Start your journey to success…

May 3, 2014

“Don’t let life discourage you; everyone who got where he is had to begin where he was.”  (Richard L. Evans) from Jack’s Winning Words.

I also like another quote that may serve as a starting point for today –“Where ever you go, there you are”- Jon Kabat-Zinn.

We are all somewhere in life, so there we are. Most of us have dreams or hopes of being somewhere man daydreamingelse, maybe to have a better job or just to make more money, maybe to be happily married, maybe to have children, maybe to have a bigger house or a better car. The things that we might be wishing for and dreaming about could probably be lumped into two broad categories – stuff and relationships.

Sometimes, when we spend time dreaming of things that we don’t have, of the place in life where we’d like to be; we get discouraged because our dreams seldom come with instructions on how to get there. Just dreaming about success or even visualizing it doesn’t accomplish anything. We need to stop and assess where we are currently (where we are beginning from). Once you have a good handle on where you are – what are your current skills, what is your current education level, what experience do you have that might help,  what resources and support (family, friends, etc.) do you have to begin with – you are almost ready tolist start planning how to achieve your dream.  Write all of those things down somewhere and keep that list handy. This is the “where I started from” list and you’ll have use for it later.

But, before you take that first step; sit down and have a heart-to-heart talk with yourself about your goals. Success in life does not come without dedication and hard work. Are you truly committed to do what is necessary to get where you want to be? Are you ready to take the training or get the education that is required, even if you have to take it just a little at a time? Are you ready to make short term sacrifices, to work longer hours, to miss out on some fun things today in order to get to the goal of tomorrow? Success in life is not about buying a ticket and waiting to see if you win the drawing. If you are committed, then step off on your journey.

Since this is a journey from where you were to where you want to be, having that list that you just made above will serve as a way to measure progress. Make a note of each training course that you take successfully or each educational course that you pass on your way to the certificate or degree that you need. That way you’ll at least be able to see the progress that you’ve made from where you were. So wherever you go, there you are; and, you can see where you came from – it’s sort of like marking your growth on the kitchen door frame when you were a kid; only now you are marking your growth as a person towards your goal . Be sure to reward yourself along the way as a way to keep motivated. Celebrate each success and record it.

angry accuserAnother important part of the quote that kicked all of this off is not to let anyone discourage you. Sometime we have supporters and sometimes we have those who would drag us back down with them; telling us that we’ll never amount to anything and perhaps ridiculing us for even trying. Those are not really your friends, so let them fall by the wayside as you make your way. You can do this. You know that you can do this. If they don’t want to be there cheering for you as you achieve your goals then don’t let them become roadblocks to your success. There are many bad things that you are leaving behind on your journey to success and they make be a part of that old baggage that gets left behind.

One of the interesting side benefits of taking such a goal-oriented journey of self-improvement is that your life will likely change for the better along the way. People around you – family, friends and co-workers – will likely take note of your attitude and determination and your increasing skills and education, not because you tout them, but because they will make a difference in how you conduct yourself. You will likely be more confident, a little more outgoing and a lot more interesting person to know.

You will also meet lots of new people along the way and many of them may become new friends. That’shandshake a good thing because they join and increase your support group. It’s not unusual that your current boss at work may take notice too and offer you advancement based upon your new skills or education and your new way of carrying yourself. Maybe you hadn’t thought of that as a step along your journey, but each step up the ladder helps and it gives you another small success to add to your list. Sometimes it will feel like baby steps and sometimes like giant leaps forward. The important thing is to keep moving forward to keep your eye on the goal. Everybody began where he was. You did too; but, you are no longer there. You have moved forward and there you are.  Congratulations!


A thousand reasons to smile

May 2, 2014

Back to Jack – I’ve decided to give the three little words theme a rest and get back to the source that has been a primary inspiration for many of my past posts – the blog Jack’s Winning Words, which I get every day. I’ll revisit the three little words theme from time to time.

“Jack” is Pastor John (Jack) Freed, the retired pastor of my church. Although Jack “retired” many years ago he never really retired from doing most of the things that you might imagine a pastor does, he just shifted to a more leisurely pace and into different venues, one of which is his daily blog.

Jack starts each day’s blog with a quote, usually an inspirational one and then comments upon that quote – usually no more than a paragraph. I’ve used Jack’s quotes for years as the inspirational fodder for my more lengthy posts.

