Finding Confidence in God

One of the biggest challenges to our lives and successes has to do with the fact that we’re sometimes insecure people, or lacking in confidence. Yes, each of us has little things that set us off or raise red flags and make us question, even if there is no need to question, even though we’re confident, strong people in every other area of our lives. Many of us have insecurities around whether we’re important or not, whether it’s at work, in a relationship or to our children. Whether we’re young or old, we sometimes feel that we’re not important, it’s unfortunately part of being human.

Ezekiel 37:14 says: “I will put My spirit in you, that you may live.”
Psalm 89:17 says: “You are their amazing strength. Their power comes from you.”
Jeremiah 31:25 says: “I will give rest and strength to those who are weak and tired.”

God gives us life, gives us the strength to become the best version of ourselves, and the encouragement to get through the times of doubt. This week, know that you do matter. Who you are, what you can do, your dreams, your goals, your hopes, your dreams, who and what you call home, these things all matter. To you, to me, and most importantly to God. He’s your biggest cheerleader and greatest coach, the voice of reason and little flame that spurs you on to do better.

If you’re struggling with confidence or feelings of insecurities, turn to God and ask Him to show you the confidence and strength that He revealed to so many leaders in the Bible who didn’t start out as amazing leaders. And don’t forget to tell someone this week that they matter to you, you may think they know, but they may not. Your vote of confidence in them and acknowledgement of their ability could be the encouragement they’ve been needing.

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It Feels Good to be Thankful

As I mentioned on Wednesday, Fridays this month we’ll be talking about the topic of being thankful. Have you ever thought about why it feels so good when we’re thankful? One reason I think is because we’re surrounded on all sides by the news, challenges, struggles and issues, and these things just seem to compile day after day. When we’re able to be thankful it’s a reprieve from the not-so-happy things we face in our lives and in our world, it’s like the moment the sun breaks through after days of clouds and rain.

So what if we were to work on being thankful more often? What if we started appreciating life more and started helping others more rather than complaining about things and feeling trapped by circumstances? I think our lives would be better and so would the lives of others, even if for no other reason than having a positive attitude, feeling good about ourselves or knowing that we’re not forgotten or ignored.

So how can you give more thanks in your life? There are some people who make it a daily activity to write in a journal the things they’re thankful for each day. Some people use thankful concepts in their mantras. Others work on being more aware of their surroundings and give thanks for things they see and experience in their day. But one of the simplest things I think anyone can do is remember to say “thank you” to others, and for those who are thanked to say “you’re welcome” or “thank you” rather than “no problem” or “yup.” Don’t brush off their thanks, accept it and let them know that you appreciate being recognized. And if you’re feeling the weight of the world when you lay down at night, instead of going over and over those issues, think about at least one thing you’re truly thankful for from the past 24 hours.

What are you thankful for today?

Thinking Through Success

As you may know we’ve entered a new month, and with that month comes a new topic for us to discuss in some of the posts here (and in my newsletters and on social media). I do make a plan at the beginning of the year for my overall strategy and some specifics, but I don’t review them or reference them really until we get to that point. So in thinking that November includes Thanksgiving, I was thinking that maybe this year I went with a ‘thankful’ theme for the month because I haven’t in the past couple of years, and I was feeling excited to think thankful thoughts and talk thankful topics. So I was a little surprised and a little unsure when I discovered that this month I planned to primarily talk about success.

So as I’ve been sitting with the revealed/reviewed topic for the past few days in preparation for this month and in thinking about this blog post, it got me thinking about what success is, and how it works and what it means to each of us. Sometimes, success is about being honest with ourselves and others. Yes, success can be attained through less-than-honest means but if you really want enduring success, there needs to be a core or foundation of honesty involved. Sometimes success means knowing what you don’t know and admitting it so that you can learn what you don’t know or get the help you need to get to the next step in your success journey.

But today I want to start off with something simple. I encourage to take a minute and really sit with the following question: do you want to be successful? Yes, you should have an instant response (like yes or no), but there may be another response, a more complicated one, a more detailed one, a scarier one, a more empowering one, or even a controversial one that follows.  I encourage you to sit and let that second response come before you move on, because that answer could reveal more about your desire for success or what success means to you or how you could achieve success, and will help you get even more honest with yourself about the place of success in your life.

