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All right, it’s time to get off YouTube and write this thing. I’ve been watching videos for the last hour. Not a great start for this topic, I know. It’s because my lesson for you is to demonstrate what not to do. So, uh, don’t do that.

If you’re married and raising kids, take everything written here with a grain of salt. This really isn’t meant for you because I’m not qualified to teach you about this topic. If you’ve got a family, the nature of time management is wholly different than for those of us who are single. I’m the last guy you should take advice from because, if I’m to be real with you, I have no idea. If anything, I should be taking advice from you.

Anyway, single folks, without further ado, let’s eat this thing and see what comes out the other end.

Why do we care about making the most of our time? Well, if you’re anything like me, you often wish there was more of it. Like right now. It’s Monday night, and I have to go to bed early in order to perform well at work tomorrow. You see, this phenomenon occurs because time is a precious commodity. If you don’t know how to make the most of it, you’ll go to sleep every night feeling robbed.

Life’s short, people. Sometimes it’s easy to forget, especially if you’re young. But forgetting doesn’t change the reality of that – the fact that time is a finite resource that has to be managed.

The Active Ingredients of Time Management

You may want to manage your time well, but without disciplining yourself to make it a habit, the effort is wasted. It’s hard to spend your time wisely if you are the one in control of it (as opposed to when you’re at work and your boss is in control). So, in order to make headway, you’ll have to discipline yourself to develop good time-management habits.

To do this, it’s imperative that you maintain a healthy and active mind. Do what you need to keep it sharp and maintained. A couple notes about how to do that:

Alcohol is fine, but only in moderation. Getting drunk will cloud your mind for days. And I know for a lot of people drinking is their favorite hobby. I’m not here to rain on your parade – what you do isn’t my business – but I’m telling you: Spending multiple days in a row with a clouded mind isn’t just a waste of your time, it’s also a waste of your quality of life.

But I digress. If keeping a sharp mind means taking supplements like fish oil or some weird vitamin, knock yourself out. Personally, supplements aren’t my thing. For me, having a quick brain usually just means spending time with the Lord every day and not playing video games for too long in one sitting. Something about that ruins my focus.

But the number one thing you must do to keep a sharp, healthy mind is to get enough sleep. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stayed up too late and then performed like garbage the next day at work. It’s like walking in a haze. Sleep deprivation will make you miserable and stupid, and even worse, it’ll put you in a foul mood. Being in a foul mood isn’t fun for you or those around you, and if you’re not careful, it’ll damage your reputation – all because you stayed up too late. I don’t fancy myself a genius, you know, but in my humble opinion, not sleeping enough is a dumb reason to ruin your life. In my novel, I wrote a chapter where the main character actually got fired for that.

So, in a nutshell: Time management requires discipline. Discipline requires an active mind, and an active mind requires, at minimum, the right amount of sleep. Those are the active ingredients you’ll need to make the most of your time.

How much time do you have?

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Bob threw his alarm clock out the window and decided he’d rather be unemployed. Don’t be like Bob. Finish this article and use your time wisely.

Since time is a finite resource, allocating it properly means you must recognize how much of it you have. Some people have more of it than others, obviously, so how you make the most of it will be unique to you specifically.

If you think about it, budgeting time is a lot like budgeting money. People who are wise with their money always know how much of their paycheck to put where. Some of it goes to utilities, some to savings, some to groceries, and so on. And if they’re fortunate, some of it goes to things they enjoy but don’t necessarily need.

Time is the same way. Measuring it out will give you the perspective you need to budget it effectively.

By the way, here’s another similarity time shares with money. If, when you measure out and budget your time, you find that you have little or none of it to yourself, consider setting goals that’ll allow it to happen in the future. Lots of people set financial goals so they can buy things they want. I think time works in a similar way. Granted, you can’t “save” time to spend later – sure – but you can aim your life-goals in a way that will eventually allow you to spend more of it on yourself.

Deciding what you want from your Time

I think one of the coolest things people don’t realize is that they can make time work for them instead of the other way around. If time wears the pants in your relationship with it, that’s a problem you should deal with.

I realize some of you don’t have time to spare (understandably), and I encourage you to focus on the previous section of this essay until that changes. This section doesn’t apply to you yet. Aim your life goals toward gaining free time. Then, once you have it, come back!

If you do have discretionary time, however, then your primary goal ought to be mastering it. To do that, you’ll have to decide what you want from your time. What activities do you aspire to accomplish in a typical week? Are there certain books you want to read? Perhaps a workout regimen? Maybe even a video game. It all varies, and you may not be able to do everything you want if there isn’t enough time for it. If that’s the case then, again, I urge you to set goals for yourself that’ll one day allow it.

For me, outside of work there are six primary things I like to accomplish during the week. They are: working out, fiction reading, non-fiction reading, blog-writing, fiction-writing, and spending time with my parents. On top of that, I like a certain amount of time to enjoy not being productive (because this is about what I want from my time). I’ve created a schedule that allows me to do all those things in reasonable quantities each week. It’s all divvied up in a healthy and enjoyable, yet productive way.

I force time to give me what I want. That means Monday through Thursday, I’m regimented and productive. I mostly derive satisfaction from what I do, so it doesn’t burn me out.

Friday evenings are a totally different story, though. After I get home from work, I’m disgusting. I am a pig. And most importantly, I am relaxed and having fun. All I do is watch Netflix and play video games and eat take-out Chinese food. Sometimes I feel sociable enough to stop being a reclusive loser and go out with friends. On Fridays, I don’t even go to the gym because, well, I don’t want to.

