The greatest secret to achieving your goals that you can pass on to your children

the-greatest-secret-to-achieving-your-goalsHave you ever seen a lion silently crouching behind a bush while staring with piercing eyes at an elephant? Then as if to break the silence he opens his mouth slowly and mutters under his breath, in a deep almost soothing voice… ‘Dinner’?

Well, neither have I. But that’s not the point to our little anecdote as you will soon discover below.

Last year, in an effort to become a better and more productive me, I set out creating resolutions for myself.

I even created a template, which you can download below (shameless self promotion), to help with achieving your resolutions. The approach was slightly different from the usual to do list as I also catered for the ability to track your goals, remind yourself of why you are doing it in the first place and encourage you to press on.

Do note that I had never done anything like this prior to this whole goal setting experience. Now, while I didn’t succeed in fulfilling all of my resolutions, the whole exercise however did pay off as it allowed me to discover the secret to achieving goals.

What is the greatest secret to achieving your goals that you can pass on to your children?

It isn’t sitting on your royal behind and hoping things will change for the better, that’s for sure.

The greatest secret to achieving your goals, that I found, is to create habits. Good habits that is! Just like digging for gold or scratching your golden nuggets in front of your in-laws are bad habits and something you probably wouldn’t do (especially if you’re not married yet) then all you need to do to succeed in achieving your goals in life is to create good habits.

Simple enough, don’t you think?

Unfortunately the problem with this is the need to break free from a lifetime of bad habits. And to break away from some of these bad habits you’ll need the ferocious tenacity of a hungry lion. Being single minded and not allowing anything to come between you and your meal, or in this case, your goals.

Why bother with creating habits anyway?

Whether you’ve realised it or not, everything you now do is a result of allowing the repetition of little things to go on in your life. Either consciously or unconsciously.

Over time these repetitions become habits. These habits become a discipline. These disciplines become a lifestyle. And your lifestyle becomes your brand. Be it good or bad.

The good news is, after one year of being a guinea pig to my own goal setting endeavours I can honestly say that there’s really nothing to it. Why? Because you’re a hungry lion…remember.

So. Whatever your goals? Whatever your dreams? Whatever your visions? Create the habits that will drive you toward achieving them. Good habits that’ll change the course of your life for the better and see your goals being achieved over and over again.

I’m not going to lie to you by saying it’s going to be easy. But what I can promise you is a feeling like no other when you stand on that mountain top after you’ve crossed the finish line. That single moment of victory will be worth the pain, the sweat, the blood, the tears and the time that you invested toward achieving your goal.

How can I be certain of this?

Because like the lion…

You will have never given up.

And that in itself is a victory worth celebrating.

“Your audacious life goals are fabulous. We’re proud of you for having them. But it’s possible that those goals are designed to distract you from the thing that’s really frightening you—the shift in daily habits that would mean a re–invention of how you see yourself.
— Seth Godin

Download the Resolution Template to get a fresh perspective on goal setting and feel free to leave your two cents in the comments below 🙂

Download The Resolution Template

Creating fragments

It was two days before Santa did his twenty-four hour shift of delivering presents to all the children that made it on to his nice list. Not that I was expecting anything from him this Christmas but indeed I was overwhelmed with joy for some odd reason as I sat listening to the tune of Mexican Girl playing over the stereo.

creating-fragments

I remember looking out into the garden as the leaves swayed briskly every now and again in perfect sync with the cool breeze. Spreading themselves out so the rays received by their suppleness was not in vain. Even the off white concrete driveway in the neighbors compound dictated that I wear shades if we were to exchange glances as it reflected the gloriousness of the day. Joy was definitely in the air and this was reiterated by my second youngest son’s request for a hug  after our goodbye kiss as I headed on down to the squash courts with his three siblings, two cousins and an aunt.

If there was ever a woman that my wife should be threatened by, it was the beautiful game of squash. How anyone could fall head over heels with the sound of a small black rubber ball hitting the concrete wall at speeds averaging 151 miles per hour and the feel of a sleek streamlined racquet being drawn down in one hand, as determined eyes burnt holes into the ball, before the two kissed to become one and abruptly parted ways again, was beyond me.

But I had given in to her charms and we courted for two hours every Wednesdays and Fridays after life slipped out of the office.

