“Leaning into” your problem is less painful than pretending it doesn’t exist.
One afternoon as I was playing with my kids, my sweet little two year-old stepped on my hair.
The instant I felt the pain, I pulled away to get out from under her little feet. It was my instantaneous reaction, albeit not very smart.
When someone steps on your hair, lean in, and gingerly remove them from off your hair before pulling away.
I know, I know… it’s not an experience that most of the people in the world will ever have, but it reminded me of a principle worth mentioning.
When you have pain in your life, financial or otherwise, just don’t panic. Panic leads to instinctive reaction, and instinctive reaction oftens result in more pain overall than is necessary.
Subconscious programs kick in when you’re in “fight or flight” (panic/survival) mode.
The key is to lean into the source of your pain, address it without panic or negative emotion, and handle it with a cool head. You’ll be able to solve your problem and avoid unnecessary suffering.
If the problem is that you’re short on money, don’t retreat from your problems, lean in. Go to the person you owe money to, and talk to them about it with a cool head and with the intention of finding a workable solution. Even if there seems to be no possible way to repay a debt, expressing your intentions and regret can leave you feeling more positive than if you pretend the problem isn’t there.
With a positive mindset, you’ll be more likely to eventually think of new solutions you haven’t yet considered.
So, any time you want to instinctively pull away from a problem (hoping it will go away if you just retreat fast enough), remember the lesson I learned from the two year-old who stepped on my hair.
“What if I can never repay my debts? What if I have to file bankruptcy?”
Keep browsing this blog. You’ll learn how to find your hidden resources, and also how to turn failures into successes.
I’ve spoken to a few audiences in my lifetime, and I’ve experienced that sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach as I’d anticipate standing in front of a room full of strangers, worrying about what they’d think of me and what I had to say. Sometimes I would feel the anxiety for days (or even weeks) before an event.
Thank heavens I hardly ever feel that way anymore. Nobody likes to feel anxious or worried about being around people or giving presentations. It’s not a fun feeling! It can be paralyzing, in fact. But at least in my case, I’ve identified a couple reasons why things got easier:
First of all, there is that “getting used to it” thing. Do something often enough, and the anxiety goes away, eventually. Even the most embarrassing moments can pale over time. (Like the moment when I spontaneously demonstrated my sweet Tari Piring skills at a convention where I spoke with 500 guests. You’re not supposed to do that arm thing with food on the plate, but I was trying to be clever. Naturally my pie flew off the plate in front of the directors’ table, aaaaand that’s all I’m going to say about that. One thing I can say is that the feeling of horror has indeedpaled.)
Second of all, aside from practice and time passing, there is something else that can be done to immediately get past that self-conscious oh-my-heck-what-are-people-thinking-about-me-right-now feeling, and it has to do with the way YOU think. It’s a pretty cool trick for feeling more comfortable in social settings, and here’s how it works:
As you probably know, the thoughts and feelings you bring to a social gathering emit a kind of a “vibration” that people pick up on. If you’re cheerful, people like that. They enjoy being with other people that make them feel good. If you feel comfortable, people feel comfortable around you.
But what if you don’t know how to feel comfortable?
When you feel nervous around other people (whether it’s an individual or an audience), DON’T WORRY about whether or not they like you, because if you do, you can unconsciously cause the very thing you want to avoid. To entertain worry puts you into an awkward “negative vibration”, which can be a turnoff to those around you.
Instead, all you have to do is LIKE THEM first.
You can choose to like people—just find something to like about them—and by liking them, you emit a positive vibration that more naturally causes them to mirror the feeling back.
A magnetic personality is not achieved by being super cool, amazingly talented, or having sweet Tari Piring skills. It’s achieved by finding and showing appreciation for the qualities, strengths, and talents in those around you.
Keep this principle alive in your life and you will always have an abundance of friends. Besides, as you’ve probably heard before, what people think about you is really none of your business, and most people are too busy worrying about what other people think of them to be thinking about you, anyway.
All of these concerns melt away when you’re focused on building up the people around you, and finding their admirable qualities.
Remember this key idea and you can be confident in a room full of strangers. I’ve been told that you should fuss about the way you look only while you’re preparing to be with people, but the minute you walk out the door, it’s no longer about you. Focus on the people around you and forget about yourself.
“Love your neighbor” (Matthew 22:37-39) is a timeless principle here well applied. Plant good seeds by following this advice, and you’ll more easily reap a harvest of good company (Gal 6:7-8).
Every life challenge offers traction for rapid progress toward your goal. Friction is optional.
Imagine life as a network of cogs and gears, like the inner workings of an old fashioned clock. Each person, each situation, is passing into and out of our lives as though they were fixed onto one of the gears rotating and making contact with our own.
The mechanism is so complex that we cannot diagram it, nor predict with certainty which gears and cogs are at play to affect the interactions we experience.
One thing I know is that each time we set an intention to accomplish something, the governing forces alter the timing and pathways of each of the gears in motion. Each gear is on a track that can be moved in and out of the path of other gears in motion.
At the center of your gear is the axis upon which you rotate—sometimes smoothly, sometimes not. Things run well in the whole scheme of it all when you rotate freely with every engagement of oncoming, spinning gears.
Sometimes, however, after you set a goal, what often shows up is a gear disguised as a challenge that attempts to engage you and send you into a realm where you’d rather not go. So you tighten up your axis and refuse to spin with the oncoming gear.
This causes tremendous friction, and in reality can be much more painful in the long run than loosening the tension at your axis point, allowing the oncoming “challenge” gear to engage with your own, and see where it takes you. You’ll often find that after it spins you in the opposite direction of your goal, it eventually helps you come around to exactly where you need to be in order to receive the GOAL gear that was set in motion toward you when you set the goal in the first place.
The destination resulting from engagement with the unexpected “challenge” or “adversity” gear is rarely apparent when you consent to engage with it. But you can trust that it will move you into position to receive the “goal” gear as it spins its way toward you.
Those who refuse to engage won’t be where they need to be when they need to be there. And then they wonder why their goals never come true.
Related Video: When Success Principles Don’t Work
If you refuse to relax in the face of adversity, not only will you feel the full force and heat of the friction, you’ll eventually lose your ability to engage at all with any gear that comes along to take you there, because refusing to “go with it” strips your gear of the very teeth that allow you to engage in the more desirable gears.
Every gear, apparently good or bad, has the potential to move you along to wherever you decide you want to be. Get a visual image of where you want to end up, and the right gears will come along to get you there. Keep your axis well-oiled, and you’ll find the journey can be a joyful evolving.
It’s only “hard” when you refuse to spin.
Let me help you stay well-oiled for 12 weeks straight, and just see where it takes you. It’s an amazing experience, well worth whatever sacrifice it takes for you to engage. The Mindset Mastery™ course is one of the most powerful gears I can offer you, and you can view it as a good gear because of the knowledge you’ll gain, or as a bad gear because it costs some money. Either way, it is designed to take you where you want to be.
Even the economy is a gear in the machine of life, which will either cause you friction or, if you choose, it can cause TRACTION to bring you to the success you seek. I have experienced both opportunities and continually come to the same conclusion each time.
God is a lawful being. There are absolute causes and effects in his law-governed Universe, and as we learn about and abide his laws, we can expect to enjoy the blessings connected to them.
“I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” (Doctrine and Covenants 82:10)
It was a profound moment for me when I stopped to realize that there’s a reason, a very specific reason for doing every good thing we’ve been taught to do.
“Be grateful” is not just a band-aid to distract you from pain. It is a law, connected to a blessing.
While you may be wondering if it’s even possible to feel grateful for everything, consider this:
Feeling good about your problems activates certain laws of success for happier outcomes. (And who doesn’t want happier outcomes?)
As I’ve said before, when you change how you feel, the nature of your surroundings begins to shift ever so slightly.
Because people can feel your emotions (even if only subconsciously), they respond to you differently when you change the way you feel. The customer service representative deals with you a little more kindly. The other driver lets you merge. The professor is a little more forgiving about your assignment.
