August 2015

avoiding problems

“Dad, I don’t know how to do it. It’s too hard.”

Sitting at the kitchen table attempting to help my oldest son work on a math assignment was like continuously slapping Ronda Rousey trying to start a fight. Situations just like this are always explosive. Ian is a know it all even when he doesn’t know it all and when he doesn’t know it all it gets frustrated because he doesn’t know it all. Are you still with me? In other words, he is frustrated when he doesn’t already know how to do something perfectly. I think he gets it from his mom. (Don’t tell her I said that.)

While battling his latest challenge in the math arena, he sizes up his opponent and immediately runs for the hills. The problem before him is unlike anything he had ever seen before. It didn’t show any signs of being easy. It looked like a sweaty, muscular, and powerful giant equipped to lead him to an early death.

See Also: Stories About Overcoming Adversity

“Ian!” I screamed in a typical I’m up too early on a Saturday adult fashion. “You can’t play the game until you finish your work.”

“It’s too hard.” Ian whines in response.

“Well the longer you take to finish, the less time you are going to have to play. You can take a few minutes to figure it out or you can waste your time and then take a few minutes to figure it out. Don’t waste more time avoiding the problem than it takes to solve it.”

Two hours later, after sitting at the table and doodling on the paper, I come by to check on Ian’s progress.

“I just don’t get it.” he continues to complain.

I look over his shoulder down at the problem located in his book and then stare him in the eye with the sad look of extreme disappointment.

IS THIS THE PROBELM YOU HAVE BEEN STUCK ON?” I explode sarcastically

“Yes, it’s too difficult.” Ian fires back quickly.

“Wow! Ian do me a huge favor and…read the directions?”

The problem Ian had been struggling to complete was so simple but he failed to read the instructions. He didn’t have to solve the problem. He only had to identify what type of problem it was. He lost out on two hours for something that only took him two seconds to complete.

From this experience with Ian I learned a valuable lesson about avoiding problems that I could immediately apply. In my career, family, and spiritual life there were some problems that I had been avoiding as well. After watching Ian waste his evening, here are three strong reasons I stopped avoiding my problems. I would suggest you do the same if you want to live a fulfilling life

1. Waste of Time

I could scream over and over again that time is precious and that avoiding problems is a waste of that time. Instead, I want to share with you a snippet I found from in the book “Today Matters,” by John C. Maxwell that changed my perspective on the value of time:

To know the value of one year … ask the student who failed the final exam.
To know the value of one month … ask the mother of a premature baby.
To know the value of one week… ask the editor of a weekly newsmagazine.
To know the value of one day…ask the wage earner who has six children.
To know the value of one hour…ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.
To know the value of one minute… ask the person who missed the plane.
To know the value of one second… ask the person who survived the accident.
To know the value of one millisecond… ask the Olympic silver medalist.

Every time you waste a moment avoiding your problems is time that could be spent doing something that really matters. Don’t continue to squander your time avoiding something you are going to have to do anyway.

2. Stops/Slows Progress

“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over.” John Wooden

I can’t move forward to step three if I completely avoid step one. For example, attempting to get your financial life in order is done through a process. This process includes creating a budget, paying off debt, saving, and planning for retirement in some variation. If you want to save money for a future major purchase like a home or a car, it might be beneficial to start by making sure you spend less than you earn. Spending every dime you have and living check to check is not going to help you save. You will not make any progress on your saving goal if you don’t have any money to save.

If you want to make progress, you have to stop avoiding your problems. It is stopping you from moving forward.

3. Solutions Are Often Easier Than You Expect

“Better than three hours too soon than a minute to late.” William Shakesphere

After waiting two hours, Ian’s problem took him two seconds to complete. I can relate and say I have had experiences just like that. For three weeks I put off making a call I was terrified of. In my head this conversation would be a brutal life altering argument where at the end a relationship would be shattered and a rift in the time space continuum would cause the end of the world. You see how dramatic I am?

