sign before two pathways

Before you change anything

December is a great time to assess your life over the past 12 months. And this December 2019 is also the end of a decade so it is even a better time to evaluate your life before you decide to change anything.

To put this into our Create Your GOE context, let us look at what happened before the creation of the world in Genesis.

The first thing we see God do in Genesis 1.2 is to describe the state of his world. He looked at it and assessed and evaluated the situation and made a statement about the world. It was void or empty. It was without form or structure. And it was dark.   

While theologians have several theories on why the earth became dark and void, we are focused on how to apply this system to our lives to get results. So let’s start.

When we start out in Creating our Garden of Eden (GOE), we start from where we are. I call this Day ZERO. It is not mentioned as a day in Genesis, but for our work here, we will use the term Day Zero. In the first edition of the book it was called “Pre Creation Assessment” but Day Zero is easier to remember.

What is your Day Zero like? Where are you now? Is this where you planned or hoped you’d be? Are you satisfied overall? Are you excited about your progress?

If you want to see more progress or you want to stop going in a certain direction, you first need to be very clear and specific in assessing your current situation.  Write down a statement about your life now and mark the spot. Make it  a definitive marker so that when you look back you can trace your progress from this spot and celebrate your successes. Yes, you will have success using this Create Your GOE system. God did. And so will you!

If you are not honest with yourself, you’ll never be able to move in the right direction. Many people can deceive or hide their true situation from others. No one can read your mind or hear what you say to yourself when you lay in bed late at night. This is the moment of truth. Or, perhaps it is when you first wake up in the morning and it is not yet daylight. Your moment of truth has to be your starting point.

We all must have a moment of truth.  

Write in your journal or on a blank notepad. Create two columns by drawing a line down the middle of a page. One the left side, headline “I am here now”. On the right side, write “This is where I want to go.”

In this first part, we focus on the left side where you are now.

Here is a checklist of some areas to review and assess from 2019.  Write your comments on the Left side of your page.  Remember God’s world in Day Zero was not impressive. So don’t try to pretend yours is.

  • Health and Wellness. How are you doing in this area now at the end of  December? Are you healthy and fit or in poor health? If you cannot move, walk, or breathe comfortably, everything else really becomes secondary. Your physical body is your vehicle to get around in this earth realm. If your vehicle breaks down, you are limited. You can’t get another body. And health and medical support takes a great financial and emotional toll.   
  • Mental and Emotional Wellness.  Are you positive and motivated about your life, or are you down, sad, unhappy, and depressed on the inside? Do you love yourself and feel valued? Was 2019 full of stress and are you carrying that forward? Are your thoughts positive or do you struggle with finding meaning and purpose in life? Do you feel you need help in handling your emotions and your thoughts? We focus on the internal first in this system so you need to be honest about it.
  • Intellectual Wellness, Career or Business.   How do you feel about where you are in your career, or the growth (or start) of your business? Are you challenged on a daily basis? Are you fulfilling your dreams or living someone else’s dream? Are you stuck or moving ahead? Do you have a clear long term plan for your career, business, work or ministry? Are you growing or declining? Are you excited?
  • Social and family relationships. Do you have connections with others in a family or community? Are you close to your parents, siblings, children or relatives? Can these relationships be strengthened? Are you alone and lonely? Do you have real friends, or some support network if not with your immediate family? Everyone needs someone else at some point. Do not overlook this aspect of your life. Identify your true status. And while having friends on social media is better than nothing, determine who you can call on at a moment’s notice.
  • Spirituality.        How do you feel about your relationship with God over the last year and decade? Are you walking closer with Him? Do you feel you hear Him speaking to you clearly? Do you know what He wants of you and how He operates in the earth? Is this an area that needs improvement; in your bible study, connections with other believers, or in your involvement in sharing his Word to others? What’s your assessment here?
  • Financial Wellness          This is a significant area for most people. How was 2019 for you from a financial point? Is your earning power and net worth increasing? Did you make some unwise decisions? What is your current financial cushion if something happened to you today? Are you comfortable, challenged or celebrating? And are you sharing and giving to causes you care about? Can you even afford to?

