Ponder Your Life – Find Your Mission

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Before a person can truly make big changes in their life they need to take some time to explore themselves and discover who they really are deep down inside. They need to discover what their real life passions and desires are. This process can take a long time. It’s not easy. But with some guidance you can go through this in a day or so.

Time Alone

My suggestion is that you go off by yourself, take a day off work, go away from your normal surroundings, preferably up in the mountains or out in the country, somewhere where you are closer to nature, away from the things of the world, where you can almost commune with God, so to speak, with that infinite intelligence that’s out there, the creator; and sit down and think and ponder your life. Bring a note pad, bring a tape recorder, whatever is comfortable, but some way of recording your thoughts and feelings.

Begin asking yourself questions like: what is it your really enjoy doing, what are the things that you are good at? If you didn’t have to go to work today and you had all the money there was in the world or any of the pressures or demands to earn money, what would you be doing? Now don’t say, “I’d be traveling and visiting Europe.” I mean, okay, so you go on your vacation and you come back, then what would you do with your time? What would you spend your time doing? What do you enjoy so much that you would do for free and what do you do so well that people would pay you to do it? That’s what I think true success is, is to find out what that is.

Find the Real You

Really what we’re doing here is exploring to find out who you really are. I believe deep down inside every person is the real person, the missing person. I think when we were a child, when we were young, the passions, the dreams we had when we were in grade school, that’s the real you. But when we get older people tell us, “You can’t do that” or “You’ve got to do this” and we get buffeted and we get put down and our dreams get squashed and they get suppressed and after a while we forget about them.

That person, the true, real person gets pushed down inside of you and we put on all these fronts. The fake you is what people see. We put on an image of who we are. But that’s not the real you. The real you still exists down inside and you need to bring that real you out, that missing person. So, each one of us has to find out what the real, true desires of our hearts are. Those desires come from the real you.

Are You On the Wrong Road?

For example, I personally know people who have fantastic talents. I know a man who is a superb artist. When he was young there wasn’t anything he couldn’t draw. He could draw people, he could draw cars, he could draw architecture. He was a wonderful artist. Everybody thought he was going to grow up to be an architect or commercial artist, I mean he just loved to draw.

He’s about fifty years old right now. He has spent his career as a postal worker delivering the mail. Now, there’s nothing wrong with being a postal worker. There’s nothing wrong with delivering the mail. Somebody has to do it. It’s an honorable job. But that’s not what he was sent here to this earth to do. That’s not his real passion, his real dream, his real desire and yet he spent his life doing something that he doesn’t enjoy doing.

Can you imagine if twenty or thirty years ago somebody would have sat him down and had him go through this process and realize he should be doing those things that he loves to do, the things wherein his talents and dreams and passions lie. What kind of a career would he have had? He would have looked forward to going to work. He wouldn’t even call it work, it would be play for him.

The Most Tragic Thing in the World

To me the most tragic thing in this world is someone who never realizes their dreams and passions inside of them that I believe God has given them. How sad for those who came to this earth and didn’t use those talents and passions and dreams inside of them, but merely brushed them aside or buried them.

So what am I getting at here? We’re talking about change and yet real change, overall change, of a person takes place when they discover who they really are inside and bring that person out, dust him off, wake him up, whatever it takes.

See the Future “You”

Now once you discover the real you, your desires and passions, then what? At this point I believe you need to get a vision in your mind of that person. See yourself one year, two years, three years down the road and where you’re going to be. What would this person do for a living? What would this person do from day to day? What would he or she look like? How would they dress? How would they act, talk and walk? What time would they get up in the morning? What time would they go to bed at night? How would they treat their spouse? How would they treat their children? Get a picture or vision in your mind of this and then move towards it. See yourself as that person. That is, I believe, when true change can take place inside of you.

When I say change it’s almost as if you are getting rid of the false “you” and revealing the real “you.” That’s when huge, positive things happen in your life.

So take the time to ponder your life, explore your true passions, develop a plan, create a vision, and move towards it.

Copyright © 2016 Gary N. Larson

Grow or Die!

Grow or DieGrow or die! I like that. The growing part, not the dying part. I guess a nicer way to put it is: If you aren’t improving then you’re standing still. That’s what I’d like to talk about today.

Have you ever met someone who is merely coasting along in life? They have it pretty good. They have a car, a job, a place to live, food to eat and cable TV. What more is there to life?

