Chasing a dream requires so much energy and focus that if you are not careful it can divide your marriage. However, chasing a dream properly has the potential to unite and bond you closer to your spouse. A couple headed together towards a common vision is so dynamic and reaches a level of intimacy that many dream of.
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In the beginning of my dream chasing journey I pursued my dream so selfishly that I put strain and pressure on my marriage. Don’t let this happen to you. Chase a common dream instead of a selfish ambition. It will require a little more time and a little give and take but the benifit is worth it.
These 5 things will make your marriage prosper while chasing a dream.
 
God first. It is common place to put other things including your spouse in front of God. I struggle honestly to this day, but the more my wife has went to number two and God moved to first place, the more love I have to show her. Putting God first will make your cup overflow into all areas of life causing the dream chasing journey to flourish. God is the giver of dreams. It is essential to remember to worship the Creator not the creation.
 
Cast a vision. I am task oriented and unfortunately I tend to communicate a task instead of casting a vision. It is important to communicate a vision to your spouse as that is where the life of the dream is found. Vision allows you to endure and do responsibilities you don’t like in order to get that result you want. Cast the vision of the dream to create buy in from your spouse.
 
Push and pull. When a dream is in your heart and mind, it is easy to be stubborn headed and want things one specific way. This will not do if you want a united marriage towards a dream. You must allow for give and take. Both people have to have ownership of the dream and the only way that will happen is if some of your things are killed to make room for some of your spouse’s ideas and plans. Pushback and correction is not a sign of hating on your dream, but a sign of intimacy within marriage. Allow for open pushback to unite in the same direction.
 
Time. Where you spend your time shows you where your heart is. You need to find time to work on your dream when it is not taking away from your spouse and children. For me this is usually early in the morning when no one is awake. Allocate time daily to work on your dream so you get motion, but more importantly be intentional about the time that you are still a partner and a parent. Set clear boundaries so that your family does not feel like second place.
 
Shut up. If you are like me this is hard to do. I get so thrilled about an idea that I talk about it constantly. Talk about other things and shut your yapper about your dream sometimes. There is nothing that will drive your partner more nuts than you having an inability to talk about anything other than the dream. Zip your lip and just do life together.
The process of two becoming one is life long and is not always easy. Slow down, communicate openly and honestly, and enjoy the ride. Be blessed on your journey.
Are you involving your family in the dream?
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Sitting at the computer trying to grab a hold of something to write about, I sat there completely blank. Deleting and restarting the opening paragraph, I became frustrated. A few minutes faded into an hour and a half and I wrote absolutely nothing. Annoyed, I slammed my laptop shut. Not one post. I woke up early for nothing, I thought.

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Photo by: KCNewman Photography

This happens to me all too often and mostly after I have a piece do very well. I draw a blank and the more I TRY to fix it, the more the block persists. It is as if I am trying to capture lightning in a bottle again. Whether you write or not there are some principles that I have learned that should help you on your journey toward your dream. In fact, every profession requires some level of creativity and often small tweaks can unleash the flow of creative thinking.

If you are stuck make sure you are not making these 4 mistakes.

1. It’s about you. I am pretty selfish. I wish it weren’t true. I wish I was a selfless person that put my needs and wants behind others. I all too often make everything about me. How many shares did I get? Has my audience grown? Did I make money this week? All me, me, me. When I am really happy and content it is about YOU. I am focusing on service of others and how my pain or success can help you.

Learn from me and make your dream about others. Peace awaits in that. Thinking changes and a more authentic and caring life will transform others. Make it about them, not you, and creativity will flow out of trying to serve them.

2. Lack of rest. Rest is not a luxury but a necessity. Creativity is killed as Mike Kim talks about here when we don’t rest. A few months back his post really spoke to me and caused me to take a couple of weeks away from writing. If you are in a funk could it be a lack of rest and stillness? We should work from rest not rest from work. This is a major shift in thinking and goes counterintuitive to our society. What you will find is that you will get more accomplished with a little rest. Rest will lead to creative and efficient thought process which will have you focused and on track.

