Thursday, April 8, 2010

A little Self-Eval.

Do you ever feel so overwhelmed by all the self-improvements you know you need to make that you’re not sure where to start? I think about this often. It’s big in my family to self evaluate and set goals. My parents always instilled that in us. Now I do it naturally. I’m always thinking of areas in my life where I’m lacking discipline and needing to refocus.

When I moved to Tampa I knew if I didn’t start with getting my spiritual life right, the rest wasn’t going to matter. I was disconnected and I disillusioned and I knew that if I didn’t get my feet on solid ground I was never going to be able to find my joy again. I believe I’ve written a bit about this but my last few years of college I was a bit of a mess and I left 24 hours after finals to move, still a hot mess. So I sat down and started evaluating my priorities and I knew my first step to improvement had to be spiritual. I had to get plugged in at church and be committed. I had to find the right kind of friends who would help me on what I knew would be a tough journey. That was my jumping off point. I spent my first year accepting no volunteer or leadership opportunities. I needed to focus on me. My cup was so far from over-flowing that I wasn’t sure how I could pour much of anything into someone else’s life. It had to gut my insides and start over. And that’s just what I did.

After that I knew the next big thing I needed to tackle was my finances! I was finally REALLY on my own (college didn’t really count for me, money wise). I had to quit spending everything I made. I need to pay off my car & start saving for the next one so I wouldn’t be a slave to a car loan ever in my life. I need a savings account that could actually be called a savings account. If I didn’t get a handle on my shopping and get a focus for my money, I was going to land myself right back at home with my parents. I was determined that step two had to be dealing with this!

After Step One, I wanted to do this by Godly principles so for me, that meant taking Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University at my church (Grace Family Church). I signed up thinking I wasn’t in too sad of shape. By then I was debt free (my car was paid off, my education was paid off, I was making it). The truth is, I really wasn’t as bad off as many of the people taking the course but my attitude was all wrong. I had plenty to learn! I diligently poured over the materials both and out of class, soaking up the wisdom of people who were doing it better than I was. As with most areas you want to improve in it’s important that if you seek advice, you do it from the right people. It’s ill-advised to ask for the counsel of friend who’s in the same or worse shape than you. I consulted my Dad. I know few people who have been as wise and as God-centered with their finances as I have watched my Dad be my whole life. I called him every week after class to compare my notes with his knowledge.

I saved an emergency fund, bought a condo, and came back for the next round of the class at church to be a leader. I’ve learned to be more generous but also wise in my spending. I’ve quit spending 25% of my take home pay on clothes (I have closets full, I really don’t NEED them). I’m still working on learning to distinguish wants and needs. That’s a struggle for me. My budget isn’t flawless, but the progress has been huge. Even HAVING a budget that I use is huge for me from where I once was.

Learning discipline in your life is never easy. From spiritual and financial discipline, the rest seemed a bit easier. I was having all kinds of problems with my skin when I first moved down here. Stress? Weather changes? My face hating me? I’m not really sure what the problems were but I need to get them under control quick. I started seeing a dermatologist and an esthetician. Turns out my lack of life disciplines even applied to my face. With their help and by building a routine and stick to it, I’ve managed to get my skin clear and back to its former glory. In fact, since adding more water (and therefore less diet coke) to my daily intake it’s improved yet again these past 2 weeks.

Smaller changes included cutting down on my TV and increasing the time I spend reading. I’ve also broadened my horizons of what I read from true stories, to fiction, to biographies, and recently I’ve acquired a taste for books written by various pastors. After college it’s so easy to let your education end, not to push yourself to continue to seek new knowledge and expand your vocabulary and creativity. If you don’t make a conscious effort, you could go months without reading much more than street signs and e-mails.

Now I’m finally working on my health a bit more. Events is a fun, exciting, and sometimes quite fast-paced line of worth. These are the qualities that make it perfect for me. However, it’s easy to get run down working 6 day work weeks, traveling with germy people and re-circulated air, and sometimes enduring some stress with ‘day of’ chaos (or even ‘week of’). It’s important to be in good health so as not to let your body get run down and sick. So, my new found disciplines for eating healthier (and less) as well as upping my 3 days a week exercise habits to 5 days a week has helped. I’m also being committed to getting good nights of sleep.

I did not make any of these decisions as a result of ‘New Years Resolutions’ by the way. I’m just purposing to be more disciplines in many aspects of my life. Oh wait, I guess I did commit to read 50 books in 2010, which was kind of a resolution. That’s about a book a week, which is hard with my crazy schedule but without goals, I accomplish little.

Self-evaluation and learning self-discipline has been on my mind lately, so I thought I’d share my thoughts with you here. Maybe putting it out there will make me more motivated and conscious of it as well.



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