Power to the Ordinary

History is littered with ordinary people doing extraordinary things.  What’s stopping you?

How many times have you heard a story of someone rising up from obscurity to achieve some great accomplishment.  Hollywood is inundated with this theme.  Erin Brokovich, Rudy, The Lord of the Rings.  Seemingly ordinary people with no special gifts.  Just a heart for a mission and a spirit of determination.  How are you any different?

I’m currently reading a book called Finding Ultra, the story of Rich Roll, a Stanford swimming prodigy turned alcoholic, turned overweight couch potato who, on his 40th birthday, decides that it is time to make a change.  The story chronicles his rise in a few short years to the top of the endurance sports world.  Starting from a position of being winded just climbing the stairs in his home, and against seemingly insurmountable odds at an age way past his prime, Rich set a goal for himself and set his heart to the task.  No special skills.  Just focus and direction.

So what’s stopping you?  What challenge is on your heart?  What goal can you set to help spurn you to action?  Don’t let the fact that you are “ordinary” keep you from setting a challenge before yourself and actually achieving it.  You don’t need any special skills.  You don’t need any special training.  You already have all that you need inside of you.  You just need to have the courage to set that goal, and make a plan to realize it.  You don’t have to be the next endurance superstar or take down a tyrant corporation (though you can if you want).  Find those desires unique to you and go with it.

Show the world what ordinary can do!

J

Put the Resolve Back in Your Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions.  Everybody has them.  Even the cynical “anti-resolutionists” can’t help pondering the usual questions.  “What can I change this year about myself?”  “What goals did I not reach this past year that I want another shot at?”  And for most people, one of those “non-resolution” resolutions has something to do with physical health.  Maybe it’s to eat less, or possibly to exercise more.  Unfortunately, I think most of our physical health resolutions are plagiarized from last year’s list.  Sure we have the best of intentions.  And we often start strong only to burn out well short of December.  I’m sure there are many reasons for this.  Regardless of these excuses, I would like to offer you 5 simple tips for successful health-related resolutions for the coming year:

1: Set multiple short term goals.  Split your year up into segments (quarters, months, weeks) and set goals for each segment.  This is helpful both for when you are knocking it out of the park or haven’t even gotten off the bench.  For those doing well, it is great motivation to keep it up.  For those failing miserably, it is a great time to refocus without feeling like “what’s the point?”.

2: Keep the goals attainable.  Be reasonable here.  No need to correct 30 years of bad habits in 3 months.  I’m by no means against optimism; but even more important to me is success.  I would rather see you set a goal for yourself that is too easy than to fail at one that only a chosen few could possible reach.  Feeling like you are successful breeds a desire to do more, and feeling like you are never going to reach the mark makes you just want to stop trying.

3: Simplify.  Don’t make your goals overly complicated.  Resist the tendency to try to change too many things at once.  Pick one or two things that are easy to assess.  You may need a complete overhaul in your diet, but start with the easiest changes that will make the biggest impact.  Maybe it’s “no more sodas”, or “less fast food”, or “start an “online personal training program“.  Even one minor change over time can make a major difference.

4: Keep track of your progress.  At regular intervals, reassess your progress.  Maybe that’s weighing yourself once a week or keeping a food journal.  Make it specific to the goal, easy to measure, and WRITE IT DOWN.  That way you can see trends as the year progresses.

5: Share the burden.  Find an accountability partner.  A friend, mentor, personal trainer.  Someone you trust who will be honest, yet encouraging.  Not someone who will enable you and make excuses with you, but someone who will be understanding and will gladly share the journey.   Even better would be someone who has a similar goal they are striving towards.  Then you could meet each other’s needs and lift each other up!

While these tips can work for any area of life improvement, they work especially well for health-related goals because those are usually pretty easy to measure.  And while these are by no means a guarantee for success, they will put you on the best path.  But remember, it is still up to you to take the steps.  Happy Travels!

J

When the Going Gets Tough…

I used to think that if I tried something and I received resistance, or a push-back against accomplishing what I set out to do, that it was somehow a “sign” that it wasn’t the right thing to do.  I think that many of us feel the same way, especially if we set out to on a path that we are not sure is the right one.  The road starts to get bumpy and we immediately start to question whether we made the right choice.  But one important lesson I’ve learned, especially from my adoption experiences, is that the “rightness” of a decision has little or nothing to do with how difficult the result might be.  In fact, I believe that the more difficult the road, the more “right” it really is.  In battle, the closer you get to the enemy the more the bullets start whizzing over your head.  Head in the wrong direction and you’ll probably find the road pretty easy going.  Please be careful when someone tells you “this is an easy way to lose weight”.  Chances are the road is not taking where you really want to go.  Or, “what you’re doing is really hard, and I think God is telling you that you should stop and try something else.”  Standing tall in the face of adversity is a true sign of courage.  Don’t give up.   When the going gets tough, the tough keep going.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33.

