What’s Your WHY? (January 1, 2018)

You’ve Got to Know Your “WHY” to do your “WHAT”.

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Welcome to 2018!  I’m moving a tad bit slowly this morning after having a busy day and late night last night.  You might be feeling the same way. 

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So, here we are, Day 1 of this brand new New Year! 

How are you this morning?  Excited, tired, purposeful, determined, unimpressed, thoughtful, or meh…

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People feel a lot of different emotions on this 1st day of a new year.

Many of us have made some resolutions, or challenges, or goals for the New Year.  Call them what you will, but many of us like to look at the New Year as a time to refocus, re-balance, and recommit our thoughts and actions to specific efforts that take us closer to where we want to be at this point a year from now.

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People have been making goals and resolutions for a very long time, but we are notoriously terrible at actually accomplishing those goals!

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We usually have our “WHAT” firmly in mind – WHAT it is that we want to do. 

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Some common examples:  lose weight, eat healthy, stop smoking, learn something new, travel more – the WHATs are as diverse and creative as the people who commit to them.

But in order to accomplish your WHAT, you also have to know your WHY: 

WHY you are committing to this WHAT. 

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Because if you don’t have a clear view of your WHY, it will be much harder to stay the course when actually trying to accomplish your WHAT gets challenging. 

And the WHAT always gets challenging. 

Unless your WHAT is to “sit around and do nothing more often in 2018”.  That one is pretty easy to do without a WHY!

IT'S HARD

Shout-out here to Audrey Russell, my fitness coach, whose first question to me was, “OK, what is your WHY?”  At that point, my answer was mostly, “I don’t know… just BECAUSE!”   Audrey is awesome and friendly and never once said, “That’s a stupid non-answer, Rebecca!  You have to have a WHY!”  She just encouraged me to think about it and then went on her way being awesome and stuff.

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But, dang it, I did think about it, and found that knowing my WHY made a huge difference in setting goals and being committed to accomplishing them. 

I discovered that I do a lot of WHATs, and love taking on challenges.  So many interests, so little time!  But I have been less successful in completing them because I didn’t focus enough on my WHYs.

So, “what’s a WHY”, you ask

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Let’s start out really basic and ask, why are you setting a goal (any goal) in the first place? 

Is it because that’s what people do on New Year’s Day?  Is it because you are a “goal setter”, and you HAVE to have goals or you feel weird?  Or is it to accomplish something specific?

Let’s use a specific example.  One common resolution is “I want to lose weight”.  It’s a lovely goal – we Americans are becoming more obese as a nation with each passing day.  So, good on you for wanting to do this! 

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So, if losing weight is one of your goals, ask yourself WHY you want to do that.

  • To look “good” at your high school reunion this summer?
  • To get your A1C levels down and get off the diabetes meds or the insulin shots or the threat of those being part of your life very soon unless you make some changes NOW?
  • Because you’re feeling and seeing the “middle aged spread” that is so hard to get rid of?
  • To feel better, stronger, less sluggish?
  • Because everyone tells you you need to lose weight?
  • Because society says you need to be a certain size to be ok?
  • Because you think Gal Gadot is awesome and you want to be a warrior like Wonder Woman?

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What is your WHY? 

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I’ll make it personal now. 

I would like to make healthier lifestyle choices this year, which will, in turn, include weight loss as a result of the healthier choices.  I would love to weigh less, but more than that, I’d like to just be healthier, more fit, stronger.

I’ve had that goal since Jr. High school, when that whole self-image thing really gets out of control.  I have always been athletic and active.  But my German heritage also came through strongly in my physique and body type (“short and stout”).  Back then, I wanted to be skinny because the skinny girls were more popular.  Because then the boys would like me more. 

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Very 12 year old sorts of reasons.

The problem is, we carry many of those deep feelings of insecurity into our ADULT WHYs, and those aren’t reasons that will encourage you to stay the course in meeting your goals.  Being popular isn’t something you can control.  Having the right boy like you takes cooperation from another human. 

