Part 8 in my series on Designing a Meaningful Life
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Get caught up with all episodes in the Developing a New Focus series.
“From whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
– Ephesians 4:16
Step 8 – Celebrate and Affirm Your Work
A home is always evolving. Gardens are never complete. Sometimes new dirt is needed, fertilizer spread, gravel replaced, old plants and bushes removed, trees trimmed, and new plants planted.
But to the gardener, once the initial design is in place, it is a joy to continue to build, refine and maintain their garden. It is an ongoing labor of love.
Your life, too, is constantly evolving. You take a vision, develop a design, and work it out with goals. You may want to alter parts of your design or add more to it. But it all becomes an exciting project because you already know where you want to go.
We began this series by using Butchart Gardens as an example of how a big hole in the ground – a gravel pit – could be turned into one of the world’s renowned gardens.
You developed a vision and then created a design.
In Step 6 you activated your plan and made your first primary goal.
In this last step you will celebrate and affirm your work.
Let’s return to the landscaping model we used when we began this series. Whether you have built a house or designed a landscape, both require ongoing care to replace plants or reassign rooms in your house, etc.
The same is true with our lives. There will be ongoing work and upkeep. Create and keep a toolbox of life tools ready to use to refresh, renew or build.
Create a Toolbox for Your Life
Just as tools are needed to maintain our home and garden, so tools are needed to maintain our lives.
Here are ten essential life tools you need to have in your toolbox.
1. Your Master Plan.
Keep your master plan and design in front of you at all times. Focus on your goals. To remain motivated, remind yourself where you are going and what you want to do.
We often start with a burst of energy and then slow down just as our design begins to take shape. Some goals, such as replacing wasteful and unproductive habits, may not show visible results at first. But you are building a foundation to implement your ongoing vision and design.
2. Flexibility and resiliency.
You will be hit with unexpected obstacles and roadblocks. Be prepared to roll with the punches. Identify the problems and look for solutions but do not let obstacles sidetrack or deter you from your lifelong goals.
3. Develop your stride.
Each of us has a unique way of doing things that allows us to maximize our efforts. Re-adjust your time frame as needed to meet the demands of life while working on your goal plans.
4. Break down big goals into smaller ones.
With small goals or steps, you will see accomplishments, no matter how small they might seem.
In designing my home, there were many little steps that needed to be taken before actual construction could begin.
5. Evaluate progress on a regular basis.
We can easily get discouraged when there are no visible and immediate signs of accomplishment.
Congratulate yourself for staying on task, for personal growth, persistence and becoming more disciplined.
After you have mastered your initial goals this becomes an ongoing process. Life itself keeps us updating and revising even when old goals have been completed.
6. Schedule daily time for rest and relaxation.
Every day there will be new struggles, new demands, new problems. No matter how many goals you have accomplished, the needs for others will always pop up.
Daily rest and relaxation is a need, not a luxury. It will prevent overload and burnout. Don’t wait until you are exhausted and tempted to give up on new habits and goals. Carve out time every day for this.
It may seem frivolous at first, but it is incredibly important and will enable you to achieve your goals. Put your mobile device or phone away and go for a walk.
Focus on the beauty of nature or a fun project, spend time with loved ones, share your talents by giving to others, etc.
Remember, you are a unique part of God’s plan and of His garden and design. You are needed, wanted, and loved. Love and respect yourself and your gifts and talents.
7. Repeat affirmations every day.
Affirmations train the brain to move toward a direction. Affirmations keep us motivated and encouraged.
Create positive “I” statements that represent where you want to be in the future. Then stand tall and act as if they were so.
Here are some examples:
- I am confident in my ability to complete my goals.
- I bring all my special capabilities, skills, and talents to everything I do.
- I love my life even in tough times.
- I am creative in finding solutions.
- I draw my strength, faith, hope and wisdom from God who loves me.
- Yes, I can.
8. Reframe difficult situations.
Reframing allows us to see possibilities even in the worst circumstances and turns negative situations into positive ones. Reframing encourages us to focus on what we can do, not what we can’t do.
9. Reduce stress.
Stress can be environmental, external, or internal. Allowing thoughts of defeat to remain dominant will increase stress. Use doubts and questions to solve problems you face.
External or environmental stress comes when we don’t have a routine in place, haven’t identified and eliminated time wasters, or practice time management. A
djust your goals to match your abilities while remaining on task.
10. Never give up.
Remember the woman who swam the 110 miles from Cuba to Florida? As she emerged from the water, she said to the reporters, “Never give up.”
We see this attitude in many athletes who prepare years and years for competitions and achieve great feats. But we also see it in the memoirs of people who have overcome incredible odds. They never gave up.
As a history buff, I have read many stories of our revolutionary war and the Second World War, Korean War, etc. A common thread to winning against incalculable and insurmountable odds was determination and resolve.
The mindset? Never give up.
We can apply that same principle of purpose and fortitude to our everyday lives. At times our lives can seem like war zones – the battle to survive exhausting. Sometimes adversity can seem endless – stretching for miles and miles. You are exhausted and your resolve and will is tested beyond the norm. And you just want to crash and give up.
It is never easy to keep going when you feel there is nothing left. Yet, I’ve found in my own life that there is always a reserve that will take me through; a hope that with God’s help I can persevere and a resolve that continues through the toughest times.
There are many things in life I have no control over. But I always have control over how I respond to whatever is happening.
Life is an ongoing process.
Success is in the journey, not just the end result. Our master life garden design is just the beginning.
But the work continues as we improve, re-arrange, dig out, re-do or replace.
Check your emotional pulse every day. Keep God at the head of any ongoing project.
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