5 Habits To Protect Your Joy

“Death is gonna catch me eventually; but I tell you what young lady! It’s gonna have to get me from behind because I’m not stopping!”

These are the words of a vivacious 80 year old patient I took care of the other day. He was one of those people I wish I had the whole day to sit and talk to; he was filled with joy and love of life. If you looked at his medical records, you wouldn’t expect to see the man who sat in front of me that day. He had so many things wrong with him that could easily steal his joy, but he didn’t let them.

His wife with was him that day, and she sat next to him with a loving smile as he shared with me how he spends his days. As I talked to him about the importance of exercise, he reassured me that he doesn’t stop moving very much at all during the day. He has too much to do after all! I left the room feeling inspired and motivated by this man. What an example he set for us all.

As I thought about him,  I realized how easily we can let life steal our joy.  This  man has managed to hold on to his joy despite all his misfortunes. So, how can we do the same? How can we move past the adversity in our lives and be happy?

Happy

5 Habits to Protect Your Joy

Make Time to Focus on What’s Going Right

All too often we get so caught up in what’s challenging us, that we forget to focus on the blessings we have. Why do you suppose it’s easier to complain than express gratitude? Negativity is a powerful and consuming force, and it can easily sneak in and steal our joy. Make the time every day to focus on what’s going right in your life. I tend to do it every morning when I wake up, but I’ve found when I have a bad day, I make sure I fall asleep with what I’m grateful for on my mind. I’d much rather fall asleep thinking about what makes me happy than the opposite.

We all have challenges and adversity. Don’t let that consume who you are. There are plenty of things to be thankful for, take the time to recognize them.

Live to Serve

Our lives are so precious. One of the best things we can do with our time is to serve. I’ve met a lot of people in my life, and the ones that seemed the happiest, were those who live to serve others. The joy you feel from helping someone is one of the most profound emotions. It’s incredibly energizing.

Don’t believe me? Try it. Help  a stranger. Help a friend who’s struggling. Go spend an hour at a nursing home and listen to one of the resident’s stories. Clean out your closet and go give those clothes to a homeless shelter. Do something like this, and see how you feel. To serve another is one of the biggest joy generators around.

Fill Your Time with Your Passion

While we should strive to have a career that mirrors our passion, it often doesn’t.  Sometimes, in order to make ends meet, you have to do something you don’t enjoy, and that’s ok. But! That doesn’t mean you can’t find time for your passion. Make the time. What better way to experience joy than to do what you love. To do what makes you who you are.

If you can’t make a living by it, don’t shut your passion out of your life. The more you find ways to do things you’re passionate about, the happier you are.

Keep Moving

The more you move, the more endorphins are released, and the happier you feel. Be active! I’m not saying go run a marathon, but invest in your physical health by taking the time to go for a walk. If you can’t walk, swim. If you can’t swim, bike. If you can’t bike, find something you can do to be active.

Move. Find a way to keep moving. The more you do, the better you’ll feel.

Appreciate the Right Now

We all fall guilty of being too wrapped up in the future or lost in the past to appreciate Right Now. Before we know it, today becomes yesterday, and we missed it! Stop it! Enjoy the moment, it’s the only one like it. Make it count. Be present, appreciate your today. When you can do this, you’ll be amazed at how much joy it brings. The joy comes from not taking what we have, who we spend our time with, the beauty around us for granted.

As the wise man said to me the other day, death is going to catch us all, but let’s make it catch us all from behind. Live your life filled with joy, and protect that joy with all that you have!

What brings you the most joy in your life?

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2 Surefire Ways to Make the Most out of Disappointment

bowling alleyIf you would’ve told me when I was fifteen years old how challenging raising a teenager can be, I would’ve thought you were crazy…and then I’d proceed in giving you the infamous teenage “deer in the headlights stare.” Now that I’m older, and am raising one of my own, I get it.

Something mysterious seems to happen to the common sense portion of the brain when the teenage years hit. It can be so frustrating trying to find our way through the fog of hormones and personal agendas to get to the great kid inside.

Recently, we’ve been struggling with our fifteen year-old when it comes to responsibilities and making good decisions. Specifically, school work.

