Have you ever gotten a Facebook friend request from someone and been absolutely clueless as to who they are or how you know them?
That happened to me today. I searched this woman’s profile looking for some sort of commonality but there was absolutely nothing.
I felt like a jerk clicking the obnoxious “Delete This Request” button. Hoping she wouldn’t be offended or that I didn’t somehow actually know her.
It wasn’t until two hours later when I looked at my phone that I realized where this unsolicited friend request had come from.
I was messing around on an app called “Lift”. If you’ve never used it before, it’s great tool for motivation.
I checked my notifications because occasionally I get “props” from random people for completing my goals. The first notification on the list was, “Jane Doe started following you.” (not her actual name…obviously).
So this random lady saw me on the general feed for this app. Then found my Facebook. And added me.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not regretting my decision to ignore that request. I still think it’s super weird. However, I also realized something else when I was looking at this app. I had managed to pray for a week and a half straight. Something I’m notoriously bad at and struggle with constantly. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever prayed that many days in a row in my life.
But because I had used this app to set my goal to pray every day and track my progress, I was able to do it.
Which made me wonder, why was this method so successful when I’ve tried so many other ways to remind myself to pray every day and never succeeded.
Use Your Strengths
And that’s when I had my third realization for the day. The reason I was able to do this is because of my obsessiveness with completing something I commit to publicly. And also probably a little bit because of my competitive side. I had told the world (or everyone who uses that app…and apparently random strangers do pay attention to people they don’t know…) that I was committing to pray every day. And every day I had to check the box marking my progress.
If I didn’t check the box, I didn’t complete my goal, and I let the entire world know I was a quitter.
Obviously, I can’t have that.
By recognizing my obsession with completing everything I commit to publicly and using it to my advantage, I was able to achieve something I’d failed at multiple times before.
There are so many other opportunities for me to use this strength to my advantage and achieve my goals.
Maybe you’re not crazy like me and you really don’t care about that. That’s fine. There are plenty of other strengths that can be used to achieve your goals.
If your goal is to start exercising and you can never manage to keep it up consistently, think about what you’re really really good at and use that to help you.
You might be really good at making friends. I’m talking the type of person who can make a lifelong friend waiting in line at the grocery store. Use that to your advantage! Make a friend who is already into exercising every day and have them hold you accountable. Every time you see them, do something active with them. Tell them you want to start exercising and use them to encourage you.
It might seem like your strengths are completely unrelated to your goals but if you focus on what you’re good at and build from there, you’ll be surprised at what you can achieve.
Start Where You Are
One reason I never pray is because I feel like I never have anything good to say. I’m always saying the exact same thing and my prayers can never match the awesome caliber of prayers I hear my pastor praying every week at church.
But in order to check off that box every day, I had to pray regardless of whether or not I knew what to say. And you know what? It’s only been a week and a half, but I think I’m getting better. Just getting comfortable with the idea of praying has helped me loosen up a little.
I mean, God would rather hear me say something than nothing at all, right? And it’s not like he’s up there going, “Oh great. Not this crap again. Why do you even bother, Alysia. All right, already! I get the picture.”
No, he’s just happy I’m taking the time to talk to him.
I could have easily said, “Yeah, I need to pray more but first I need to be really good at it so instead of actually praying, I’m going to read a bunch of books about praying. I’m going to listen to other people pray a lot, too. Then maybe after that…I can start praying.”
Nope. I just went ahead and prayed every day despite the fact that I felt like everything I was saying was dumb.
Excuse My Preparation
Are you using not being “ready” for something as an excuse to never start? Too often we’re afraid of failing because we don’t feel prepared so we don’t even bother trying. Stop doing that!
Just like you’re using your strengths to help you achieve your goals, God will work with what you have and help you build from there.
Which reminds me of the story of the widow and the olive oil in 2 Kings.
If you don’t know the story, a widow is in trouble. Her husband is dead and she’s left with his debts. She doesn’t have anything except a jar of olive oil. Feeling desperate, she goes to Elisha the prophet and asks him for help.
Instead of saying, “Oh, you need money? Here…I’ll pay off your debts.” Or, “Go home and you’ll see that the Lord has manifested wads of cash underneath your mattress.”
He tells her to get some empty jars.
Once she gets those jars, she’s told to pour out the oil that she does have into those jars. I’m sure she was doubting Elisha’s sanity at this point, but she listened to him. She got a bunch of empty jars and started pouring. To her surprise, the oil didn’t stop flowing until she didn’t have any empty jars left.
There are so many stories in the bible like this. God works with what we have to help us. After all, he’s the one who gave it to us in the first place, right?!
Are you using the fact that you aren’t ready for something to keep you from working towards your goal?
Stop stalling and start where you are!!
So many times I’ve heard people say,
“Yeah, I’m going to start running but I need to save up to get some shoes first.”
“I’ll eat healthily once I get all this junk out of my house.”
“I’ll start working out once it’s warm outside and I can run in the park.”
Guess what? If you don’t have the motivation to start where you are, you’ll probably never start.
Don’t have nice new running shoes? How about this:
Run short distances on your less than ideal shoes until you get those new Nike kicks you’ve been eyeing.
Take a walk every day for the amount of time you would be running.
Do some sort of other exercise that doesn’t involve shoes.
Just doing something will get you into the habit of exercising and then, when you do get your shoes, you’ll have already built that habit and be ready to run.
Got junk food in your house? You don’t have to eat it all at once. Buy only healthy food next time you go grocery shopping and eat the junk food every once in a while.
Better yet, don’t eat it at all and give it to a food pantry! (Hey, better starving people eat something than nothing at all, right?) Don’t use what you’ve stocked your kitchen with as an excuse to eat crappy. After all, who bought that food in the first place?
Chances are you’ll just do it again if you don’t commit to make a change now.
You’ll start working out once it’s warm? Yeah, OK. If you can’t commit to working out when it’s cold outside and there isn’t much to do then you DEFINITELY won’t be able to commit to working out when it’s summer time and there’s a grad party/wedding/picnic/vacation to occupy your time with practically every weekend.
You’re stalling. Stop it. Start where you are.
Can we all agree to these two things? If we do, I think there’s no stopping us.
Use your strengths, no matter how irrelevant they seem, to help you achieve your goals.
Start where you are.
What strength can you use to achieve your goal? Have a strength but no clue how to use it to help find success? Comment and let me know! Maybe I can help.