Keep Your Eye On Your Why

img_0544“Keep your eye on your why.” It was the second-to-last step in a set of helpful tidbits for people looking to minimize, but it was the one that stuck with me the most. Maybe because it rhymed, so I found it catchy. Maybe because it’s something I struggle with.

In pursuing my goals, both big and small, I sometimes forget what motivated me to start in the first place. And if I’m not careful, this lack of self-awareness will allow me to give up. I wonder if something is even worth my time and effort if I don’t remember why I started doing it in the first place.

Probably not.

If I want to stay motivated enough to see something through to the end, I have to remember why I’m doing it. I have to buy into the idea hook, line, and sinker. I can’t be one foot in and one foot out. It’s go big or go home, baby.

In other words, I need to keep my eye on my “why.”

Why am I pursuing the things that I’m pursuing?

Why am I saying “no” to some things and “yes” to others?

I can’t do it all. I have to say “yes” to some things and “no” to others in order to maintain some shred of my sanity and make sure I get some sleep. There are many, many things I could choose to pour my time and energy into, but only so many of them are good uses of those limited resources. Only a small fraction of them bring me joy and benefit the world around me.

And those are the things I want to pursue. That’s how I make my decisions. I ask what’s most important to me, what I really want to define my life.

I want to be known for my love.

And, considering that, I think about how to make decisions that reflect my purpose. I choose things that support that goal and align with my personality and gifts. In order to make the most of my time and efforts, it only seems logical to choose things I’m interested in, have an aptitude for, and things that will support my larger ambitions. I don’t want to waste my time doing things I’m going to give up on for lack of interest, get burned out doing because I wasn’t the right fit, or doing things that keep me stagnant.

Having the right motivation is key. If we don’t know why we’re getting up early to workout, we’re more likely to hit the snooze button instead of throwing off the covers and breaking a sweat. If we forget why we’re pinching pennies and budgeting, we’ll probably be less committed and find ourselves still impulse buying.

We need to remember why we do what we do.

I’ve found that having reminders around me is extremely necessary to living a life of purpose. I painted a sign over the summer with the word “beloved” on it that serves as a reminder in my house. I also have a beautiful necklace from my friend’s company She of Noble Character that says “beloved” on it and allows me to walk around with a constant reminder of who I am and how I’m called to live.

Remembering that I am loved and am called to be love in the world is my why. And I’m trying really hard to keep my eye on it.

 

Why are you doing what you’re doing? Do you have a big, overarching goal for your life that you filter decisions through? How do you remind yourself what your purpose is? I’d love to hear from you!

 

Further reading:

A Guide to Let Go of Your Perfectly Good Things by Zoë Kim, featured on Becoming Minimalist

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That Reminds Me

Do you ever hear a song and feel like it was written specifically for you? Or played at the perfect moment, just when you desperately needed to hear it? That happens to me quite often.

I decided that my word for this year is beloved. I’ve been asking myself if my knee-jerk responses to circumstances, conversations, and actions of myself and others are loving or not as a filter to determine how I should respond. Sometimes I do myself proud and choose a more loving response. Sometimes I forget completely and allow my default reaction to surface– one that is often not very loving in nature.

But I’ve heard several songs on the radio lately that remind me of who I am, and they have served as well-timed and desperately-needed reminders of my identity, regardless of how well I perform or try to respond more lovingly.

So whether I need to remember who I am, who Christ is, or what my purpose is, these songs (and plenty of others) come to the rescue with little daily reminders that I so desperately need.

You are loved
If your heart’s in a thousand pieces
If you’re lost and you’re far from reason
Just look up; know you are loved
Just look up; and know you are loved
When it feels like something’s missing
If it hurts but you can’t find healing
Just look up, know you are loved
Just look up, know you are loved

And you, don’t have to prove yourself
Don’t try to be someone else
You don’t have to prove yourself
Don’t try to be someone else

You are loved

-“You Are Loved” by Stars Go Dim

You are essential, not accidental
And you should realize
You are beloved
I wanted you to know
You are beloved
Let it soak into your soul
Oh, forget the lies you heard
Rise above the hurt
And listen to these words
You are beloved
I wanted you to know
You are beloved

-“Beloved” by Jordan Feliz

I’m tellin’ you somethin’
This racing, this running
Oh, you’re working way too hard!
And this perfection you’re chasing
Is just energy wasted
Cause He love’s you like you are!

