Goal-setting Turns Your Dreams to Reality

Do you have a desire to accomplish certain things this year? Does it seem as though you will never get those things done? You’re not alone. I can’t tell you how many things I have set out to accomplish, but have yet to do them. I always thought I was doing something wrong, and the truth is, I WAS!

I will never forget what I saw when a pastor was speaking to his congregation one week:

“Raise your hand if you have a goal or goals that you want to accomplish this year!”

“Goals will never be reached if you can’t write them down! Raise your hand if you write down your goals!”

The reason these were so memorable for me has absolutely NOTHING to do with the question or statement themselves. Rather, it has EVERYTHING to do with the way the people responded.

When he asked the first question (yes, he was asking questions), it was like a kid in a candy store, who was trying to reach for that candy on the top shelf.

When the second question was asked. It was like being in a room full of people who were trying to keep a secret from you (but weren’t doing a very good job at it).

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Through extensive research, I have come up with 4 things that will help when trying to complete a task, meet a goal, or get something done:

  1. Don’t make the list too BIG: Research shows that the average person can only focus on 5-7 things at a time. We MUST keep our goals ‘front and center’ so that we can continue working towards them. If we are focused on too many things, our minds will just shut down.
  2. S.M.A.R.T: This is an acronym I found helpful.
  • Specific– When making a decision,goal, or want to complete something, be sure you know exactly what it is you are trying to accomplish. This requires you to state ‘exactly’ what it is you want to take off that shelf of goals you have.
  • Measureable– When making a decision,goal, or want to complete something, be sure it is something you can actually do. It does absolutely no good to work towards something that you have no possible way to manage.
  • Attainable– When making decision,goal, or want to complete something, be sure they require an action from you. Remember, actions get things done! Making a goal of (being me) just doesn’t require you to do anything. Set goals, with the mindset that there are mini-activities that you must do before it is attained.
  • Realistic– Making a goal of being a millionaire while being a college student, is just plain unrealistic for most people. Setting a goal like this is unrealistic. This type of goal is not helpful. Setting a goal like this is simply, setting yourself up to fail. Be REALISTIC!
  • Time-Bound– When making a decision,goal, or want to complete something, have the end in mind! Know when you want to accomplish that task (this will help you figure out the order of your ‘activities’ to do in order to reach the goal). Is it a long term goal (like by end of the year) or is it something you want to accomplish by a certain date (like your anniversary)? It is crucial that you put a date next to EACH of your goals, otherwise it’s just a dream.

3. Write them on paper: This is the most important part. You MUST write out your goals, or tasks out on paper, otherwise they are just dreams that you have. Studies have shown that writing out your goals or plans is one of the best ways to take it from a dream, to a reality.

4. Review:  Regularly review your list of decisions, goals, or wants that you’d like to complete. This could be every week, or every other week (really depends on you). This allows you to see what the next steps are, fine tune your goals (because life has a tendency to make things change), and gives you the opportunity to see what you have accomplished (which tells you how much closer you are to taking that goal off that rusty old shelf of dreams).

Research has shown that people who make goals, and meet their goals, tend to live a happier life.

If you are like that group who would keep your hands down when asked if you have written out your goals, make an appointment with yourself, and write out your goals. This 2-3 hour meeting will be the beginning of a long and happy life.

If you found this post to be helpful, please do these two things:

–          Click on the “Leave a Comment’ link at the bottom of the post, and let me know how this post helped you. (You can also ask any questions you may have for me as well).

Share this post on ALL of your social networking sites (Twitter, Facebook, etc.).

2 Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Inbox

Time is the most valuable thing we have (outside of air). One thing that seems to consume a lot of our time is our mail. Many of my college classmates, peers, and just about anyone born in the computer age, have very little experience with actual paper mail. Almost 80% of our mail is paperless. Meaning we get our mail via avenues such as e-mail, and social networking sites like Facebook messages and Twitter. Although most of our mail is paperless, we are unable to get away from paper mail altogether. So how exactly do we manage our inbox?

If you are anything like me, you find yourself getting multiple messages, or e-mails daily. It isn’t uncommon for me to receive 100 e-mails a day. This isn’t even counting the old e-mail addresses I have, that I never use anymore (that probably get just as many e-mails).

Part of this has to do with the way I use my social networking accounts. I previously wrote about 4 Ways to Make the BEST Use of Your Twitter Account.

With this much activity in a day, it is easy to feel like you will never catch up, never be in control, and never be able to see a time when your digital mail stops consuming so much or your time.

