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

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?

Sleep Depravation

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.

Sheep Thief or Saint?

Sheep

I once heard a story about two brothers who lived in a small town in the country. The story goes that both of these brothers were caught stealing sheep. For their punishment they were branded on the forehead with the letters “ST,” for “Sheep Thief.”

One brother was so ashamed that he left the community. Everywhere he went he had to constantly explain the letters on his forehead. He remained bitter about the whole thing and always felt he had been treated unfairly. He eventually died a lonely man and was buried in an unknown grave.

His brother, on the other hand, stayed in the community and tried to win back his neighbors’ trust. He did everything he could to show the people of the town that he was a changed man. He volunteered for community service projects, helped his neighbors when he saw the need, and did all he could to become the kind of man that he knew he ought to be.

Many years later a visitor came to town. He asked a local resident about the strange letters on the old man’s forehead. The resident replied that he had forgotten exactly why the letters were there, but that he thought “ST” most likely was an abbreviation for the word “Saint.”

Like the brothers in this story, each of us makes mistakes in our lives – sometimes big ones and sometimes little ones. And like the brothers in this story we can choose what we do about the mistakes we make. We are the ones that decide how our mistakes are going to affect us.

May each of us choose the good path and become the person we know we ought to be so that perhaps someday we may be known as a “Saint” and not a “Sheep Thief.” Thank you.

Copyright © 2014 Gary N. Larson

What Are You Focusing On?

subconsciousI talked earlier about the concept of Threshold, of reaching a boiling point in your life, of hitting rock bottom and realizing you need to change. But after that, then what? Where do you go from there? Many people have reached that point and they say, “I’m going to make a change, I’m going to turn over a new leaf.” But, you know, they go to bed, they get up the next day, and life goes on and nothing really changes. Well, that’s a good point. Where do you go from there?

Focus on what you want, not on what you don’t want

I think many times we focus on the bad habit or behavior that we want to change and that’s where our mind is, that’s where our attention is, that’s where the vision is, the pictures that we have in our mind. Now I’ll go back to the example of the person who overeats. You know they say, “I’ve got to change, I’ve got to go on a diet, I’ve got to quit eating the food.” They put all of their focus on not eating and they are constantly thinking about food, saying things to themselves like; “I can’t eat the chips and salsa. I can’t eat the chocolate cake in the fridge. I’ve got to count calories.” Their whole focus is all on food, and not eating the food.

Dominant thoughts

The problem is, the picture that you have in your mind when you’re in this mode is of food and your mind draws toward what you have pictures of in your head. Let me rephrase that, not your mind, but whatever pictures you have in your mind; that’s what you’re drawn towards. The person who wants to quit swearing for example, if he’s just constantly telling himself, “I’m not going to swear, I’m not going to swear.” The thoughts in his mind are all about swearing.
The focus can’t be on what it is your trying to stop. It’s got to be on the behavior you’re going to replace it with. So for the person who wants to change the way they look, their physical appearance, their health, they shouldn’t be focusing on not eating food. They should be focusing on what they’re going to look like in six months or a year down the road-what kind of lifestyle are they going to have? It’s got to be a lifestyle change.

“See” what you want

They can’t say, “I’m going to stop eating food for the next ten days” or “I’m going to stop eating until I’m down to a certain weight and then resume my regular lifestyle.” That’s not going to work. You’ve got to see in your mind who you’re going to become. And then once you decide what kind of life you’re going to lead, are you going to be a biker, a runner, are you going to get up and do aerobics, kick boxing, whatever it is, you need to see pictures of yourself in good health, pictures of yourself in your mind having the body, the physique that you want, looking the way you want and then move towards that picture.

Suddenly you start to make changes in your life because your current behavior is incompatible with the way you see yourself. You need to start looking, acting, walking, and talking like that person.

Now that is focusing on a small part of your entire self, your physical body. You can bring this up to even a higher level and see yourself as a completely different person, a person you have described and envisioned in every detail, the real “you” deep inside of you. You begin to change every aspect of your life. It all begins with what you are focusing your mind on on a regular basis. So be aware of your thoughts, be aware of the images and pictures you have in your mind because whatever your dominant thought is, that is what you will create in your life.

Copyright © 2014 Gary N. Larson

Self-Image, the Catalyst for Change

What can you become?

Let’s talk about the topic of self-image and how it relates to personal change. Everyone has a concept of themselves – a self-image. You hear somebody say, “I’m just not good at math” or “I’m just not a runner” or “I’m just not musically inclined” or “I can’t sing.” You hear them describe themselves in these kinds of terms. Where did they get those ideas? Who told them these things? How do they know they can’t sing or they can’t run or they can’t do this or that? Where did they learn these things?

We get so convinced of these ideas that we believe them and that becomes who we are. This can happen even in the positive sense. We hear someone say, “Oh, I’ve always been good at art” or “I’m a creative person, I’ve always been a creative person.” How did we get those beliefs in the first place? How did those beliefs get installed in our mind?