In dealing with the trials and tribulations of the teenage years,  my husband Greg came up with a piece of insight that was too good not to share. He pulled our son Griffen aside one morning not too long ago and began to explain the impact of our choices in life. The conversation went something like this:
“Griffen, do you like to go bowling?”
“Yes sir I do.”
“What is that thing called that you throw the ball down to knock over the pins?”
“Uh..the alley.”
“And what are those two things on either side of the alley?”
“The gutters.”
“Good. Now what happens when you throw the ball and it lands in one of those gutters?”
“Well…. I miss the pins.”
“That’s right. And when that happens, do you get upset?”
“Well yes sir I do.”
“Who are you upset with? Are you upset with the game of bowling because your ball landed in the gutter?”
“Well no, I’m upset with myself sir. Because I’m the one who didn’t throw the ball right.”
Greg then went on to use the bowling scernario as an analagy to life. He explained that we all get an alley with pins at the end. Our goal is of course to knock them all down, but how we throw the ball determines what happens to the pins. The gutters on either side of the alley serve as our boundaries. They provide us with understanding of where we need to aim. These gutters are similar to the boundaries we, as parents, set for our children, and what our morals set for us as adults.  Ultimately, when you throw the ball and it lands in the gutter, we are not to blame life itself for our own mistakes.
What a great analogy for us all to live by. Unfortunately, we don’t always see things this way. When things don’t go our way, we tend to quickly blame our misfortune on the world around us, instead of taking responsibility for what our role may have been in what went wrong.
The lesson is simple, yet oh so powerful. When life happens, and we find ourselves with our bowling ball in the gutter of disappointment, we must remember two very important things.

2 Surefire Ways to Make the Most of Your Disapoointments

1. Own Our Actions and Outcomes

Isn’t it much easier to be the victim of someone else’s wrong doing or unfairness then to be responsible for the situation? It’s not nearly as easy to discuss what may have gone wrong when you have a role in the situation. It certainly isn’t for me. But here’s the thing, whether we like it or not, we all have a role in what happens in our lives. Last time I checked, we weren’t a bunch of puppets at the mercy of our puppeteers. We are independent thinkers who make conscious decisions and act on them every day.
No matter how big, we all have a role in what happens in our life. When you find yourself in a place of feeling disappointment, the first place to look for resolution should be within yourself. This is not to say you are fully responsible for what may have happened; there are some times in life where it seems you did everything right, and it still just doesn’t turn out like you planned. But! You still can look back on the situation and review the choices you made, and how you let the circumstances affect you.  There is only one person you can control in this world, and that’s yourself. Be intentional and accountable for the decisions you make and the results that come from them.

2. Apply Lessons Learned to the Future

It’s half the battle to acknowledge your role in a disappointment. The equally important next step is to take what you learned from the experience and apply it. Here’s where we tend to go horribly wrong; we have something happen that shakes us, and we may acknowledge our role in it, we may even take all the blame. But, then we give up. We let that disappointment get the best of us and we begin to wallow in our sorrows. To experience disappointment without growth is to admit defeat.

Instead of letting past experiences define us, we need to make them work for us. Use those moments as building blocks for your success. Apply the lessons learned yesterday to your life today. I believe wholeheartedly, our disappointments have much more value in developing our character than our successes.

Life is a big bowling alley. We get an opportunity everyday to aim for those pins and get a strike. When it doesn’t work out like we hoped, if we can own our role in what went wrong and apply what we learned to our future, our aim becomes more intentional and much more effective.

 

How do you let disappointment effect you?

4 Secrets to Getting the Most Out of Your Mistakes

Little Picasso visited my house recently. More specifically, she visited the walls of her brother’s bedroom, mommy and daddy’s room, the hallway, and finally the backs of all the kitchen chairs. She loves to draw pictures and write letters, something we encourage her to practice, but did not anticipate her works would end up all over the house.

My husband Greg had the kids one weekend while I was out and about, and while he was preparing dinner, working on homework with our teenager, and fielding all the other distractions of parenthood, our daughter came out of our bedroom with a pencil in her hand. She looked up at her daddy with a smile and said, “Daddy, do you like my pencil?”

He quickly responded with a “Yes honey that’s neat,” and returned to what he was doing. It wasn’t until dinner was over, bath time complete, and teeth were brushed did we get to see the artwork she had created. Our bedroom wall had a giant letter “D” for “Daddy” and her brother’s wall had a large “A” for “Ayla”, while the backs of the kitchen chairs had everyone’s name written on them to the best of her capability; all with plus or minus the additional scribbles of her creativity.

As hard as it was, Greg and I knew we had to use that moment as an opportunity to teach Ayla about consequence. We explained why it was not ok to write all over the walls instead of her paper. We continued to explain when you make a mess, you have to clean it up. So, we got the soap, sponge, and elbow grease out and headed to the first wall of art.