“Let a man cease from his sinful thoughts, and all the world will soften toward him, and be ready to help him. Let him put away his weakly and sickly thoughts, and lo! opportunities will spring up on every hand to aid his strong resolves. Let him encourage good thoughts, and no hard fate shall bind him down to wretchedness and shame.” (James Allen, As a Man Thinketh)
Okay, all that’s fine and dandy—just change your thoughts and feelings and everything will go better. But I’m telling you what, it can be nearly impossible sometimes to even want to feel differently about things. I get it. I’ve been there, maybe even more than I haven’t been there.
But it’s okay. Sometimes we really DO need to give ourselves permission to just feel thefull scope of sadness, disappointment or even anger that our situation warrants.
But here’s the trick:
Only go there with the plan to let it be temporary. The Law of Rhythm dictates that there must be ebbs and flows, ups and downs, and even sadness FOLLOWED BY HAPPINESS. But you don’t have to fake the shift, and you don’t have to force it. It WILL COME as a gift; your job is to simply hope for it, and allow it to happen. Don’t fight it when it tries to find you.
(Have you noticed? I think it may be trying to find you now…)
So allow yourself to be sad until you’ve felt it completely, but always maintain a hope and expectation that happiness will again eventually follow.
It happens after a change in perspective. You can help it along by first acknowledging the difficult place you’re in, but then as quickly as you’re able, be grateful for it. Lift your eyes and heart upward with hope—relying on the many promises you’ve been given, that your hope is indeed justified. No matter how ugly it is, be grateful.
Here’s the law:
This [is] the day [which] the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalms 118:24)
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, [do] all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. (Colossians 3:17)
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts … and be ye thankful. (Colossians 3:15)
O give thanks unto the LORD, for [he is] good: for his mercy [endureth] for ever. (Psalms 107:1)
Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing…. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, [and] into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, [and] bless his name. (Psalms 100:1-5)
Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; (Ephesians 5:20)
We accept [it] always, and in all places …with all thankfulness. (Acts 24:3)
Here’s the promise:
For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life:
Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. (Psalm 30:5)
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven… (Matthew 5:3-12)
All things work together for good to them that love God, (Romans 8:28)
Do you see the Laws of Polarity and Rhythm depicted here? You are PROMISED comfort when you are sad. You are PROMISED resolution when there is difficulty. You are PROMISED a reward when there is injustice. You are promised ALL things will work together for your good if you love God.
How long you stay in pain may depend on how long you think only about the pain.
I’m convinced that God’s servants included so many hopeful verses to get us THINKING hopeful thoughts when we are in our pits of despair. Because, by the Laws of Perpetual Transmutation and Vibration, that is how we begin to move toward the happier half of the equation.
So let’s explore this. How can you feel good about all the bad stuff you’re dealing with?
It begins with choosing to believe in something that can’t be seen. Choosing to believe that something better is already on its way. Choosing to imagine that something more favorable is already in the works.
“…therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen…” (Alma 32:21)
The Law of Polarity promises a potential blessing to compensate for every hardship. When you start looking for the promised benefit contained in your adversity, youno longer remain the limiting factor in what the positive outcome can be.
Without the glance to Moses’ staff, without the pause to remember the promises in the Beatitudes, without a shift in focus, the natural laws by which God governs can only be expected to bring more of the same unhappiness. Change begins when WE change.
Hope is the answer. At least it’s the beginning. So if you are suffering, take a moment to remember God’s promises. Rehearse them in your mind. Speak them out loud. Allow yourself to hope that they are true, and begin looking for evidence that they are already in effect with you, right now.
When you choose gratitude and trust in the Lord even (especially) during a hardship, you are promised a better outcome—in fact, the best there is to have.
Part of the requirement is to let go of the outcome. Let go of how you want things to be (even if only for a moment), and be grateful now, just as things are. TRUST that if you do this, the best possible outcome WILL be realized, even if you don’t know what that is, and even if you’re not sure it will be good enough to make the pain or disappointment worth it. You must TRUST that it very much WILL be worth it.
The Law of Polarity also promises that if something is just a little bit bad, then the hidden benefit is only just a little bit good. They are equal and opposite. So if you’re dealing with something catastrophic, the promised potential benefit is equally phenomenal. This is why the most unfortunate person in the room is, in reality, the luckiest of them all, for the potential benefit they will realize if they learn to think lawfully about it.
So look forward with hope to whatever that blessing may be. Expect it. Be grateful for it, even before it is yours.
I’ve learned (although sometimes I forget) that if I experience a terrible blow or disappointment, the sooner I get on my knees and thank God for the awful thing I’m experiencing, the sooner it passes. In those times, my prayers often sound like this:
“Dear Father in Heaven, -sigh- thank you for this challenge. I don’t know how it is good for me, or why I must endure it, but thank you for it. I’m sure there’s a good reason, and I look forward to discovering what it is. Thank you for giving me a bad day (week, month, year…) if for no other reason but that I will know a good one when I have one. Help me through this. Help me find the hidden blessing in it. (Then I pause to really feel what I’m saying, and I try to imagine how he sees me in that moment. I imagine him feeling proud of me for choosing gratitude in spite of the circumstances. Then I close my prayer…) In Jesus’ name, amen.”
When I do this with sincerity, I absolutely feel a shift every time, and I know that the future outcome just changed for the better. I know it. And it has yet to fail me. I’ve been able to look back every time and see why my gratitude was not in vain.
Example: How a bad experience can be good
I think of the story shared by Corrie Ten Boom who suffered many difficulties in the German Concentration Camps. At one time, she and her sister argued about whether they must really express gratitude to God for even the fleas that infested their quarters. They were women of faith, but this was a tough thing to do. As it turned out, many of the other prisoners were regularly troubled by the guards, but Corrie and her sister were left alone—because of those horrible fleas.
As Napoleon Hill so eloquently stated, “Every adversity carries with it the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit.” So yes, we can be grateful for even the fleas, and even the hardships we face today. In truth, all things can work out for our good if we expect them to, looking forward to the understanding that will eventually come, and allowing the good to emerge through the tragedy like a gleaming sunrise after the coldest, darkest night. Remember, it’s always darkest just before the dawn.
As M. Catherine Thomas said in her book, Light in the Wilderness, “…if you wish to feel the most penetrating power of the Spirit, try the experiment of giving thanks in the moment of disappointment, of tragedy, of the specter of ruin. When you are able to do it consistently, you will feel as though you have discovered and united with the mystery of life.”
Positive Thinking Tip: optimism will lead you to financial solutions, but be smart and live responsibly in the here and now.
Here is a question from one of my readers that I thought was worthwhile to share with you.
How do you think, especially speak, feel, and act as though you are rich, and…
A. not spend money you don’t have?
B. still give positive responses as though the money is here now to people asking you to do things you don’t have the money for???
How do you “feel” like the money is here now, when you see something you want to buy, and can’t responsibly do that?
You can accomplish the “feel” task during a quiet moment of meditation – a finite length of time. Sometimes I’ll just go lay down for a nap and let myself daydream and feel the abundance I’m hoping for, and allow my mind to experience its reality, even if it is just for a few minutes. That’s planting the seed, and turning it over to the subconscious.
Then when you’re back to life as usual, behave responsibly. Say no when an irresponsible purchase is tempting you. Determine the difference between an irresponsible purchase and one that may lead you to the solutions you are searching for.
If you have planted the seed, then you will be led to opportunities, and there may be a twinge of fear in taking advantage of them, but it is a different kind of fear than the kind that accompanies frivolous purchases. Deep down, if you have a clear vision of where you ultimately want to be, you’ll know the difference. If it’s the kind of fear that prevents your progression, then it is worth facing. If it is the kind of fear that protects you from making a mistake, then pay attention to it.
How can you know the difference? If you spend the time visualizing and feeling like I’ve suggested, then when the fear comes, you’ll know in your gut which kind it is.
