Build a winning tomorrow…

“Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.”

Lyndon B. Johnson

How easy it is to get lost fighting the battles from our past days. We can get so wrapped up in what did, or didn’t, happen in our lives. I know that I will find myself replaying a conversation in my mind and thinking of better responses or rethinking my actions in response to a certain situation.

I believe this can be a valuable, and extremely beneficial habit to form. But it has to be done with an eye clearly on the future and how one needs to grow and evolve towards building a better self. Taking the time to reflect and learn is a powerful way to grow forward into the next day.

How do you ensure that you don’t get lost in yesterday, forgetting that the time has passed and it doesn’t define your present day or the tomorrow that is yet to come? I find that taking 15 minutes at the end of each day to answer the following questions in a daily journal helps me process the day, and focus on creating wins.

  • What happened in the past day?
  • What were my biggest wins?
  • What lessons did I learn?
  • What am I thankful for right now?
  • How am I feeling right now?
  • What did I read or hear?
  • What stood out from what I read or heard?
  • What do I need to do next to move forward on my goals?

I know these are a lot of questions to run through, and I fully admit that I don’t get to do this every single day. However when I skip a day I find the next morning to be a little less focused, a little less intentionally crafted.

Over the years I have played with the order of these questions, and with different questions, and on occasion I will replace one with a different inquiry to address a specific challenge or need in my life. For example, if I am taking time off with the family I will modify “What were my biggest wins” into “What were my biggest wins as a husband, as a father?” The point isn’t to get stuck on the questions themselves but instead to focus on learning from the day and very specifically shaping what you need to do to create wins tomorrow.

As a side note I do believe the order of the questions is very important. That’s why I end with “what did I learn” and “what do I need to do” questions. Those reset my head and help me focus on tomorrow.

To ensure that I follow through on my goals of daily reflection I use the journalling app “Day One.” I love that I can capture my thoughts in a simple to use mechanism that is always with me. I have used a paper journal to do this in the past but I found that it was too easy to forget or that it allowed me to create an excuse to not do the practice. There are tons of digital journals out there, so do whatever works for you. The key is to find a method that enables you to process today with a relentless focus on building a better future.

Be ready and mindful that today will be a ‘yesterday’ very very soon. Take the time at the end of the day to reflect and intentionally build a winning tomorrow. You’ll be glad you did.

Ready. Aim. Fire. Review.

“Aim to make a difference in someone’s life every single day, including your own.”

Doe Zantamata

I love the first word in this quote. To ‘aim’ means to “to intend or direct for a particular effect or purpose.” How many days do we start out so intentionally? How often is the purpose of making a difference in someone else’s life explicitly defined and measured? How about for your own life? Without aiming you are, by default, choosing to drift without direction.

Take 5 minutes in the morning and in as few words as possible write down the answers to these three questions:

Who’s life do I specifically want to impact?

What am I going to do today to impact the life of that person?

How will I enable my ability to make a difference in someone else’s life by taking care of my own mind, body or spirit?

At the end of the day simply read what you wrote down and give yourself a simple yes/no answer on whether you were successful. Don’t beat yourself up if you didn’t meet your goal. But I’ll bet when you start doing this regularly you’ll have far more ‘yes’s” than ‘no’s.’

You can’t worry about what you did or didn’t do yesterday; but you can learn from it. You can’t worry about what you will or won’t be able to do tomorrow; but you can prepare for it. The key here is to AIM, and then look and see if you hit your target. If not, then start over tomorrow. Making a difference happens one day at a time.

Ready. Aim. Fire. Review.

Today is the foundation of tomorrow…

“Your future is created by what you do today, not tomorrow.”

Robert Kiyosaki

Maybe tomorrow will be the right time to start that project, but not today, I’m too busy…

Next week will be a better time to tackle that tough conversation head on, but not today, I just don’t have the energy to deal with it…

I’ll start reading that book on breaking bad habits next month, but not right now, there is just too much going on and I don’t have time…

I’ll start spending more time with my family when I get through this busy season at work, but I can’t right now, they’ll understand that I am doing this for them anyway…

It is amazing how many excuses we can create to put off or delay work that will make the biggest difference in our lives. In our “instant gratification” society it seems that all that matters is living in the moment. The easy things we embrace, but the hard things we put off or ignore. But if we want to create a tomorrow that we will be able to live in fully and completely, we have to do the work today.