Ayla cleaning up her art Apparently, cleaning pencil off of paint is not as easy as you might think. It required quite a bit of scrubbing. Poor Ayla did a great job, but eventually turned to us in tears stating, “It’s too hard! I can’t do it anymore.” Through much encouragement and perseverance, eventually we had all the areas cleaned.

Ayla’s situation is a great illustration of what can happen to us all in life; our great ideas and intentions turn into a big mess that we end up having to clean up. How many times have you made mistakes in your life and found yourself picking up the pieces? Our mistakes and bad decisions can often leave us feeling discouraged or even defeated. They can leave us asking the question “How can I move on from this?”

Four Secrets to Getting the Most Out of Your Mistakes

1. Own It

The first and arguably the most important thing we can do with our mistakes, failures, and bad decisions is to own them. Be accountable for your actions. The more you point fingers and play the “Poor Me” card, the harder it is for everyone to move on from what happened.

We’re all human, and we’re all imperfect. Those imperfections are one of our greatest blessings, that is if we can be humble enough to see them. Only when we acknowledge and recognize where we need to improve can we become better.

2. Learn From It

Each and every bad decision we make certainly has consequence, but they also carry a blessing. That blessing is the opportunity to learn and grow from them. In everything we experience, there is an important lesson we can learn from, and once we accept and own our mistakes, we can begin to look for the lesson.

Look at your failures as an opportunity to become an even better person. When you can look past your disappointment and take what you learned from the situation, it gives value to what you just experienced.

3. Clean Up Your Mess

Whether it’s as simple as cleaning the pencil off the wall, or as difficult as repairing relationships, it’s important to do the best you can to clean up the mess you made. Why is this important? One word…Forgiveness. From both yourself and the people  you may have hurt along the way.

It’s human nature to beat yourself up when you mess up. The guilt that comes with a mistake can be overwhelming sometimes. We naturally want to fix things, but when it comes to our own mistakes, sometimes it’s easier to ignore it and pretend it didn’t happen.

By rolling up your sleeves and doing the work to try and make things right, you can begin to forgive yourself. The people who were hurt along the way will be more apt to forgive you as well.  We can be quick to point fingers, but also quick to forgive when we see real effort from someone who owns their mistake. Sometimes, it takes awhile for others to forgive, but by trying to make things right, you give yourself the best odds.

4. Apply the Lesson

Own it, find the lesson, clean up your mess, and lastly apply what you learned to the future. The way we move on is to become even better from our experiences. That means not only do we learn from them, but we avoid making the same mistakes again.

Apply what you learned from the situation to similar ones in your life. Develop the habit of taking a pause to reflect on your past before you make any big decision or take action. Often times, just a simple pause is all we need to remind ourselves of how we’ve grown from something much like what we’re going through now.

Mistakes are inevitable in our lives. There’s no doubt they’re painful and hard to move past, but that doesn’t mean we can’t. Next time you’re facing one, remember these four secrets to help you make the most out of your mistakes.

What is one of the most valuable things you’ve learned from a mistake?

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Do You Know The 2 Reasons Why We Quit?

“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed  is more important than any other.” ~Abraham Lincoln

Ayla 5yrs old riding bikeRecently, my five year old daughter Ayla and I were working on her bike riding skills. She’d been on her bike a few weeks earlier and did a great job riding around the neighborhood. Unfortunately, for some reason, on this particular day she struggled.

It started almost immediately once she got the bike out of the garage. We have a bush just off to the left of the door which is flowering right now. That day there were several bumble bees flying around it, landing on the flowers. She took one look at the bees and the panic set in.

“Mommy! I can’t move! The bees are right there! I can’t do it!” she cried.

Her fear literally had her paralyzed, she wouldn’t budge from where she was. After what seemed like an eternity of talking her down from the “Bumble Bee Ledge,” she worked up enough courage to get on the bike and pedal away from the danger zone.

Soon, she began to struggle as she pedaled.  Our driveway, like most, slants at a downward angle as you get closer to street. This is great when you are pedaling away from the house, but killer on the way back for a little 5 year old not moving fast enough. She couldn’t get enough forward momentum to sustain herself.

I tried to encourage her to keep pushing forward, but her frustration continued to get the best of her. She began to cry.

“I can’t do it Mommy! It’s too hard!”