Out of all I’ve just said, the part that most people will NEVER do is to take the time to daydream, visualize, and FEEL, and approach it like a task on their to-do list. Do it, then check it off, and watch for the opportunities to come. Do it, and notice how much more clearly it is to discern a distraction or trap from an opportunity.
When you get confused or fearful, do it again, check it off, and move your feet forward, expecting clarity to come as you go.
Be smart with your spending, only live abundantly in your mind, enjoying the “experience” of virtual prosperity, but then live life as normal. In time, circumstances will re-arrange themselves to open the right doors and bring you the right opportunities, until reality can reflect the images of your thoughts.
Above all, stick to sound principles. We got caught a big debt trap several years ago even after learning these principles, because we got too excited about changing things too quickly. It was a painful lesson to learn, so now I discourage you from using credit to purchase my trainings or products. I’ll tell you instead to read The Jackrabbit Factor FREE, and do what it teaches to obtain the money you need.
I strongly advise you to give 10% to charity and save 10% of your earnings as well, no matter what you make. If you can’t, then get another or better job, or cut back on your lifestyle. Yes, I just said that.
Build a solid financial foundation. Do the hard things now on the way to your dream. Establish sound financial habits that will follow you into prosperity. If you are careless with the little money, you’ll be careless with the big money. It happened to us. It’s pretty much a law of nature: human nature.
Pay attention to the market trends and don’t get caught up in the frenzies. There will always be ups and downs. And ups. If you missed a window of opportunity, just put your life and house in order so that you’ll be ready for the next one. Practice delayed gratification.
You might be surprised to know that we are not paying for our children’s educations – we’re teaching them that they will need to earn the money or get scholarships. We are teaching them to avoid debt like the plague, even for their education. So far so good. I hope they stick to it, even if it takes them longer to finish. I tell them to sacrifice, work, think long term, and watch the opportunities come. I believe God honors and blesses those who practice wisdom.
He also lets us do stupid things, so trust me – be wise. Be the weird one in your circle of friends who doesn’t have all the luxuries, because you’re working a long-term plan. As the old adage goes, the last shall be first and the first shall be last.
All the while, practice the principles of right-thinking. Have faith. Think optimistically. Create a vision for where you’re going. Trust in the Law of Rhythm, and the Law of Polarity, and the Law of Vibration, especially. Read all about these laws FREE, here.
When you’re out shopping with your kids and they beg you to buy something, don’t say, “I can’t.” Instead say, “I choose not to spend my money on that.” Speak to empower. Even if you can’t afford it, your mind will hear and feel the response “I choose” differently than “I can’t.” And it time, you’ll see the effects. When the words you speak are in line with correct principles, your life can’t help but begin to move in a better direction. Originally published September 12, 2006
Related: To Debt or Not To Debt. Learn how the way you feel about the purchase can also affect the overall outcome.
Listen to the podcast first ^^. When you’re done, I have the sample lesson in PDF format for you, as a thank you for all of the tremendous love and support I’ve felt from my readers since 2002. However, a few readers have been unable to “receive” this gift, because there is an “obstacle” that must first be “overcome.”
(Read through the reader’s comments section below to see what I mean.)
NOTE: You will be taken to a Shopping Cart page where the file will be listed as FREE. No need for credit card info, just tell me who you are and you’ll be sent the download.
There is a reason I am delivering it this way… see how you do!
there is unseen help. When your goal is detailed and clear, the help stays on task with maximum efficiency.
I love the idea that there is unseen help available when you set out to accomplish a difficult goal. However, there are things you must do, or you may never see EVIDENCE of that help.
I know you’ve probably heard this before, but one of those things is writing your goal down.
I thought I already understood this.In fact, I had been teaching seminars on that very concept for a decade. But then I learned a very expensive lesson.
In one sense, I had become lazy. But really, I was just fatigued. I had stopped relying on unseen help to bridge the gap between what I could do, and what needed to be done. I had been running faster than I had strength. And I had neglected one very important step.
So even if you think you know what I’m going to say, I hope you’ll let me save you from making the same mistake.
It was years ago when we created an online training program, which was supposed to be released quite some time before it actually did.
The reason for the delay taught me a powerful lesson in goal achievement.
After I had created the curriculum and loaded the content, my husband (who, in his previous life worked in the IT department for Universal Studios) headed up the site structure and development.
Many times, during the first six months of the project, the developers asked me how certain pieces should be handled. Not only did I answer with vague generalities; but (to everyone’s dismay), I also quite often changed my mind.
Even worse, sometimes my answer was, “Oh, whatever you think is best.”
Well, months later – having also spent tens of thousands of dollars more than planned – we looked back on the project, and ultimately realized that it still wasn’t ready to release, because basically, our developers were running after a moving target.
That we put a date to the goal was irrelevant, because the target had not been clearly identified.
During those months after the target date, the site was intricately developed; but every time we thought it was nearly done, we’d discover that it wasn’t quite right and needed to be reworked.
My problem was that I didn’t know well enough – right from the beginning – what I wanted. I didn’t know how the finished project SHOULD be.
All I had was a general idea; and I just took it for granted that the developers would figure it all out for me. After all, they’re the experts, right?
(I guess I assumed they could see my vision, without my describing it in detail.)
Ultimately, after going in circles too many times, the developers finally INSISTED that we give them a fully-developed ‘spec’.
A ‘spec’ is a document that specifies in absolute detail, every single aspect of what the site needs to be able to do, and precisely how it’s supposed to look and behave under every possible user action.
It’s the blueprint for the website.
Frankly, after already spending more than a year creating the curriculum, I was frustrated that I’d have to also help create a ‘spec’.
I wanted to say, “I already did MY part; can’t you all just figure it out?”
But with only vague directions, and different ideas floating around between the developers, problems kept cropping up.
Beta testers lost data, new registrants found themselves trapped in frustrating loops; and worst of all, we ultimately realized that the whole system had been built in the wrong environment, causing problems that weren’t going to go away unless we started all over.
Here’s the point of my confession. I’ve been teaching people for years the importance of putting goals in writing, with detail.
And to be honest, I’ve successfully achieved many of my goals without going through the trouble. It’s tedious work to put it in writing, and I don’t enjoy taking the time. But this experience taught me how much more quickly, and smoothly (and less expensively) goals can be achieved if you DO take the time to create a ‘spec’.
I learned that yes, goals can be achieved if you just muscle it through, one way or another; but you’ll be more efficient, and your “developers” will be better utilized if you don’t leave so many variables up to chance.
So, what about you and your goals?
Are you vague, or are you perfectly clear about what you’re pursuing right now?
Do you change your mind often?
Do you sit back undecided and say, “Oh, whatever is best“?
The truth is, what’s best is that you choose. Excellence doesn’t happen TO YOU. You’ve got to step forward and initiate the change for which you keep wishing.
Life provides hardships and challenges so that you’ll wake up and start doing the uncomfortable things that help you become your best self. That’s why the hardships are a gift. The painful site delays and setbacks became a gift, to teach us this important lesson.
So, if you care about the outcome of your goal, and if you care about how quickly and inexpensively it is realized, then take responsibility for your life and write a ‘spec’. Write your goals in detail, in present-tense, as though you were describing exactly how the finished project (your life) will look when it’s done.
Imagine that you really do have an unseen ‘developer’ somewhere, busily working for you, orchestrating the right people and opportunities for every one of your objectives.
But every time you change your mind, your assistant must drop everything and start all over. If you’re unclear, then even if you don’t change your mind, it’s almost guaranteed that what shows up will be different than what you really meant.
(By the way, I never physically met the developers we had hired; so in many ways, they were just like the ‘unseen help’ that comes to your aid when you set a goal.)
So, create that well-documented ‘spec’. Or if you’re not a techie, maybe it’s easier to imagine that you have some kind of an angelic ‘foreman’ waiting for your blueprint.
