Goal Setting

Clear strategy and solutions for business leadership symbol with a straight path to success as a journey choosing the right strategic path for business with blank yellow traffic signs cutting through a maze of tangled roads and highways.

Sounds simple, right?

Make a plan, devise a strategy for what you want to accomplish in a given time frame. Make a plan of attack and accomplish things. This isn’t always the case though, is it? There are many roadblocks that get in the way of us setting goals and then sticking to the goals to make them happen.

I don’t know if I would go so far as to say that I am a goal-oriented person, but I am a task-oriented person and I like to set or plan tasks for me to accomplish. Without a daily and weekly task list, I would never get anything accomplished with the exception of trolling Facebook and Youtube. Setting goals in my mind is like making a task list, but on a bigger scale. A task list breaks down the goals into measurable, accomplish-able action steps. Setting goals and then breaking the goals down into tasks is one of the things I have been stressing to the young men I work with at Grace Landing.

Maybe it’s just me, but the idea of having a plan is very enticing to me. Knowing where I am going and how I am going to get there is comforting. I like the expected. I like to know what is coming. I don’t like surprises and I certainly don’t like the unknown. I have identified in my life 3 obstacles to setting goals that I have overcome and 3 corresponding helpful tips to setting goals.

Three obstacles to setting goals:

  1. It feels silly. Ok. Sometimes it does. It does get a little tedious constantly writing a script for the day and then sticking to it. There is little freedom to ‘go off script’ in the way I organize and arrange my day. It feels silly as an almost 40 year old adult, I have to make plans for how my day is going to transpire. It can feel silly and even childish, as though you don’t have the knowledge or discipline to do what needs to be done.
  2. It’s kinda hard when you are just trying to keep your head above water. I can relate to this. I have spent many days feeling like I was drowning, just barely keeping my head out of water. This inability to see beyond the moment at hand makes it hard to set goals. Feeling as though this is how it will always be, is a misguided belief. At some point, you will be done treading water and then what?
  3. I have no idea where I want to go or what I want to do or what I want to be. We tell ourselves we are still trying to figure it out and box ourselves in. We have created a box, a prison if you will, that we are powerless to overcome.

Three helpful tips to setting goals:

  1. Don’t worry about feeling silly. So what? If what you need to do in order to be successful is make a plan and then stick to it, what does it matter? There is still freedom in my days to have fun and be spontaneous… after I finish all the tasks I need to accomplish. Haha! But seriously, I have built into my tasks and schedule spontaneous times, or times where it is ok for me to stop what i am doing and do something unrelated to work just for fun. You can’t worry about feeling silly because at the end of the day when you have finished everything you need to get done you can relax and enjoy yourself, not worrying or panicking about upcoming deadline because you are ready for it.
  2. The obstacle of feeling like you are drowning is a tough one to overcome, because it makes sense. This is an intense fear of mine… drowning. But, I know that by slowing down and taking each day as it comes to me I can make a plan of attack and get done needs to be done. Being able to step back and take big picture view will help you in getting past what is going on right now so you can see the goal setting was worthwhile. At some point, you not be treading water and if you don’t have a direction to go, you will continue to tread water and go nowhere. Goal setting is the big picture, beyond the current sensation of drowning.
  3. Hogwash. There is no box I fit in, let alone one I can’t break out of. This is the epitome of shortsightedness. Have you ever considered you don’t know where you want to go or what you do or what you want to be, because you never actually spent any real time reflecting and planning? Is it possible, there are no goals because you have been too afraid to dream about what you could accomplish and rather live in the security of the self-imposed prison? Maybe. Dream. Dream big.

Not that I am the authority on any subject, but I struggle the same as the next dude. Here’s how I have implemented goal setting and task listing. Were these thoughts helpful to you? What have you done to help in setting goals?

Productivity vs Stagnation

Version 2

As I wrapped up my work day yesterday at 1am, I read an article on productivity to help me wind down. The headline caught my eye, ’15 things productive people do differently’.

Naturally, I was intrigued. I was hooked, so I read on. Coincidentally, my hours at the office have been getting consumed with what I have referred to as meetings. About midway through this list of 15 things was meetings. Highly productive people avoid meetings like the plague, apparently.

As Ronda & I walked out the door this morning, she commented she has been scheduling tons of meetings which are making getting any legal work done difficult. I referred to article I read. As she thought about the implications of what I read she drew a distinction between meetings and networking appointments, which are in truth what she is scheduling.

This caused me to consider the nature of my increasing meetings. It’s not fair to call then meetings really. Not all of them anyway. They are mostly client-centered individual sessions together assisting them in propelling themselves forward in their lives. Helping them to clarify goals, stay on budget and time management.

