From Start to Finish, a Review

I really suck at goals y’all. No, scratch that. I am awesome at making goals when they pertain to work or my health. What I suck at is finishing the one goal that has been before me for years.

After getting a pre-release copy of Jon Acuff’s new book, Finish (out on September 12th) that is all about to change. This guy taught me how to quit, how to start, but now he’s focused in on how to finish what you’ve started.

Goals you refuse to chase don’t disappear, they become ghosts that haunt you.

He does it succinctly and practically. Guiding you through assessing your current goal, where you are in it, and what might need to be dialed in differently in order to get you to your goal of finish. And finish you shall.

I honestly didn’t want to finish the book, because then it would mean I was perfectly armed to face down that goal of writing a book that I have wanted to do for so long. But it’s a lot nobler to point to the outline and the chapters that lay unfinished as I take on new tasks, new distractions, more excuses. To say if it’s not perfect, it won’t be finished.

Jon tears through all that to point out how we self-sabotage our own goals before we even get started because we like to ruin it ahead of time. Those New Year’s goals? How ya doing on those here in September? Interlaced with humor that Acuff does so well amidst the practical steps of addressing your failure to finish, his newest book will get you to the same it did him-finishing.

If you pre-order Finish before midnight September 11th there’s over $200 worth of freebies to lay claim to, including a video series with Jon that’s a HUGE value. Pre-order here. And then fill out this form.

The Beginning….AGAIN

Today my goal was to write on starting over. On how you find a way to begin…again. Then I hopped over to check out Jon Acuff’s new project and read his first blog post. And found he wrote it better than I could.

So I shew you all on over there today. Meet my friend Jon, say hello…and see how often we are all beginning again at something. And that we need each other in it.

We’re Always Better When We’re Together.

Growing up, I was surrounded by kids in my neighborhood. For the most part, it was males, but I still had others to be around who were similar in age and interest. We would play basketball, wiffleball, and kickball. We would pretend to be the greatest, and for a while, feel like we were. In that community, we were unstoppable forces.

As we grow up though something tells us to seclude ourselves. Something tells us not to trust those around us with those same joys and hopes. We begin the slow slide into seclusion and isolation. For years I have kept a dream of mine strictly to myself, out of fear.

Photo courtesy of www.dancingwithhappiness.com
Photo courtesy of http://www.dancingwithhappiness.com

I think that’s what gets us. FEAR. We are afraid of what will be said, of the judgement, of the questions, of tarnishing that dream we cling to inwardly. We believe people will think of us less, expect more, question and encourage. It’s both sides of the coin because that’s how fear plays us. I have sat in a room with other dreamers yelling out their fears, and often shook my head in agreement or wondered why I hadn’t thought of that one.

When you voice your fear though, it takes away its power. As Jon Acuff states, “Fear fears community.” It hates to be shared. Fear wants to keep you quiet and shut off. The moment you share your fears with others is the moment truth comes pouring in. The blinders that had you focused on the fear are removed for you to see the vast world of truth around it.

Maybe we should take a few notes from our younger, more childish selves. Turn off the television, enjoy one another, share our hopes and dreams, and then cheer on one another when you go after them.

I know I am currently doing that as a part of the Start Experiment along with 23 other writers in Group 8, and alongside a couple of thousand other Starters. We got the start line, and we took off together for the next 24 days. We’re acting like kids, challenging and cheering one another on, and sharing our fears. Because when you tell someone of the monster under your bed or in your closet, you are no longer alone. Truth flips on the light.

Sailing Takes Me Away

This post is a little out of the norm here on my blog, but it’s something worth sharing. If you can’t share on your own blog, then where can you share?

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This is my cousin Randy and his wife Angela. Randy has probably one of the most interesting life stories of anyone I know. In all honesty though, I think everyone’s life story is interesting (because it’s not my own). Randy was always the cool cousin who lived at the beach. He set off after high school to be a lifeguard at the beach. He did that for a few years, when he met Angela. They fell in love, married, and have two amazing sons.