Sure, you could probably still achieve almost any goal without a blueprint or a ‘spec’; but the time, energy, and money lost from meandering and course-correcting can set you back so far that you may run out of steam entirely before the dream is realized.
That’s the risk you take when you do not put in writing the things you need and want with detail.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that God and the Universe will ‘figure it all out’ for you. In that case, you may end up meandering and course-correcting a lot more than necessary. You’ve been given the free agency to select good causes in which you will be anxiously engaged. Heavenly ‘help’ is available to you as soon as you’re ready to enlist it. But it won’t impose upon you.
So decide what you want to accomplish, and then ask clearly – and in faith – for the assistance you need.
Don’t be paralyzed by indecision. Don’t wait to know exactly what your goals ‘should’ be. If you think about what you want, and make a decision firmly and resolutely to go for it without hesitation, then if for some reason it’s wrong, you’ll find out soon enough, and have sufficient momentum to make the proper course correction in time.
To learn how, read The Jackrabbit Factor (free). If you already have, then it’s time for the next step. Let me help you activate that ‘unseen help’, so you can proceed with confidence that you’re not going it alone. Originally published August 19, 2011
I’ve had this question come in time and again about how much our thoughts can influence a situation if our spouse’s thoughts do not support our own. If we shouldn’t manipulate another person’s freedom to choose, how does this all work in a marriage if both parties are not on the same page?
Some people have a gift of strong faith, and others struggle more to develop it. If you have an easier time with faith than your spouse, it may be your role to encourage, inspire, and exercise patience.
Your challenge will be to demonstrate faith in SPITE of your spouse’s doubt. See how we all grow? Even those who have a natural tendency for faith will be tested, just in a different way.
Positive, faithful thoughts are many times more powerful than negative ones.
Your spouse’s negative thoughts will not sabotage yours, unless you worry that they will. So choose to believe. As long as YOU maintain a peaceful expectancy for that which you seek, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.
Just remember though, in your marriage, keep PEACEFUL expectancy for success… don’t be manipulative!!!
In other words, if you keep expecting your spouse to change, stop it.
“People don’t resist change; they resist BEING changed.” Bob Proctor
Imagine your relationship happy. Feel the relief and gratitude you expect to feel when things are better. Imagine the prosperity. As the nature of your thoughts improve from critical and impatient to cheerful and at-peacefulness, the general feeling in the home will improve… and you’ll find that the rising tide lifts ALL ships.
As you imagine feeling the feeling you want to achieve in your home, you’ll be inspired as to what YOU can do to help it evolve in that direction. Don’t be surprised if you feel inspired to relax a little, and stop trying so hard to change everything. Ironically, this is often the first step to realizing true change, and often the hardest step for a real goal-achiever/go-getter to take.
Your vision and thoughts won’t force your spouse to change, nor should you expect them to. But they can certainly create an energy in the home that can help inspire it to happen in a very natural, gradual way.
Choosing faithful thoughts can help your spouse feel more hopeful. Once your spouse feels a little better, and begins to imagine the possibilities, opportunities will naturally follow, by the law of perpetual transmutation.
If your concerned that your spouse doesn’t have a better job, figure out “why” it needs to be better. Because, if the “why” is what you’re really after, the “how” may be something you never thought of. It could happen without a different job. The job itself could morph, or some other opportunity may come along, or you may find a way to accomplish the same ideal without a change in income.
Your thoughts do have power to bring opportunities… but your spouse must choose for him or herself whether or not to take them. So, bottom line, focus on the picture of your life the way you want it, and at the same time, release your expectations on your spouse.
Oh, the mental gymnastics!!!
Consider asking whether or not your spouse minds if you try to picture a better opportunity on his or her behalf. Your spouse may be more supportive than you think, and may end up testing the principles for him or herself as s/he sees things work for you. Best of all, you’ll begin to work together as one to achieve common goals. There is little else more powerful than that.
And don’t forget: it’s possible to get what you need without a change in income. Trades, gifts, odd windfalls… keep an open mind. As Wattles puts it, you “image” the thing, and the Universe will find the most efficient way of bringing it to you. Don’t pinch off the possibilities by deciding how it has to happen. Have fun daydreaming AND at the same time, relax about the “how”.
Above all, be grateful for however things line up. By choosing gratitude no matter what, you qualify yourself for the best possible outcome.
So if your spouse doesn’t respond the way you hope, be grateful anyway, trusting that God is leading the both of you along to learn the lessons he has in mind for you, all at the right time. Count it all a blessing.
How to blow it: picture what you want, and wait for your spouse to make it happen. (You’ll end up in a negative “vibration” that will repel the things you want.) You’ll drive BOTH of you crazy if you’re always measuring your spouse’sbehavior against your goals. Don’t base YOUR belief on anyone else’s actions. Your belief alone can be enough to initiate a significant shift.
How to succeed: picture what you want, see the prosperity in your mind, and enjoy the daydream, and then take the actions that come to YOUR mind. Trust God to inspire you to know exactly what YOU should do next. You can be shown a way to meet your obligations and thrive, all the while maintaining the values that are most important to you. He will help you get the timing right, too. You may even feel instinctively inclined to wait a little while before hitting it hard. Trust the peaceful impressions you feel, even if they seem illogical.
Knowledge eradicates fear and doubt. The more you understand, the more effective you become at applying the principles with success.
Lastly, read Portal to Genius – because the marriage described in that really FUN book illustrates exactly how all of these ideas really play out. Originally published February 5, 2007
when you don’t achieve the results you expect, “check the address”.
Some time ago I was in Utah with my husband and two of my kids for a conference, and while we were there, I needed to pick up some books from Garrett Gunderson, my co-author for Portal to Genius.
I love telling people about his book, Killing Sacred Cows, and needed some more to have on hand for my local events.
(Both books are very much worth reading, by the way…)
I texted Garrett while I was there, and since it was on a weekend and nobody was in his office, my only other option on short notice was to pick some of the books up from his home.
He responded, “I’m out of town, so just go get some from the garage in the back of my house. We have some friends staying there in an RV out front – just tell them why you’re there if they ask.”
I rounded the corner to his home and pulled up in front. “I’ll just be a minute, kids.”
The house was dark, and so was the RV, so I just went to the gate, followed his instructions on how to get in, and made my way to the back garage. The door was ajar, so I let myself in.
A quick scan of the area produced nothing – I couldn’t find any books – so I texted Garrett again for better instructions. He didn’t answer, so I called my husband. “Can you try to get a hold of Garrett and ask him where in the garage are the books?”
A few minutes later, he came back with, “You were supposed to do this tricky latch thing with the gate…”
“Yeah, I did that; I’m already in the garage – where are the books?”
“He said they’re in the back garage…”
“Yeah, I know; I AM in the back garage. Where in the garage are these books supposed to be?”
“He just said it would be obvious. There’s 5,000 books in there.”
I was stumped. I looked around, and I saw nothing but 3 cars and some tools, and a few large RubberMaid-style plastic bins – not the best for book storage, and no way there would be room inside those bins for 5,000 anyway. I checked the rafters above me. I prowled between all three of the cars, scanning every square inch, thinking I must be blind.
Why don’t his directions make any sense? Why aren’t they producing the results that he promised?
I came out of the garage and walked out to the front again. I turned around and retraced the same steps, following the directions perfectly. I prowled around the darkly lit back yard a bit, double-checking to make sure there wasn’t another back garage somewhere, and ended up back in the same garage with no greater insight than I had before.
I called Trevan again. “Honey, there are NO books in here – and nowhere to hide 5,000 of them anyway. I’m sure if this pile of books was a snake it would’ve already bit me… but I’m stumped. Will you call Garrett again?”
Trevan ended up calling Garrett two or three times. He told Garrett, “She can’t find them.”
Garrett responded, “I don’t know how she could miss them! Is she in the back garage?””
“She says she’s in there, and she’s not seeing them.”
