Success & 5 Thoughts to IGNORE

I’ve been here before. Thinking this is impossible, that I’ll never be able to successfully change my bad habits into good ones. It feels foolish really, to try things that make others scoff–especially when you wonder yourself just how long you’ll be able to sustain the change.

Writing a book.  Finishing a marathon.  Losing weight.  Getting happy.  Becoming a better parent.  Improving mental health. Landing a promotion.  Living by faith.  Fighting disease.  Finding a cure.  YOU fill in the blanks.

I know THIS is possible. This healthy, vibrant image of ME that can’t help but rub off on my family and friends. And I know how great it feels to accomplish something big (big to ME anyway), while others are on the sidelines feeling obliged to say congratulations. I’ve been here before, at the beginning of a long journey with all of the nagging obstacles that are really just mostly “thoughts in my head.”

Here are a few thoughts that keep re-playing in my head EVERY TIME I try to make a positive change in my life.

But these are the thoughts that also merit being IGNORED.

1. What if I fail?
So what if you fail?
In order to make a habit of something, you will always have to start at square one.  Nobody has the luxury of waking up as a star athlete, without having made the painful day-by-day decision to train hard.  Failure starts with the FIRST time you say NO to a positive change. 
2. What if I fall off the wagon?
You WILL fall off the wagon.  Falling off the wagon is an indication that you were on it to begin with.  FAILURE is the perfect start.  It’s an indication, “You’ve begun.”  Yes, you may have to run to catch up and jump back on.  But, EXPECT to FALL and when you do, get back up again, brush yourself off and smile as others smirk at what they perceive to be your naive commitment to success
3. What if this is JUST a stage?
It IS a STAGE.  Your life is made up of stages!  Don’t spend time obsessing over how long your new-found direction in life will last.  There is a lot to be said for “changing directions.”  Your “stage” is made up of small choices that those around you will observe for better or worse.  You never know the impact that those choices will have on others.  Your “stage” of eating healthy today may inspire one of your friends or family members to make it their ongoing lifestyle.  Eventually, you may just find that your “healthy” STAGES will all connect together to represent an overall healthy life lived! 
4. What if my family and friends are resistant to the change?
They WILL be resistant to CHANGE!  All of us are part of unhealthy relationships because unhealthy relationships kind of just evolve.  We don’t have to TRY to have unhealthy relationships.  We only have to TRY to get rid of them.  They are a result of who we are when we’re NOT deliberate about life.  As soon as you start being DELIBERATE about your actions, your unhealthy relationships will immediately come to the surface and you’ll be forced to make yet another CHOICE.  Do I continue to affect change and bear the pain of isolation from friends and family who 1) Don’t believe I’ll succeed 2) Don’t want to lose the part of me that made them comfortable with who they are 3) Fear they’ll have to change too, if they want to continue to keep my company  ??  Avoiding positive change to sustain mediocre relationships is a mental health disaster waiting to happen.  Ask me how I know.  Your healthy choices will change those around you.  Or else!  There’s no getting around it.
5. What if the “change” doesn’t really produce the intended results?
Ahhh!  This one is the kicker for me.  What if I don’t feel better?  What if I don’t like the new me?  What if no one appreciates my success?  What if my success draws a hard line between myself and the ones I love?  What if taking a new direction means leaving others behind?  What if others are jealous of me instead of proud that I’ve finally accomplished something?  These “Thoughts” are the ones that ultimately keep the greatest number of people from reaching their desired goals.  What if the outcome is not better than my previous way of living?  Just remember, in most cases–it’s easier to go backward than forward.  Lose weight?  Don’t feel great?  You can always start buying Big Macs again.  It’s not that hard to put on a few extra pounds.

BOTTOM LINE is:  You’ll never find success unless you proactively choose to IGNORE these thoughts by recognizing them for what they are, because they won’t go away until you reach the TOP of the mountain.  Until you PERSONALLY feel like you’ve arrived—these thoughts will be your most dreaded companions along the way.  Don’t let the thoughts stop you from taking the FIRST step.


Thoughts that Paralyze

Have you ever taken the time to identify those thoughts that paralyze you into inaction?

Sometimes our thoughts are on a quick sprint to the destination of nowhere and it’s hard to capture them and accurately identify what it is that we’re truly thinking.

There are many things that we’d like to accomplish in life but our thinking doesn’t enable us to take constructive steps toward reaching our goals.

Do you ever feel a stirring inside to get up and do something but almost as subtlety as that stirring comes–thoughts roll in like the tide and before you know it your motivation to move is washed away.

If we deliberately took the time to hit pause on our disorganized charade of thoughts–perhaps we could identify which thoughts are coherent and which thoughts seem more like random darts thrown by the enemy to attack our purpose in life.

It may come as a shock to you when you finally articulate the thought or family of thoughts that kept you from your last endeavor.  When that first stirring of inspiration was kindled in your soul, perhaps after reading a book, listening to a sermon or observing nature, what was the first thought that preceded your inability to get up and stoke that pile of glowing embers just waiting to be ignited?  Perhaps once you identify what that thought is you’ll be too embarrassed to tell anyone else because of it’s obvious whopping illogicality.

