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Goal-Setting and Rest

Are you a resolution-maker? A goal-setter? How's your new year going so far? Is it off to the start you hoped for?

As I've mentioned before, I spend time at the end of each year reviewing the accomplishments and events of the year just past, and imagining possibilities for the year to come. I love to set goals and work toward achieving them. I am an admitted productivity geek.

dreamstime_l_25458594I believe it's important to make wise and productive use of our time, to use the gifts God has given us to accomplish the things he's put in our hearts.

But the hazard of setting goals and focusing on being productive is that we can become too future-focused, too production-focused. We can come to identify ourselves by the things we do, the goals we achieve, the accomplishments we rack up. We can wear ourselves out trying to do more, reach higher, and miss the opportunities to savor the here and now.

Being productive is good. But it's also important to enjoy the people and experiences that come into our lives. It's even more important to remember that we are not what we do. Whether practicing law or writing a novel or cleaning a bathroom or curing cancer, the things we do–no matter how worthwhile or admirable–should not define us. And there is much to be lost in the constant striving to do more, achieve more.

IMG_0013I don't advocate abandoning the practice of setting goals and working toward achieving them. I am, and probably always will be, a productivity geek. (I'll be launching a podcast on the topic in the very near future.)

But I am trying to remember that I am not what I do. My identity is not found in my accomplishments. I'm trying to remember to not be consumed with building a life for the future that I don't make time to enjoy the life I have today. And I was reminded recently that life shouldn't be about constant striving to do more, be more.

After all, Jesus said “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

What do you think? How do you find the balance between being productive and enjoying your life?

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Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . . 
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom

Email me

Is It Ever Too Late?

I've had many conversations with women about the things they wish they had done. And often they lament the fact that it’s too late now.

But when is it really too late to start something you’ve always wanted to do?

Writer and speaker Michael Hyatt offers a response in his book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. He asks these questions: When is the best time to plant a tree? Twenty years ago. When is the second best time to plant a tree? Today.

The same is true of our dreams. Maybe the best time to start was five or ten or twenty years ago, but the second best time to start is now. And really, as long as you’re still alive, it’s never too late to start.

I’ve written elsewhere about how my husband and I married at eighteen and had our first child when we were twenty. By the time I was thirty, we had three children, and I was pregnant with our fourth. I was busy homeschooling our children, teaching childbirth classes, and serving in music ministry with Mike at our church. In my mid-thirties I began thinking again about a longtime dream of going back to college (I had taken a few semesters of college classes in my early twenties). With my husband’s encouragement and support, I went back to school to get my bachelor of arts in political science. I still remember the day I walked across campus to attend my first classes. Looking at all those young people, I distinctly remember thinking, “What in the world am I doing here? I don’t belong. I’m too old to be a college student.” But with a pounding heart and shaking hands, I started anyway, and two years later (one month after the birth of our fifth child) I graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. I might have been one of the oldest students graduating that day, but my degree was just as good as those earned by those youngsters–and my husband and children celebrated the milestone with me!

222659_1032295458668_2757_nAs if that wasn’t enough, a few weeks later, I moved with my family from Nebraska to New York, where I started law school at age 35. This was something I’d dreamed of as a teenager, but life intervened and the dream got put aside for decades. Interestingly, I wasn’t the oldest student in my class. One of my classmates was in his late forties! Maybe because I’d waited so long for this opportunity, maybe because I’d lived in the real world before getting there, but I felt like my age actually was an advantage, both in law school and when I started my legal career at age 38.

I could point to any number of people I know who’ve started something new and challenging “later” in life–like my friend who married the summer after she graduated from high school and then many years later went back to school after she’d raised her children. She recently earned her master’s degree with her adult children and their children there to cheer her on. And there's my amazing husband, who just earned his master's in mechanical engineering this spring and started a brand new career–at age 52!

My point, of course, is that it’s never too late to start. If there’s a dream you’ve discarded because you think you’ve missed your chance, please think again. Pull that dream out of the trash, brush it off, and think for moment: what’s one little step you could take today (or tomorrow) to move in the direction of that dream.

What about you? Is there a dream you’ve set aside that maybe deserves a chance? What small step could you take toward making that dream a reality? Perhaps just the small step of saying it out loud? Feel free to share it in the comments below.


**Housekeeping note: I published an “extra” post last Friday, but due to a technical glitch it didn't go out to my subscribers. Bad news, because it included a giveaway of four great novels. If you haven't seen that post, be sure to check it out here (AFTER you leave your comments on this post below) and get your chance to receive a free copy of one of the novels I wrote about.


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Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . .
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom
Email me

Giving Thanks & Starting Over

It's hard to believe that the first quarter of 2013 has passed already. Why is it that the older I get, the faster time seems to fly by?

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Have you accomplished what you hoped in the first three months of this year? I haven't, although I did get some things done for which I'm grateful. I had hoped that Do No Harm would be finished by now. And that I would be back on track in my regular workout schedule.

But here's the thing: hoping won't get goals accomplished. Only doing will make that happen.

And here's another thing (a really great thing): every day is a chance to start again.

God's mercies are new every morning (thank God for that!)

And every morning the world starts over.

My tendency is to focus on the things I haven't done, the things that haven't gone the way I'd hoped. But I am trying to learn to focus on the positive. And honestly, the last couple of weeks I've been consumed with the many things I have to be grateful for. Such as:

  • the fact that God's mercies are new every morning (!!)
  • a husband who loves me and supports me in the crazy things I think up (like . . . this whole writing thing, and moving to New York a few years ago with our five young kids so I could go to law school, and . . .)
  • my kids are healthy and happy
  • I have a great job that challenges my mind every day
  • I've been given opportunities to grow and learn as a writer–and make some amazing new friends–by attending the My Book Therapy Deep Thinkers retreat and, most recently, the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference
  • affirmation of my writing by judges in the fiction contests I've entered this year
  • a major breakthrough in a complicated, contentious matter I've been working on for three years (for a client of my law practice)
  • did I mention those new mercies every morning?

Today is the first day of the second quarter of 2013. I spent some time last night thinking about my goals for this quarter, and writing them down. Some of them are very private, but I thought I'd share some with you:

  1. Finish Do No Harm and send it to the agent who, at Mount Hermon, reaffirmed her request to see it when it's finished.
  2. Get back on track with regular workouts and healthy eating. (For those of you who are time management geeks like me: yes, the actual goal as I wrote it down is more specific and measurable than that!)
  3. Give thanks daily for the many blessings in my life.

Your turn: What are you thankful for today? What is one thing you plan to accomplish in the next three months?
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Laura
Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . . 
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom
Email me

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