Archive | December 2014

What I Learned This Year From my Goals

Today is the last day of 2014!  I figure I’ll close out the year by stating a few things I learned/observed as I focused on my goals this year.

Listening to my family:

1- First off, I learned that people definitely value being listened to!  I could tell this from the reactions from my kids and husband as I did (and sometimes didn’t) listen well to them.  But also from my sister who had to have her thyroid removed earlier this year.  So many people did kind things for her and her family to help out, but she told me more than once that what she appreciated (and still appreciates) the most is when people take the time to listen to her talk about what she is experiencing.

2- I also learned however, that listening can be very difficult thing to do,  It doesn’t seem like it should be, but it requires being in complete control of our thoughts which takes a lot of self discipline!  It also requires some selflessness to channel our thoughts in the direction of another person’s interest rather than our own.  I still feel like I am struggling so much with this, but I plan to keep on practicing…even into 2015!

3- The final thing I observed is that listening is so much easier when people are talking about something I am interested in.  So, while it is necessary to sometimes let people talk about something on their mind, even if I am not personally interested, often what a person wants is to just talk.  In these cases I have found that I can actively look for common ground with the person and have a conversation about that.  For example, at dinner I have learned that rather letting everyone talk randomly about what is on their minds (which often ends up being senseless giggling or joking, or worse – arguing), instead to suggest a specific topic such as, “Let’s go around the table and everyone tell what they were doing at 11:00 am.”  Everyone gets a turn to talk, (there is less giggling and arguing), and I get to listen to things that I genuinely want to know.

Taking Better Care of My Health

1- If I eat junk, I crave more junk.  If I eat good food, I crave more good food…and the desire for junk food decreases significantly.

2- It takes a fair amount of fore-thought combined with self-discipline to go to bed early enough for a good night’s sleep.  It doesn’t seem like it should be so hard.  I’m so tired by the end of the day, going to sleep ought to be the easiest thing in the world…but I have definitely learned that if I want it to happen as early as it should, I have to be very conscientious about it.

3- I also learned that my 5 yr-old is an excellent exercise instructor! 🙂  One day she was adamant that she did not want me to use the TV to play an exercise DVD, and informed me that she would teach me instead.  She really got me moving (and herself too)!  And it was a fun activity for both of us.

Time Management:

1- I learned that I do not like being constantly busy.  I’ve been battling this idea all year, because part of me feels if I am not busy then I am being idle.  But I’m starting to think that maybe there is a difference between being “still” and being “idle.”  I think the key is balance – I do like to be (and need to be) busy most of the time, but allowing myself to be still sometimes too is something that I think is really beneficial.

2- I also don’t like never-ending to do lists.  If I write down everything on my mind to do, the list is very long and impossible to finish!  I’ve written so many lists like this, and recently I just quit doing it.  Instead, I’m making lists of what absolutely has to be done right away.  All of the other stuff I’m just trying to do as the opportunity arises.

3- And, finally I learned that the Rule of 3 works for me!  After reading the book “Getting Results the Agile Way” by J.D. Meier earlier this year, I’ve discovered that his suggestion of grouping goals into 3’s is great.  Not only did I find it less complicated to have 3 goals for the year instead of 5, but I’ve found it helpful in other ways too.  For example on Fast Sunday I always have more than one thing or person I want to fast for, so I have found that choosing three things to focus on each time feels just right.  In fact, whenever I really need to focus, 3 often seems to be the right number of things to focus on.

So that’s it for 2014!  I think I learned some good things from my efforts…however imperfect they may have been.  Tomorrow will be a new year and a fresh start.  And I can’t wait to share my 2015 goals in the coming week or so!

What did you learn from your goals this past year?

Remembering the Savior at Christmas-time

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Our family is doing something a little different this year for our family scripture study.  Usually at Christmas-time we do replace our normal reading with scriptures about the birth of the Savior, both in the Bible and in the Book of Mormon.  Last year we included watching a few of the Bible videos produced by the Church.  I really liked that.

But this year I got the idea to sing a Christmas hymn each night and then read the verses that are listed with the hymn.  And I have to say that I love this!  I love the Spirit I feel in our home as we sing, and the scripture reading ends up being slightly different than it is with traditional readings.  For example, tonight we sang #205 “Once in Royal David’s City” and then read Mosiah 3:5-8.

For behold, the time cometh, and is not far distant, that with power, the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity, shall come down from heaven among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay, and shall go forth amongst men, working mighty miracles, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, causing the lame to walk, the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and curing all manner of diseases.

6 And he shall cast out devils, or the evil spirits which dwell in the hearts of the children of men.

And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people.

8 And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary.

So if you are looking for a simple way to remember the Savior these last few days before Christmas, give this idea a try!  You may find that you love it too!

And in case anyone is looking for more ideas, here are 5 more ways to focus on Him this season.

What are your favorite ways to remember the Savior at this time of year?

