Tag Archives: goals

7 Tips to Help You Achieve Your Goals in 2013

excited teens by Ambro freedigitalphotos.netIf you’re feeling like “a change would do you good” this year, what specific things would you like in your life to improve? Why has it been tough in the past to improve in that area?

This is the time of year when our New Year’s Resolutions may already start to be forgotten, or get pushed to the side as other more urgent matters come up. A friend of mine made what I thought was the best resolution:  to show more love. I’m sure his wife, kids and friends will be the happy recipients of his efforts and that better relationships will bring that love right back.

Many people have a goal to get more fit or to lose weight, and most of them will fall back into old habits. I read a few years ago that it only takes 21 days to make a new habit second nature. To that end, I got up and got on the treadmill for a workout for three straight weeks. I can tell you on day 22, I did not enjoy the workout any more, nor did I feel like it had become a natural habit. It took a force of my will do continue even a few days a week.

So I don’t believe in gimmicks when it comes to making changes. But I also think more change is possible than you think, in your relationships, skills, your body, your diet, or whatever you are hoping to improve.

As I was preparing this post, I read an article from The Generous Husband called You are going to change. Why choose now? He cites a study that concluded that we change a good deal more over time than we would have predicted. Looking back 10 years, you have probably changed a great deal more than you would have predicted back then. When I think about how different my husband and I were a decade ago, it makes me laugh. And you will probably be more different 10 years from now than you think you will be.  If you’re going to change, hopefully you will move in the right direction on the issues important to you.

Here are a few strategies that have worked well for me:

  1. Have clearly stated goals that are incremental. For example, “I will take my spouse out once a month” might be the first step toward infusing your marriage with more romance.
  2. Have an accountability partner. This is probably the most      important suggestion if you really want to get something done, at least it has worked very well for me. You will check in weekly or monthly with each of your goals and have to report whether or not you have done what you have said you will do. I suggest this partner would not be your spouse, but could be an encouraging friend who has something he or she also wants to achieve. Don’t pick someone who will make excuses right along with you and excuse your lack of effort. Even if you have a month that doesn’t go well, get back to your goals, and help one another get back on track. Celebrate small successes together.
  3. Put it on the schedule. It’s easy to overlook things on the schedule if you don’t have that accountability partner. Only schedule what you really intend to do. “Romantic evening with wife” or “hike with hubby” are things that may not happen if they are not on the calendar.
  4. Give focused time, then rewards. One procrastination expert I’ve read, Rita Emmett, suggests you select one thing to do for one hour. Ignore everything else going on during that hour. Take no breaks during that hour. Then, give yourself a small reward after one hour, such as a cup of coffee or a small break on Facebook. I’ve found this works quite well. We are so easily distracted; turn off email, phones and close your door during that hour.
  5. Make the first step easy. Then take the next step. For example, my friend might stock up on greeting cards or small gifts so he’s prepared to express his love when he has a few minutes. Taking a walk with a friend is an easy way to get started with improved fitness.
  6. Read and think about the issue you are working to improve. If you want a better marriage, read about strong marriages. If you want to lose weight, learn about nutrition and fitness. If you hope to deepen your faith, read the Bible or religious books. If you want a better job, study and practice the skills you will need to move up. If we spend all our complaining time focused on visualizing success, we will see more positive change by the end of 2013.
  7. When you come up short, start again. Don’t let your inner voice speak negatively.

Lori Lowe is the author of First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage. It tells the inspiring, true stories of couples who used adversity to improve their marriages–from overcoming drug addiction to cancer, infidelity, religious differences, family interference and infertility, among many others. It’s available at Amazon.com and in all e-book formats at www.LoriDLowe.com.

Photo by Ambro courtesty of freedigitalphotos.net.

Help Your Spouse Achieve Lifelong Dreams

I have a few close friends and family members who are all about their “bucket lists,” the lists of things they want to experience or accomplish during their lives. For instance, my brother’s list inspired him to climb Mount Rainier and to go deep-sea diving in remote locations.  This week, I was reading the uplifting blog The Generous Wife. She suggested as couples we talk regularly about our bucket lists and look for ways to help our spouses achieve their wishes. It’s a fantastic suggestion.

I like this idea for multiple reasons. First, discussing your dreams with your spouse increases intimacy and keeps you focused on positive aspects of your life. Second, participating in activities outside of your norm builds excitement and passion for yourself and for your marriage. And third, helping your spouse achieve his or her dreams often causes your spouse to have increased gratitude toward you. And gratitude has been shown to increase connection and bonds.

