The following is a guest post by my friend Barb Raveling. She has authored an amazing book that will help you conquer bad habits and achieve meaningful goals. If I were still practicing as a clinical psychologist, I would recommend it to all my clients, so I commend it to you!
Do you ever have a hard time working on your goals? Is it a struggle to finish this year’s curriculum, keep training for that 5K, or complete that project for work?
I know it is for me. For some reason, even though I really want to accomplish my goals, I can’t make myself work on them.
It’s too hard, I think. Or I don’t have enough time. Or it’s not fun. Or even, I’ll never succeed anyway, so why bother?
When I get into this mindset, I don’t have enough discipline to make myself work. My best hope is to renew my mind so that I actually want to work. I do that by answering questions.
Here are 10 questions I ask myself when I’m dreading the very thought of work.
Questions for Your Journal
What would you like to accomplish today? Be specific.
Why do you want to accomplish that?
Why don’t you feel like working right now?
What do you feel like doing instead?
If you ignore your project and do that instead, how will you feel afterwards?
What will you have to sacrifice to work on your project?
How will you feel when you complete this project and why will you feel that way?
When you think of how you’ll feel, is it worth the sacrifice to work on it?
What’s the first thing you need to do if you want to work on this project? (Example: Get out your notebook, open the computer file, look up the telephone number, etc.)
Why don’t you do that right now and see how it goes from there?
When I ask myself these questions – and usually I do it on the pages of my journal – I find my desires changing so that by the end of the questions, I actually want to do that dreaded project.
Here’s an example of how I filled out the questions below to write this guest post.
1. What would you like to accomplish today? Be specific.
I would like to write this guest post for Melanie’s blog.
2. Why do you want to accomplish that?
Because I told Melanie a long time ago that I would write it and I want to write anyway to help people find out about my new book,The Renewing of the Mind Project.
3. Why don’t you feel like working right now?
Because it’s too hard. I don’t know what to write.
4. What do you feel like doing instead?
Wasting time on the Internet.
5. If you ignore your project and do that instead, how will you feel afterwards?
I’ll feel defeated. It will reinforce the idea that this guest post is too hard to write and it will make me want to keep putting it off.
6. What will you have to sacrifice to work on your project?
I’ll have to sacrifice my comfort, my desire to have the easy life, and my desire to write the perfect blog post since I know I can’t write a perfect blog post!
7. How will you feel when you complete this project and why will you feel that way?
I will feel incredible because this to-do item has been on my weekly to-do list for three months now! It will feel so good to cross it off my list and not have it hanging over my head!
8. When you think of how you’ll feel, is it worth the sacrifice to work on it?
9. What’s the first thing you need to do if you want to work on this project? (Example: Get out your notebook, open the computer file, look up the telephone number, etc.)
Decide on a topic.
10. Why don’t you do that right now and see how it goes from there?
Can you see how these questions would make you actually want to work on your project? By the time I was finished, I was thinking, “Well, maybe it won’t be so bad to write this post. I’ll just do the first thing and see how it goes from there.”
I did that and it took about 30 minutes to write the post I had been procrastinating for two months! If you struggle with procrastination like I do, I hope you’ll give these questions a try.
If you’d like more questions like this to journal through, check out The Renewing of the Mind Project
. It’s filled with 48 sets of questions and Bible verses to help you with pursuing goals, starting habits, stopping habits, and letting go of negative emotions such as anger, worry, insecurity, and stress. It can also be used as curriculum for a Christian growth group or personal study for older teens and adults.
If you don’t do what’s most important today…
If you don’t go to the gym…don’t make a healthy meal…don’t read to your child…don’t put money in savings…don’t encourage your spouse…don’t write a page of your book…don’t work on your business plan…don’t spend time with God…
Then it will be easier not to do it tomorrow…
It will be easier to hit the snooze button…go through the drive-through…surf the internet…spend too much…criticize…get lost in busy work…watch TV…stare at your phone…
And it will make sense to put it off until next week or next month…
When the weather is better…when you feel better…when you’ve had time to rest…when the extra money comes in…when it’s a special occasion…when you’re not traveling…when you don’t have so many commitments…when you’re not so stressed…
When you’ll try to get caught up…
By working out twice as long…eating half as much…spending a weekend focused on your kids…selling something to build your savings…going on a trip with your spouse…writing a book in a weekend…networking at a conference…attending a church retreat…
But months later, you won’t have anything to show for it…
You won’t remember what you did when you weren’t at the gym…what you ate in exchange for a healthy body…how you spent your evenings when you weren’t playing with your child…what you spent your money on…what was more important than your marriage…what you created when you weren’t writing your book…where you spent your time when you weren’t achieving your dream…who you were talking to when you weren’t getting to know God…
So do what’s most important today…
Get a short workout in…eat some fresh vegetables…read a funny book to your children…take the money you would have spent at the drive-through and save it…surprise your spouse with a loving gesture…set a timer and write for 15 minutes…take one small step toward your goal…pray and read a chapter of the Bible…
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15-16
Inspired by the teaching of Andy Stanley in The Best Question Ever
For a free printable of these motivating truths, click here.