Both have worked hard and long for years, like many Americans. They saw one son join the Marine Corps and is now on his third tour of duty in Afghanistan. They worry and fret like any parent would. Randy had a passion, a dream of one day building a boat and sailing it.

You know what he did? He started on that dream. He saved, he scraped, and he sanded his 12018_4795074398725_689999902_nway to what he wanted to pursue. At this very moment, as I type this, he and Angela are sailing the boat he built by hand (from wood on my uncle’s farm) to Costa Rica to live permanently. They will journey for three weeks to their new home they have constructed on the water. This is their new learning phase in life. I am excited for them both, and love seeing someone’s Start cycle around. It also doesn’t hurt that I got an invite to come visit once they are all setup at their new home…and I am one of a very few in the family who has a passport.

I think one thing we don’t talk enough about is a continued pursuance of a dream. We start so often with good intentions, but get mired in the day-to-day, the fears, the busyness of life. Right now, my cousin is sailing after years of toiling, of scrapping plans, and replacing boards. Many hours went into this, along with work that he enjoyed but didn’t look like his dream. He started though. He continued to start, not knowing what the finish line looked like for him. My hope is that inspires you to start on what you’ve been putting off.

Now I’m off to start saving for a visit to lovely Costa Rica, but I’ll be traveling via plane thankyouverymuch.

Escape Average.

fb_acuff_start_v2That’s a relatively easy statement to believe in, right? I don’t know of anyone who sits around going, “Yep, I’m average and I like it.” But the large majority of us are in fact average. Our lens of average may differ a bit, but for the most part, we are sailing the high seas on the Average cruise liner.

With Jon Acuff’s new book, Start, you find yourself not on the Average cruise liner, but having just been pulled from the water of the Average Titanic. Start is the iceberg here. But you don’t just clip it, you slam headlong into it. That is my opinion though as someone whose leaving Average behind for the Awesome dinghy.

Acuff brings both heartfelt passion for encouraging and motivating you to begin pursuing your dream, while also being realistic in those pursuits. If you like lists and need check-offs, probably not your best bet because Start is more along the lines of a Choose Your Own Adventure book. And that is refreshing.

Why? Because my awesome path, that navigates through the same areas as yours, has a different end point, has a different terrain, and I go at a different pace. That’s what makes Start different from other motivational books, simply because it’s not a motivational book. It is inspiring, yes, but it’s practical. It doesn’t build you up with promises of instant stardom and overnight changing of habits. Jon weaves a blanket of trust with the reader while also giving just enough tension to shock you into action.

To quote Jon, You only control the starting line when it comes to your dream. Might I suggest you start with this book?

And to spur you along, I am giving away a Start book, upon it’s release on April 22nd. Winner will be announced on Saturday, April 13th!

Here’s what you have to do though to be eligible:

  • Leave a comment stating what your dream is you’d like to start, by Friday April 12th.
  • Include your first name and email address.

Knee Boots, Jon Acuff, and Belmont…

I think your boots could be bigger. I mean you went small, but they definitely could be bigger.

That joking moment about the height of my knee boots was part of a full circle life moment last evening. Close to three years ago I began reading Stuff Christians Like, a blog by Jon Acuff. It was comical, jabbing at those things in Christianity we often can agree are funny-like the metrosexual worship leader or the cheap knockoff cookies they have at VBS.

I would laugh and think this guy is a genius! My assumption was he wrote the blog full time, since he was having a book come out that was based from the blog. Then the Serious Wednesday posts started happening, and wrecking me. I would see how God would use Jon to speak very pointedly to me at certain times about my life. I wondered how this guy in Atlanta knew about my struggles with grace, or my ability to forgive.

I would read and read, engaging in conversations in the comments with people from all over. It began to be a community, not bound by church walls or religion or even the US borders. The blog began to challenge me to see beyond this box of my life and what could be accomplished if I worked beyond the standard, the norm of life. I saw a guy who hustled before work, work he wasn’t really digging, but doing anyway so that he could write and speak-his dream job. I saw him encourage others to write, pursue, get beyond standard and reach above average. He did that for me without realizing it, and I am willing to wager I am not the only one he’s done that for.

