Goalless Drifter

After my college graduation, I had a conversation with my older brother about what was next in life. Everyone, it seemed, had a keen interest in me up to that point. They always wanted to know I wanted to be when I grew up, what college I was going to, and what I was going to major in.

But I never had one conversation about what happened after that. How do I start a successful marriage (I didn’t do that one well)? How do I grow in emotional health (took a lot of trips to the therapist’s office)? How do I pass on key values to my children (still figuring that one out…)?

The problem was that no one had taught me how to set goals for what came after graduation.

I wasted a lot of time (and hurt a lot of people) because I was a goalless drifter.

People without goals are people without a future.

Ready, Set, Goal!

One key to sustainable success is the daily habit of setting, reviewing, and reestablishing goals.

One of my practices is to use Michael Hyatt’sFull Focus Planner . I’ve used it for over a year now and absolutely love both the structure and order it gives me, while also allowing a great deal of freedom in the process.

I’ve also discovered the power of paper and what it means to write goals down. It’s easy to think, “My goal is…” because we often forget it. But by writing goals down, it not only gives us a visual reminder of what we’re trying to accomplish but cements it into our brain better.

 

By getting clear and specific on what we are aiming at, we gain a strategic advantage to sustainable success. The key discipline though is to make our goals S.M.A.R.T.E.R.

S.M.A.R.T.E.R Goals

When you’re ready to say, “Ready, Set, Goal!” you must begin by making sure you have the right format.

S: Specific. Make sure the goals you set are clear on the intended destination. Don’t think, “Lose weight.” Instead write, “I want to lose twenty pounds.”

M: Measurable. Similar to specific, measurable makes sure that what you’re aiming for can actually be hit. Avoid using jargon or filler words in your goal-setting times. Don’t think, “Be more productive.” Instead, write that you want to, “Use my time wisely by spending no more than thirty minutes a day on social media.” Ouch. That one may hurt a bit, but it’s measurable. You can use apps or the integrated Apple Screen Time (if you’re an iPhone user) to track how you’re spending your time on your phone.

A: Actionable. Start your goals with action-oriented verbs (as opposed to “to-be” verbs). This focuses your attention on what needs to be accomplished. Don’t write, “Be better at date nights.” Instead, try, “Take my spouse on one date night every week.” Now you know how to take action to accomplish your goal.

R: Realistic. This one can be challenging, and we’ll talk about short and long term goals in a second. But realism is important in goal setting. Too often, goals fail because they either don’t inspire us or are unattainable. Realistic goals should do both. “Complete my ebook and submit to the publisher by the end of quarter three.” This goal meets the first three points and is entirely realistic (even if you’re not very far into your book). However creating a goal like, “Establish the first hotel chain on the moon by the end of the year” meets the first three steps in the process, but not the last one. To take action that inspires, your goal must be reasonable.

T: Timely. Put some hustle in it. This is where I work hard with my clients to push ourselves on our goals. Strive for greatness and see what you can do. If your goal is to gain three new speaking opportunities for your business, fantastic! But put yourself under a time constraint to reach that goal. “Acquire three new speaking opportunities by the end of August.” It’s clear, concise, and gives you a visible target to know if you’ve hit your goal. It also pushes you to keep working and avoid drifting from your goal. The end of August is coming up quick after all.

E: Exciting. Your goals should scare you a little bit. If not, you’ll never grow. This is honestly one of my big descriptors for the clients that I work with. We always work a little scared. If you’re making $50,000 a year and want to work with me, and your goal is to make $50,000 next year as well, we probably won’t be a good fit. You still might have some great goals, but I want my clients to push themselves. My clients are making $50,000 but want to make $125,000. They know they need to get serious about pursuing their dreams.

And it works in all areas of life too. Want a better marriage? Don’t take your spouse on four dates a year, take them on two a week. That shows me you’re serious about reprioritizing your schedule to thrive in your relationship.

R: Relevant. This one matters, but more in the daily habits of life. I regularly review my goals to make sure they are still what I want. Every year, I sit down and try to project out a year to set goals throughout. A number of times I’ve set a goal in January, gotten to May, and then realized it was no longer relevant. That’s not a bad thing! Those goals pushed me and stretched me in new ways that have forever changed me. But in that growth process, I realized that I needed to rechart my course and set a new destination.

Don’t be afraid to reevaluate your goals and start a new direction. That’s the fun part of goal setting.

Clear goals

+

Daily Habits

=

Lasting Success!

 

If you’re wanting to know where to start, I’m launching a Habit and Performance Mastermind Group. To find out more, set some goals in a supportive community, and take your life to the next level, click this link.