Reflecting on my 2014 Goals

During the month of December, besides thinking about Christmas preparations, one thing that has been pressing on my mind is the upcoming New Year’s Day and subsequent official ending of my 2014 goals.  I have never-ever kept any goals so fresh in my mind for a full year before, and I have this blog to thank for that!

But this month, I have to admit to feeling a bit discouraged about what I accomplished during the year.  I know that I’ve written about various changes I was making, but the truth is that I haven’t stuck consistently with any of them.  And that is so typical of me…I’m constantly starting new systems and ways of doing things, and dropping them a short time later.  Today I feel like I am operating no differently than I was at this time last year.

So, as I’ve been thinking about this, and pondering the question “why?,” I think it boils down to that maybe deep down I just don’t want to do anything differently than what I am doing.  For example:

  • I don’t want to have to be governed by a routine or a “to do” list every day.
  • I don’t want to prepare healthier meals because I don’t want to spend more time in the kitchen.
  • I don’t want to have to listen to someone talk in detail about a subject that I have no interest in.

A couple of weeks ago I went with the missionaries to visit someone they are teaching.  While we were there, they spoke to the man about our church’s Word of Wisdom, and invited him to give up drinking coffee.  (You can read more about our beliefs on the word of wisdom here).  The man said, “I guess I don’t see why I should have to stop drinking coffee.  I mean, I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, and I don’t go carousing with the guys.  To me, it seems like drinking coffee is a small thing.”  The missionaries responded by bearing simple testimony that the word of wisdom is given to us by the Lord, and expressed their confidence that blessings would be received as he obeyed this law.  This is also something that I believe to be true too and have seen blessings of my own through living this way.

As I listened to this conversation, and as I have thought about it since, I have reflected on how the Lord does ask us to make changes in our lives.  Sometimes He asks us to do things we find to be difficult and that we don’t want to do.  But always, if we do His will, we find that we are better off for it.

In regards to my own goals, and the reality that I really don’t want to have to change, I find myself wondering if it is really necessary.  Like this man, I feel to some extent that my bad habits really aren’t that bad in comparison with some other things.  Do I really need to change?

But the other half of the situation is that I do want the results of having done all of these things.  For example:

  • I do want the chores to be done regularly and not feel constantly behind.
  • I do want to eat (and have my family eat) healthy food.
  • I do want my kids and husband to feel like they can talk to me anytime they need to, and that they will be treated with respect.

So I am constantly in a holding-place, stuck between not wanting to change, but wanting changes to be made.  And I guess I really don’t know what to do about it.  I guess the real question is if these are the things the Lord wants me to be focusing on?  Our perspective is so limited that often, even when what we want is good, it’s not what the Lord has in mind for us.  So as this year comes to a close, these are the thoughts that will be guiding me in my approach to the year 2015.

Thanks so much for reading, and as always feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!

My Favorite “Listening” Story

I can’t let the year go completely by without telling my favorite “listening” story!  As many of you know, “listening better to my family” is one of my 2014 goals; and while I have been trying to do it, I have actually written very little about the subject on my blog.

But there is one experience in my life that I almost always think of when the subject of being a good listener comes up.

My dad is and always has been a great listener, which is something I have definitely appreciated.  I try to be like him in this, but it doesn’t seem to come as naturally to me.  Anyway, when I was a Freshman in High School I received a progress report stating that I had a D in Algebra and that if I continued like I was it could be an F by the time report cards went out.  Well, you can imagine that my parents would not like this one bit, and my mom was pretty clear that she didn’t.  After talking to me a bit about it and the importance of my grades in school, she said to me “Your dad will need to see this when he gets home.  Do you want to show it to him, or would you rather that I do it?”  I opted to show it to him myself, and when he came home I bravely gave him the paper explaining what it was about.

Well, my dad looked at the paper and simply said, “Why are you getting a D in Algebra?”  I responded, “I don’t understand it!  I see what the teacher does, and I try to do it, but it doesn’t make any sense to me!”

After hearing my answer, he responded that if I don’t know how to do something, that I should come and ask him for help and he would explain it to me.  I did this once, then twice, and then all the time after.  His help was really helpful and my grade went up from a D to a B by the time report cards came out.  The pattern of his helping me continued all through High School, with any math and science that I found confusing (OK, just about all of it 🙂 ).  And the positive effects extended beyond that because when I needed help from teachers in High School and later in College, I wasn’t afraid to ask.

He really didn’t have to spend a lot of time listening, but I’ve always remembered how the first words out of mouth were not ones of chastisement, but rather a question.  He listened to my answer and offered a helpful solution.  It made a big difference, not just in my grades but how I felt about myself in regards to my school work.  And probably the most important thing was, that when I handed him the progress report I wasn’t very worried about his reaction, because this was the way he usually handled things.

When I watch people arguing (and unfortunately find myself doing it too) I often think about how much better it would be for all of us if we would ask questions and listen for the answer instead…just like my dad did.  Many times, of course, it takes longer than what I described to truly understand someone, but I really do believe that it is worth the effort and the patience that it requires.  Thanks, Dad for being such a great example!

When have you seen “listening” have a positive effect on a situation?