Grateful for Good Timing

November 27, 2010

The Thanksgiving week forever changed for me in 1997. For, on November 21st of that year, I was driving down the interstate when my front left tire blew sending my van careening across all three lanes of traffic heading my direction, through the median, and into the oncoming traffic. I hit a car, a car hit me, and it about killed me.  The doctors told my family there was no chance that I’d ever make it

I spent the next 13 consecutive months hospitalized, and really the majority of ever year after that in hospitals across the country throughout the next ten years. 2008 was the first year I didn’t stay at least two consecutive months in a hospital bed.

In many ways, this second accident has been more difficult than when I broke my neck. Some may think it impossible to have a paralyzing diving accident surpassed, but where the first accident had an instant totality; the second has had a persistent longevity.

In large part, two years after my diving accident I knew what my life was going to be like. I was back at school full time, driving, with the stamina of my peers. I knew those limitations, and other than a few bladder infections there was a baseline I could count on.

The second time around has been the complete opposite. It’d probably be easier for me to name the bones I didn’t break, than to list the ones I did. It brought with it a chronic pain that for much of the time kept me in a narcotic fog or debilitating pain. It’s been anything but dull though. Oftimes it’s felt as though just as one issue is resolved, another rears its ugly head.

Now, make no mistake, there’s been more joy and happiness in the days since November 21, 1997 than doom and gloom. We even celebrate the day of my accident. It’s an anniversary after all, and anniversaries are made for celebrating. (for more on the second accident and the anniversary tradition, click here.)

That doesn’t mean it hasn’t been hard though. It doesn’t mean that, try as I might, I don’t find myself wondering what might have been. It doesn’t mean I don’t get tired, down, frustrated and depressed. There are days when it takes everything I’ve got to keep on smilin’.

But every time that week in November rolls around, the 21st hits and it gets as difficult as it is at any time in the year, I get a blessing most don’t—Thanksgiving—a day when all you do all day long is think about your blessings. I know a lot about adversity, and there is nothing you can do to light up depression’s darkness than shine bright gratitude upon it. A thankful heart is the antidote to depression’s deadly venomous sting.

For some reason, this 21st was harder than most. I’m not exactly sure why, but my spirits were way down, and my chin was far from up. Things were hard leading up to the day, and for some reason I really got thinking about “Could have been’s,” and, “Why me’s?” (and we all know those don’t ever do anyone any good) and the fact that I wasn’t as vigilant about celebrating my “anniversary” didn’t help at all (see what comes from getting lazy!)

But then, just when things started getting their bleakest, four days later my annual blessing—Thanksgiving.  And ironically, in a year when this day was the most difficult in recent memory, I had more to be thankful about in recent memory.

Here are a few of the gratitudes that topped my list:

My Faith: In a year where I’ve been pushed to the brink, I know that I would have gone over the edge without my faith in God. His words, His Spirit, and His love have helped me get through those un-get-through-able days, and allowed me to find peace in a world swirling all about me. I know God lives and there is nothing in my life I have to be more grateful for than that.

 

My Girl: You don’t have to be around me long, or read much of what I’ve written to expect this one on this list. But this year is different. On the first of June, Ko was hospitalized with acute gall-stone pancreatitis, and on the third at 3:00 am I almost lost her. Just writing those words makes my eyes well up. But, as I think of the courage she’s shown and the valiant way she’s fought every day from that first day to this very day, makes me weep. She’s my best friend, my love, my hero and my inspiration—my everything. I am so grateful she’s still alive, and am blessed to have witnessed and continue to witness her strength and courage.

My Wingman: He’s been with me through it all this year. I don’t know what it is, but he has wisdom beyond his years. He always seems to know the right thing to say, the way to make me smile, or just the right look to lift my heart. I’m never alone with Coleman around. I am grateful for the light he’s been in my life. Just hearing him bust through the door screaming, “Dad!” brings light to my darkest day.