When I made the call, it was not nearly as bad as I imagined. It was pleasant, encouraging, and positively influential in my life. Every experience may not turn out positive like this one but most of them are not as cataclysmic as we imagine in our heads.

See Also: When The Smoke Clears

Ian lost two hours avoiding a problem. Over a lifetime how much time have you wasted avoiding your problems? The way to get the life you want, you have to stop trying to avoid your problems but instead go through them. Don’t waste your time, stop your progress, or imagine a doomsday scenario in your head related to a situation you must go through to be our best.

The fastest distance between two points is a straight line right through your problems. Today, I challenge you to live courageously.

Good Daily Habits: Change

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.” -Aristotle

One of the best ways to gauge your personal level of achievement, in any area, is to review the habits that exist in your life. This simple activity can be a clear indication of your life’s direction and purpose. By asking this question of yourself and others, you can quickly determine what someone is accomplishing in life: “What are you doing?” The responses should break down to something like this: A singer sings. A writer writes. A dancer dances. A speaker speaks. A photographer takes photographs.

If you wish to enhance your natural talents and abilities, build habits around them. Personally, I love to write, speak, and inspire others. Prior to 2015, after a quick review, I found my habits were complaining, watching TV, and being envious of others. How did I know those were my habits? Those were the activities that I found myself doing every single day. 2015 was not going to be the same. I made a commitment to change and I did so by doing something simple – I changed my habits.

See Also: If You Aren’t Failing – You’re Failing

Today, I am going to share the three life changing daily habits I formed which made the most dramatic positive impact in my day to day life.

Good Daily Habit One: Do Something Meaningful & Challenging

“Without struggle there is no progress.” – Frederick Douglas

Fear was one of the greatest hindrances in my pursuit of a better and more fulfilling life. Fear caused me to visualize these constant embarrassing scenarios that played within my head whenever I thought of doing something new. I searched for the approval of others and allowed the opinions of imaginary people to stop me from moving forward. Now if there is something that needs to be done that gives me butterflies, I do it anyway. This habit has helped me to do all of the following things within the last 8-10 months:

Self Published a Book: How to Start a Fire Underwater  (You should buy a copy!)
Wrote 11 LinkedIn Articles
Started a freelancing writing business
Teach a weekly Sunday School class for new Christians
Occasionally open services at my church and teach a small segment at Bible Study

Good Daily Habit Two: Finish What You Start

“There is nothing so fatal to character than half finish tasks.” David Lloyd Judge

Procrastination and I were best friends. He always showed up right on time to stop me from getting the jobs that needed to be done completed. Due to his commitment to my life, I never got anything done. In fact, I lacked focus for so long that I didn’t know what it felt like to actually finish things. Then we had a huge fight. I called him lazy. He called me a show off. I called him a disease that needed to be eradicated. He called me a snob that wanted to make others look bad. It was like watching two people in a long term relationship share how they really felt about each other. It got ugly. Let’s just say we are no longer friends. Now when I start a task, I work at it until its done. If it is a big task, I create a long term plan for it and work at it at a reasonable pace with consistency. You have to breakup with procrastination.

Good Daily Habit Three: Do Your Best

“Excellence is not being the best, it is doing your best.” -Unknown

Are you really doing the best that you can do or are you doing just enough to get by? If we only do enough to get by, we will never do enough to move forward. Greatness can never be achieved while striving to be mediocre. Holding back your talents will not do you or the world any good. Excellence is not perfection, it is doing the best that you can do in any situation. Giving your best is not the easy option. It is exhausting, challenging, and time consuming. It is also one of the most rewarding, fulfilling, and invigorating experiences you can have in your life. When you know that you gave your all in a situation, it is easy to be at peace with whatever the outcome may be.

See Also: Stop Holding Back

Put these habits to work in your life today and you will start to make progress to achieve whatever goals you have set for yourself. I can personally attest that within a short amount of time you can make strides beyond what you ever thought was possible. These simple habits are life changing!

