Monday, September 30, 2013

An Once of Prevention: 'Signs You're a Control Freak'


I know what it's like to be in "control freak" intervention and let me just say that the more you control *you* and the less the less that you try and control *others*, the calmer you are and the more willing they are to receive what you have to say. And even some of the things that you do.

Yet here's the thing: A lot of people are not actually aware just how controlling they actually are. That's why I discern that excerpts from the following two articles can help to do wonders when it comes to knowing where you are doing *way too much*---sometimes without even consciously knowing it.

The first one is actually a business-relates article entitled "8 Signs You're a Control Freak":

Want to know if you're a control freak? Here are eight signs for your self-diagnosing pleasure.

*You believe that if someone would change one or two things about themselves, you'd be happier. *So you try to "help them" change this behavior by pointing it out, usually over and over.
*You micromanage others to make them fit your (often unrealistic) expectations. You don't believe in imperfection and you don't think anyone else should either.
*You judge others' behavior as right or wrong and passive-aggressively withhold attention until they fall in line with your expectations. Sitting in silent judgment is a master form of control.
*You offer "constructive criticism" as a veiled attempt to advance your own agenda.
*You change who you are or what you believe so that someone will accept you. Instead of just being yourself, you attempt to incept others by managing their impression of you.
*You present worst-case scenarios in an attempt to influence someone away from certain behaviors and toward others. This is also called fear mongering.
*You have a hard time with ambiguity and being OK with not knowing something.
*You intervene on behalf of people by trying to explain or dismiss their behaviors to others.

You believe that if you can change another person's undesirable behavior, then you will be happier or more fulfilled. You make someone else responsible for how you feel.

And then there's one that's relationship-related entitled "20 Glaring Signs You Have a Control Freak in You":

Here are 20 glaring signs of a control freak that could help you recognize the control freak in you. Being a control freak isn’t all bad, but when it affects your life and the people you love, you know you’ve crossed the line into the dark side, don’t you? Use these 20 signs to find out if you’ve crossed over already.

#1 You sincerely believe that others around you are incapable of doing something on their own, and need your constant intervention and guidance just to do something right.

#2 You believe you know what’s best for your lover, your family or even your workplace.

#3 You’re convinced that everything can be completed to perfection only with your involvement.

#4 You have to see it to believe it. You don’t trust the judgment of others, even if it’s someone you trust.

#5 You’re a bad listener who doesn’t like hearing the other side of the story, and you never try to understand another person’s point of view because you think you’re right anyway.

#6 You always assume a task or a chore will lead to failure without your involvement or advice.

#7 You’re a workaholic, and love it. It helps you realize just how dependable you are, and just how much others need you.

#8 You get frustrated when someone doesn’t get you, or doesn’t understand that you’re only trying to help them *even if they aren’t asking for your help*.

#9 You can’t take criticism, and you only pretend like you can.

#10 You want to be a perfectionist in everything you do, and secretly feel threatened by anyone who may be better than you in your expertise.

#11 There’s no pleasing you, and you always find a reason to complain. If the work is done by someone else, you think it’s shoddy. If it isn’t completed yet, you get angry because it hasn’t been done.

#12 You set unreasonably high standards for yourself, which can leave you disappointed and frustrated.

#13 You expect high standards from everyone around you, even if they’re not capable of achieving the high standards you set.

#14 You don’t like it when someone keeps secrets, especially your loved ones. You go out of your way to hear the truth, even if it means doing something unethical and wrong.

#15 You like making decisions for others, because you believe they can’t make the right decision without your help.

#16 You feel hurt and angry if someone declines to accept your help.

#17 You can’t wait to pick flaws if someone doesn’t involve you with the decision making. It helps you realize your own worth, and makes others realize how important you really are in their lives or plans.

#18 Control freaks hate delegating, and would rather stay up all night working instead of sharing the burden with someone.

#19 You’re easily angered if your partner or a close friend takes a decision without hearing your suggestion first.

#20 You don’t trust people and you always doubt their capability and sincerity. 

There's no way a woman can make the transition into a wife if she's already trying to control the men in her life. Just something to think about (and pray over).



Sunday, September 29, 2013

"On Fire": Realistic Ways to Make Love MAGICAL


Even in spite of all of the horrific movie reviews that came out about Baggage Claim, I still went. People who know me know that I am pretty militant when it comes to certain things within my (black) culture; one of them being that I choose to (financially) support efforts that are made in cinematography when people strive to tell non-stereotypical stories in their own way.

I'm glad I went too. It's no Oscar-contender but it's cute enough (Jill Scott is really good in it). Plus, without giving away too much, it's also great at conveying the very thing that I addressed in the blog post under this. It's very similar to what Derek Luke's character asked Paula Patton's character when discussing with her the plight to change her single status: "[Do you want to be] *somebody's* or *anybody's*?"