Rest to bring new creative energy to your life.

3. Sedentary. I have so much less energy and passion when I sit all day. Make sure that you are taking the time to move. If you have a job that requires sitting, maybe invest in the stand-up desk. Walk or run in the morning. Just do something. I ran this morning and thought of three posts that I will write today. Physical activity should be built into your life daily.

If you are stuck, get up and move. Moving physically will get your brain moving.

4. Perfection. If I am stuck I notice that I am trying to do something perfectly. I am trying to recreate the past. Focused on what went right and trying to write the same thing. My best writing occurs when mechanics and my heart collide. This is never done by perfection and living in the past. It happens when I just write! I throw up on the page and then correct and change what I have done. If you are chasing perfection you are causing a mental block.

Perfection is a myth. Just do something and adjust as you go.

I hope this helps you like it has me. Trust God, trust His timing and focus on your part. Plateaus and mental blocks are part of the journey. Just keep experimenting and you will find breakthrough. Don’t give up, rather think about stepping away for a moment. Be blessed on your journey.

How do you spark your creativity?

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Sometimes I just get plain worn out. The balancing act of keeping up with life leaves not much energy to try to advance and shoot for something greater. I get tired doing tasks for the day and don’t do what will give me freedom in the future. At my restaurants I don’t train and instead do the job myself. I don’t write another guest post that week and zone out on TV. I press snooze instead of getting out of bed and running. I don’t do my zero based budget at the beginning of the month just trying to be good with my money instead. The problem is that to get our lives to the next level we need to get our actions to the next level.

 It's never corwded along the extra mile

I know it is not the most pleasing thing to hear, but the truth is DISCIPLINE is what we need more of. If we did what we know we should do, we would see our lives move in ways that we never thought possible. If you are struggling with discipline, these 5 things will help you to increase it.

1. God. I come from the world view that if God is not in it you are wasting your time. God is the change agent in my life, but often I skip Him in things that feel non-spiritual. Although it feels non-spiritual, it doesn’t get much more spiritual than living a disciplined life. Self-control is even counted as one of the fruits of the Spirit. Don’t leave God out of any area of your life. Pray that He would help to make you more disciplined. God is always faithful to answer our prayers even when it takes longer then we would want. In time, God will guide you to more discipline.

2. Remove temptation. Stop setting yourself up for failure. If you struggle with being on your phone instead of being present, set your phone somewhere else. If you are trying to eat healthier, remove unhealthy food from your home. Proactively set up your life to where you don’t have to practice self-control for long. The more you remove temptation from your life the less you have to use discipline. Set up your life so that a little discipline goes a long way.

3. Exercise. The better physical shape we are in the more discipline we have. I have worked myself up to running marathons and my discipline has increased the whole time. My energy is at an all-time high because of this and I can work long days and have enough energy to be disciplined at the end of the day. We are the most vulnerable when we are worn down and tired. As you get fit you will have higher energy to make wise choices. Also the mere act of exercise makes momentum in the discipline department.

4. Accountability. Build into your life accountability. The bigger the struggle the more you and I need to be accountable to someone we trust. We need open and honest relationships to be able to share when we fail. Share small and big wins and just have someone to do life with. The more you build accountable relationships into your life the more you will feel like you’re not alone. Walk through life with others and stop being the lone wolf.

5. Forgive. We are going to fail and that’s okay. It is not the failure that stops us on our pursuit, but when we fail we often get fixated on that failure and stop moving and pushing toward higher levels of discipline. Keep getting back up and you will keep moving forward. Every failure, sin and set-back was already atoned for on the cross and if we fixate and beat ourselves up for our mistakes we are multiplying the sin. If you failed, confess to God and a close friend and move forward looking back no longer.

Discipline is a muscle that is built. The more you use it, the stronger you will get. Don’t give up. Press into God, take care of your physical body, build relationships and forgive yourself when you fail. Overtime you can and will see your dreams if you stay disciplined on the journey.