The Chorus:  A chorus by definition is a group of voices that come together. There’s no soloist, in fact, the reason great choruses sound so beautiful is that everyone contributes equally with everything they’ve got. I wouldn’t have made it any day of any year since 1997 without my chorus. But it hasn’t been shown as clearly or exhibited as perfectly in any year since ’97 than this one. The people who have pitched in to help me and mine make it through the hardest days than the support my chorus has provided this year. Many of the faces are ones you’d recognize. Parents (on both sides), brothers and sisters from the same, cousins, friends, and neighbors—they’ve all been there. In hospital rooms, bringing meals, watching Coleman, sharing a kind word, a compliment in person or on the blog have lifted my spirits more than anyone will ever know. I am lucky and grateful to have such people blessing my life.

These big gratitudes have lifted me, obviously through the whole year—but especially through the last few days. One of the things I love about gratitude is that it always makes me feel rich.

With things like this to be grateful for, I dare you to show me a wealthier man in all the world. I’m blessed—In so many ways. Not the least of which is that Thanksgiving is so close to the 21st of November.

I encourage you to partake of some of this “good medicine” for yourselves. Take a moment to leave a comment about something you’re thankful for. Doesn’t have to be a big act or blessing, it’s amazing how sometimes the littlest things bring the most mercy. The more of us that share—the more we each get to think about the great and wonderful in our lives. And the more that attitude of gratitude spreads the more the doom and gloom, the frustration and consternation are chased from our souls letting the light of hope shine bright.

I am grateful for the power of gratitude.

Jh-

PS: in an effort to show my gratitude for your sharing, one person leaving a comment will win a set of my motivational cards,  one of my autographed DVD’s (both seen here) and a $15.00 gift card from Walmart for munchies. ‘Cause what DVD’s not better with a little treat to go with! —Right?

And spread this one around; let’s see how many gratitudes we can come up with. Comments must be entered by Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 10:00 pm PST.


Fully Committed

April 14, 2010

My Dad giving me a hand

Today is my Dad’s birthday.  I wish you could all meet my dad.  I know that you would be better for it.  He has a special way of connecting with people—they love him from the start.  I have to say, looking back, with as unbiased view as I possibly can, I’ve never met anyone who didn’t love him

There are so many qualities that I admire in him.  He’s kind and loving.  He’s positive and optimistic.  He’s both successful and humble. But, one of the characteristics that has helped me the most, is his ability to be fully committed.

He has absolutely no idea how to go half speed.  It’s either full blast, or full stop.  What’s amazing though, is that of all the people I’ve met in my life who have this ability, I’ve never met one that applies it to every facet of their life the way my father does.  Whether at work, in the community, in our church, or at home he gives everything he does everything he has.

Of all the stories I love to tell about my dad, the one that exemplifies this unique part of his character the most, has to do with a bet.

Anyone who has ever spent any time trying to make his or her living selling life insurance knows that to be successful at it takes nearly every moment you can spare.  In doing this, you find a unique camaraderie with your colleagues.  For, many times you find they can be the best motivators on your journey to succeed.  For my dad, one of those people was Ron Nelson.

They had been working together for some time when they both wanted to step up their game.  In order to find the success they were seeking, they decided to make a bet—one that would motivate them both to do better.

They decided that for one month they would see who could get to the office the earliest.  This would allow themselves more time to prepare and prospect and there fore more success. Who ever arrived at the office before the other for the most days in the month, would win the wager.

The way they tell it, my dad started off strong and never looked back.  Ron once told me that every day he would set his alarm clock to go off a little earlier, and every day he would pull into the parking lot only to see my dad had already arrived.

According to Ron, there came a point when, tired of getting up so early, and tired of losing, he came up with a plan.

Late one night after we had gone to bed, he came over to our house, popped the hood of my dad’s car and removed the distributor cap.  Now, my dad has a number of talents and gifts, but, when it comes to things of a mechanically nature, he’s sunk.  Seriously…give the man the finest tools in the world and he still couldn’t fix his way out of a wet paper sack.

Ron knew this, and with the distributor cap removed, he went home sure that the tide of the contest was about to turn.

The next morning, Ron was up early and headed to the office.  He pulled into the parking lot and just as he’d assumed, my dad’s car was nowhere to be found.  Basking in his win he headed into the building.  As he made his way to his office, he passed my dad’s office, and to his utter surprise, there sat my dad drenching in his own sweat.