To be perfectly truthful, I was getting REALLY frustrated with Garrett for not being more specific, and for not taking my frustration seriously enough to give me some useful instructions. I felt like he was ignoring my question, leaving me to figure it all out on my own, and I was already late for an appointment and increasingly annoyed at my predicament. Why won’t he just tell me something more specific like, “The books are in the north-west corner next to the white SUV” or something like that?
Finally, after going in and out three times and scouring the place, I came back to my car and took a deep breath. Glancing up, I noticed there was another RV parked out front of the neighbor’s house next door, too.
Then it dawned on me.
I was in the wrong house altogether. I had been prowling inside a stranger’s home; trespassing, combing their property for something that didn’t exist. Once I put myself in the right location, the instructions finally worked. I met Garrett’s house guest, did the tricky latch thing, found the back garage, and retrieved the books.
Now for the lesson. (Of course, you knew I’d find an object lesson in this, didn’t you?)
Here it goes:
How often do you take advice on how to get what you want out of life, only to find that those instructions don’t produce the promised results?
Garrett promised there were thousands of books waiting for me – an abundance of what I wanted – and his instructions were perfectly accurate. The fact that I could not receive them was not his fault. The blame rested squarely upon my own shoulders for not making sure I was first oriented to the location that was supposed to be the starting point.
Perhaps you’ve found hope through various books, audios, or events from me or other teachers of success principles, but are having trouble experiencing the promised results. If that’s the case, then let’s take a step back and find out if you’re in the right starting point for utilizing those instructions, shall we?
The MINDSET GENIUS™ FTMF (Family Time & Money Freedom) Program can help. It opens wide its arms to gather in all who struggle to see results, and brings them first to square ONE. If you’ll allow me to bring you to square ONE, then from there, the FTMF program will walk you step-by-step through an experience where you will get a taste of intentional success with something small, and then gives you the courage and confidence to apply the process to bigger and better things. In fact, once you’ve experienced intentional success in spite of the obstacles once, and your brain has developed those new neuro-pathways for success, doing it again for bigger life-goals is a whole lot easier.
We have countless participants who get through the program and then repeat it again, the next time for something bigger and even more amazing.
No matter where you are now, after you let me guide you to square ONE, the MINDSET GENIUS™ FTMF course takes you to the next level and beyond.
Get started today. I look forward to assisting you!
“Whatsoever ye ask the Father in my name it shall be given unto you, that is expedient for you; And if ye ask anything that is not expedient for you, it shall turn unto your condemnation.” (D&C 88:64-65)
Warning – this is long.
I’ve been pondering the following topic now for over a year, knowing that one day I would try to capture it in writing. But it’s a deep topic and I didn’t expect it to be an easy one, so it’s been pushed off many, many times.
It has not taken much to distract me from doing it.
But I finally decided to get started, at least to begin gathering into one location the many epiphanies and personal notes I had been jotting down in the previous months.
To begin, let me back up a little bit and explain what I’ve been going through since 2008.
As I’ve described in previous posts, our family experienced the “ebbs” of the financial crisis of 2008 in much the same way that many other families did. Stress was high, relationships were strained, and we found ourselves questioning just about everything we thought we knew.
After writing two bestsellers, my message focus was evolving from “how to create an amazing life” to “how to make sense out of setbacks and profit from your losses,” because my expertise on the latter seemed to be expanding almost on a daily basis, leading to the release of my third bestseller.
My inner drive to get things done, which had started out as a virtue (in the form of ‘passion for a cause’), had turned into a vice (in the form of ‘workaholic-ness’), but to consider stopping felt like I might be “disobeying a call”, or “letting the world down”, or “failing to reach my highest potential”.
I was exhausted and tried to stop many times, but when the next problem came along (and there were plenty), I always jumped back on because I was convinced I could solve it. It’s a virtue to “think you can,” and then “go after it,” right? How could that possibly be bad?
By 2011, I was so fatigued I lost my drive altogether. Though I had tried to hop off the hamster wheel before, this was different. And it was the strangest thing for me to hop off “for reals” and find myself surprisingly at peace.
(Those who were watching me from the outside were probably thinking, “Well, duh… it took you long enough.”)
As I worked on decluttering my life, once in a while something would be brought to my attention that shifted my thinking just a little bit. It seemed that, depending on whatever God wanted me to ponder next, neon lights would figuratively shine on one scripture (too long to quote here) or another (“I, the Lord, am not well pleased with him, for he seeketh to excel, and he is not sufficiently meek before me.” D&C 58:41), accompanied by a strong feeling that I needed to stop and ponder it for a while. Sometimes I’d ponder one for months.
While I was trying to figure things out, I watched as other people were applying the principles of success to achieve their dreams, but with sometimes collateral damage in their wake. When the desire to achieve a goal is strong enough, there is a willingness to go through (or in some cases, cause) a temporary hell in order to reach the success waiting on the other side of it.
So I wondered about myself. Does the end always justify the means? In every case? I wasn’t sure. Even though I had pulled back in my business, I was still clinging to several goals, hopes, and dreams that I absolutely could not let go of, but which were putting a strain on my relationship with my husband.
I began to wonder, “What sacrifices was I willing to make to achieve them? Would there be collateral damage if I kept pursuing them? Had I unknowingly already done too much damage?”
I got quiet and wanted to be careful not to post my conclusions without first taking a long time to ponder what was true. What was the truth that could be true in all situations? What was the foundational, guiding principle that I needed to understand?
What is more important: achieving a goal, or preserving a relationship? Surely that depends, right?
As I observed the way other people tackled their goals, sometimes the end DID seem to justify the means, but other times, I wasn’t so sure.
But I did find a truth in all of this. The truth I found, the simple lesson I was beginning to learn, was this:
There is a time and season unto every purpose under heaven. In other words…
Just because you can, it doesn’t mean you should.
The Jackrabbit Factor is all about helping my readers discover “Why they CAN”. Why they can accomplish the impossible. Why they can achieve their dreams, when perhaps they didn’t previously believe that they could. It’s an important message, which continues to change lives all over the world. I keep hearing from people who tell me what it’s done for them – such as this one, which just arrived yesterday: “In a month’s time we went from $19k/year expecting to be starving artists for the rest of our lives to over $70k/year and much more to come on the horizon. Thank you…”
But even with all the success that comes from applying the principles, my recent observations and personal experiences were teaching me that “CAN” does not necessarily imply “DO!”
We choose whether or not to “do”, after discovering first that we “can”.
This is agency. We are free to choose.
First we must really come to know that anything IS possible. It’s true – we have the power to exercise that “Rare kind of Faith” to co-create (with God) an incredible life.
But just because we have the power, it doesn’t mean we should activate that power in every situation.
Forgive the comparison, but it might easier to understand if you look at the similarities between the power of co-creation and the power of pro-creation.
Co-creation is a term that is often used for the application of the principles of success, including ‘law of attraction’. It is a worthy, God-given power, under the right circumstances.
Pro-creation is the power to make a baby. This is also a worthy, God-given power, under the right circumstances.
Both activate a creative power. But both must also be used with wisdom and restraint, because without it, their use can lead to pain and sorrow. We are free to choose what we do, but we are not free to choose the consequences connected to those choices.
This is true, regardless of whether we are consciously AWARE there may be consequences to be avoided.
So, should I always do what I am capable of doing? Let’s say I’m facing a problem. Should I always solve it?
I concluded that just because I am able and willing to achieve a goal or solve a problem, it doesn’t mean I should always achieve that goal, or try to solve that problem.
What?? This was a new thought to me.
I know… It’s kind of crazy.
How on earth am I going to explain this so it makes sense. Let me start with a few questions:
Is it ever okay to give up on a dream?
Could it ever be okay to set a goal and do nothing about it?
When could it possibly be okay, to intentionally NOT solve a problem?
I’m telling ya what, just when I thought I had life figured out…
Following is my long-procrastinated attempt at explaining it.
I’ve taught classes and written many articles about the importance of action in the goal-setting process or formula for success.
It’s still true: action is important. But this discussion is going to go a little differently.
