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

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Daily Habits

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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.

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.

 

Staying On Course

Recently I was on a trip and I loaded the destination into my phone’s GPS, and started driving.

I didn’t feel like I needed it at first since I know how to get out of my neighborhood. But it’s easier to do in the beginning than to plug it in while driving.

Through a series of short straightaways and quick turns, I soon found myself on the highway.

Stay on this road for 227 miles.

Staying on course means having discipline and eliminating distraction.

Immediately I had a knot in my stomach.

I knew it was a long trip. I knew how many hours it would take. I had even accounted for traffic times so I could make it as short as possible.

But there’s still something about seeing that number and the accompanying time frame that made me feel a tad frustrated.

Can you relate?

Why we need to practice staying on course.

Whether we like it or not, we all need to follow the advice to stay on course.

Trying a new startup venture? Stay the course.

Repairing a broken relationship? Stay the course.

Losing weight, changing your eating habits, or completing a degree? Stay the course.

Too often, we bail too quickly on our goals and never see real results. We hear the other dreaded word of a navigating GPS system: “Recalculating.” It means we’ve veered off course and need to get back on track.

Staying the course means eliminating distractions.

Staying the course means staying hyper-focused.

Staying the course means developing extreme discipline.

Staying the course means knowing what the end destination is, and refusing to stop before you get there.

Staying the course is not easy, but it is deeply rewarding. It is the only way to truly get to where you want to go in life.

The only way your side hustle becomes your main gig is by staying the course.

The only way you’ll have the body you dream of is staying the course in your diet.

The only way to have a thriving marriage, growing business, strong team, or financial success is by staying on course.

Your goals, dreams, visions, and plans for life are all at on the line. Don’t settle for anything less than reaching your final destination.

Stay the course!

Leaky Pipe - Leaky Leadership

Leaky Leadership

We bought our current house two years ago knowing that it was, in every sense of the word, a “fixer-upper.” Unpruned trees, poor fencing, drafty windows, cracked tiles, and leaky faucets were the things that we could see.

Leaky Pipes cause water damage.
Leaky pipes, like leaky leadership, can cause great internal damage.

There were also the cabinets that we weren’t a fan of, the flooring that was cracked and uneven, and the floral wallpaper in the bedroom that screamed 1960’s. These were things that weren’t our ideal, but wouldn’t prohibit us from inhabiting the place temporarily.

Two years into the remodel process and we have discovered something far more dangerous than any of those things: all of the issues we couldn’t see under the surface.

This last spring we both had a roof leak that flooded our den and a shower pan leak that flooded our master bathroom. The den, thankfully covered by insurance, now looks amazing. The bathroom wasn’t covered. According to them, the extent of the damage was so great that it had been going on for a long time. (Even longer than we had lived in the home). This “normal wear and tear” is not covered by insurance.

I’ve now spent the last two months renovating a bathroom down to the studs.

The Leaky Leadership Analogy

Underneath the walls, behind the paint, and hidden in the frame of the house are all sorts of potential dangers we never think about. Leaky pipes and arcing wires can ruin a home quickly.

So too in our own lives, we are often undone by the hidden areas of our lives. This “leaky leadership” is what causes leaders to stumble, quit, fail, and burnout.

No one in a position of prominence wakes up one morning and says, “I’m going to embezzle a million dollars today.” Instead, it’s a slow erosion of values and habits over time. It starts by missing a workout (because missing one can’t hurt).  Then it’s going to the office early. Then staying late. Then stopping by the bar after work a few months later. Then making a poor sales decision. One day, a few months or years later, you find yourself so twisted and turned around that the only logical choice is to embezzle your way out.

Instead, it’s a slow erosion of values and habits over time.

Staying Firm

Great leaders know the slow erosion that leads to death and decay. They counter this by staying firm in their leadership habits.

  • Getting enough exercise, sleep, hydration, and nutrition.
  • Reading every day.
  • Developing hobbies and outside interests.
  • Significant relationships.
  • Supportive feedback and coaching.
  • Developing and living in calling.
  • Service to others.

While each of these activities will look different from one leader to the next, it is these consistent activities that create a strong leader and lessen the change of leaky leadership.

Knowing how to combat the slow leak and constant wear of leadership pressure and cultivating these habits will lead to sustained success.

If you can’t definitively answer how you would do each of the above bullet points, reach out to me and don’t let leaky leadership ruin your great calling in this world.