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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.

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Proud of what LOOKS like a Failure

Has YOUR failure ever turned into someone else’s success?

Have you ever tried to run a marathon and failed to finish, but the very fact that you tried, inspired others to start getting physically active?

Have you ever pushed to get a promotion, only to have someone come in along side you and say, “If YOU can make that much money, I can too.”  You actually don’t get that promotion, but the other person does?  Somehow what turned out to be your failure, turned into their success.

Ever since, we adopted, I’ve seen this effect in play SO many times.  We have 7 children in all now.  When one of them makes a good decision, it clearly has a ripple effect on the other six.  When one of them makes a bad decision, the others relax because they feel as if the bar has been lowered.

My children, can even affect my husband and me.  Their positive actions challenge us to do better, to strive harder, to make sure we’re taking the lead as positive role models in our children’s lives.

A small example of this, was when our 21 year old came in from a run last night.  She doesn’t run on a regular basis, so we definitely took notice when she came in all sweaty with her gym clothes on.  My husband sat there for a few minutes, and said, “Ndolo, if you can do it, I can do it.”  So he asked if I wanted to go out and run.  I opted to stay comfortably on the couch.  But then, my husband came inside all sweaty too.  There was a certain bounce in his step that said, “I just did something good for myself.”  Five minutes later, I got up, put my exercise clothes on, laced up my tennis shoes, emerged from the bedroom and said, “If you did it, I can certainly do it too!”

All of this, based on ONE person’s SINGLE decision to go out and run.

Another larger example of this is when I recently applied for a fairly good paying job that was significantly out of my comfort zone.  When I got to the third and final interview, my husband publicly announced that if I make THAT much, he should be making more.  So he applied for a few jobs.  Oddly enough, he ended up getting a phone interview at the SAME place where I applied.  They didn’t even call him in for an in-person interview and yesterday was his FIRST day, making a 50% increase in salary. (O.k. maybe we’re just a competitive family?)

Long story short, I did not get the job.
But my efforts, inspired my husband’s actions.
What turned out to be my failure, inspired my husband to success.

(On a side note, I was disappointed that I did not get the job, but I’m thankful for the insight into the power of our actions, EVEN when they don’t turn out to benefit US directly.)

What about you?  Maybe you try to be a better Christian.  Maybe you work really hard to be an example of Christ.  Perhaps everyday you try to help someone who is down and out.  Maybe you try really hard to keep your life pure and free of temptation.  Maybe you’ve fallen.  It could be that you consider yourself to be a miserable failure spiritually.

Sometimes, I worry about what “unbelievers” think of me and I feel like a fraud, because I keep failing.  My life is not a victory.  They see me fall.  They see me get angry with my children and nurture roots of bitterness.  They hear me talk about God’s love, but sometimes they see me mistreating my neighbor.  And I think about giving up.  “I’m failing at this thing.”  “Why am I even trying?”  “Is this path that I’m on, really even a path to ANYWHERE?”  “I’m knocking, but someone keeps slamming the door shut in my face.”

I wonder if perhaps I’m doing more harm than good, when I share my faith with my children, yet turn around and undo all my words with my actions.

But, just maybe, my spiritual failures are inspiring someone else to spiritual “success.”  Maybe the fact that they see me “trying” to do right, will actually inspire them to try too.  And maybe they will make it to the finish line!