Yesterday can’t be changed, fixed or undone. Tomorrow is just a dream. Today is the only day that matters if you want to make your visions come true. Live it fully and completely and do the work that will be the foundation for your future.

Better today than yesterday!

“Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.”

John Wayne

How often do we start the new day with the thought that it is a brand new and clean day? A day that is ready to be embraced fully because we are a little bit smarter and better because of the day before? Think of the impact on our lives if every day we were to focus on the lessons learned from yesterday and seek to improve today based on those learnings. Talk about continuous improvement!

I journal daily and I am going to add this question to my end of day routine for a while to see how it impacts tomorrow: “What did I learn today that will make tomorrow better?”

What are you doing today that will matter in the future?

“The future depends on what we do in the present.”

Mahatma Gandhi

Ten years ago what were your dreams for the future? Did you achieve them? What future did you want to create? How did you make it happen? 2009 doesn’t seem like it was all that long ago, yet a lot has happened over the past ten years. Did those years build up to create what you expected and desired? How will it look over the next 10 years?

Was there anything you did today that will create the future you want in five years? Ten years? Sometimes it might be the big things, others just the small things but the focus has to be on doing the right things today that will be meaningful in the future that you want to create.

When to start? TODAY!

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today.  Let us begin.”

Mother Teresa

How often do we spend our lives living in the past by lamenting what didn’t happen or trying to hold on to our previous accomplishments? Conversely, how much time do we spend living and thinking about the future and what we want or desire? I will admit that I am very guilty of the latter scenario, spending a lot of time and energy on what I think or want to happen. It is a constant battle to bring focus to what I need to do RIGHT NOW and put that same energy to use today.

Our supply of energy and time is finite. How we choose to invest it TODAY will create the future we want but only if we invest wisely. You have to start now. What is the very simple, finite, and clear thing you can start today that would impact the lives of others or yourself? Got it? Do it…

Today is YOUR adventure!

“Today is life — the only life you are sure of. Make the most of today. Get interested in something. Shake yourself awake. Develop a hobby. Let the winds of enthusiasm sweep through you. Live today with gusto.”

Dale Carnegie

Remember the passion that you used to have to wake up on a Saturday morning as a kid?  Perhaps it was cartoons, unlimited cereal, or playing outside all day long.  There was such excitement for the weekend and the day of adventure that lay ahead.

Why does that feeling have to be relegated to a memory or a rare occurrence?  The day ahead is an adventure, regardless of how old you are, or whether or not it is a day off or a day at work.  The day holds promise and beauty if you simply choose to embrace it.  Embrace today with gusto!

Prepare for the future by focusing on today…

“The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.”
 

H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

 

Tomorrow’s dreams are dependent on today’s hard work.  It is far too easy to get lost in what you want to have happen instead of focusing on what is in the here and now.  I will fully admit that I have been guilty of this far too often.  As a highly goal driven person sometimes it easy to live in the future instead of focusing on what has to be done TODAY.

When training for an Ironman race it is hard to think about the magnitude of the race distance when it was almost a year away.  The key is to focus on the training needed to do for a specific week, and then the even more specific effort that you need to put forth on a given day.  Having a plan, trusting that plan, and doing the work on a daily basis is the reason that you can go into the race without any fear or nervousness about completing the 140.6 miles ahead of you.  If you have done the hard work then you are prepared for the day ahead.

Being prepared for whatever God has planned for us means that we have to put in the hard work each and every day.

Where does worry belong?

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:34‬

One day at a time.  Focus on his kingdom and righteousness first. That is the message Jesus was sharing in this verse during his Sermon on the Mount.  I think it is worth reading the entire passage that leads into this verse to better understand the context of this specific verse.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life ? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:25-34 

There is a lot in this passage to really chew on and meditate on.  I know that I for one can get lost in living for the future, planning for, and worrying about, things that aren’t even important in the broad scheme of things.  Through worry I can also focus on the wrong things that aren’t the areas or things I should be focused on.  

It is amazing that when you do what is written above, the worry ceases to be the idol that controls you.  You can put it in the back seat, which is certainly where it belongs and put what’s important in the front…

 

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