J

Tootsie Pops and Sand Dunes- Setting Short-Term Goals

The marketing strategy for Tootsie Pops, “How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?”, reminded me of a truth as it relates to our physical and spiritual lives.  We have already established that life is a journey.  A succession of smaller steps leading to a destination.  But to maintain direction, it is essential that we have milestones.  Markers to show the progress that we are making.  Especially when the destination is very far away.  A couple of months ago I was hiking with the family in the sand dunes of coastal Oregon.  We parked at the trailhead and began the journey along a well-marked path.  But it wasn’t long before the trail opened up to a sea of sand as far as I could see.  I stood for a moment, surveying the landscape wondering which way the trail went.  The constant wind had blown away all traces of footprints that would have marked the path.  Having a general idea of which direction to go, I climbed the first dune to the top and examined the surroundings.  Off in the distance, breaking up the smooth, blonde landscape was the dark, sharp image of a wooden pole stuck in the sand with a blue stripe at the top.  This was our only marker to show us the trail.  So down the dune we headed towards the pole.  Once we reached it, we again made our survey and were able to spot the next pole in the distance.  It was in this pole-to-pole fashion that we were able to reach our final destination, a beautiful, secluded beach.  Without these markers , we would have been walking blind, never quite sure if we were heading in the right direction or if we were making progress towards our destination.

In order to reach a goal in your journey towards optimal physical and spiritual health, it is essential to have these markers.  Smaller, more achievable goals that when combined together, lead the way to your destination.  Instead of looking at the 30 pounds that you need to lose, break it into more manageable 5-pound segments.  If you are wanting to read the Bible cover-to-cover for the first time, set a goal of 1 book a month or one chapter a day.  If you are starting from a position of not exercising at all, then instead of focusing on a weight loss goal it might be beneficial to just set a goal of exercising once, twice or three times a week for the first 2 weeks.  Achieve that goal first before moving on to the more difficult ones.  Same with the Bible goal.  Start with committing to read the Bible 3 times a week, two times a week, or even one time a week.  Then, reward yourself when you reach a goal.  It is an accomplishment!  When you stand on top of the dunes and see the ocean way off in the distance, it is sometimes easy to get discouraged because it looks so far away and you can see the many dunes that need to be climbed before you get to the end.  However, if you can set your sights on the one marker in front of you, once you reach it you will realize that the next marker doesn’t look that far away, and you will find the strength to make it to that next marker.  Like the Tootsie Pop, no one knows how many licks it will take.  Just take it one lick at a time.

J

You’re Not a Burden

“Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ.”  Galatians 6:2

The other day I was talking with an acquaintance about the shared experience of adoption, and we were talking about how both of us involved other people in providing for the adoption of our children.  We loved the fact that people we cared about were able to be a part of our children’s stories.  We also found it interesting that while other cultures in the world embrace the idea of eliciting the help of others, our western culture is less inclined to ask for help.  Maybe it’s a pride thing.  We don’t want to admit that we can’t do it on our own.  Maybe it harkens back to the “American Dream” mentality of our ancestors.  Pull up your bootstraps and get it done because nobody’s going to do it for you.  Maybe it goes back even further than that to the founding of our nation.  We don’t need another country telling us what to do.  We want to be independent.  Whatever the reason, the simple fact is that we don’t like to ask for help.  We don’t want to burden someone else with our problems.  But this thinking is flawed.

Your life journey was not meant to be a solo effort.  Why else would God have created people with different skill sets, different personalities, and different passions?  We are made to live in community, and the purpose of this community is to come together to build one another up.  To help each other out according to the strengths that we have been given.  By not asking for help, you are actually denying another individual the opportunity to help.  We think it is selfish to ask for help, but I’ll say that it is selfish not to ask for help.  Who are you to deny another person the opportunity to use their God-given gifts in service?

Trying to better your personal health, especially when it comes to weight loss, is often a very personal struggle.  Most don’t readily open up to just anyone about their hang-ups.  But it is very difficult to stick with a journey that is this challenging if you do it alone.  You need someone to keep you accountable when the temptation to slack off comes (because it will).  You need someone to share the pain of exercise with (it is much more tolerable that way).  You need someone to talk to who will encourage you when you feel like giving up.  I know that there are people in your life that want to help you.  Don’t be afraid to ask.  They are going to bless your life, and what you might not realize is that you are going to be a blessing to them in the process, not a burden.

J