Instant gratification. That’s what we want. Life change can be very hard, and filled with failure after failure as we inch our way to success. But if we concentrate all our energy, and focus all our attention on changing just one small thing, and if we keep that concentration and focus long enough to see that small change become our new normal, we can make major improvements through small steps.
And for most of us, there are some specific small things that, if we’ll tackle them first, will make all the other improvements we want to make happen easier and faster. Here’s a list of the most common breakthrough changes that can both give us some sense of instant gratification and make the next change easier. Pick your biggest need and make it happen right now.
7 – Choose to release distractions – we all face them every day. But we can set a schedule for that inbox or Facebook, and keep to it. We can move those M&M’s out of the desk drawer. Take the Netflix shortcut off the desktop. And guys, stop going to that ‘restaurant’ for lunch. We can recoup time. But more powerfully, we can gain focus to be great, rather than just observing and admiring great stuff.
6 - Choose to honor your own needs ahead of others – Yeah. That’s right. Forget that put others first crap. If you don’t put yourself ahead of others you’ll never have much value to give. The generous widow in the Bible was honored for giving all she had – but she only had pennies. The Good Samaritan paid for weeks of rehab. Which type of giver do you want to be? Which type are you capable of?
5 - Chose to embrace those who love – Haters got to hate, right? You don’t have to hate them back, but you don’t have to buy them a beer either. Sow most of your love where you’ll reap a harvest from it. Farmers gotta eat, too. This is similar to #6, but each has its own point.
4 – Choose to recognize & correct mistakes fast – Fast failure is the surest path to success. But most of us allow our mistakes to stop us in our tracks. Figure out the lesson, then apply it and go again. Sooner is better than later. Tick tock.
3 – Choose to be present – Regret and worry are serious problems. One of my favorite quotes is from the character Edna Mode from the Incredibles movies. “I never look back darling, it distracts from da now.” That’s good advice. Looking forward is good, in moderation. But too often we look forward in fear instead of in hope. And more often than that, we miss the power of now because we’re never fully here. We’re in a big, fat hurry all the time… until we collapse only to be rousted by a blaring alarm to do it again tomorrow. We don’t sense stillness. We don’t fully experience the beauty or value of the moment we’re in. We weren’t designed for the pace of society today, and we can’t sustain it. When is the last time you laughed until it hurt? When was the last time you felt like you were surrounded by love? When were you last truly excited and engaged in the flow of the present moment? How many of your moments are truly lived? Savored? Embraced? There are lots of things in life we can’t control. We don’t know if we’ll experience tomorrow. We don’t know if the people we love and enjoy moments with will be with us again. But we can control how we embrace and savor now. And as we do, those moments will come alive to us, last for us, and inspire us.
2 –Choose to be excellent – At first glance, this would seem obvious. But look around. We’re constantly surrounded by mediocrity. You can’t throw a baseball in any public place and not hit mediocrity. The great thing about this is that with very little effort, almost anyone can stand out and profit from excellence. Don’t be afraid to be seen. Don’t be afraid to fail. And most of all, don’t be afraid to fail while being seen. Paul, the guy who wrote much of New Testament of the Bible, has quoted God as saying that his power is made perfect by our weakness. That’s a strange thing to say. It’s one of those statements that forces you to think or dismiss. You either have to put energy into figuring it out, or ignore it and lose all hope of gaining from any value it holds. And as with much of what God says in the Bible, different people interpret it differently, while lots of people dismiss it. One trait of people who choose to be excellent, is that they recognize where to find wisdom, and they put in the effort to seek it out. For people who choose excellence, ignoring this statement isn’t an option. So choose to be excellent, and ponder that ancient wisdom found in 2 Corinthians 12:9. How can the power of love be made perfect through our weakness? And what happens when we choose to push past our fears and be excellent, even when we’re weak?
1 – Choose to trust God – This goes out to a general audience, so I’m not going to get all preachy. I believe that God is love. So if you don’t believe in God, meet me there. You can believe in the power of love, can’t you? And as Huey Lewis said, it doesn’t take money or fame or good credit to trust in and ultimately benefit from the power of love. Spend love like Elton John at Cartier. The more you give it out, the more you’ll have.
The 9th Day - 7 Ways