Developing Your Strategy
THE FIRST STEP:
Decide today that you are responsible for the condition of your life.
Making anyone else responsible for the condition of your life gives them power they don’t need or deserve.
It is a terrible reality that many of us throughout this life have been battered, bruised, and abused either physically, emotionally, sexually, or spiritually. And I truly wish we lived in a world where such things did not occur. But our wishes can’t change reality. And the problems in our lives won’t go away by wishful thinking or by ignoring them.
Grieve your losses. Yell, scream, and vent your emotions privately or to a safe individual who can help you process your emotions. Weep for what could have been, but eventually you have to stop crying and begin vocalizing your thoughts. Take your time. Some people grieve for longer periods than others. Everyone’s grieving looks different. Mourn the way you need to mourn. Then move on.
You may have been wounded, but you are not a victim. You are a survivor.
Determine today that you are now in charge of your choices and your life.
THE SECOND STEP:
Choose what you want for you, your family, and your future.
The truth is only you know the deep desires of your heart and what you need to thrive and grow. Stop allowing others to choose for you.
Establish specific, detailed goals and dreams. Write them down where you will see them frequently.
Review your goals and dream your dreams with passion every night before you go to sleep.
THE THIRD STEP:
Think like a farmer.
Remove the weeds. Identify the things in your life that keep you from achieving your goals. Take out the things in your life that zap your energy, and use up your resources of time, joy, and determination. For instance, do you really need to plant seeds of stress and fear as you listen to the news in the morning while you are preparing for the day? Turn off the TV. If you don’t already, get caller ID and voice mail so that you can choose which calls to take so that trivial things won’t interrupt your day.
Put up a fence to keep the rodents out of your garden. Build healthy boundaries. Limit the degree to which others can negatively impact you emotionally and physically. Limit how much pressure you allow others to inflict on you in order to get what they want. Be yourself. You don’t have to look or act like everyone else. You are a distinct individual. Restrict how much control others can place on your opinions or on how you feel. Learn to say no when you need to do so. Realize that ultimately you are not responsible for anyone else but you and that you alone are responsible for you. Realize that you are a unique, free, and autonomous individual. Even God respects your right to choose. Good resources for learning to develop healthy boundaries: Boundaries by Henry Cloud; Boundaries with Teens by Dr. John Townsend;
Develop discipline in your life and in the lives of your children. Whenever you begin to practice self-discipline, you will feel resistance. Accept it as normal. Welcome it. It gives you the opportunity to build inner strength when you do something that needs to be done even when you don’t feel like doing it. In the same way, accept that your children will resist doing something they do not feel like doing. Accept their response as normal. Simply continue to model how you overcome that resistance and help them learn how important it is to do so. Measure your words carefully. Say only what you mean and mean what you say. Say it only once. Others will realize that if they don’t listen carefully, they may miss something important. Never yell. Speak softly.
Fertilize the ground. Love others. Spend time with those you love. Show respect to everyone. Cooperate with others as much as you are able. Forgive. Listen intently. Pay attention to the things that matter. Have fun. Apologize when you are wrong. Ask for forgiveness. All these things endear others to you and make them more receptive to what you have for them.
THE FOURTH STEP:
Plant the behaviors you want to see bear fruit in your life
If you want tomatoes, you would not plant potato seeds. It is the same with you and your family. Plant the seeds of the behaviors you want to see.
Stop preaching. Stop nagging. Instead start modeling what you want to see in others. For instance, if you want your child to be more focused, then spend time together focusing on an interesting or exciting project, goal, or activity together. Express how proud you are of every step they take to change even if it is a small step.
Continue to speak about the behaviors you want to see. “I can see the desire in your eyes to finish what is important even though you don’t feel like it.” You will plant seeds of desire to complete tasks. After that, give it time to germinate, but continue to look for any evidence that she or he is changing.
Life generally gives you back what you plant. People who plant seeds of angry conduct receive angry responses in return. People who smile at others generally receive a smile in return. Generosity seeds increase the prosperity of the charitable individual. If you want your children to speak softly, stop yelling at them.