I, of course, was not alone in this one sided relationship as there were other colleagues who shared my sentiment (probably not my madness) and joined me in this weekly ritual. Being on leave however, meant that I had to take the children down to the courts to introduce them to the game just so I could steal a few moments with her for the sake my own sanity.

But unlike the fast paced, high adrenalin games that I usually crave for, the pace of the game on this particular day was more like a snail in labour (if you’ve ever witnessed one).

This truth however didn’t deter me from enjoying the game as I spent time coaching and nurturing the four individuals that were enthused with learning the sport. Besides, it was also a time of learning and birthing much needed patience in me; and whatever time we invest in the lives of our children will reap great rewards when they are older.

So here I was. No fast paced game. No pausing for a while to try and catch my breath. No sweating profusely as was the result of playing a worthy opponent. No breaking new barriers by my heart rate. Only my impatience trying to rear it’s ugly head every once in a while as I forced myself to silently keep it in check. Something I find impossible without the help of the Lord.

In spite of all this, we spent an almost good three hours at the courts. After which we all walked for about a half a kilometer in order to get some DVDs from the nearest shop. The walk was made all the more eventful with my second youngest daughter riding on my shoulders.

While there however, I took the opportunity to get hot dogs from a nearby stand for the children and their aunt as I scouted around for an ATM.

It was a glorious day indeed, as I think back now. What was I doing anyway? Why go through the whole process of playing a game that you love but not at the pace you love playing it? Why go through with the coaching and the excruciating need for patience as the children hit the ball from Bangkok to Timbuktu? Why buy hot dogs and sit on the pavement outside the shops, like homeless folks, enjoying our meal?

Well, I was creating fragments. You see, we don’t remember everything we’ve ever been through (kudos to you if you do) but what we recall are fragments of them. And all it takes is a sight, a sound, a smell, a touch or a taste to whisk us to that particular instance in which that fragment was created. Where we have those deja vu moments as we get lost in reminiscing about the ‘good ol days’.

One such fragment is of little children taunting a fierce looking dog named Scatter, to rouse him from his slumber and run for our lives as he gave chase after the little culprits that disturbed him. Oh the priceless sight of the little faces of the children he caught up to, who couldn’t decide whether to laugh or cry as they tried hard not to wet their pants.

On another occasion an aunt of mine, not much older than I, was climbing for mangoes while the rest of us were giving directions from the ground. Suddenly out of nowhere pops this huge green lizard causing her to yell her head off before jumping from the tree just as the lizard jumped toward her. Fortunately her slightly drunk father broke her fall as he came to her rescue.

Fragments. Some of them good. Some bad. But all have played a part in shaping the man I am today. I have taught myself to retain the good ones, learn from the bad ones, and even let go of the ones that stifle my growth and kill my potential.

Anyway, back to the glorious day of squash that I had with my children. I thoroughly enjoyed the day and look forward to having more adventures together. Why? Because I had the opportunity and privilege of creating fragments for them and with them. Fragments that will outlive me. Fragments that will be the very foundation on which my legacy is built. After all, people remember you by how you make them feel.

With all that said, 2013 has been a great year of discovery and a journey filled with so many fragments that we will definitely revisit in years to come. Especially with my wife keeping track of everything on her iPad. As I now stand at the crossroad of one year closing and another beginning, I find myself truly grateful for the beautiful woman whom I have the honor of calling my wife, and the seven beautiful children that the good Lord has blessed me with.

While kids dream of being a doctor, a lawyer or maybe even an astronaut, there is a particular fragment of a young boy who dreamt of having seven children when he got older. But that’s a tale for another day, best told over a hot cup of coffee and cold truffle.

So until then, from my family to yours.

May 2014 be all that you hope that it will be and more. And may the good Lord shower you with His blessings and grace as you go forth to create those fragments for, and with your children.

What fragments do you hope to create in 2014? Share it in the comments.

What a paper punch can teach you about life and learning

lessons-learned-from-a-paper-punchOh what a beautiful morning tis indeed, when at first we get up with a thirst for knowledge and ride out on a steed!
[Tweet that]

I got up this morning and had to help my oldest daughter, Sharon, complete her school project. Which really meant getting it printed, punched and placed neatly in a manila folder for her to take to school as she had already done the hard yards with her mom over the weekend. This also meant leaving the house because I didn’t have a working printer.

