Personal Growth

Struggling To Find Your Balance? Me Too

As I sat down to write this I knew it had been a while since I’d written something that didn’t have to do with military operations or logistics estimates. I also recognized that I’ve been rather unhappy as of late. Not because of anything anyone has done or hasn’t done, but because I felt like (and still feel like) I’ve been out of balance.

When I started this site I was (and still am) grieving. As time went on I got deeper and deeper into the grieving process, learning each step is harder than the last. For a good while I wrote every day and it made me feel better, at least for a while. But then something happened. I don’t know exactly what it was or when specifically it happened, but it happened. All of the momentum I’d gained in two years just seemed to stop.

I quit writing. I quit recording podcasts. And I quit making progress.

There are a few things that happen in this process. When you realize you’ve stopped making progress you get frustrated at yourself for losing momentum. Then you get frustrated at yourself for being frustrated. This is a vicious cycle and is difficult to recognize and even more difficult to recover from.

It’s been almost two and a half years since Layla passed away. In that time we have moved twice (will be moving again in September, thanks Army!), had another child, and I completed my master’s degree. While they’ve been a terrible two years from one side of the coin, as a family and in our marriage, we’ve become such a unit and there’s more love in our household than I could have ever imagined. I firmly believe we’ve taken what could possibly be the hardest thing a family will ever have to endure and walked through it with our heads held high and made every possible bit of progress we could hope for.

So, why am I unhappy?

Truth is, I have no idea. There’s no reason. But we all have these moments. It’s what makes us human I guess.

The other night I was watching a Woody Allen movie, Midnight in Paris. If you haven’t seen it I’d recommend it as a good date night movie with your spouse. In it, Owen Wilson plays a screenwriter who’s trying to break through and write his debut novel that he feels really taps into his creative side. The film is littered with characters from the 1920s such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemmingway, Pablo Picasso, Gertrude Stein, and Cole Porter. All of whom were part of the roaring twenties and the artistic boom in Paris, France.

What is often forgotten about such characters is their genius was often created out of tragedy. While not all of them suffered great loss in their lives, more did than not. We learn that human beings often thrive in times of tragedy once they get their head wrapped out it. Like all great fiction, whether it be books or films, it teaches us more about what it means to be human.

I’ve learned in the last three years that being human means you’ll have times in your life where you’re staring at the bottom of a glass, wondering if it will ever be full again.

That glass will be full again if you’re willing to put something in it.

It won’t fill itself.

Finding your balance will never be straight forward. The weights will constantly be shifting because you’re probably not going to be the same person next year as you are right now. Factors in your life will always change and how you react will also change. But in order to fill glass again and again, you have to be aware of where you are and what’s changed. Because one year you may have to fill that glass with water, the next juice, and the year after that it could be wine. Who knows?

One thing for sure, though, it’s up to you to keep filling it with what it takes to balance out.

 

Photo credit: Flickr/Rosmarie Voegtli

3 Ways To Win The Battle Of Analysis Paralysis

I’ve always had trouble making decisions. Not major decisions, but the smaller ones. The ones that eat away the day.

The kind of decisions that keep you from being productive and lead you to bingeing through 12 episodes of Breaking Bad on Netflix. These are the things that lead us to procrastination. But the problem is not procrastination. As a recent Business Insider article points out, sometimes procrastination is the main ingredient to allowing a great idea to flourish. The problem is your lack of deciding what is a “MUST” vs. what is a “SHOULD”.

This distinction is important, but hard to come by. Let’s break down why this is important with 5 ways to win the battle over your analysis paralysis.Decide whether the task is something you truly “MUST” do, or something you just “SHOULD” do.

Decide whether the task is something you truly “MUST” do or something you just “SHOULD” do.

For us to decipher this we need to understand what the difference is. I have a course on this with a few visuals and even a checklist to help you make this easier. The major difference revolves around consequences.

If there are clear and direct consequences for NOT completing something, then it’s much more likely it’s something you “MUST” do. If there aren’t, then it’s just something you want to do, or “SHOULD” do at some point. But not before the “MUST”.

Decide which tasks need to come first by order of potential consequences.