I must admit I’m not much of a true adventurer. I’d much rather sit on a beach than climb a treacherous mountain. However, I have spectacular memories of traveling to Hawaii, Bermuda, Ireland, France, Italy, Spain, Monaco, Mexico—and yes, even a memorable trip to Canada during one of their worst snowstorms—with my husband. All that travel came to a screeching halt when our two children were welcomed into our lives. I have more destinations in mind when our kids are a bit older. But travel isn’t required; many adventures can be found without leaving your hometown.

I have a great friend who encouraged her husband to fulfill his dream of running a hot-air balloon business, while maintaining his full-time job as a pilot. I’ve never heard her complain of the time it takes away from their large family. I have other friends who have supported their spouse’s dreams to become an entrepreneur or a full-time parent. Two married friends have decided to visit every national park in the country. Perhaps you have always wanted to take music or dance lessons, fly an airplane, learn a new language or write a book. Share your goals with your spouse, and discuss how your dreams could become a reality.

Believing in one another and in a positive vision for your union is part of the magic of marriage. How many divorces could be prevented if spouses felt their partner cared as much about their dreams and goals as they do?

What fun things are on your bucket list? What obstacles stand in your way—time, money, self-doubt, an aging body? Do you know what’s on your partner’s list?

If you haven’t had a chance yet, please spend one minute to take this survey  answering five quick questions. Your confidential responses will help me immensely. Thanks!

Celebrate good times with spouse to strengthen your bond

Tough times don’t necessarily bring a couple closer, but the way you celebrate big and small successes can strengthen your bond. A study by the University of California-Santa Barbara, reported in this January’s Redbook that couples who celebrate together–everything from completing a home project to earning a promotion or reaching a small goal–have the happiest, most trusting, and most committed relationships.

“When your partner receives bad news, the best you can do is try to ease his pain,” says the study’s lead author Shelly Gable, PhD. “But when you share in his excitement, it boosts happiness becasue he feels like his joy is yours too.”

While you should try to be supportive during the bad times, look for small successes to celebrate in your day or in your week. Celebrate even movement toward a goal, and especially accomplishment of a goal. Friends have a way of enthusiastically supporting one another, but sometimes with a spouse it is easier to become mundane about hearing the minutia of their day or the mini-steps toward their professional or personal goals. Instead, listen for things you can celebrate together. Make a toast. Cook a special dinner. Give a big hug. Mail a card. Send an email. Plan a date. But don’t let the sun go down before cheering on your sweetie.

Speaking of things to celebrate as we enter 2010, I’m happy to report more than 1,300 readers visited LifeGems4Marriage in December and approximately 8,000 people visited the blog since its inception. Thanks for reading and for helping me celebrate what marriage can be.

Happy new year! Don’t forget to read 10 tips for making 2010 less busy and more productive.

10 Tips for Making 2010 Less Busy, More Fruitful

I’m re-posting tips from last year that received a lot of positive feedback. It’s not only about what you DO with your time this year, but also what you DON’T DO, freeing up your mind and heart, and giving yourself the energy to pursue your goals.  Whether your goal this year is to cure cancer or improve your relationship with loved ones, I hope you succeed.

Are you busy or fruitful? I heard this question recently, and it caused me to think about how the busyness of life can keep us from the important things, the goals we want to achieve in our families, relationships and professional lives. I’m not one to make resolutions each year, but I am one to evaluate what is working and what isn’t. Look back at your 2009—was it very productive? Or were you frequently overwhelmed by your to-do list?

Here are some strategies I’ve tried to use to make my life less busy and more fruitful. (I’m a work in progress.)

1.      Set goals based on your talents and true calling. What is your passion? Write down some smaller steps to help you reach your goal.

2.      Spend more time thinking (or in prayer/meditation) and reading good books and less time watching TV. These activities boost creativity and energy and help us focus.

3.      Reduce your intake of negative news. As a Journalism major, this was tough for me, but I’ve gained more than an hour a day of time and reduced my anxiety level.

4.      Consolidate errands, go online or do without. Do you really need a new outfit or another car wash, or can you spend the time/money elsewhere?

