Back to School: One Habit That Should Stick With You Forever

A new school season started this week. Families and teachers have been busy getting ready for the year ahead. Perhaps you, too, are shopping for clothes, shoes, and school supplies. It is a busy yet exciting time. We learn many habits in school and one of them, in particular, is a key to lifelong progress. Are you still dealing with the same issues you were 5, 10 years ago? Wonder why you’re not making progress? Ready to throw in the towel on your aspirations and dreams? Don’t! It is never too late to move forward so today I am going to share with you the one powerful habit you can use to make definite progress towards your goals.

Before you moan and groan, let me reassure you, this is not something new you have to learn. In fact, you probably already do this at least once a day. Some use electronic gadgets, others use whiteboards, and others, like yours truly, use a good old pencil and paper. But first, let’s take a trip down memory lane, back to our school days. What was your favorite school supply? Mine was the notebook. I loved choosing from among all the colorful covers. Teachers back then were very particular about what kind of notebook to have and how to divide it up by subject or topic. Then they came out with the 5-subject notebook which I loved because it saved me running back and forth to my locker to switch notebooks for different classes. The purpose of notebooks was – to take notes, of course!

Whenever someone was out sick, they would come to me for the notes, because even back then, I took good notes. And what is the purpose of taking good notes? To be able to remember what is important! Good note taking is simply this: jot down the important facts you want to recall at a later time. With everything on our schedules these days, sometimes the most important ideas can be forgotten if we don’t write them down.

Experts say only 10% of what is read is remembered. This skill comes in handy in daily life as well. I bet many of you make grocery lists, create goals on the job, and have daily to-do lists, yes? Billionaire entrepreneur, Richard Branson, even recommends this habit .

If we want to make progress in any area of life, we need to get in the habit of taking notes. This one simple habit we learned in school can help us stay on top of things in all these important areas of life:

1) our finances
2) our fitness and health goals
3) our diets
4) our personal growth
5) our spiritual growth

So while we’re on the topic let’s talk about spiritual growth for just a minute. How many times do you go to church or your favorite spiritual place, and forget the message before the day is over?
We get distracted. We barely pay attention. We fall asleep. As soon as we leave, we start thinking about where to have lunch or what we event we are headed to next. Taking notes is not only a good way to stay focused and attentive, it also helps us remember and apply what we’ve heard so that we can move forward. Where would the world be if such people as Aristotle, Confucious, Augustine, and Camus did not write down their thoughts and ideas?

What one area of life do YOU want to make progress in? If it’s diet, start taking notes about what you eat every day. If it’s finances, start tracking what you spend every day. Get the idea? Nothing is impossible and this one school habit can make the difference! Where else do you use note-taking? How has it helped you?

Until next time, do leave a comment. Love to hear your feedback. Keep the faith and keep looking up!


One Thing You Need to See Your Dreams Come True

We all have dreams we want to see become a reality. Some dream of traveling to an exotic country. Others dream of owning the latest hot sports car. Still others dream of finding the love of their life or writing a best selling book. We can put all kinds of effort into trying to make things happen, but there is one key ingredient that we must have if we want to see our dreams come true.

Some say it is will power. I know my will power only goes so far – just show me a jar of peanut butter. We can try to use will power but sooner or later our will power will run out. It is not brute strength, intelligence, knowledge, or great wealth. All of these things are helpful but without this one key ingredient we will not be successful. The one key ingredient to seeing your dreams come true is the power of Faith. We must BELIEVE it is possible to lose that 20 pounds, run that marathon, write that book, or take that trip of a lifetime.

For example, I have wanted to go to Argentina for 10 years. Ever since I toured the Argentine Tall Ship that docked in the Baltimore Harbor one summer, I promised myself “Someday, I am going to go to Argentina.” Now traveling to South America as a single woman is not exactly an easy thing to do. There are safety issues, language issues, and travel issues. Yet, I had faith. I was going to go to Argentina.

Two years ago, I decided it was time. After a few months of planning, lots of research, and applying for a Brazilian visa, I was off to South America on American Airlines. I wound up visiting not only Argentina, but Brazil as well. It was a dream come true and all because of the seed of Faith that I planted 10 years earlier.

So, what exactly is Faith?

To put it simply, Faith is the positive belief of things not yet seen. It is the belief that our dreams can come true. It is the fuel that fires up our engines. Without faith, we idle through life, never really achieving anything great and watching our dreams go up in a puff of smoke. A life without faith is not the life we were intended to live.

Faith begins with a belief in God because God is the ultimate source of all good things as well as the power to achieve them. When I exclude God from the equation, I am setting myself up for a lot of hard work and eventual failure and disappointment. It is God who gives us the grace and the power to succeed and flourish.

I like to think of Faith as a muscle we all possess. In the same way we need to develop our physical muscles to lift stronger weights, if we want to achieve greater things in life, it is necessary to strengthen our spiritual muscle. Each goal we achieve builds our faith and our confidence. We can stand on our victories and our failures like stepping stones that help us step up to the next level.

We all fall at times. The key is to pick ourselves up and get back in the race. Proverbs 24:16 says “Though the righteous may fall 7 times, but the Lord will always raise him back up.” There is no shame in failing. In fact, failure is one of the best ways to strengthen our spiritual muscle. Look how many times Thomas Edison and Abraham Lincoln failed. Failure builds character and strengthens our spiritual muscle. If you have failed recently, I encourage you to get back in the game. If you’re still on this earth, God still has a plan and a purpose for your life, but it is up to us to do our part to make our dreams come true.

If you have a dream you want to see come true, ask yourself this question “Do I truly believe this can happen in my life?” Stretch yourself. Start saying things like “I believe I can break this habit.” “I believe I can lose this weight.” “I believe I can make it through this.” Whatever you’re going through, use it as an opportunity to strengthen your spiritual muscle and to grow your faith. You will be surprised at the results and when you look back at your life and see how many of your dreams really have come true, you will be amazed!

