Fence Building and Patience…

I saw something this weekend that made me think a lot about how I handle patience. For the past six months or so, a neighbor of mine has been buiding a wooden post and rail fence around part of his property. It’s been quite a bit of work for him. He started by first digging the post holes. Next came the setting the posts in the ground. Now he’s working on attaching the rails. This hasn’t been a simple job. It’s taken six months to get to this point because he’s building it by himself. Oh, and it’s about 1000 feet long…

This weekend, I saw he had finished a small section of the fence line. I gotta tell you, it looks great. I can now picture in my mind what the whole thing is going to look like when he’s done. It’s going to really serve to dress up his property. He’s done as good a job as any crew from a fencing company could have. He should be proud…

This gentleman has worked a little each week on this fence for the past six months or so. He’s getting closer and closer to finishing. When he’s done, probably in about another month, he will have a functional and attractive fence that he built with his own two hands. Also, I’m sure he saved quite a bit of money doing the job himself. This project has taken a lot of planning, work and patience to get it where it is today. He’s come a long way from digging that first post hole.

What could have messed this project up? Without the proper planning, he could have built a crooked, ugly fence. If he had skipped corners in the work, he might have a fence that wouldn’t stand up to the elements very long. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, a lack of patience could have derailed (no pun intended) the whole project.

So many self-improvement projects require the same three elements to complete: planning, work and patience. Have you ever lost patience trying to lose weight and quit your program? Have you ever stopped exercising because it seemed like too much work? Have you ever come up short with money at the end of the month because of lack of planning in the budget? These situations are pretty common. But, if we work on these elements, like my neighbor has with his fence, each time we try something new to improve our lives, we drastically increase our odds of success.

Are there any projects you’re working on right now that could use a little more patience? Could you use a little more with your kids? What about your spouse? What about in your job or with that new exercise program? With more patience, there’s no telling what great things you can build in your own life!

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Thinking for a Change…

The art of thinking about where you are and where you want to be is, I believe, the most important step in changing your life for the better. You have to take action on your plan once it’s made, but you have to work on designing it first. With that thought in mind, here are a few questions to help get you started…

The biggest factor to our happiness in life is the quality of our relationships. When our relationship with our God, spouse, friends and family are good, life tends to be good. When those same relationships suffer, we suffer. For instance, think about the last time you had a fight with your spouse. What kind of day did you have? I bet it wasn’t one of your better ones. What can you do right after reading this blog to make sure those who love you know how much you care? Just a few loving words, phone call or note may be all that’s needed to do this.

Something else that helps determine the quality of our lives is where we are in relation to where we want to be. The greater the distance between these two points, the higher the level of anxiety. That’s because what you’re actually experiencing doesn’t match your expectations. That’s can be very frustrating.  We have all experienced times during which life threw us a curve ball and in the end, it was for the better. But, many of us have the potential to do and be much more than we are but we’re not taking the time to nurture our growth. To have a great life, it starts with creative thought then followed by planning and action. Like anything, it takes time, effort and energy. Don’t be afraid of that – complacency will keep you right where you are. If you like the way your life is, that’s fine. But if you get up each day frustrated and stressed with the way things are, it’s time to think for a change…

Let me give you an example. Yesterday, I saw a report that stated that the amount of unsecured debt (mostly from credit cards) is skyrocketing. This is happening in part because with the downturn in the housing market, fewer people have the opportunity to take out equity in their homes to meet their expenses. So, people are turning again to credit cards. Some are running up thousands of dollars in debt. Like the housing market crash, this trend could lead to a credit crisis. It’s predictable. The more households that try to fill the gap between their expenses and income, the deeper the hole they dig and the closer to bankruptcy they are. If this continues, watch for the rate of personal bankruptcies to rise over the next few quarters as more people get in over their heads (Rising gas prices won’t help this situation).

If you are in this trap, you’re going to have to make a plan to get off that track. Think about how you can either make more money or reduce your expenses, write down your plan and then take massive action on it. But again, you first have to think about what’s wrong and how you want to fix it. That’s step one. Start here and you’re well on your way. Don’t put it off. You can begin to change your life just by thinking. Pretty cool, huh?

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