Eye-Opening

The jarring blare of the alarm pries your eye-lids open and rips you into the land of the living.

What’s your first instinct?

The snooze button or the bounding first leap of a new baby gazelle?

Is your first thought, “Why me?” or “Why wait any longer?”

The way we set our mind first thing determines the much of the rest of the day.

Richard Whatley once said, “Lose an hour in the morning, and you will spend all day looking for it.”

Our mindset at the outset of the day determines our outcome. Whether we choose to attack the day or begrudgingly back into it determines how much we will get done.

And this has nothing to do with being a morning person or a night owl (but shout out to all my fellow morning people!).

Instead, it has everything to do with what we purpose in our hearts as valuable and worth investing in.

Our morning rituals have the chance to shape our souls, our character, our potential, and our enjoyment in life.

Habits on Purpose

Anyone who has worked with me knows we spend a lot of time talking about “habits on purpose.” Our morning rituals are no exception. Many of us waste large sections of our mornings instead of intentionally crafting them to serve us and help us reach our goals.

Two scenarios, which sounds more like you (be honest!):

“Lose an hour in the morning, and you will spend all day looking for it.” – Richard Whatley

Option 1:

The alarm goes off. After snoozing the alarm a time or two, you begrudgingly get out of bed. Saunter down to the kitchen and make a cup of coffee. After waiting for it to brew, you put on the television, drink the cup of coffee, and pray for “a few moments of quiet.” The (real) problem is not that these moments aren’t quiet. Instead, it’s that they aren’t productive or stimulating. After an hour of television and another cup of coffee (or two), you manage to scrounge up a quick (and mostly unhealthy) breakfast, rush out the door, only to wait in traffic on the way to work. You spend the rest of the morning wondering how you’re going to fit in everything you have to do.

After work, you might rush off to the gym, if you’re feeling up to it, stagger in the door, and eat a quick bite of dinner with your family. Some more television, and on the good days a few pages of light reading before a late-night Netflix series as you pass out into bed.

The weekends, only somewhat different. Instead of filling your days with work, it’s full of a week’s worth of overlooked errands and obligations. By the time Sunday ends, you dread the thought of going back to work, still tired, still behind, and still wondering where all your time went.

Option 2:

The alarm goes off, but you were already stirring. Gently awakening from a good nights sleep, you quietly make your way to the kitchen. After drinking twenty ounces of water to rehydrate your body, you then make a small cup of coffee and tip-toe into the den. Here, you engage in thirty minutes of intentionally designed habits that give you life and direction. Scripture reading and prayer, meditation, yoga, and a good personal development book are frequent habits. After that, you sneak off to the gym for a good thirty-minute sweat session. You return home just as the rest of the family is waking up. You’re fully awake, charged up, and ready to attack the day. You enjoy a good, nutritious breakfast with your family before heading off to work with purpose and conviction.

After work, you are still awake enough to get a few critical errands done, work on your side hustle, and enjoy another meal with your family. After dinner, you enjoy a myriad of activities together: movies, books, chess, or sports. Whatever it is, you’re excited by the purpose and direction you’ve given your life.

The weekends are similar. They are intentionally designed, purpose-driven, and leave you excited for another week to grow, learn, and serve new people.

Morning Rituals

I’m guessing you identify with one of these stories.

I identify with both.

For years, I would have firmly placed myself in option one. My life was chaotic, disorganized, and I was “average” (at best).

After intentionally taking steps to counter this drift, seeking out some great coaches, and getting a grip on my life and my purpose, I now find myself firmly in option two.

The difference along the way for me has been a lot of intentional habits and disciplines, specifically and most importantly, my morning rituals.

Now, they’re far from perfect. Right now, my morning habits are really broken up into to separate blocks. That’s the status of my work life right now. Eventually, it will happen in one chunk as I sense that will work the best for me.

So while I may not have my “ideal” calendar of morning rituals in place, I do have a target. I know what I’m aiming for. Otherwise, I’m like the boy learning archery who shot an arrow and then ran over to pain the bullseye around it. Instead, I want to know what the target is and then put all of my effort and talent into hitting it every time.

Below are the habits of my morning ritual and roughly how much time I spend on each one.

  • 20oz of water within ten minutes of waking up
  • 1 cup of coffee
  • Bible Reading and Prayer (10-15 Minutes)
  • Personal Development Book (15-20 Minutes)
  • Exercise (45 minutes)

Within the first 90 minutes of my day, I have exercised my body, brain, and spiritual muscles. I have found that this gives me focus, intensity, and purpose to my days. I’m still tweaking exactly how to flow from one activity to the next more smoothly but would love to hear from you.