As I looked back over my 2019, and the last decade, there are many areas where I could have made different decisions. The intention of this post is not to get focused on regret about the past, but to simply plant a stake in the ground and declare “I am here now. But this not my final destination.” 

Often when we take ownership of where we are, we can breathe a sigh of relief from holding everything in and pretending it is all well. After you have written down your assessment of your current life, take a deep breath and open yourself to move forward to change your life.

Five Must dos before 2019 ends

5 “must dos” before 2019 ends.

As we approach the end of 2019, while crowds of shoppers are making last minute purchases, you can calmly and intentionally take the following action steps to close off this decade strongly.

  1. Make a list of 2019 Dead Weight
    This refers to people, projects, attitudes and habits which slowed your progress in 2019. No doubt there were projects in the past year which were not part of your core purpose. You may have over committed to someone or been overly ambitious with your to-do list. Ask yourself if a project is moving your forward or dragging you down. If it is not moving your toward your core purpose or Masterpiece as identified on Day One, then it can be left in 2019.

    Dead weight also applies to people, groups and causes. You may have a friend, colleague or even a family member who is full of negative energy or simply unappreciative and annoying. If you maintained the friendship for charitable reasons, clear out the friendship box by leaving this person in 2019. You do not have to send a goodbye card or provide a long explanation. Write a Note to yourself stating you are leaving this person in 2019. As you create your Garden of Eden, you cannot exist in a state of darkness. And creating light means eliminating the darkness of people who bring heaviness when they are around.

    Personal habits or attitudes that did not serve you well in 2019 should be left behind. Resolve to leave your emotional outbursts, short temper, sarcastic tone or a dour outlook in 2019. As you create your Garden of Eden, anything that does not allow you to thrive and be your best self has no part in your future. Leave the poor habits behind.

2. Email Inbox Clean Out.
In this technology-driven world, email inboxes seem to be never ending, with promotions from every retailer you’ve visited, to websites your mistakenly registered with for one useful pdf. Many retailers sneakily ask for your email address when you’re at the cash register just to get your email and proceed to inundate you with ads on a daily basis. Aim to reduce your inbox newsletters from unnecessary content. One technique to deal with this is to join a service that rolls up all newsletters and promotional mail and unsubscribes you from them. This is very useful. And the service will check your inbox regularly to see if there are ‘new’ subscriptions. One company I find useful is https://unroll.me.

In addition to the promotional emails, now is a good time to clean out old files which are simply bloating your inbox. If you have not read or responded to emails from 2, 3, or 5 years ago, it is a good chance you can delete those safely without even reading them. Seek to get to inbox -zero by December 31st and then you can resolve to do this deep clean once per week moving forward.

3. Organize your Financial records.
Financial records are an important part of any life or business you are creating. And these records are often needed when you least expect it. Take one night this last week of 2019 to organize you paper financial documents. You may also want to digitize them at the same time by taking a photo or utilizing a special app. For records that are digital, you should make a backup copy of, for example, your Paypal or Venmo account. Keep these in an organized folder and then make a copy of that folder online.

Also, take a quick look through your tax files. Is there an action to be completed before the end of this calendar year? Then do so right away so as not to lose a benefit. We all know that tax time is early in the new year. This is a stable part of the seasons of life. And in Day Four of our Create Your GOE process, we plan for the known seasons on life. So begin now to compile the 2019 financial records so that you can easily pass them to your accountant or have them accessible for your online tax filing.

