Are you living Plan B?

Plan BHave you ever made a list of what you wanted your life to look like? Be honest and don’t worry about being selfish. Have you ever written down all of the dreams and goals you wanted to achieve in life? Most people certainly have goals and dreams but few ever take the time to actually write them down. I assume the reason so few write them down is because they are subconsciously aware they will have to actually do something about it once it’s on paper. Writing a goal or dream on paper removes the ability to gloss over it as if it doesn’t exist.

Before making my recent career change, I was living a life full of choices that were no longer aligning with my current value system as a husband and father. Being gone from home almost 40% of the year was no longer something I wanted as part of my life. When I began to prepare to launch into my career off the road, I did two very important things concerning goals.
1. I wrote a description of what my current life was like.
2. I wrote a description of what I wanted my life to be.

This was very important because it gave me a visual image of where I was headed and what would have to change if I was going to achieve what I wanted.

Now that I have been off the road for two years, I am able to look back and check off the items on my list of wants as they become a reality. Below is a short list of a few of the items I wrote on my “want” list:
• Regular date nights with my wife
• Teach a Sunday School class on a regular basis
• Have consistent daddy/daughter date nights with both of my daughters
• Develop a mentor relationship with someone wanting to grow in their faith

All of these items have something in common. They all require consistency. That is something I was lacking in my former career. If I was going to realize these goals and dreams, I knew I would need to make a change.

That’s when it became very clear to me. I realized I had been complicating so many things in life when in reality it was all very simple. It ultimately came down to choices.

I know every situation is different, but the point still remains. In most circumstances, we have the power to make a change by simply making a different choice than we usually make. My choice was simple. If I wanted to have more consistency in my life, I had to come off the road.

That is my challenge to you as you look at your own life and reflect on whether you are living Plan B or choosing to live your dreams. You only get one life and there are no rewind buttons. Create a list of your current life and compare it to what you want instead. Begin to put a plan in place to bridge the gap between what you have settled for and what you long for.

Change can only take place if you are willing to take a step. That’s all it takes. One step!

The number one reason you’re stuck

shhhI was recently reminded by a stand –up comedian of how we are constantly doing mindless activities that distract us from looking inward and listening to what’s going on deep inside. He described it in the simplest way possible by referencing a very common scenario that so many of us find ourselves in on a daily basis.

Have you ever been driving a car without the radio or other distractions and suddenly felt the pull to deny the awkward silence by turning on the radio or scanning your contact list to find someone to call? The need for constant connection is often the struggle. Anything that will remove the awkward silence is better than doing nothing, right? However, I believe that is just a sign of a greater issue.

So many times we use distractions in life like a reusable band-aid. We put it on every time we are faced with the reality of life. Why do you think most people sit in front of the television several hours per day? They use it as an escape from what is really going on.

I believe that silence is the key to growing as a person and moving forward in life. When we are silent, we are open to new possibilities and can make room for something new. When we are silent we clear the clutter in our minds and develop a breeding ground for fresh ideas. God often speaks to us in a still, small voice that requires us to stop doing what we are doing and listen. This requires effort and forces us to make the most difficult decision we will ever make. It demands that we deny ourselves and make a sacrifice.

The hardest part of this decision is that we must remove the trust we place on ourselves and put that trust back in God where it belongs.

What do you allow to distract you from silence?

Here is a short list of the things I often find myself moving towards when silence presents itself.
• Radio
• Phone
• T.V.
• Social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc…)

What would happen if the next time you had a chance to choose the above; you denied yourself and chose silence?

What would happen if you endured the immediate pain of silence and waited for an answer?

Are you in one of the groups below?
• Business owner
• Parent
• Married
• Student

I believe the best way to get a breakthrough in any of these areas is to be silent and wait for the answer.
Force yourself to be open to doing what is not natural. Make a sacrifice of something small now so you can reap the benefits later.

Take 5 minutes in the morning and do absolutely nothing.

Sit with a notepad beside your chair and just wait. I promise you will hear things that can make a huge difference in your life.

Question:

What is distracting you?

Are You a Blessing in Disguise?

custom drumsticksAre you getting bored with your life? What about your job? Are you making a difference in the lives of those around you with what you do on a daily basis?

You may not have the right answers to those questions and feel like your life is average without having an impact on others.

Each year during the Christmas season, I ship out hundreds of packages with personalized drumsticks from www.CustomStix.com. After a while it can get mundane and boring. Tube, sticks, receipt, shipping peanuts, tape, repeat, etc… It becomes like an assembly line.