My dad had run the nearly 5 miles in his suit.

When he woke up that morning and found that his car wouldn’t start, I’m sure he popped the hood, hoping for divine intervention.  But not knowing what to look for, he missed seeing the distributor cap that was missing.

Most people would have simply taken a pass, found a mechanic and lived to fight another day. But that’s not how my dad is wired.  He’s fully committed.  When he found that the car was out of commission, he didn’t look for excuses, he looked for a way to get the job done.

I wonder how our lives would be different, if we took the same fully committed approach.  If we replaced our excuses for successes, and chose to be dedicated to every decision we made.

I know my life would be better.  Too many times, it’s too easy to take the easy way out.  When real happiness and true self worth comes in being willing to get where we’re going no matter what—even if it means we have to leave the car and run.

I love my dad, and maybe this post is just for me.  Maybe I’m the only one who feels they could be better of they approached life with more of an “all in” attitude.

If so, that’s OK.  What I do know, is that today, in honor of that man I love and admire so much, I’m going to recommit myself to my goals and dreams.  I’m going to work harder to give my all to everything I choose to do.

If you think it’d do you some good as well—join me.  Let’s find happiness and success in being fully committed.

Jh-

Happy Birthday Dad.


Notable Quotables

March 16, 2010

For those of you who know me, have heard me, or have read my blogs, you know how I feel about positive affirmation.  When a person is working on having a positive mindset, few things help them get there like a good positive reminders, and when it comes to positive reminders, few work as well as a good positive quotes.

With this in mind, Kolette helped me design 8 new cards that have positive quote on them for 8 great subjects.  We rolled them out at a recent presentation, and they went over like gangbusters.

Here’s a look a the cards.  If you think they might help you, go on over to the store (or click here) and pick up a pack.  You can use them as a motivator by placing them in places where you’ll see them, frame ones you like, or frame one and change it every month.  They even make great gifts.

The packs go for $5.00 a piece, plus $1.50 S&H.  I think you’ll agree that the quotes are moving, and Ko’s design is flawless.  I hope you enjoy them.

Jh-

Quotes:

Positive Attitude: The greatest weapon in the fight to be happy is a Positive Mental Attitude.

Drive: Any dream can be your destination; Just pick a direction and go.

Gratitude: There’s not enough room in the human heart for depression and gratitude at the same time.

Creativity: When you take the best of what you have and combine it with all that you can dream – That’s creativity.

Laughter: Few problems in the world can’t be cured by a moment of laughter.

Service: The kindest gift ever given of man, was a kind word and an open hand.

Cooperation: The more you wonder at the good in others, the less you wonder about the good in yourself.

Persistence: Be better today than you were yesterday, and better tomorrow than you were today.


Sometimes Pain is a Good Thing

March 11, 2010

Out of nowhere, I heard what sounded like a shotgun going off just next to my left ear.  Before I knew it, my 1/2 ton Ford Van went careening across all three lanes of traffic going south, continued through the median, and proceeded to fly into the on-coming traffic.  Then, everything went dark.

I don’t know how long I was out on that November day in late 1997, but the next thing I knew, I awoke to an EMT asking me a barrage of questions, like,

“What’s your name?’
“Where do you live?”
“Do you know your phone number?”
“Are you married?”
“What’s your Social Security Number?”

As I did my best, to answer the questions, I tried to figure out where I was, and what had happened.  The first thing I noticed was that my view was filled with a blue sky dotted by puffy white clouds.

“Wasn’t I just in my car?” I thought to myself.

Then, as I stared to wonder if the whole accident hadn’t simply been a big dream, the pain kicked in.

Now, 100% sure that this was more nightmare than dream, and all too real, I noticed my van’s radio antenna.  This seemed odd, for I knew that was the antenna was on the passenger side of the vehicle.

Then, I realized the enormity of what had happened—I was hanging half in, and half out of the passenger side of the van (which was the opposite side of the van from where I’d started out.)