If I stayed with my initial feeling about being disappointed with the topic of success and tried to push through the month with it as the topic anyway, my posts might not be that great and I might not be that invested in it as a topic. Also, if I went with my other thought of talking about just being thankful, the month might not end up where I hope it will, or want it to. But because I was honest with myself about how I felt and worked through those feelings and went back and reviewed the initial plan and purpose behind it, I’m feeling much better about it, and even looking forward to working through the topic of success this month with you. And on the other hand, because I sat with my feelings of disappointment about not focusing on being thankful, I realized that it was important to make extra room in the schedule for it, so it will be the Friday post topic for the month.

What will you discover when you take time to really think through what’s important to you?

Reality Reflections: What were we exploring anyway?

This month as we’ve talked about the topic of exploring and doing some exploring myself, I’ve found myself asking a kind of funny question, maybe one you’ve asked before after going through something: what were we exploring anyway? The question isn’t really about the literal “what” of what you were exploring (i.e. a hill, a battlefield, a store, a relationship etc.), but really about why we were exploring it. If you really take the time to think about it you can assign a reason or goal behind each thing you do. For example why watch cat/dog videos? Some might say to not watch the depressing news or because they love cats/dogs and others might say because it makes them happy, and those are all legitimate reasons for watching dog/cat videos. There might be a necessary follow-up question of why did you watch so many dog/cat videos that might bring up some questions to consider about how you spend your time though.

But what happens when the ‘why’ doesn’t line up with what you’re doing? For example if you watched videos of dogs playing in water but your goal is to learn about birthing puppies the exploration (watching dogs play in water) doesn’t line up with the desired result (learning about dog births). Now, we don’t always know what the desired result is and sometimes we know what a general result would be but not the specific result we were really after. For example if you watched videos of dogs playing in water and your initial/large goal was to learn about dogs, you’re doing that. But if when you really think about it your goal is to learn specifically about birthing puppies, you’re not doing the right exploration. I reached that conclusion myself when I was on a date with my partner this week, that the general result was definitely accomplished (being together and visiting a Halloween/autumn attraction), but the unknown specific goal really wasn’t, or that the chosen exploration didn’t really line up with what we needed (a slightly more intimate, less pressured, less rushed evening).

Now, just because the end result doesn’t line up with the initial goal it doesn’t mean that the exploration was pointless or wasted. It could still be a great experience and opportunity to learn. In fact sometimes it’s good to explore something simply for the practice of being curious and seeing what else our world holds. And I’m not saying that every single thing you do needs to be analyzed to this deep level (I can’t stand that), but that taking just a quick minute to really see if what you’re planning or doing is really what you want could help you manage expectations or alter plans. So this week I would encourage you to be a little more mindful about what you’re doing and why and let that help you make smarter decisions about your life and relationships, and have more fun too.

The Expectations of Exploring

This month we’ve been talking in part about the topic of exploring, and I did some exploring with my partner to a Halloween/autumn attraction recently and either I wasn’t in the mood for the exploration or it wasn’t as good as I thought it would be. I think it’s a little of both, but it got me thinking about what happens when we go out and do the brave/courageous thing and explore and don’t find what we expect, or the reality didn’t live up to the hype or we find that the destination is really just a beginning. We get to the end of the road and say something like “now what?” or “that’s it?” or “there’s more?”

I think part of the reality is that life is a journey and even when we explore we’re not necessarily going to end up at a true destination, but that what we thought were destinations are really just stops in the journey. But let’s talk about making the most of your explorations. First, know that not all explorations will be successful or awesome. Even if you put a good spin on them, there are some things that just don’t work out. Yes, they can be chalked up to learning experiences and attempts, and they’re important to have as long as that’s not all that’s happening. If it’s not a great exploration, learn what you can from it and move on.