I had allowed myself to fall into that trap the other day until I was pleasantly surprised by a letter I got from the contact form on this site. Talk about a renewed focus. I was brought to tears by the words of a man who was impacted by a connection made with something as simple as a pair of personalized drumsticks.

May I never forget how God uses even the small things in life to bring about His plan in the life of others.

Don’t loose heart while doing what you do. Be faithful in the little things and God will bless you in much.

Here is the letter: (personal info has been changed)

_______________________________________________

Hi Mr. Jones!

 My name is David Wilson and I’m writing to you from Orlando, FL, on a whim of inspiration. As a drummer (former?), I came across your customstix website to purchase a pair of cool sticks for my son, Christopher, age 10 – the light of my life – who is just beginning his adventure into the world of drumming, percussion and 5th grade band. I love every second of it.

I came to your site for a pair of sticks, watched video, heard (and felt) your message, ended up here in on your personal site, read, listened and watched some more. What I have come out with may have just changed my life for the better. Not sure how yet, though. One cannot describe the sum total of life’s experiences in one email, but I discovered something too important to ignore and felt that I wanted to share it with you: it’s never too late apparently. I spent most of life in a spiritually-rich manner (trying, anyhow), but over the recent years I have become spiritually-poor, lacking faith and all but given up on there being any more meaning in life other than living for my son while my marriage gets weaker and everything else goes nowhere.

Suddenly, I’m listening to you, speaking as a drummer, and something clicked. I can’t give up, and I’ve been going about it all wrong. My faith is still inside me, and I have this beautiful boy, and opportunities are there if I tap back into my motivation, energy and go do something about it. It’s not too late. In fact, it’s time to put my faith back in God, take a new walk, and get rid of the negative thinking. I want to make my life happen again, make it even better for my son and wife if not just for these simple reasons. I want to believe again, and your life and work represented that to me.

All because of a pair of new drumsticks that I await in the mail. I guess I just wanted to say thank you for something I’m not even sure of yet, but it’s there.

Thanks again. Can’t wait till I get the new sticks, and seeing my son’s face as he opens them – and as he sees the look on my face with a spirit of renewed energy.

I can’t give up now. Look what I have in front of me.

Have a blessed Christmas,

David

_______________________________________________

Wow! Did I mention how that made my week? I have a renewed vision for the future and it is my prayer for you as well. I pray you will realize that God is using you in the lives of those around you in ways you can never imagine. Don’t give up. Keep doing what you are doing and I pray that God will give you a glimpse of the impact of your life.

Question:

Have you ever been encouraged by someone you had no idea was watching and listening? Share your story in the comments below. I would love to hear and so would others.

Men, remember this one thing…

fatherMen, remember this one thing today…Before you are a preacher, a teacher, an engineer, a volunteer, an entrepreneur, an accountant, a CEO, a President, a Vice-President, a Fireman, a Policeman, a coach, a musician, or anythings else you do, you are first a husband and a dad.

Your family won’t care what you did for others if you forsake them while pursuing your own passion. Do all you can to be the best you can possibly be, make as much money as you can so you can be a blessing to others and climb as high as you can. But don’t forget this one thing. You are first and foremost a Husband and a Dad. That is what it’s all about. That is what you will be known for when others talk about you at your funeral.

Don’t give up what you have for something that won’t last.

A Letter to Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus

Gone are the days of me cranking up the songs “Baby” and “Pumpin’ Up the Party” with the windows down in my Honda Minivan. I still long for the days of singing at the top of our lungs to both of those songs, but I can no longer bring myself to support them anymore. With impressionable 5 and 9 year old daughters to answer for, I have to be extra careful in the choices I make.

I can’t begin to imagine what it’s like to start a career in your teens with a fan base primarily made up of children under 13 only to have ambitions of being taken seriously as a “professional” and “relevant” artist. I know it’s frustrating to be perceived as a child entertainer that doesn’t have anything to contribute in the “real world” of the music industry.

However, I wish you had realized that those children were not the ones buying your music and merchandise, it was their parents. I’m sure you have heard the phrase, “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!” That is truer than you can imagine. Based on recent photos I’ve seen and public actions of both of you, I have completely removed the option for any of your music to be an influence on my children’s lives.

If you had stayed the course and continued to be “relevant” in the life of a preteen, you would have maintained your foundation on which you could have made a gradual transition to actually being a “relevant” adult artist, however, you completely went off the deep end with your latest material.  My whole family loves the song “The Climb” and I think that is a great example of growing into an adult artist. I only wish you had chosen to stay on that path.

