The Daniel Plan: Week 4

The chapter?

Focus…

which instantly makes me think of my students. (Some days, I find myself saying that word out loud. A lot.)

For the most part, when I think of a focused student, I think of someone who is:

  • punctual
  • prepared
  • organized
  • and hardworking

But identifying the characteristics really isn’t what’s important. The more telling aspect is motivation.

In other words, what is their focus?

For some students, grades are the focus. They are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve an A on a test, a paper, a project, or a report card. They may even sacrifice their integrity. They continually seek teacher approval. Some struggle to think for themselves.

Other students, focus on learning. They take advantage of every opportunity to gain knowledge. A poor grade motivates them. They learn for the sake of learning. They do it for themselves.

Their focus is different. Consequently, their thoughts and actions differ.

But what does that have to do with focus in my life?

That’s what I was thinking about as I began reading.

Along the way, I pondered the following:

“Without focus, your brain can ruin your health.”

But what is it? What is my focus? Seems kinda important if it CAN RUIN MY HEALTH IF I DON’T HAVE IT!

Impatiently, I read. My brain began to hurt.

Ah. It hit me. I began to understand. What previously had not been apparent, suddenly became embarrassingly obvious.

Everything I do, every action, every decision, every thought, should honor God…

  • what I eat
  • how I  exercise
  • the effort I put into my marriage
  • the attitude I have when I go to work
  • how I interact with others
  • how I spend my time
  • etc.
  • etc.
  • etc.

I took a good hard look at the above, forcing myself to be brutally honest. Was I always acting in a way that glorifies God? Or was I idolizing something else?

Ouch.

My focus needs to be God.

Religion was meant to simplify my life; not complicate it.

“It seems as if being busy is a sort of badge of honor.”

In the accompanying video during our small group, Pastor Rick shared his Peach Tree story. He had a peach tree in his yard covered with hundreds of beautiful little peaches, but he needed to pluck off many of the baby peaches to allow other peaches to grow. There simply wasn’t enough room for them all.

So what do I get out of this story?

I can’t do it all and expect to grow as a person. Stretching myself thin, isn’t healthy. (But this I already knew.) I need to be aware of my focus when choosing to participate in activities, events, and committees. Is it to honor God? Or is it for selfish reasons?

But what I really began to see the importance of, was that when I choose to honor my passion(s), I make room for other people to grow in areas they feel passionate about. I’m not taking up their space. That definitely feels like a God thing.

“Thoughts are automatic. They just happen. They are based on complex chemical reactions and information from the past. 

In other words, totally out of my control, so I can’t beat myself up for what I am thinking, however…

“Neuroscience teaches us that every time you have a thought, your brain releases chemicals that make you feel good or bad.”

So I need to retrain my brain.

How?

“…people who express gratitude on a regular basis are healthier, more optimistic, make more progress toward their goals, have a greater sense of well-being, and are more helpful to others.”

I’ve been working on consistency with this since I began the book study four weeks ago.

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Ironically, after my first post about The Daniel Plan, two people from my church sent me links to the same message within hours of each other.

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Funniest part? They are sisters. Neither knew the other had sent it to me. Definitely a God thing. And definitely something I knew I needed to watch.

I’ve listened to the message twice now. And I am working on the assignment (which just so happens to align with some training I am taking through my school district) as we speak. It’s so good…which is why it will be getting its own post!

“We are not controlled by events or people, but by the perceptions we make of them.”

“…it is how you perceive situations, rather than the actual situations themselves, that cause you to react.”

I struggle with the whole perception thing. I get it on one level. I totally agree that you can look at a situation and either a.) make the most out of it, or b.) wallow in self pity, take it out on the world, and let the negativity consume every waking moment. I get it. I really do.

However…

I also have three “children” (who are now all in their 20’s). And I teach 100+ 6th graders. When someone comes to me with a “situation” that involves others, everyone has their own perception of what transpired, BUT the reality is that there is only one truth. The rule follower in me has a hard time with this.

So maybe that’s why it’s so important to ask myself, “Is it true?” whenever someone or something challenges me.

“A goal is a dream with a deadline.”

Rick Warren actually brought up the whole idea of SMART goals. I had a flashback to a couple of committees I served on when I taught elementary school. I am all over the SMART goal thing.

Too often, we let dreams die because we don’t put them into action. Maybe it’s because we don’t know how. Maybe it’s because the risk is too large. Maybe we don’t feel capable. Maybe we don’t have the support needed. Maybe it’s simply because…

we don’t have a plan.

In my notebook, I have now added a page entitled goals. Now I just need to think through my goals and make them SMART.

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***SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound.

What motivates change?

For me?

Sometimes, the motivation comes from hitting rock bottom. Painful, but effective.

Other times, it’s just the knowledge that things can be better. That I can be better. That I can do better.

Age has also served as a motivator for me. As I get older, I feel a strong desire to make sure that I am making a meaningful contribution to this world. I desire to live life to its fullest.

And this week:

Galatians 5:16

My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness.

 

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