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Destination or Journey

Often we focus on the destination with so much intensity that we completely forget about the journey. Each of us has a unique story that goes along with our journey in life.  We are exactly where we are today because of the roads we have chosen.

In 2005 I could have never imagined that I would end up in the Midwest.  I became adapted to living the big city life during my time in New York, and the minute I left, I missed it.

I spent a lot of time in a mountain state after that, but I never enjoyed it or even considered living there.  I spent all of my time training, writing, reading and on Fridays, watching movies.  That was probably the longest time I spent living away from a coastline, until now.  Los Angeles began as my home in my early years, and became my home again.  It was the place I thought I would live the rest of my life.

Looking back, the funny thing is that I do not miss it at all.  I was going over all of the choices big and small that brought me to where I am in Illinois today.  I do not regret my past because it shaped who I am today.  I regret certain choices and actions I chose.  I never dwell on my past in a negative way, because it shaped the person I am today.  I am thankful for my journey and most of all, that I survived.  

I learned a lot of things the hard way. The lessons of my life come from experiences both good and bad.  Now, I hope to pass on my experiences to anyone who cares to listen, and save them the trouble of learning the hard way.

I lived in a state of constant dread.  A life of,  “What if?” or, “How long?”  Even after I began the change process, I still felt uneasy all the time. Looking back, I will sometimes catch myself wondering why did I not seek change sooner.  I know now that it is because I was not ready and God’s timing is perfect.

My journey taught me that we can all accomplish what seems impossible as long as we are dedicated to improving and staying the course.  We may not get exactly what we set out for, but what we do receive will be more than we could have dreamed.

Destination or journey? The real prize is what we learn along the way.
Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Psalm 119:105

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

 

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Live Boldly

I heard the phrase “live boldly” this weekend, and thought about what a great motto it is for life.  I decided I needed to investigate it and dig deeper.  The dictionary defines bold as not hesitating or fearful in the face of actual or possible danger or rebuff; courageous and daring.

That definition can mean a lot of different things to different people. In the past, I would have taken this as a sign that my way of life was good.  I was going after what I wanted, without fear or remorse. Today I still want to live boldly, but I expect more from myself than that selfish approach to boldness.

Are you a slave to your desires? Let’s approach it another way.  What do you, as a person, stand for?  Perhaps you know deep down what your answer to that question should be, yet you find it easier to live your life taking an easy path.

I have many goals, and I push myself to reach them without cutting corners.  One thing I struggle with is putting my own goals and desires before other people’s.  The values I’m working to live by, those found in the Bible, tell me that is wrong.  So I’m working at achieving my goals while staying true to my values.

It is time to for us to live boldly.  To do what is right, not what the world around us thinks is right.  

I know this about myself: I will fail a lot of the time. Even when I falter, I will do what I can to honor God and live as He calls me to live.  The more I work on myself, the better example I will project to a broken world.  Challenge yourself and others to live life boldly!

Acts 28:31

Proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.

Hebrews 13:6

So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”

 

Habits Are they Helpful?

Habits.  Good, bad or slightly annoying, it is our habits that will ultimately determine where we end up: success or failure.  

I was recently sent this article about a man who had studied a group of rich people and outlined the common habits he found they had.  While that article, in particular, was only about a group of people with a high monetary net worth, I’ll go beyond that, and say that good habits can help you succeed in life, not just determine who becomes wealthy.  Money and things are temporary.  Success is also about what we do with our time while we are here on earth.

I really like this definition of a habit: a routine or behavior that is repeated regularly and tends to occur subconsciously. That pretty much encompasses all that needs to be said about habits.

It has also been said that it takes twenty-one days to form a habit.  I have been working on creating better habits for myself.  

I will give you two examples from my life.  First, I committed to writing this blog with a new post every Wednesday.  I did it for a full year. Even when I felt nobody was reading or following my posts, or I felt I could better use my time doing something else, I still sat down and wrote.   I enjoy writing and it keeps me sharp while I finish up my book. The point is that I made it a habit to sit down in front of the computer to write every single day, so that I could make sure I produce enough content.

My birthday was June 1st and I made a commitment to myself that I was really going to push myself in the fitness department. I wanted to increase my strength, so I started an intense training program with kettlebells.  I gathered all of the information that I could, buying books on kettlebells and watching training videos by the pros.   I then planned a kettlebell program four times a week to add to my regular training.  I have not missed a day and progress is moving forward at a pace better than I expected. I have made heavy kettlebell training a habit and I can feel the results.

Success in anything new does not come from luck, and it is not free.  