Okay, I think we all know people like that. They are not moving anywhere in their life. Nothing has changed in their life for the last ten years. They haven’t done a thing to improve themselves or make this world a better place. Most of their time is spent in front of the TV watching sports or the news or, heaven forbid, reality shows! They spend two or three hours a day reading the newspaper from cover to cover only to throw it away the very next day because just about everything in it is worthless. Each day they go through the same process. Life is just a big circle going round and round headed for nowhere. Each day finds them not one bit better than the day before. Each day they contribute nothing to better the world they live in. They are content and satisfied with the status quo.

I think that’s very sad. Life is for LIVING!

There is a woman that I know who is in her eighties. Right now she’s enrolled in college and working on a degree. She’s continuing to improve herself to make herself better. I think what a contrast between her and most retired people. How would it be if all the retired people in the world continued until the day they died to improve themselves, to learn new skills and worked every day to make this world a better place? Many do and I admire those people and I want to be like them. I hope I die when I’m 105 working on my pilot’s license and not lying in bed at an old-folks home.

If a plant stops growing, what is it? It’s DEAD! What happens when you stop growing? I think you get the idea. There seems to be a lot of people in this world who have stopped living. They have just delayed the funeral. Don’t be one of them. My challenge to you today is to continue to improve yourself, to continue to move forward, to move higher, to keep growing.

Getting Yourself to Act: 3 Ways Commitments Give You Power

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Are you having trouble getting yourself to act on your goals? Is your motivation, shall we say, pathetic? I was experiencing this recently until I did one thing: I made a commitment.

When I say I made a commitment, I don’t mean I made a decision. A decision is good but it lacks power. A commitment is something you do that is more tangible and real.

The commitment I made was to sign up for my 10th marathon. I spent the $80 and registered. Now I am committed.

Making that small commitment has had a great effect on my daily exercise program. I was having trouble getting out every morning to run or exercise. My motivation was anemic at best. I knew I needed something to motivate me to get out there every day. That’s when I decided to run another marathon. But that was just a decision. The commitment came when I actually put my non-refundable money where my mouth was.

I’m reminded of the story of General Cortez when he landed his armies in Mexico to fight the Aztecs. To insure victory, he ordered the burning of their ships so there would be no means of retreat. By burning the ships it gave the soldiers only two options: win the war or perish. Now that is what I call commitment!

There is great power in making commitments. Here are three ways commitments can help:

1. You have a goal to work towards.

When I was getting up each morning to simply go out running I had no real reason to do it. Sure, I wanted to be healthy but sometimes that’s not enough. When I committed to run a marathon it gave me a very clear-cut and definable goal to shoot for.

2. You will experience pain if you don’t follow through.

Let’s face it, we are all motivated to avoid pain. When I was trying to exercise each morning without a commitment, failure to do it wasn’t too painful. Now that I’ve made a commitment, failure to exercise each morning will result in a very painful failure, the pain and humiliation of not completing a marathon.

3. The decision is already made.

When you make a commitment, it locks you into a decision. There is no wondering for me each morning whether I should go running or not. The decision is made. (See article Decide to Decide).

My challenge for you is to examine your goals and find ways that you can make a real commitment to do them. Burn your ships, so to speak. Put your money where your mouth is. Commit!

Thank you.

Look Ahead and Never Look Back

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I’m actually running on a trail right now as I tape-record my thoughts. It’s interesting that while you’re running along a trail you’re brain has the ability to look ahead and then plan where to place each foot. This seems to happen as an automatic function of the brain. I look ahead on the trail and take in what’s coming, whether it’s a rock or a stump or a curve in the trail. My brain processes that information and tells my body where to place my feet. I don’t have to think about every footstep. It’s an amazing process to me of how, by looking ahead, I know where to put my feet on the trail.

Yes, I’ve slipped up a couple of times and made some mistakes. It usually happens when I take my eyes off the trail and look in some other direction. My brain had insufficient information to tell my feet where to go; therefore I stumble and sometimes fall.

Can we relate this to life? I think so. We can’t just concentrate on what we are doing at the moment. We need to look ahead in our lives and see what’s coming and plan for it so when the time comes we’re ready. We need to process the information ahead of time so when the time comes we already know where to put our feet. The idea or concept is that of making future plans.