And all of that feels great because my week up to that point has been a productive one. There’s no guilt or shame in not getting anything done on Fridays because I planned it that way, and I did it for no other reason than I want to and because I can.

The bottom line is this: I make time work for me. If all goes according to plan – and it mostly does – my week has a healthy measure of both productivity and relaxation. Doing this creates a critical balance to making the most of my life. Don’t forget that Ecclesiastes elaborates on this extensively, so it’s well-worth doing.

If and when the day comes that I get a girlfriend, I’m sure this whole schedule-thing will be beautifully wrecked.

Forget I said that.

Let’s talk about being Regimented.

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“Hey, Tim, my man-nipples are bleeding.”

It’s my belief that if you’re going to start being productive, you might as well be good at it. The most effective way to do that is to be regimented based on your priorities and necessities. Don’t try to cram too many things into a too small amount of time, though, or you’ll get burned out. If you can, stagger tasks across multiple days. Build a schedule that allows you to do what you like without having to feel rushed. For me, I set aside plenty of time to get each task done. My day goes smoother and is more satisfying that way.

I start each morning with the Lord and a cup of coffee, and then I get ready for work.

Once I get home, I relax for an hour before dinner, usually by watching Netflix or playing a video game. That helps transition my mind from work to evening tasks so I can better focus on them. You might not be someone who plays video games or likes Netflix – and that’s okay – but I recommend doing something you enjoy before starting everything else.

After dinner, my focus is fully directed toward fitness and reading and writing.

I also plan out my day on a notepad and put a check box next to each task. I don’t know how well that would work for you, but it usually does a pretty good job keeping me on target. It stops me from forgetting things, and my notepad stays in front of me on my desk so I always see it. Of course, you should use whatever system works best for you. It might be something totally different than what I do, and that’s fine as long as it helps.

Let’s talk about why you should sometimes not be regimented.

Being regimented is great for staying on task and maximizing productivity, but it’s also mentally tiring. I would argue that keeping up with it indefinitely is bad for your mind, and it’ll prevent you from fully relaxing when it’s time to do so. Even if you have a regimented schedule that says, “I will relax from such-and-such a time until whatever o’clock,” you’ll still be thinking about that schedule and, in my case, marking off that check box.

Take a break from it a couple days a week. For me, that’s the weekend. Even on Saturdays when there are things I want to get done, I don’t make a list. There’s no schedule I follow. I just sort of do it, and if things don’t happen perfectly the way I’d like, my attitude is such that it’s not a big deal.

When it’s time to relax, do it right.

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When a macro lens is used on an awkward pants-fold.

Earlier, I touched on how I like to relax. As you saw, when I relax, I relax hard. I only have one goal in mind, and that’s to forget everything else. It’s a mental break.

Sometimes it’s impossible, of course, but if you discipline your brain to focus on things that aren’t related to work or your regimented time, you’ll be able to relax in a more complete, fulfilling way. Do whatever you can to forget about things that stress you out. Focus your energy on the things you enjoy instead, and do it in a care-free way. Don’t bother measuring out your time when you want to take things easy.

And finally, be adaptable with your schedule because life is unpredictable.

Stuff happens. Sometimes (a lot of times), you’ll have a plan, a regimented schedule, and someone will come along and mess the whole thing up. They’ll spring plans on you, and you’ll decide whether to tell them yes or no. You’ll have to weigh the value of their request. Time is something you can never get back, so is what they’re asking worth it? A lot of times it will be, and a lot of times it won’t.

The other day, my mom and sister asked if I’d get dinner with them. It was a weeknight, so if I went, it’d throw off my entire list, and I’d have to cut something out of my schedule. So, I picked out which item on my list mattered to me the least (which was video games), and decided to not play them that day. It turned out that not playing video games didn’t free up enough time. I had to cut something else out too. It ended up being the gym.

Guys, spending time with my mom and sister instead of doing what I wanted was the correct choice. A word of advice: When it comes to deciding what’s worth sacrificing your time and what isn’t, family usually is. Outside your relationship with the Lord, family should always be the next most important thing. Life’s so short it’s scary. I’d rather have mine spent with those I love than doing nothing but the things on my list. Productive tasks won’t carry into eternity, and I’m sure the Lord will give me plenty of time for them later.

People aren’t the only things that will cause sudden changes in your schedule (obviously). Sometimes there will be emergencies, or you’ll catch the flu, or whatever. The point is to make sure you can adapt. Plan how you’ll do it, which items on your list are the most valuable, and try not to get frustrated when it happens. As great as good time management is, don’t take it too seriously.

I once heard a joke. I’ve heard lots of jokes, and I’m known for making awful, stupid ones, but this joke is awesome because it holds one of life’s most important truths. You’ve probably already heard some version of it, but I’ve modified it to better apply here.

One day after work, a funny-looking IT-guy (that’s me) got alone to pray. There was a lot he wanted to get done and only a certain amount of time to do it. He had a regimented schedule all written out, and he even brought the list with him to take before the Lord.

He told God all about his plans. One item after the next, he asked God to make sure things happened just the way he wanted. Surely, he thought, the best way God could possibly bless him would be to make his plans become reality.

But God’s response was simple. He let out a chuckle of endearment and said, “What – you mean to tell me you have plans?!”

When a wrench is thrown in your schedule, be on the lookout for what God’s doing. Whatever it is, it’s for the best, so you might as well relax and let Him do His thing. There’ll be plenty of opportunities for your own time-management later. I guarantee it.

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This clock can tell the future, too.

Sleep-Smoking

Posted: May 3, 2017 in Miscellaneous

As opposed to sleep-walking. Get it? I deserve paper-cuts in the webbing of my toes for that one.

