Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Life Changing- Goal Setting Tips

Update: I apologize for the format errors. For some reason I've been struggling to get this post up correctly. I believe I now have everything set properly.

New Year. New goals. New dreams. New desires.

Do you get the urge this time of year to begin new habits or break old ones? I know I do. I get the same feeling at the turn of the year that I do when the school year begins: the opportunity for a fresh start. While most people make some sort of New Year's resolution, fewer people keep them for the intended length of time. What steps can we take now to prepare for successful change in 2014? Here are some tips and tricks to help you along the way.

See every excuse as a challenge

There are many things we make excuses over like not having time to exercise or read the Bible. Or being too busy to have family meals, game nights, or host others for dinner. Perhaps you're a night owl that is fatigued in the morning. So many things keep us from doing other things and we tend to make excuses. If there is anything that has empowered me this last year it has been to turn every excuse into a challenge to find a solution.

"I don't have time" becomes "Where can I make time"

"I don't have the money/resources to do this" becomes "How can I be creative and find a solution"

"I don't like that (or my family doesn't like that)" becomes "How can I make this enjoyable for us"

"I'm not a morning person" becomes "How can I retrain myself to get up a little earlier"

And so on. Make every excuse a starting point for finding a solution. You can only fail if you fail to try.

Get up early for Bible Study

I hear Christians say that one of their biggest wishes is to study the Bible more often. And this was my line as well for about 27 years! But as often as I hear this desire, I hear ten or more excuses as to why Bible study doesn't figure much (or at all) into their regular lives. I strongly believe the best time to study the Bible is first thing in the morning. That is the only time of day you can guarantee will not be filled. Trust me on this, waiting only leads to backlog. You never know if the boss is going to require you to work over lunch, or if your child will need extra help with homework. Some people claim that right before bed is a great time to study the Word, I know- I pretended it was for years. I have never heard an adult (especially a parent) say how awake and alert they are past 10! Let's face it, we all fall into bed exhausted with unchecked things on our to do list. Getting up to study first thing in the morning is like giving God our first fruits of the day; I have never heard anyone regret doing so. Here are some foolproof ways to develop the habit of getting up early enough to study the Bible first thing every day:
  • Know when your kids get up and plan to be up 20 minutes before that- or know how much time you need to be out the door for work and get up 20 minutes before then. Once this is a habit, consider increasing the time.

  • Do this every day of the week, not taking off Saturday or Sunday. This will help cement the schedule for your body- it’s always harder to get up the next day if you slept in the day before.

  • Have your Bible, study tools, pencils, and notebook already placed where you will study. 

  • Set your alarm, turn off the snooze option, and place your alarm far enough away from your bed that you must stand up to turn it off. 

  • Have a robe or sweatshirt ready by your alarm so you can snuggle in that for warmth instead of crawling back into the warm bed. 

  • Immediately head towards the coffee pot (or tea kettle, or your favorite water glass).

  • Turn on at least one light!  Candles are a favorite of mine.

  • Sit down and begin to study. 

  • If your mind wanders, grab your attention and place it back on your study (if you’re like me, repeat as necessary!).  Now, you can greet your day with God’s strength and joy in your heart!
A Good Day Starts the Night Before

I've read a lot about time management (nerd alert!). One of top tips everyone gives to help with time management is that in order to have a good day you must prepare the night before. I began following this advice, and whoa! Seriously, check out these ideas and begin adding them to your nightly routine:
  • Prepare your Bible study materials and set them out. 

  • Lay out your clothes; and your kids’ clothes if necessary 

  • Gather all those morning things (your kids’ backpacks, their lunches, your work report, etc.) so that you are not distracted the next morning thinking of things you need to have before you walk out the door.

  • Put some items in the car the night before. Like library books, the diaper bag, changes of clothes/sports bags and equipment, Bible for church, etc. Just don't lock yourself out of the house!

  • Set the coffee pot on a timer so it will be ready for you when you get up. 

  • Have the table set for breakfast and any non-perishables already out. Write down a verse or two by your kids’ plates so if you randomly have an early riser they can serve themselves and read the verse quietly without interrupting you. 

  • Set your alarm!

  • Just before going to sleep, pray and ask God to give you the strength to rise in the morning and get out of bed. 

  • Prepare your kids for your morning routine BEFORE your morning routine. Speak to your kids the night before and let them know that if they get up early they should help themselves quietly to breakfast and read their verse or Bible, but that they shouldn't disturb your Bible reading. Or have another solution ready.

  • If you truly have a hard time falling asleep pray about it. Ask God to give you wisdom to know what is keeping you awake.

  • Are you restless or have a hard time settling down? I have been falling asleep quicker and sleeping better since I began to daily exercise (see post here). Maybe you need some physical exertion added to your day? 

  • Perhaps it's pain of some kind? Pray, seek your husband’s blessing and ask God to direct you to the right Dr. and the right remedy. 

  • Maybe you need to invest in a different bed, or pillow? Adjust the temperature, add a white noise maker or noise reducer, play music on a sleep timer, and so on.

  • Seek natural remedies to help you sleep Warm tea, natural sleep aids, a warm bath, etc. 

  • Does your mind take a while to relax?  Practice getting in bed with paper and a calendar. Think through your day tomorrow and write down any notes/to do’s and mark up your calendar. Capture every thought and write it down so that your brain can release those thoughts. Pray briefly over that list and ask God to direct your day tomorrow.

  • Avoid intense/deep reading, playing computer games, browsing social media or watching television right before bed. These things activate the mind.

  • Keep the room as dark as possible, light stimulates your brain even if your eyes are closed. 
  • If your husband keeps different hours than you, then pray about speaking to him about it. After praying, approach your husband humbly and work out a solution together, and pray for extra strength & diligence through the transition. 
I have found tremendous success following these suggestions. My 2013 was phenominal because I implemented morning time with my Savior, added exercise, prepared better the night before, and found easy solutions to all my excuses. I pray your life is a little more organized and easier for adding some of these to your day!

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