Yes, yes. I really do like it when confirmations come. And thank you, Spirit (John 4:24) for sending signs (Daniel 4:2-3), even in parable form (Matthew 13:13), that being in a relationship is about more than being with a man. It's about being with *the right man* (and no you don't have to go from man to man to man like they're a pair of shoes to find the right fit. Eve didn't).

On the heels of the film,  I thought about an interview that I watched with Jill Scott a couple of weeks ago. One of the questions that she was asked is how to know if a guy is "the one"...*her one*. I dug her list.

"I want a man to treat me like a person." I'm sure a big part of what she meant by this is someone who is not moved (or ill-motivated) by her fame. But let's look deeper than that. To be a person is to be human and to be human is to be someone who makes mistakes (I John 1:9-10). There are a lot of people who get into relationships expecting folks to be characters out of chick flick films so that they can "edit" them however they choose. Sadly, when it's revealed just how *human* their significant other is, they are resentful and irresponsibly judgmental (Matthew 7:1-6, John 7:24) in the sense that they want their own issues to be tolerated while they don't extend that same kind of mercy, grace and forgiveness (Matthew 6:14-15) to others. Standards are one thing (and please do have some) but expecting perfection is unrealistic (Ecclesiastes 7:18-Message) put it mildly. Another definition of person is one's actual self or individual personality. I am a *big fan* of the word "individual" and so is God (Psalm 33:15). It's important that a man loves you for who you *actually are* (which means that you need to reveal who that is). It's also important that he honors you as an *individual*. As someone who is *distinctive* in his life. To be distinctive is to be "having a special quality, style, attractiveness, etc.; notable". It reminds me of the verse in Song of Solomon that says "My darling, everything about you is beautiful, and there is nothing at all wrong with you." (Song of Solomon 4:7-NCV) Yet please take note that in order for a man to see you distinctively, *you need to be distinctive*. Don't copy others. Don't be a chameleon (you know, becoming whomever the person you're dating wants you to be). Don't dismiss the special things about you that make you...*you*. If you strive to do this and you put forth the effort to give him space to do this same, this is what it means to treat and be treated as *a person* in a relationship.

"I want a man to treat me like a lady."  Oftentimes, when people use this word, I'm not sure if they actually know what it means so let's explore. To be a lady is to be well-spoken; it's about being cognizant of your words *and also your delivery* (hence, I Peter 3:7 speaking of a quiet and gentle spirit being precious to the Most High). To be a lady is to be of high social or economic class (yeah, a lot of folks tend to overlook that one but having a good reputation should fit the bill-Proverbs 3:3-4-Message). To be a lady is to be female; a woman. OK, let's stop here a sec. GOD MADE MALE AND FEMALE (Mark 10:6). On purpose. No mistakes. No one gender trapped inside the body of another (that sounds like a lot of confusion to be and the Spirit does not author that-I Corinthians 14:33). And a big part of being a woman is being a helpmate (Genesis 2:18). As a matter of fact, another word for "lady" *is* wife. There are a lot of women who are in less-than-fulfilling relationships (or even God's intention for a relationship) and it's because they are not expecting a man to treat them like a lady but a sex partner, a cook, a maid, a date to business functions, a long-term girlfriend (over 30, dating more than three years is something wise counsel on)---basically any and everything *but* a wife. Yet, while Jill *may* have been talking about a man opening doors, etc., as we can see, being treated like a lady goes well beyond chivalry. If you want to be treated as wife potential, you must act like it.

"I want a man to treat me like one of the boys." I remember going to a guy's friend's house a couple of years ago and they were all playing video games. Do you know what I did? I sat quietly and watched. Video games have their time and place even in a grown man's life (if he wants them there). As a matter of fact, *several husbands* have told me that if a woman will leave a man alone for 20 minutes to play one after a long day at work, not only does it allow him to "shift gears" from the office to home life but he can also mentally work through a lot of things during that time. Anyway, the guy said to me, "You are actually the first woman to come over here and be quiet. That's really cool." It didn't bother me. Video games can be fun. So, where am I going with this? The Amplified Version of Genesis 2:18 tells us this: "Now the Lord God said, It is not good (sufficient, satisfactory) that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper (suitable, adapted, complementary) for him." When women think of being treated like "one of the boys", oftentimes they associate it with going fishing or watching a football game with their significant other. I equate it from another place. Amos 3:3 asks us how can two walk together without them being in agreement. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 speaks of the value of a friend and two individuals *working together*. When you are suitable, adapted to and complementary to someone else, that is the healthy foundation for a true friendship. In counseling sessions, you might be surprised by how many couples I work with who may have great sex or similar values or check off pretty well on one another's "mate list" but at the end of the day, I can tell that they are not friends. They don't laugh together. They don't enjoy similar leisure interests. They don't prefer each other to just about any other human on earth. Men hang out with their "boys" because they enjoy being around them. If you want a good relationship, you and your beloved will feel the exact same way.