So go ahead and live like you’re loved
It’s okay to act like you’ve been set free
His love has made you more than enough
So go ahead and be who He made you to be

And live like you’re loved
live like you’re loved
live like you’re loved
live like you’re loved

And live like you know you’re valuable
Like you know the one that holds your soul
Cause mercy has called you by your name
Don’t be afraid to live in that grace

…Live like you’re loved, walk like you’re free
Stand like you know, who he made you to be
Live like you’re loved, like you believe
His love is all, that you ever need

-“Live Like You’re Loved” by Hawk Nelson

I’m sure there are many other songs with similar messages, but these have been hitting me square between the eyes lately. If you’re looking for more uplifting, encouraging music to remind you of truth and give you better perspective throughout the day, I suggest you check out Air1 and KLOVE— they’re some of my favorites! In the meantime, look these songs up on YouTube. You’re welcome. 😉

 

Are there songs that have impacted you deeply? Feel free to share below in the comments!

Give Yourself Grace

In pursuit of living a life of love, I’m coming to realize how immensely important it is to give myself grace. We’ve heard that we’re our own worst critics, and it’s definitely true. We can see it in our New Year’s resolutions— when we set the bar far too high and expect too much of ourselves, only to quit a month later and berate ourselves for our failure.

When we hold too rigidly to our expectations, we’re setting ourselves up for greater disappointment if we don’t meet them. If we do meet them, we’re satisfied (but probably exhausted), and if we don’t, we’re crushed. However, if we set more realistic goals, we’re more likely to attain (and even exceed) them, and we set ourselves up for success. Small victories give us momentum to keep going, pushing ourselves forward one step at a time.

I think it’s safe to say we’ll all fall short of our goals at some point. But how we handle that says more about us than the failure itself. If we get back up and remind ourselves that we can accomplish our goals if we only persevere (and maybe alter our goals a bit), we build up our confidence and keep moving forward. But if we get upset and let our inner monologue fill with critical remarks, we’re moving backward and letting fear get in the way of accomplishing anything except sitting on the couch with a pint of ice cream and binge-watching Netflix.

Sometimes we just need to give ourselves a break and lower the bar. If we set our sights a bit lower (not rock-bottom low, but just a step or two ahead instead of twelve), we set ourselves up for success, making it easier to take small steps forward to achieve our bigger goals. If we expect to take great leaps overnight, we might want to crawl under a rock at the first sign of failure. We’re creatures of habit; it takes a while to break an old habit or break in a new one. We need to give ourselves time and room to grow.

In working towards various goals, I’m trying to remind myself often that I need to show myself some grace.

At the end of the day, when only a quarter of the things on my to-do list are crossed off, I’m going to choose to show myself grace.

I will celebrate small victories, knowing they’re the key to achieving big dreams.

When I take two steps forward and one step back, I will respond in grace.

When I hear myself starting to get frustrated and upset about my inability to meet my exceedingly high expectations, I will lower the bar in grace.

I won’t be afraid to dream, and dream big, but will hold my dreams loosely, knowing they might change and grow as I do.

Tomorrow’s a brand new day. It won’t be perfect, but it will be a whole lot better if I extend myself some much-needed grace. And I bet yours will be, too.

 

 

Image source: www.karipatterson.com

Fix My Eyes

Did you realize that you move toward whatever you fix your eyes on? It’s natural. It’s part of why we have to be taught to turn our heads without turning our car’s steering wheel or bike’s handlebars at the same time, lest we veer into the next lane of traffic.

In life, we may set our sights on the next rung of the proverbial ladder we’re climbing. Maybe we’re working for a promotion, a dream job, a bigger house, a family of our own. Maybe we’re striving for greater popularity or following, success, or fame. Maybe we really don’t know what we’re chasing after.

