Archives For stretch

We take in so much information throughout the week.  If we don’t review this information from time to time, we’ll forget it.  I want to make the most of the things that stretched me this week.  This starts by taking note of the things I come across each week.  Then it takes intentional time to review these notes.  Finally, great information is meant to be shared.  Here are some of the things that STRETCHED me this week:

“If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled.”  C.H. Spurgeon [via JeffRandleman.com]

“If you want to fly, you must give up what holds you down.” – Anonymous [via MichaelHyatt.com]

“People will often forget to thank you for various things, but in my experience as a driver one thing people will almost always thank you for is listening.”Shawn Smucker

“If our mission is to alert others to the universal reign of God through Christ, then all believers should see themselves as missionaries.” Michael Frost [in Surprise the World! – Five Habits of Highly Missional People]

Wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this:  Wisdom preserves those who have it.  Ecclesiastes 7:12

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing dept to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.  Romans 13:8

Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.  James 1:26

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.  He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.  Psalm 23:1-3

What I’m reading now:

Double Play – Faith and Family First by Ben & Julianna Zobrist

This inspired me to stand up…

And finally, I know I mentioned This Is Us last week, but the show keeps getting better…

If you are looking to STRETCH yourself, sign up for the 7 Week Stretch Challenge.  It’s FREE!

What STRETCHED you this week?  Share your observations and thoughts in the comments below.

 

We take in so much information throughout the week.  If we don’t review this information from time to time, we’ll forget it.  I want to make the most of the things that stretched me this week.  This starts by taking note of the things I come across each week.  Then it takes intentional time to review these notes.  Finally, great information is meant to be shared.  Here are some of the things that STRETCHED me this week:

“Fall down 7 times, stand up 8.” – Japanese Proverb [via Entrepreneur on Fire blog]

“When performance is measured, performance improves.  When performance is measured and reported, the rate of improvement accelerates.”  Thomas Merton [via MattMcWilliams.com]

“Make it a habit to tell people than you.  To express your appreciation, sincerely and without the expectation of anything in return.  Truly appreciate those around you.  Truly appreciate life, and you’ll find that you have more of it.”  Ralph Marston

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  I Thessalonians 5:18

“Stop being afraid of what could go wrong and think of what could go right.” – Unknown [via MichaelHyatt.com]

I’m not a Tom Brady or Patriots fan, but this ESPN clip got me…

If you’re not watching This Is Us on NBC, you might want to watch this moment…

“We need to develop a rhythm of gift giving, time spending, and affirmation sharing as an end in itself because it fosters a spirit of generosity, it mirrors the character of God, and it alerts others to his reign.”  Michael Frost in Surprise the World! – The Five Habits of Highly Missional People

The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.  He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.  Zephaniah 3:17

Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid.  The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.  Isaiah 12:2

In everything set them an example by doing what is good.  Titus 2:7

What STRETCHED you this week?  Share your observations and thoughts in the comments below.

10 ESSENTIALS FOR OVERCOMING THE STRESS IN YOUR LIFE

Stress happens.

How you handle stress matters.

My post today initially started as an explanation for a recent reduction in my weekly blog posts, and it turned into an all-out focus on handling the stress we face in life.  I’m not going to change the initial part of the post as I think it helps provide a window into the stress I’ve been experiencing recently.  I don’t know what stress you are dealing with lately, but I’m hoping today’s post will help you as you face life’s challenges.

What is on your goal list?

Are you giving attention to the goals you really want to accomplish?