To be totally honest, I didn’t really feel like going anywhere this morning but it was either take the older kids to school and get the project printed or breastfeed my youngest son – which I must say, as of right now is looking physically possible.

Unfortunately, due to the lack of milk producing glands my obvious input was the free use of my laptop and the responsibility of printing and binding the project.

So I converted the double zigzag borders her mom had so gladly used on every page to single straight lines, saved the PDF file on a flash drive and off we went to get it printed for Sharon to take to school.

We found a little Copy Shop down near Nabua [nam-booah] Town to do our printing. Upon arrival in this little five PC internet café slash printing slash ‘we do passport photos here’ shop, I gave the flash drive to the guy working there and asked him to print seven black and white pages and one in full color.

He went about his business and printed the project on two separate PCs and upon completion of the black and white prints I asked if they had a paper punch that I could use as we had brought the manila folder and clip with us.

Sure enough they had one (what copy shop doesn’t, right?) and the young lad, neatly dressed in sulu and shirt, promptly goes behind the counter, that two people couldn’t squeeze into, to get it. Here I was expecting a big, shiny paper punch with which to punch holes into this eight page project.

Much to my surprise, he brings out and hands me a punch that should have been in the museum. Seriously! I should have worn a gas mask just to handle this thing that barely fit in the palm of my hand. “I might cut myself” were the words that popped into mind. I wondered if it was actually up for the task of punching holes (or would I need to stand on it just to get it to cut through the paper).

Anyhow, since this was all they had, I had no choice but to use it. I divided the collated papers into two lots and marked off the center of the page in preparation for punching. Slowly but surely I slid the first lot of pages in between the paper punch and curiously pressed down.

To my amazement; this old, rusted, hazardous paper punch, cut like a hot knife through butter and my task was completed before I knew it. In fact, I found it quite sharp for its age and it did way better than some of the newer, sleek looking paper punches which I’ve used. OK, I could be exaggerating a little here but you get the picture.

With the project printed, punched and clipped neatly in the yellow manila folder, I parted ways with the children who were off to school while I eagerly made my way home to share this experience with you.

What’s the moral of this story? I know it’s a cliché and one you’ve probably heard more than you wish to count but here it is anyway: Don’t judge a book by its cover!

Don’t dismiss people too easily based on what you’ve heard or what you see before you. If you take the time out to get to know them for yourself instead of jumping to conclusions, they may just surprise you.

My wise wife (brownie points for me) has taught me to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Not to ignorantly listen and accept what so and so said about such and such a person. Because a personal opinion is just that – A personal opinion!

Don’t stop listening to somebody just because you don’t like them or can’t stand them. If you lay your personal differences aside (cause you’re a dear child of God that loves those who curse you) you may just learn the secret ingredient to “the secret ingredient noodle soup”, like Po did in Kung Fu Panda.  And what person in their right mind doesn’t want to learn the secret ingredient to mouth watering noodle soup. I mean…Seriously!

The writer of Hebrews wrote in the first two verses of the 13th chapter –

“Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.”

So don’t sell yourself short on learning from the stranger that begs on the street just because he looks old, unkempt and withered. You may learn valuable lessons that will serve you well in life, if you but take the time out to listen.

What lessons about life and learning have you learned from the people you would least expect to learn them from?

Share your thoughts in the comments.

The simple things in life

Ah yes…the simple things in life! And by this I mean enjoying a quiet evening after a beautiful candle lit dinner. Sitting back in an arm chair writing this on my iPad (my wife’s really) while listening to my seven week old son who just piped up complaining as I try to put him to sleep in his rocker.

the-simple-things-in-life

Our living room is dimly lit by two candles sitting on separate square pale yellow coffee tables. Their flames dancing a little wildly every now and again as a gush of wind seeps in through the gaps in the wooden louvers.

It feels as if romance is in the air tonight. I sit here thinking –
“This is not so bad. I could live like this. Candle lit dinners every night giving the house a very homely feel. Having tea, bread or whatever is on the menu. No fuss. Not bad at all.”

