I have been focusing the past three weeks on intentionally improving myself. Sure, we all want to be better people, but I found that I rarely took aim at specific areas in my life to improve. I would say, “I want to work out more” or “I need to improve my time management” or “I need to finish my draft for my manuscript.” These are fine and, in my mind at least, I thought that thinking about something specific was target enough.

I have, however, begun to put practical steps to the desire. My perfectionist tendencies lead me astray to believing that I need to have the most time-tested and celebrity-approved method. I have found that just doing something is better than spending hours looking for just the right method. In fact, the best method is making your own. So, for time management, I made a template for how I will organize my week by projects and another page for hourly tracking. Nothing major and complicated. I just did it on Word.

If you’re finding yourself stuck, take 10 minutes (seriously, set a timer) and begin pinpointing what one thing you could do to move toward a better you. Time management. Working out. Eating right. Don’t come up with an exhaustive plan. Just come up with one step of the plan and then add to it once you’ve mastered that one step.

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Resetting Life

Okay, this will be my last post on this topic (at least for a while, until I figure out more of the implications of the reset). But some of you may be thinking you want to hit the reset button on your life but you don’t know where to start. Here are three steps that I walked to start my reset, and maybe they’ll be helpful for you.

1. Blank Piece of Paper

Get one and have a pen in your hand. Not a pencil. Write this question at the top of your paper: If all my bills were paid, what would I do? Sure you can dream. That’s the point!

Sure. Write down, “Travel to Italy.”

The point is to write it down. . .in ink. No erasing. Write down your dreams.

This is where my journey started one early morning with a cup of coffee. I began by asking God what it was that I was truly passionate about. What is it that people affirmed in my life as something they enjoyed when I was doing it.

Flip your blank piece of paper over and reminisce. What were you doing when you were most happy? List them. Vocational. Relational. Recreational.

This helps you get a gauge on how you have been wired. Is there a common thread running through any of these things? For me it was teaching and leading. Take those threads, flip your blank sheet over, and write them in the bottom right corner of the dream side of your paper.

Have this piece of paper with you at all times as you gradually push the reset button. It may take a day or a month (like me).

2. Cleanse
I know this is the latest trend, but I’m not talking about your gastro-intestinal functions. . .necessarily. Your cleanse could very well include juicing. Time to buy that Ninja!

No, I started by taking a very long walk/run with the purpose of clearing my mind primarily (exercise was secondary at this point).

I then rented a carpet steamer and got a mop and cleaned the house. Much to my wife’s contentment.

I then took a long, hot shower.

Why cleanse? This symbolically and physically sets a marker in your life for when you reset your life. Consider a rite of passage into your new chapter. It symbolically washes away the assumptions and fears and way you used to do things, making a clean slate for a revised story.

3. Read & Write
I read these two things that helped me step forward:

“Don’t Quit Your Job. Fire Your Boss”  @AaronDMcHugh has challenged and helped and scared me with this essay. Exceptional. One that you would do well to read slowly (a little each night before you go to bed, rather than in one sitting). Have your blank piece of paper next to you.

“How to be Productive in 2014” @MattPerman has done a great service for us in making resolutions that work. I followed his directions and have a clearer plan for 2014, in bite-sized chunks that are attainable. Exciting stuff.

Your Turn:

What have you found helpful in resetting your priorities? What’s holding you back?

Productivity in the Monotonous

Good article here on how monotonous routine can make you MORE productive, not less:

Yes, monotony and routine can be truly wearisome. They transform our colorful, over-stimulated existence into black and white. But a task left undone SHOULD be a burden. If you make your system for productivity too productive, you will become anesthetized to your responsibilities.