This isn’t about getting what you want; it’s more about how to ‘counsel your wants’, and why you might want to.
I’ve been a goal setter for as long as I can remember, at least as far back as maybe age 12. This is why I experienced such tremendous depression in the early years of our marriage, because external circumstances seemed to have hijacked my previously well-controlled, intention-driven life.
Seven years of disappointments, and I eventually discovered how many of my failed circumstances were what they were, because of how we (especially I) had been thinking.
I had always derived a lot of self-esteem out of setting a goal and achieving it – out of attempting something hard and conquering it. I decided to get my college degree—for crying out loud—in the ONE subject that had always given me the most grief.
Who does that???
I was a conqueror. Nothing else felt quite like enjoying yet another personal victory, and so I rested my future and my children’s success on ‘goal achievement’ being the A-Number-One necessary skill for each of us to develop, and ultimately perfect.
Even worse, I rested the future of my marriage on our ability as a couple to set and achieve goals together.
You might be wondering why I’d say, “even worse”.
Yeah, if you aren’t already ahead of me on this, you really should be wondering about that. I hope to shed some light there.
Simply put, I had lofty expectations for our life together.
But in time, my husband helped me realize that, although he shared my vision to some degree, the pace with which I thought we should be reaching those goals (which I believed was certainly reasonable) made it nearly impossible for him to impress me.
I felt like we were going nowhere. But the reality was that his personal growth was happening differently than I thought it should, in ways that I couldn’t see. I was so hyper-focused on how closely our life matched my vision, that I wasn’t paying any attention to how things might be going from his point of view. He says he was on track toward HIS goals, but to me, it looked like we were stagnating, because I couldn’t see him taking strides towards our couple (ahem, MY) goals.
My expectations always seemed to sit far beyond where we were, (dream big, right?!) thinking it would inspire him to dream bigger, reach farther, go faster, (and thus be happier, of course); but in reality, it only left him feeling like he could never catch up, or never be good enough to meet my expectations, so why try. He felt utterly defeated.
He had become convinced (after 20 years of evidence) that I’d never be satisfied, and that as a result, his condition in our relationship was hopeless. He lost confidence in his ability to make me happy, and his discouragement was numbing. To make things worse, I could see his unhappiness and blamed him for it, because surely, if he’d just set higher goals and focus more on achieving them, he’d be happier (and so would I). Right?
The truth is, he WAS accomplishing many things, just not the things on MY list. I couldn’t see his accomplishments. So, without realizing it, my drive for Leslie’s version of success had effectively been prolonging our arrival to wherever it was I thought we were supposed to be.
I think deep down I knew I was somewhat responsible for his lackluster enthusiasm toward my vision, but I resented that. I felt like—obviously—we should want the same things, and so naturally, he should also be independently driven to go after them, right?
I’m pretty sure I wasn’t going to see things differently so long as I kept pushing myself, and him. And it’s not like I was task-mastering him, it was more like checking in on how things were going with this or that, when “this or that” wasn’t even on his radar. He might have been focused on his goals, but since they were invisible to me, I’d get upset that he still hadn’t made any progress on mine.
I know, it sounds unreasonable to me too, now that I write about it; I just didn’t know how to change. It’s hard to stop doing the wrong things while you’re still convinced that you’re right to do them.
Deep down though, I knew I had to change something about myself before I’d see clearly what I needed to be doing about us. I had to stop actively thinking about my goals and hold still for a time, shut out the noise, and instead find out what God wanted me to do.
Through this multi-year process, I learned that some problems should be left alone to be solved by someone else who has stewardship over solving that problem, in whatever time frame they choose to solve it.
Now there’s a leap of faith, to let someone else solve a problem. It can honestly be a harder leap even than exercising your own faith to solve it, sometimes.
Especially if that person doesn’t think there’s a problem.
But I began to realize that even if I think I might do a better job, or even if I might solve it quicker, or even if there’s a risk that it may never be solved at all, sometimes it’s better to let others flex their muscles and get stronger through the experience, or learn from the failure, whichever way it goes. No matter what the outcome.
I know, that’s easier said than done. It takes total faith in God to trust that he will help you handle the outcome, no matter how it plays out.
That was my problem. I had always been afraid we’d fail too much if I let go, that I wouldn’t be able to handle the potential disappointments if I disengaged.
Ironically, to take the next step, I had to get away from the world of personal development long enough, stop spending time with friends who were running toward goals, stop listening to mentors (really??), and quiet all the voices in my head that belittled ‘small goals’, condemned failure as being ‘not an option’ (of course failure should not be an option, shouldn’t it??), and which also incessantly urged me on to GREATNESS (as if that’s a bad thing!).
My inner compass, which told me to stop listening to those voices, didn’t make logical sense. But I followed it anyway, because the more they nagged, the more my marriage was suffering. I had to find a better way.
Instinctively, I knew I needed to slow down, and just listen to what might show up if all those voices were gone. I also knew it could take months or even years to unravel the confusion and get myself to true clarity, but I was finally ready to take that journey.
After all, not ALL of the voices in our head are from God. Even the good, motivating messages received and carried out at the wrong time, in the wrong way, or to an excessive degree can be a trap, so we must always be discerning.
In time, a very simple, quiet thought surfaced, reminding me that I have always planned to be with my husband for eternity. That I intended for my temple marriage covenant to sit at the top of all other priorities. It was a simple thought, without fanfare.
So I began to ponder it:
“If we’re really in this together for the long haul, why do I need him to run faster toward my goals? If we will truly have eternity together, what’s the hurry?”
“Well,” I argued back, “Doesn’t timing matter? Shouldn’t we be constantly and anxiously engaged in a good cause? Shouldn’t we be a team? If I let go of my expectations, life may never end up looking the way I pictured it.”
Could I give up on my dreams?
Giving up on the vision that strained our relationship would mean removing a ton of pressure off my husband, but could I do it? Did I even know how? How can you possibly un-see what you’ve been shown is possible?
Actually, the thought of giving up just made me feel angry. Livid, in fact.
I shook my fist at the heavens and cried many, many times, “If you didn’t want me to have it, why did you let me see what was possible?! Don’t show it to me if I can’t have it!”
But heaven was silent in response. It just let me throw my tantrums and offered no explanation or solace. I ached and agonized like I was grieving the loss of a loved one. I “ugly-cried” many, many times, over many, many months.
One day after I regained my composure I thought, “Fine. I’ll just give up then.” After all, I had made a marriage covenant before God, angels, and witnesses, legally and lawfully binding, and in comparison, there was no official covenant between me and God about life the way I WANTED IT, so this informed my decision.
Resigning to this bitter defeat almost felt like I was committing suicide by poison, and deep down, I was blaming my husband that I had to take it.
Yeah… about that. If this post is feeling a little heavy, here’s your comic relief: (Content Warning – she says the “d” word.)
Blame makes you blind. It makes you see only one side of the coin. I had begun to view him differently than he really was, and I could only see the things that supported my internal ‘blaming’ dialogue.
But that’s where I was at. Pitying myself, I thought, “So be it then, I can be a martyr.”
But then strangely, something about ‘giving up’ began to feel kind of good, and I don’t mean the twisted satisfaction that usually accompanies self-pity.
No, the thought of letting go of my goals was unexpectedly relieving.
Although goal achievement had always given me a ‘high’, I was now experiencing a different, sweeter kind of feeling from considering what life could be like if I stopped actively pursuing “the next level”, and instead, practiced living in gratitude for things just as they were.
I kind of thrilled at the new challenge this would be, of getting really creative in making the most out of whatever future conditions we might find ourselves in, together. Of letting my husband set the pace for our goal achievement, if he chose to set couple goals at all.
My life was over anyway, I thought.
I can be a hot-headed ginger. (NOOOOO, you say.) Some say that we redheads have no souls. Sometimes I wonder if I’m more emotionally volatile than your average female, I’m not really sure. I’ve really been working on tempering my emotions, but during this time, I was really up and down. Some moments I felt amazingly great. Other moments I was consumed with anger and despair.