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Today I wish I could tell you that taking over your digital mail does not consume much time. The reality is, that until I developed a plan to deal with my digital mail (that worked for me), I was never able to take control of this area of my life.

I’d like to share with you what I have found to help me deal with my digital mail.

USE THE E-MAIL FILTERS: What in the world are e-mail filters? For those who are less technical (like myself), filters basically set up folders. These folders are set up by you. Examples of folders you may find useful are: e-mails you are cc (carbon copied) in. OR SPAM, OR newsletters/receipts

It has taken me a while to understand how these exactly work. The reality is, I didn’t know they even existed until I read about them on a trouble-shooting blog (about a completely different e-mail issue altogether). These filters will end up saving you LOTS of time. Basically, these filters tell your incoming mail where to go (which allows you to focus on actual e-mail as opposed to Spam, or Junk-mail).

KEEP UP DAILY: The key to not letting your inbox consume your time is to keep up with it. I have a goal that I have set up for myself (I don’t always get there, but it’s still a goal).

 Here is what it is: “empty my inbox daily.” This seems like a very difficult task at first. To be honest, it is! That is until you make a plan to stay on top of it. By emptying my inbox daily, I never have to worry about not getting things done.

This is much easier once you have set up your e-mail filters, and use them!

KEEP MOVING: One way I have found to empty my inbox daily, is to keep moving. How common is it for us to see a new message, open it, read it, and then do nothing (isn’t this our typical response)? In order for me to reach my goal (empty my inbox) I must ask myself a question: “Is this message asking me to do something?” How I answer this question tells me what to do with the message.

If the answer is YES – I find there are only 2 options for me to make

DO IT NOW: In his book “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity” David Allen introduces what he calls the 2 minute rule. This rule basically states that ‘if a task can take you less than 2 minutes to do, you must do that task without putting it off.’ I find this to be very helpful when I receive an e-mail that requires me to take action. If I can respond to the e-mail, attach a file; write a note, etc. in 2 minutes or less, I do it. I don’t put it off. (I like to do this before I move on to the next e-mail).

ADD IT TO THE “TO DO” LIST: There is always going to be those e-mails that require you to do something that will take you more than 2 minutes to complete. SO, put it on your “to do” list. This includes the tasks that will take a longer period of time.

I found if this is the case, it works best if I make an appointment with myself. Making an appointment with yourself is a task that seems weird at first. What I mean, is that you set a specific date and time when you will come to it later and get it done.

NO – If the e-mail is NOT asking you to take action, I see only 2 options

DELETE IT: You must decide if the e-mail has information you need to save (A list of e-mail contacts, meeting notes, etc.). If not, then DELETE it! I have never had a problem retrieving an e-mail I deleted that I truly needed (the reality is, that if it’s something I truly need, I can always ask the person to resend the e-mail).

FILE IT: I have a file called Processed Mail. This file ONLY has mail that I have read, taken action on, or has information I will need at a later date. (NOTE: I don’t use this file to hold e-mails that have cute jokes, pictures, etc. Rather, I ONLY use my Processed Mail file as a holding place, or as a ‘go to’ place for information that I will need in the future).

Following these steps will seem like a waste of time at first. However, after you do this for a short period of time, you will find that it truly does limit the time you will need to spend on e-mails.

What do you do with your e-mails?

Do you have any other ideas on how to do this?

Top 5 Posts of 2013

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I am amazed at how quickly 2013 went by. It seemed like not too long ago I was having BIG dreams about what 2013 would hold for me. While I’m the first to admit that not all of those dreams came true, I know for a fact that God has directed each and every step along the way. With all the struggles that have come our way, we know for a fact that God will continue to show Himself to us in 2014.

I had two goals in 2013 that were ‘personal’ for me. These were goals that only I could do, and that only I could gain from. Both of which I decided to initiate in the form of a blog. First, to write more (which I’ve done here). Second, to read more (which I have done here).   

I want to take a moment to thank you the readers of my blog/s. I appreciate you taking time to subscribe to my blog, read my posts, and encourage me. I have two requests for you this year.

               1) Please leave comments on the blog posts. Each post has a place at the bottom where you can leave comments. I ENCOURAGE you to take a moment and leave a comment. Tell me what you think of the post, answer the question/s I ask, and engage in the conversation.

              2) Share the post/s with your friends and family, or anyone you think could gain something from them. 