After about  30 minutes of tears and “I can’ts” from her, I found my own patience wearing thin. Finally, in a moment that may not be remembered as my finest in terms of parenting,  I said, “Fine Ayla! Enough is enough! I’m tired of hearing you tell me you can’t, when I know you can! I’ve seen you ride your bike all over the neighborhood. If you want to quit, then quit already! But, listen here, in this family we don’t quit!”

I picked her up off the bike, took her helmet off and told her to get off the bike and go inside. As she stood in the garage crying, I began working with her little brother on his bike. After about five minutes, she came up behind me and tapped me on the shoulder with her helmet in hand and what she said next made my heart fill with joy.

“Mommy, I want to try again.”

I looked at her and replied, “Are you sure?”

Her little blue eyes met mine and she said, “Yes ma’am, I’m sure, because we don’t quit.”

I gave her a big hug, put her back on the bike, and just like that, she was back in business. Her tears transformed to giggles as she pedaled around the neighborhood with ease the rest of the afternoon.

That evening, as I reflected on the day, I thought of my Ayla. Watching her struggle with her frustrations on the bike, I realized she was experiencing what we all struggle with when it comes to perseverance.

The Two Reasons Why We Quit

Fear

Just like it did with my little girl that day, fear paralyzes us. It breeds self-doubt which in turn destroys our confidence. I think we’ve all been in Ayla’s shoes at one time or another; where you find yourself in a situation you know you’re capable of getting through, but fear steps in and takes the wind right out of your sails.

Fear fills us with “I can’ts.”

When you find yourself in a place of wanting to give up because you’ve let fear get the best of you, remember one thing. Instead of being consumed by all you fear you “can’t” do, focus on what you can. Remember all you’ve already overcome. Shift your focus away from fear and towards building your confidence.

Results

Results, or lack thereof, directly impact our motivation. When we don’t get the outcomes we expect, when we expect them, we tend to get frustrated, and often throw in the towel. We live in a results-driven time, and because of that, we expect them to come quickly, and with as little effort as possible.

Here’s the thing we must remember; our results are a direct reflection of our effort. Not very fun to think about is it? Sure there are variables that are beyond our control that can play a part, but our nature is to blame everything and everyone else before we look within. Like little Ayla, we all face situations that we expect to be a lot easier, but before we know it, we’re facing that uphill driveway that requires us pedal harder and faster.

When you find yourself ready to quit because you’re not getting the results you hoped for, resist the urge to point the finger. Instead, look within and evaluate your effort and what you can improve. Have you given it your all? Have you let the things you can’t control overshadow what you can?

We all face moments of frustration that can tempt us to quit. Fear and unexpected results are the two biggest reasons why we do. President Abraham Lincoln, one of our nation’s greatest leaders in an amazing example of perseverance. His life was filled with failures, yet he didn’t let them stop him from what he was meant to do.

What is your biggest motivator to persevere?

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3 Reasons Why It Really is Better to Give than to Recieve

 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ~Acts 20:35 New International Version (NIV)

Easter Bombed! 2015

Easter Bombed! 2015

We’ve all heard this throughout our lives, yet how many of us really know it to be true? How many of us have actually experienced the joy it brings?

I know one family who most certainly has. Can you imagine as a parent, getting up early on Easter Sunday to set out your children’s Easter eggs, and open the door to this?

That’s exactly what happened to my husband Greg and me this year. We were officially “Easter Bombed” by our friends the Shuler Family.

The girls are a little older and no longer expect the Easter Bunny to pay them a visit, so this year they decided to take Easter to a whole new level.

Dressed head to toe in black, the Shuler family strategically made their way through various neighborhoods throughout the night; leaving behind a sea of eggs and incredible generosity.

They were especially generous with us! The girls outgrew their bike and decided what better thing to do with it than share it with a friend! My five year old daughter Ayla squealed with delight when she saw it.

Walking out into the yard and seeing this was an amazing feeling to say the least. We were so overwhelmed by the love behind such a sweet gesture. As I watched our kiddos pick up each egg with excitement, I smiled thinking how neat it would be for us to do the same thing when the kids are old enough.

This week, I’d like to present a challenge to each and everyone of you: Live This Scripture. See for yourself what the Shuler family has already figured out. In case their story isn’t enough reason, here are three more:

3 Reasons Why It’s More Blessed to Give than Receive

It Builds Character

Character comes from life experiences. Those experiences help mold the people we ultimately become. The opportunity to build character is readily available in so many ways in our lives; through our successes, failures, and our interactions with each other. Generosity, kindness, and showing love to one another are such powerful and necessary ingredients to character.