The time I took to examine my life and create new habits has paid off.  It was not easy to admit to myself that I had some really worthless habits.  It was hard to ditch some life long patterns I had, but I have and I will continue to work on replacing them with good ones. I can change my life. If you want to, you can change yours too.

Romans 12:2

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

 

1 Corinthians 10:13

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

 

Why Details Matter

Sometimes I like to just hang back, watch people to see what they do and how they act.  If you pay attention you can easily determine why some succeed and others fail at certain endeavors.

It has become easy for most of us to skip over the small details in life.  We live in a quick on the go society.  In reality every detail, no matter how small, matters. I have the luxury of hindsight because I am able to look back on my life and determine why I was successful at certain times. I can also be sure of why I failed at other incidents.  It comes down to the details.

Why are Vincent Van Gogh’s works of art so amazing and thought provoking?  After all anyone can paint a starry night.  In reality, very few can capture the mood and feel with a brush.

Last week I watched a championship fight between two fighters at the top of their game.  One of them was hit by a huge hook and right away he came back with a wicked cross.  The hook seemingly had little effect on the one hit.  Two still pictures reveal the reason behind it.

The hook was “winged,” which means the hips were not used and it was only a palm strike.  He didn’t hit with his knuckles, but his opponent did use his hips and turn over his punch.  Those tiny differences made the difference between being able to walk through a punch and being thrown against the ropes.

How many times do we fail to take each step we need to accomplish our goals? Are we using our hips to throw our hooks (hypothetically), or are we just slapping with our hands? I have been and am guilty as the next person when it comes to cutting corners.  I used to never worry about the small things, I always figured I could go back and fix them. This faulty way of thinking has cost me a lot over the years.  I think about all the time and heartache I could have saved myself and I realize how ignorant I had been.

We walk through life without realizing that God has provided us with everything we need to live a prosperous life of fulfillment.  It is hard because we cannot see the big picture or the final outcome. This is where faith comes into the picture and helps us get through the rough periods.  The good news is, that even though we can’t see the future, our job is not to blindly walk in faith, he has given us clear guidelines of how we should live in the Bible.

Our lives are made up of thousands of tiny actions that take place every hour of the day and night.  A chef cannot put a culinary masterpiece on the table without careful attention to each of the ingredients.

I listen when someone is explaining something unfamiliar to me and I absorb the information.  If I don’t understand something, I will ask questions.

I make every effort to do whatever task I set out to do right in the first place. I know I will fail at times, but I learn and I never continue to make the same mistakes again.

How could paying attention to details make your life easier?  The next question is why are you not sweating the details?  When we cease to learn, life is over.

Matthew 7:7-8

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

Proverbs 13:4

The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.

 

Life Happens

Has this ever happened to you? You have started a great new routine, and then BANG something comes up and throws a wrench in it. In boxing when this happens we respond by “rolling with the punches.” We all make plans and rarely do they go off perfectly.

So what can we do? We can complain and get angry, or we can look ahead and make some contingency plans to deal with the unexpected arising.  Spending time in the world of anger and frustration is a waste of time. No matter what situation arises, can come up with a plan to adapt and continue your new routine.  If you give up altogether, you will be no closer to accomplishing anything.

In the case of a routine or something, we would like to make a regular part of life it is imperative that we stick as close to normal as we can. I try to make up a missed workout on the same day, and if I cannot, then I go right back to it the following day.  When traveling I often modify my routine to a different location but it will be close to the same as I do at home.  When I am training people and they have a work trip or a vacation coming up, I am always happy to provide them with body weight exercise plans they can do in their hotel room or with minimal equipment – such as a jump rope and one weight.

It takes twenty-one days to make something a habit.  Once we have formed one good habit, we must constantly be improving, meeting our current goals and setting new ones.

Habits apply too much more than working out or eating right.  For me, writing is like a muscle and unless I use it every day, it will become weak.  This is why I enjoy writing blogs, it gives me regular training and it hones my craft.

When writing my first book, I wrote a blog every week and I worked on pages for the book.  The activity helped me stay focused on the task.  I was traveling at the time and I was overseas with spotty internet.  I would write and sit outside where I knew there was a wifi spot and sometimes there was no internet.  I would download my new pages, send some old ones to my writing partner.  Yes, I missed some days because of the travel, but it was always in my mind and as soon as I could I established my routine again.

The number one rule is to let go of the frustration if we are unable to do what we had planned. There will be time, because there is always time. It is easy to tell ourselves we just don’t have the time, but deep down we know the truth.