By doing these 2 things, you will help me immensely

–          Derek

Below is a list of the Top 5 Posts of 2013. This list is not necessarily filled with the posts I would choose. BUT, these are the posts that YOU (my readers) have chosen. 

Top 5 Posts in 2013

Number 1: 12 Christmas Items you Thought you Knew

Number 2: 4 Ways to Make the BEST Use of Your Twitter Account

Number 3: Leadership Through Writing – Why I Write

Number 4: 10 Books I Recommend for 2013

Number 5: 4 Ideas to Encourage Bible Study with your Family

 

4 Ways to Make the BEST Use of Your Twitter Account

Leadership is a very broad topic. You could discuss leadership in the area of management, consulting, writing, entrepreneurship, start ups, and even non-profits. Or you could focus more on leadership training, and development. With a topic that has so many sub-divisions, it’s hard to find a focal point. This makes it really difficult to figure out what book or blog you are going to read next. Do you read a book or blog on Management, or on finances?

Being a person who is focused on mobilizing leaders, I find myself reading and learning about many different areas of leadership. However, there is one area that I see very little discussion being done in, yet it is a crucial part of leadership. How we use social media!

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Today I would like to focus on how we use Twitter. I have had a Twitter account since college. Like most people, I opened the account for one simple reason……. Because I could! I opened the account, filled out my profile, and found a random picture of me and put it on there. In a matter of 5-10minutes I had a Twitter account. (@Derek_D_Dix)

I started to post random thoughts (I wish it was dinner time), and (dinner was good). I even would post things on there like (I can’t wait to go out of town this week-end). [this was stupid, but that’s for another post sometime.]  The point is I had a Twitter account just because I could! I didn’t have a plan, I didn’t put any thought into how it made me look, and I sure didn’t think about how it could affect me in the future (after I graduated).

So is there anything wrong with just having a Twitter account just because I can? Short answer………YES!

You see, first impressions mean a lot. With the help of the internet, there are many ways to make a first impression (Twitter, Facebook, Likened, Google+, Pinterest, etc.). It will do you absolutely no good to have an account in each place on the web, if your first impression is different for each account! So I have put together a list of 4 ways to make the best use of Twitter account (I’m assuming that Twitter is your main social networking site at this point, possibly the only one you have).

Make Your Profile Professional: On Twitter it is so easy to fill your profile with stuff that really doesn’t help you. Like “honor student” or “poor college student” or “world changer.” While each of these things might be true, none of them will help you to get a job, land an interview, get clients for your small business, or warrant respect. You see I had my profile filled up with this type of stuff. Yet when I began looking for jobs, I found this wasn’t the way I wanted to present myself. So I spent 2-4 hours editing and revamping my Twitter profile to make me appear like I take things seriously (no one wants to hire someone who can’t even take their online profile seriously). Make your Twitter profile professional, it will be the best thing you can do, and will save you lots of time in the future.

Pick a Professional looking Profile Picture: NO, don’t go out and spend a bunch of money having a professional photographer take your Profile Picture (I guess you could if you wanted to, just seems like a waste of money to me). What I mean by ‘professional’ is one that you wouldn’t mind attaching to a job application, or sending to your grandma. This eliminates those shirtless pictures from your swimming trip last summer, and definitely eliminates that one of you enjoying a cold beer at the baseball game (Don’t EVER put a profile picture of you with alcohol! It will NOT help you). Take a nice picture that you wouldn’t mind attaching to a resume.

Be A Regular: It is really easy to join a site like Twitter, be on it all the time, or never at all. Both of which have their consequences. It is possible to be on the site too often, and not enough! Each person is a little different, but this can make or break your online presence. I personally find it to be a waste of my time if I’m on Twitter soo much that nothing has changed since the last time I was on. I personally prefer to check the site 3-4 times a day. My reason: Because this allows me to post regularly (each time I’m on = 34X a day) as well as keep up with those I follow. The key is to find what works for you. There is no right or wrong amount of time to spend on Twitter. However, if you want to get serious about your appearance on social networking sites (to be explained later), then being intentional about your time on each site is going to save you time in the long run.

Post with Discretion: This should go without saying, but unfortunately I see this all too often. You just had a great dinner at a fancy restaurant, so you post ‘great dinner at Out Back Steak House.’ Or you are frustrated with the traffic so you pull out your phone and post ‘retard in the red car, MOVE!’ These are what I call “WASTED” posts. They don’t show you in your best light. You want to make sure that you post things you find interesting, or profound. Thoughts that you think others will actually care about. Also- We don’t care that you just ate your mom’s homemade spaghetti. We are happy for you, but why don’t you share something that will impact me, like her recipe?