It Brings Joy

Not only to the person on the receiving end of generosity, but even more so for the one who gives. To see the joy your acts bring to another person is unlike anything else. It’s a different kind of joy; it’s pure joy. Pure in that it comes from a place of genuine good intent.

It Teaches Us Humility

To put the needs of another above your own is such a valuable life lesson. It reminds us all how much bigger this life is than ourselves. We get so focused on our own happiness, we can forget about how much we can impact and make a difference for each other.

Take this challenge; Live this Scripture, and focus your efforts on giving to another. Look for the character you build, the joy you experience, and the humility you learn. Go do great things today!

Thanks for reading! Feel free to pass along to a friend!

How to Combat 4 Fears of Change Series: Part IV Fear of Leaving Your Comfort Zone

cheese“Being in the uncomfortable zone is much better than staying in the cheese-less situation .”  ~Spencer Johnson, Who Moved My Cheese?

The past several weeks we’ve been in the middle of a series called How to Combat 4 Fears of Change. In the fourth and final installation, we fight our last opponent; Fear of Leaving Your Comfort Zone.

We all face this one at some point. We go out, do life, and work very hard to get to a certain place. We set goals, achieve them, and create a comfortable environment. As time passes, we fall into a comfortable routine and we become content with the “status quo.”

I think by far, one of the best illustrations of this common scenario was depicted by author Spencer Johnson in his bestseller titled Who Moved My Cheese.  If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend you do. It’s a quick parable that compares how two mice and two humans respond to change.

They all live in the same maze, and everyday they travel the same route to get to their cheese. One day however, the cheese is gone. The two mice quickly adapt and go out into the maze to find new cheese, while the two humans struggle. They don’t understand why the cheese is gone, and continue to stay in their same routine; convinced if they keep doing what they know, eventually the cheese will reappear.

As time passes, one of the two humans decides to take a chance and venture into the maze, while the other remains terrified at the thought of something new. Eventually, by learning to adapt and step into the big, scary maze, they all four find even more cheese than they had to begin with.

It’s a great story, and oh so applicable to us all. It’s hard to step outside of our routines and what we’ve come to know as tried and true. There are times in life where despite how difficult it may be, we have no other option but change. When you find yourself in that situation, here are a few things to help you gain confidence as you step outside of your comfort zone:

Just Because You’re Stepping Away from Something You Know Doesn’t Mean You Have to Forget It

I think this is such an important reminder. Sometimes we get so focused on the thought of change, that we begin to look at it with tunnel vision. Sure, life has many twists and turns and detours that take us down unexpected and unfamiliar roads, but that doesn’t mean we lose the value of where we’ve been.

Don’t forget about the experience and knowledge from the familiar and how it can be applied to what may be unfamiliar. Use the tools you’ve worked so hard to acquire to your advantage. Trust me, where we’ve been and what we’ve experienced never goes to waste.

Consider the Desired Outcome and the Options

Often times I’ve found objectivity to be my best friend when it comes to highly emotional times. Change can certainly fall into that category! When you find yourself overwhelmed with all the “what-ifs” and “what-abouts” that float around in your mind, take a deep breath and look at what you know.

Look at where you need to go and all the different ways to get there. Clarity brings comfort. Sure, you may not have a clear understanding of all the variables, but even if you can find one or two things to hang your hat on, it helps.

Remind Yourself of How Far You’ve Come

When you find yourself in the abyss of fear and self doubt, one of the best ways to pull yourself out is a simple reminder of where you’ve been and how far you’ve come. It’s pretty amazing to look back on your life and where you’ve been. The things that were once incredible challenges are now things that come second nature to you.

We’ve all come so far through change in our lives. Because of that, we all know this truth; Without Change There Would Be No Growth. We have so much untapped potential that change brings us closer to. When you look at it in that way, it adds a bit of excitement. What amazing opportunities lie ahead of us once we’re willing to see them…

Life brings us change. Change brings us growth. Growth brings new opportunity. My hope for you after the last several weeks is that change is no longer something you fear, instead it’s something you’ll come to embrace. The Unknown is an opportunity. Failure will happen, and when it does, we’re ready to look at it differently. We understand now life is filled with seasons and we appreciate each one. This appreciation helps us to Let go and move forward.  Lastly, we know that Leaving the Comfort Zone is a part of how we grow into the amazing potential we have.