5.      Delegate, ask for help or just say no to things you do not want on your to-do list.

6.      Stop complaining to those who cannot correct a situation. Address problems with the appropriate sources, but don’t waste everyone else’s time over it.

7.      Make peace. Resolve conflicts with people in your life; you’ll spend too much time and energy stewing over unresolved conflicts.

8.      Encourage and help others, especially the less fortunate.

9.      At the beginning of each day, think about what you’d like to accomplish (write it down) and the attitude you would like to project to others.

10.  At the end of each day, evaluate how you did on #9, and consider what changes you may need to make.

So, what are your goals or resolutions? Please share the time-saving tips that have worked for you. And best wishes for a happy and most productive new year!

Time Travel for a Better Life and Love

From Back to the Future to The Time Traveler’s Wife, traveling through time is often an intriguing prospect for writers and movie makers. Even song writers wax poetic about what they would tell their younger teenage selves. It’s kind of a cool concept, but have you ever tried it?

Alas, we can only live forward. We cannot prevent our past mistakes or give self-confidence before it is earned. Still, there is something to be said for the power of traveling in your mind. You might even change your future.

Picture yourself and your life 20 years down the road. What successes mean the most to you? What are your biggest concerns or regrets? Visualize your marriage and your spouse, your children, how you spend your day. Try to be as detailed as you can be.

Now imagine you are looking back at yourself, today, in the room where you are right now. What do you think of the younger (present) self as you look back with the wisdom of years? What do you think of how you are spending your time, your money, your energy, your passion? Are there thoughts or shreds of wisdom you would try to convey? Are the problems you are facing today meaningful 20 years later? If so, seek advice from wise friends or counselors. If you’re focused on inconsequential things, reassess your priorities—not just what you say is most important, but how you are showing its importance. Are you working toward happiness or lasting joy?

One thing is likely, that you will as your older self lament the quick passage of time and wish you had more time to make everything “right.” Take the time today to love, forgive, ask forgiveness, share, enjoy, and cherish your loved ones. Once the day is over, and 2009 is over, you don’t get another shot.

Are you investing time and energy into the relationships that will matter most 20 years down the road? Are you on the verge of making a serious misstep? Will you regret never following your dreams and true calling, only to suck the life out of your children as you try to live through their achievements?

I came across the perfect quote recently by a current author that neatly summarizes my point. It must have been floating in my subconscious, because I only thought of it after writing this post. As a writer who spends so much time revising, it is a thoughtful reminder that we don’t have that luxury in real life.

There are no perfect words, perfect writers, or perfect people. But life is not a first draft – we don’t get to rewrite this script. Figure out in advance how you want to wrap it up and plan accordingly.”  –Karen Spears Zacharias

Do You Believe in Your Marriage?

I once posed a question about whether hard work or talent achieves the greatest success. Someone answered that belief in oneself is more important than either. Do you agree?

Many people overcome extreme obstacles because they believe they can achieve their dreams. When others give up on them, they work harder. Sometimes it may not be your own belief, but someone else’s belief and encouragement that reminds us of a  goal and makes us think it is possible to achieve.

When my son was six, he wrote a song that said, “If you believe in me, I will believe in you.” He posted a note in my office that has been there ever since (see photo) and serves as a sweet reminder that I am not alone in the world. The power of others’ encouragement can be strong.

Walt Disney is an example of someone who was talented and worked hard, but he started with nothing and overcame a great deal of obstacles. His personal vision was so clear and his belief so strong that even when his ideas and employees were stolen away, he simply started again and created a larger dream.

For many people, faith that they are a part of a larger purpose (a Kingdom purpose) also keeps them from giving up; they have a clear vision of success and feel their efforts are divinely guided.

We can personally benefit from a belief in our ability to reach goals, but don’t stop there. Our marriage relationships need to have the same vision and goals. What is your vision as a couple for your marriage and for your family? What goals are you trying to achieve within your marriage? Do you and your spouse have an unyielding belief that you can stand strong together no matter what happens in your life? Do you believe in and support your spouse? Do you believe your marriage will succeed?

As the year winds down and you consider making goals for the next year, don’t put your marriage last on the list. Just like career and life goals, create goals for your important relationships. Invest time and effort in them. And above all, believe in their long-term success.

What do you think is the greatest contributor to success? And to your marital success?

Is Your Family Seeking Pleasure, Happiness or Joy?