I want you to take a few steps in my shoes as a dad who longs for wholesome entertainment that’s not limited to The Wiggles or Dora The Explorer. I wish I could give my daughters a Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber cd and not have to worry about whether the content was going to compromise my beliefs and standards that are appropriate for someone their age. If that were the case, I promise you the cd purchase would only be the tip of the iceberg.

As any parent knows who has had a child latch onto something, the sky is the limit when it comes to supporting them and their interest. Both of you have had tremendous success in this area in the past, but are slowly experiencing the backlash of disappointed consumers who don’t want to continue in supporting an artist who no longer supports them.

If you don’t stop going in the direction you’re headed you will end up like Britney Spears, or worse, Michael Jackson. My heart breaks for you because of the pressure you are under, but it also breaks for your parents who are probably heartbroken with the choices you’ve made. Justin, it seems like yesterday when your mom was sharing about the amazing future ahead. It’s very sobering to think about it now.

Miley, I can’t even let my daughter see a recent photo of you for fear of what she will see that she has never seen before and want to ask a million questions that she is not ready to have answered.

You can make a choice today that will change the course of your future and impact the lives of millions. Most people’s number one struggle is money and a lack of it. That is certainly not the case for you all. With that in mind, why don’t you stop focusing on “finding yourself” and “doing what YOU want to do” and focus on how blessed you are and how powerful you can be to bring about positive change in other people’s lives. Your argument might be that no one has ever done it before. I want to encourage you to be the first to do it. NOTHING great was ever accomplished that did not require faith and sacrifice. 

The next time you create a song in the studio or star in a movie, think about how you are impacting the future and those who look up to you as a role model. Don’t live this life thinking only of yourself. You have been given a tremendous gift, don’t squander it. You were created for so much more!

Signed,

The dad of these two former fans,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you would like to get more post like this delivered directly to your inbox, subscribe here.

Have You Ever Settled For This?

Have you ever observed someone doing something truly great? If you’ve ever watched professional sports, then the answer is certainly yes. Think about how many little league players start the season off with a dream of one day playing in the big leagues, yet easily less than 1% of them ever make it. Why do you think this happens? You might say that many of them were never cut out for the pros. But what about the others who are clearly talented and have an actual chance at making it? I have found the difference is summarized in a few short sentences.

  • One player keeps trying when others give up.
  • One player gets up when others stay down.
  • One player stays late when others leave early.

I’m not a huge sports fan but the above illustration paints a vivid picture we can all learn from.

I’ve observed these same actions in my own life in the choices I often make. I daily face the choice of doing what most people do versus doing what is rarely done.  I can choose what is easy or I can choose what is hard. Most of these decisions revolve around time management. Time management is one of the hardest areas to gain control of because our time is the most valuable possession we have.  

My greatest struggles often involve things like scanning Facebook, watching T.V, lounging on the sofa and surfing the web. My life is filled with opportunities to do what society says is good or do what I know is great. I could easily write a short essay on why scanning Facebook is good, watching T.V is educational, sitting on the sofa is sometimes needed and surfing the web is beneficial, but when the day is over I usually reflect on what I should have done rather than what I did. Regardless of how you define success, I have found that what you do with what you have will determine your level of greatness. You can’t settle for good.

___________________________________________

When I wake up in the morning I have to remind myself that I have to hire myself each day for the job I was created to do. That is a huge task. If you don’t realize that you’re ultimately working for yourself, you will never do anything out of the ordinary. If I realize that I am competing against myself, then and only then will I excel to the level I want. Otherwise, I only achieve the level that others place before me. And who wants to do that. That is what most people do. Remember, you don’t want to be like most people, do you?

If we are to live a life that is pleasing to God, we are going to have to make sacrifices. We can’t take the easy road and we can’t do what everyone else does. We can’t do what is average and we certainly can’t be normal. God created us for greatness. He longs for us to have an abundant life.

I want to challenge you to reach farther than you have ever reached. Go beyond anything you’ve ever dreamed. If God has placed a dream in your heart, don’t give up. Keep your faith and stay strong in what you know is true. We can hold on to the Word of God that makes a promise that we are not alone.

Phil. 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.

Question: What are you currently doing that is keeping you from being great in a certain area?