4. One Last Dash to the Finish Line.
If you’ve been procrastinating for the year on one item, and it’s pressing on your mind, give yourself some release from the stress by taking one of two actions. First, you can make a mad dash for the finish line by devoting a few hours to make some headway on the project. Some people (like me, I confess) love the adrenaline rush of a deadline. We can sprint forward and accomplish more in half a day than in the prior half a year. If this is your style, then you need to work with your style, though this cannot be a dominant strategy for success. So, if you planned to work on a second book but this has not yet started, you can spend a few hours on the outline. If you intended to start an online business this year and you feel very disappointed in yourself, spend 4 or 5 hours researching and writing the top opportunities or the top contenders in your industry. If you were meaning to volunteer with an organization, you can join now. And volunteer starting next week. By taking some action, you will give yourself a small win that will create a favorable mental framework. And thank yourself for taking a small action. Feel the satisfaction of moving forward. This will create the good energy to motivate you to continue taking those small actions.

A second strategy to deal with an undone task is to reformulate it into a bigger or more expansive project so you’re not simply dragging over an unfinished project into the new year. If you planned to get started on a new business project, but it never got off the ground, then expand it for 2020. If you were going to form a nonprofit or a ministry group and it was not started, expand the concept or the target group. Decide to take it international or create a larger team. In this way, you will give your self the moral boost of taking some action in 2019 and not simply moving the same item into a new year.

5. Pamper Yourself.
The last week of the year is usually a slow time in the business world. Many companies are closed and others have limited staff. While you can still continue with your strategies and plans, and may have interesting results by being active when fewer are, you can also simply take the time to pamper yourself. Identify a body, mind or spirit reward you can give yourself. This can be a special yoga class, or a massage. You can buy yourself a new book or visit a museum. Or you can enjoy an evening concert. Often during the energetic rush of creating our ideal life and our Masterpiece, we may put our personal comforts on the back burner. This week is a good time to do the opposite and end the year feeling like you have valued yourself by taking care of your inner body, mind or spirit.

listen to your inner voice

Listen to your inner voice

In Creating our Garden of Eden, our ideal life, using God’s pattern, we need to be sensitive to our inner voice, our intuition, also known as a hunch or instinct.

In this GOE Process, we must be tuned in to how we think about ourselves and how we feel when we are going about our life, whether doing certain activities or operating in certain roles. This is essential, specifically, in the Pre-Creation assessment where honesty is the first element. You have to be honest with yourself about what is not right with some aspect of your world – which can be described as the void and darkness we see in Gen 1:2. Once you are honest, then you can begin to focus on what you want and then create the world you wish. If you are not honest with yourself, you will feel a lot of internal disquiet and likely not achieve an outcome that leads to happiness and success.

In addition, throughout the GOE process, such as when you are to identify your values or make plans, your inner voice is what you will use to help come to your right conclusion.

Your inner voice is the true you. It is the you when no one is around. It is what determines your outer or external life.  You are on this creative journey to create an ideal life because you are dissatisfied with what you see in some part of your life. This is the inner voice directing you to a better, to a greater masterpiece. The inner voice knows you are unique with a unique purpose in the earth. S/He wants you to win.

Often you need to sit and converse directly with your inner voice. This can be done through reflecting on your day and what went right and what did not. Many find using a journal to list your successes at the end of the day to be useful. Even as you run or engage in some fitness activity, your inner voice can often be very vocal during this time of a ‘mindless’ activity. For me, early in the morning or in the shower are times for my inner voice to bring clarity and inspiration.

How do we become more sensitive to and trusting of our inner voice? By listening to it and following its lead. And then as we realize following it serves us well, either through protecting us from some harm or preparing us for what lays ahead, we build up our confidence.  This can be in big areas, such as a warning about a person you are thinking of going into business with or lending money to. Or, even more significant, when you get a hunch about a potential romantic date or the route to take on a late night.

And the intuition can also alert you on a smaller scale, such as when you are prompted to take a final look around a room before leaving, and realize you were about to leave an important item behind.

The inner voice is always speaking and as you listen to it more often, you begin to hear it about the ‘noise’ around you; and these days there is much noise around whether from other people, or from society or from the news and a never ending stream of information on social media.

Many do not value this inner voice as much as their analytical mind which looks at facts and weighs the pros and cons objectively. Often, the inner voice is not logical or conventional. We do not need a second opinion to be the same as our logical mind.