Unfortunately, the candle lit room and dinner were the result of non compliance with FEA (Fiji Electricity Authority) regulations and due to the non payment of my overdue electricity bill. I had pegged this down in my budget for clearance (or at least partial clearance) this Friday but for some reason unbeknown to me they decided to visit us this (Wednesday) morning.

Oh well, such is life. One minute you’ve got power the next minute you don’t. One minute you’re rich the next you’re broke. One minute you’re young, the next your old. One minute you’re living, the next you’re kicking, completely out cold.

While enjoying the whole “almost romantic evening” and silently deciding that having no electricity just may be a good thing (in the hope of lowering my carbon footprint that is) there is still that question of mmmmm…How will I work? I won’t be able to get work done on my laptop which obviously needs power (or has a solar powered one been invented?) What? No Facebook, or Twitter or Cyber Social gatherings that give anyone the ability and opportunity to be an anonymous stalker.

I wonder if I could live without all of this? Or will my fingers keep itching and my eyes keep twitching as the result of actually taking a break and going outside to smell the roses.

I believe it is in our moments of depravity that we truly appreciate the simple things in life. Decades ago our great grandaddas didn’t have electricity. They didn’t have cars or buses. They didn’t have access to tap water or cell phones or the internet. They didn’t even wear brand label clothing.

The only brand back then was “LetEmAngFree” which I am seeing a lot of these days in music videos and what not. Could this mean we are actually moving backwards if it’s back in fashion.

Cause if we are, I’d like to order “Cave Man Gear” that Grug wore in the Croods. Totally cool!

They sure did live simple care free lives back then. I mean its not like they didn’t have problems or anything…I’m sure they did, but I doubt their schedules were as hectic as ours.

With all that said, the notable question that’s popped up is –
What are we trying to do? Really!

Are we trying to work ourselves to death like bullocks heaving on a plough through an unyielding field? [Click to Tweet]

And in the highly likely scenario that we do succeed with the ploughing, then what?

What are we going to say at the end of it all?

King Solomon wrote in the book of Ecclesiastes.

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless.”

What do people gain from all their labors
at which they toil under the sun?

Those were the words of a man…who had everything!

What will you and I say when the sun goes down on us?

Will these be the last words that we may speak?

“I worked myself to death.
Oh how I wish I had taken the time out to enjoy…
The simple things in life.”

I hope not!

What, to you, are the simple things in life?

What things do you need to make more time for?

Share your thoughts in the comments.

///

Consider this a personal public service announcement from me to you. 

TCF-ParentBlogger-badge

Did you know that Testicular Cancer is the #1 cancer in young men ages 15 to 35?
 

It is. And that’s why I’m proud to be a member of the Team Single Jingles PARENT BLOGGING TEAM and sharing some important information about Testicular Cancer. 

A couple other things you should know:

What can you do?
And share this video with the young guys in your life. It could save their life! 

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An utterance from the Lord, for you today!

What the good Lord sent a lost young boy

Once there was a young boy
As lost as a needle in a haystack could be
He was trying his best to keep it together
And smile in the face of adversity

But his brave face was a front
And laughter bitter sweet
All to get through the day
And no matter how hard he tried his best
Turmoil was adamant to stay
Continue reading What the good Lord sent a lost young boy

What is every dads greatest fear?

Every dads greatest fearThat one thing we must all inevitably face as fathers. While this may differ from one dad to the next I believe that there is one particular force that drives us as dads. Whether for better or for worse every dad gets to face this demon at least once during their journey as a father.
What is every dads’ greatest fear then?
Continue reading What is every dads greatest fear?

Would you trade being a dad for the single and free life?

Like Shrek did when he signed the contract that Rumpelstiltskin tricked him into signing in Shrek Forever After [don’t ask me how many times I’ve watched this movie]. Shrek then gets transported into an alternate timeline enjoying his single and free life but not realizing that he’s allowed Rumple to erase him from existence. Continue reading Would you trade being a dad for the single and free life?

Best possible dads

I want to share a video that has inspired me and hopefully will also encourage you as a dad. This video shows the impact of fatherhood on a mans life and how we all strive to be the best possible dads that we can be.

Now you might be in a rut and things may not be going as planned but I would like to encourage you to get back on the right track and stay the course because your moment of breakthrough is coming.
Continue reading Best possible dads