I like the idea and have seen benefits of sitting down on Monday morning and looking at my whole week, seeing what’s going on each day and thinking about it and planning ahead. If I see a presentation coming up on Thursday I know I can’t start on that presentation on Thursday. I’ve got to begin preparing and working on it ahead of time.

In this way I think trail running is like life. We need to look ahead and plan in advance in order for our feet to be planted properly in the here and now. You’re todays will go much better when you look ahead at your tomorrows.

I Have Quit!

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Recently I read of a man who had tried for years to overcome his drinking habit. He knew his drinking was taking a toll on his life and was costing him many opportunities. He tried every way he could think of to quit and failed each time. Finally he developed a habit, whenever he was offered a drink or when temptation arose, to say firmly, “I have quit.”

It wasn’t “I’m trying to quit” or “I’m going to quit.” It was “I have quit.” End of discussion. There was no more deliberation or debate after that. The decision was already made that “I have quit drinking.” He didn’t have to think about whether he should take the drink or not. He simply said, “I have quit” as if it were a simple, ordinary fact of life. As a result of using this method, the man hasn’t taken another drink in twenty years.

You can use the same technique for a number of obstacles in your life that you are trying to overcome, whether it’s smoking, overeating, lack of exercise, cutting out fat in your diet, overcoming pornography or drugs or any challenge you are dealing with. You don’t have to deliberate or debate it any more. You can simply say, “I have quit!”

Staying Up Late – Is It Worth It?

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Is it worth it? I heard that question this morning. If was from my wife Lisa. She knows me too well. Let me back up a bit. I was in the bathroom shaving this morning when my wife walked in. Her greeting wasn’t, “Good morning dear, how did you sleep?” It was, “Soooo…you stayed up until 2:00 in the morning. You know what that does to you. Is it worth it?” I didn’t give her an answer. I didn’t have a good one to give.

I have a character flaw. It is not knowing when to quit a project and go to bed. I was working on some articles last night and before I knew it, it was nearly 2:00 a.m. Lisa had long since gone to bed and was sound asleep. When I crawled into bed she didn’t wake up or roll over or even move a muscle. I thought I was safe and she would never know how late I went to bed. How she knew what time I went to bed is a mystery to me. It’s one of those mysteries of women that men can’t figure out.

So she had me. She asked me if it was worth it because she knows from past experience the price I usually pay for staying up late.

Is it worth it?

Before I can determine if it’s worth it I need to find out why I stay up late, what the benefits are, and what price I end up paying for those benefits. Then I can determine if the benefits are worth the price I pay.

Why do I stay up late?

For different people there are different reasons why they stay up late. If you have this problem then you know what your reasons are. Perhaps you stay up late watching television. Or maybe you love to read. Maybe its endless video games or surfing the internet or chatting with babes online. You know what your reasons are.

For me it usually involves a project I want to get done. Because my days are so full I feel that the only time I have is late at night. I see I have an hour before my normal time to go to bed and I’ll think, “Great, I’ve got a whole hour. I can get an article written in that amount of time. So I’ll begin working on my project. Invariably whatever I’m working on takes much longer than I expected. I grossly underestimate the time it will take.

The next thing that happens is I’ll look at the clock and think, “Well, I’ll just work until eleven.” Before I know it it’s midnight and I still haven’t got my project done. But by now my ideas are flowing. I’m making progress. I’ve got my momentum going. So I think, “I can’t quit now! I can’t stop my flow of ideas and thoughts just as they are getting going!”

It’s so hard for me to stop a project right in the middle. I feel compelled to get it done. I hate loose ends. So I keep going.

By now I’m thinking, “Gee, it’s already so late. I’ve already blown it. I may as well just keep going.” So I keep working until the project is done.

And that, my friend, is how I ended up working until two in the morning!

What are the benefits of staying up late?

So I have to ask myself: What benefits do I gain by staying up late?

  1. Of course the main benefit is actually getting something done.
  2. Probably the next biggest benefit in my mind is TIME. Time for me seems to be in short supply, so whenever I can find a block of time I grab it.
  3. The next benefit would be that the time is uninterrupted time. Not too many people bother you at that time of night. Nobody schedules meetings. No one calls you. You are free from distractions. So having a block of uninterrupted time is a great benefit.
  4. Another benefit is going to bed with the feeling of accomplishment, of having finished a project.