The second rule is to set aside a specific time each day for our routine.  Once we have established our priorities, everything else can fit into other times that are not already committed.  If you commit to your time to a priority, and something else comes up – you will need to say no.  Saying no is a part of prioritizing and committing.  If we must go to sleep earlier or wake up earlier to establish dedicated time, then that is what will need to be done. The third most important piece of the puzzle is that even if you miss a day, a week or a month of your routine – make a commitment to get back to it.  If we consider it important we will begin again.  It will not be like starting from zero, because we have gone over this ground before.  

Making commitments and priorities a part of life is very important, so consider your priorities and use your time wisely!

Setbacks are only temporary bumps in the road to success.  Use it as a learning experience, adapt and re-commit.

James 1:12

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

James 1:2

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.

 

The Battle Within

The other day I began to think about the thoughts that drive my life.  In my mind, there is a constant internal conflict going on.  It is mostly in three areas of my life.  The first is when I think that something will be fun and yet I know it will set me back.  The second is when I make a decision and then spend some time trying to talk myself out of it. The third is when I feel my old angry self begin to make a comeback.

Sunday I was listening to a sermon in church which was thought provoking. Pastor Arol was addressing how Christians should interact with people they disagree with.  It brought up my past feelings.  My world was always black and white, cut and dry.  I would judge incidents based on the facts that I was aware of and then make a decision.  I would also very quickly let hate for the opposing party cloud any further thinking on the matter.  

When I was writing screenplays we would give our hero internal conflicts and he would work them out over the course of the script.  Life is not as simple.  There is no limit to the conflicts we have going on at any one time.  I wonder how many others have these constant battles going inside themselves on a daily basis?  

I am currently involved in another group at church that meets once a week.  We read a workbook and study the Bible weekly as we answer questions about ourselves and our thoughts.  One of the main tenets of the book so far is that we are all sinners, we are not perfect and yet God still loves us.  A very good point it drives home is that I cannot change another person, nor should I try.  The only person Kenji can change is himself.

I have found on my journey of self-improvement this last decade, that working on myself is hard and yet it is not impossible.

I am able to control my own thoughts and situations.  I no longer let what I feel is fun or pleasurable distract me. In a few days, after whatever it was has passed, I have learned I have missed nothing.

I have decided that I will no longer let anger rule me.  I am working at taking a mental step back, putting myself in others’ shoes, and trying to feel what they may be feeling or thinking. It is tough to love your enemies, but I will continue to try. I am a work in progress.

The battle inside will go on, but the fact that I am aware of it and I am spending time re-educating myself helps me make better choices. I will never be perfect and yet I know I can be better.
1 Corinthians 10:13

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Philippians 2:3-5

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,

 

Staying Consistent Daily

“Temporary success,” or perhaps, “the illusion of achievement” might be a good way to describe my life in the past.  I would make it to my goals because I did whatever it took to get there, the problem was I could not maintain it.

It turns out this is a common problem among a lot of the population.  We all work hard to get a promotion, but as time passes our performance begins to slip.  

In fitness, I have seen it many times.  People decide to “get in shape” for a marathon or a tough mudder or even a fight. They go all out and they do well for the months leading up to the event.  After they have completed it they go right back to where they started.  Sometimes its the goal to lose five pounds before a vacation or a wedding.  They reach their goal and yo-yo right back to where they started. It is amazing because they feel great temporarily, yet back they go after all the hard work.

I was very money oriented or often times I just wanted to reach a place that others told me was impossible. I would set out to prove everyone wrong and that provided me with the fuel to get it done.  I can see now that this was one of the reasons I had so many highs and lows in life. I had no consistency in my self-control and I always felt I should reward myself for attaining whatever my current goal happened to be.

I was able to focus for a set period of time, but when I felt I was where I should be,  I slacked off.  My solution? A long term plan!  I also knew that if I was going to succeed at anything I was going to have be more consistent in my efforts and outputs.  I had to stop letting myself coast on past deeds. I had to decide to commit myself to excellence in everything I do. No matter what the task or small the detail.  Details are very important, getting through anything without doing it right will cost me in the long run.

I had to make sure all my short term goals were in alignment with my long term goals.  I had to give up looking at what was over the horizon and instead make the best of what I have right now.

I had to get organized.  If I wanted to get somewhere and maintain it, I had to be able to keep a uniform performance and that only comes with organization.

Finally, I had to realize it is not all about me.  What I do to get to my end goal, how I affect those around me on a day-to-day basis as I work toward my goal matters.

I decided that this time I would approach my goals through consistent hard work and the guiding principles of doing what is right. The Bible spells it out for me.  The Gospels have laid out the framework on how to live a fruitful life full of sacrifice, love and joy.

Galatians 5:22-25

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.