What’s Hot in Homeschooling is back! We haven’t started back to school yet, but it’s definitely time to share the best articles so we can all have the best school year ever.
3 Things to Consider Before School Begins
Homeschool blogs are abuzz with talk of goals for the school year. I’m exhausted just trying to come up with multiple goals for the five kids I’m still homeschooling. That’s why I really liked the approach described in this article which isn’t a homeschool blog. See if you do, too.
Homeschoolers love printables and Jill of Blessed Beyond a Doubt delivers with this free set that will help you write out your goals (if you prefer), make it fun with a back-to-school scavenger hunt, and more.
Finding School Supplies at Dollar Tree
I always like to give the kids something new for school, but I don’t want to spend a lot. Free Homeschool Deals shares the impressive back-to-school booty she got at Dollar Tree for just $15. You’ll want to subscribe to her site for even more money-saving ideas.
Why You Should Simplify Your Homeschool
I was inspired by this post from Bible Based Homeschooling. I have found the most overwhelming part of homeschooling is making choices. Decluttering what you have to choose from is a great tip you’ll get here.
How to Start Your Homeschool on Time Daily
I think Jill’s been peeking in my windows to see us sleeping in on school days! Few things impact your schooling more than starting on time. You’ll love these tips.
Five Places to Find Homeschool Encouragement
You won’t need encouragement to keep homeschooling until after you’ve taught for fifteen minutes. When one of my friends had just started homeschooling, she bemoaned that her son just wasn’t a fan of her plan. We’ve all been there. Renee Gotcher of Next Gen Homeschool has some ideas for places to go when the going gets tough.
Be sure to follow the What’s Hot in Homeschooling board. If you’re a blogger, please comment with your Pinterest account link below to contribute to the board.
This week, our friend Gari sent out this great list that he lives by. Not only does Gari live it, but he inspires others to live likewise. He challenged his friends to do 3000 pushups this month (100 a day for 30 days). My husband in turn challenged our kids to participate, offering a financial incentive so good that I had to take the bait, too. Last night when I was finishing my last 20 pushups of 100 for the day very late at night, I was cursing him (sorry, Gari!), but I admire Gari’s attitude and commitment so much. Even if you’re more into faith than fitness, I think you’ll find that these habits translate very well.
1. They don’t think of their fitness as work, but rather a way of life.
It’s kind of like taking a shower; you don’t need one, but you just don’t feel right the rest of the day.
2. They don’t skip workouts.
They take training days as serious as a Dr’s appointment. Appointments and meetings get scheduled around their workout time, not the other way around.
3. They take their rest as seriously as their workouts.
They know that in order to perform at their best and to get the most out of their bodies, they have to give it a rest. Rest days and sleep are as essential as the workouts themselves.
4 They eat to fuel their goals.
Everything they eat serves a purpose. Protein for muscles, carbs for energy, and produce for vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Treats are done, but never over-done.
5 They tune everything out when they workout.
Focus. They know that anything you give your undivided attention to works out better. Being in tune with your body allows them to make tweaks, and know which tweaks to make.
6 They push through frustration.
If you think it’s easy for the super fit to get fit,and stay fit, you’re wrong. They’re highly competitive and always striving to hit new goals. They struggle like everyone else with busy lives. Stress, plateaus, fatigue, and frustration. But there isn’t a thought of giving up, it’s just a matter of finding their answer.
7 They prepare their food in advance.
They know what they’ll be eating the whole day. If they don’t bring their food, they know what they can order off menus and what they can find at a grocery store. Drive-thrus don’t exist in their world.
8 They use their flaws as motivators, not a reason to give up.
They see their flaws (even if you don’t) and despise them like everyone else. But rather then letting their flaws bring them down,,they use them to motivate themselves.
9 They envision the win-goal-finish line every day.
The goal is crystal clear in their mind. The thought of the sculpted body or winning the race always keeps them motivated. Regardless of life’s pressures, they race towards the winner’s tape.
10 Persistence, persistence, persistence.
Yes… they are persistent!
11 There are no excuses.
They learn early that excuses are time-suckers and don’t get you anywhere near your goals. Better to get it done than whine about why you didn’t.
12 There is no giving up.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, 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 – Hebrews 12:1
Which of these habits do you struggle with the most?
I should have listened to Gregg and stayed list-less! Even a goal list can give me fits. I found myself feeling guilty and avoiding things that I honestly want to do simply because it was on my list! It has me agreeing with a woman in Playa del Carmen this January who told me, "I don't know what your experience has been, but I think psychologists are pretty crazy." Imagine the look on her face when I told her I was a psychologist. LOL But I couldn't have agreed more!
I'm going to adopt my 4yo's philosophy of life–I'm just going to go after what I want. It's what I was doing for four months and I was never happier. In fact, I am going back to making a happiness list. I have a dated journal that I will be writing in most evenings. It's such good therapy for me! My happiness list is a no-pressure way of looking not only for things to be grateful for but things I've accomplished.