Here’s an appetizer to hold you over until the big event – that is to say, the Making the Most of your Time essay.

I’m still working on it, by the way. It’s just that, well, remember how I said I had writers block working on my book? I prayed about it, and it ended shortly afterward. I have tons of inspiration, and the scene I struggled with is complete. I can’t wait for you guys to see what I’ve got cooked up for you. One of these years…

So, back to what we’re here for.

I wanted to write about this the day it happened, but I worked on my book instead. Last Monday, May 1st, I had to take pictures of a computer setup at work. And when I reviewed them, I noticed something rather…odd…in the Photos app:

Screenshot Sleep-Smoking

You see, when I first stumbled across this screenshot, it wasn’t 4:20 yet. It was something like 2 or 3 in the afternoon. That puzzled me a good fifteen seconds before I realized the screenshot had been taken at 4:20 AM. Holy wow, dear reader, do you realize what this means?

It means I got up in the middle of the night and checked the time on my phone. And apparently, the sleep-walking version of me thought the fact that my phone said 4:20 was hilarious. And I guess I took a screenshot to show my conscious self later.

So, uh, thanks, unconscious-me. What a lovely gift.

Happy birthday, Dad! I can’t believe you’re 64.

Seems like yesterday when you caught me sneaking onto the internet when I was supposed to be grounded, and you pretended to be some dude named Chance who was 48. I knew it was you because you were also 48, and the only 48-year-olds who chat with 13-year-old boys on the internet are dads and pedophiles. Plus, Chance? Picking a name like that, I think you wanted me to know I was caught.

Anyway, we’re going to celebrate my dad’s birthday at the farm this weekend, and I’m all hyped about the terrible birthday cards Mom will make him read out loud. I’ll have to write something awful and dark to shake things up.

Last year, on my mom’s birthday card, I thanked her for not having an abortion when she was pregnant with me. She’s pro-life (I am too, but that’s irrelevant for this story), and watching her squirm awkwardly as she read it out loud in front of friends and family was great. It really helped the mood of things – for me, at least.

I love my mom. She’s fun to mess with, and it’s one of the many endearing things about her.

On a different note, I’m working on two writing projects at the moment, and both are going slow.

I haven’t had writer’s block in a long time, but it finally happened. I’m in the fifth chapter of Primoris, and I’m stuck. I know what I want the chapter itself to do, but there’s a part of the chapter that’s heavily tied to the grand scheme of things of the plot, and that’s where I’m lost. Sure, I know what’s going to happen all through the book, but I’m more or less stuck figuring out how I want to tell it.

NO! I just sneezed all over my screen.

You ever get one of those sneezes that come totally out of nowhere and you don’t cover your face in time? It doesn’t happen to me often, but when it does, I hate it. And it happened a second ago while I was writing to you, Dear Reader. Be glad you’re on the other side of the internet.

My other writing project is actually the next entry for this blog, and it’ll go into the Making the Most of your Life category. I want to discuss something God showed me, and that “something” is how to make the most of your time.

If you read my old greeting (the one from late 2014), you know how bad I used to be at managing my time. I asked God to teach me how to be good at it, and He showed me quite a few things that I’d like to pass on to you.

Now, I’m not saying I’m perfect at time management, but I’m a lot better than I used to be. However, regardless of how disciplined and effective I am personally – and discipline is the fuel for time management, by the way – the ideas behind doing it well are still good ones.

I’ll tell you all about it sometime in the next couple weeks, I hope. You can never truly know how long it’ll take to write something, so I could be way off on that. I’ll give it my best shot just for you.

It’s amazing how I went from “Happy birthday, Dad!” to “How to manage your time.”

I need medicine.

Success After Graduation

Ben Bolt

Talk at the University of Southern Mississippi, 1993

Hello, my name is Ben Bolt, and I want to thank you and Professor __________ for allowing me a few minutes to speak with you today about success after graduation.

I feel like Elizabeth Taylor’s last husband – I know what I’m supposed to do, but I’m not sure if I can make it interesting.

After graduation, most of you will be trying to find a job. This may not be an easy task in today’s sluggish job market. Then, after you get a job, you will be interested in succeeding on the job.

What is success?

To most of you, success is measured in dollars, in material things. Money, someone said, is just a way of keeping score. Success may be happiness. It can be many things. There is no measure of success. Therefore, success can be defined and measured by each of you individually. For example, success for an artist is almost surely to be measured differently than for a person in business.

Life is funny. Some of you are big and muscular. Some of you are better looking than others. Some of you have low self-esteem. Some of you have more connections than others. Some of you have higher IQs than others. These things, along with many others, will determine what kind of education you get, where you will live, the type of person you will marry, how many children you have.

But as long as you are in a normal IQ range, success, in the business world, is not determined by IQ! How many of you believe that? It is true! There is absolutely no correlation between IQ and success. But there is an absolute direct correlation between your attitude and success.

I have never met a winner who expected to lose. If you sit around the table at your home at night talking about how to collect more welfare, you are going to end up collecting welfare if you’re not careful. On the other hand, if you think and talk about how to achieve success, you are more likely to be successful.

Someone once said that success is a relative thing, that the more success you have, the more relatives you will have.

Quote from James Allen:

“Good thoughts bear good fruit,

Bad thoughts bear bad fruit and,

Each man is his own gardener.”

Let me point out that success has no stereotype. There is no single formula for success. However, success for anyone will exact a price, and it is important that you be comfortable with the price that you pay. For example, a successful salesman might have to travel and spend many nights away from home. This might be the price he has to pay. Maybe he and his wife agree and find this acceptable. On the other hand, if the travel and the nights away bring on a divorce or behavior problems with the children, then maybe the price is too high.