“My husband matters more,” I flatly resolved. “My marriage covenant matters more.” I tried to convince myself.
But those well-intentioned thoughts eventually turned into a more sardonic version: “I guess MY life doesn’t really matter here.” I hated it, but that’s really what it came down to.
I thought that if only he would have shared my vision and wanted to get there as fast as I wanted us to, I wouldn’t have to go through this internal wrestle. Basically, I wouldn’t have to choose between my dreams, and our relationship.
But when I finally released all expectations that he would ever change, I actually felt a tiny smidgen of joy.
I have previously said that there is no greater joy than in overcoming obstacles to accomplish a goal. But I think I was wrong. The kind of joy I felt in that moment was surprisingly more exquisite than the joy that typically accompanies goal-achievement.
Now, I’ve felt true and deep joy before, so it’s not like this was a new experience, but I NEVER expected to feel that joy in giving up on a dream.
Achievement, freedom, joy—they’re are all sweet and fulfilling. But there’s something special about the joy that is not connected to achievement, and I think it has something to do with Grace. Achievement certainly plays an important part in our lives, but this kind of joy is unique.
I’ve been pondering this privately for over a year now, while I tried to make sense of it. After having actively championed the cause of goal achievement for over 15 years, what was I to make of this? What do I do with it? Do I share what I’ve been learning? How do I explain it?
It was inexplicable to me, and so I didn’t even dare try.
Until yesterday, when I watched The Saratov Approach, a movie based on the true story of two Christian missionaries serving in Russia who were taken hostage for ransom in the late 1990s. Time magazine had just published an article about wealthy Christian churches, so a couple Russian men plotted to make a quick buck by kidnapping them.
In the movie, there was a segment that was almost perfectly analogous to the thoughts and feelings I couldn’t seem to explain, which have since brought me to a better place.
The missionaries’ situation seemed hopeless, as it became clear that the church wasn’t going to pay the ransom. The families had the means to pay it, but decided not to, because it would have essentially put every other Christian missionary around the world into danger as a potential target for easy money.
Eventually, the lead captor prepared to kill the missionaries and remove all evidence of their crimes, once it became clear that they weren’t going to get the payoff they expected.
Spoiler alert – I won’t show you the ending, but I am going to talk about it, and share a poignant moment from the movie that captures what I’m trying to describe.
Things were not going well, but at one point, the missionary named Probst manages to get OUT of his handcuffs. Pausing to comprehend the new possibilities, he somberly wakes Tuttle and whispers, “We’re free…”
Their plan for escaping is not a palatable solution for the young Christian missionaries. They’ve never hurt anyone, like they were preparing to hurt their captors. They know that nobody would blame them for doing whatever was necessary to become free. They would be completely justified. Though it’s a terrifying prospect, they are determined to muster the courage to do “what needs to be done.”
Do they have the guts? Can they pull it off without a hitch? What if they fail? What if their plan backfires on them?
I’ve taught goal-achieving strategies to help people do the hard and scary things that need to be done in order to obtain freedom. There is a terror barrier that must be faced any time we are about to change our life in significant ways.
In this clip, Probst faces that terror barrier:
But in this moment of decision, where two very different futures apparently hang in the balance, significant moments in Probst’s life flash through his mind. He is reminded of who he is, and why he is there.
He is reminded of a bigger picture, where freedom is not the ultimate or only goal.
In this moment, something divine intervenes, not providing full clarity or even showing a different vision for their future, but providing only a glimpse of what is right for them to do in that moment.
Faith is doing the right thing, even when you do not know how it is going to play out.
This is what I mean by the message of The Jackrabbit Factor – how to get to that place of knowing what to do next, even if “what’s next” seems crazy to everyone else.
It’s also what I mean by the message of Portal to Genius – that the solution to every problem is only one idea away, so all we really need is inspired guidance, and the peace of mind that comes from knowing that everything will turn out for the best, if we follow it.
As for the missionaries, even though they followed the guidance, they were still captive, and their future still looked bleak. Doing what they felt was right did not seem to change their fate, but neither did they expect it to.
That’s not why they followed the prompting. They only followed it because it was the right thing for them to do in that moment, and they knew it.
So, what happens next? Actually, what happens next doesn’t really matter. What matters is that they made a choice that aligned with the Bigger Plan, even though they couldn’t see what that was.
Again, just because we CAN, doesn’t mean we SHOULD
What if my goal to be ‘free’ in the here and now brings me an idea or a strategy that can work, but which may have long-term unfavorable consequences that I can’t foresee?
What if the same goal could be achieved in a way that doesn’t hurt anyone?
Or rather – setting the goal aside altogether – what if I decided to let someone else’s life matter more than my own?
I was reminded of my grievance: “I guess MY life doesn’t really matter here,” and something shifted. Suddenly it went from being a lament, to a declaration of joy: “Oh my goodness… My life doesn’t matter here!!!”
I experienced a strangely restful sensation deep in my soul when I abandoned myself completely to the possibility that I may even losemy eternal reward if I stop trying so hard to shape our circumstances into the vision I’d always had for our marriage, and instead, just give up on MY goals, and spend my life making him happy.
That’s when this popped into my head:
“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” ~ Matthew 10:25
So THIS is where he has been leading me. THIS is what it’s all about! I had heard that verse many, many times, but had never experienced it’s meaning until now.
Again, nobody would fault the missionaries for defending themselves. They had every right to do what was necessary to survive. They would have been fully justified in their actions, as are many people who choose to respond to their marriage difficulties differently than me.
But it is still a choice. In the missionaries’ case, God had a different plan, and fortunately they paused long enough to notice. As for me and my goals, I hope I will always pause to see if God has a different plan for me than the one I’m pursuing.
Bringing it all back:
Remember the moment when Probst was prepared to carry out the plan, but something caused him to pause and ponder?
That was me, feeling like I needed to slow down and listen.
Remember that moment when he sat on the mattress and reflected on his decision to NOT go through with their plan?
That was me, simplifying my life and quieting the voices in my head that had been urging me to dream bigger, go faster, and do more.
Remember that moment when he put the handcuffs back on?
That was me, choosing to put my marriage above my goals that had been straining our relationship.
Remember when he was told to write his last goodbyes and he began to cry?
That was me, mourning the death of my dreams.
Remember when he resolved to protect the other missionaries even though it probably meant death?
That was me, resolving to preserve our relationship, even though I was unhappy and had lost hope in our future.
Remember that moment when they realized they felt calm?
That was me, too, as I discovered a sweeter joy than I had ever felt from any of my goal-setting victories. And this time, the feeling didn’t come ‘from within’. It seemed instead to come from outside of me, as if God really wanted me to be clear that it was a gift FROM HIM, letting me know he was really there, mindful of me, and giving me strength and assurance that it would all be worth it in the end.
The rest of the story
As for the missionaries, there is a shift and a happy ending. I hope you’ll get to watch it sometime, because it is powerful. As for me, I’m also seeing things shift in my life in ways that I never expected. I’ve been keeping the details to myself, while I tried to figure it all out and make sure I was coming to the right conclusions.
I made the decision to let go of my dreams without expectations. I was resigned to whatever my new fate would be. I entrusted my life to God’s hands without conditions.
While I practiced intentionally living without a focus on my goals, my husband noticed a shift, too. It was a gradual process, but over time he noticed I was expecting less. I talked less about our plans as a couple. I simply worked on doing well, my basic, mundane, day-to-day responsibilities (instead of always trying to do something that would build our ‘successful future’).
Eventually, without any pressure from me, he began to set some pretty lofty goals for himself, even the kinds I could see. I didn’t expect him to. I didn’t even NEED him to. I almost didn’t WANT him to, because I thought it might make me feel guilty for not doing the same. (Doing so too early for me would be akin to an alcoholic stepping back into a bar.)
Ironic, isn’t it?
No, he did it for himself. (And I don’t want anyone to conclude that this is what would always happen in a case like this. It’s not about letting go to make someone change, and it’s important to be clear on that.)