Having a Twitter account is much more than just opening the account and posting random thoughts. You MUST be intentional about what you post, and how often you post. Hope you find a love for Twitter.

What do you use Twitter for?

How often do you check your posts?

How do you determine what to post?

Do Something

Do something every day to expand your perspectives and deepen your insights. Otherwise, you’ll get behind.

3 Things to Do Christmas Week

We have finally made it. This week is the week of Christmas! Many kids (ok, and some child-like adults as well), have been waiting for this day the entire year. Many adults have been dreading this day since well, let’s be honest, Thanksgiving. Regardless of how long we have been waiting, it has finally arrived, and this week is the big week.

I can remember as a kid trying to get my “wish list” together, and trying to make sure I put things on my list that I really wanted. This was a fun tradition for me. (I had it really bad because my birthday is January 9th) Which meant that I had to be sure that my list was good, because it was the same list my family and friends would use to get my birthday presents as well. This made it difficult. Not to mention the fact that this meant I had to wait 10 months before I would get presents again. 

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In a society where Christmas is all about gifts, sales, food, trees, men in red suits, lights, and traveling, it isn’t any surprise when we totally forget what Christmas is really all about. One day I noticed a pastor had a video on his blog that would be great for you to play and share with your family this Christmas. My suggestion is to choose if you will show it on Christmas Eve or Christmas Morning. You can see the video here

  1. FOCUS ON JESUS. Sure you have heard about the man who lived over 2,000 years ago. I wonder if Jesus would want His birthday to be ‘difficult’ (like I found my “Wish List” to be)? I don’t think so. In fact, I think He would be saddened to see that we have turned His birthday into a day (ok, season) where we focus on Santa, gifts, trees, holiday performances, shopping, sales, snow, cookies, candy, and parties. If you need a refresher, read the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John). This will help us see that without Jesus, none of these other things really matter.
  2. HELP OTHERS. I am so amazed at how many people are hurting in our cities today. It saddens my heart when I hear how un-caring people (wait, cities) are toward those less fortunate. I read this article where one city is trying to put a ban on helping those less fortunate. HOW SAD! We all can help in some way. You can donate money, food, time, etc. To help in these settings. More crucial, you can vote against these types of things that will not uplift our country, but separate us even more.
  3. GIVE. There isn’t a person I know who doesn’t like to wake up Christmas morning to some presents wrapped under the tree. In fact, it’s kind of a fun tradition that many people have in common. It doesn’t matter if you are on the East coast, or the West coast. Up north, or down south. You will find people who have the tradition of Christmas. When I made my “Wish List” every year, I was ALWAYS focused on ‘self.’ Isn’t this common for most of us? It is easy for us to see this as an opportunity to get that new flat-screen t.v., or new movie, or cooking ware that you may want this year. It is so much nicer to give then to receive. Find ways to give to others this season. Even if it’s just a candy bar, or paying it forward (paying for the coffee of the person behind you in line at the coffee shop).

Like always, these 3 things are great to read and understand. But they are simply ‘ideas’ if that is where they stay.

How do you Focus on Jesus, Help Others, and Give during the Christmas Season?

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Worship: What’s Your Impact?

I recently wrote about Worship: What’s Your Style? and was intrigued by how many people contacted me about that post. So I thought I would take a moment to share with you some more thoughts about worship. I will never forget what one of my mentors said while giving a lesson to the youth group at his previous church ( he was the worship pastor there at the time). He told them a definition of worship that now comes to mind every time I hear the term used.

“Worship is giving worth to God. Or giving God worth” 

WOW! What a simple definition, yet packed full of good insight.

One book I highly recommend on worship was written in the mid-1960 by Jean-Jacques von Allmen, called Worship: Its Theology and Practice. Even though it was written in the mid-1960, the aspects of worship that he covers are still found today. Not to mention the fact that his views about these aspects of worship would be very helpful in many of our worship services today in the Twenty-First Century. NOTE: It is out of print, and will cost you $$$, But you should be able to find it at a good Christian school library)

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I have traveled to Hungary, Slovakia, Budapest, London, Romania, and many (almost all) of the US States. I have gone to many worship services, in many different denominations and styles. The thing I have found to be true in the US, is that our worship services tend to be treated as an “observational” sport rather than a “participation” sport. As worship leaders, worship team members, choir members, we MUST tune our minds, actions, and “worship service” to anything that discourages someone (not just Christians, or those who are like you) from participating with you in the songs, prayers to God the creator of the universe (who deserves our worship).