Just be comfortable with the price you pay. But also keep in mind that failure also exacts a price and usually a much higher price than success.

Also, let me make this point. Success does not come from any one action or attitude. Some people will succeed primarily because of some God-given talent, such as voice, looks, or verbal skills. But more often than not, success will come disguised in work clothes with sweat on his or her brow.

My friend Mal Berko, who writes for the Houghton Syndicate, says that everyone is given a “lot in life” and that “some of us will build on it, and others will park on it.” You will have to decide how far you want to go, and I’m convinced that you can achieve just about anything in this world you want to.

Look at it this way: The more well-rounded you are, the more you know, etc., the better off you will probably be. But you really do not have to be all things to men. Usually, you only have to be really smart about a very limited field.

Let me give you an example: You see an old farmer going down the road, and you can laugh, make fun, and call him dumb all you want to. But I’ll guarantee you that he knows many things that you don’t know – when to plant, when to harvest, how much to pay for a piece of machinery, etc. On the other hand, you may have heard a farmer talk about some dumb city-slicker who thought that all bulls are black.

First of all, we should all start by having more respect for other people’s discipline. Accountants have a place. Economists perform a function. Teachers are important. None of us should be abashed about what we do to make a living as long as it is honest work.

Okay, so I’m off the subject. All you really have to do usually is to be very good at what you do. Concentrate on that, and try to be the very best at what you do, and don’t spend your whole life looking over the fence at someone else’s grass – just smoke what you have.

Moses came down from Mount Sinai and stood before the people with the stone tablets in his hands and said to the people, “I have good news and bad news. The good news is, I got God to come down to 10. The bad news is that adultery is still one of them.”

My point here is this: Whether you are in business for yourself or working for another person, you will be smart to live by the Ten Commandments. You can personally believe anything you want to, and that’s okay with me. But when you get your first job and go to training school, I can almost guarantee you that you are going to see someone who gets fired during the training program or is let go shortly after returning home. And do you know why? More likely than not, it will be for trying to prove that they are more popular with the men or women than anyone else there. If they don’t do that, they will get drunk and show the boss what an ass they really are, or their use of gutter language will be less than popular. Remember, the world is watching – so is the boss. As someone once said, the night has a thousand eyes.

I have been blessed by being able to travel all over the world, and let me give you a couple examples from my travels.

  1. One morning, I was eating breakfast in a hotel in China, and a man came over to my table and said, “Hello, aren’t you from Georgia?” – where I lived at the time. Yes! Here was a businessman who knew me halfway around the world.
  2. One night, on a flight to Hong Kong, a couple was sitting next to me. As I read, I couldn’t help overhearing some of their conversation about some things which sounded somewhat familiar. So, I laid down my book and asked them where they were from. “Marietta, Georgia,” was the reply. Oh, really? Where in Marietta do you live? “We live in Indian Hills Country Club.” That’s great, so do I. – Well, you get the drift. They were neighbors. I had never met them prior to that, but our children all know each other.

Well, as someone once said, “What you are speaks so loudly that I cannot hear a word you are saying.” I’m not here to preach to you about morality, but I do want you to understand this. If you do not want what you are doing to be known in your home, in your community, in your company, then don’t do it.

I really do not know the difference between “fat chance” and “slim chance,” but I think it’s a fat chance you will get caught and a slim chance that you will get away with it.

In any event, it is my belief that success comes less frequently to those who lie, cheat, and steal.

Confidence

It is important to be confident – when you are looking for a job and when you are on the job. But be very careful here because there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance.

You must have positive and lofty goals, but your goals should be realistic.

Every once in a while, a young person just out of college will announce that they expect to be chief executive officer by the time they are 30. They think they are expressing assertiveness and self-confidence, but what they are really doing is drawing attention to their youth and naiveté.

Now, don’t take me wrong or let me rain on your parade, because you must believe in yourself. There is nothing wrong with having a dream. I think it was Einstein who said, “Your daydreams are a preview of coming attractions.” You must visualize and see yourself succeeding.

Also, there are times when you have to keep performing even in the face of what appears to be impossible odds. I remember a boy back in middle school who was about half my size, but I wouldn’t fight him. There was a good reason: I knew him from sports and other activities. He was the kind who just wouldn’t quit or give up, and I figured that if we ever got into a fight, it would be necessary to kill him. Go about your job with quiet confidence. Don’t quit or give up too easily.

Let me tell you a true story. This is a story which appeared in Sports Illustrated several years ago.

To set the scene, the University of California, Santa Cruz was playing West Coast Christian College in basketball. The well-disciplined Christians usually committed very few fouls, so their coach Jerry Turner wasn’t overly concerned when injuries left him with only eight players to play California, Santa Cruz.

Well, wouldn’t you know it, that night West Coast Christian just kept getting whistled and whistled and whistled. Even the California, Santa Cruz coach, Joe Richardson, admitted there were some strange calls.

Whatever the reason, one player fouled out, then another, then a third. They kept on fouling out, if you can believe this, until only one man – 6’ guard Michael Lockhart – was left.

Let me read you part of Lockhart’s interview after the game.

“We had started in a tandem zone, then we went to a straight 2-3 zone. After we were down four guys, we used a 2-2 box, then a 1-3 dime, then a 1-1 zone – finally a 1.”

There was two minutes and ten seconds when Lockhart found himself alone on the floor. West Coast Christian was ahead 70-57 (13-point lead).

“I was scared to death,” he said. “I have confidence in my ball-handling, but I had four fouls myself, and there was nobody to pass to.”