I believe that the quote I chose today is from one of Jack’s past blog posts  – When life gives you a hundred reasons to cry, show life that you have a thousand reasons to smile.” – unknown.

I’ve written in the past about the world’s greatest author – Anon. Today we have a quote by that quite prolific quotemiester – Unknown (Aka Unk.)


Life is always throwing stuff at us that makes some of us cry. A good cry can be a great way to get pastlady under cloud the initial emotional response to something bad; however, it can also be a gateway to despair and depression, so get it over with quickly and move on. In today’s quote the advice is to fight back by reinforcing in your own mind all of the reasons that you have to be happy, to be upbeat and positive.

Every time I’m complaining about something that I don’t have or about something that went wrong, my wife tells me to think about all that we do have – a nice home, a great family with wonderful grandchildren, two loving and loyal dogs and on and on. It’s true. I know that it’s true and before long I’ve usually forgotten what I was bitching about. I have a thousand reasons to smile, to be happy and to be content in life. I just don’t have time to spend worrying about stuff that I don’t have and probably don’t need. I have a garage full of that kind of stuff already.

What are your thousand reasons to smile? Have you taken stock of them lately and paused to think about them long enough to let that smile come to your face? Why not? Sometimes we seem to spend all of our time and energy worrying about things that maybe didn’t turn out like we would have liked; or, even worse, worrying about things that haven’t happened yet and may never happen – things that live mainly in our imaginations. Why instead don’t we celebrate the things that are right in our lives; puppyembrace the people and pets that we love and who love us back; be happy with the things that we do have instead of coveting the things that we wish we had; and bask in the things that we’ve already accomplished in life, instead of being dissatisfied with the things that we haven’t accomplished, yet. We have a thousand reasons to smile.

So, maybe print out that little saying and tape it to your mirror, so that you can start each day looking at it and remembering all of the reasons that you have to smile. What a great way to start off on the right foot for the day – with a smile on your face and a positive attitude towards the day. As they used to say on the Men’s Warehouse commercials – “You’re gonna like the way you look”, and so will those around you.

Three little words that may change your life… no, you won’t.

May 1, 2014

Sometimes the simplest little things can have big impact on our lives. In this series of posts I examine very short sentences (each just three words long) that can make a difference in your life. If you have a three word sentence that changed your life somehow, share it with me and I will share it with the world.

In the early to mid-80’s Nancy Reagan waged a campaign against drugs in teens with the slogan “Just say no.” Some ridiculed it as being an overly simplistic view of the world, but at the end of the day thatrejected was exactly the decision that each individual had to (and has to) make – to say no to the temptations or the peer pressure involved in that decision. Everyone knew what drugs could do to people and yet some still though that they could control the situation instead of the drugs controlling them. The smartest concluded that they would not let drugs even get the chance to gain control and they said no, you won’t.

In life there are many things that can happen or things that people can do or say that might get you down on them or on yourself. There are events that happen during a day that could ruin the day for you if you let them.  There are people who take great delight in trying to bum you out and drag you down into a funk. Those people aren’t happy if you’re happy; they want you to be miserable like them. If you know that these things are going to happen and that there are people like that trying to ruin your day, you have to stand up to them and for yourself and say no, you won’t.

There are also people who might want you to join them in doing something that you know is wrong, maybe something that they present to you as a thrill, like shop-lifting at a store or breaking into an empty church. Maybe they are co-workers who want you to join them in some scheme to cheat the company somehow or steal from it. Maybe they’re just a group of “friends” who want you to join in on the bullying of another or in making fun of someone else. In all of those cases you have to stand up and say for yourself – no, you won’t 

So, how do you turn saying no into a positive message and how do you take it further than that? First be proud that everything that I’ve used as examples were things that had no positive value. There was no upside to them, just downside; so you avoided the inevitable negative outcome by saying no. How you take it a step further is a bit harder, but there is a big upside to it – that’s when you add and you shouldn’t either just after you say no, you won’t.

There’s an anti- drunk driving ad slogan “friends don’t let friend drive drunk”; there probably should be one for this situation that says “friends don’t let friends do dumb stuff.”  If you can save not only stopping a friendyourself, but others (especially your friends)  from doing the wrong things why wouldn’t you try? You may get push back; you may even get ridicule; and, they may tell you to knock off the goody-two-shoes routine. Just tell them no, you won’t.