“A belief that one will be successful is one of the strongest predictors of goal achievement.” ~Dr. Henry Cloud, Boundaries
Recently I read an excerpt from Dr. Henry Cloud’s book, Boundaries. I felt like this really tied into the visions and dreams theme that seems to keep coming up again and again. I’m certain God is trying to tell me something as this excerpt was about achieving success which goes right along with the Propel Women conversation series I’m currently participating in called Success. If you are not familiar with Propel Women, it is an organization designed to connect women to find their passion, purpose and potential in order to fulfill their God-given destiny. It’s really quite a beautiful way to connect with women from every walk of life within a local chapter. For me, it’s a great way to become a part of a Christ community where you can be vulnerable and authentic as well as grow personally.
After reading this Boundaries excerpt by Dr. Henry Cloud, I started thinking about all the elements that go into living a successful life and achieving one’s dreams and visions. Pastor Steven in Trading Truth made some great points about our dreams and God’s plans. God’s plans are definitely a valid element in achieving our dreams, and we should absolutely consider that when it all plays out, it may look differently than we expected. Dr. Cloud’s book Boundaries also notes another important element. That is the belief that one can succeed. Having an attitude of “I will find a way” is so important. Let’s face it! Things just do not always go according to plan. Thinking of our dreams and what living a successful life looks like for each of us, we have to take into account that we may have to work around some unforeseen circumstances or obstacles. Just as Dr. Cloud’s daughter (in the book excerpt) probably had no idea how she would get the big surfboard back up the hill, she was determined to find a way to make it work. She was committed to getting the surfboard back up the hill because it was something she really wanted. It meant a lot to her, a heart’s desire, if you will.
As Pastor Steven said, achieving what we want out of life takes an open perspective, the ability to be open to edits. After reading from Dr. Cloud’s book, I realized that there are other elements included in successful living and achieving one’s dreams. The story of his daughter reflected elements like a belief in oneself, determination, and commitment. My mom raised me to believe that I could do anything I wanted in life. Unfortunately, where I had support, determination and commitment, I lacked open perspective. For many years, I let what I thought about myself due to life circumstances limit my perspective. I was not open for edits because I thought the things of my past defined not only my past, but my future as well. In this realization, I see something I had not seen before. Living a successful life (whatever that looks like for you) takes a culmination of all of the “success elements”.
In each session of the Success conversation series, we concentrate on an element of successful living. Elements like taking risks, making the most of today, taking responsibility for self, willing to pay the price, being fully committed, and maintaining an eternal perspective.
I would like to break these down a bit in hopes that you may benefit from some of the epiphanies I have experienced.
Taking risks – Sometimes to achieve what we want out of life, we have to take risks. There are foolish risks and there are those that come from a place of wisdom. The cost of the risk should always be considered. Learning to recognize what may result in regret and what you can live with is so valuable. For me I always see risk from a place of fearing failure or appearing a failure (recovering approval addict here). I have had to really push myself to get beyond myself, and I’m still working on embracing the risk of being authentic and transparent. Sure! Some people will not like me or accept me, but that is okay. That is a risk we can live through, right?
Making the most of today – This is all about time management and prioritizing. What is important to you? Are you keeping the main thing the main thing? God most definitely wants to bless us along the journey to our purpose, but I truly believe He wants us to be good managers of what we are given. Each day we are given time. Are we managing it wisely? Are we doing things that lead us toward bettering ourselves and the world we live in? In my professional life, I encountered someone that did not like the word ‘busy’. They never wanted anyone to say they were busy because, to them, it was an excuse not to expand our capabilities. No doubt, we do have days in which we could not possibly pack another ‘to do’, but who put all these on our list? Did we over-commit only to find ourselves spending the entire day just trying to keep up? To what benefit was that in the big picture? As someone that formerly would never say no to a request, I have found great value in now recognizing my true limitations and aligning my priorities with my commitments. This awareness has initiated growth in me, and has opened doors for me to better manage my time. Not to mention, the incredible peace and joy I have found in having time to sincerely invest in what is important. Being present in the moment has become a possibility for me.