Do you want to know what his coach told him? I quote, “The coach told me to calm down, take my time.”

Further complicating Lockhart’s situation was that, when he put the ball in play after a Cal-Santa Cruz score, it had to touch another player before he could retrieve it. Once, he managed to bounce the ball off an opponent’s leg and then grab it back. He got a rebound after Cal-Santa Cruz missed a shot. When he got possession, he did a good job of dribbling to eat up the clock, and the other players were forced to foul him to get the ball. Lockhart made five of six free-throws.

In their brief five-to-one match-up, Cal-Santa Cruz out-scored Mike Lockhart 10 to 5, but that wasn’t enough to turn the game around. West Coast Christian won 75 to 67.

Now, ladies and gentlemen, there was a man who was confident, had the courage to stay on the floor, and the guts not to quit. There will be plenty of times when you will want to scream, yell, laugh, and quit at the same time.

Ladies and gentlemen, over the years, I have learned to use the word “impossible” with the greatest caution.

Things will happen to you from time to time which you will perceive as unfair – and, quite frankly, will be unfair. Life is just that way.

But don’t lose your sense of humor. Never lose sight of the bottom line – the bottom line is your career. You may well out-last the boss who is giving you a hard time. So, walking in and cussing him out is not the answer. You are not going to like everyone you work with.

Let me tell you a story.

It was said that Winston Churchill and George Bernard Shaw were not friends. As a matter of fact, you could simply say they didn’t like each other.

There is a story about the time that Shaw sent Churchill two tickets to the opening night of one of his plays, which was opening in London. The two tickets arrived with a note which said, “Here are two tickets to the opening night of my new play. One is for you, and one is for a friend – if you have one.”

Winston wrote back and said, “I’m sorry I will not be able to attend the opening night, but I can come to the second night – if there is one.”

Try to handle differences which you might have with humor.

Habits

You are going to develop certain habits in your work and throughout life. Just make sure they are good habits. When you find that you are developing a bad habit, or one that is less than good, that you change as quickly as possible.

You see, habits start like cob webs. They are easy to break. You can hardly see them. But, as time goes on, the cob webs become strings, then ropes that bind you, and they are almost impossible to break or change.

It could be the use of foul language, poor grammar, arriving late, not completing jobs you have started, or a million other things.

Let me tell you another story.

“Touchstone”

This is a story about a farmer who heard about a touchstone which could be found in a certain area near the ocean. The legend was that if you could find this touchstone, that you would be granted one wish. The farmer decided that his life could best be spent looking for this touchstone in order to get this one wish.

So, day after day, week after week, year after year, he would go to the beach and pick up stones. They all felt cold to the touch, and he would throw them into the sea. This went on for years – picking up stones, feeling them, and throwing them into the sea.

After many years, one day he picked up a stone, and it was different – it felt warm to the touch. He held it in his hand, but out of force of habit, he hurled it into the sea.

Luck

What part does luck play in all of this? Maybe you have heard that if you are lucky, things will turn out okay, and if you are unlucky, then things will turn out badly. Now, I’m not saying that luck doesn’t have anything to do with success. But every time I have tried to examine luck, I have found that lucky people, for the most part, had a hand in creating their own luck.

Billionaire J. Paul Getty was asked the secret of his success. His reply was, “Some people find oil, others don’t.”

This sums it up rather nicely, but I don’t think he was referring to just luck in the statement. I think he was saying some people find oil because they are better prepared, better financed, harder workers, and yes, maybe he was saying there was an element of luck. But I’ll take being prepared over being lucky any day. Luck, someone said, is preparation meeting opportunity, and I believe this is the case.

You see, opportunity is always there. I see opportunity like a big smile hanging out there in the universe. It is rather constant. It is always there, just waiting for you to be prepared to come and capture it, just waiting for you to prepare to work with it.

Thank you for your attention.

Dudley Moore – “Author”

Joey you gave me a diamond

Being in business for yourself, in my opinion, is often better than working for someone else. But you may find that it is like trying to run a small hotdog stand next to an active volcano.

This category is meant to go along with the Making the Most of your Life posts. My late grandfather was a world-class businessman, and he gave some amazing speeches. Since I inherited his notes, I thought it’d be a great thing to share with you. There are four speeches that’ll I’ll transcribe over time.

I hope you get as much out of them as I did. They really are great. It’s too bad he didn’t talk about how not to pee in your pants, though, because I totally did that today at work. No one seemed to notice (I hope). I’m sure you’re thrilled to know that.

Well, I’m back.

Posted: April 18, 2017 in Miscellaneous

Hey guys, good news. I’m not dead! That’s good news, right?

Anyway, long story short, 2016 was a hard year. Cliché, I know, but it’s not for the same reasons most people say that. It was more because I started what I thought was my career, and it didn’t work out. And then during all that, one of my dearest friendships crumbled away between my fingers. She meant far more to me than she ever realized.

I just didn’t want to write back then, you know? My flame of passion had been snuffed out, and because of that, I didn’t have much to say.

Now, things are different. It’s a new year – heck, a great new year, and I have so much to say! I don’t know where to begin.

But more on that later (I’m writing about it in the new greeting). Right now, it’s after midnight, and I have work at my, you know, mother freakin’ career job in the morning. Yeah, you heard me right.

Man, life tastes sweet.

It’s important to begin with this topic because every other topic is pointless unless a relationship with God is your Number 1 priority. Without a firm connection to the Lord, you can’t hope to make the most out of life. Without this catalytic ingredient, it’s simply impossible.