How do you increase your discipline?

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Becoming forgettable is your biggest problem if you are trying to build any dream. Businesses spend millions of dollars on television, radio, print and many other forms of advertising to stay top of mind. They know if they are not in your face, you will forget about them and that is the killer of any business.

As the little guy, we can compete with these big conglomerates with endless stacks of money. It just takes a little more effort, but in return you will get loyal, raving fans that are not easily swayed to the competition. You can serve these people to a greater degree and then your dream becomes mutually beneficial. In essence you will be unforgettable!

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To become unforgettable as a person or an organization make sure you’re doing these 4 things.

1. Excellence. We remember excellence, not the ordinary. We remember the companies and people who are extraordinary. My favorite burger place is In-N-Out. In fact I love them so much that when I hit California I stop at the nearest one in Redding almost every time. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. I am not alone in my adoration of this simplistic burger joint as they have a cult-like following.

If you commit to excellence, not only will people remember you, but they may even spread the word about you. If you are average you will be forgotten. Be excellent enough to get people talking.

2. Niche down. Who do you serve? If it is everyone then you have a problem. The fact is, if no one hates you then no one will love you. This was hard for me when I first started this blog because I want to be liked by everyone. I ended up writing material that really didn’t serve every person well. As I move along I have continued to niche down more and more. It doesn’t mean that you don’t serve people outside of your niche, however, it does mean that you are building everything for a specific group of people. If you are successful this niche following will be extremely passionate about you and what you do.

Niche down to be memorable. If you are too broad no one will recall you. Be specific enough to get a group of people talking.

3. Get to know them. Once you have narrowed down your niche you need to get to know them. You need to find out their likes and dislikes. Expectations are key and you want to make sure that you go above and beyond what they expect. If you can meet expectations that your niche doesn’t even know they have, you will build brand awareness. Think like your target thinks and anticipate need before it arises. Find out where they hangout, what kind of things they are in to and set yourself up to succeed.

Build knowledge about your niche so that you will have the ability to be unforgettable.

4. Serve them. Niche down and getting to know your target audience is all for one purpose; to serve them to the greatest of your ability. Your dream and business in the end will always be about others and serving them. If it is not, you need to get into a different line of work because that is the only way to prosper long-term. Instead of thinking, How can I expand my business, start thinking, How can I take the information I know and serve them greater? Do they want faster service, higher quality, lower prices, and friendlier staff? What is it that will serve your niche the best?

Serve and you will build. Self-serve and you will be forgotten because no one cares about you when you don’t care about them.

Build a life you never imagined by being unforgettable. Never settle for average. Instead serve with excellence. In time, you will be unable to hold back the tide of customers.

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We have a great divide inside of us. This divide is what stops us from doing what we know we should do.

I already know that, I was sitting there thinking. Already I had felt myself not fully engaged in the conversation. After all, they were repeating something I already knew. If a book or a blog post repeated information I had already heard, it lost my full attention. However, if I knew, why was I not doing it?

There is a difference between knowing and doing. Seems common sense enough, but what causes one person to hear something and act and another to keep living the same way and never take a step? I believe that it is a lost connection.

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Next time you hear something again, ask God what you need to hear this time. This simple step will change your life. Instead of assuming you don’t need to listen, you will enter in with a different expectancy. Sometimes we need to go deeper or just need encouragement that we are doing the right thing. Sometimes we are not ready to hear what we need to hear. Our eyes become opened when we are ready to change. God will illuminate new things to you in the right time if you listen. What can you learn this time around to come to a certain and true knowing and abiding?

Has the information hit your heart? A lot of times we know something in our heads, but we have not let it sink into our hearts. The bigger the mask you wear, the further disconnected your heart and mind will be. So the more you are trying to hide something, the harder it is for you to receive anything into your heart. Separation between our heads and our hearts leads to a life that is counterfeit. One that is pharocitical and constantly comparing. Your heart is what you need to pay the most attention to. Information does not become transformation until information becomes revelation in the heart.