A successful goal has to be something you can control.  Otherwise, the likelihood of failure goes up, because you can’t control anyone but yourself.  And sometimes you can’t even control yourself. 

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I’ve mostly moved past those types of WHYs (I hope anyway). 

But I needed to figure out my adult-version WHYs.

And the good news is, there ARE adult WHYs!

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My WHY now is not just one thing.  Mostly because I like words and analysis and can’t say anything without taking it deeper and using lots of words.  But that’s just me.

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My WHYs for making healthier choices which will lead to a leaner, thinner, stronger me:

  1. I FEEL better – physically, mentally, and emotionally – when I eat healthy, clean food and exercise most days. When I feel better, I DO better. When I feel better, I am kinder to myself and those around me.
  2. I am less tired, less sluggish, feel less heavy on the INSIDE when I make healthy choices
  3. I want to do what I can to ward off the negative health effects of unhealthy lifestyle choices that are at epidemic proportions in our country during this generation. The life expectancy in the US has been going DOWN for years now, which is an alarming new trend after years of our life expectancy averages increasing.  And most of the reasons are lifestyle choice related.  I can’t prevent every illness and disease, or accidents, and I know that someday my body will get old and wear out, but there are ways I CAN make my odds better.  And feel better more of the time for as long as I live.
  4. I want to set a good example for family and friends.
  5. I want to be a good steward of this body and the things I can do and experience in this life if I take care of it.

this is why

These WHYs are important to me.  They matter a whole lot more than being skinny so that I’ll be popular.  These WHYs get to the core of who I am and what is important to me.

Do you get the idea of a WHY now?

You can accomplish a WHAT without a WHY, sure.  But the WHY takes it deeper, makes it more meaningful and personal. 

remember why you started

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So on those days when I’d rather do anything other than exercise, when I would rather have a bowl full of hot, buttered, cheesy rice instead of a (delicious) and healthy salad – I need to remind myself of WHY I choose to exercise and eat clean and healthy.  If that doesn’t work to get me motivated, then I need to switch over to the FIGHT THRU I was talking about in my post a few days ago, and just DO THE THING that I need to do in my quest for good health.

Some people will tell you that once you know your WHY, the HOW is easy.  That sounds good, doesn’t it?  I want to do it THAT WAY, because they are telling me it’ll be easy once I figure out why I’m doing it.

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But the HOW is NOT easy – or you would have done it already. 

And we already KNOW THIS…

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The WHAT and HOW will be challenging, and having your WHY clear doesn’t make those things easy peasy. 

It just makes them MORE POSSIBLE because you found a real reason, a deep reason, a meaningful reason, to do those things.

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But easy?  Nah, not easy.  Just worth it.

Your WHY is just as important as, and maybe MORE important than, your WHAT. 

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So today, as you watch some bowl games, and eat those black eyed peas (I’m a Southern gal; one MUST consume black eyed peas on New Year’s Day!), give some thought to your WHY.

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I guarantee you’ll be glad you did!

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What’s Your WORD for 2015?

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Happy New Year’s Day to you!  2015 is here, whether we are ready or not!

One of my Facebook friends asked a question on her page to kick off the New Year this morning.

She wrote:  “What is your word for this Blessed New Year?”

My “word”?  I didn’t have a word.  Uh oh.

I have been battling a bad cold (maybe flu??) for the past week and hadn’t been able to think much beyond remembering to take my cold meds and throw my stack of used tissues in the garbage.  And cough.  And look miserable.

But my friend’s question caught my interest.  I tend to be a big proponent of New Year’s Resolutions, a specific day where we take a look at life and decide to make some changes.  Put the old behind, and move forward with the new.  As one year ends and a new one begins, old habits and ideas are replaced by more appropriate/healthy/motivating ones.

It’s like “repentance” – a turning away from something undesirable, and moving towards something better.

2 Corinthians 5:17  “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

So I normally have some resolutions in mind as the New Year approaches.  But because I haven’t felt well for the past week, I hadn’t really given resolutions as much deep thought as I normally would.