You Can Predict Your Future In These Easy Steps

Predicting your future does not require a crystal ball. It only requires a few easy steps. You may think it’s impossible, but it’s as easy as putting together a puzzle. One piece at a time.

Have you ever felt like your future was a huge mystery? A never-ending continuous question mark? Understanding your role in predicting your future is vital in having the kind of life you want. Let me show you in these simple steps how you can begin predicting your own future immediately.

It begins with a picture of the finished product in plain view. After you know what you are creating, you simply put the right pieces in the right place and begin chipping away at it by putting the pieces together.

-Here’s an example that will make it clear-

Your goal is to read the latest book published on “How to (fill in the blank)”. You want to finish it by Friday. Essentially, you have 120 hours between Monday and the end of the day on Friday. So, after taking into account your other obligations, including sleeping, eating, working, etc… you realize you have 15 hours of free time that you can dedicate to your task.

If you have an average reading speed of 200 words per minute, and the average book has 50,000 words, then you should be able to read your latest book in under 5 hours. That’s a pretty low average, so you should be able to attain this goal with no problem. Even if you double it, you are still allowing for 10 hours to achieve your goal.

Now, look at your book shelf and count how many of those books are waiting to be read. Are you not capable of setting aside 5 hours this week? If you’re like me, you could gather up 5 hours this week if you would only take into account the amount of time you spend wasted on things that are pointless.

What about your home life? Do you want to add more structure to your schedule regarding meals? Exercise? Cleaning? What about your finances?

Everything we want to attain can be easily broken down into segments that are easy to process. The problem we often encounter is a little thing called “Life”.

Your ability to balance this thing called “Life” with the goals you want to achieve in life is where success is had. You have to establish your priority. This balance can be summed up in one simple phrase: You focus on what you value.

Apparently a lot of us value watching t.v. because that is what so many of us do. Remember that you are the one in charge.

  • Establish the goal
  • Set a deadline
  • Break it down into attainable task

Challenge for this week-

What goal do you want to slide over to the “accomplished” side? Leave it in the comment below and come back next week to give us an update. Remember, it’s What I Sacrifice Everyday.

A Dad’s View From 30K Feet

view from 30K

Have you ever seen your house from 30,000 feet? I live in the path of planes leaving the airport in Mobile, AL, so I get to see my house every time I fly west in the daytime. I’ve highlighted my house to show you exactly where I live. Last year, while leaving for a show with my former band Big Daddy Weave, I suddenly realized how insignificant my place of residence was in comparison to the massive earth we live on. If we had flown about 7 miles north-east I would’ve been able to see my father’s house as well, and like mine, his is rather insignificant too.

As we continued on our journey I noticed, just 5 miles to the east, the largest house in Mobile that is approaching a massive 20,000 square feet. An incredible human achievement that many aspire to, yet still, from 30,000 feet, amazingly insignificant.

Very few moments have impacted me like that moment sitting in the window seat of a plane bound for Dallas, TX. I instantly saw the truth behind the lie that most men I know are living. We have a very limited time on earth as we struggle to do what needs to be done to become who we long to be. Most men focus so much time and energy on building their own little kingdom that they forget about what really matters, only to one day face a future of regret.

______________________________________________

This Father’s Day I want to focus on what I’m creating with my life and the impact it’s having on my family and those around me. When I stay “at the office” later than usual or have a “working weekend” I am sacrificing something I will never get back. I am sacrificing influence, and I have a limited number of years where I can influence my children. I’m not against working hard and being a good steward of what I’ve been given, but I want to make sure I’m focused on things that will matter 20 years from now and not on things that are temporary and insignificant.

Leaving my band was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made. I was gone 150 days last year and heard amazing stories nightly of how our music was being used to change peoples lives. That was a very “good” thing, but I was leaving 3 ladies at home that needed a dad and a husband to lead them and be there for them. I left the band in January and I know without a doubt I did the right thing. Bedtime, Dinner time and morning drives to school are more precious to me now because I know what it was like to not be there.

Are you filling your days with doing “good” things that have an impact on the lives of others? Great. That is a noble thing. However, don’t forget your calling as a husband and father to make an investment in their lives by physically being there. You’ve heard the old saying: Love is spelled= T.I.M.E. Well, I agree completely! I don’t want my 5 and 9 year old girls to one day have memories of a dad who gave himself completely to others while forsaking the ones closest to him.

Challenge to fathers everywhere:

Be completely there. Realize like the Reverend Billy Graham did late in life when he was questioned about having regrets. He said, “I regret that I didn’t spend more time with my family.”