In March of 2011 I knew I couldn’t stay in my same situation at work, in life. I knew that if I worked and hustled I could dream big and push myself further. I began looking for jobs, jobs I felt I was qualified for and honestly, staying rather comfortable still. That’s when the posting at Belmont popped up. “It’s in Nashville!” I thought. “It’s a a mid-range university, where expectations will be higher and you’ll be challenged!” is what fear began to say. “Your faith isn’t as big as it needs to be to work there. You’ve only got five years under your belt, and everyone will be much smarter than you.” The voice got to be relentless. I went for it, thinking it would never amount to anything and I would be back to working in my same position come fall.

Several weeks later I found myself at Belmont University, being interviewed by advisors, supervisors, deans, and students. It was the toughest interview I have had to date in my career. I walked away rather defeated, with the bright spot seeing Jeremiah 29:11 posted in my would-be supervisor’s office. That verse had come up several times over the days prior to my campus interview, and I found a little solace in seeing it there in her office. In the days that followed, I had resigned myself to preparing mentally for rejection. “Don’t expect much and when you fail, it won’t be as bad.” The voices got loud again…

Last night I had the opportunity to introduce Jon Acuff as he was speaking at Belmont for 394399_10101002715162665_1030054131_nthe third time this year. Jon was instrumental in my jump, he confirmed that fear gets loud in your head, but sounds ridiculous when you share it. He may not realize how big of an encouragement the community he builds on his blog, with 5 Club, with Quitter conferences is for those of us let fear and doubt not chase our dreams.

Following last night’s program a friend of mine posted on my Facebook some encouraging words as I am seeking to pursue another dream (that’s why I am up at 4:30am, punching Tuesday in the face). I had shared with her this story of Jon’s influence, without him really knowing he’d done it, earlier in the day. Her response? “Now you’re being an Acuff for others.”

I get jokes thrown at me for how I engage in 5 Club or talk about Jon’s impact  from some individuals. They referenced me as an Acuffite once. But here’s the kicker, that’s a compliment. You see he feeds the dreamers and encourages the ridiculous because his story is ridiculous. I am excited that I get to work with colleagues and students daily and potentially encourage them the same way. Maybe one day I can be someone’s Jon Acuff, but with better boots.

Reflections from a Quitter Pt. 1

Last weekend I had the immense opportunity to participate in the Quitter Conference. Quitter is a book by Jon Acuff on bridging the gap from your day job to your dream job. I have to be honest, as I know several of my supervisors read this blog (I see you A and B), and say that I truly love my career. God has called me to work in a higher education setting with college students. I get joy from what I do, and while there may be times of stress I know at the end of the day or week or year that I get to pour into the lives of college students and their development. That for me is why I serve in the role I do in my career.

So Quitter was a leap for me as I wasn’t looking to get out of a miserable job or jump careers…and frankly, that’s not what Quitter is, to me at least. For me, the first big realization is that I can have a dream and love what I do in my calling, those don’t have to be an either-or situation. The second one was a bit rougher and it took me several days of reflecting before I could process it into words.

For too long I have said my dream is to pursue missional work in Haiti. While I will not discount that dream in the least, neither will I allow the lessening of my passion for the Haitian people, I realize my dream was more selfish in its pursuits. And to be honest I wasn’t really pursuing it with any kind of passion.

Right now, my dream is to write. It’s also my biggest fear. Ask my colleagues. I have absolutely zero faith in my writing, and I don’t post half of what I write. I have allowed fear to tell me that I am not good. I have allowed it to destroy a dream I have honestly held since I was a kid. I have loved to write, I just never felt confident in it. I am beginning to see that God has plans for this dream and that I have to stop buying into the lie that fear is telling me that its not perfect and no one cares what I write ultimately.

A great dream is hidden in a great weakness. -Jon Acuff