Your heart is what Jesus spent His entire ministry trying to reach. He encountered a people so focused on the outside and bankrupt on the inside. Is that you? Pause and think about that for a second. Don’t just skim through, but truly ask what part of you is consumed by external validation. Are you consumed with appearance or do you want true change from the inside out?

Focus on revelation and the power of the cross instead of strain and effort. Allowing God to change you is a life that is heart focused. Information needs to travel into our heads then into our hearts, which leads to change in action. Not externally focused on doing the right things, but internally focused. When the internal is healed, the external actions become a byproduct.

Usually we skip the most important step which is knowing something in our spirit and heart. To really KNOW changes everything. You stop focusing on self-effort and ruined New Year’s resolutions and start focusing on abiding and fully knowing. Focus changes to the cross and what Jesus died for; a life that is full and overflowing. One that is transformative, powerful, God breathed. God has more for you than you could ever imagine. Be blessed on your journey as you KNOW the love of Christ.

How can you listen more this week?

Photo by: Moyan Brenn

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Life is seldom smooth and most often it is full of setbacks and challenges that face us daily. At moments it can be overwhelming and we can focus on all of the negative things that are happening to us.  However, even in the most challenging situations we can choose to be happy. If you are struggling with happiness, make sure that these 6 things are aligned to help you on your journey.

happiness

Self-limiting beliefs. We all have a measure of self-limiting beliefs. Somewhere in life we lose our natural tendency that we are born with to aim for gigantic goals and dreams. We settle for good enough afraid to dream of more. Self-limiting beliefs hurt our self-esteem and create a life that is inauthentic. In order to be happy we must first believe that we are worthy of happiness.

Mask. Self-limiting beliefs, failures, and setbacks often lead to a life that is not who we are meant to be. We cover up our true nature with what we think is acceptable for others, hiding what we are fearful for others to know about us. This false self is the mask that we show the world. It is impossible to be truly happy when we are trying to be what others want others to be. In order to be happy we must be willing to be open and honest about failures and negative self-talk to a small trusted group of individuals.

Non-presence. When we are negative and downcast we are living a life in the past. We are mentally going over all of the times life has slammed us down. If our heads are in the clouds in the future it has the same negative effect. We are playing all of the things in our heads that we don’t have. It is impossible to fully embrace life when we are not present. To live life full and overflowing we must be in the moments of life that we are physically in. If we are not, we cannot fully feel and embrace even the smallest moments. To be happy we must live life by being fully present.

Expectations. If we can’t acknowledge our expectations happiness can allude us. Even the best moments in life can be ruined when reality is different than the expectations we have in our minds. To move past this roadblock we need to examine our expectations and gauge whether they are realistic or not. To be happy we must acknowledge our expectations.

Lack of stillness. A busy life can lead to an empty life. We must build in moments of solitude and stillness. In this busy go-go-go society, we must be proactive to recharge our batteries by installing moments of stillness. Make time to turn off all technology and slow the pace of your life. It is the silence between notes that creates beautiful music. The same goes for your life. It is the silence between activities that creates a symphony of a life. In order to live happily you must have moments of stillness.

Lack of adventure. Adventure is the spice of life. Even people that like routine need moments of adventure and excitement. If you are struggling with happiness, when is the last time you tried something new? Trying new things and experimenting can lead to a happy, fulfilling life. We should always be challenging ourselves through new activity. Add some happiness to your life by braving a new adventure.

There are no cookie cutter strategies for every person, but if you are struggling this is a perfect place to start. When I started to focus on living a life full and overflowing it was a gradual process to regain my peace and happiness. Practice makes progress and with time and focus your happiness can increase.  

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To have an enjoyable life it is imperative to have fulfillment now. Not at a distant future date, rather this very hour. No matter what pain and struggle is going on, you can enjoy the journey. Often we associate comfort and happiness and they really are not synonyms. Not only can we enjoy the struggle, but really we need the struggles of life. We need that tension of where we are and where we want to be.