"I want a man to not be scared of me." OK, Jill actually took this one a step further: "If you can tell me what to do, you can tell me what to do. If you *can't* tell me what to do, you *can't* tell me what to do." Yeah. Don't get all in a tizzy (LOL). I actually understood *exactly* where she is coming from. As I tell single women often, if you don't want to submit to a man, *stay single*. It's really just that simple. However, if you are going to submit to a man (which is essentially submitting to God in a marriage-Ephesians 5:22, Colossians 3:18), *to your husband*, then it needs to be the kind of man you will respect when it comes to the position that he holds in your life. However, it goes deeper than that: You need to be able to fully and totally trust his relationship with God. A part of the reason why we're told to not unequally yoke ourselves with non-believers is because they have a different way of approaching life. Prayer tends to not be their top priority (James 1:5). They don't really understand what it means to love a wife as Christ loved the Church (Ephesians 5:25-32). They don't get that they can lead a home because God is leading them and with God appointing their position, if their wife respects the Lord, she will not challenge that. So, a man not being "scared" of you is actually more about a man being aware of who he is. When a man knows his place in God's kingdom and in your life, as his woman, you can't help but to get in line with that. If you're smart.

So, what does all of this have to do with the title of the the blog? Well, although I do discern that we should be more responsible with the word "magic" (because its classic definition is a means by which to deceive), there is a definition that I long for more marriages to be walking indications of: "any mysterious or extraordinary quality or power".

Do you not think that when the Spirit created marital covenant that he did not do it with the intention of it having a mysterious quality and resonating an extraordinary power? After all, is that not what the Covenant (I John 5:8) is like?  Mysterious. Extraordinary. Of high quality. Plenty of power. Plus, being that "God is love" (John 4:8&16), doesn't it make sense what the picture quote says? That love, *that Love*, truly is the closest thing that we have to magic? To the Covenant. To knowing how to be in marital covenant?

Sometimes---no, *most times*---we make things harder than it actually has to be.

If you want your love relationship to be magical, don't try and *get* married.

Do what's required to *stay* married.

And Jill's list is a big part of recipe.



Friday, September 27, 2013

An Ounce of Prevention: '9 Signs You’ve Met The One'

OK Y'all...

That's a pretty profound quote right (up) there.

That said, I checked out an article today entitled "9 Signs You've Met the One" and it caught my attention because it seemed *extremely* healthy; especially 1, 5 and 8.

Yet before we get into that, in the effort to prevent someone who I feel is trying to *make someone be "the one"* rather than allow the Spirit to reveal who is God's best for them, I wanted to enclosed this throwback clip from A Different World. It's a classic episode indeed, but what I always liked most is what Dwayne said at the end and Whitley echoed (wait for it). A true, healthy and purposeful relationship is to do just they referenced:

"You taught me how to love." If you're in something that is not maturing you in I Corinthians 13:4-8 while you're striving to do the same for them, then you are not with God's best. *Period*.

That said, here's the list from the article (yeah, really catch that first one!):

1) You’re Not Chasing the Relationship’s Potential

Many people have romantic relationships fraught with obstacles. On a basic level, the relationship is satisfactory, but there always seems to be something standing in the way of true happiness: a stressful job, an annoying ex, a distasteful habit. Both people feel that once the obstacle is removed, they’ll be truly content together.

Unfortunately, relationships don’t work that way. Once the problem is resolved, another one pops up. And—surprise!—the couple is still unhappy.

What people may not realize is that if they are waiting for true happiness in their relationship, then they are in the wrong relationship. Landing a better job may make life easier financially, but no amount of money will help two people who just aren’t a good fit for each other.

The truth is, a happy, well-adjusted couple doesn’t have to chase what could be or should be. A good relationship just is.

2) Who You Are Is Good Enough

3) You Manage Conflict Well

4) The Mundane Is Suddenly Interesting

5) There’s Minimal Drama—or None at All

Like we said above when we talked about conflict, even the healthiest relationships deal with their share of arguments. So when we say that there’s not a lot of drama in your relationship, we don’t mean that the two of you never fight.

But when you do, you do your best to fight fair. You admit when you’re wrong, you listen to each other, you acknowledge one another’s good points, and you apologize when you cross lines. It’s not that you have to be perfect, but if this person is “The One,” then you are at least trying to make your conflict work for your relationship rather than against it.

So if you two are dealing with constant drama, where one of you is trying to create high emotions to manipulate the other or where there’s constant turbulence without some sort of resolution, then be careful about fully committing to the relationship at this point. High drama is a definite red flag when it comes to long-term relationship success.

6) Your Friends and Family See What You See

7) You Know How to Make Them Happy

8) You Have the Same Life Priorities

Opposites may attract, but they rarely make for a good long-term relationship. Compatibility really is key when it comes to creating a deep and lasting connection between two people.