What are your morning rituals?
What are your daily habits and routines?
How are you using your time to intentionally invest in bettering yourself at the start of the day?

Comment below!

The Call

History is full of call stories. Ever since Abraham was called by God to form a nation that sought after God, histories, peoples, and cultures have created a series of call stories to help us understand how we seek after our creator.

Moses had his burning bush.

David had his giant.

Jonah had his whale.

Jesus had the wilderness.

Those are a few ancient examples.

But the tradition continues.

Gandhi fought peacefully for a free India.

Martin Luther King waged war on the unjust Jim Crow laws.

Nelson Mandela overthrew the apartheid government of South Africa.

In each case, deep within these leaders, was a blossoming call story, a realization that they were called to accomplish something in their life.

C.A.L.L.

Often, we can overcomplicate the idea of a call story. We think they need to be grandiose and spectacular.

Maybe they are.

Or they might just feel that way to the person being called.

If you feel like you’re having trouble figuring out why you’re here, think through the C.A.L.L. acronym. Once you’re clear on these four points, you’re well on your way to living your call.

C – Cause

The first part of your C.A.L.L. is always about a cause.

It’s the why of your mission. The aspect of you as a unique creation that is urging you to make a difference in the world.

Michael Hyatt has said, “People lose their way when they lose their why.”

Your unique call story is no different. Find the cause of justice in the world that is burning so deep inside of you that it cannot be stopped.

One ancient prophet once said that his message was, “a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.”

“People lose their way when they lose their why.”

To find your C.A.L.L. you must first find that message of fire shut up in your bones.

A – Attitude

The second part of your C.A.L.L. is your attitude.

Far too many of us derail here. We may know our why but we then allow our circumstances to dictate how we feel about it.

Our goal was to make a difference in three years but it’s taken five (or more).

We thought we would have experienced freedom or transformation long before this moment in our life.

You will never get where you want to go if you always allow outside circumstances to dictate internal characteristics.

When your attitude is fixed on your destination, not on the circumstance, you’ll transform your life and increase your sphere of influence.

Instead of success, you’ll end up like the negative farmer. When it rains, the negative farmer complains that too much rain will wash away the soil and deplete the crops of necessary nutrients. When it stops raining, the negative farmer complains that too much sun will dry out the crop and kill off the harvest.

Don’t look at what is going wrong, but find ways to look at what is going right and create momentum in that direction.

When your attitude is fixed on your destination, not on the circumstance, you’ll transform your life and increase your sphere of influence.

L- Location

The third part of your C.A.L.L. is about a location. It is always at a particular time and place, for particular people.

Think the “longitude and latitude” metric. For Moses, it was Egypt. For Mandela, South Africa.

What is it for you?

Once you know the cause and have committed your attitude, identify the place where your message will reside.

For the homeless in your city?

Abandoned orphans from a country you visited on vacation?

Neglected retirees who have been forgotten by their family?

Whatever it is, the more specific you can be, the more action you can take.

Get clear on your cause.

Fix your attitude.

Reside in a location.

L – Legacy

Ultimately, a life well-lived and a call fully embraced outlives the person.

There’s a reason we resonate with the aforementioned heroes. We are inspired not only by their commitment to change the world, but their belief that we could do it too. Martin Luther King once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” His firm conviction was that each of us has a part to play in bettering the world.

He’s right.

Throughout history, men and women have listened to that voice inside of them urging them to be and do more for humanity. 

You also have that call.

And the capability.

Discover your cause.

Fix your attitude.

Reside in a location.

Leave a legacy.

Answer your C.A.L.L.

 

This part three on a series on calling.

Read Part 1

Read Part 2

Book a free session:

Answering the Call

In 2004, I was a college freshman.

Miserable.

Alone.

Depressed.

I had gone into college thinking I was going to be a science major. However, I remember one night staring into the microscope around 2 am trying to determine leaf structure, that I realized I didn’t want to do it anymore.

For someone already struggling with their place in the world, this was the last straw. I remember sinking into a deep depression. I felt like my whole world had been taken away.

A new city with no friends.

A lifeless major.

No sports to ground my days as they did in high school.

Lost.

Alone.

Discover Your Call

Defeated.

Gambling with God

During this time, I began a deep dive into my place into the world. I started to study the Bible and see if it had something for me.

I head this small voice telling me to think about a career in ministry.

I had tons of excuses about why that was a terrible idea.