You may have noticed a recent drop off in the number of posts I am releasing each week.  There’s a reason (actually, there are a few reasons):

  1. I’m working on my next book project.  A good percentage of my normal writing time is currently focused on this project.  With a busy work and family schedule, I have to be intentional with my time.  And in some cases, this means I have to give up something to get something else.  Once I get through this book project, I hope to post more frequently.  Until then, I’m learning to be content with a post or two per week.
  2. I’ve had a few “distractions” in my life lately.  Without going into too much detail, these distractions have been related to my job, my home, my family, and our upcoming missions trip to Guatemala.  Most of these things are great, but they have required a significant portion of my regular bandwidth.  For my job, I’m preparing to visit Chicago at the end of the month for an exclusive leadership development workshop.  The pre-work for this workshop will ensure I get the most out of the experience which will team me up with leaders from Mexico, Brazil, Canada, and the United States.  For my family, we are navigating the college selection process for the first time with our oldest child.  We are supporting our son as he works on his Eagle Scout project.  And we’re running between various activities at the track, the concert hall, and elsewhere.  My parents are also going through some health challenges and life transitions.  And our family is trying to put the finishing touches on our plans to go back to Guatemala this summer.  (You can support us here or here.)

Life is about choices.

If you are a “Go Getter” like me, you have to come to terms with this fact:  You can’t do everything.

Sometimes you have to let go of the good, so you can focus on the great.  And sometimes you have to sacrifice some of the things on your personal agenda, so you can focus on the things that come your way in the course of life.

As I’ve faced some of the recent challenges (and “distractions”), I’ve dealt with some anxiety, some sleepless nights, and some emotion.  To put it simply, I’ve experienced stress.  Stress is a normal part of life in today’s world.  Unfortunately, many of us don’t know handle ourselves when the stress levels climb.  As I work through my the stress in my life, I’ve developed a list to help me deal with the stress.  I’m hoping this will help you when you deal with stress.

10 Essentials For Overcoming the Stress in Your Life

  1. Eat right.  Eating junk only drags you down.  When stress happens, our eating habits are the first things to be compromised.  Junk in equals junk out.  Put the good stuff in to help you overcome the stresses you are juggling.  Eat regularly.  Balance your intake with proteins and plant-based carbohydrates.  Drink plenty of water.  Avoid excess sugar and caffeine.  Limit the amount of alcohol you consume.
  2. Exercise.  When we get too busy, we often forget to take care of ourselves physically.  Regular exercise is paramount to dealing with an abundance of stress, and it’s essential for building you up for the future challenges you will face.  Regular cardio and strength training gives you more energy and helps build your immune system.
  3. Get sleep.  I struggle with this one.  We all need different amounts of sleep, but most of us need far more sleep that we actually get.  The past few months, I have returned to taking a nap or two on the weekend.  These short siestas help restore my energy levels to better handle the challenges of the upcoming week.  Try going to bed earlier (I’m preaching to myself now).  Turn off the electronics and the television.  Read a book.  Drink a warm glass of milk.  And head to bed early.
  4. Get fresh air.  Too often, we get stuck in the office all day.  Our only fresh air intake happens when we walk into the office at the beginning of the day and when we walk to our car at the end of the day.  Use your lunch time to take a quick walk or to visit a local park.  Breathe in the fresh air.
  5. Practice gratitude.  When stress levels begin to elevate, we tend to become more negative.  We forget to appreciate what is going on around us.  Find a way to practice gratitude.  Start a gratitude journal, and write in it every day.  Write down two or three things you appreciated about your day.  You’ll be surprised to see the impact of this discipline on your stress levels.
  6. Plug into a support system.  You may need a little help from your friends.  I’m in three or four groups that encourage me through tough times.  We all need a this kind of support system.  I meet with 13 other men on a weekly basis.  I meet with a small group of entrepreneurs every other week.  I meet with a group of families twice a month.  And I meet with a group of fellow managers every week at my office.  These meetings are essential to balancing the stresses of life.  These groups have been a place for me to let out some of the emotion I am dealing with and to calibrate my responses to whatever is happening in my life.  If the stress levels continue to rise, I’d highly recommend professional counseling.  Several years ago when I was going through a very stressful time in my life, I met with a counselor for several weeks.  These sessions helped.
  7. Stay connected with those who are closest to you.  Stress impacts our relationships with those we love.  In order to counterbalance this natural tendency, it’s imperative that we find ways to spend time together so we can connect.  My wife and I practice a weekly date night which helps.  Plan ahead for time away from the normal routines and pressures of life.  My wife and I are planning a trip to Vermont in June to celebrate our 20th anniversary and to simply connect away from home.  If you have children, date them too.  Take your son or daughter out for ice cream or for a bike ride.  Time together with those we love builds better relationships and builds a foundation for dealing with the stresses of life.
  8. Stay grounded in God’s word.  Don’t underestimate the power of God’s word in overcoming the challenges of life.  God’s word encourages, teaches, and reminds us of truths we must remember when life gets challenging.  One of the verses that came back to me recently is Philippians 4:6-7:  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
  9. Pray.  My prayer life has increased recently.  Pray for God’s intervention in the challenges you are facing.  Pray for wisdom, peace, and joy.  Pray for those who seem to be coming against you.  Pray that God would use the challenges you are facing now to help others later.  Stress often leads to bitterness, so we must pray that God would change our hearts.
  10. Don’t give up.  Don’t quit.  Keep going.  Don’t let the stress stop you from moving ahead.  Learn.  Take one step at a time.  And keep stretching!