For example, if you want to begin preparing for the future and building toward certain life and career goals, but your partner mainly wants to make enough money so that he or she can party this weekend, then you two are probably working with fairly different priorities.

And the opposite it is true, too: If your priorities match up well, then you two have a much better chance of long-term happiness and fulfillment together.

9) You Respect the Person Deeply

Remember, every God and perfect gift comes from God (James 1:17). That means you need to let the Father bring you to the man (Genesis 2:22) rather than you doing the choosing. And how can you know the difference? Ask God for divine wisdom (James 1:5). He'll show you. (Ecclesiastes 8:5)



Sunday, September 22, 2013

"On Fire": Think About How Far You've Come...

This is the email that I referenced in the post below this one. She is one of the women who will be receiving two puzzle pieces---one for her and one for her future beloved. Anyway, I found her journey to be a true blessing and I believe that it will be one for you too:

Hi Shellie...

I've been reading your devotionals for years and posts on the On Fire Fast Movement blog for quite some time.  I know that you are Spirit-inspired and I have witnessed the Holy Spirit speaking to me through your words...I don't know how many times...!  I have seen many of your giveaways, but this one spoke directly to me and so I was impressed to email you in response.

I am 36-years old and am simply thankful for the path along which God has led me.  For as long as I can remember, I have suffered from the "Cinderella at the Ball...happily ever after" syndrome.  I grew up thinking that my Prince Charming would eventually come and rescue me and make me complete...provide all of the stuff in me that was missing...make me essence.  I approached men looking to be rescued and saved from something.  I had my own formula that never worked. When I look over my shoulder, I recognize situations and scenarios that I created (because I didn't know who I was or what my purpose was) where God literally shut doors in my face and removed me because I was too fixated on and too ignorant about what I thought I wanted and needed in terms of a man or a relationship.  In fact, relationships, to me, were all about me being happy and getting what I wanted...what I thought that I deserved...about happily ever after...finding my other half...

God kept shutting doors to the point where I realized that He was trying to tell me me something...He began to show me the real me....the “me” that HE had created...complete with skills sets and abilities that HE had pre-packed me with that HE wanted me to use for HIS glory.  He began to unveil His purposes for me. He began to show me the reason that I was created. And I got excited because I could finally see me the way God saw me.  My mindset began to change.  How I dealt with men began to change.  God began to send men my way that were platonic friends, not romantic interests.  I began to engage in these 3-D friendships with guys, for the first time, deeply appreciating the richness of them without pressure or awkwardness. 

I left out a minor detail. When I was 19, a friend gave me a copy of a "Letter from God", a beautifully written piece talking about how God had someone special for me, but it was only after I got to a point where I was satisfied exclusively with God that He would honor that promise.  I was beginning to hear God for myself then and I felt Him speaking a promise to me that I believed in my heart that He would fulfill.  I thought that I understood what that meant (to be exclusively satisfied with Him) but I really didn't at the time.

Fast forward to today...about 17 years later...and when I think about it, it makes me want to get up and run a few laps (praise break) because when I realized that God has done EXACTLY that and MORE in my life since I read and internalized that piece!  Marvin Winans sings a song with Donnie McClurkin that says "Whoever thought I'd get to know You this way."  I would NEVER have imagined that God would chase me until I caught Him and reveal Himself to me in ways that are inconceivable so that I would finally get to the point where I realized that in my life. He was enough.

During my years of disappointments and discouragement related to finding the right one, God educated me on Himself...the greatest love.  He reprogrammed my mindset, taught me what real love was...not just romantic love, but love for all people.  He showed me how to love Him, how to love myself, how to love others.  He developed me in terms of my purpose related to my career and ministry activities.  I developed a pure joy in doing things for God.  He became my man, my world.  I became satisfied with Him...He was the one who rescued me, saved me...I'd finally gotten to the point where I told God that if He never gave me anyone that I knew that my life would be full because He was my life. I never thought I would be able to say that I was His girl and He was my world. Wholeness came from Him. I was complete in Him. I truly found myself in Him.

God kept revealing that He did have someone for me and me for someone that He had personally crafted.  Periodically, the Holy Spirit would speak out of nowhere about it and because it was so random, I knew that it was God.  God gave me several dreams about my husband/marriage.  God also spoke to me that my husband would be human and would disappoint because he was human and that I was never to look to him in the ways that I look to God...that there were certain places and spaces that only God would fill and that shouldn't expect my husband to fill.  God showed me that He was planning our union for His purpose first, but that it would be enjoyable at the same time (for His glory and our good).  That we would minister side by side, in essence...God told me that my husband would see me the way God saw purpose...God in me...vice versa… I'd read something you'd written a while ago about being seen... That touched me.  In fact, the Holy Spirit has used a lot of what I've read that you've written to remind me, inform me, direct me.  Let God continue to use you!