This is the true nature & scope of my job. The administrative and detail office-type work is necessary to support the relational aspect which is the actual work of my job. It’s easy for us to get caught up in the day to day work and forget that building relationship and community is what really matters.

Don’t caught in the busyness of life and forget the critical importance of relationship and community.

Fist Full of Guilt

  
“3PO, you tell that slimy piece of worm-ridden filth he’ll get no such pleasure from us. Right?” 

One of all-time favorite lines from any movie. Facing certain death, Han Solo retorts with a smart-mouthed, belligerent comment. No matter what came next, he was going to make sure he had left no stone unturned. He ensures he had no regrets, no guilt of choices he made or didn’t make. 

It often feels as though I navigate through life with a worldview almost the exact opposite. There have been many days long since passed,  I awoke with a strong sense of guilt and regret. 

I no longer wake and face each day this baggage weighing me down. I don’t know that I face each day with the brashness of Han Solo, but I don’t start each day full of guilt and regret either. 

Over the years, I have strived to live the words of Paul in Philippians 4:11-12,

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:11-12‬ ‭

Contentment. 

Being satisfied, happy, content. I would never complain to have attained this, I have moved beyond the guilt and regret. 

How? Jesus. 

Seems like a cop-out answer and it partially is. But it is also true. I have had to allow him to be my starting point and my ending. Not myself or my own performance as a father and husband. I had to learn to find my purpose, existence and meaning in something other than me. 

So, Jesus. I have learned to define myself by the same terms he uses to define me. 

Saved. Brother. Friend. Child of God, covered by the sacrificial blood of the son of God. 

When I learned to define myself as Jesus defines me, the guilt and regret went away. It stills rears its ugly head from time to time. But they don’t consume me. They don’t become who I am, because they aren’t me. 

Now I wake each morning with a sense of freedom. A sense of relief. Knowing I don’t have to perform or act or live a certain way… because it was already lived for me. It isn’t always easy. Sometimes I forget. Sometimes I want to let the reality of brokenness and hurt tell me who I am. 

But I can’t. Because that truth isn’t true. It’s a lie. I am not guilt. I am not regret.

I am covered by the blood of Jesus. 

Personality Traits

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I have always been fascinated by personality theory… or at least as long as I’ve be aware of something called personality theory, which in reality has only been about 10-15 years. So not, literally always… just always that I aware of.

At any rate, it is interesting to me to think through the differing qualities and characteristics which make us individual human beings. The intricacies making each of us tick, slightly different than the next person. Understanding who a person is at their personality core will help you to understand how to interact with them in the most effective way. Understanding how they view the world, how they frame and interact with the their internal world and the external world.

I spend a lot of time thinking about stuff and processing internally. Maybe this is why one of my professors suggested I was an introvert masquerading as an extrovert. On a side note – I am not an introvert, I am undoubtedly an extrovert who will at times do introverted things. Make sense? Not to me either. But in these times where I spend time thinking, I think about my personality and the pieces of that are holding me back. Or maybe not holding me back as much as u become aware of them as I attempt to become the person I am seeking to be.  I am a visionary. I dream. Big. A LOT. I have great plans with executable ideas requiring follow through. These dreams require organization and delegation of tasks.

Here’s my dilemma, I have very poor follow through.

My problem isn’t organization or administration. I’m not the most organized or the best admin, but I’m not the worst.

My problem isn’t ideas… God knows I have billions of earth-shattering, ground-breaking, life-altering ideas.

My problem isn’t communication… I am an excellent communicator.

My problem isn’t with motivation, of others… I  magnetic and able to motivate others towards an end.

My problem isn’t even with valuing the dream, idea or end in mind. Or even my commitment to the idea at hand. Admittedly, my actions often (regularly) belie my commitment.

My problem is my personal follow through. I have been aware of this for some time now. This year, 2016, one of the personal goals I am setting is to do a much better job with follow through. I am committing to doing better about finishing what I start. I am also committing to NOT committing to things I know I am not going to be able to finish. There is a beauty in saying ‘no’. I heard it said the greatest enemy of the best is good. Committing to do good things we don’t have time for inhibits us from being able to complete the best things we can. I am committing to my best in 2016.

I am setting several personal and professional goals for 2016 (they aren’t resolutions, so its ok that they aren’t totally in place and rolling on 1/1/16). I am setting goals to move me forward personally and professionally.

Which Star Wars character are you?

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I have generally always fancied myself a Han Solo kind of dude. Even though, when I was a young boy I refused to answer my parents unless they called me Luke Skywalker.

But Han Solo is the shiz. His carefree cavalier attitude, his quick wittedness, his ability to think on his feet and get himself out of trouble. Not to mention his dopey, lopsided grin. These are qualities I see in myself. At least in my mind.

The last two nights we have watched Episodes 1 & 2 with our boys. We have played lego Star Wars for months, they’ve watched the clone wars and now we have begun the saga at the beginning to bring them I to the fold.

