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Looking Ahead to…2017

Looking Ahead to…2017

Every year, between September and December, I start thinking about the year to come, and all that I would like to accomplish (just like everyone else on the planet, I’m sure).

I used to start making my list of New Years’ Resolutions — which basically consisted of the same things I’d had on my list the previous year (and probably the year before that, too), but hadn’t managed to follow through with. A few years back, however, I gave up on making “resolutions” for the new year.

Looking Ahead to 2017 | Life, Unleashed

Instead, I took up the practice of choosing a single word to guide me throughout the year; a focus-word… something I feel God wants me to base the coming year’s decisions around.

In past years, I’ve had these as my “one word”:

  • 2014 – “FREE
  • 2015 – “CHOOSE
  • 2016 – “GREATER

For 2017, my word is “BECOME“… as in, who am I working towards becoming?

I read a quote, recently — more of a question, really — that said something to the effect of this:

If you could choose ONE word to sum up how you want to feel for the rest of your life, what would it be?

(That’s heavy, I know!) Personally, I believe that feelings are fickle and they’ll change. But, if I had to choose one word to describe who I wanted to become, or how I’d like to live out the rest of my life, then I would choose the word, “STRONG“.

For far too much of my life, I’ve been playing the “victim” — blaming everything and everyone around me for how my life has turned out, thus far.

What I am finally coming to realize, however, is that the only one who can change the direction of my life {other than God, of course}, is me. I am solely responsible for how my life turns out; God gave me free will. And, He also gave me the responsibility of being a good steward of the time, energy, and resources He’s blessed me with.

All that being said, the woman I desire to become is STRONG — not just physically, but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, as well. 2 Timothy 1:7 says that “God has not given us a spirit of fear & timidity, but {a spirit} of POWER, love, and self-discipline“. He calls us “MORE THAN conquerors“! And He says that we can “do ALL THINGS” through Jesus, whose strength we rely and lean on. God promises to fight our battles for us, if we’ll surrender them to Him. But, what does it take to be able to surrender? It takes STRENGTH… and courage, and willingness, and knowing God well enough to entrust the battle to Him, knowing that He isn’t going to let us down.

#oneword365-2017 | Life, UnleashedSo, for 2017, I have been pondering which goals I’ll set for myself, in order to become that strong, confident woman that I know God is calling me (and has created me) to be.

However, I am also re-thinking the concept of goals, now, too, thanks to an article I read via James Clear’s website. In it, he talks about Goals vs. Systems. And his main point was this: It’s better to create systems that you use on a regular (or daily) basis, and focus on those, rather than just setting goals and looking to attain them. Why? Well, what happens once you reach your goal? You’ve completed what you set out to do, and now you have to set yet another goal. You’re always in pursuit… always chasing something. Once you hit your goal, you can also experience a sort of let-down… Sure, it’s great to have accomplished something — but, now what? Your systems, on the other hand, don’t stop just because you reach a certain point.

Take weight loss, for example. We all know, or have heard, that weight loss is not about hitting some goal, but that it’s all about making lifestyle changes that will help you lose the weight and maintain that loss. So you can think of “systems” as those lifestyle changes you’re putting into practice, day in and day out, in order to lose the excess weight, but also to maintain that loss and become healthier, overall. Make sense?

So, here is how this would look for me, taking my goals for 2017, and creating “systems” for each:

GOAL: Read at least 1 fiction book (for pleasure), and 1 nonfiction book (for study), each month.

SYSTEM: Shut off my computer by 8 p.m. every night, so that I can have 1-2 hours for reading, before bed.

GOAL: Be able to do 25 consecutive push-ups, and 25 consecutive pull-ups, and be able to do a 3-mile walk.

SYSTEM: Do strength-training exercises at the gym 2x/week, focusing on my “push” and “pull” muscles, as well as my core. And do once-a-week cardio for 45-60 minutes, to build up my endurance and be able to do that 3-mile walk.

GOAL: Release the excess weight, and reach my ideal size (I have about 60-65 lbs to get rid of).

SYSTEM: Practice mindfulness at every meal, listening for my hunger & satisfaction cues; be careful not to eat unless my stomach is empty and I need to refuel; use visual cues and reminders, if necessary.

GOAL: Reduce our processed-food intake, and eat more real, whole, and healthy foods.

SYSTEM: Plan out each week’s menu on the weekends (Saturdays), and grocery-shop accordingly; do meal-prep on Sunday afternoons to make it easier throughout the week to stick to my plan; and try 1-2 new, healthier recipes each week, to build up our repertoire.

{Note: I have other goals/systems for 2017, as well, but for the sake of time, I’m not sharing them all in this post}.

Basically, creating “systems” is just asking yourself what goals you hope to achieve (or who you would like to become), then figuring out what steps you can take — what you can practice on a daily basis — in order to take you toward those results.

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HAVE YOU EVER IMPLEMENTED SYSTEMS INTO YOUR REGULAR ROUTINES IN ORDER TO REACH NEW GOALS? DO YOU STILL SET NEW YEARS’ RESOLUTIONS? HAVE YOU CHOSEN ONE GUIDING WORD FOR YOUR YEAR AND, IF SO, WHAT IS IT?