What do you want most for your children? Really think about it for a minute…(Are you thinking?) I’ve heard a lot of parents say what they really want more than anything is for their children to be happy. To that response, I ask, really? Is the pursuit of personal happiness really the best and highest calling for your child? What are you seeking for yourself—pleasure, happiness, maybe joy? What do these even mean?

Of course I don’t want my children to be unhappy, but to be honest, sometimes a little unhappiness is necessary for them to understand a lesson and to grow as people. The same goes for me, unfortunately. I don’t think we should expect to be happy all the time. Stress, illness and death are part of life. Work and sacrifice can be good qualities, but aren’t particularly pleasant. If we teach our children to pursue only happiness, why would they want to help others when it is inconvenient? Why would they strive to impact the world in a positive fashion? That just takes their focus off of their goal of happiness.

Interestingly, the happiest couples I have interviewed have been the ones who are truly seeking to make their spouse happy before themselves. It’s a cycle and a process that continues to reward each of them.

Pleasure is often a good thing—enjoying the scent of the flowering trees as you drive by, tasting the grilled salmon that you craved for dinner, touching your spouse or children lovingly, hearing the sound of the birds outside your kitchen window. Opening our senses to feel and truly experience pleasure is wonderful.

Pleasure can also be very self-serving. A popular web site (whose name I won’t promote) calls itself “the world’s premier discreet dating service” and has a trademarked tag line: “Life is short. Have an affair.” They promise, “Join free, and change your life today. Guaranteed!” Yes, your life will be changed, but not for the better. Their invitation to “Sleep with someone else’s wife tonight,” may entice those whose ultimate goal is personal pleasure. But will these exclusive members experience happiness or joy?

In Surprised by Joy, C.S. Lewis, describes joy as a “technical term that must be sharply distinguished from both Happiness and Pleasure.” He says, “The only thing Joy has in common with the others is that anyone who has experienced it will want it again.” Where Joy differs, he continues, is that anyone who has tasted joy would never exchange it for all the pleasures in the world. “But then Joy is never in our power and Pleasure often is.” Yes, there’s the rub, joy we have to wait for, and pleasure (and even happiness to some extent) we can go in search of.

Joy, I think, is a much deeper satisfaction, bliss, the opposite of misery and regret, a connection to the divine. It’s not really within our power, but I think it can result from a multitude of right choices, even of self-sacrifice and love for others. It seems sort of counter-intuitive that by not prioritizing your own pleasure, you can achieve a deeper enjoyment, but I think it’s true. That’s not to say pleasure can’t still be a part of your life, but there are higher priorities.

In your marriage, in your financial decisions, in how you raise and instruct your children, what do you think is most important for them to learn? Where do you hope to lead your spouse and family, and what example will you show? I wish you Joy.

10 Steps to Make 2009 Less Busy, More Productive

Are you busy or fruitful? I heard this question recently, and it caused me to think about how the busyness of life can keep us from the important things, the goals we want to achieve in our families, relationships and professional lives. I’m not one to make resolutions each year, but I am one to evaluate what is working and what isn’t. Look back at your 2008—was it very productive? Or were you frequently overwhelmed by your to-do list?

 

Here are some strategies I’ve tried to use to make my life less busy and more fruitful. (I’m a work in progress.)

1.      Set goals based on your talents and true calling. What is your passion? Write down some smaller steps to help you reach your goal.

2.      Spend more time thinking (or in prayer/meditation) and reading good books and less time watching TV. These activities boost creativity and energy and help us focus.

3.      Reduce your intake of negative news. As a Journalism major, this was tough for me, but I’ve gained more than an hour a day of time and reduced my anxiety level.

4.      Consolidate errands, go online or do without. Do you really need a new outfit or another car wash, or can you spend the time/money elsewhere?

5.      Delegate, ask for help or just say no to things you do not want on your to-do list.

6.      Stop complaining to those who cannot correct a situation. Address problems with the appropriate sources, but don’t waste everyone else’s time over it.

7.      Make peace. Resolve conflicts with people in your life; you’ll spend too much time and energy stewing over unresolved conflicts.

8.      Encourage and help others, especially the less fortunate.

9.      At the beginning of each day, think about what you’d like to accomplish (write it down) and the attitude you would like to project to others.

10.  At the end of each day, evaluate how you did on #9, and consider what changes you may need to make.

So, what are your goals for ‘09? Please share the time-saving tips that have worked for you. And best wishes for a happy and most productive new year!