Giving Thanks After Thanksgiving

Today I was hit by a very real and very crazy realization:

IT’S ALREADY DECEMBER!

Please excuse the excitement, but it really is hard for me to not get excited around Christmas time. It is without a doubt my favorite time of year. I’ll probably go more into why I love Christmas time at a later date, but realizing that today is the first of December I began to think about how quickly this year has gone by.

I mean, I can literally remember what I was doing in my life the same time one year ago. To say that this year has been a “blur” would be an understatement. The change that’s happened in me has been unreal, and the men and women who have contributed to this change, I view in very high regard.

While at work, my manager contributed in a small, but significant way by sharing an attitude he was choosing to have throughout the day, and let me say that it was AWESOME! I’ll do my best to summarize:

“I’m choosing to find the good things, even when the situation is bad”

Short, sweet, and pretty convicting. How often do we actively choose to look at the good things whenever we’re right smack-dab in the middle of really lousy situation? Taking it one step further; how often do we actively choose to be thankful for those good things?

Just because Thanksgiving as a holiday is over, doesn’t mean that we should stop being thankful for the many small, but significant things that happen to us on a day-to-day basis.

Our lives will, in essence, be a self-fulfilling prophesy one way or another. Either you can be joyful and thankful in your outlook on everything, or you can be angry and resentful.

The cool thing is that you genuinely have the choice on how you view the world and how you respond to it. Will it be positive or negative? The choice is only yours to make.

True Nobility

About two years ago, the acronym C.A.N.I. was presented to me. It was used rather seamlessly into the conversation, so naturally I zoned out of the conversation trying to figure out what it meant. After about a minute of intense thought and rudely ignoring my conversation, I asked the person what it meant.

He told me that it stood for Constant And Never-Ending Improvement, and what an outstanding idea it was. Once that acronym was implanted in my head, it almost always seems to resurface when I’m starting to get really comfortable with my life; some would even say complacent.

Constantly improving yourself from now until the end of time is a big commitment and will certainly take a lot of hard work, but I know for me that just being reminded of the idea inspires me to keep improving myself as a whole.

Ernest Hemingway said,

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”

Something to think about during your day today. There is an incredible amount of stuff that I’m hoping to start doing, not only in my personal life but with this blog as well. I’ll keep people posted as to what will be happening, and while there are just a few people reading this blog right now, I really hope that we can start getting it growing very soon.

The Refining Fire

Discipline is the refining fire by which talent becomes ability.

Roy L. Smith

How many times have you started to do something, started off really well, then over time began to either lose interest or forget about what you were doing almost entirely? If you’re anything like me (and probably the greater majority of the human population), then it can become a chore just convincing yourself to continue doing whatever it is that you were so jazzed about just a month ago.

Why is this? Why do we so quickly lose focus on what we were ecstatic about starting? I look at people who have enormous success in their life and notice one common denominator that they all share – DISCIPLINE.

They refuse to quit, no matter who much it may hurt or inconvenience them. They have the “succeed or die” mentality that gives them the drive to reach the very top of whatever it is that they’re doing. While I don’t think that it’s 100% necessary to always be thinking “If I don’t succeed, I will LITERALLY die,” I do believe that it can motivate you beyond what you could imagine.

Rather, I believe that there are 4 steps that you can take that will greatly increase your desire to persevere during the hard times, and have the discipline to continue.

  1. Begin With The End In Mind: When you have an end goal, something that you can strive for and work towards, then your journey will have a purpose. You won’t just be doing something just because it’s a spur of the moment thing. Instead, there will be a reason for doing it.
  2. Find Your Why: What is driving you? Why do you desire to succeed so badly? Is it because you’re in a tight spot financially? To be a great role model for your kids or the people around you? Do you simply want to have a better life than what you currently have? This is the driving force behind your success; this is your own personal “succeed or die”.
  3. What’s Your Passion: You know that exercise in school where your teachers asked you if you could do one thing for the rest of your life and not get paid a dime, what would it be? While I’m sure I butchered that analogy, I think you get where I’m going with this. What is something you absolutely love to do? Something that you can spend hours, upon hours, upon hours of time devoting your time to? This will make your journey to success all the more enjoyable, and it won’t seem like a chore when you’re putting in the time day in and day out.
  4. Discipline Yourself: This last step might seem obvious, but absolutely needs to be mentioned. The first 3 steps, in complete honesty, are a farce if you don’t make a daily effort to be disciplined to do whatever it is that you’re doing. Steps 1-3 help, but at the end of the day you have to make the conscious effort to, at times, force yourself to do something you don’t feel like doing. That’s how people like Michael Jordan are revered as the best at what they do. They never had a sick day. They practiced even when they “didn’t feel like it”. They made the hard choices to be great, and I’m willing to bet that not one of them looks back and says, “I wish I had taken that day off”.