3 things to bring joy back to the journey

One thing that is hardwired in us all is the need to grow. The need to expand to new places and hit new milestones. In these places of growth, the struggle is real and we can spiral into depression even though tension is needed. On this life long growth journey you will need to be proactive to enjoy the journey. These 3 things help bring delight back to our journey.

1. Works for good. The thing that will help us enjoy the journey more than anything else is to believe that God has our back. That if you follow Him and His will, everything both good and bad are working together for you. In Romans 8:28 it states, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

2. Celebrate. When is the last time you celebrated a milestone or an achievement? I tend to move on to the next thing too quickly. We need to take time to celebrate both little and big milestones. This is a way to remember when things are hard and a way to build confidence when it looks like there is no way possible. Celebrate and commemorate those times that you pushed through the struggle to give you strength and enjoyment in your current trial.

3. Measurement. Measurement improves performance, but even more than that it shows proof of traction. When working really hard it helps me to have goals as well as movement toward the goals. Write down progress. Make this visible and in a place you will see often to give you extra oomph. Getting one step closer always helps me to enjoy my journey.

These three things will help you to enjoy the process. I find that most often when I am in worry, I have lost my trust in God and His plan. If I am not having fun on the way, I am lacking celebration and measurement. Restore fun to the process and realize you are blessed on your journey.

How can you enjoy your life more today?

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To learn to not quit, separates history makers from the forgotten.

On our way to achieving our dreams we will experience the heartache of failure. It is what we do in those times when we come up short that will determine if we will see the full fruition of our dreams.

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photo by: KCNewman Photography

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” ~ Winston Churchill

This dream chasing is not easy and will take everything you have plus some, but if you keep pushing and grinding it is more beautiful than you can imagine. When you fail, these four principles will put you back on track!

  1. Take ownership. We must take ownership for our actions and inactions. It is easier to blame others, however, the truth is the responsibility is ours. Shirking responsibility gives power to others and is the beginning of justification for our actions. Take ownership of what you can control. Things that are outside of your control don’t deserve your time and attention. Empowerment happens through changing what we can change and accepting what we can’t.
  2. Speak life. A lot of times when we have a problem we talk about it and think about it until no one will listen and then we will start calling people to talk about it some more. This will not help us to overcome defeat and frankly it will keep us in the state of failure longer. If you want to overcome failure you must speak life into your life. Talk about how you are going to overcome. Talk about how you are able. Speak life, not death to overcome failure.
  3. Get counsel. We have blind spots as people and that is one of the reasons why we need each other. Get counsel before you shoot again. Your dream is your baby and frankly no matter how impartial you think you are, you aren’t. A group of people can help you look at it more honestly and lead you in a proper direction. Get counsel from wise people. Build into your life coaching, accountability, and a mastermind group. These people are invaluable as you chase your dream!
  4. Reconnect with why. Your why is your anchor, not your what. Stop getting hung up on how and what. We always like to go there. The why to our dreams helps us to overcome the three D’s: discouragement, disinterest, and distractions. Dig and find it. Take the time and make it real. Don’t give a fake answer that you think others want to hear, rather make it one hundred percent you. Rekindle your passion for the dream by cementing with your unique why.

Remember your feelings in failure are just that; feelings. On those deep, dark days where everything is going wrong get back up and fight. Fight for things worth fighting for. Every person that has accomplished anything has had obstacles to overcome. The bigger the obstacle, the sweeter the victory. Just keep moving. Be blessed on your journey

What makes you get back up?

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Life moves by at the speed of light and I have played the role of the busy martyr way too often. In owning my own business it means the to-do list never ends. Add in being a husband, father, son, and friend and I often feel stretched and guilty. Dropping the ball in one sense or another, I find myself apologizing for forgetting, being tardy, or having a wandering mind. I feel like I am robbing Peter to pay Paul with my day, thus someone is always getting the short-end of the stick.

