Frank

priorities in life

“To change your life you need to change your priorities.” John C. Maxwell

Frustrated, demoralized, and unfulfilled we walk through our lives not making progress blaming others for our failure to reach our dreams. It’s always the circumstances, unfair rules, poor relationships, and someone who is holding us back from greatness. I must admit that I have found that there is something big that is handicapping our ability to ascend in our spiritual, career, family, and financial lives. That big hindrance is our priorities in life.

We are unable to accomplish our big audacious goals and make progress because we fill our time with things that don’t offer a return. The majority of our day we walk around distracted.

See Also: Stop Avoiding Your Problems

Distractions From the Priorities in Life

From social media to television, there are so many things prying for our attention that it is not shocking that we often find ourselves sacrificing hours of our day and not accomplishing anything. A quick status update on Facebook transforms into a hour long scroll on the newsfeed where we see things that give us hope in humanity just to be followed by something that takes that joy away. Instagram allows us to freeze brief moments in time to chronicle our lives and things that are important to us, but this same tool shackles hours of our day.

The list goes on and on as we often trade out one distraction for another switching from Facebook to Instagram to Snapchat to Periscope to Twitter to the local news or prime time TV dramas. Don’t forget about Candy Crush, Subway Surfer, Flappy Bird, or whatever your game of choice is. We give priority to things that entertain but don’t change us.

How often have you wasted time and then felt guilty about it?

Ralph Waldo Emerson said this about the value of time. “Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Discard them and their value will never be known. Improve them and they will become the brightest gems in a successful life.”

Defining Priorities

Priorities are the level of importance given to the action that you take and how you spend your time throughout your day. It narrows down to what is important to you based on how you spend your time. For example, as a father one of my priorities is to provide for my family. For this reason, I go to work on a daily basis to ensure I earn sufficient income to meet their needs. Earning an income is a top priority. However, my income can be earned in many different ways. I can earn it through an hourly wage or I can earn it by completing writing projects. I have to prioritize my time to determine which of these methods will give me the greatest return of investment.

If reviewing your daily priorities on a pie chart the hope would be that distractions wouldn’t take up more than 30% of the active hours in a day. The sad reality for some is that they spend 60% or more of their day distracted. Our priorities are focused on things that don’t matter.

The reason most goals are not achieved is that we spend our time doing second things first.” Robert J. McKain Continue reading “The Essential Guide to Set Meaningful Priorities in Life” »

opportunity-ahead

When opportunity comes, it’s too late to prepare.  John Wooden

I have not yet encountered a person who does not dream of becoming something more. The definition of something more is different based on the individual I am speaking with. However, I have not spoken to someone and had them say they just want to progressively diminish in capacity and then die. Based on this observation, using my limited my social circle, I have come to the conclusion that we all are striving, working, or dreaming towards something greater in our lives.

The very fact that you clicked on this article proves it. There is something you want or need to get ready for. The good news is…I can help. The bad news is…I can’t do it for you. You have to act on the information that is provided to you.

See Also: The Handicapping Effects of the Wrong Type of Help

Preparation for your future is crucial in your development process and is a much better process than learning from experience alone. Benjamin Franklin sums it up like this, “If you are failing to prepare, then you are preparing to fail.” Statements like this can be found throughout history including religious text but so often individuals fail to apply them to every aspect of their lives. It is more common for preparation to be compartmentalized to one area of intense focus usually driven by an urgent demand. The purpose of preparation is to not get ready when the opportunity arises but instead to be ready to act on any opportunity or obstacle (related to your talents) that becomes available.

Today I want to share with you how to prepare. Rather it is your spiritual walk (ministry), career, family, finances, or health, the principles provided below are universal.

1. Have A Specific Idea of Where You Want to Go

Without a clear indication of where you want to go you will get lost and waste a lot of time trying to get back in the right direction. During this part of the process you have to ask yourself a few important questions:

What am I preparing for?
Why am I preparing for it?
What does the perfect opportunity I am seeking look like?

2. Assess Exactly Where You Are

It is important to know what skills, talents, and abilities that you already have in comparison to what is required for the opportunity you are seeking. Ask yourself these questions:

What am I good at already related to the opportunity I want?
How did I get to where I am now?
What investments have I made in myself to get me here? (time, effort, resources, etc…)

3. Determine What You Need to Move Forward

In order to reach the next step on your path, you have to be honest about what you lack that may hinder you from reaching it. Revealing these areas can be difficult so here are some good questions to ask yourself to begin that internal dialogue:

What talents do I have that I can develop to something better?
How will I maximize my abilities in the areas necessary to be successful? (time, effort, resources, etc…)
What knowledge do I need to reach my goals faster and where or who can I obtain it from?