Give yourself and your child a well-thought out plan for how to handle each day’s challenges. This will prepare you both to make good decisions as you confront each challenge when it arises.
Meditate and visualize what your day will be. Start by visualizing 5 minutes a day. Increase the time as you get better at it. For example, if your child has problems settling down when he goes to school, you can help him by telling him, “Johnny, when you enter the classroom this morning, you will immediately go and hang up your coat. Then you will go to your desk and take out your pencil. You will sit at your desk and quietly talk to your seat mate. If Susie wants you to run around the classroom, tell her, “Not now, Susie. Maybe later—at recess.” Help him picture himself going through the motions. Ask him questions about what he is wearing and what things are in his desk. Help him go through the process of organizing his papers as he gets ready for the day’s assignment. Help him talk about how he feels when he sees his teacher proudly smile at him.
I do this for me each morning before I get out of bed. I picture myself having energy, joy, and kindness in every circumstance. I picture myself giving every person the time he or she needs, yet doing my best to stay on-time as much as I can. I picture myself using my time wisely. I see myself successfully delegating work that others can do rather than trying to do everything myself. I picture myself being very efficient. I picture myself listening carefully so that I pick up clues others might miss. And I picture myself delighting in each person I see that day.
THE FIFTH STEP:
Water the Soil
Pray daily. Whining, complaining and begging, although it seems to release emotional energy at times, does not get you anywhere. Accept the truth that God already wants the best for you. Get acquainted with His promises for you and your children and confidently repeat His promises of protection, guidance, wisdom, and prosperity every day as you pray. By doing that you plant seeds of the promises you want to see manifested in your lives. Trust that God is good and that He means what He says. When He says He “looks over His word to perform it”, He means just that. You can trust that He will do exactly for you what He promised to do. Develop more faith in Him by focusing on who He is. Don’t know Him? Then spend time with Him and get to know Him personally.
Accept the wisdom He has promised to give you in answer to your prayer. Walk in confidence that even though you don’t feel very wise that when the situation arises for which you need wisdom that it will be there as God promised.
THE SIXTH STEP:
Pruning is the elimination or reduction of the branches of the plant that are diseased, non-productive, not mandatory, or that are no longer valuable to the plant. You prune back the plant, while maintaining its natural shape and growth habit, in order to supply more of the plant’s resources to its healthy flowers, fruit, and leaves, enabling the entire plant to grow and yield abundant and delicious fruit.
Pruning my life means I do not have to do everything. I was made to do something very special in this life. In the past, instead of discovering my purpose, I tried to fabricate something because I supposed that the culture valued it. However, once I discovered my real purpose, I did not have to try to perform. I could say no to things that depleted my energy and time. These things were not necessarily bad things, but they did not accomplish the purpose for which I was created, so they had to go. Pruning these extraneous things back enhanced my life and improved my yield. It is hard to say no to good things. But I learned that in order to recognize the best, sometimes I had to say no to the good. Initially I felt guilty, and it upset me not to be in the hub of things, but as I recognized what I was meant to do, the guilt dissipated. My work energized me and I was able to accomplish so much more.
When you live out your purpose, you will need to prune back. When you realize that about yourself, you will be able to give others the freedom to be who they were meant to be. Your children will have the freedom to dream instead of running to and from multiple activities that deplete their vital life-force and leave them with no energy to discover what they were meant to do.
When someone tries to mandate a course for you or your family you have the freedom and responsibility to immediately but kindly refute it. If you do not agree with them, be prepared to firmly, but compassionately counter their arguments. Reinforcing the purpose for which you are here both in front of your family and others makes a powerful impact that can only grow.
When you prune you also learn to live in the present. You realize that everything you do today will impact the future. Your life today reflects the choices you made in the past. If you live each moment of each day with intention, the future will take care of itself.
An additional note: The “I am” and I Declare CD’s are great ways to help increase your awareness of who you are. Listen to and repeat one track of affirmations. Then have a discussion with your children about how they demonstrated how important they are today. Or ask them what happened today to reinforce the fact that they are unique and special. These times of discussion do not have to be long, just significant for your child.