When you do take the time to listen to your inner voice, and hear it clearly, acknowledge this, either by saying a “Thank you” or by a silent smile. This will cause you to hear it more often. What gets rewarded or acknowledged, gets strengthened.

As a Christian believer, your inner voice is attuned to the voice of God. So when you get an unction, you really are hearing directives from God. But you have to train your inner voice to hear and know the voice of God.

As you look back over the year (and decade) now ending, do you remember occasions when your intuition was proven right over what others may have advised? Do you recall when you ignored the inner voice resulting in a negative outcome?  Is your inner voice getting stronger through use and attention? Or, is it weaker due to neglect and continuous dismissal?

Take the time to think on these past situations so that you can intentionally learn what your intuition sounds and feels like. And as you learn and focus on the directions of the voice, you will learn to trust your true self more.

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

Scaffolding to build your dreams

We are now in the Christmas season and one of the memorable scenes at this time of the year in New York City is the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center.

The Christmas tree is a large towering tree, some years it is up to 100 feet tall. It is decorated with more than 50,000 lights and, according to the official site, more than half a million visitors pass the tree each day during the Christmas season, from early December through January.

Recently, this year, I was working in the area around Rockefeller Center and was looking forward to seeing the tree fully lit. As I walked around a few days before Thanksgiving, I noticed the tree was already in place. It was not lit yet, but what struck me was the scaffolding around it.

I never really thought much about how the tree lights were hung. But as I got a closer look, it became clear that the wood planks and steel frame was absolutely necessary to allow workers to climb high up and into the tree to hang the thousands of lights, electrical wires and other decorations.

Rockefeller Christmas Tree hidden by scaffolding
Scaffolding on Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

As I saw the scaffolding and the tree hidden underneath, I immediately saw the connection to the Create Your Garden of Eden process. This process is the scaffolding for you to build your Big Dream!

We are all looking to find our purpose, build our dream life, and establish our Masterpiece in Life like a major Christmas Tree that stands 70 -100 ft tall in the center of our lives. Our Masterpiece is decorated to make us stand out and be significant – in whatever way we define significance and relevance. And it is a unique expression of who we are.

And our Masterpiece when completed will be something we can be proud of and that reflects who we are. We should be able to look on proudly and say it is “very good.”

The CreateYourGOE process is similar to the necessary scaffolding before the Masterpiece is revealed. It keeps the Masterpiece hidden while we focus on the inner work. During the construction phase, often you cannot see the building when it is covered in scaffolding. Similarly with the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, if one looked at the structure from a distance, all that was visible was the scaffolding. It was only when you are very close could you see some branches of the tree to let you know a tree was inside all the metal and wood.

Scaffolding is necessary to support the structural work, the electrical, repair or maintenance work in any major building which cannot be done from a ground level. It also protects workers during the building phase and ensures they can get to the top and move around in safety. And the scaffolding is the sign that some great construction is ongoing.

The Create Your Garden of Eden process, like scaffolding, takes you through all the elements you need to ensure your Masterpiece is both functioning as intended and is beautiful to view.

  • On Day Zero in Pre-Creation, we determine our end goal and where we want to go
  • On Day One, we get clarity and eliminate the immediate obstacles to getting started
  • Day Three, we put the foundation, and the planning in place.
  • On Day Four, we budget and develop action plans for future seasons.
  • On Day Five, we consider alternate scenarios.
  • On Day Six we bring all the components of the Masterpiece together and
  • On Day Seven, we move forward with our Masterpiece in place and performing at our best from a position of peace and rest in Him.

So as you embark or continue on building your purpose, do not overlook the importance of the scaffolding. If the scaffolding is faulty, or not strong enough, it can hinder the completion of a great masterpiece. Use the scaffolding during the season of construction. Step on it with confidence. Hang your lights high up. Do all the hidden work for the project or the business or to get to your fitness goals.

Scaffolding does not stay up forever. When all the initial work is finished, you can step back, remove the scaffolding and let the Masterpiece you created and built as part of your ideal life shine for all to enjoy.

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