My face was covered in blood, and as the paramedics on the scene began to employ the Jaws of Life, a whole new fear enveloped me.

Petrified, I wondered, “What if I have broken my neck again?” and “What if that break would take away more movement?”

I was pretty sure that at least one of my wrists were broken, but that was the least of my worries, and so with all the courage I could muster, I started moving my wrists up and down.

Tears streamed down my face.  One of the EMT’s saw the tears and my moving wrists, and told me that it wouldn’t hurt so bad if I would keep my wrists stable,

What he didn’t know, was that the tears weren’t from the pain, instead, they were from an overwhelming sense of joy.  Based on what I knew about my spinal cord injury, I was pretty sure that moving my wrists meant I had not lost any additional movement—that of all the injuries that happened in the wreck, I hadn’t done any more damage to my spinal cord.

That day, pain was a good thing.

The adage has proved itself in the years that have followed.  It is pain that reminds us of our blessings. It is pain that teaches us things like humility, and diligence.  It’s pain that gives us character, and pain that helps us love what we have along with what we’ve had the opportunity to have.  It is pain that often glues us together.

Pain isn’t ever fun, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad.  In fact it is often just the thing that reminds of all that is wonderful.

Yes, I’m quite sure that sometimes pain is a good thing.

Jh-


Making Resolutions into Reality – Part Three

January 9, 2010

White Knuckle Necessity

My Idea of Heaven

Once our goals are properly set and we work to put them in manageable pieces so that we “don’t choke” thereby allowing success to breed success, we have to hold on.

­­I will never forget the first time that I learned to water ski. I jumped in the water from the boat and was thrown the skis.  With my life jacket keeping me afloat, I clumsily slid the skis on with an excitement I could almost taste.  With the skis finally on, I was thrown the rope and given my instructions.

With my buddy’s dad, at the helm of the boat, I received the two pieces of advice that were “guaranteed” to get anyone up on their first time.  From his seat behind the steering wheel, he barked out that to get up, I had to keep the rope in between the skis.  Then, he gave me the most important thing to concentrate on.

I was to hold on—no matter what, he told me that if I wanted to water ski, it was imperative that I hold on.  He said that if I would, I’d eventually get pulled up out of the water.  Once I was up, he was sure it would get easy and I’d figure it out from there.

The engine started up and the boat began to slowly move away.  The rope became taught, and as it did, I didn’t let that rope out from in between my skis for one second.  Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am most comfortable keeping the rules.  I’d been given two here and I was going to give all I had to keep them.

With the first part taken care of, I began to concentrate on the other piece of advice I’d been given, and over and over simply kept thinking, “Hold on. Just hold on.”

With everything in place I took a big breath, looked at my buddies sitting in the group and called out, “Hit it!”

The boat’s motor roared, and as the rope became taught, I looked down at my knuckles.  They were white.  I was holding on with such resolve—so tightly that the blood could no longer get through my fingers.

Holding on with all my might, the rope snapped tight and with a force I was totally and completely unprepared for, and yanked me forward.

I’d done everything I was told to the tee.  However, with the rope in between my skis and my legs unprepared for the strength it was going to take to keep them straight, I flew head first through my skis and, like a submarine, I was pulled underwater for what seemed like the entire length of the reservoir.

I couldn’t believe the water I was taking in, but I was true to the second rule and kept telling myself, “Hold on. Just hold on and you’ll get up.”

Of course, in the boat, they were having a good ol’ time talking and laughing, forgetting to watch the skier (me), and when they finally did look back and saw me skimming just below the surface of the water, they screamed at the top of their lungs for me to let go.  But I would have none of it.  I was going to get up and knew that the only way I was ever going to get that done was to hold on.  I have to admit it seemed an odd way to get up on skis, but I was going to keep true to the instructions I’d been given.

Finally, it was too much for my arms to bear; I let go, and floated to the top with a belly full of “Lucky Peak Reservoir” for my efforts.

Dedicated to get up, I got further instruction, and after a few tries, finally put all the pieces together and found myself upright on a pair of water skis.  Up on those skis, behind that boat I looked around and realized I’d also found one of the real loves of my life.