Big on my list today was surprising my kids by taking them to a new restaurant. I ordered them into the car with shoes and coats on. The oldest were certain that I was taking them to the dentist. LOL I even took time to turn the car around so the 4yo could see the neighbors' snowman. I have also enjoyed starting a sane organization of digital photos (I'm putting them in folders by year and month and noting any special events in the file name, but that is ALL!). Thank you Bit Literacy by Mark Hurst! Finally, I'm happy that the summer I spent writing So You're Not Wonder Woman was not wasted on an acquaintance I talked with tonight. She was so glad that I was real in the book. She makes me want to be real ALL the time.
I'll check back next December and see how many of those goals I accomplished. Right now I plan to accomplish some dessert. LOL My little guy is making me hungry!
What sweet friends I have! Thank you for the encouragement. My friend's blog inspired me to revise some of my goals and post an update. I noticed that I was really resisting some of these. One thing that can cause resistance is the perception that the goal is too difficult. I made some of mine more vague, but in effect easier. I highlighted most of the changes. How is your new year going?
organize basement storage room – partially completed 1/15/10
photos once a month
Disney photobook printed
office sewing closet
Go scuba diving
Groom dog – completed 1/14/10
youngest’s cavity filled
10. Take dog to vet
11. Organize contents of over-sized art files
12. Work on home photo projects once a month
13. Wash MBR comforter
14. Make 22 meals for the freezer in a day
15. Bake from scratch twice a month – on target
16. Spend less time thinking
about how I look
17. Create a motivational plan for kids’ schoolwork
18. Do chores with the kids more consistently
19. Do laundry more consistently – on track
20. Use a meal plan the majority of the time – on track
21. Read most scheduled Omnibus books
22. Limit recreational computer time
23. Clean email inbox out regularly – ok
24. Make it to court 1 in tennis league at least once
25. Develop tennis serve enough to serve hard every first serve
for at least 1 league
26. Read at least 24 books for recreation – 1 complete
27. Teach piano once a week
28. Practice piano regularly
29. Refuse enough unnecessary purchases to donate $1000 to
30. Train dog regularly
31. Purge my clothes
32. Blog on both blogs consistently
33. Have a family game night at least once a month
34. Have a family reading/devotion night at least twice a month
35. Finish reading chronological Bible
36. Plan an outing to the winery with friends
37. Plan a trip to Mark Twain Lake
38. Plan a picnic in Sullivan with Mom
39. Read bedtime stories to youngest regularly
40. Enforce bedtimes consistently
41. Finish filing in the school room
42. Organize all paper inbox materials
43. Organize/purge digital pictures or work on photobooks regularly
44. Clean out main floor freezers
45. Watch at least one full season of Little House on the
46. Take friend out for lunch 4 times
47. Organize marriage Bible study
48. Keep closet floor picked up consistently
49. Plan and hold Caleb & Sam’s birthday party
50. Organize a nerf gun war at church
51. Finish and edit The Playbook
52. Get up early for devotions consistently – ok
53. Thoroughly clean and organize kids’ bathroom – partially completed
54. Plan and prepare for next school year
55. Do something for the Happiness of it daily
56. Spend at least 20 hours working on motivational book
57. Purge and organize main floor and basement pantry
58. Plan a family trip to Chicago and Michigan
59. Clean out MBR closet
60. Make a list of potential subjects for What Kids Need to Know
61. Try out for Beauty and the Beast
62. Develop a list of ideas for a speakers series at church
63. Organize and start a ministry to get kids involved in
64. Write and tape another episode of GWN
65. Organize girls’ night out with church friends
66. Seek to honor God and my family through homeschooling
67. Set a fitness goal for summer and reach it
68. Spend time outside consistently in good weather
69. Have a family movie night regularly
70. Create fitness ministry video
71. Help fitness ministry with publicity before I leave
72. Have house clean and orderly before I go to Cancun – almost
73. Purge files from each computer at least twice
74. Write four hand-written letters
75. Spend at least one evening making homemade cards
76. Limit kids’ total media use consistently
77. Take the kids somewhere on the train
78. Go on a hot air balloon ride
79. Use a craft kit with kids
80. Research submitting novel to publisher
81. Draft a women’s Bible study video series idea
82. Go water skiing
83. Complete videography course that I own
84. Practice tennis skills as recommended on video – some
85. Work through singing videos
86. Sing karaoke with Mom and Fran in public
87. Organize junk journal class
88. Work on junk journal once a week – doing well
89. Have another food competition with neighbors
90. Memorize Psalm 34 – doing well
91. Read College Prep Homeschooling
92. Have niece and fiancée over for dinner
93. Take other niece out for dinner
94. Plan homeschool co-ops for the rest of the year – making
95. Eat at Dave & Busters
96. Finish retreat publicity
97. Prepare for Idaho retreat
98. Reduce use of omgosh and the like
99. Focus thinking re: Philippians daily (pure, lovely, true,
Creative Connections talk