I’ve found this to be true over and over, and each time it was a painfully unnecessary experience. This is a lesson best learned in a classroom and not on a field trip, because make no mistake: Whenever God wasn’t my first priority, I felt empty, and my life was rife with chaos. It never mattered whether I had a girlfriend, friends to spend time with, or social gatherings to attend. I could be in a room surrounded by people who I loved and who in turn loved me, laughing amidst what are supposed to be the best moments life can offer, and yet feel so alone and so empty. There was always an underlying sadness in my soul that tore at me. Did you see my entries written in 2012 and 2013? The cynicism should be evidence enough of what existed underneath. I was miserable back then, and I certainly wasn’t making the most out of life.

To the contrary, those seasons when God was my number one priority were the most remarkable times of my existence. It was during those times when I seemed to be the most successful, make the best decisions, and walk with the highest confidence. It was then when God granted me His precious wisdom, and He helped me develop and maintain the best relationships I’ve ever had. Indeed, He enabled me to make the most out of life.

Now, then, to the meat of this topic. This will be a list of four loosely-related subjects about how to make the most of your relationship with God: 1) Mental Priorities – the two types of Godly wisdom and the attitudes you must have in order to apply them 2) The importance of spending alone time with God, and how to make the most of it 3) How to best pursue God 4) Reconciling the consequences of your mistakes with God’s love.

 

Mental Priorities – the two types of Godly Wisdom and the Attitudes you must have in order to apply them.

First, there are two types of wisdom. There’s human wisdom and then there’s Godly wisdom. But then, to make things confusing, there are also two types of Godly wisdom. I won’t address human wisdom here because it’s Godly wisdom that you’ll need in order to make the most of your life.

Your first mental priority should be the pursuit of Type 1 Godly wisdom. Type 1 Godly wisdom is the bulk sayings you’ll find in the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes and a handful of other places in the Bible. Things like, “If someone does this, then that will happen,” or “Something, something, something, and then something else. This I have observed.” These are important truths about life which God inspired individuals like Solomon to write down. The pursuit of Type 1 Godly wisdom is the foundation of life improvement, but it is useless without your second mental priority.

Your second mental priority should be the love and pursuit of knowledge. This means all forms of knowledge and learning. As you learn about science and history and various forms of art and so on, you’ll also gain a great deal of understanding about who God is. It was He who made these, so it should be no surprise that gaining knowledge also opens your eyes to God’s magnificence.

With science, you will observe the method to His madness. You’ll learn how unspeakably vast His brilliance is and why He created things the way He did. Perhaps you’ve become a skeptic of science, but I challenge you with this: put aside bias and seek the truth. Even atheist and agnostic scientists make discoveries that glorify God. You, as a believer, can be equipped to see this and distinguish the nonsense from the sense (so to speak).

With history, you will discover God’s handiwork throughout the ages. It’s everywhere. In every nation and every event, God’s handiwork is there. Even bad things that have happened in our fallen world are rife with God’s involvement as He makes the most out of those situations for the good of those who love Him.

With art, literature, and other elements of culture, you will see how God inspires people and how magnificently He created us. Sure, there is plenty of evil out there and art forms that are not of God, but the capacity to create is something God only gave to humans. It has everything to do with being made in His likeness, and recognizing the result of that serves to bring us closer to Him.

Ultimately, the love and pursuit of knowledge provides a yearning for Type 1 Godly wisdom. It is impossible to pursue and apply this kind of wisdom without the passion to do so.

Your third mental priority ought to be the pursuit of Type 2 Godly wisdom. Type 2 Godly wisdom is the God-inspired understanding of how to apply Type 1 Godly wisdom and other knowledge to your life. Type 1 Godly wisdom is comprised of valuable information, whereas Type 2 is the ability to make use of that information. Type 1 is useless without Type 2, and so is the love and pursuit of knowledge. What’s the point of learning all about astronomy if you can’t infer what it means about God? With Type 2 wisdom, you discover His majesty rather than knowledge alone. A good analogy is this: Knowledge and Type 1 Godly wisdom are like cars, and Type 2 Godly wisdom is like the driver. They are useless without each other. It’s also worth noting how important Type 2 Godly wisdom is when it comes to understanding the Bible. The Holy Spirit provides Type 2 Godly wisdom while we read it as a method for God to speak to us through scripture. Indeed, the Bible is called the living word because of Type 2 Godly wisdom.

Your fourth and final mental priority should be the discipline to apply all of the above to your life. We just discussed how Type 2 Godly wisdom teaches you how to apply the first two mental priorities to your life, but knowing how and actually doing it are completely different things. A valuable daily habit would be to ask the Holy Spirit to give you the discipline to apply the first three mental priorities to your life, for Godly discipline is all about putting wisdom into practice.

Each of these things must be sought after vigorously if you are to make the most of your life. I urge you, dear reader, to spend time each day reading God’s word and learning all you can from it. Ask Him to show you Type 1 Godly wisdom and to expand your overall knowledge of anything and everything. Then ask Him to provide you with Type 2 Godly wisdom and the discipline to apply those three things to your life. These mental priorities will condition you to make excellent decisions and to have fantastic relationships with other people. They are the foundation to making the most of your time here on Earth.

Further scriptural reading on this subject:

Proverbs 2

Proverbs 3:7, 13-24

Ecclesiastes 7:11-12, 19, 25

Isaiah 55:8

 

The importance of spending alone time with God, and how to make the most of it.

Every night I recharge my phone, and every morning I recharge my soul. Actually, that’s false. I recharge my Galaxy S5 three times a day because its battery is garbage. Anyway, so in order for me to remain aware of God’s presence and to exhibit Christ-like virtues, I need a spiritual recharge at the beginning of every day. Just as eating breakfast helps get your day started, so it is with meditating on God. I cannot emphasize enough how important this is to your spiritual walk. Without this special time, your spiritual flame will dwindle. And, ladies and gentlemen, when it comes to a relationship with the King of the universe, anything less than a bonfire simply will not do.