In the end, however, I understood that his advice was right—If you hold on, just hold on, eventually you’ll end up with success.

Success doesn’t come every time; we all know that—especially on the first try.  But, it does come, and most often to those who hold on to what they want with the same “White Knuckles” I used to hold on to that ski rope.

We have to decide what we really want and then hold on to those things with a “White Knuckled Necessity” if we want success.

If you want more money in 2010—a better job, less weight, more spirituality, better family relationships, or the like, you have to decide to use goals and resolutions to get there.  However, that is more that just wishing for things to be different.  Like anything worthwhile, it takes effort.

You have to make/set proper goals that are specific, have accountability and are measurable.  You have to break the things you chase into manageable pieces, so you “don’t choke” on your first try.  Then you have to hold on.  Through good times and bad, when you feel the goal is doable and when you don’t you have a chance, you have to use the same mantra I used to learn to ski, “Hold on. Just Hold on!”

When you do, you find some of the real loves of your lives.  I promise.

Here’s to a fantastic 2010 filled with resolutions accomplished and goals achieved.

Go get ‘em

Jh-


Making Resolutions Into Reality – Part Two

January 4, 2010

Don’t Choke

Joey Chestnut With The Famed "Mustard Belt"

Once we change our dreams into goals by being specific, becoming accountable, and making them measurable (for how to do that, click here) we then have to give ourselves a chance to succeed, and then allow that success to continue moving toward more success.

In order to do this, we can follow the example of one Joseph “Jaws” Chestnut.

In the world of eating competitions, “Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest” is king.

For those of you unfamiliar with the contest here’s a little background from Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog’s own website

The Nathan’s Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest Each Fourth of July a group of 20 steely-eyed individuals line up behind a 30-foot table at Nathan’s flagship restaurant on Surf Avenue in Coney Island to begin the world hot dog eating championship. At 12 Noon, crushed by fans and media, the competitors begin the historic 12-minute contest.

According to archives, the Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest was first held in 1916, the year Nathan’s opened on Surf Avenue. The contest has been held each year since then, except in 1941, when it was canceled as a protest to the war in Europe, and in 1971, when it was canceled as a protest to civil unrest and the reign of free love.

In the entire history of the contest, when those 20 “steely-eyed” individuals line up against each other in this test of gluttony, there has been one name feared above all the others—Kobayashi.

In his rookie appearance in 2001, Takeru “The Tsunami” Kobayashi doubled the previous record by downing 50 hot dogs in 12 minutes (buns and all).  This number was so unexpected, that as Kobayashi’s numbers got higher and higher, the organizers ran out of signs indicating how many dogs Kobayashi had eaten and had to resort to handwritten signs.

From the day he stepped on the stage of competitive eating, Kobayaski’s name was synonyms with dominance. He won the famous “Mustard Belt” every year from 2001-2007, breaking his own amazing record every year he competed, save one.  Everyone believed him unbeatable, and the greatest competitor in the history of the game.

Everyone but Joey Chestnut.  In 2007 Chestnut lined up against “The Tsunami” for the third time.  His previous attempts were valiant—a third place finish in ’05 and a second place finish in ’06, where he lost by 1¾ HDB (Hot Dog & Bun),

2007 was different for Chestnut, as he finally beat the feared Kobayaski and set a new world record by eating 66 HDB in twelve minutes.

The question is how did he do it.  How does a man eat 66 HDB in 12 minutes?  Certainly not all at once.  He has to do it one HDB at a time.

As we work to tackle our properly set Resolutions and goals, we would do well to follow Chestnut’s example.

He would never have reached his lofty objective by trying to eat all 66 HDB at once.  He had to take them at his pace, a little at a time.  Even though it’s amazing that he didn’t choke eating 66 HDB in 12 minutes; he would have definitely choked on 66 HDB all at once.

We have to look at our goals the same way.

If we set a goal and try to accomplish it all in one chunk, then we will choke on our failure.  However, if we take our goals a bite at a time then, like Joey, we will amaze ourselves, an others, by the feats we “eat up.”

