Monthly Archives: July 2012

A Good Follow-Through

I’m a better started than a finisher.

It seems like I have a dozen projects around the house that I have started but have not completed.  This is a small source of stress.  I have little reminders all around that there is more work to do.  My garage is evidence of numerous well-intended projects that are in various states of completion.  Fortunately, none of these projects are of “Life or Death” significance (unless you call installing brackets to hang your bicycle upon a matter of “Life or Death” significance).

I realize that I need to be better at following-through.

Good follow-through makes all the difference.

Follow-Through brings vision into reality.

Here are some of the common hindrances to following-through well.

Losing Sight

As silly as it may seem, we tend to forget our goals.  Sometimes we start a project only to become immediately distracted by other problems.  The more distractions we suffer, the more likely we are to lose sight of the task at hand.  Problems lead to procrastination and procrastination leads to forgetfulness.  You are all too familiar with the phrase, “Out of sight, out of mind.” When we lose sight of where we are going with our tasks and projects we lose our ability to finish them properly.

The Remedy

Keep the end in mind.  This requires intentional focus.  We need to discipline ourselves to keep the distractions to a minimum.  We don’t always have to have the phone connected to our belt.  Sometimes we need to let our trusty voicemail take the memo for us so we can stay on task.  It’s not just the voice calls.  There was a time that I had my phone set to chime every time I received a text message or an email, and even a Facebook message.  That lasted about 2 days.  My phone was going off constantly.  I was so busy responding to messages that I got nothing done.

There are plenty of other ways we can become distracted than what our smart phones can provide.  The key to overcoming losing our vision for any particular project is to keep the end always in the forefront of our mind.

Losing Resolve

Losing the resolve to finish a project erodes our ability to follow-through.  Most of the projects that I have abandoned at home have been neglected because I’ve not found the resolve to get them done.  Usually I have nights and weekends to work on these home projects.  By the time I get home in the evening, I have already spent all of my resolve completing projects at work.  By the time the weekend rolls around I’m too pooped to apply myself to another task.  Mental resolve and physical energy are very closely related.

The Remedy

Recommit along the way.  Here’s what recommitment looks like for me: Tackling bite sized chunks.  Each small step toward progress is a renewal of my original intention to complete a task.  Each little accomplishment feeds and increases my resolve.  Test this out on some of your unfinished projects as see if doing a little along the way doesn’t increase your resolve to go all the way!

Losing Joy

I find a lot of satisfaction from starting a project.  Somewhere at midpoint though, just about all projects become a drag.  Not only is there no resolve to get them done, there is no joy found from the work.  I tend to look for other things that need to be started rather than finishing what is already halfway complete.

The Remedy

Celebrate the finish.  I learned to do this when I was finishing up my doctoral studies.  There was one point where I found myself having about 20 papers started, but none completed, and with deadlines approaching.  The completion of each paper represented a major finish line for me to cross.  I decided that as I finished 5 papers I would take the family out for steak (it’s always good to have people to celebrate with).  The joy of crossing the finish line made the work that much more enjoyable.

Which hindrance to following-through keeps you from completing projects?

What remedies have you found helpful in your own follow-through?

Luke 14:28-30
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How’s Your Inner Man?

I hate to admit this, but vacations are rough on my body.  The stress of traveling, over eating, early mornings, long days, sleepless nights, and over eating all take their toll on me.

Yes, I did say over eating twice.

I was shocked when I stepped on my scales when we got home from our last trip.  Let’s just say that I brought back a lot more from Disney World than souvenirs.

That’s OK. I went to work immediately to remedy the situation.  I returned to my regular routine.  I started cutting back at the dinner table.  And I thought long and hard about exercising (since the brain is the largest secreting organ in the body, I figure that the more you think about something, the more calories you burn).

I’m not where I want to be with my outward appearance, but I’m getting there.

But there is more to a person than what meets the eye.  I would even venture to say that what can’t be seen is even more important than what can be seen.

My reading in the book of Ephesians this week helped to confirm this for me. In the third chapter, Paul lets the Ephesian Christians know that he is praying for them.  He is specifically praying that they would, “be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.”

I think this Inner Man Paul speaks of is a realm we are all too neglectful of.  Inner Man is a term that begs for some definition.

I think there are three good words to help us flesh out what this Inner Man is.

Heart –Biologically the word heart makes the most sense in talking about our Inner Man.  We attribute our affections to the realm of the heart.  It makes sense that Paul would pray that we would be strong hearted.  We are, after all, emotional beings.  Since people are often swayed by their emotions, Paul prays for believers to feel strongly for the things of God and to be strong enough in their hearts not to be won over by false teachings or worldly temptations.

Mind – The mind is the realm of the intellect.  Reason and knowledge come together to help us process our world properly, and with wisdom.  We need our minds fortified by the teaching agency of the Spirit.  Jesus told his disciples that the Spirit would “guide them into all truth.”  Think of it this way: The Spirit of God helps our minds to appropriate the word of God.

Will – There needs to be one more body part between the mind and the heart for me to bring this full circle.  I couldn’t  find what that little thing hanging down at the back of your throat is called, so we can’t use that.  Voice Box just doesn’t cut it for where I’m going with this.  I would use tonsils, but I don’t have any and I don’t want to be left out in my own article.  The Will is that intangible part within us that prompts us to go even when we don’t feel like it.  It moves us to action even when action might not be reasonable.  Whereas the heart is the realm of feelings, and the mind is the realm of intellect, the will is the realm of doing.  We definitely need the Spirit’s strengthening in our Will.  The heart by itself, can lead us astray.  The mind alone can become cold and calculating and callous.  The Will unites intellect and emotion in action.

Our Christianity is not a religion relegated to the affections of the heart.  It is not a faith segregated to the intelligence.  It touches both and lives itself out through the Will that is transformed by the power and grace of God.

I think this is what Paul is praying for those early Christians.  I think Paul prays this so we can learn to say with him, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

I may not be where I want to be with my Inner Man, but by His help, I’m getting there.

One Year + One Day + One Second

Has this year seemed a little longer than normal to you?

If you have felt that way, you are correct.  This has been the longest year we have experienced in a while.

2012 is a leap year so we had an extra day added on in February.

We also experienced a leap second in June.

On June 30th, just before midnight, highly trained people at the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS) snuck a whole second into the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).

I thought I was having trouble sleeping Saturday night.  Come to find out, I was just in bed longer than normal since the IERS lengthened my night by a whole second!

We are not given such gifts very often.  Who knows when we will have another banner year like the world experienced 40 years ago?  Not only was 1972 a leap year but it brought us 2 leap seconds!

All of this talk about extra days and extra seconds has prompted some thinking:

  • If you had an extra day this week, what would you do with it?
  • If you had a free hour today, how would you spend it?
  • What prevents you from making the most of your time?

This post is more about grappling with questions than doling out answers.  I’d love to hear from you.  Maybe we can work out our time dilemma together.

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