So, I thought I'd share.  Hopefully, it's not too scatterbrained and you are able to see a bit of my journey to wholeness, completeness and real life...ready to be joined with my partner in life...!  Through this journey, my faith has developed regarding believing that God would do what He said He would do...In fact, just recently, out of the blue again, He let me know that my season of singleness was over...just spoke it quietly into my spirit.  I'm looking forward to ALL that He has in store...!

Blessing on you, Shellie!  I'm praising God for healing and restoration today!!!


"On Fire": A Love Letter from God (an Oldie but Goodie Reminder)


As I was doing some "On Fire business" tonight, I revisited an email that an "On Fire" woman sent me a few weeks ago. I Timothy 4:14-16(AMP), in part, tells us that our testimonies save us and those who hear us and so her email, with her permission, is posted above this one. However, a letter from God that she referenced in it reminded me of one that God wrote through me (wow) five years ago and I wanted to share it again as a reminder for some and a new revelation for others. And even as the "translator", I must say that even I am amazed by how...*thorough* the Father is.

So, if you feel like need to be loved on, especially, right's a spiritual hug.

If you're called to marriage (Matthew 19:11-12-Message), your heart is being fashioned, even now, for your beloved. You'll know it when the flesh catches up to the spirit. I am sure of it.

My Daughter,

You are right where you are supposed to be. So many people have theories and insights on how couples are to come together and the truth is that many miss it by interpreting what they want rather than what I choose. A man pursuing...a girl refusing, these are not necessarily the optimal conditions for mate selection. Adam did not “pursue” the Woman, nor did she spend her time creating ways to make it challenging for him to do so. Just like one’s purpose or date of birth and death, it is I who determines the “who, when, and where” of authentic and spirit-led matrimony and intimacy. It is the responsibility of both parties to follow as I, and I only lead.

You are not waiting on some man to “get his act together” or “see you for who you really are”, and no matter how it may appear to you in the physical realm, in the spiritual sense, “he” is right on schedule; my schedule. You are not to be listening to what man says, no matter what form the voice may reveal itself (media, tradition, statistics, naysayers, etc.). Remember, I decided when it was time for Adam to receive the miracle of female assistance and so if you have an issue with physical time, don’t take that up with anyone other than me; even then, know that I have your best interest at heart. Far too many of my daughters are consuming themselves with fear and anxiety about things that are really none of their concern. My ways are not your ways and until I unite you with the one you are purposed to benefit, his whereabouts and activities are not to be a priority to you. If you have not been joined to him yet, it’s simply because it’s not the right moment. He is not ready and neither are you. There are finishing touches that must be placed on you both and no matter how you may feel or what you might think, I am a God of order. I will not be pressured to move outside of my plan.

I know it must be hard. Flesh never likes to submit to my will. But please let me continue to mold you. Before you ever existed, you were hand-selected for someone and that has not changed. As the Creator, I am excited about my handiwork. Don’t go looking for answers to questions you are not able to conceptualize or present in a way that will intimidate me to react or respond. As I did with your parents, let me have the pleasure of presenting you as a gift to your mate. Ask your mother and father if they will ever forget the first time they saw your face. I want “him” to experience a similar thrill. If you want to channel out your energies, get excited about how excited I am about you; about how blessed I know he will be to have you!

Again, don’t concern yourself about the time. I am timeless. Concern yourself instead with remaining in my hands so that I can perfect you to be all that he needs--- so that when it’s the right moment, there will be no fear, no hesitation, no question that you are indeed the one that he is meant to live out the rest of his days on the earth with. Far too many women are not praised on their wedding day by their husbands in the way I would’ve liked because they did not allow me the opportunity to complete them to be what was required, and the man was not discerning enough to know the true purpose that his companion was meant to serve in his life.

I want more for you. Love me enough to let me give it to you. Just as you are to be a blessing to him, he is to be provider and protector for you; he is to bless you as well in ways even your prayers have yet to articulate, but in my infinite wisdom, I know you deserve.

Remember, above all else that, like faith, marriage is a spiritual union. This is the time to remove yourself from your senses, from what the physical is telling you and tap into your spirit. This is when you can please me most by standing and believing that I am true to my Word...even when you don’t see, feel or hear evidence of its manifestation. The Spirit always moves at what you all call “light years” ahead of the flesh. It takes it some time to catch up. (Hebrews 11:6) Be patient. (I Corinthians 13:4)

Stay in my will and I will show you the way---a way that leads to love, bliss and happiness. A place where you will feel naked and not ashamed…until death parts you. A place where your future husband will restfully await you.

I love you. Be still and know. Really know. I do.

