Pushing Thirty

and shedding pretentions

Getting Motivated: the Mission

I want to sing the praises of the “motivated life.”

I have come to believe that feeling motivated about my life is the make-or-break sensation that I cannot live without. Feeling a sense of motivation gives me the energy to do things that I don’t feel like getting done in the name of my goals.

I’m going to write a series of small posts on what I’ve found works for me, to get me motivated. I’ve had my fair share of failed attempts at spending time wisely, but I have found a few things that work. Whether you’re pursuing a career in freelancing, or working nine-to-five and trying to maximize your weekend hours, I think you’ll find this helpful in leveraging your free time.

Before I go any further though, I want to lay the ground work by the most powerful principle I have touched about feeling motivated:

Motivation is not a Mood, it is a Mission.

Proverbs 4:23 tells us to guard our hearts with all diligence, for out of the heart springs the issues of life. If my heart is not motivated, that means it is not stirred or roused to action. And that is not okay. For so long, though, I thought that feeling of being moved to action was arbitrary. Some days I’d wake feeling ready to leap from my bed, but most days not. I was rarely excited to face the day.

But then I started paying attention to what was causing that, and I found it was far from arbitrary. Now, I have fully embraced that my emotions are 98% a function of a number of elements in my life that are under my control. It was empowering to find that my life is MY LIFE and that I don’t need to be held hostage by feelings of lethargy. Guarding my heart, guarding my passion, guarding my motivation is a critical part of pursuing a life that lives up to my goals and values.

My friends don’t think of me as one of those people who is a driven go!go!go! always positive kind of guy, a person who more resembles a terrier than a human being. Most people think of me as a rather sedate introvert. I’m not talking about a personality type. I’m talking about how I finally got a grip on my heart and my life, and how I’m continuing to go about that. I want to feel a connect with how I spend my waking hours, a sort of soul-traction, the opposite of living in the daily grind. Its the substance of Motivation.

Motivation isn’t a Mood; It’s my Mission. It is the part of me that I need to keep alive, or else find myself dramatically off course years down the road.

Advertisements

May 6, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The New Frugality = The (Really) Old Frugality

Thrifty is Hip. Haven’t you heard? Its no longer cool to live outside your means. Living in a state of blissful ignorance and having no idea where your money is coming from or where it is going is no longer a status symbol. In fact, living in a post-bubble world, we can now call that what its always been called:

Foolishness.

The last part of Proverbs Chapter 27, hits this thing dead on:

Proverbs 27: 23-27
Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds, for riches do not last forever; and does a crown endure to all generations? When the grass is gone and the new growth appears and the vegetation of the mountains is gathered, the lambs will provide your clothing, and the goats the price of a field. There will be enough goats’ milk for your food, for the food of your household and maintenance for your girls.

I know what you’re thinking: that’s a lot of grass and goats– but just think petty cash and 9to5 job. I can’t count how many articles I’ve read recently about the “new” realization we’re having as Americans that what has been supplying us with our money this whole time is not our stock options, nor our rental properties, nor even our 401Ks. What has been putting food on the table all this time has been the bringing home of the bacon. (How’s that for a mixed metaphor that yet works on so many different levels?)

But King Solomon could have told us that a few millenia ago. Riches don’t last, so keep your attention on the pieces of your life that are generating the real cash flow, he says. Thanks, Sol. But is this just piece of Bible Wisdom just a little too late?

It turns out, no: So many people are convinced– by layoffs, and ravaged savings plans, and penny-poor mutual funds– that things have reached the point of no return. But you know what? This thing goes in cycles. The grass grows again. And when it does, the goats get fed. And when they get fed, there’s resource again for food on the table and shirts on our backs. But that doesn’t mean that we’ll be able to go back to our Latte-guzzling, Panera-frequenting, who-knows-where-the-money-went consumerism. It feels good to be so financially inflated that we’re just carried effortlessly along by a happening economy, happy as a buoy. It feels like we’re living large, like easy money. But that’s not real.

Sweat, determination, and diligence to what matters is still–as it always has been–the way to financial stability.

April 27, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Diligents Rule! Sluggards Drool!

No, that’s not a typo.

(How else would you personify it?)

One of the things I’ve gained a vision to grown as I approached 30 is diligence. The book of Proverbs has much to say about it, you might even suffer me to wax proverbial: DILIGENCE IS NEXT TO GODLINESS.

If you don’t have a firm grasp of your life vision and what it will take to get there, you will waste time. You will waste your life.

I thought I’d take today and highlight the four or five components of diligence from the Proverbs that I’ve come to love. Here’s how to kick start your self-government faculties (i.e. get your rear in gear).

1. Don’t love sleep. Can’t over emphasize this one, really. A sin sign of laziness is hitting the snooze, getting to bed too late, and getting up over the course of an hour and a half. Here is the first battle cry of the diligent.

Proverbs 20:13 (New King James Version)

13 Do not love sleep, lest you come to poverty;
Open your eyes, and you will be satisfied with bread.

2. Follow Through This one is tricky. If you’re not used to governing your time, any step towards productivity will be rewarding in its own right. But a common pitfall is to mistake any work for complete work. Consider this:

Proverbs 19:24 (English Standard Version)

24 The sluggard buries his hand in the dish
and will not even bring it back to his mouth.

Pretty straight forward, right?

Step one: Reach in bowl.

Step two: lift hand to mouth and eat.
It doesnt’ matter what phase one is, it’s only phase one. If you don’t follow it with phase two, you’ll still starve.

3. A Habit of Action. You may think you’re problem is not enough time, or not enough money, and if so, you might be diligence-indigent. Look at this;

Proverbs 12:27 (New King James Version)

27 The lazy man does not roast what he took in hunting,
But diligence is man’s precious possession.

This idea is a corollary to the last. But the reality is that you need to think in terms of getting motion, and regiment, and routine. The obvious point to hunting food is to then roast it. But this guy doesn’t know the drill. He thinks he can relax or get distracted and yet not waste the meat. But he needs a focused initiative that runs all the way to his full stomach. Action plans and vision casting are good starting points, but at the end, you’ll only be as productive as your habits. Value diligent habits as a lifestyle, and many things will naturally fall into place.

4. Do Anything This is one of my favorites. If you’re not naturally diligent (which means your parents didn’t drive foolishness from your members with a stick), you probably have felt the paralysis of wondering what to do. Good news: just do something. Compare:

Proverbs 14:23 (New King James Version)

23 In all labor there is profit,
But idle chatter leads only to poverty.

In all, A-L-L, labor there is profit. But letting the engine idle just drains the gas tank. If you’re not sure where to start, don’t let that stop you from starting.

Four critical elements:

Don’t Love Sleep
Follow Through
Habit of Action
Do Something!

Let these become our battle cry! The hand of the Diligent will Rule!

April 25, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 2 Comments