It’s that recurring thought that keeps doing the same damage to your destiny every time you allow it to go untamed. Continue reading


Creative Fatigue

‘how to be creative’ is Googled 13,600,000 times per month.’

I find it a little surprising that so many people are researching HOW to be creative. Wow. Directions on how to be creative.

There are some people who would not refer to themselves as creative.  But for those of us who like to think that “creativity” is our thing, it comes as quite a shock when our river runs dry.  It seems like my creativity never comes at a steady flow anyway, but instead stumbles along in starts and fits.  But, then on top of that, when it seems like everything I write is exactly what someone else would have said, and in fact, IS–if I just take the time to Google it….Or when the song I’ve just written sounds oddly familiar to me, like maybe I’ve oh so accidentally plagiarized it from the dark recesses of my eighties playlist….or when I just sit there staring into space thinking that every single thing I could write or create would not even be as good as a knockoff of a knockoff–it’s depressing. I’m experiencing “creative fatigue.”

Sometimes I feel so creative, that I can’t stop myself from creating and initially I’ll think that what I’ve created is so great.  I feel high on my accomplishments until I share what I’ve created with a few people and they’re not quite as enthused about my genius and I come down really quickly starting to feel uncontrollably jittery, like I’ve either had too much coffee or not enough. When I’m actually feeling very creative, I have to stay away from nay-sayers, non-creative people who think that creativity is a waste of time (perhaps those secretly Googling “how to be creative?”). I have to find a comfortable space (usually in my car with the doors locked…I like the sunshine, but the sunshine is too bright for my computer screen when I’m outside).

Other times, I don’t feel so creative. I get “creative fatigue.” Everything looks painfully black and white to me and I turn into one of those people that is annoyed by all things creative. I just want people to cut to the chase, stop chasing rabbit trails. I want them to be quiet and stop supposing, contemplating and creating just based on what’s going on in their own little crazy heads.

For a brief moment, I understand what my non-creative counterparts must feel when they have to spend time with me–slightly put off as they politely humor me, hoping I’ll shut-up soon.


Planting TOO many seeds

‘how to plant seeds’ is Googled around 300,000 times per month globally.

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So, I’m not sure what is going on with me, but I am in a seed planting mood.  I’ve even recently transplanted grass from my backyard to the front yard.  The problem is, that it doesn’t matter HOW MANY seeds you plant.  If you do not take the time to pick the weeds, water just the right amount and watch out for pests, your seeds will probably not bear any flowers or fruit and you will be disappointed, thinking that surely out of ALL the seeds you planted, at least one of them would have grown to the full sized beauty you had imagined.

There are a couple of problems with my urgency to plant seeds.  First, I know nothing about the particular seeds I’m planting, much less how to garden in general.  Second, I do not have the time to dedicate to each and every seed from germination to adulthood.  Third, I do not have the patience to wait for the end results.

So many seeds, so many dreams, so little time to invest in every single thing we would like to see come to fruition in our lives.  What would happen if we planted only a handful of seeds, ones that we have enough knowledge to cultivate, carefully choosing those that can withstand our particular environment, those seeds that need just the amount of time, watering and effort we can afford to invest.

Sometimes, our tendency is to sow as many seeds as possible, hoping that at least ONE of them will make it into a strong and hearty product of all the time and money we put in.  We sow a few here, sow a few there.  Oh my goodness, I forgot that a month ago I planted that seed.  Let me go check on it.  Oh my, the dirt is all dried up, all shriveled up.  There is no sign of life.  Why don’t my seeds ever grow?  Why don’t they ever take root? I’m so tired.  I’m so tired of planting seeds.

It is quite fulfilling to brag about how many seeds we’ve planted.  It makes us feel like we’re getting something done.  Our stories are always about the seeds we’re planting, not about the crops we’re harvesting.  The problem with patience, in being selective with those seeds we choose to plant, is that others might not notice the work we’re putting in.  They might think we’re at a standstill because they can’t see the underground work of germination, the mornings and nights of watering, days of sheltering from the sun.  For days, weeks, months and years on end, it might seem like we’re watering ghosts.  What if everyone laughs when something doesn’t grow as big as I wanted it to?  What if this thing doesn’t take off at all?  What will people think if it just looks like I’m tending dirt all day?

Choose your seeds carefully.  Learn as much as you can about planting in general.  Learn even more about the particular seeds you’ve chosen.  Be patient as you wait for the results.  Don’t forget that regimen is important.

Sometimes, it feels like we’re stuck in the stage of cultivation, especially within the church music program.  Some seeds have been planted.  We have to remember to keep watering, keep sheltering and keep praying, all the while trusting the end results to God’s hands.  Afterall, HE was the first TRUE gardener.  Sometimes, we have to fight the tendency to keep scattering seeds anywhere and everywhere, just because we are afraid the ones we planted might not grow.