Your Heavenly Father

©Shellie R. Warren/2008

Saturday, September 21, 2013


An Ounce of Prevention: '25 Ideas That Will Help You to Live on Purpose'


As the 'Unstuck Project' is moving along, a big part of the focus this week is making the most of one's time. In doing some research on that, I was led to this article: "25 Ideas That Will Help You Live on Purpose". It's great. Gonna copy and paste it verbatim:

For those of you who are counting, there are actually only twenty-four. I got bored and stopped.
Not really. Number one is 1. Don’t be overwhelmed. This is a huge list of ideas that you’re about to go through: if you try to implement them all at once, you’re going to burn out and never actually do any of them. Here’s my challenge: have the self-control to choose one of these tips, just one, to work on in your life. Once you’ve got that down, come back for another. This list isn’t going anywhere. Living intentionally requires taking small steps: pick a direction, commit to it, and go. Good luck – if I can help, let me know.

2. Set goals for the year.

I’m not just talking about New Year’s resolutions here (will talk more about that New Year’s Eve), I’m talking about concrete, measurable goals. Something that you can reach for and be working towards the whole year. Something to give your life and work direction. I’m not just talking about goals to lose weight, or to write a book, I’m talking about goals in every area of your life. Having goals for the year won’t lock you into a straitjacket, but will give you direction and focus. You’ll be amazed at how much you get done.

3. Set goals for the day.

… But yearly goals aren’t enough. Yearly goals are the overarching battle plan, daily goals are down in the mud, storming the beach, dodging bullets: without daily goals you’ll never win the war. Daily goals allow you to be your own tough boss. Set the goals the day before, or plan out your week by days, and then act like your life depends on the completing of those goals. “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” (Zig Zigler)

4. Accept that people might look at you weird.

Most people don’t live on purpose. Be prepared to be a little bit of an oddball. Once you start really knocking out some of your goals, once you start being intentional and working hard at work, and once you get the huge mental and emotional boost that comes from intentional living, there are going to be people who don’t understand. They’re going to look at you weird: it comes with the territory. Just remember, “If fat people are making fun of your diet, you’re doing something right.” (Dave Ramsey)

5. Make a budget. 

Where is your money going? Do you know? If you make X number of dollars in a month, can you tell me exactly where every dollar is going? Most people are very unintentional about their money, and probably couldn’t account for half of it if they tried. If you’re going to live life on purpose, you have to spend your money on purpose. No more stupid impulse buys, no more spending that you don’t plan on. Let your logical budgeting brain decide where the money goes, not your impulsive, endorphin seeking shopping brain. “Buyer’s remorse” will be a thing of the past.

6. Create a calendar.

Use Google calendar to plan out your weeks and months. Set it up as your home screen on your Internet browser, so you see it every time you get on to check Facebook. It will suddenly become very difficult to “forget” your duties.

 7. Make things happen, don’t let things happen.

This applies to almost every area of your life: if you’re going to live life on purpose, at some point you have to to learn to make things happen. Most people just let life events happen, and to react to them naturally. Unfortunately, natural responses to many situations are exactly opposite to what you want to do to live a successful life. You have to examine your responses, examine your decisions, and realize that you’re in control of you.

8. Be honest about what you want.

Many times, especially if you’re an inherent people pleaser, you will let people walk on you even if they don’t know they’re doing it. You’re at a restaurant, and you just ordered the veggie burger, and the waiter accidentally gives you a big chunk of rare steak. You’re slightly horrified, but in an attempt to be a “nice person”, you don’t speak up. It’s not evil to get what you want.You don’t have to be nasty, you just have to communicate clearly. Give the other person a chance to understand or you might resent them, and they would have no idea that they even did something wrong.

 9. Don’t let fear stop you.
This is probably the toughest task you can undertake, but it’s also one of the most important. If you fight the fear, if you say no over and over again to the lies that it tells you, you will be able to live your life on your terms. You won’t be shackled by fear, and you will be able to do what you believe is right, regardless of how terrifying it is.

Fear wants you to fit in, to be mediocre, to do nothing that matters, to fly under the radar. It’s much easier to give in to fear. Take the hard and rewarding road.

10. Stay Consistent

Even when you’ve had a rough day. Even when you didn’t get much sleep last night. Everyone has tough days, why do some people suck it up and smile, while others feel it needs to broadcast their pain and despair on the world around them? This kind of inconsistency isn’t only harmful for the people who interact with the individual, it’s very harmful for the individual themselves. Inconsistency is destructive, and you will find it leads down many different roads that you don’t want to go down. It can lead to a feeling of victimhood, it can lead to broken relationships, and it can lead to a feeling of being out of control, tossed by the waves of chance and life, really not making your own decisions. But when you start choosing your behavior, when you start intentionally being consistent, you’ll find your outlook on life changing.

 11. Change bad habits.

We’ve talked about this before, and it’s worth touching on again. Bad habits are the opposite of intentional living: they are a hallmark of living out of control. We all have things about ourselves that we want to change, but often we let these things linger for years, pushing them out of our minds, until something catastrophic happens and we are forced to change. Don’t wait for heart attack to think about your health. Don’t wait until everyone around you is leaving you to think about your attitude. Don’t wait until you’ve killed someone with your car to think about your little alcohol problem. Don’t wait until you lose your job to think about your work ethic. Examine yourself, and start doing what needs to be done to change. It’s hard work. It’s worth it.