 

How has stepping outside your comfort zone helped you to grow?

Thanks for reading! Feel free to pass along!

How to Combat 4 Fears of Change Series: Part III Fear of Losing What You Have

In our series on how to combat 4 fears of change, we’ve battled Fear of the Unknown by learning to find the opportunities the unknown holds. Last week we conquered the Fear of Failure by understanding why failure is so scary and how to look at it differently.

For Part III we’re going to face the next big fear when it comes to change; the Fear of Losing What You Have.

Ayla Dylan and Me Fall 2014The thought of losing what you have can be overwhelming. Just last night in fact, I had a moment my kids that reminded me of how easily this particular fear can impact us.

I was at a church small group meeting, and when I got home my five year old daughter Ayla and my three year old son Dylan had just gone to bed. When I went in to kiss them goodnight, Ayla was sitting in bed playing with her dolls. As soon as she saw me she gave me the warmest hug and whispered, “I’m so glad you’re home mommy, I missed you so much! Now can we please say a “player” to God?” I smiled and we prayed together. When we were done I went to see Dylan.

He had his lights turned on and was hiding under the covers because he was scared of the “monsters” outside his window. He saw me and instantly began to cry as he clung to me and said, “Mommy I so scared! Please! I sleep in your bed?” Again with a smile, I agreed and laid him down in our room.

After I finally got ready for bed myself, I laid down and he snuggled up to me, gave me a kiss on the cheek and said “I love you mommy.”

Not two minutes after I turned off the light, did a silhouette of Ayla appear at my bedside and out came a whisper saying “Mommy, can I sleep with you too?”

As I laid with my young children, feeling beyond blessed, I began to think about how precious these moments are. Before we know it, our kids will be all grown up. No more monsters outside the window, no more “players” to God at night, no more laughter and pitter-patter of feet in the hallways.

Moments like these are the ones we want so desperately to hold on to, and at times can fear the thought of letting go of. If we could, we’d opt to live in them forever. In life, there are two specific areas this unease can manifest itself:

Relationships

Whether with our children, family, or even close friends, our relationships are some of the most precious possessions we have. We cherish the joy the people in our lives bring us. Have you ever had to move away from a dear friend? It can be heartbreaking. I’ve had to many times over due to having been in the military and having friends that still are.  The thought of hundreds, maybe even thousands of miles between you is so upsetting.

Change that impacts relationships can be a hard pill to swallow.  We want to protect those bonds we have with others as much as possible. When change puts a strain on those bonds it certainly doesn’t feel good.

Opportunities and Success

Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve had tremendous opportunity and success? Maybe you’ve worked your way up through the ranks of promotion, and have become the most credentialed and qualified individual at your job. It’s an incredible feeling of comfort knowing your hard work’s paid off. Then all of sudden, life happens, change takes place, and you find yourself on the low end of the totem pole all over again.

So, how do we fight through this big fear of losing what we have? The answer:

 Appreciate the Many Seasons of Life

 I first heard the term “seasons of life” spoken by author, mentor, and speaker Michael Hyatt. It’s such an impactful way to look at how we each grow through different phases of our lives. It’s amazing to look back on your life and see the many wonderful things change has brought. Even when it took you away from some moments you wanted to hold on to forever.

My great friend Paula and I had a great conversation one day when my daughter Ayla was just a few weeks old. Her kids are a few years older. We sat on the couch together and watched my brand new baby sleeping so peacefully in my arms. I said, “I never want her to grow up!” and what Paula said next has stayed with me all these years later.

She said, “I know! I say that so much about my kids. I think about how I never want them to get bigger; but then they do! And it’s crazy, because I find that I love that stage of their life even more than the last. Then, I find myself saying again how I never want them to grow out of that phase; but then they do. And again, I find myself loving it even more than the last.”

What a powerful insight, that I couldn’t agree more with when it comes to my own children. Here’s my challenge to you:

Look at your whole life with that same appreciation.

Look at the beautiful seasons change has brought you and how much you’ve grown because of them.  Love and live fully in your “right now” and be comforted in knowing the future brings with it even more meaningful moments.

As much as we want to hold on tightly to the things we have right now, think about all the amazing things the future has in store for us that we’d miss if we never let go? So, when you find yourself  fearing what may happen when change forces you to let go, remember to appreciate the many seasons life holds.

Stay tuned! Next week we’ll finish out our four part series on the fears of change by tackling The Fear of Stepping Outside of Your Comfort Zone.