Begin with the end in mind, Find your why, What’s your passion, and simply discipline yourself. Four steps that I have been blessed to have personally seen people do on a daily basis, and are HIGHLY successful because of it.

What do you think? Do you think there should be more steps to this list? Let me know what you think!

An End To Journey Toward

How often do we look at our lives and think, “I wish I had more of…”? We have an image of ourselves that we want to resemble, and picture things we wish to own and possess.

Am I here to shame anyone for feeling or thinking this way? Absolutely not; that would be called hypocrisy. I, on an almost daily basis, am constantly picturing myself doing bigger and better things; being a CEO of a major corporation, having boatloads of money, having a family, finally owning a Jeep, or even getting a tan.

Being someone who wants to continue to improve their situation and work for something greater isn’t, in my opinion, wrong in any regard. It’s what America was built on, and there’s a lot of merit behind that. And while I highly encourage the people in my life to look for something to strive towards, pursue something in life that make their wildest dreams seem addled and obtuse, I want to desperately point out that while we’re reaching for our prize, do not neglect the joys that you will have from the journey itself.

Ernest Hemingway said it best:

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”

Like always, I love feedback from anything I post. I will personally respond to each and every comment, negative or positive! Also, this post was highly inspired by a post I read by Seth Godin. You can read his thoughts here!

Do Not Go Gentle…

A QUICK WORD

First and foremost, let me apologize for neglecting this blog for so long. Sadly, other events took priority in my life and I’ve been missing writing these posts for quite some time. However, I’m very excited to be posting again. I plan on great things coming much more frequently.


THE ACTUAL POST

Something that has been on my heart and mind as of late is the concept of hope. A word that we use very loosely in our day-to-day vocabulary. “I hope I get to…” or “She was hoping I would…”. While I’m not saying that we should stop using that in our conversations, I think it’s good to actually sit and think about what the word in a context that’s a little outside our every day definition:

to cherish a desire with anticipation

Without fail, this is my favorite way to define this word (thanks Merriam-Webster!). I like to imagine a young child entranced by dozens of presents underneath the tree on Christmas morning. I know that for me and my sisters, Christmas morning could never come fast enough. Just that burning desire to rip into our presents and see what Santa (he exists) brought us the night before; hoping and praying that we received everything that we asked for.

Almost childlike, I feel like that’s how people as a whole should approach their lives – with hope. Hope in knowing that while you might be going through the fiercest storm in your life, there is always hope. It’s when we lose sight of that hope that we start to spiral downward. I’ve been lucky enough to have seen some incredible examples of such hope and perseverance through close friends and family. Seeing them struggling just to get through the day, just to try to live a normal life, just to get out of bed; they hold on to the thought that one day it will get better, and this is nothing short of inspiring.

I’m super excited to start blogging more frequently. I really love talking and engaging others in conversations about different topics, so it makes me very happy that I’m not being lazy anymore and doing this again. I love feedback, comments, anything you would feel comfortable contributing or sharing. After logging on today, I saw several extremely inspiring comments about people who really enjoyed reading the few posts that I have, so that has coincidentally made my fire to do this even bigger. As a parting word, here is an amazing poem by Dylan Thomas. I first heard it while watching Interstellar this past weekend (which is a great film – you should see it):

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas

When To Look Back

As much as I can, I try to write in a journal that I keep. A journal that is talking about the events in my life at the moment and my thoughts and feelings. Every few months or so, I like to look back on the things that I wrote, and often times I find myself laughing. I look back and read these words and I think to myself, “Man, you sound like a 13 year old” or “Wow! What on earth was wrong with you?” On the other hand, there are times when I think, “Wow, you handled that pretty well!” or “Maybe you shouldn’t say that to her again.” The interesting thing is I think that doing this can be good thing. Looking back on your life and reflecting on where you were, and where you are now. Here are some reasons why I believe that looking back can be a good thing:

  1. Growth: How can you know if you’re growing if you don’t have a frame of reference? Looking back on past decisions and how you reacted, as opposed to how you might react presently can be a huge indication of personal growth.
  2. Insight: How many times have you reacted to a problem in the heat of the moment? Maybe you said something you didn’t mean, or reacted in a way that you wish you could take back. Looking back on these times can help provide you with a good idea of how to approach similar situations in the future.
  3. Accountability: There have been times in my own life where I have written down things that I need to get done, or would like to do in the future. Looking back and remembering these can encourage you to get back on the horse and finish what you started.

These are only a handful of advantages to looking back on your life. While there can be tremendous gain from doing so, be wary to not “dwell” on the past. Often times people can get stuck in a rut, depressed, angry, or bitter about things that have happened in their lives. You have an amazing ability to choose your attitude. Choose to look at those events not as a way to pull you down, but rather as a method to learn and grow from.