Unfortunately, I have seen many worship services at churches turn into a performance. With lit-stages, rock-band led music, organ and choir led, (non of which are directly bad) but they CAN and ARE a major deterrent. The reason this is a dangerous way to lead a group of people into worship of the creator of the universe, is because in doing so, we are acting like a mediator between the congregation and God. Jesus is the only mediator between humankind and God the Father! (1 Tim. 2:5). Von Allmen talks about the “vicarious representative” in worship. This is what he was referring to. While we may become the “vicarious representative,” we MUST do everything in our power to put ALL (YES, it’s all or nothing) our worship toward God the Father.

If you get the privilege of leading worship at a church for any period of time, you get the honor of looking out at the faces of the congregation. This can be a good or a bad thing. You will definitely see those who are yawning, disinterested, and playing on their phone (yes I have seen this). However, you must know that if you continue to be intentional about how you approach ‘worship,’ sensitive to those who are (or may be) there, lead with a pastoral spirit, and are persistent, you will begin to see more people participate with you in worship (as opposed to watching you worship).

So I must ask you these questions: 

What type of worship culture are you currently leading and creating?

What can you intentionally do (EACH WEEK) to mobilize others to worship the creator of the Universe?   

Leave a comment at the bottom of this post to share your answers. I’m excited to hear what you have to say. 

Run Run Rudolf – Lynyrd Skynyrd

Tell this to your kids!

12 Christmas Items you Thought you Knew.

merry christmas
We are finally past Thanksgiving, and radio stations are playing Christmas music non-stop. This isn’t new for me, Jennifer (my wife) has been playing music since the day before Thanksgiving. I’m not a downer, and I truly enjoy Christmas music. In fact, I love hearing the traditional songs (Jingle Bells, Deck The Halls, Jingle Bell Rock, Frosty, Rudolf, Santa’s Coming to Town,) just to name a few. My family, like yours (I’m sure) has traditions that we adhere to each and every year. These traditions are not necessarily set out to be done, most of my families traditions ‘just happen’ each and every year. One of our traditions is drawing names and having a gift exchange. Or my mom and I would decorate the Christmas tree together. Or, (now that I’m married), Jennifer and I get an ornament every year for our tree. Traditions are great. We currently serve in Awana at Living Hope Baptist Church. One of the ‘traditions’ they have for Christmas is a Christmas sing. Being the music lover I am, I thought it would be cool to take a look at a Christmas song and see what I can learn from it.

One song I have heard a lot lately, is that annoying (in my opinion) song 12 Days of Christmas.

Did you know:
This song was originally written as a kids rhyme to help them learn the tenants of their faith (Catholic), during a time when it was illegal (you could get hung) to have anything regarding Catholicism in writing or said (1558 to 1829 in England)? In other words, nextwithderek would be shut down, and I would be hung (killed)!

WHAT WE ALREADY KNOW:
We know that each day their ‘true love’ gives them something different.

WHAT WE MIGHT NOT KNOW:
These items include:
Me: The song is constantly referring to what the ‘true love’ gave to “ME” ME was referring to a Christian.
True Love: God Himself
Day 1: A Partridge in a pear tree. Symbolically Represents Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Day 2: Turtle Doves. The Old and New Testaments
Day 3: French Hens. Faith, Hope and Charity, (The Theological Virtues)
Day 4: Calling Birds. The 4 Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John)
Day 5: Golden Rings. First 5 Books of the Old Testament (also known as the “Pentateuch” –Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy)
Day 6: Geese A-laying. The 6 Days of Creation
Day 7: Swans A-swimming. The 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit/7 sacraments
Day 8: Maids A-milking. The ‘8’ beatitudes
Day 9: Ladies Dancing. The ‘9’ Fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control)
Day 10: Lords A-leaping. The 10 Commandments
Day 11: Pipers Piping. The ‘11’ faithful apostles
Day 12: Drummers Drumming. The 12 points to the Apostles Creed

INTERESTING FACTS:
If you were to go out and buy all 12 of these items, it would cost you $27,393 (if bought in stores).
If you bought each item for each time it was mentioned in the song (364 times), it would cost you $114,651
IF you are buying last minute (on the internet) you’d pay about $173,000

[I got all these prices from here.]