It’s not just enough to determine which things are a “MUST” and which are a “SHOULD”. You have to prioritize them or you’ll just find yourself in the same position as when you started. Trying to decide which “MUST” you need to tackle first!

Break the tasks down into the harshest potential consequences so you can decide which things need to come first. David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done tackles this in a slightly different way, and I agree with the approach to some degree. He says, if you can get the task done in two minutes or less, then do it immediately and get it out of the way. I agree with this if it’s something that is easily identifiable.

If it’s not something you can tell that can be done that quickly, just move on in your prioritizing scale.

Decide the benefit of the things being accomplished based on your list of priorities.

It’s not enough to just decide what is a “MUST” vs. a “SHOULD”, then you need to put those things in priority and act on them. Action is important, but deliberate action is more important. Taking this deliberate action on the things you prioritize will allow you to figure things out and make real headway in your life.

Once you do these things I truly believe you’ll be able to find time for the simple things–like thinking…

It’s amazing what you realize you haven’t been doing when you all of a sudden find yourself organized and ready to tackle the days activities.

You may even be able to find time to spend with your family. I’m sure they’ve missed you.

Why “Trumbo” taught me more about being a Christian

By Adam Crawford

It’s likely that you can learn more about your faith from watching any movie about personal sacrifice. The difference is I’m not usually paying attention, but when Bryan Cranston is on the screen I can’t help but pay attention.

Trumbo is not a movie about Christianity, though there are some undeniable parallels. If you haven’t heard much about this movie then here’s what you need to know: it’s the story of Dalton Trumbo, a Hollywood screenwriter during the 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s. Trumbo was among the “Hollywood Ten” targeted by Congress in an attempt to rid the country of communisism. The main reason Trumbo and the Hollywood Ten became famous is because of their refusal to cooperate with Congress. Trumbo and many other writers and actors were blacklisted from Hollywood during this era because the leaders of this country felt they were a danger to the democracy of our country. They felt as if their only purpose was to create movies and push propoganda for the Soviet Union in an attempt to overthrow the United States.

All these years later it seems like such a ridiculous ideal. But at the time the majority of Americans felt this way. The interesting thing about Trumbo, and the movie in particular, is that it made me think about what it would be like to be a Christian during a time or place where Christians were persecuted. Or what it would be like to live in a country where Christians were not welcome or appreciated. Maybe even seen as a threat to the greater good.

While the movie Trumbo may be less about martyrdom and more about one man’s ego and refusal to be silenced by yuppie Hollywood beaurocrats, I think we can learn something from the eccentric charactor portrayed by Cranston.

In the movie (and by all accounts in real life), Dalton Trumbo stands up against Congress and the Hollywood elites because he feels they have no right to judge him based on his political beliefs. He feels his first amendment rights allow him to believe whatever he wishes and that no one can take that away from him. In short: he’s right. In long: that doesn’t ever seem to stop anyone from judging anyone else.

The admirable quality in the movie is Trumbo’s willingness to standup for what he believes in. His willingness to go to jail and take his “punishment” for something he feels he should not be punished. It may be a stretch of a comparison, but while I was watching the movie I couldn’t help but think of John the Baptist. A man who was beheaded because of his faith in God. The man who baptized Jesus.

Being a communist in the time after WWII must have been difficult. As a communist you were a minority of people seen as anti-patriots in a time where America had just defeated one of the most feared enemies in centuries. Patriotism was alive and running rampant. I think it’s probably safe to compare those times to the years just after 9/11. Being a Christian in the time Jesus was walking the Earth was much the same. And like any other belief, the stronger you display your faith, the more people believe you’re a radical.

If you want to know what it’s like to be a Christian in a place where you’re not welcome, or even seen as a threat, watch this video. This video shows a Muslim man trying to get plans for a mosque approved in a small town. He’s at a town hall meeting and all of a sudden someone stands up and accuses him and ALL Muslims of being terrorists. It’s quite shocking to me that anyone can treat another human being this way, but the sad thing is it happens all too often.

Trumbo is a good movie, it’s not great, but it’s worth seeing. The narrative moves too quickly with some characters and too slow with others, but in the end these problems can be overlooked as the film is carried by an incredibly engaging actor in the lead.