Now, there is no single way to spend quiet time with God. So, before I discuss how I approach it, it is important to realize my precise method might not work for you. There are some things I do which I think everyone should, and there are other things which ought to be flexible based on the individual. I will clarify which is which as I proceed with the discussion.

First, there is the matter of when I spend my quiet time and for how long. Ideally, I spend time alone with God in the mornings not long after waking up. I allow a little time for the cobwebs of sleep to clear so my thought processes are of better quality, and then I set a timer for fifteen minutes. It is during those fifteen minutes that I pray. Now, let me make myself clear. My prayer time is not limited to fifteen minutes. It’s just fifteen minutes is the minimum about of time I allow myself. A lot of times I spend over an hour talking to God. The minimum amount of time you spend with God might be different than mine. A lot of people might set it for ten minutes, or even thirty minutes or an hour. I’ve settled on fifteen.

Now, about how I pray. To get the most out of it, I speak to God out loud as casually as I would my closest companions. He is my best friend and father, after all, and He’s certainly in the room with me just as any physical person can be. Why should my relationship with Him be unrelatable? A truly close relationship is relaxed and comfortable, and I believe this is what God wants from his children.

My dad taught me the greatest thing parents want from their children is a relationship with them. I think a lot of people actually hold God at a distance, trying to have a relationship with Him through obedience. And while He certainly does want His children to obey, because He wants what is best for them, His desire above all else is to have a relationship with them. Besides, without a relationship with Him, it is impossible to grow in a lifestyle of obedience to God. It’s all meaningless without first knowing Him.

While praying, there are three distinct items I pray about.

First and foremost, I thank Him. This practice helps me see how great His mercy is and how countless His blessings in my life are. It’s easy to lose sight of the good when bad things happen, but this helps to reign in my focus on His love.

Second, I bring any and all needs and desires to him. It’s perfectly okay to ask Him for things you want but don’t need. Indeed, the Bible says to ask Him about everything (see the further scriptural reading at the bottom). Sometimes God blesses His children with things they don’t need, but simply enjoy. He merely does it because it delights Him to do so.

Third, I talk to Him about whatever is on my mind. It’s true that He already knows everything I’m thinking before I bring it up, but talking about things with Him enables a whole host of benefits. For one thing, it’s a bonding experience that brings us closer together. And another thing, while I talk to Him, He often adds His perspective to my thoughts. Seeing events and circumstances through God’s eyes brings a whole new meaning to them. It helps me make better decisions, and it motivates me to go forth in confidence. When God’s on your side, who can be against you?

Here are ten other, specific things I pray about:

– I ask God to bless the work of my hands and mind.

– I ask God to prepare and equip me for the future.

– I ask God for wisdom and knowledge.

– I ask God to encourage and motivate me to press on.

– I ask God to help me focus and be intentional about things.

– I ask God for help with any upcoming decisions.

– I ask God for a pure heart and mind.

– I ask God to place my desires where He wants them.

– I ask God to give meaning to my work.

– I ask God to give me vision for the future, and to help me see opportunities, and to get me excited about the future.

Last, but certainly not least, there exists a component of my quiet time which is just as important as the rest, and that is to listen to God’s voice. Consider Psalm 46:10a: “He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God;’” A lot of times, particularly in December when all the Christmas decorations are up, I spend my quiet time in the living room with coffee, the Christmas tree, and a fire. My mother has bookshelves filled floor to ceiling with Bible commentaries and scholarly works. On one of the shelves, in plain view from the couch where I sit, there rests a wooden plank with Psalm 46:10a inscribed on it. Many times I sit there and pray, and yet I feel like I’m missing something. The plank then silently reminds me to recognize who God is. When I set my mind to this verse, my problems fade into insignificance. It is while I ponder Him that He often speaks to me. It’s not in an audible voice or a bizarre stream of thoughts in my mind. No, rather it is a gentle urging in my heart. I feel His warm presence, and then, in the calm security of it, He speaks to my soul. God speaks to us in a variety of ways. He speaks to us through scripture, through Type 2 Godly wisdom, and sometimes through other people. But it is here, in the quiet, when He speaks to our hearts. I benefit more from this component of my quiet time than any other.

Next I read from my Bible and a devotional book, typically one with a devotional for each day of the year. I should probably clarify that this is a component of my quiet time whose specifics might vary from individual to individual.

Typically I read only a single chapter of the Bible every day. It is important, however, to make certain that further context isn’t needed. Some chapters shouldn’t be read individually, but ought to be included with the surrounding chapters. In my opinion, however, a single chapter of the Bible is usually fine.

Now, there is a certain action you must take when reading the Bible in order to get the most out of the experience. Before you begin, it is crucial that you ask God to guide and teach you based on what you are reading. The Holy Spirit enables us to interpret and understand scripture. We weren’t meant to read the Bible by ourselves.

When you read, recognize what the Bible is. Ponder the notion that you are reading from the living Word of God, that you are literally holding a collection of words that came from God Himself. It’s a humbling thought that will certainly help you make the most out of reading scripture.

I also recommend reading from a devotional book. While it’s certainly optional, I like to underline the high points in order to facilitate superior comprehension.

All the steps I’ve listed usually only take me about thirty minutes to complete. In my opinion, it’s the best possible way to get your day started, as it’ll help prepare you for what lies ahead.