Think of the one or two bad habits that plague you the most. How different would your life look if you got rid of them? Don’t spend years and years being a slave to the same weaknesses, focus on them one at a time, find information, get the help you need, and intentionally change. People don’t change unless something forces them to change, or they make a conscious, firm decision to do what it takes, to fight through the pain, and come out the other side a different person. You don’t just drift into changing for the better.

12. Take Responsibility. 

… But take responsibility for what? Pretty much everything. You’re the problem, remember? It’s not your boss’s problem to make sure you’re doing what you should; it’s not your spouse’s problem: it’s always yours. Realize that you cannot control the people around you, you cannot control most of your circumstances, but you have complete control over yourself: a whole lot more control than you think. Don’t blame your boss, don’t blame the people around you, don’t blame your spouse, don’t blame the economy, don’t blame the president, you simply have to be wise enough to rise above all of those, or you’ll never get out of your victim mentality. All of those factors exist, and they can be challenging, but it’s not their job to change you. Once you learn to take responsibility instead of blaming everything and everyone else, you’ll be a lot more intentional, and life will be a lot better.

13. Be positive. 

Taking responsibility will certainly help you be positive. It’s difficult to be upbeat when you believe that everyone’s taking advantage of you, and that your destiny is controlled by the environment, but once you decide that you have control of your emotions you can make the decision to be positive. Always. Try not to give yourself a pass because… (Insert rationalization). Maybe you didn’t get much sleep: take it upon yourself to be upbeat anyway. Maybe your finances have got you worried: brighten someone else’s day anyway. The funny thing about being positive is, even if you fake it, simply the act of taking the focus off of your problems and your momentary discomforts will ease them and you’ll end up feeling more hopeful.

14. Get up early.

Remember, not all time is equal. If you get into the habit of waking up early and going to bed reasonably early, you’ll feel like you have twice as much time then if you stay up late and sleep in. Sleeping in breeds lethargy even in people who are “night people”. Besides, if you’re a “night person” and you can force yourself to get up two hours earlier than you usually do, you’ll feel good about your accomplishment: the self-discipline involved will give you a huge boost of energy, and you’ll be ready to get to work (or you could just feel really, really sleepy. But don’t worry – you’ll get used to it).

15. Balance, not binging.

Anyone who has a slightly obsessive personality like myself tends to focus on one thing at a time: I default to a pattern of working on one thing really hard, losing interest, then moving on to focusing completely on the next thing, like I talked about over here. This this is really great for getting a specific job done, but if I’m aiming for consistency over time, it’s a terrible habit to get into. Plus, this binging on a certain project instead of being consistent causes other areas of my life to be neglected, so I’ve found that forcing myself to stop working when I’ve got a lot done, but could conceivably work more, makes my life more balanced and a little saner. With a little more balance, I’m not a victim to my work tendencies and my moods at the time and I just follow a predetermined, balanced, healthy plan. This helps me from going back to my defaults.

16. Line up your priorities.

I’m a big fan of not wandering through life without a plan. As I said before, setting goals is a great way to start living life on purpose, but if your goals aren’t in line with your true priorities, you’re going to be lopsided – perhaps pursuing what seems most urgent while still ignoring what’s most important. You have to decide for yourself what the most important things are. Goals are great, but priorities trump goals. If I’m ambitious with my goals, and I’m working hard to achieve my goal of writing X amount of words a week, but my fanatical pursuit of my goal strains my marriage, I’ve failed. You have to understand what’s most important, so you know when to make exceptions. My art-making goals may certainly be above watching another movie at night on my list of priorities, but they’re certainly not as important as helping my elderly neighbor move into her new house. Priorities help you know when it’s okay, even healthy to put your plans on hold.

17. Connect with people. 

Part of intentional living is intentionally connecting with people. Human connection is part of a balanced, healthy life, and it just makes life more fun. Yet sadly, for some of us it doesn’t come naturally. We interpreted, slightly less people oriented folks still need human interaction, or we’re not going to have much of a life! Make a point of connecting with people around you. Make an effort to remember people’s names, and facts about them. It may not be easy for you – I know it’s not for me. But it’s really important, and successes in this area will lead to more confidence, which will lead to more successes. It’ll get easier.

18. Make a to-do list that fits you.

Having a spreadsheet laying out tasks for every hour out of the year may not be a good fit for you: why are you using it? Sophisticated to-do software is useless if inputting the tasks is so frustrating that you haven’t used the software for months. Forget it! If the to-do list that works for you is handwritten on a scrap of paper, so be it! Getting things done is most importent.