4. Develop Processes to Help You Grow

Before we ever can step into the spotlight, we need to grow into it. There is nothing more embarrassing to be thrown into an opportunity that you are not ready for. It can rattle your confidence and create a lasting negative effect that may scare you from moving forward. Below are a few ideas on what type of processes to develop:

For Additional Knowledge – Books, seminars, classes, mentors, etc.
For Additional Skills – Apprenticeships, workshops,  professional organizations

Create a plan that works for you based on your individual schedule and strengths. I am an avid reader so I constantly have a stack of books nearby and read about 3-4 new titles every month. I read two chapters daily, write weekly, I also am involved in professional organizations to help me with public speaking and writing. These are disciplines I created to stay sharp.

5. Maintain Disciplines until the Moment Arrives

Just because you take all of the necessary steps does not guarantee an opportunity will immediately become available. There is always a waiting period that ensues while you are ramping up and getting ready. During this waiting period, it is crucial that you continue preparing diligently. It is common that people relax when there is no opposition at hand. You have to keep and maintain those disciplines even when it seems like nothing is happening.

From my personal experience, every time I prepare for something I get a chance to use it, eventually. I don’t know if you would call that favor, luck, or fate but I do know being prepared has paid some major dividends in my life.

See Also: Are You Still Waiting on the Right Opportunity

When you take the time to prepare you are going to intentionally create habits that will help you to release potential, maximize your talents, and enhance your quality of life. The ideas provided are simple to understand but they are difficult to act upon. I promise if you determine where you want to go, assess where you are, determine what you need to go forward, develop processes to move your forward, and keep at it until the right opportunity arrives you are going to reach your goals faster, find more fulfillment, and live with a sense of purpose.

What are you getting ready for?

Help Me Help You

“Dad I want to run for student council. Can you help me?

Just last week, Ian, my eldest son asked this question at the dinner table. As a writer, I was excited my son wants me to help him for such a momentous occasion. The student council for a fifth grader is a BIG deal. It is like the presidential election for 10 and 11 year old candidates. Winning this event would be life changing based on Ian’s account of its significance.

I will help you with your speech Ian. When do you want to get started?”

His eyes widened and a smile appeared from behind the stern curious look he had when asking his question. Then he screams,

“Let’s do it tonight after dessert!”

See Also: Change can be Beautiful

Helping With The Speech

The moment had arrived. We sat at the table, his tablet in front of him to take notes, my notebook and pencil were in front of me, and I figure I would start the process by asking him the following three simple questions:

1. Why do you want to be on the student council?
2. What will you do as a member of the student council?
3. Why are you the best person to vote for?

These questions were provided to Ian on a small sheet of paper that I slid across the table to him. He looked down at the sheet of paper, I guess expecting a full well written speech, and then looked up at me with absolute disgust.

He reads the questions on the sheet and angrily replies, “I don’t know! You are suppose to help me write this speech.”

Shocked I respond, “So you don’t know why you want to be on student council? What does being on the student council even mean? Why are you even running?”

For 45 minutes we went back and forth with me asking questions and Ian giving politician answers making no progress. Finally he yells in frustration,

“You aren’t even trying to help me!”

I shook my head and replied, “My definition of help may be much different than yours. When you say help I think you mean do it for you. When I say help I mean assist you through the process helping you learn and grow.”

Three days pass and now it is election time. Being the father that I am, who spoils his children, I write the speech the night before the event. He stands in front of the class, with my literary gold written from a 31 year old point of view of fifth grade, recites the words aloud and…loses the election. My words were not what the kids were looking to hear. They wanted to hear from Ian. He lost this election and fell short because he went looking for the wrong type of help and it handicapped his growth.

Seek the Right Type of Help

In our times of deepest need, we often find ourselves asking others for help. It is during these moments that we have to make sure we are seeking the right type of help and not the wrong type of help. Many people are going from situation to situation looking for the type of help that Ian was looking for instead of looking for assistance to learn from the situation and grow from it.

Giving someone the answers to a test will never help them master the material. It only delays the inevitable. There will come a day when the test (situation) will arise again and if you never take the time to learn the lesson, you will be doomed to repeat it.

“There is no use whatever trying to help people who do not help themselves. You cannot push anyone up a ladder unless he is willing to climb himself.” – Andrew Carnegie

Below I have included the difference between the right type of help and the wrong type of help:

Right Type of Help

The act of showing someone how
Giving someone the tools to succeed
Mentoring
Influencing
Encouragement
Useful Advice

Wrong Type of Help

Doing something for someone without teaching
Hoarding the tools so they will only succeed when you are around
Never having time to develop but only want to give quick solutions
Enabling
Making people dependent upon you because of something you have that they lack

See Also: Three Reasons to Stop Avoiding Your Problems

The wrong type of help will never move you forward. It will keep you trapped repeating the same scenarios over and over again until you get tired and quit.  The allure of the wrong type of help is that it gives the illusion of time saving. However, all it really does is delay the process. You are going to have to learn how to do what you are avoiding or get used to having that handicap in your life. (Ian still doesn’t know how to write a speech.) Starting today, I challenge you to seek the right type of help in your circumstances and grow.

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