Sometimes we just find ourselves moving along with the people around us, completely unaware of what it is we’re moving toward or why we’re headed in that direction. It’s then that a sense of dissatisfaction settles in, making us wonder how we got here and how we can change to live life more purposefully.

Most of us set goals last January for what we wanted to do and who we wanted to be in 2016. We aimed for things we wanted to achieve. We set our sights on things ahead.

But what exactly were we moving toward? Were we striving to be healthier? Happier? Smarter? Stronger? Richer? Kinder? Wiser?

We likely wanted to be many of those things. But if we try to do it in our own strength, it’s only a matter of time before we fall flat on our faces. We just can’t keep it up. That’s why so many people quit on their New Year’s resolutions before the snow melts.

However, if we were to find motivation and strength from somewhere else, a place where we can draw infinite amounts of both, along with encouragement for when we inevitably slip up, we would be far more likely to keep going. And isn’t that what we all want, anyway? I don’t think any of us really take pride in the fact that we give up on our resolutions quickly. We just get too tired of trying to keep all the plates spinning.

What are you moving toward? Are you trying to do it on your own? There certainly are days in which I’m in that boat. But, friends, it’s not working out too well. The boat has holes caused by my faulty attempts to keep myself afloat. I just can’t do it myself. There are too many things to try to accomplish all at once, and it takes an awful lot of hard work and sacrifice to make any one of them happen, let alone all of them.

Sometimes I sacrifice the wrong things. Sometimes my focus is misplaced. If my priorities are out of line, I’m likely to look back and feel like I wasted my time and didn’t achieve much of anything worthwhile.

If I’m fixated on my small goals and my inability to achieve them myself, I’m going to work and work and work to try to accomplish them and find myself feeling worn out and empty. If I fix my eyes on the things above that don’t decay or change or depend on earthly circumstances, I’ll find more joy and hope and strength than I know what to do with. And find that even if I fail in my attempts to do what I want, I’ll grow in ways I never had imagined and see that I’m moving toward an even better place.

I have to keep reminding myself day in and day out what I’m working for and why. I don’t want to lose sight of that in the chaos of everyday life. And I have to remember that I can’t do it alone. Knowing that keeps me humble. It keeps me focused on the right things. It keeps me from thinking too highly of myself and too little of God. It keeps things in perspective and reminds me that He and I are in this together, working toward the same goal. And that’s the kind of path I want to be on, the type of goal I want to set my sights on.

What are you setting your sights on?

Motivation

It’s easy to begin the year with a set of noble goals, and find that as time goes on, life chokes out our best intentions, and we fall back into old patterns of behavior. This is why gyms are packed in January and nearly empty by September. It’s why many people lose weight initially with a diet plan, but gain the weight back later when they just can’t keep up with it anymore. That plan of attack just isn’t sustainable.

When our motivation doesn’t go deep enough, we are apt to give up more easily. I don’t know about you, but I’m in this for the long haul. This is my health, my life, I’m talking about, and I don’t want to take that too lightly.

Of course, I don’t want to take it too seriously either, and motivate myself to strive for my goals in unhealthy ways. Just as positive thoughts can push me to new heights, so can negative ones. But the outcome isn’t the same. Telling myself I can succeed allows me to see my progress, encourage myself, build up my self-esteem, and focus on making positive choices. Highlighting past failures, comparing myself to others, creating strict and unrealistic boundaries, and not respecting appropriate limits causes me to begin spiraling into negativity, frustration, potential injury, and ultimately a loss of motivation when I think I’ll never reach my goals.

I have been trying to decipher what my personal motivations for fitness and nutrition have been recently. I’ll admit they’re not all as pure as they could be. I definitely admire toned muscles and lean figures of fitness experts and aspire to that in some sense. But if that was my only motivator, I would find myself thinking negative thoughts when I fail to measure up, constantly comparing myself to others and falling short at every turn.

Instead, I am choosing to focus on a greater motivation: my well-being and health. I’m seeking to pursue things that ultimately will make me feel good, not in a hedonistic sense of pleasure-seeking, but in terms of a few different things. I ask myself:

  1. What choice will make me physically feel good later?
  2. What choice would I be proud of having made?
  3. What choice would I recommend to someone else in my position?