But this got me to thinking about which Star Wars character am I really? Is Han the best choice for me?

I think if I am honest with myself, I am Darth Vader. Or at least Anakin Skywalker as he turned into Darth Vader. Anakin struggled with anger and controlling his fears and emotions. Anakin was reckless and often didn’t think before he acted. He regularly threw caution to the wind.

These all sound strikingly similar to me.

What do I do with this newfound knowledge?

Nothing really.

But it is an interesting note that Anakin was touted as the prophesied one who would bring balance to the force. He goes crazy and murders everyone he could get his light saber on, but ultimately is redeemed and saves his son while destroying the emperor who was the pinnacle of evil.

He was redeemed.

He became know. For something other than his struggles and missteps. He became known for something beyond his mistakes.

This is what I want also. I want to be know. For something other than my mistakes, my sins.

In the end, Darth Vader didn’t win and Anakin prevailed in the battle for his mind and soul. Anger didn’t win. Hate didn’t win.

Redemption won the day.

Fallen off the Wagon

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Valentine’s Day of 2012 was a significant day for me, because it was the beginning of the end for me and my love affair with coffee.

Between then and the end of the year I had a total of 12 cups of coffee.

This was hard for a myriad of reasons – both physical and psychological. Coffee was such a large part of my identity that it was difficult me to remove it because it was something I used to define who I am.

By April 2013 I have had probably 6 cups of coffee. Not bad, but I can do better than this. I find that coffee really is my drug of choice. When I feel overwhelmed, not sure what to do or how I should feel… I find myself wanting a cup of coffee. This is most likely why I have had as many cups of coffee as I have so far this year.

And then we went on vacation.

We were driving… a lot. We put in 2000 miles in 10 days. I was tired… a lot. So I began to drink coffee again. I was fine for a awhile. I was able to curb the habit and keep it to 1-2 ‘cups’ a day. Not necessarily 8oz cups, but ‘cups’. Then it began. I began to feel irritable, anxious and it didn’t take much to bother me or set me off. I tried to ignore it or act like something else was causing it. But the only thing that had changed was my intake of coffee.

Several years ago, a friend of mine who is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and a Certified Nutrionist told me there was something unique about the way the caffeine in coffee interacts with my body. That uniqueness is not good. It affects me adversely, in ways it doesn’t the general populace. As much as I don’t want this to be true, it sorta is. coffee seems to have a negative effect on me. My intake of coffee has caused me to be irritable, anxious and a jerk to people I care about.

This needs to change.

I realized today, coffee may be a defining factor of who I am… but not drinking coffee and overcoming it as an addiction can also be something that defines me. Coffee no longer has a hold of me, no longer has control over me.

Silly, I know. I’m kinda chuckling as I write this myself. However, the Scriptures seem to indicate that anything can control us and when things begin to control us they become a problem. Hence, the problem with coffee.

It controlled me.

There are many things, even today, that control why I do what I do. Control my actions and thoughts. Give me the reason behind why I do what I do. I am controlled by a desire to be a better dad and husband. I am controlled by my desire to help people. I am controlled by the spirit who lives inside me. I am controlled by my desire to run, to exercise, to be in shape, be fit. I am controlled by my desire to not spend excessive time in the bathroom so I try to stay away from gluten. Fear motivates me to do things, my past failures cause me to act in certain ways, the lies I believe about myself push me in certain directions.

Several of those motivators I want to remove, and I don’t want coffee to be on that list either. I want to be controlled by things that make me a better person, a more Christ-like person… a man after God’s own heart.

The things that motivate us control us.
The things that control become our master.
What is your master?

Wandering Mind

As I sit down to put the finishing touches on classwork for my internship class, I find it easier to let my mind wander in an accelerated manner. My thoughts aren’t quite racing per se… but as my dad used to strongly encourage me and my bro as children, I wish my thoughts would stop ‘flitting around and light somewhere’. I realize my thoughts vacillate between wrapping up this course and the last 2 I have left to have earned a master’s degree, my church ministry, my internship where I am counseling clients, my family (both wife & kids and bro/sis(es)/mom/dad), impending employment at conclusion of grad school,the numerous blog post ideas I have been sitting on for months, my desire to publish a book, our search to buy a house this summer and the slight indigestion I have from that burger I ate at lunch.

I find myself at this moment specifically asking God to calm my mind and fears and to allow me to feel the peace beyond understanding and to know that he is God in the midst of the whirlwind of experiences that is my life.

Peace. As I hate hell, all Montagues.

I can’t help to think of Romeo & Juliet when I think of the word peace… sorry.

I find myself a little antsy or anxious today in general… which is probably the contributor to my thoughts not wanting to sit still while I wrap up homework. I have found there are times when my thoughts wander that it is better to give it space to calm itself down rather than force it to do what i want. It doesn’t hurt to throw a prayer in there to assist in the calming process.