You Always Have a Choice

You Always Have a Choice

There are two individuals who come to my mind when I think about choices in life. Both of these people are in a spot where they’ve been beaten down in life — their choices have gotten the better of them. This has made these individuals very pessimistic. They don’t feel that life will ever get any better… like they’ve just had bad luck, and that that luck isn’t ever likely to change.

You Always Have a Choice | Life, Unleashed

What both of these individuals fail to realize, however, is that, if they could be open to the possibilities, they could begin to see that it’s all very much about choices, mindset, perspective, and practice.

They can CHOOSE to see things differently. They can CHOOSE to work on their mindset. They can CHOOSE to work on finding a way to either (a) escape their current less-than-ideal circumstances, or (b) make their circumstances more bearable. It’s all a matter of CHOICE.

God gave each one of us free will. And it hasn’t been revoked just because we got ourselves stuck in some “mud”. We can choose to continue playing the woe-is-me “victim” and settle for the mediocre life we’re in. OR, we can choose to make changes!

It absolutely breaks my heart to see people giving up and settling for a life that is so much LESS THAN what is available for us!

Trust me, I’m not always the optimist. Goodness knows, I’ve gone through a lot of stuff in my own life that could have left me hopeless (and just about did!). Heck, I’m still dealing with circumstances that are far from ideal! But, I also know that it could be worse… and it’s not (which I thank the Lord for).

I just keep leaning on the Lord for my strength. He has given me hope to see that my current circumstances are not my final destination, and that “it can be well with my soul, even when it’s not with my circumstances”. God has used my less-than-perfect situation to teach me that life really is all about choices, mindset, perspective, and practice.

What I truly hope is that I can help others realize that only they are responsible for what their life turns out like. It’s YOUR choice. If you don’t like your life, make a change. {Start here}.

Your Choice: Victim or Victor? | Life, Unleashed

Who Says?

Who Says?

Have you ever gotten into something, realized it wasn’t the greatest fit for you, and then… accepted your fate and stayed put? Maybe you thought it was the “responsible” thing to do, or that, since you’d already invested this much time in it, you may as well keep going. But, what if I told you that it was okay to quit — to let it go?

Who Says? | Life, Unleashed!

So often, we blindly follow rules and perform actions without questioning why. We accept that things just are the way they are, because that’s how it’s “always been”, or we do things a certain way because it’s what is “expected”. The problem is, we then end up just going through the motions in life, and things continue to feel boring, or routine, or mundane. We continue to do and think things, but then wonder why we feel so unfulfilled.

Thanks to a couple of books I read, recently (see them here & here), I feel like I’m starting to wake up to the possibilities.

Here’s a question for you: Who decided that you must keep doing things that way? What would happen if you changed things up? And, who said you can’t do this or that? What if you all-of-a-sudden just…did? (obviously, I’m not meaning anything illegal, or morally corrupt, okay?)

Seriously, though… I think far too many of us are left with unsatisfying and unfulfilling lives because we forget the following 4 things:

QUESTION

It’s okay — and even GOOD! — to question things; to ask “why”. Until I was in my late teens, I never really questioned my faith or the things I’d been taught in church, or even the way we did things in that church. Yet when I learned to question, I saw the flaws, and I realized I’d fallen into legalism. My faith has actually grown by leaps & bounds, ever since I learned to question why I do & think the things I do.

BE CURIOUS

Despite what they say about our poor feline friend, curiosity won’t (normally) kill you. Instead, it makes life brighter, and it adds an element of fun! We are born curious… it’s how we learn! Which leads me to…

TRY

You know that thing you’ve been wanting to do, but you’ve put off doing out of hesitation? What would happen if you took a leap of faith, and just gave it a try? Sure, you might fail at it. Would that really be as bad as you think? Isn’t regretting chances not taken ultimately worse? Don’t let your fear hold you back, and leave you with end-of-life regrets. Take chances! Have an open-minded attitude. Decide you will try the thing, and if it doesn’t work out (or you end up really disliking it), you can just let it go and try something else! You have the freedom to choose. Use it! (and hey… maybe it will work out — maybe you’ll succeed — and you’ll have a blast! Only one way to find out!)

PRACTICE

All too many of us (myself, included!) tend to forget that it takes practice to become good at just about everything. All of us start at Level Zero when we’re first trying something new. Every single one of us starts as a beginner — a “newbie”. And that’s an okay place to be. Why? Because you can only go UP from there! By practicing, you may never reach “perfection”, but you –guaranteed!– will see progress. Yes, it may take a while. The more you do a thing, however, the better you’ll get at it. Keep practicing, and you’ll keep “leveling up“! It’s the only way to succeed.

Practice | Life, Unleashed!

 

So, the next time you’re feeling stuck or bored, ask yourself if you need to throw out the old ways, and try something new. Be curious about how you can change things up. And, when you find something that does bring a spark back to things, accept your “beginner” status, and commit to practicing until you’ve gotten to your preferred level of excellence. And, don’t forget: nothing is ever permanent (except death). You ALWAYS have the freedom to make a different choice.