What man has had more of an impact in the lives of others around the world? Yet, he too struggled and later realized what mattered most.

Addison 5, Stephanie, and Hannah 9

As men, we were created to do work that matters and allows us to provide for our family. We must maintain the proper perspective in life if we want to be able to look back and not be filled with regret because of the choices we’ve made.

It’s not an overnight transformation, it’s a daily choice. I use the acronym W.I.S.E. to help me do what I know I should. It’s “What I Sacrifice Everyday” that allows me to make the decisions I should in order to be who I was created to be.

Question:

What have you learned in life that could serve as encouragement to men everywhere to choose what matters most?

How to Have a December to Remember

calenderI know, I know. We just started 2013. However, you know December will be here sooner than you think and you along with the rest of the world, will be wondering what happened to the time. As I get older I am reminded daily of how fast time goes by. It seems like just yesterday I was adjusting to writing 2012 on checks and other documents. Now I am having to adjust to writing 2013. The fact is, as we age, we become more aware of how fast time flies because we know we have less and less of it. Like anything in life, we cherish the sacred, and for most of us, our most prized possession is time. We can never get it back once it has past.

What will you feel like when December arrives? Will you feel like you accomplished what you set out to do or will you feel like you failed? Or will you not care? Most of us are compelled to achieve things in life. It’s the way we were wired. Think about how you felt the last time you mowed the lawn, or in my case, watched someone else mow your lawn. In any case, you felt a sense of accomplishment. Mowing the lawn is a relatively simple task, yet it does wonders for your sense of gratification. Wouldn’t it be great to have that experience in December, only on a much larger scale? Compare mowing the lawn to losing 50 lbs, writing a book, running a marathon, etc…You can imagine the feeling.

How do you want to feel in December? Now is the time to put the wheels in motion.

Below are a few tips for having a December to remember:

  • Create a list of things you want to accomplish this year
  • Create a list of things you need to remove from your life
  • Identify what is preventing you from achieving your goals
  • Put a plan into action broken down with the end in mind

Example:
1. Lose 42 lbs this year
There are 42 weeks left in the year
1 lb per week
2.29 ounces per day-This is a very achievable goal when viewed this way

2.  Read 21 books this year for spiritual and personal growth
Read 1 book every 2 weeks
Read 18 pages per day based on an average book having 250 pages, again, a very achievable goal.

You can do anything you want to do if you will only make a daily choice to do so. We are what stands in the way of achieving our goals.
Remember, you must be W.I.S.E.™ to achieve your goals. It’s What I Sacrifice Everyday.

Question:
What are you going to do to have a December to remember?

Is Time Travel Possible?

Time MachineWhat if you could travel back in time? What if you could go back to one day in the past and relive any 24 hour period taking all of the knowledge you currently possess?

Imagine for a moment that day is today. What if 20 years from now you were able to travel back in time and come back to today. How would you want to spend your day? Buying up stock in a company based on future performance is off limits!

Would you treat your spouse differently? Would you love on your kids more? Or would you spend your free time watching another episode of (fill in the blank)?

We so easily forget the value of today and the effect it will have on tomorrow. Think of the savvy investor who sacrificed $100 per month for 40 years and now is reaping the benefits. Think of the spendthrift who squandered away every dime and now has nothing to show for it.

What about the parent who gave their heart and soul to the company only to gain a watch but lost their family in the process? It is so easy to judge them at the end of their life because it’s easy to reflect on the past, but what about predicting the future and preventing the heartache that is bound to come?

Imagine writing a letter and being able to send it to yourself twenty years earlier. What would it contain?

Practice it using 100 words or less. Below is mine:

Jeff-
Spend more time in God’s word, for it is never changing. Spend more time with your family and less time watching t.v.. Cancel cable, NOW! Read more non-fiction. Take more pictures. Start saving more and eat out less. Pray more, write more, keep journaling and memorize more scripture. Give up soda, eat less pizza, work out more and don’t sleep so much. Don’t get a serious girlfriend until after college. Spend more time with your granny. Set goals every year. Write it down = get it done.  Care less about what others think. You will thank me, I promise.

Jeff

________________________________________________

We can implement these changes today. NOW is the time to start, not tomorrow or next week. Don’t waste another day, but begin living the life you want to have. What’s stopping you?

Don’t wait another 20 years.

Question: what would your letter to yourself be? Share it below. 100 words or less.

X
Sign up to receive Jeff's FREE eBook: Get it HERE
¤