Second, manage your expectations. Yes, you should go into everything with a positive expectation, or at least the expectation of learning something, but that doesn’t mean that your expectation will be that it’s the end-all, be-all. I can remember going on a trip to a bunch of National Parks among other things with my family as a child and being incredibly underwhelmed by the Grand Canyon, the vast canyon that countless people have raved about since it was discovered. But I’ve seen pictures of the Grand Canyon since then that have blown me away because of the cloud formations or weather that’s part of the image. It’s important to note that I clicked on the link for the picture not because I loved the Grand Canyon, or because I was expecting to see another picture of a hole in the ground, but because I hoped that maybe I would get to see something that was a glimpse of what many people experience when they look at it, and I did.

I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to the Grand Canyon or that Halloween/autumn attraction again or not, but I’m not going to let some not-so-great explorations ruin me forever. I’m still excited to visit more National Parks and more local attractions, and maybe with a little better attitude and slightly adjusted expectations, I’ll have a better time even if it’s not my pick. Sometimes it’s not even about the destination, but about the thrill of exploring. Yes, the destination is great, but sometimes the journey getting there is even better.

5 Tips for Having a Great Day

Today I thought I’d share 5 things you can do to have a great day, or at least give your day a better chance than usual at being great.

1-wear something you feel good in. Obviously, for some this has to be work appropriate, but work attire has changed dramatically over the past decade and even in the more conservative industries there are still lots of ways you can wear something you feel good, confident, comfortable and maybe even sexy in but still fit the company dress code.

2-pack snacks. I looked in my bag the other day and discovered I was out of snacks and was extremely disappointed. I make it a point to always have a granola bar of some kind or trail mix in my bag, in addition to whatever snacks I pack in a separate to take with me on my adventures that day. If you bring the snacks, you control what you eat and that’s not just about eating healthy, it’s about eating happy too.

3-have your favorite drink. Is there a type of tea or coffee or juice that you keep for special occasions? Starting your day with that is a great way to remind yourself how special you are and that your day ahead is worth enjoying.

4-watch a cute animal video. Yes, I totally went there. One of the first things I do is not check my email or the news when I get to my computer, but rather to stop in and see what’s new on my favorite Explore cameras or the latest pet videos on Care2 or the latest cute selections on YouTube. The emails and (bad) news will still be there after I’ve had a smile or two.

5-tell your partner you love them. Maybe it’s a text because they leave before you get up or a quick call while you’re both driving in to work (hands free of course) or maybe even a note on your pillow or by the coffee pot for them. Starting off the day expressing love is always better than starting with a fight.

What are your secrets for setting your day up for success?

Open to Exploring

This month one of the topics we’re going to be talking about is the topic of exploring. There are some people who were practically out into the world on their first adventure the moment they were born, while others of us are more home-bodies. I’ve done some exploring out into the world and I’m sure I’ll do some again in the future, but I really enjoy my corner of the world. But that’s not to say that I don’t spend time exploring, because I do tons of exploring, but not usually in the physical sense. I explore online on websites, blogs and social media, I explore through books, I explore through TV shows. The exploring I do is often through the thoughts, feelings, and perspectives of others. Why? Because I’m able to learn so much through what they (and you!) see in the world!

Much of the concept of exploration is about being open to what else is in the world. That means being willing to relax your preconceived opinions and experiences, and being open to seeing or experiencing things in a very different way. Of course, my exploration through your photographs of your hiking trip will be a very different exploration than you experienced. Sometimes people explore through others because they physically can’t explore, don’t have the financial means to physically explore, or don’t have enough interest to really dedicate that amount of time and resources to a true physical exploration.

The challenge that we face as we enter this new month is really about openness. How open are you to what else goes on in the world? How open are you to hearing the stories and experiences of others? How open are you to learning or experiencing something new? How open are you to doing things a different way? Are you at all open to being wrong or outdated in your knowledge? I’m not suggesting that we all pack our bags and head to NYC so that we can experience “The Big Apple,” or travel to some other destination like The Amazon, Robben Island, Chernobyl or Area 51, what we’ll be taking a look at this month is exploring ourselves, our lives, our relationships and our world. Sometimes that does mean getting up and going somewhere, but it also means making time to learn and grow and be exposed to the other people and ideas of the world. What will you explore this month?