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How do you measure success?  I heard this question a couple of days ago and couldn’t stop thinking about it.  Aren’t we all striving for success in some fashion or another?  Isn’t it what drives us every day to do something or be something we’ve never been before? Or maybe for some people success is just being alive another day. Whatever it is, it’s definitely different for everyone, and we measure it by our own individual metrics.

One thing I’ve come to realize, after years of chasing the approval of people as a way of measuring success (be them corporate managers, personal friends, acquaintances, or others), is that whatever short term ‘success’ that may have seemed to be gained from their approval, fades away quickly. Leaving me disappointed, feeling like a failure, and not successful. The good thing I’ve come to realize is that if I stop looking to external sources to measure my success, and start looking internally, there are a lot of successes to celebrate and be proud of.  Successes like completing college, paying off college, having the courage to move thousands of miles away from family, friends, and everything familiar, by myself, to make a new life; saving and purchasing a home; getting out of debt; getting married; staying active and healthy; etc. The list is different for everyone, but the message is the same.  Recognizing our worth professionally and personally and the unique strengths we bring to the table is what it’s about. Success isn’t about what someone else thinks about you, it’s what you think about yourself.

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If you’re like most people (me included), when you get a great idea motivation runs high and you can’t wait to get started.  But then after a while, whether do to a hectic home life, work responsibilities, travel, etc. you wonder how will I ever make enough time to focus on this new thing.  It takes a lot of focused effort and resources to get a business off the ground. I’m constantly thinking about how to better organize my days, weeks, and months, to move things forward. Because after all, the goal is to generate income from this thing I like to do.  People often tease me because I’m very organized and love putting processes into place so that I don’t have to stop and think about what to do next in the course of my day. If I stopped to think about working out or going for a run, I’ll talk myself out of it every time.  But, when I tell myself first thing in the morning, here is what you are going to do today, a, b, and c, I’ll get it done.  For building and running my business, I keep an annual calendar broken out by quarter and month, listing all tasks I need to get done, and the deadlines by which they need to be completed. What does this do? It allows me to ‘not think’.  That sounds odd, but it’s true.  When I’ve downloaded these things on paper in advance, all have to do is execute according to the plan.  There is less clutter in my head. If you want to keep going when motivation begins to wane, put processes into place to keep you on track and moving towards your goal.

I recently heard a great Farnam Street podcast interview with Ed Latimore titled, The Secret to a Happy Life.  Ed touches on this exact topic.  He is a professional heavyweight boxer and physics major.  He talks about boxing, tough love, entropy, the worst that can happen, coaching, relationships, and a lot more.  I encourage you to take a listen.

Ed Latimore on The Secret to a Happy Life


Disk " Siberia"

I love watching surfers.  Not only are they incredibly physically fit and strong, they have amazing courage to get out there in treacherous waters, with things that are much bigger than they are lurking beneath the surface.  Each time they go out, they challenge themselves to overcome the unknown.  Even when they get knocked down and endure great setbacks, they muster a rebound to get back on the board and back in the game to take life head on.

Professional surfer Bethany Hamilton lost an arm to a shark doing what she loves.  After that attack, she never gave up.  “My passion for surfing was greater than my fear of sharks” – Bethany Hamilton.  Bethany Hamilton.com

Her story is an inspiration no matter what you do for a living.  What is it that you need to overcome?  What is your shark?

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Run like others or be different?

One day a hare met a tortoise. The hare said to the tortoise, “Why do you move so slowly? Why don’t you try to run like other animals?” Thus, the hare laughed at the tortoise for his slow pace.

The tortoise said, “I know that I cannot run. But I can beat you in a race.”

“Then come, let us run a race at once,” said the hare.

The race began. The hare ran very swiftly for some time. Then he stopped and looked back. He saw that the tortoise was far behind. So he said, “Now I can take rest. Let the tortoise come here and then I shall run again.”

So the hare sat under a tree to take rest. But soon he fell asleep.

The tortoise went on slowly but steadily. He did not stop for a moment.

Suddenly the hare woke up. He saw the tortoise very near the goal. He ran as fast as he could. But alas! The tortoise had already reached the goal.

From the book, The Tortoise and the Hare, an Aesops Fable story.

Slow and steady wins the race every time, in every area of our lives.

Slow and Steady

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Have you ever been in a job or relationship where you’ve worked hard, hustled, tried to see things from different angels, and put enormous amounts of energy into it in an effort to move the needle only to see very little or nothing change? Most people have. I’ve certainly been in my share of those situations over the years. I love this quote by Warren Buffett, “Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.” 

After you’ve tried everything else, sometimes it’s best to just change boats.

Change Boat

Proverbs 25:19 says, “Like a bad tooth or a lame foot is reliance on the unfaithful in times of trouble.” When we decide to make changes for the better in our lives, whether it’s getting fit, getting out of debt, or making career decisions, who we talk to matters.  The Bible says seek wise counsel.  If you just talk to your friends or family who don’t have the experience, insights, or vision for what you want to do and who you want to be, you’ll get frustrated. Some of them will even tell you you’re crazy or you’ll never be able to do it.  Find people who you see are doing the things you want to do and reach out to them. Ask them to lunch, coffee, or go on a hike.  Most times they’ll be flattered and willing to help.  Read, read, read.  Read books about people who have overcome obstacles and are successful in spite of their upbringing, failures, and struggles. The stories will sink into your mind and motivate you.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is exactly what the Bible tells us not to do – rely on people who have proven to us they cannot be relied on. There are so many smart, compassionate people in this world who are working hard to make it a better, safer place. Let’s tap into those minds and build relationships. Those are the people who can actually help us achieve the vision we want.

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Map your course, not theirs.

“Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong.  There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right.  To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires…courage.”   –Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Author Elbert Hubbard once said, “Know what you want to do, hold the thought firmly, and do every day what should be done, and every sunset will see you that much nearer to your goal.”  Proverbs 4:23 says, “Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you.”

When I was in ‘the lab’ back in November working on choosing specific words to be the foundation of my Vision Quest 2017, I realized something new.  Instead of just writing down goals for the six areas of my life, I also needed to write down principles that I would live by, while working towards the goals. The before structure was made up of a specific main goal, followed by points of tactical action steps to get me to the goal. This year I decided to consider those tactical steps as principles to live by, rather than tactical action steps.  With the new structure, I’m incorporating those former action steps as a part of my daily, weekly, and monthly lifestyle. And not just doing them when there is a particular goal to reach.  Once I reach the goal, I want to maintain that goal, not stop doing what I was doing to reach the goal, so I need to be sure to make the activities are part of a lifestyle, not temporary.  I think this is why so many people fail at weight loss programs. Once they reach that magical number on the scale, they go back to doing what they did before.  Below is an example of goals and principles in the financial category of life. 

principles

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Art by Christine (Parrish) Barker. © Christine Barker. All rights reserved.

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© Christine (Parrish) Barker and Your Ultimate Life Vision 2017. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this Blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Christine (Parrish) Barker and Your Ultimate Life Vision with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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