So many people I talk with ask the question ‘How do you do it?’. This question always suprises me as I don’t think that anything that I am doing is all that magical. I just try to work hard every day and improve upon my previous days efforts.
One of the things that I encourage people to do is take the time to sit down and really ask themselves some difficult questions:
- What do I want to achieve over the course of the next year?
- How will I know when I have attained my goal?
- What do I have to do to make it happen?
The very act of writing down goals and keeping them in front of you (literally, post-it note them to your bathroom mirror) can be a very empowering act. It can help narrow your focus. Every decision you make can be filtered through the ‘Will this help me achieve my goal?’ filter.
When my wife and I were just married (at the wee age of 18!!) we did this exact thing. Keep in mind that at the time both of us were working in a dollar store and I had not even thought critically about what I wanted to do for a long term career. We sat down and bullet listed a set of items/goals that seemed completely unachievable at the time. We dreamt big, and did not let our surroundings or current situation limit our ability to really stretch for what we thought the Lord had planned for us.
With goals put in place we started the long path of making the dreams a reality. This is the spot where a lot of people get discouraged. Here is a famous quote that I find quite inspiring:
‘Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work’ – Thomas Edison
I believe that something worth having should not come easy, you need to work to make it happen. Do you want to have an amazing marriage? You will need to put the time and effort in to ensure that you and your spouse are close. Do you want to be a good parent? You will need to put the time and effort into making it happen. Do you want to excel in your chosen field of work? You will need to… what? Put in the time and effort to make it happen.
Don’t let the current microwave culture con you into thinking that results are instant. They should not be. For all of the work that I have put in personally to establish a solid career as a software developer it is only within the last 2 years that I have started to realize the fruits of some of that hard work and effort. The entire time my wife and I have been reminding each other of the goals that we set and based our decisions around those goals and a lot of prayer!!
Just before the new year we sat down and came up with another list!! Our previous list now retired to the pile of dreams that we were blessed and courageous enough to follow. I was speaking with a friend yesterday who made an interesting comment:
‘You seem to regularly take on more stress than most other people would ever think to take on’
I corrected him and made this statement. I don’t feel like I am stressed out that much. In all honesty, the times that I feel stressed out almost always constitute a failure to plan on my part. I did say that what I do take on regularly is: Challenge and Risk. I am not afraid of the opportunity to fall flat on my face taking a risk, because I now that it is in the times of struggle/pain that growth happens.
I encourage you to take some risks in 2008, dream big, and see what happens when you step out of your comfort zone!!