One final word of advice before I move on to the next section. Don’t confine your relationship with God to your quiet time. Your quiet time is much like starting an engine, but in order to keep it running, it must receive a constant supply of fuel. Make a point of acknowledging God’s presence throughout the day, and don’t be shy about saying small, brief prayers in your head whenever you feel it necessary. Keeping God’s presence in mind is what it means to walk with Him throughout your day, and it will bring you peace and comfort, regardless of what circumstances you encounter.

Further scriptural reading on this subject:

Matthew 6:9-13

Matthew14:23

Mark 1:35

Ephesians 6:18

Philippians 4:6

Hebrews 5:7

 

How to best pursue God.

We just discussed how to spend time with God, but what about the pursuit of Him in general? The Bible says He pursues us constantly, so how might we best respond?

In short, when it comes to your relationship with God, give it all you’ve got. Consider Luke 10:27a: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.”

You might have seen in my previous entries how I had a habit of staying home from church and watching the sermon online, entirely skipping the worship portion of the service. Even when I did make it, I was often late on purpose because I didn’t want to spend too long worshiping. I resigned myself that one or two songs would suffice, that if I stayed until the end of the sermon, my time spent at church was enough. I also thought I could worship God on my own at home in my own way that didn’t involve singing. And that’s true. I can totally worship God outside church in other ways than singing. But I wasn’t devoting much time to God, and the worship experience at church often contains the most important minutes of the week because you’re experiencing God with other believers. Some of the most encouraging moments in my walk with Christ – when He spoke to my soul – happened during worship. That’s not to say all those moments happened during worship. But many certainly did, and I believe that’s because worshiping at church places your focus on the Holy Spirit and better enables you to “listen” to Him. When I came in late on purpose, I wasn’t giving God my best effort. I was lukewarm, so to speak. Such a lackadaisical approach, I am convinced, hindered much-needed spiritual growth in my life. Simply put: each withheld effort (at church or otherwise) was a missed opportunity to grow in the Lord.

So I urge you, dear reader, to be intentional in your pursuit of God. The most precious act you can do in your family life is to make sure those you love know it. The same holds true in your spiritual life – make a point of acting in ways that demonstrate your love for God.

Further scriptural reading on this subject:

Matthew 6:33

Luke 10:27a

Luke 15:1-7

Acts 17:27-28

Hebrews 10:25

 

Reconciling the consequences of your mistakes with God’s love.

I have found the issue many non-believers take with Christianity is the abundance of “rules.” They disagree with them and find little merit to their purposes. They believe obeying God would serve only to prohibit happiness and pleasure, and that, ironically, obedience would keep them from making the most out of life.

Believe it or not, I understand where they’re coming from. I actually used to champion this sort of thinking before God intervened in my life and changed everything. However a closer, Spirit-filled application of Godly wisdom will reveal that God’s word doesn’t provide instruction merely to test our loyalty and devotion. Rather, God, in His vast and incalculable love for us, gave us these instructions so we might live with joy and wisdom and peace. It’s not always immediately obvious when reading scripture, but every command God gave us has the sole purpose of blessing us.

Whenever we are tempted, Satan tries to convince us that disobeying scripture isn’t that big of a deal, and we’ll be fine. And the lie is so believable because if we give in, we are usually satisfied – at first. However if we disobey God, some way or another the consequences will always show up. Sometimes (and I do mean sometimes) the consequences of sin are small in the beginning. And that’s good because what a great opportunity to repent and move away before things get worse. But if sin is given time to grow and destroy, it will inevitability lead to some form of death. It could be the death of a relationship, a career, or even a person. But rest assured, it will ultimately lead to death. Consider James 1:15: “Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” Disobedience, my friend, will always bring about consequences, even if you aren’t a Christian.

Of course, that’s not to confuse consequences with God’s discipline. First, God’s discipline is only for Christians. Second, God’s discipline occurs outside the ordinary consequences we might face, and it’s designed to get our attention so we don’t face worse consequences down the road. Third, God’s discipline is never spiteful. God never disciplines us and then says, “Ha, how did that feel?” No, rather He disciplines us with the expressed desire that we repent because it grieves Him when we face consequences.

Now, what if we repent but still have to face the outcomes of our sin? Consequences are nothing more than the results of our actions. That is why they occur even after a change of heart. God wants us to grow spiritually and make better choices in the future, so He allows us to reap what we sow with a precise hand on what happens.

But what if the consequences are devastating? What exactly do we trust God to do then?

The answer is both simple and reassuring. If we place our trust in the Lord, He will never allow our consequences to be too much. Now, allow me to make something clear about the last sentence. If you disagree with God about whether the consequences of your sin are bearable, consider this: You are imagining a future without God’s sovereignty over your life. You don’t know for certain how events will play out. But the truth still stands: God never leaves your side – even as you face consequences. Even though they are a result of your sin, He still faces them with you.

We all make mistakes. We all sin. But don’t forget that no matter what you do, God is in control of what lies ahead. And the Bible says God works for the good of those who love Him.

So take heart! Everything will be okay.

Further scriptural reading on this subject:

Luke 12:22-26

Galatians 6:7-8

Ephesians 3:20-21

James 1:15

 

In conclusion, I urge you to give life your very best effort. Make the most of every opportunity. Ask God to use you. Pursue Him with all you’ve got, and I promise your life will be enriched beyond what you can imagine.

So, dear reader, grab a Bible and study it. Satisfy your hunger for God. Learn about Him. Develop relationships with other believers so you might be encouraged. Pursue God and His plan for your life. Find out what the future holds, and experience a newfound joy that you’ve never felt.

Your relationship with God is the cornerstone of it all. Establish that foundation, and everything else will fall into place.