19. Make a “dream board”.
It’s difficult to plan your life if you don’t know where you’re going. Goals are practical, specific steps. Dreams are different than goals, and they’re important too. Try getting the bulletin board, and putting up some pictures. Do you want to travel? Put up some pictures of Vienna, Prague, Paris: wherever you want to go first. Do you want to live near beach? Put up pictures of the beach. Whatever you want to be or do, represent it on the board: it’ll give you some extra motivation when you don’t feel like working towards your goals, and will give your mind something to shoot towards. The amazing thing is, once you start making plans instead of living life without any, you tend to make some things happen. This is the beauty of the marriage between goals and dreams. You can’t just have one or the other, or you’re incomplete.

20. Answer this: if you had unlimited time and unlimited money, what would you do?

This is a great exercise for organizing your priorities. The first time I wrapped my head around this question, and was at a loss! I knew a couple things I would do – travel more, give more, buy an iPad – but when it came down to normal, day-to-day stuff, I had no idea what I would do if I had all the time and money in the world. I think there are a lot of people out there who long for more time or for more money, but have no idea what they would do with these valuable resources if they had them. You nail this down, and you’ll have a better reason to work hard: you’ll have more direction, and people with more direction get more done. You might also realize there are some things in your life that just aren’t that important, and you can start cutting them out to make room for top priorities.

21. Answer this: If you could do any job in the world, what would it be?

Your career is only part of your life (I hope), but it’s an important one. If you hate the job you’re in, it’s going to sap your energy. It’s going to diminish your passion for other areas of your life, and leave you worn out. If you’re in a job you hate, don’t stay there! I know you may feel trapped, but no one is truly ensnared by anything but their minds. You may have to stay at a job you hate for a period of time, as a part of being responsible and taking care of your family, but don’t tell me that you were trapped in a job for years without any other opportunities. You make your own opportunities, whether the economy is doing well or not. And having a clear direction is the first step. It probably won’t happen overnight, in fact it may take years, but if you have a direction you’ll find a way to get there. It’s those with no direction who sit in a job they hate for 30 years. Start making plans: you can get where you want to go.

22. Read constantly.

An important part of living intentionally is self-improvement. Continuous learning, continuous growing: and there’s no better way to change yourself than reading. There are so many hundreds of good books out there, many of them giving you great opportunities to learn from other people’s mistakes I’m amazed at how many people say they simply don’t have time to read. If that’s you, realize that you probably don’t have lack of time, you are just prioritizing other activities. Turn off the television a couple nights a week; listen to audio books on your commute; be creative, and you’ll figure out a way to read more good books. You might have to make some tough decisions about what you’d do with your time, but reading books is one of the best ways to change your life. Don’t neglect it.

 23. Look around, and be thankful. 

Being thankful just requires you to open your eyes a little more than you usually do. It has nothing to do with how much you have: in fact those who are waiting for better circumstances, better relationships, more money, etc. to be thankful are guaranteeing that they never will be. It doesn’t matter what your circumstances are, you can always find a way to be dissatisfied. Of course, you can always find a way to be thankful too. Start forcing yourself to look around and see how good you’ve got it – even if you’re facing some tough situations in your life, there are always people who’ve got it worse than you. Being dissatisfied will sap any energy you have to change. The ironic thing about thankfulness is, those who realize how much they have usually find their way into having better relationships, better jobs, even more money: those who are thankful get more to be thankful of. But to those who are dissatisfied will only find more to be dissatisfied with.

24. Choose your emotional responses. 

Stress is your choice. You choose to stress yourself out. It’s not the other person’s fault, it’s not the situation you’re in, own up and take control of what’s going on in your head. You’re choosing to stress. You’re choosing to be angry. The situation may seem out of your hands, or it may seem like someone else’s fault, but realize that it’s always your decision how you react. Decide how you’re going to react in given situations beforehand, pause and think before you speak, firmly embed the idea in your mind that you are responsible. Always. It’s not easy, but it’s tremendously freeing.

25. Say yes to contentment, say no to complacency. 

Contentment and complacency are to similar words with completely different meanings. Being complacent is essentially allowing yourself to become numb. You let life happen on autopilot, and you don’t care for much any more. Why do you allow yourself to become numb? Usually because of an extreme dissatisfaction with life. You hate your job, and the pain is too much so you enter a walking coma. You feel that your life isn’t what you want it to be, that you aren’t the person you want to be, and instead of doing the hard work to change, you turn off your mind and drift. The definition of complacency in regards to this book is essentially a numbness brought on by dissatisfaction. Being content is the absolute opposite. If being complacent is extreme dissatisfaction with life, being content is extreme thankfulness for life. The poorest, most destitute people can be content. The richest people who have everything they desire can be extremely complacent.

If you’re content, you still have the power and the energy to change your life. Complacency will always make sure that you don’t. Intentional living demands that you are content with where you are, without being numb to where you could be. Contentment is strength; complacency is weakness. Choose to be content. When you find dissatisfaction creeping up on you, choose contentment again. And again. Repeat as needed.

Great soul food. Dig in!