Look at your goals in small increments—break them down into pieces.  Then, reward yourself for every piece accomplished.  There is nothing that will spur us on than a good ‘ol reward—Problem is, if we have to wait until then end of the year to reward ourselves, all we get is a whole lot of discouragement and end up ready to quit before we begin.

If you have a resolution for the year, break it up into more manageable sections, and then reward yourself for achieving each section.  Achievement yields achievement, just like success breeds success.  Most of the time the biggest challenge in reaching our goals is our inability to allow ourselves to feel like we are achieving and succeeding along the way.

I often hear that people should have one-year, three-year, and five-year goals—and I think that’s fantastic.  But, if you ever want to accomplish your one, three and five year goals, you’d better have one, three and five week goals to get you there.

Break it up, and enjoy the journey.  Give your chance to feel great about what your doing right now.  Give yourself the chance to feel like you’re accomplishing your resolution, and before you know it, you’ll not only set New Years Resolutions at the beginning of the year, but you’ll achieve those New Year’s Resolutions at the end of the year as well.

Jh-

Check out part 3 of 3 in my next post

And, if you think you have the “stomach” for it, here is a video of Joey Chestnut’s triumphant win over Kobayashi.

FYI: Joey’s still the Champ. In 2008 when they changed the time limit from 12 minutes to 10 minutes Chestnut tied Takeru Kobayashi after eating 59 HDB in 10 minutes. The tie resulted in a 5-hotdog eat-off, which Chestnut won by consuming all 5 hot dogs before Kobayashi. In 2009 Chestnut topped his previous record of 66 HDB in 12 minutes by eating 68 HDB in 10 minutes.

Anyone want a Hot Dog?


Making Resolutions Into Reality – Part One

January 1, 2010

Combing My Hair

My Good Mom Right Where She's Always Been - By My Side

As we look to the new year, and the resolutions that we will no doubt set (hopefully you haven’t become so jaded that you’ve given up completely on the idea) we need to put in place some concepts that will allow us to succeed and achieve those resolutions so they don’t end up casualties of war by the 15th of January.

In our effort to effectively accomplish the goals we set, we must first make sure that we have effectively set goals.

When I think of what it takes to set goals you will accomplish, I remember an experience I had after my spinal cord injury.

Being in the hospital with injuries so severe, being unable to breathe for seven weeks, and learning how to live in a wheelchair, you can understand why my appearance wasn’t exactly at the top of my concerns. My mom would comb my hair each day, and unless friends (well let’s be honest—girls) made the trek from Boise to visit, I cared less about the result.

When I returned home in October, things changed dramatically.  Friends were over all the time, and now, this little piece of hygiene that mattered so little just weeks before, was now of paramount importance. So, unless I wore a ball cap, I counted on my mom to comb my hair.  For, just like every other teenager, I wanted to look good!

The more my condition improved, the more I cared.  It wasn’t long before I was back at school full time and dating.  Mom did great.  She found a way to not only keep me presentable, but fashionable as well.  I always felt confident leaving the house when my mom combed my hair.

As time progressed, so did I. My strength was getting better and better. I got stronger physically and socially.  By my Junior year, I was finished with therapy, had a full load at school, and was elected class president.  I was driving by myself, and with the help of a friend had actually figured out how to dance in a chair (for that whole crazy story, click here).

Finally, in December of 1987, nearly 1½ years after my accident, I reached a social milestone—I was on my way to my first formal dance.

I was really excited.  The girl who asked me was a cutie and a good friend to boot.  I went out weeks before the dance to get my tuxedo—I opted against a tuxedo with tails as the tails looked more like mud flaps than they did tails.

My mom helped me get ready for the dance.  I showered, shaved, and got into my tuxedo all with her help.  (The tuxedo was all white with a lavender tie and cummerbund to match her dress.  It was the ‘80’s, so I get a little latitude…right.)

Everything was finished but my hair.  Looking in the mirror, pleased with my appearance, I asked my mom if she would comb my hair.  Now this was something that I had asked her to do and she had happily done literally hundreds of time before.

I remember there was a long pause.  I looked up at her and she had a little sparkle in her eye. (I later learned to beware the sparkle).  She grabbed the comb and asked me, “How many 16 year old boys do you think are going to have their mothers comb their hair tonight?’