Taking responsibility for self – I say this often, but we have to take responsibility for our ‘stuff’. This means taking responsibility when we do well and when we mess up. I often say, “own your crap!” If you mess up, say you messed up and move on. This is also about owning your story. Your past is what it is. No one can change it no matter how badly you would like to make adjustments. I have found in this season of growth for me that I cannot escape my past, and the best thing to do is own it and move forward. If there are people in your life that are keeping you bound to your past, then it may be time to move on from them as well. As Real Talk Kim says, “There are some people you have to love from afar. Move them from the front row to the balcony of your life.” Keep moving forward. Don’t become stagnate.
Willing to pay the price – This ties into taking risks, but this goes a bit deeper. On the journey toward our dreams, we pay a price of humility, surrender, self-preservation, time, energy and resources. Anything worth achieving will most definitely require a sacrifice. Generally, humans want instant gratification, but achieving dreams do not typically work this way. This element requires us to focus more on the blessings of the journey instead of the costs. A friend once told me that I needed to let my dreams inspire me, but do not let them haunt me. When our focus is so intently concentrated on the final destination, we fail to find joy on the journey. Slowing down (making the most of today) has really allowed me to re-focus. This, in turn, has given me a renewed perspective on the cost of each and every risk and commitment. Are you willing to invest in being the best you can be believing that the best is yet to come?
Being fully committed – Psalm 37:5 says “Open up before God, keep nothing back; he’ll do whatever needs to be done.” Being committed is an exercise in character building. It builds traits like loyalty and integrity. Letting your yes be yes and your no be no (Matthew 5:37) or as I always say, mean what you say and say what you mean is not only a reflection of Christ, but also a component of integrity. There’s a story in the Bible that talks about having your hand to the plow and not looking back. Are you committed to moving forward and plowing through whatever the circumstances or obstacles? This is also about focus, prioritizing and planning. It is helpful to set clear priorities (maybe a list of 5-6). Typically, your first 2-3 priorities will not change like serving God and family. The next 2-3 priorities may change depending on the season of life or even the day of the week. Being fully committed is also about contributing what you have (time, energy, skills, talents, gift, resources, etc.) no matter the return. This intent focus over time will give your life the momentum you seek. Commitment will lead you to be present right where you are and when you are. I am guilty of saying things like “let’s try to get together” or “I will try to make it” or “I plan to get this done.” These are not commitment statements and often lead to an opt out. To really commit, I need to change my language, “I will be there”, “I will complete this task”, or “What date is good for you to get together.” Going back to meaning what I say and saying what I mean, these statements compel me to truly commit.
Maintaining an eternal perspective – This is all about considering the big picture and God’s long-term purpose. In our day-to-day, we often forget about the long-term purpose of what we are doing and where we are going. When working through our dream, we see the obstacles and negative circumstances. We work toward where we want to go and start to see the difficulties in the work. It is often in the times of frustration we forget that we are on a journey. As Pastor Steven said in Trading Truth, we should stop in those moments to say, “This is the dream.” Remembering this can open our perspective and adjust our attitude. In my faith, I can trust that God will use all the ugly parts of my stories and my less than perfect moments to reach long-term dreams which includes inspiring others to have victory over the yuck of life. In the big picture, my story has not only developed character in me, but also has the potential to inspire others to overcome their circumstances. As one friend put it to me, “your life experience is your credentials.” This statement was an amazing epiphany for me. It drove me to see that my life story did not disqualify me nor did what others’ thought of me. My life story helped build me into the me I was made to be. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says God makes everything beautiful in its time. This perspective will propel you toward your dreams.
We tap into the elements of living a successful life and achieving our dreams and visions. We re-focus and maintain perspective. We tap into determination, commitment and a belief in self. However, in the end, it is being open to edits that will result in achieving our dreams and visions with peace and joy on the journey.
Arrival to our destination and successful living may look differently than expected. Once we arrive we will have a true perspective of the big picture (#TradingTruth). This is the dream. I’m at the center of the dream, but not for status. I’m here for service. God took my dream and edited it to be beneficial for his created world, his people. My dream was never about me…it was made meaningful in a much larger scale.
I leave you with this. “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” (Proverbs 19: 21)