But within a short period of time, he lost 35 pounds and took up cycling to keep it off. He started cycling 13 miles to/from work every day, racking up as many as 150 miles a week. He even got up at 3 am on a Saturday morning and cycled from Mesa, AZ to Payson, AZ (80 miles) with a group, after only 4 months preparation.
He’s been tracking his progress with an online app, showing that in some areas, he is outpacing veteran cyclists and ranking among the best in the valley. He is even scheduled to participate in a 2-week cycling tour/leadership training in Australia next spring.
Who is this guy??
His success in this one area began to spill over into other areas of his life, too. Work was better. Our relationship was better. Our family felt stronger. We laughed more, and enjoyed life more. It didn’t matter to me what he did, or how he spent his time. But I was really proud of him for working so hard and doing so well.
And best of all, we were finally able to get on the same page with some goals that we could both be excited about, and came to an agreement on a plan AND pace for how we would accomplish them together, hence the reason for my earlier post on what I think about Dave Ramsey.
Getting on the same page again about something was a dream come true for me.
No, we weren’t tackling our couple goals at a pace I would have chosen by myself (they could always be bigger, better, or achieved faster), but it really felt like a good compromise, and I was just happy that we were united again in our vision for the future.
A few months later though, I had a setback.
His cycling started taking up more time and money, and he seemed to have forgotten about our plan. I think it was still there in the back of his mind, but it had become a chore for him to remember it, because he wasn’t nearly as passionate about them as he had become about his cycling goals.
So naturally, I began to resent his cycling, and found myself back in the throes of frustration all over again. I was angry and wanted him to know it.
Having learned my lesson before, I didn’t want to have to learn it all over again, so I had to find peace in letting go. I NEVER expected that I would have to give up on THESE: the smaller, simpler, slower dreams that we had decided upon together.
In many ways, giving up on these smaller dreams was even harder to do than giving up on the big ones. Because once these are gone, what’s left?
I felt anger, bitterness, grief — all of it, all over again — but this time even worse.
We had just seen the movie “War Room” as a family, and it inspired me. So instead of battling it out with him directly, I decided to try the War Room approach. I didn’t have a lot of hope that it would work…
BUT IT DID! Not the first time, but soon enough.
(Someday I may go into that in more detail, but today is not that day. This post is already long enough.)
In short, God changed my heart.
He removed the scales from my eyes and I suddenly saw my husband differently than I had ever seen him. Twenty-year-old chronic issues, deeply buried grievances, hidden wounds from years of conflict, clouded paradigms… all healed in an instant. Perceptions fixed that I didn’t even know needed fixing.
I didn’t even know it was possible. Well, I guess I thought it was possible, but I didn’t think it would be given so easily.
I’d look at him and think, “I GET TO LOVE HIM!” Suddenly I couldn’t wait to serve him. Make him good food. Ease his burdens. Care more about his concerns than mine. Work to create an environment where he feels great. Make our home a place he wants to be. It had always been such a chore before, but with a change of heart and new eyes, I even felt motivated to do things I didn’t enjoy doing before.
It was a miracle – unexpected, unplanned. A surprise gift. But even though it was God’s doing and not mine, I had been gently guided to do what HE needed me to do, namely prepare myself to receive it… not even realizing what I was preparing myself for. Remember, I had “made the decision to let go of my dreams without expectations. I was resigned to whatever my new fate would be. I entrusted my life to God’s hands without conditions.”
And in response, he did this.
God is ABLE TO DO HIS WORK.
I can, with confidence, testify that I’ve seen him do it. Sometimes we just have to stop ourselves from being the limiting factor.
Trust in his plan for your life. Let him lead you. Trust your Father in Heaven above all other mentors. People may play the role of messenger to deliver his message to you sometimes, and thank heavens for that blessing. But always check what you learn from them against what he speaks to your spirit directly.
So what about setting goals?
HEAR ME NOW:
The SAME voice that told me to stop setting goals is the SAME voice that once told me to start setting goals. Remember, “to every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).
What’s next for you?
In other words, this is NOT about abandoning goals, and it’s not even about setting priorities. It’s about decluttering, and listening.
This is why one particular message at last week’s General Conference caused me to immediately hop on Facebook and say, “OOOOHHHH – Larry Lawrence’s is my favorite so far! #LDSConf – Shantel – that right there was bootcamp summed up in a conference talk, wasn’t it??”
If you don’t have time to watch the whole video, here’s the excerpt that made me want to shout, “YES!!!”:
I knew a faithful mother who humbled herself and asked, “What is keeping me from progressing?” In her case, the response from the Spirit came immediately: “Stop complaining.” This answer surprised her; she had never thought of herself as a complainer…
A humble young man who couldn’t seem to find the right young woman went to the Lord for help: “What is keeping me from being the right man?” he asked. This answer came into his mind and heart: “Clean up your language.” …
A single sister bravely asked the question: “What do I need to change?” and the Spirit whispered to her, “Don’t interrupt people when they are talking.”
The Holy Ghost really does give customized counsel. He is a completely honest companion and will tell us things that no one else knows or has the courage to say. (emphasis added)
One returned missionary found himself stressed with a very heavy schedule. He was trying to find time for work, studies, family, and a Church calling. He asked the Lord for counsel: “How can I feel at peace with all that I need to do?” The answer was not what he expected; he received the impression that he should more carefully observe the Sabbath day and keep it holy…
Years ago I read in a Church magazine the story of a girl who was living away from home and going to college. She was behind in her classes, her social life was not what she had hoped for, and she was generally unhappy. Finally one day she fell to her knees and cried out, “What can I do to improve my life?” The Holy Ghost whispered, “Get up and clean your room.” …
The Holy Ghost doesn’t tell us to improve everything at once. If He did, we would become discouraged and give up. The Spirit works with us at our own speed, one step at a time, or as the Lord has taught, “line upon line, precept upon precept, … and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, … for unto him that receiveth I will give more.”
That’s it. It’s all about what’s next.
Freedom matters. Achievement matters, and YES! Goal setting is vital, and not just for making life better for ourselves, but also for accomplishing God’s purposes. But goal achievement is only one tiny little piece of life.
Ironically, we can miss the mark if goal-achievement BECOMES our life.
I imagine the heavenly choirs broke into singing when they observed me finally feeling and recognizing their subtle clue that I was onto something new and wonderful.
So what about all the things I envisioned for my future? I still believe in them, but decided that perhaps they don’t really need to happen in this life, if at all.
Some of my new mantras through this process became:
“Treasures in heaven” – If I have to choose between enjoying riches here or there, I’d rather have them there. I trust that riches will be mine in both places, IF they are needed for me to accomplish my life’s mission.
“Don’t be the limiting factor” – I believe that God has a bigger vision for my life than even what I can imagine. So I’ll trust him. I will live the principles, just to be sure that I’m not the limiting factor in what God can do with me.
“Tranquility” – to live with my spirit at peace, assured that God is guiding my life and that I’ll be prepared to handle whatever I will face.
“Unseen help is active and real” – I still believe in unseen help, but my goals are back to being more eternal in nature again.
“Peace be still” – Whenever I feel anxious or worried, I remember these words, which at one very difficult time, unexpectedly cut through the noise and chaos in my mind and immediately dissipated all of my concerns.
“Simple, consistent, good habits lead to a life full of bountiful blessings” – Richard G. Scott. I will remember that, “by small and simple means, great things are brought to pass.” I choose to simplify.
I am certain that once this process is complete, I’ll be back to my intentional and active goal-setting endeavors again – but this time with greater wisdom. I still know that…
Anything is possible, but I don’t have to want everything.
When I’m ready to run again, I expect to counsel my wants, and keep moderation in mind. I will try harder to be grateful in all things, and more patient with everyone. But most of all, I intend to keep an eternal perspective, and always do as Joseph B. Wirthlin instructs:
Come what may and love it.
Wishing you all the best on your journey through life.