You need a BIG – Bold, Important, Gratifying – goal and you need a plan. The plan gets you started, but the plan you start with is likely not the plan that will get you to your goal. Be adamant about your goal, but be flexible in the plan to get you there.
A Plethora Of Plans
I had a difficult experience trying to find a job when I first moved to South Carolina. My wife and I, newly married, moved here when she was offered a position as a high school media specialist. I was finishing my degree in data processing. Computer programmers were in high demand, and we assumed I would have no trouble landing a job. However, this was not the case.
I began by having 100 resumes printed with our new address and phone number. I mailed them out, unsolicited, to 100 companies I identified in our area. Then, I waited for two weeks with not a single call. Then we learned from our local phone company that the phone number they said was our new number was not the correct one. I had mailed out 100 resumes with a non-working phone number!
Too many choices can keep us from the Excelerated Life™. When we are focused on living a life of flourishing and well-being and a life of meaning, purpose and service, then we do not have so many choices. We don’t make the same decisions again and again. We make them once and cut off other options.
This is a story about two people, the choices they face in a typical day, and the results of their decisions. With a question for you at the end.
The first person is Sally. Sally set her alarm for 5:00 AM so she can get a quick start to her day. When the alarm goes off at 5:00, Sally has a choice. She can either get up as she planned or she can decide to sleep a few more minutes. She decides to sleep a few more minutes and hits the snooze button. A couple more hits of the snooze button and now it’s 5:45. Sally gets up.
One reason she planned to get up at 5:00 AM was to go to an exercise class at the local gym. She has a plan to work out at least 4 days per week. Sally has a choice. She can either go to the exercise class – if she hurries – or she can skip today and go another day this week. She decides to exercise another day.
You don’t need tons of self-discipline to live the Excelerated Life. You need just enough discipline to train yourself to behave in a certain way. Untrained power is useless. Excelerated Self-Discipline helps you get your strength under control and channeled toward the life you want.
Blessed Are The Disciplined
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” ~ Matthew 5:5 (NIV)
I came across an interesting idea recently. It concerns the word meek, specifically as used in this Bible verse from the Beatitudes.
In English, the word u-meek comes from the old Norse mjúkr which, according to Google, means “soft” or “gentle”. We sometimes think of this meekness as mild-mannered, reserved and unassuming, even to the point of weakness.
But here’s the interesting tidbit I found. The Greek word used in biblical texts is praus. Praus refers to strength controlled through discipline. It is “power without undue harshness.” 
The activities that lead to a strong, healthy body give us a strong, healthy brain as well. Unfortunately, some experts have found that about 1/2 the activities we engage in lead to improved brain health but the other 1/2 are detrimental to a healthy brain. Doing a little more of the healthy activities and a little less of the unhealthy ones, add up over time to major improvements.
My mother died from dementia, more or less. That wasn’t the official cause of death but a few days before she passed, a doctor told us how her brain had shrunk. She forgot how to swallow so she could no longer eat or drink anything and, then, she forgot how to breathe.
Her dementia was genetic, caused by a specific recessive gene, which can lead to hyperhomocysteinemia – too much homocysteine in the blood. We found that out years before her passing when she first began showing the signs of memory loss. Once we discovered that it was a genetic trait, I went to my doctor to be tested. I have the same recessive gene. I found it interesting that, in the report, the doctors labeled it “the family curse”.
We need each other. We depend on each other. We literally cannot live without each other and we cannot be our happiest, our best, and our most productive without building healthy relationships.
All Together Now
“We’re all in this together.” I can’t count the number of times nor the number of people from whom I have heard this sentiment over the past months of the pandemic. I suspect you’ve had a similar experience. From doctors on TV to product advertisements to personal injury lawyers to friends on Zoom, these words have been spoken again and again. “We’re all in this together.”
The ABCs of effective living? A = Adversity, B = Belief, and C = Consequent feelings. Our Beliefs (B) about an Adversity (A) – NOT the adversity itself – cause our Consequent (C) feelings. [Seligman] It isn’t what happens to us but how we think about what happens to us that determines how we feel. By stepping into the space between stimulus and response, we can choose a more empowering set of beliefs. But first, we have to see that space.
Understanding The Gap
“Between stimulus and response, man has the freedom to choose.” ~ Dr. Stephen Covey, “The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People”
When I first read this statement many years ago, I struggled to understand what it meant. I understood the words, but I didn’t get the concept. It was completely foreign to me. I had become so inured to reacting to whatever I encountered, it never occurred to me that there was any other way to behave. I pondered this idea, discussed it with various friends, and read and re-read that section in Dr. Covey’s book.
When you embrace the Excelerated Life™, focus comes before goal setting. Without focus, your goals may not reflect your true desires. With focus, you have clarity on what you want and, importantly, why you want it.
I have a BIG — Bold, Important, Gratifying — goal. I want to have a blog that rates in the top 10% of blogs in the category of self-development. That is a huge goal and one that will take many, many, many steps. It’s my 5 – 10 year goal.
I am painfully shy. I am uncomfortable in crowds and especially in groups of people I don’t know very well. Some of you may be surprised by this revelation, although some of you will not be. It began about the time I reached junior high. I often got tongue-tied when called upon in class so I rarely spoke up. I avoided parties. And I didn’t have many friends. It was difficult to get to know others and for them to get to know me. In fact, some of the older guys at my school gave me a nickname: “Oddball”.
Flourishing is not dependent on the weather, the current political environment, or one’s wealth and status. Flourishing isn’t dependent on any external factors at all. Aiming for a ratio of 3 positive experiences to 1 negative experience is the path to flourishing and for effectively dealing with whatever comes our way.
The Covid-19 pandemic. Unemployment. The economy in shambles. Increased violence. Injustice for many of our brothers and sisters. Leadership crises.
Some lucky souls are blessed with naturally sunny, positive dispositions. But what about the rest of us? Well, as William Arthur Ward stated, “Happiness is an inside job.” Research in the field of Positive Psychology has shown that we have a fairly large influence (about 40%) over our own level of happiness. That’s right. There are things you can do . . . today . . . that can measurably improve your feelings of contentment and gratification. Here are 5 suggestions, to get you started.
Two related principles of the Excelerated Life™ deal with setting and achieving BIG (Bold, Important, Gratifying) goals. The two principles are Goals and Goal Setting and Action. Goal setting is an important step but by itself is not enough. Once you have your BIG goal in mind, you must start to take the actions that enable you to achieve it.
I have told the story before about my client, “Mary”, who came back for more coaching after she had set some good, workable goals but had failed to make progress on any of them. I told Mary at the time that a goal “was a necessary step toward creating her best life, but it is only a step . . . a beginning step at that. She needed to develop strategies – a detailed plan – to help her progress toward achieving her goals.”