What is the price I pay for staying up late?

Let’s now take a moment and examine what I am paying for those benefits. What are the real costs to me? As I have thought about what it costs me I have come to realize that there is a huge domino effect that comes into play. One thing seems to lead to another. Let me explain.

  • The first domino to fall is that I feel extremely tired in the morning and it lasts throughout the day.
  • The next domino is that I feel lousy. In addition to being exhausted and tired, I usually have a headache because of lack of sleep. Many times that headache will develop into a full-blown migraine and then for sure my day is wasted.
  • The next domino to fall is my inability to get up on time. Because I feel so tired I can’t get up at my regular time.
  • The next price I pay is getting that “look” from my wife when she says, “So, you stayed up until 2:00 in the morning.” I could see the look of disappointment on her face because she knows what it costs me when I stay up too late. So the real cost is the erosion of my relationship with my wife.
  • The next cost is being behind schedule. Because I didn’t get up on time it messes up my schedule for the whole day.
  • Because I’m behind schedule the next price I pay is not being able to exercise in the morning.
  • Next is the cost of not being able to do my daily personal study session. Every morning I try to study and ponder good books. I can’t do that when I have no time.
  • Another big cost is not having time to plan my day.
  • Because my day isn’t planned then I fail to accomplish important tasks that I should have gotten done.
  • The next big price I pay is more stress in my life. Because I’m behind schedule I find myself in a big rush and my stress level rises.
  • Because I’m stressed then I’m in a bad mood.
  • What puts me into a worse mood is having no time to eat breakfast, one of the most important meals of the day. So in addition to feeling lousy and tired and having a headache, I’m also hungry.
  • Then I get to work late. Here I come strolling into work 45 minutes or an hour late. How does that look to my boss, my subordinates and the employees I manage in my department? Not good. Big price.
  • When I eventually do get to work my productivity and my ability to think clearly is affected because I’m so drained.
  • The overall affect continues throughout the day. Because I got to work late in the morning that means I have to stay late to be fair to my employer.
  • Because I had to work late then I get home late. The price I pay is getting, for second time of the day, that “look” from my wife when I walk in the door. She doesn’t have to say anything – I can see the disappointment in her eyes.
  • Because I’m late getting home I miss having dinner with my family.
  • If I have meetings or commitments in the evening then I either have to gobble down my dinner or miss dinner altogether because I don’t have time.
  • The tendency to fail in other areas of my life. When I’m tired and hungry and angry and discouraged and stressed and depressed then I’m more susceptible to failing in other areas where I have made commitments. Failure loves company.
  • Finally, the last domino to fall is the cost of having an overall feeling of frustration and disappointment with myself. My self-esteem takes a big hit.

As you can see the dominos keep falling, one after the other. Its amazing how one little decision the night before affects the entire next day.

Is it worth it?

After weighing the benefits with the costs, it becomes clear that it’s a huge price you pay for that 2 or 3 hours that you think you are gaining by staying up late.

What is the solution?

Well, duh! The solution is to stop staying up late – right? Easier said than done. Here are some ideas to help in mastering this part of your life.

First: You have to make a serious commitment with yourself that you are not going to stay up late any more for any reason.

Second: You have to have a deadline for going to bed. This means you need to decide what time you will be in bed with your head on the pillow and your lights out.

Third: You have to determine how long it takes you to get ready for bed so you know what time you need to begin going to bed. It takes time to brush your teeth, change into your pajamas and whatever else you do before going to bed. If your goal is to be in bed by 11:00 p.m. and it takes you a half-hour to get ready for bed then you need to begin by 10:30 p.m.

Fourth: You need to think ahead and make sure you don’t start anything you can’t finish or end by 10:30 p.m. You can’t be going to a movie at 9:30 at night because you know a movie is roughly two hours and it takes time to get there and time to get home and you’ll never make it.

Okay, so I’ve laid out a very convincing argument against staying up late. I’ve shown that the costs far outweigh any benefits that might be gained. I’ve also laid out a simple plan to change this habit. And I’ve done it all for your benefit. But really, that would be a lie. You see, this really is a challenge to myself to master this area of my life. It’s something I’ve known for a long time that I needed to change.

So, beginning today, I am going to follow this plan and report back to you how I’m doing. Thanks for listening in as I have attempted to convince myself of all the reasons to change. Wish me luck on this challenge.