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that we do come to this earth with a package of personality traits and talents. Yes, there are certain attributes and strengths that make us unique as an individual. But I believe many of the strengths and weaknesses that we believe we have are self-created, that they were given to us or programmed in us either by our upbringing, or by the people we’ve associated with or by our personal experiences.

We try something once and fail and make a decision in our mind that we’re not good at that. We say things like “I just wasn’t cut out for public speaking” or “I’m just not good at football” or “I’m just not a sports-type person.” We tell ourselves this enough times that we believe it. I feel that the majority of those kinds of ideas are self-created and anything that is self-created can be changed.

Rather than have these beliefs created by default, we can create our own beliefs and concepts about our self. We can stop telling ourselves “I’m not good at this” or “I’m not good at that” and say “yes, I am a creative person, I’m an athletic person, I’m a health nut, I’m a good person, I’m a patient person” instead of “Oh, yeah, I have a bad temper” or “yeah, I’ve always had a weakness for chocolate.” I say baloney! You can change those things and it all has to do with your self-image, what you believe about yourself. That’s what your self-image is and it has a HUGE impact on what you CAN and CANNOT do!

Have you ever been to a hypnosis show where a hypnotist hypnotizes certain members of the audience and they do things they normally would not do such as belt out a popular song or sing opera? Well, this person has never sung opera before or at least never attempted it. How is it now that they are able to sing opera? Does the hypnotist have some magic ability to impart to this person some special talent? No! Anything you see somebody do in a hypnotist show is something that person already had the ability to do but just does not believe it. The only thing a hypnotist does is take away their unbelief and take away their fear and that is how they perform those things. The stutterer begins to speak normally. A shy person becomes extremely friendly and bubbly and able to carry on a conversation.

So when we see people in a hypnotist type show like that do things that they wouldn’t normally do, it is simply because the hypnotist has taken away their fear, has taken away their negative beliefs about themselves. The things you see them do, they already know how to do. They already are able to do them. It’s just that their beliefs limit them. The hypnotist just removes those negative beliefs about themselves and allows them to do the things that they really can do in the first place.

Exercise: Write Down a Description of Your Present and Future Self

Every one of us has these kind of incorrect, wrong beliefs about ourselves. If you sat down and just described yourself right now and wrote down a list of all the attributes about you, the positive and negative, what would you write down? “Oh I’m good at this, I’m not good at that, I’m this kind of person, I’m that kind of person.” Well, I think it’s worth it to sit down and do that. Describe yourself. What makes you you? Describe everything about you: your weaknesses, your strengths, your talents, your limitations, the things you’re good at, the things you’re not good at. Make a list.

Now examine that list and realize that most of what’s on that list is incorrect. Most of what’s on that list was created in your own mind as you grew up. These are programs or thoughts or beliefs that were given to you in one way or another, either by those that you associate with, your family, your friends or your personal experiences and you made decisions along the way about what kind of a person you are.

So examine that list. Now on another sheet of paper write another list of how you would like to be, the attributes, the strengths, the things you would like to have in your life. Now look at those two lists and realize that you have the power within you right now to reprogram your mind, to remove those negative beliefs and influences and to install positive beliefs about yourself.

You Can Change Your Self-Image

This whole list business has to do with self-image, of what you believe about yourself. It’s incredible how powerful that is. If you can realize that you can change those beliefs then you can make a huge change in your life about what kind of a person you are. You no longer need to believe that you are an overweight person, that you’re not an athletic person or a healthy person. That’s a bunch of baloney. It is, especially when you say you have certain weaknesses. Well, you have the same brain as anyone else, the same biological makeup as anyone else. It’s just that you have had things programmed into your mind that take you in certain directions when certain conditions exist.

It’s like the path or the trail that your mind follows when you encounter certain conditions. You can change that path. You can block the old path. A path not used will soon become overgrown. You can erase the old path and create a new path and part of doing that is changing the beliefs about yourself.

I have experienced this in my own life when I have actually made a concerted effort to see myself as another person that had admired. I forced myself, everyday, to say that “today I am going to think, act, walk and talk like that person.” There was a particular person that I admired at that time and it truly was amazing how my behavior changed throughout the day, how certain things never even came up as a temptation to me, how my mind went in certain directions that I normally wouldn’t go and my thoughts and my abilities had changed. That has to do with your self-image or your self-identity, who you believe or think you are in your mind. It’s a very powerful thing.

So the whole idea or thought or thrust about this self-image thing is that you really need to concentrate on your self-concept, what you believe about yourself and realize that if you have old, negative beliefs, you can change those beliefs. You don’t have to believe those things. You can begin telling yourself that, “I am a healthy person. I am a creative person, a musical person. I can sing. I can do this or do that,” whatever it is that you felt in the past that you couldn’t do or did not have the ability or talents to do. Realize that most of that is self-created and most of that can be changed. You have the power within you, so use it!

Copyright © 2014 Gary N. Larson