 

How to Combat 4 Fears of Change: Part II Fear of Failure

failureLast week in our series How to Combat 4 Fears of Change, we tackled the Fear of the Unknown. We learned how to look at the unknown as an opportunity to rewrite our future.

Now, let’s battle the next monster that lives with change….Fear of Failure. No doubt about it, this is a big one. One of the most memorable times  I struggled with this fear was in 2012 when I stepped into the role of interim practice administrator for our clinic. For those that don’t know, I’m a Physician Assistant by trade. That means I take care of patients. In school and through eight years of experience, I’d learned to do a lot of things when it comes to medicine, but understanding the business side of things was not one of them at that time.

The situation was messy, our current administrator stepped down, and there were a lot of processes that were broken or missing that needed to be addressed. So, I volunteered to step into the role until we could find someone else, and the fear of failure was a constant nemesis in my mind. I was learning about the way things should be the same time I was supposed to fixing them. To say it was “stressful” felt like a huge understatement. But! For the next two years I filled the role until we found the right replacement.

I’m sure the next question you may be asking is “Well, did you fail?” and my answer is absolutely. Several times over in fact. In the situation I was in, it was inevitable in many instances. I learned some great  insights through it all that are invaluable tools to arm yourself with the next time you face fear of failure in periods of change.

First, I think it’s important for us to look at why we fear this thing called failure so much. There are three big sources that feed this fear:

  1. Feeling you’re in over your head

  2. Worry of experiencing or being a disappointment

  3. The potential of embarrassment

None of us want to feel any of these things, and so when the naturally occur when a big change is coming, you begin to fear that change in order to avoid any of these feelings from occurring. So here’s the key to combating the fear of failure:

Change the way you look at failure.

Plain and simple. Don’t let failure consume and paralyze you anymore. Look at it differently. Instead of worrying about these things that feed this fear, know they can and quite possibly will occur. Yep, that’s right. Change the way you look at these things and you win in your battle with the fear failure with change.

Allow me to explain:

Allow Yourself to Feel In Over Your Head

With any change, there will very well be moments when you are indeed “in over your head.” If you really look at it, how could their not be? You are going through a change….that means you’re doing something different. Perhaps something you never imagined you’d do. Through change, we learn. When we start something new, we have an awful lot to learn do we not? Why not go into the situation knowing you’ll have a big learning curve and welcome the insights you’ll learn because of it.

Know Disappointment Will Eventually be Something You’ll Deal With

As humans, we all have a tendency to come up with a play-by-play for experiences we’re about to enter into. We tend to set expectations as we start something new….and sometimes those expectations can be unrealistic. Sometimes what we thought we’d be able to accomplish turns out to be not as easy as we thought. Sometimes we do everything right and it still just doesn’t work out like we thought it should.

Disappointment is a part of life. When it comes to change, don’t let the thought of disappointment stop you from moving forward. Know it will likely occur in one way or another and have an open mind and willingness to regroup and adjust your expectations when it does.

Embrace Embarrassment

A lot easier said than done, trust me I know all too well. None of us like how it feels to be embarrassed in front of our peers and loved ones. I’m not asking you to learn to love it, what I mean by “embracing” it is to learn to give yourself a break.  Remember we’re all human, and we’ve all been on the other side of an embarrassing moment many times.

All we can be is our very best. When we mess up, trip and fall, or make a mistake we all must remember that while in the moment it’s uncomfortable, that moment will end. Handle it with grace and humility.

Failure is something we all avoid as much as possible. But, what I challenge you to do is look at it differently. Fail forward. Learn from those moments in your life and use them to further your change in a positive light.

Has a failure in your life ever helped you change in a positive way?

Stay tuned for our next installment of our series, you won’t want to miss it! We’re going to combat the third fear of change: Fear of Losing What You Have

Don’t forget to pass along to a friend! Have an incredible day.

How to Combat 4 Fears of Change Series: Part I Fear of the Unknown

questionmarkHow many times have we all heard the saying, “What you don’t know can’t hurt you?” Whether or not you believe that to be true, the unknown can be one of the scariest things out there when it comes to change.

Fear of the Unknown is the first of four fears we’re going to tackle in our new series, How to Combat 4 Fears of Change.

The “unknown” tends to become a pretty intimidating opponent in the battle of acceptance when things change in life.

Certainly one of the most significant times I’ve battled with it myself, was when I entered into and separated from the military.

