posts: Taking Aim: Goal Series – Part IA Note In Your Lunchbox, To Be, To-Do To Be

Taking Aim – Goal Series: Part I

by Lydia Floren

Even though our beloved Packers missed the Super Bowl by a hair’s breath, we will be part of the football faithful watching the big game this year. We watch a lot of football at our house.  So the Super Bowl is an event rivaling the importance of Thanksgiving or Christmas, no matter who is playing.

In fact, you could consider us a football family.  Football lore and stats are often bantered about our house.  My husband Andrew is fond of mentioning that Drew Brees, the quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, is more accurate than a world class archer.  Brees once took a challenge to see how many times he could hit an Olympic archery target at 20 yards throwing a football–he hit the bull’s-eye ten out of ten times. Check out the video.

That is crazy.  How does he do that?  Practice, certainly. But the first step in any skill is deciding where you want to go—identifying your target, and taking aim.  Drew decided years ago he wanted to be a great quarterback, and he has been practicing his throws ever since.

Taking aim

There is a saying by Zig Ziglar that says, “If you aim at nothing, you are sure to hit it.”   Another great saying is “A long journey begins with the first step.” if that is true, it makes sense that your first step of the rest of your life should be to figure out what you are aiming at in your life.

What are you aiming for in life? 

What are you aiming for in life?  What a great question to ask yourself as the New Year begins.  Putting it another way: What drives your decisions?  What are you focused on in life?

Are you even aiming at anything?

I think most of us are aiming at things, and usually these goals are based in core beliefs that we hold, and/or driven by needs we feel compelled to meet.  But our beliefs and  motives may not be obvious to us.  In fact, we can be immobile, and still be aiming at something. Perfectionists have this down to an artform:  we stop before we start, because we don’t BELIEVE there is any possibility of success. Here are a couple of examples:

  • You might believe that you are worthless, and have nothing to contribute. So you choose to not try.
  • Or you might believe that whatever you might attempt, it must be done “perfectly.” You might tell yourself:  I can’t do anything right so I might as well not start.

Floating

Is it possible to live life without focus or aim?  Maybe, but I doubt it. Some people truly seem to float through life. We all know people like this.  Floaters are professional victims.  Life “happens” to them.  It is as if they have given up on themselves.  They can be in a perpetual pity party, or just aimlessly floating along from one thing to another. Even though is seems like they don’t have any goals or focus, I believe they do, but it is rooted in a fixed false belief:  they don’t have any power over themselves or their circumstances, or they care more about doing nothing than making a difference. Their goal is to do the least amount possible. They think doing nothing (except maybe complaining) is the path of least resistance, but it truly is not. Passivity carries much more problems and headaches than purposeful action, and leads to much greater misery.   Floaters eventually float right over a waterfall, pitching them—and anyone with them– right out of the boat and into a torrent of churning water.

How to figure out what you are aiming at:  Take a look at the past.

We are all aiming at something, whether we realize it or not.  The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, so if you want to know what is important to you–what you are currently aiming at in life–take a look at the past.  How you spent your most important assets–time and money—is a great indicator of what has been important to you, and what will likely guide future decisions.  This is relatively easy to do.

How to find out your main goal (s) for the past year:

1.  Just pull out your checkbook and your calendar for the past week/month/year, and ask yourself:  How did I spend my time? How did I spend my money?

  • Start with broad categories, and then estimate what percentage of your time and money was spent on each, or how many hours you spent on each.  (Don’t get all OC about it. We are just getting ballpark figures here.) Here is an example and some possible categories (Make these as broad or narrow as you like.):
  • Time:
    • Sleep  (8 hours/day, 56 hours/week, 240 hours per month)  30% of the time
    • Eating  (2 hours/day)  6% of the time
    • Internet/TV/video games
    • Exercise
    • Time with people (face to face or phone, not texting or internet)
    • Work
    • Chores
    • Travel
    • Prayer/worship/meditation
    • Reading the Bible
    • Reading
    • Hobbies/Interests
    • Childcare
    • Volunteering
  •  Money:
    • Bills
    • Housing
    • Groceries
    • Starbucks
    • Out to eat
    • Savings
    • Presents (friends and family)
    • Charity or similar giving
    • Schooling
    • Entertainment

2. Why?  A very powerful question  If you want to take this one step further, go to each of the categories (at least the most important ones) and ask yourself “Why?” three times:

For example:  30% of your time was spent sleeping.

  1. Why? Because my body needs sleep to function properly.
  2. Why? Because that is how my body is built.
  3. Why? I want to be healthy and for my body to function optimally.

Asking why repeatedly helps you to drill down to your more basic motivations, which can uncover true or false assumptions, or assumptions that need to be challenged.

  • Do I need to sleep?
  • What amount of sleep is optimal for me?

(Of course most of us would agree that 8 hours of sleep in our day is a pretty good use of our time.  But some areas might not be so clear.)

3. What has been your main goal?

Now look through your lists and your whys.   What common themes are there? If you could summarize your life, what would you say your main focus or goal has been?  Come up with 1-3 things.  Now you have a much better idea of what you have been aiming at (if anything) in the past year, and, therefore, where you are likely to be focused in the coming year.

Is this really where you want to go?

So now comes the kicker question:  Is this where you want to go?  Why or why not?

For example:  If you can see that your primary focus has been to get an education, ask yourself: Why are you doing this?  And why are you studying this? Is this your ultimate aim in life? If not, what is? What led you to this decision? Is it a direction you still feel you need to go? Why? It may lead you to other questions: How much money DO you need to make? What kind of career ARE you supposed to have? Does it fit the set of gifts/talents God has given you, or is it just a means to a financial end? What beliefs or thought processes are guiding these choices?

When you start asking these type of questions, you are well on the road to figuring out not only what has guided your past choices, but consciously [as opposed to passively] choosing if this is the right way for you to continue in your future.

Share with us: What have you discovered as you examine your goals this year?

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