I wasn’t sure why she would ask such a silly question.  The answer was simple.  Sixteen year old boys combed their own hair.  I knew it and I knew she knew it.  My mistake, however, was in my primary assumption (you know what they say happens when you assume).  I was sure we were excluding me.

I replied, “None,” with complete confidence and a little impatience.

She then handed me the comb and said, “That’s right.  None!”

That was it.  That was the last time she combed my hair.  My hair looked terrible that night—it was like Don King with a bad haircut.  It didn’t get much better in the days to follow.  She had picked that night to make sure the message came through loud and clear—it was time for me to learn to comb my own hair, and although I didn’t have the strength I needed that day to complete the task, I’d never gain that strength if she continued on combing my hair.

Handing me the brush was like a gauntlet being thrown, and even though it took a while for the frustration to pass, and when it did, I learned that in throwing the gauntlet she showed me two things.  First, that she believed I could do it, and second that there were some occasions that wouldn’t allow a hat.

Her issued challenge gave me something to chase., something to achieve—trust me, I wanted to be able to comb my own hair.  Now all I had to do was turn that desire or dream into a goal.

As I began this pursuit, experience told me that if I were going to change my hope into goal it would require more than just wanting it.  Wanting is important, but I had learned through prior experience, that building goals from dreams meant meeting three pieces of criteria.  My experience since has only strengthened my resolve in these important steps.

1.)  Be Specific.

Anytime we have something we want to accomplish in our lives, it must be specific.  I couldn’t just say, “I want to look nice.”  What does that mean.  Working on goals that aren’t specific is like chasing specters.  You end up working really hard and end up with a handful of nothing.  When a desire isn’t clear like I want to make more money, lose more weight, or improve my appearance we have no direction.  However, when we get specific like, “I want to make $60,000, lose 20lbs, or comb my hair.” then we take the first step in making our wants become goals.

2.)  Become Accountable.

Nothing changes dreams into goals faster than writing it down and telling someone else about it.  First when we write it down we make a promise to ourselves.  It works like a contact between us and ourselves—and nothing gets things done like a contract.  Telling others puts us squarely on the hook.  It leaves us very few outs.  If we tell the people we work with, or live with that we are going to make $60,000, lose 20 pounds, or comb your hair, it makes us all the more motivated to achieve.  After all, no one wants to look at a broken contract or hear others ask, “What happened.”

That December, I took out two pieces of paper and wrote on them, “Comb your own hair.”  Then I placed one on the mirror in my room and one on the mirror in my bathroom.  That way I saw my contract multiple times a day, as did my siblings.  Now, my brothers and sister also knew that I was working toward combing my hair.  I was accountable to myself and to them, and my dream was nearly a full-fledged goal.

3.)  Be Measurable.

It doesn’t do any good to set any goal if it doesn’t have a due date.  The greatest stories in the world are ruined if we feel they never end. It’s great to dream about increasing our income, decreasing our weight, and improving our appearance, but if we don’t answer questions like, “by when,” or, “for how long” our dream just stays in the ether.  It becomes unachieved, and we become disappointed.  When we make our hopes measurable so we can know when the race ids finished, we end up with a real live goal.

Any thing of any worth that I have achieved in my life has, in one form or another, met each one of these requirements.  Whether it was becoming student body president at the nations largest private university, becoming one of the youngest to be a part of the top 6% of the insurance industry worldwide, living through two life threatening accidents, starting my own company, or combing my hair, it was because of goals—Goals that were specific, had accountability, and made measurable.

The hair thing worked out.  But the great thing was my mom was smart enough to understand that achieving one thing would lead to achieving others.  The strength that allowed me to comb my hair led me to do other things as well.

All because I was challenged to reach farther than I believed I could.

This New Year the first thing we must do is take those Resolutions—those challenges we’ve made for ourselves and make them specific, make ourselves accountable, and ensure that we can measure our progress.

Then we will be on our way to making our dreams into goals and eventually realities.

Jh-

Check out part 2 of 3 in my next post.


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