We all have moments when our minds want to be somewhere other than where they are… we don’t wanna have to deal with work, family, church, school, friends, whatever it may be. I have learned the most important thing I can do to make me the best husband & father I can be is to focus on my own mental, emotional and spiritual health. I am no good to anyone else if I am a mess. Today, as my thoughts are scattered I let God fill me with calmness so that I am to parent my children well and finish my homework.

Are you feeling scattered and disjointed? Feeling like your mind wants to be somewhere else? Try asking God for calmness, then sit quietly and let your mind wander until it comes home.

An Ordered World

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I know a few things about myself.

I like order.

If you know me this may seem strange to you. But it is reality.

I am a type ‘A’ personality. I like to be the boss. I like to be in charge.

I like for everything to have a home and for it to be in its home unless it is being used.

About 4 years ago I had what I call a mental breakdown. I know, technically speaking there is no such thing as a mental breakdown… but I had one anyway (I don’t like to follow the rules… yes that contradicts with me wanting/needing order). And one of the personality traits that was a causality of this breakdown. Was order, organization. I became significantly less organized in life as a whole. This has been a problem, since between Ronda and I, I am the organized one. Our lives have been a disorganized disaster for years now.

I didn’t even realize this deficiency until recently. Until it started to come back, really.

I enjoy life much more when it is organized. I don’t like chaos. I like order.

Maybe that is one of the reasons I like Batman so much and associate the with the Joker as the ultimate arch villain. Batman seeks to re-order the city of Gotham as it is ravaged by crime. Joker seeks to creat chaos simply for the sake of chaos and the destruction of order.

We live in a world with rules, with order. Some of them are meant to be broken… but some are here because it makes life better.

Don’t mess with my order. I like it

So there you have it. I am a rebellious, anti-rule, maniac who likes order.

Confused? Me too, me too…

Shaking the Dust Off…

It has been a time since I wrote anything. Not for lack of desire or for things to write… Just can’t seem to find/make the time. Let’s see if we can change that.

I developed a good rhythm of writing this summer in June/July?partially August and absolutely dropped the ball in September. Here we are in October and I find myself wishing to get back into the game.

Today, I met with this dude who completed some assessment tests on me (that’s a story for another post… check back tomorrow, maybe). As we discussed me (I was the subject of the tests) one of the traits that came to the surface was a high sense of creativity. As we discussed this he asked me if I was an artist, musician, poet or something. I said, “I blog.”

He was thrown for a loop with my un-impressive artistic response.

I then alluded to a solo of ‘Family of God’ I sang during this week’s sermon at H2O Church and confessed there was good reason that I did not sing in the band. We concluded there is something about me that is artistic… we just didn’t know what.

When I shared this with Ronda, she was like ‘yeah.’ She went to say that I have the heart of an artist even though I have no artistic ability. We laughed. But it is kinda true.

I can’t dance, I can’t talk.
Only thing about me is the way I walk.
I can’t dance, I can’t sing
Im just standing here selling everything.

Wait, I got distracted.

I am ok as an artist… I have a vision that few understand so I tend not to exercise it much.

I am constantly being asked am I a musician or an artist. Nope.

Maybe there is something to this idea after all. Maybe I should really try to explore my inner artist… or maybe I should just stick to blogging and preaching.

… and yes that is an original Eli Westfall work of art.

Introverted Extrovert

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Have you ever taken a personality test? I have. Many times. I always score very highly as an extrovert. Which isn’t particularly surprising. I’m an outgoing, loud, obnoxious, boisterous, larger than life, center of attention, life of the party kid of guy. I do very well in settings where I am in front of people. I like to be in front of large groups of people. I like to be in charge. I like to lead. I like to administrate and tell others what to do. I have done very well in jobs that have allowed the freedom to think outside of the box and troubleshoot my own answers and then implement them.

Having said all that, there is still a piece of me that wants to be left alone to sit by myself without another soul anywhere in sight. I like my alone time. I’m at camp this week as the missionary speaking about h2o church and I realize that I’m good to be ‘on’ an in front of people for about 3 days. After that, I need to detox to decompress and relax away from everyone. This is hard when you are a dad… and you’ve brought 66% of your kids with you to camp.

Sometimes I chastise myself for being like this, telling myself I should be able to be in front people constantly. Then I think about how Jesus frequently retreated away by himself. I feel like the Gospel of Mark catches this about Jesus. In Mark 1:35 we read, In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there. Jesus got up and went to be alone. He started his day with time to himself (in relationship with God) so that he could give himself to others. Not that I am Jesus, but maybe it is ok to need time to myself.

I have taken enough time to myself and must rejoin the masses.