Hurried and rushed, I have lacked the truth about time. That time is not money, but life and I am not fully living. That time should be cherished and savored. That we should live fully in the present, fully intentional, and fully alive.

Time is not money but life

Stop wasting it.

We spend a lot of our lives waiting for the future, fretting about what may be or waiting for happiness. We waste time by fixating on the future and ignoring what is right in front of us. Ignoring this very second because tomorrow we are going to start living. Trying to make a life, we never have a life.

What foolishness, for tomorrow may never come. Both good and bad we may never see what we are fixated and enamored by. We are merely wasting what has been entrusted to us. We are called to steward our time to the best of our abilities.

Keep living it.

Intentionality means fully living. We are called to live abundantly and overflowing. Not wasting it and not devaluing what we have been given. Full intentionality for me means start with God and do what He would have me do for the day. When God is silent, it means doing what I know He would want me to do according to His Word. It means loving my wife like He loves me. It means being the father I should be. It means to move in the direction of our dreams and to lead with excellence while living an uncommon life.

Start enjoying it. 

Drawing in every breath, taking in every moment, being fully and authentically present. Enjoying the moment. Why does this feel so strange to us? Why does a wandering mind and dissatisfaction feel so normal? The only way to enjoy this life is to be present. To live in the now is an acquired skill that I am praying for. As I attempt this feat I realize how far I have to go. At work I think about home and at home I think about work. That is not enjoyment and those around me know they are not getting all of me. I am short-changing those I love the most. No more. We must take a stand. We must try and try again for the stakes are so high and we never get another chance. For this very moment will never happen again.

We need to treat this very second with the awe that it deserves. Move in the direction that God is calling, for tomorrow may never come. Do not stand still and waste today, but enjoy the journey and you will be blessed.

Are you living?

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One of the most valuable skills we can have is to listen to others. To empathize and connect with others is a skill and an art. This act of listening will help you to propel your personal and professional life. I really struggle to fully listen. Usually I am thinking about a response or something else going on. This is embarrassing to admit, but it’s the truth. Unfortunately my wife can attest that my head is somewhere else often. I have made excuses, but the fact is I need to improve in listening.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

In all reality we all struggle to truly listen to each other. The more technology amps up, the harder it is to listen. This has major consequences within our families, businesses, relationships, and our spiritual lives. Listening is a skill you and I need to work on and like any new skill I want to encourage you to be patient with yourself as you give focus to listening. These 4 things will make you a better listener.

1. Practice. Like any skill you need to practice. As I started to work on my listening I became tired because now that I was focusing on listening it was requiring new effort. Active listening does require more effort and energy and that is why most never really listen. No matter how small the conversation is, practice listening fully to the person. Build that ear and brain muscle through practice.

2. Care. You need to care. This is foundational; if you don’t care you won’t listen. You need to know why it is important to listen. Whether it is caring for the person or what they are saying, you need to care. Most of the time we don’t. If we did, we would take better attention to engage in listening. Get your mind off of you and on to the person speaking. Build a foundation of listening by increasing how much you care. I have prayed that God would help me to get my eyes off  myself and increase my heart for others. He will be faithful if you ask Him.

3. Present. Are you in the moment when others are talking? Don’t let your mind wander. Keep your eyes focused on the person you are talking with. Don’t think about what you are going to say in response, rather be silent in your mind. Most of the time I am thinking of what I am going to say next instead of listening to someone. If you are doing this make sure and catch yourself. It will take time to develop the new habit of full presence.

4. Wait. Allow time to pass between one person talking and your response. This time needs to happen because this is when you are going to think about your response. Sometimes it will feel like an eternity, but it really isn’t. It is the pause between notes that creates music and it is the pause between talking that reveals a meaningful conversation.

The main thing with listening to others is to remember that connection is what we are after. To truly connect with others is rare and sets you apart. You will have greater relationships and businesses if you listen, care, and empathize with others. In a world of false connectivity we are called to something greater. Start today and build that muscle. When you fail, get back up and try again. Be blessed on your journey.

 What helps you to fully listen?

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