Focus

“I just have a few things on my list to get done today and then we can go out.”

Shifting priorities and projects on a daily basis was something I began to be known for and not in a good way. Between cutting the lawn, fixing the wall in the attic, cleaning the carpet, changing the tires on the car, and writing, I could say my schedule was pretty full. These were all things that could have been done in the period of one day. Instead of focusing on one task at a time, I chose to multi-task for the sake of getting more things done. Two weeks later I have crossed two things off of the list. Why? I never had focus.

See Also: Improve Your Focus and Get More Done

I never really understood the benefits of focusing on one thing at a time. I have a personality where I constantly jump from one thing to the next as visual stimuli often captures my attention influencing my thoughts to wander from one place to the next. I am like a resting dog who see a squirrel out the window only to be distracted when the mail man drops the recent set of bills in the door slot who then chases his tail because it happened to be in my view. It wasn’t until I realized how much time I wasted “chasing my tail” did my lack of focus become a bull’s-eye target in my pursuit of personal growth.

In my intentional drive to improve my focus I have learned about the following powerful effects it plays in our lives:

1. Focus is a Time Saver

“The world stands aside to let anyone pass who knows where he or she is going.” David Star Jordan

It is much easier to obtain a single goal instead of 20 goals. As a young kid I loved going to carnivals. I loved the food, the rides, but most importantly I loved the games. I liked to win prizes. One of the games I often played was the shooting game with moving targets. Each target gave you a certain amount of points and your combined score over a specified amount would award you a prize.

The first few times I played, I would hit the small targets going from one to the other quickly. I would be all over the place. Using this method I always got the small prize. Frustrated and running out of money, I asked the commissioned salesman, (they had to be on some type of sales quota the way he was pushing this game) how do I get the big prize. This is when I was given the best life advice I never listened to until I was an adult years later.

“You are aiming to small. To get the big prize, you have to shoot for something bigger. Focus only on the big targets.”

The next round instead of shooting 25 shots at random targets, I shot 3 times at one target and got the biggest bear at the stand. In fact, it took me less time to do it and it was more rewarding.

2. Focus is Invigorating

“Attempting everything, like attempting nothing, will suck the life out of you.” John Maxwell.

Clarity and focus have allowed me to benefit from increased energy and joy from getting things done at the best of my ability. When I was torn between several different projects, I often found myself frustrated and overwhelmed. Acting in that capacity, I felt like I was in a canoe paddling on one side going in circles. Now when I start a task and work at it until it is completed, I can see, feel, and experience the momentum. There is no feeling like taking on a challenge and seeing it through to the end. That feeling can be multiplied especially when the task is difficult.

Don’t continue to let shifting priorities drain you.

3. Focus Improves Concentration

“What you focus on expands.” Mike Kendrick

By adding the practice of maintaining my focus on one task at a time, I have personally experienced an increase in concentration in areas outside of my focus as well. I listen more intently when my wife or children speak. I read more thoroughly for comprehension and often search for ways to practically apply what I read to my life. I recognize opportunities to learn from others when watching them speak or interact. With improved concentration and focus my productivity and efficiency is increasing day by day allowing me to get more and more done.

See Also: Don’t Waste Your Time

If you were anything like me, stuck shifting between priorities, I want you to know that a simple change in behaviors can make a dramatic difference in your life. If you want to be more effective at your job, more loving to your family, more committed to your finances, it is all possible by improving your focus. Do one thing at a time, stay consistent, and don’t give up! Save time, have more energy, and improve your concentration by learning how to focus.

Today I challenge you to do one thing at a time. I know it will add some great benefits to your life.

 

Five Characteristics of a Healthy Relationship

“The glory of friendship is not in the outstretched hand, nor the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionships; it is in the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when he discovers that someone else believes in him and is willing to trust him.” Ralph Waldo Emerson As a husband and father I strive to […]

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