Being a follwer of Christ has never been pitched to anyone as being easy. It’s not. It’s difficult to have faith in something you can’t see or touch. It’s difficult to have faith in something that so many people see as a fairy tale. It’s difficult to have faith in something so many people believe is the root of why our world is constantly at war. But it begs the question, maybe our faith is the only thing worth fighting for.

If you haven’t seen Trumbo, go see it. And while you’re sitting in the theater think about whether or not you’d fight as Dalton Trumbo did for your beliefs as he did for his.

What We Can Learn From “Inside Out” About Emotion

You are your emotions.

They determine how you interact with everything around you. How you process stimuli from smells, sounds, sights, physical touch, and taste.

Every thought you have is driven by some emotion which is rooted in some memory hidden within the synapses of the brain.

Every fiber of your consciousness is emotion.

Hmmm…okay. Enough of the philosophical stuff.

When I walked into Pixar’s Inside Out last night I expected to see a clever, phenomenally animated, and comical movie. All of which were manifested into reality. What I didn’t expect was to spend 90 minutes contemplating why I felt the way I did.

There are few movies I’ve been to in the last few years where I really didn’t want to get up and take a bathroom break for fear of missing something personally groundbreaking, Inside Out was one of them.

I’ll do my best to not spoil anything in the movie, but even if I somehow screw that up and do post a spoiler, you should still go see it. There’s a lot to be learned.

The personification of emotions is something I’d never really thought about, but it makes perfect sense when displayed in Pixar’s amazing flick. Riley (the main character—sort of) is piloted by Joy, the emotion joy. What we learn over the course of the movie is that while Joy is trying to save Riley from the depressive state is that we have to understand and be willing to let the other emotions take the control panel from time to time.

This realization really hit home for me. Over the last 18 months, I’ve worked relentlessly to avoid feeling sad or angry or fearful of my situation and what the outcome may be. I’ve written and run, played golf and drove, sat quietly and screamed. All of these things have pushed me along the path to healing, but at the end of the day I have little control over the process of my emotions. I can ask one to show it’s face for a short while, and it may do so, but it will be shortlived. Because emotions are responses to every aspect of your environment from our inner self.

The primary lesson we can learn from Inside Out is simple: let your self feel whatever emotion seems to fit the situation. Don’t suppress emotion, embrace it. Because emotions are you. You are your emotions. Shutting one out is like shutting out a part of you, and not being your whole self will only take you in circles.

Oh how the time ticks by

As I logged on to the website today I didn’t realize it had been almost a month since I posted an article. I’m was immediately disappointed in myself. I felt like I’d been letting you down.

It seems like the days go by really slow but the weeks go by really fast. It’s an odd sense of time I’m experiencing these days. I’m often exhausted and constantly crave sleep, but yet I don’t always feels as if I’m getting anything done.

I’d venture to say I’m not alone.

I’d venture to say you felt like that at least one day this week.

The problem is there’s no hard and fast solution for fixing this problem.

You find yourself sitting in your office watching the second hand use a walker to get around the clock, but then you get to Friday afternoon and stare at the stack of papers on your desk. Those papers that were supposed to be taken care of two days ago.

It’s a never ending cycle.

But you can change that feeling. You may not be able to change your circumstances, but you can change your response to them.

Bruce Van Horn talks about the following equation:

E+R=O

If we break this down for those not quite so math-minded (like me!) it comes out to this:

Event + Response = Outcome

I can’t lay claim to this, it’s something I learned from Bruce, and I think there is a lot of truth to this.

You will not always be able to control the events in your life, but you can always control your response. And that’s how you control the outcome.

You make the choice of how you’ll respond to that person gossiping in your office. You make the choice of how you respond to someone rear-ending your new car, or you rear-ending the Corvette in front you.

You make the choice of how you respond to someone rear-ending your new car, or you rear-ending the Corvette in front you.

You determine how you’re going to respond to the extra 10 pounds you put on during the winter.

You determine how you manage your time as the second-hand ticks around the clock.

Nobody can control your response but you.

The time will go by at the same rate as it always does, it’s up to you to decide how you spend it. Because that second that just passed, you won’t ever get it back.

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