If you liked this post, please comment or click on the +1 Google icon. Until next time, keep looking up!


The Single Most Important Factor to Success

What is success? How do we define it and how do we achieve it? Many are looking for the answer, but the truth is there is no one answer.

Success is a value. It is personal. Each individual who is motivated to be successful will need to come to terms with his or her own idea of what success looks like for him/herself. Some define success in terms of fame, popularity, and being well-known. For others, it means making a 6-figure income, achieving a high-ranking corporate position, and having all the luxuries of life at their disposal. A third group define success in terms of doing what they enjoy and value such as being able to spend more time with the family, maintaining their health and doing good in the world. What’s more, one’s idea of success can change as we achieve in different areas of our lives and fulfill what Maslow calls our basic human needs.

Whatever your definition of success is, there is one factor that is the common denominator in success of any type. I’ll call it “the ability to show up”. For example, to be a success on the job, we must report to work everyday, arrive on time, and be mentally alert. We must “show up”. After working in a corporate environment world for over 30 years, showing up is a given. A fellow coworker put it this way “They expect us to be on our A game every day” and it was true. You were either 100% or they didn’t need you.

If we want to be a successful parent, it is important to show up there as well: for the baseball game, the soccer match, the school play, the Honor awards ceremony. We might not think of it as important, but to our son or daughter our presence means the world. Kids notice more when we’re NOT there, than when we are. As a single parent, it meant cutting out of work earlier and staying later the next day, but if it means seeing my son hit a home run, get a chance to pitch, or score that goal, it was well worth it.

In our personal relationships, if we tell our spouse or friend we will be available at a certain time to have lunch or dinner will we show up? Or will we call with an excuse at the last minute? Will we be available to help out when crisis hits and a friend is in need? Will we show up to visit, cook or bring them a meal? Will we listen to our spouse talk about his/her day and tune out the television, computer and cell phone? Will we be present?

What about showing up for ourselves? Suppose I want to lose some weight. I tell myself I am going to work out or go to the gym 4 times a week. Will I show up? Will I do what I said I was going to do? Same thing with learning any new skill such as learning to dance, practicing yoga, meditation, reading the Bible, or training for a 10k or a marathon. It goes for writing these blog posts. I’ve been writing them faithfully for six years now. Do you think it’s been easy? Not at all, but I can tell you I’ve learned a lot about showing up even in my free time. I learned to sit myself down at the computer and write. It wasn’t as hard writing the book because I had so much inside I wanted to pour out on paper. It still took discipline to do this after working 8 hours at a mentally demanding career. I tracked the days and the times I spent writing to establish a regular writing routine. You might say I was driven to show up.

Finally, what about showing up for God? When we hear that call to help out at church, visit a sick friend, or volunteer for a worthy charity, will we show up? In the morning when we know God is waiting to meet with us and talk with us in that quiet time, will we show up? Will we rise a few minutes earlier if necessary so we can have that special time with God? I have realized this is the most important appointment of my day. Everything falls into place and I have a sense of peace knowing I am fully protected and prepared for whatever comes at me during the day.

The key, I think, to success in any area of our life begins with this one simple step – just show up. When we want to do something new, something different, something we feel we are not quite ready for, all we have to do is show up. We don’t need to have the whole plan mapped out from A to Z. If we’re on a God-sized mission, we won’t even know the next step most of the time. All we have to do is show up and do “the next right thing”.

What is it you want to achieve in this life? What area of life do you wish to be successful in? Ask yourself this question: “Am I showing up?” This really makes a tough job seem much less difficult. When we want to achieve something new it can seem like a mountain in front of us, but really, as Jesus said, if we have faith the size of a mustard seed, we can move mountains. In other words, what may seem impossible to us, begins with the first step of just showing up and believing. If we keep showing up day after day, we are going to make progress. We will slowly climb that mountain. We will gain clarity on what to do next to achieve our goal.

If this post has resonated with you, I’d love to hear your feedback. Please click the Google +1 button or leave a comment. Until next time, keep looking up!


The First Step to Transformation

Are you happy with your life? It is all you’ve dreamed of? Or, is there something about it you would like to change, some area you would like to grow in? Some would like to improve their appearance. Others would like to pursue a new hobby, career, or financial goal. Those who are more relationally-oriented would like to find inner peace or improve the relationships in their personal life. Contrary to what some say about old dogs and their tricks, I do believe most people are interested in growing, changing, and improving their lives, no matter how old they are. Could this be you?

But perhaps you don’t know how to go about it or where to start. As with any journey, the first step is always the most important. Now you may be thinking the first step involves some sort of action. But I want to challenge that perception. What you may or may not realize is this: the first step in any journey, change, or forward movement in life begins with a decision.

That’s right. A decision. What really determines whether you are going to succeed or fail in your endeavor, is the commitment to your decision. In other words, it is the strength of your resolve to your decision that energizes you to take action.

The key is commitment. So what do you have to have in order to commit to something? What is the one thing you absolutely have to have in order to follow through? I think you may know the answer to this question. The answer is this:


You need to activate the power of faith in order to make a commitment to anything in this life. We must believe in ourselves, in others, and in the power of God to make things happen. Nothing, and I do mean absolutely nothing happens without faith. Faith is the key ingredient in any successful undertaking.

If you’ve tried before and failed, join the club, but don’t throw in the towel. Check out this video on famous people who have failed miserably in life and see how it makes you feel.

What is it that you would like to accomplish in your life? What change would you like to see?
If you want to transform your life, start by activating the power of faith. You’ll be amazed at the results! Until next time, keep looking up!