I’ll never forget the conversation I had several months before I joined the US Air Force. I was a wise and all-knowing 19 year old college student, and one of my friends
(who happened to be an Air Force brat) said to me, “Jenn, I think you’d make a great officer in the Air Force.”

“What?! Yeah right!” I laughed, “I’d never join the military! Are you crazy?” A few short months later, I found myself waving goodbye to my mom and grandma as I loaded up on a bus on my way to Basic Military Training in San Antonio, Texas. I was 20 years old, and it was the biggest decision I’d made up until that point.  I’ll never forget how I felt that day as I watched everything I knew slowly disappear from my sight as the bus drove further and further away.

Fast forward almost 11 years: after becoming a medic, going on to school and completing my education and becoming a Physician Assistant, marrying my husband, deploying to Afghanistan, and having our little girl, I came to the end of my time in the service. I’d spent my whole adult life in the Air Force, and it had become a big part of who I was. To take off my combat boots for the last time, and enter into the civilian workforce was even more intimidating than how I felt on that bus so many years before.

Most military veterans and their families share my sentiments when it comes to how overwhelming the transitions into and out of the military are. Your whole way of life is turned upside down. The “unknown” factor is incredibly high.

But….despite how scary it may be, we all survive the change.

The most important thing we can do when we face those moments in our lives, is to be intentional with where we focus our thoughts. If all you do is worry about what “could be” and put all your energy into your fears, you miss the most important parts of change. Through my own experiences with change, I’ve learned to recognize something that has become my security blanket when I begin to feel the fear of the unknown creeping in. With it, the unknown brings incredible opportunity:

The Opportunity to Break Out of Your Mold

Change can put us in situations that give us that extra “push” that allows us to break out of the mold of who we’ve always been, and allow us to really explore who we will become. What we tend to forget when it comes to the big bad “unknown” of change is that we can use it to our advantage.

Look at what’s changing in your life; is it your career, relationships, location? Take the time to look back on the familiarities of your world now. Look at who you are now, and ask yourself what  you want to carry with you into the next chapter, and what bad habits and tendencies do you want to leave behind.

Here’s the thing about the unknown….the sky is the limit! When life brings change, you get to start something. You get to make that unknown whatever you want it to be.

Will you stumble? Absolutely. Will you make mistakes? Count on it.

Take comfort in knowing these things can and will happen eventually in life. When they do, look at them as an opportunity to grow even better than before.

Fear paralyzes us. It stops us in our tracks and prevents us from our greatest potential. None of us know everything about what the future holds. We make plans, but we all know those plans don’t always happen the way we intend. That’s ok. We adapt, overcome, and great new things happen in our lives. Don’t let your fear of the unknown paralyze you. Instead, focus on the opportunity ahead of you.

What opportunities have you had because of change in your life?

Stay tuned! Next time, we’ll tackle the next big fear of change, The Fear of Failure.

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New Series: How to Combat 4 Fears of Change

TreeContinuity gives us roots; change gives us branches, letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights. ~Pauline R. Kezer

These are great words to help us embrace change, yet it seems so much easier said than done sometimes. I don’t know about you, but I’m not always ready to grow those new branches!

Change can be a hard thing to accept, yet it’s inevitable. Every day we grow and change. Every day something about your world is not the same as it was the day before.

The only thing that remains constant in our world is change. It’s the one thing we can count on happening. We all know this, but we still innately resist it. Why do you suppose that is?

I think there is one big reason for our resistance.

Change often brings with it many different emotions. Sometimes those feelings can be positive and exciting, but often one big and powerful emotion takes over….Fear.

Fear is like a parasite that seems to feed off of change. It can rear it’s ugly head in many different ways when it comes to change. In our next series titled:

How to Combat 4 Fears of Change

We’re going to focus on four common fears that live with change:

  • Fear of the Unknown

  • Fear of Failure

  • Fear of Stepping Outside of Your Comfort Zone

  • Fear of Losing What You Have

We have a great couple of weeks ahead of us as we focus on each one of these common fears individually. By learning to move past each one, we can arm ourselves with the tools necessary to move through change with an open heart and mind, and ultimately embrace it.

This is a series I promise you won’t want to miss! So, I have a homework assignment for you before we dive into it. Over the next several days I want you to ponder a question:

What is it about change that scares me the most?

We’ll kick off the series next time with the first fear: Fear of the Unknown.

Do you know someone who can benefit from this series? If you do please feel free to share!