These questions, and the choices that I make when considering them, have propelled me toward higher aspirations. I’ve considered my limitations, both in terms of figuring out when and where I should stop short of my initial goal, and understanding when I still have more to give and can press past what I thought I could accomplish. It’s truly encouraging when I realize I can lift a heavier amount of weight, run farther, or use more self-control to avoid foods that won’t make me feel good. Growth is sometimes slow in coming, but it is coming.

I remind myself with each step that I’m making a choice about how I want to live my life, about who I want to be. It’s not about the number on the scale or my jeans or about the number of squats I can do before my legs turn to Jell-O; it’s about making healthier choices I can feel good about so that I can live a full life. Both have been proven to lower risk for disease, exercise can reduce stress, and I truly believe that life is better when I make good choices about fitness and nutrition.

Of course, I still sometimes don’t challenge myself enough in my workouts and know I could give more effort. I still find myself caving and eating foods that I know I really shouldn’t. But I’m making progress, and that’s enough for me.

The Energizer Bunny

What energizes you? What gets you pumped up for your day? What sustains you through a challenging set of circumstances or an afternoon slump?

It’s no secret that when we only struggle through one draining activity after another, we will feel depleted of all energy and motivation. We feel lifeless. We feel like we can’t possibly do one more thing because we simply haven’t the strength.

How are we ever going to reach a ripe old age or accomplish our goals and dreams for the future if we can barely make it through the work day? How much longer are we going to keep chugging along this dead-end track, putting our noses to the proverbial grindstone day after day, with no ray of sunshine to break through the gloom or break up the tedium, motivating us to keep working toward our dreams?

We need to figure out what it is that drives us. We need to discover how we’re wired so that we can better understand what we need to fuel us through our days and our lives. Are we fueled by escaping the world? Engaging in conversation? Relaxing with friends? Shopping? Exercising? Reading? Cooking? Napping?

As an introvert, I’m recharged when I take time for myself away from the company of others. I find that spending too much time around people, feeling compelled to “be on” all the time, particularly in larger group settings, drains me of energy. But spending time reading in a quiet environment, watching a favorite show, or taking time away from the world to spend with Jesus fills me back up so that I can go back out into the world and interact with people.

But I also know that having plans with friends to look forward to can motivate me through a particularly challenging day, knowing that something better is ahead. It’s a delicate balance. Knowing that I need both planned alone time and some social time helps me maintain my sanity and push through the monotony that can sometimes seep into my daily activities.

I have also learned that certain things drain me more quickly and easily than others, particularly in the morning when I haven’t fully woken up. If I were to have to decide what to wear, what to eat for breakfast, and what to pack for lunch, I would drive myself crazy. On the few occasions which I have had to make these decisions in the morning, I stand paralyzed, unable to make even the simplest decision. I’ve never been good at making decisions, so I do my best to automate these tasks to reserve more brainpower for things that I consider to be more important and leave the house in a less frustrated state of mind.

It’s really important to start the day off right, before I leave the house. I get up when the alarm goes off, knowing hitting the snooze button isn’t an option. To prepare myself both physically and mentally for the day ahead, I build in workout time and quiet time with the Lord before I leave for work.

Throughout the day, I take breaks from my work to physically refuel with (mostly healthy) food and water, making sure I can maintain my energy. I also read or take a lunch break with my coworkers to get away from the humdrum of work in the middle of the day, giving me a second wind when I get back to my desk. The time spent away from my never-ending list of tasks allows me a mental break, keeping me from getting overwhelmed by everything on my plate, allowing me to return to my work with a renewed energy supply.

In the evening, I try to set aside some time to wind down, either watching a TV show or reading a book. This allows me to decompress from whatever might have caused me stress during the day, which, in turn, makes it easier for me to fall asleep. I also ensure that I pack my breakfast and lunch for the next day and set out my clothes, so that my morning routine runs smoothly.

What habits can you adopt to divert energy to more important tasks in your life? What kinds of things energize you, and how can you engage in them more often?