I can’t speak in public.
I’m afraid of crowds.

I’m shy
I don’t want to.

Yet in my desire to find my place, I kept reading. I kept studying. And I kept hearing that voice. Finally, I had had enough. In a fit of rage and the cockiness of a 19-year-old know-it-all, I threw my Bible against the wall, promising to read whatever passage it fell open to.

If you can convince me to go into ministry through this, I’ll do it.

I was willing to gamble with God.

I picked up my Bible where it lay, plopped down on my bed, and read. My Bible (*coincidentially?*) had fallen open to Exodus chapter four.

In this story, a man named Moses is being called by God to free the Israelites from slavery at the hand of the Egyptians. Moses didn’t want to. He fought God’s call. He questioned God’s sanity.

Moses said:

I can’t speak in public.
I’m afraid of crowds.

I’m shy
I don’t want to.

Moses expressed everything to God that I had.

That small voice returned and said, “If I can do something with him, surely I can do something with you.”

Discovering Your Call

Now, I’m not saying I’m the next Moses. I’m far from it.

I’m also not saying that your call has to be as dramatic or painful as mine. I sure hope it’s not.

But here is what I have learned in the almost fifteen years since that day: Everyone has a call.

Your unique experiences, gifts, passions, interests, skills, and background have made you truly unique in this world. There is no one like you and you are like no one else. The world needs you. It needs your voice. Your perspective. Your championing of issues close to your heart. The world needs you, in all of your glory, to embrace who God has made you be at your core and live fully alive.

Without you, this world is incomplete.

Discovering your call is about finding whatever it is that makes you come alive. It is about blending your God-given potential with your world-changing desire.

So listen to that voice. Pursue it. Be open to it. As crazy as your world-changing idea may sound, it echoes in your soul for a reason.

It’s time to answer your call.


We are in a series on calling here on the blog. If you have a story idea, question or topic you want to be covered, or if you’re ready to work with Justin please fill out the contact form below.

 

The Backstory

As a boy growing up on the plains of windswept Kansas, I led a relatively normal life. My mom spent time as a librarian, teacher, and business owner. My dad worked on the land. My older brother and I spent hundreds of hours outside battling bad guys from all sorts of foreign planets, inventing makeshift toys, and practicing the latest wrestling moves we learned from Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage.

As normal as my childhood seemed, if you knew me, I hardly doubt that “normal” would be a word you would use to describe me. Instead, I’m imaginative, passionate, and perhaps a bit creative. Driven. Focused. Intense. Loud. Thoughtful. Complicated if not a bit too simple.

That’s the tension we all live in right? We bumble and stumble through this world looking to find our place in it.

We ask questions like: Why was I made? What’s my purpose? Why am I here?

Each of these questions and the yearning desires that go along with them can point us to our calling, or in pop culture terms: our origin story.

Discovering Your Origin Story

Discovering your origin story is the quest of all great superheroes (of which I would consider you one. Look at all the amazing things you can do!).

Think of Spider-Man. An awkward, geeky teen suffering from personal angst (something we can all relate to) gets bitten by a radioactive spider.

Or Thor. Passionate and committed, he must also prove himself worthy to his father, to be king, and to wield the mighty hammer Mjolnir.

In May of 2008, your life changed dramatically, even if you didn’t know it at the time. That’s when the first Iron Man movie released and introduced to a wider audience both the Marvel universe and the idea of the origin story.

Your Origin Story

Discovering your origin story doesn’t have to be nearly as dramatic as any of those superheroes though. Instead, it can be done by intentionally investing time in yourself. Discover your unique story, perspective, and outlook on life. What makes you tick? What do you find important? How do you want to better the world?

In fact, in the upcoming release of my new E-Course “Discovering Your Origin Story,” we look at the three questions you must ask to discovery your calling:

  1. What makes me feel totally and completely alive?
  2. Who am I called to serve?
  3. What does success look like to me?

While much more could certainly be said, this is the foundation for all work in discovering your origin story. Passions, hobbies, skills, are all important and all play a role, but it is these foundational questions that must first be answered.

Living Worthy of the Calling

All superheroes, even our modern-day ones, must choose to live worthy of their calling. One ancient writer, a man named Paul, wrote to a group of early Christians and said the same thing. He urged them to, “Live worthy of the calling they have received.”

My sincere desire and prayer for you is that you would do the same. Your life, gifts, passions, and unique quirks are far too valuable to waste, lose, or go unused.

May you live worthy of your calling.

May you discovery your origin story.

May you impact the world.

And may you be filled with joy as you do so.

 

 

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