A Little Back-to-School Kick in the Rear

It’s that time of year again for millions of children nationwide: the dreaded “school” night, followed by waking up late, chasing the bus, downing mystery meat in the cafeteria, and plowing through homework.

So if you’re a kid, a parent, or just a plain old adult, now would be a fine time to kick in a little motivation! Thus, a few pearls to inspire you to git-r-done:

1) No more excuses! I like Proverbs 22:13 – “The sluggard says, ‘There is a lion outside! I shall be killed in the streets!'” We can always find reasons to avoid doing what we should. This guy is saying, “Hey, I don’t want to go out, I could get killed by a lion!” But lions need to be tamed. What is the “lion” that’s keeping you inside? What is your excuse? It could be fear, laziness, pride, lack of money, time, or just a little imagination. We’ve got too many things to keep us distracted “inside” all day long… get rid of those excuses and go out and make it happen!

2) Don’t “take it easy.” When I was in a residency at Dallas Theological Seminary, working on my doctorate, I roomed with a guy named Ed Choy. Ed and I hit it off right away, which meant we were already making fun of each other just hours after meeting. One morning I was facing an entire day in the library doing nothing but research. While leaving the dorm, I said, “Take it easy, Ed.” He responded with, “Okay, work hard Tim.”

I had never heard a reply like that before. I mean, honestly, when has “work hard” been acceptable way of saying goodbye?  But Ed’s reasoning was pretty good: “Everyone always says ‘take it easy,’ as if that’s some great value. Why should I encourage you to be a slacker?”

Made sense to me. So don’t take it easy today! Bust your hide, seize every moment, attack that to-do list until you become an unstoppable force of kinetic energy!!

3) If you’re overwhelmed, you’re likely on the verge of something great. Most things worth doing, in my experience, usually follow a pattern:

  1. Initial Excitement
  2. Progress
  3. Frustration
  4. Standstill
  5. Total overwhelm-ment (is that a word?)
  6. Breakthrough
  7. Completion

Here’s what I’ve learned: Steps 1-4 take about 20% of my energy, while steps 5-7 take the remaining 80%! The fact is, its easy to start something; it’s the finishing that’ll kill ya. Seth Godin refers to it as “shipping.” At some point you’ve got to have that project done so its ready to ship (turn in, present, sell, hang on the wall, etc.). The secret is that just when you think you’re never going to make it, that’s when you’re right at the verge of breakthrough. Unfortunately, that’s also the stage that requires the most concentration, willpower, and perseverance. If you can hang in there when its all about to hit the fan, that’s when the tide is likely to turn and you’re closer than you think to victory.

4) Discipline not desire determines destiny. Yes, I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but I must credit my friend Ed once again for introducing me to this aphorism. Your aspirations are meaningless without action; they’ve gotta move to the present tense. I recently heard novelist Brad Thor interviewed on the Hugh Hewitt radio program. When Hugh asked him how he became such a prolific author, he mentioned that on his honeymoon his new bride challenged him to spend two hours a day writing his first novel. So here’s the question: Is your dream in your calendar? Have you scheduled an appointment with what you know you should be doing?

5) Set short-term goals. I learned this from Bill Hybels in his book, Axiom. He calls it “Six by Six Execution.” Basically, he sets six goals to be accomplished over a six week period. Setting yearly goals is great, but let’s be honest, where is the urgency? Six weeks forces you to get moving now. It might be hard to get something significant done in two weeks, but six weeks can really get the imagination going.

This also allows us to put the pedal to the metal for a while and then recuperate. If I can be a dissenting voice, by the way, sometimes living life in “balance” doesn’t get anything done. You gotta get a little nutty and extreme once in a while in order to make a breakthrough.

There you have it. All of this is based, of course, on the notion that as beings created in the image of God we have tremendous capacity that far exceeds our ability to catch up on whatever we DVR’d over the last few weeks. So tap into all that God’s made you and run like a mad (wo)man until you’re out of breath, and see what happens along the way!

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One thought on “A Little Back-to-School Kick in the Rear

  1. I needed this today, came to work work feeling run down and UNMOTIVATED. You know, there might be something to those Proverbs. 🙂

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