Philippians 3:13-15  “… I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”

A WORD.  Surely I could come up with my WORD for 2015.  That felt doable.

I looked at everyone else’s words.  The poster’s word was “inspire”.  Excellent choice, especially for a school teacher.   Also listed were:  kindness, joy, moderation, diet (…), faith, DO, believe, love, hope, and pursue.  Those were all great words.  But none of them seemed to be “my” word.

I tossed some more ideas around.  I’m a wordy person.  It’s not easy for me to limit myself to ONE WORD; I tend to get a bit verbose.

But I was determined to find one word that would sum up my plans and hopes for 2015.

Because I’m also competitive.  And if all those other people could come up with a word for 2015… well, you get the picture!

2014 was an odd year.  Not a bad year, just odd.  In fact, 2014 had some fabulous moments and events in it, like my daughter’s wedding.  And getting to make a CD with Acappella Praise & Harmony.

But I knew that I did not put as much into 2014 as I had wanted to.

As I wished I had.  As I know I could have.  I got sidetracked a lot.  Discouraged.  Lazy.  Overwhelmed.

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And while, from the outside, it looked like I accomplished a lot last year, I knew better.  I knew that there were areas of responsibility that I had let slide. Times I got lazy and let people down.  Times I let other people’s attitudes get to me and I just shut down for awhile.

I hadn’t given my best in areas where I could have, and should have.  And I didn’t want 2015 to be a repeat of that.

I really needed to find my focus.

And just like that, there was my word:  FOCUS.

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2014 had lacked FOCUS for me.  When things got too big, or I got discouraged, I just let myself get sidetracked over on Pinterest or Facebook or somewhere else out there.

Focus allows us to make sure that we place our efforts on the things that are important in our lives.

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With focus, we know what we are aiming for, so that we have a much better chance of hitting the target.

In order to focus, we have to simplify – get rid of all the peripheral stuff that is getting in the way of what we need to be paying attention to.  When things get too big, too complicated, you break it down until it no longer feels overwhelming.

Until you can identify the important piece and focus on it.

Hebrews 12:1-3   “…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

A life where focus has been lost is much too random and arbitrary.  We get overwhelmed and discouraged.

A year goes by all too quickly, and we can’t have it back for a do-over.

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The older I get the more I realize that I do not have an unlimited number of days on this earth.  I WON’T get to do everything I want to do, go everywhere I want to go, learn everything I want to learn.  There just aren’t enough years, and the world is full of fascinating things and places.

Every day that I let slip by without focus feels like a day wasted.

Some days, when energy is low and sickness is high, the focus may only be to have a shower and heat some soup.  But, I would like to return to the point where even if that is all that I can manage that day, I will do it on purpose.

I want to live purposefully, mindfully, more than I ever have up to this point in my life.  And to do that, I will have to FOCUS on whatever task or issue or goal or need that stands in front of me.  So that I can have a chance of hitting that goal.

focus on one thing at a time

Tools that I’ve let slide – to do lists for each area of my life, daily agendas, renewed Bible reading, attention to good health, self-discipline, to name a few – need to come back.  And they are inexpensive (mostly free!) and right there waiting to be picked up and used again!

Jeremiah 29:11-13   “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.“

It’s even just a little bit exciting.  Maybe a lot exciting.  There are things I want to do.  Things I want to learn.  Things I get excited thinking about.  Ministries I want to serve.  And for now, still, at this moment in my life, I can.

So while I can, I choose to focus and move forward.

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It’s like when I’m at the grocery store and the checker asks if I’d like some help out.  And the bagger is waiting expectantly for me to say, “That would be great!”  But my answer is this:  “Oh, no thanks.  There will come a day when I’ll have no choice but to have help out with my bags.  Today, I can still get them loaded by myself.  One of these days I’ll take you up on your offer, but today is not that day!”

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In 2015, I’m going to FOCUS more purposefully and more mindfully.

What’s your word for 2015?

Philippians 4:8   ” And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on (“focus on”) what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”