I feel better already.

How about you?

How do you handle stress?  What do you do to overcome stress in your life?  Why do you think it’s important to address our response to stress?

If you are looking for additional help in handling stress, I think the 7 Week Stretch Challenge could help.  Sign up below:

6 ESSENTIALS FOR FINDING MEANING IN YOUR LIFE

What is the meaning of life?  This is a question people have been asking themselves for ages.

Meaningless.  Meaningless.  Chasing after the wind.

“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher.  “Utterly meaningless!  Everything is meaningless.”  Ecclesiastes 1:2

Too many of us go after things in life that really are meaningless.  When we step back and look at it from a different perspective, we realize that we had our ladder leaned up against the wrong wall, and we’ve been climbing to the top only to realize that we were climbing against the wrong wall.

This week I received some tough news that reminded me that this life is fleeting – it’s short.  And we will endure problems, trials, and illnesses, and we will eventually come to a realization that a lot of the things we are pursuing in life really don’t matter when it comes down to it.

I don’t know about you, but I want my life to mean something.  I want to pursue things that matter.  I don’t want to waste my time doing things that won’t add up to a hill of beans.  I want to be intentional with how I live my life – on a day by day basis and on a moment by moment basis.

Our perspective changes as we go through life.  We see things through different lenses along the way, and sometimes I think that we go through trials in life to re-calibrate us – to reset our vision.  I think this might be happening through my experience this week – in the tough circumstances that I’m wrestling with in my own mind.

What are your priorities and what are you doing about them?  Do you know them?  Have you stopped long enough to pay attention – to really process the priorities that you have in your life? 

Is it work?  Is it achievement?  Is it notoriety?  Is it fame?  Is it your family?  Is it your faith?  Is it financial freedom?

All these things are okay, but are they really your priorities?  Have you stopped long enough to really analyze what matters most in life?

Once you know your priorities, it’s important to map out how you’re going to get there.

What are you going to do?  How are you going to change your life to live in light of those priorities?

I cannot answer that question for you.  This is a question you need to answer for yourself.

I just finished listening to a new book, Living Forward, by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy, and they challenge readers to consider writing their own eulogy.

What would you want people to stay at your funeral?  If this is what you want people to say, how are you living your life to prepare for this?

I don’t know how everything is going to work out with the situation I’m facing, but I do know I have the opportunity to really analyze my priorities and shift some of my perspectives.  And just maybe I will come down from the ladder that I was climbing on to make sure I have it positioned against the correct wall.

This is the challenge I leave you with today:  Is your ladder leaning against the correct wall, or are you chasing things that are meaningless?

Live a life that matters.

Pursue your priorities.  Carefully consider your priorities.  Gain new perspective, and live your life with intention. 

More importantly, what I’m learning through this experience is the importance of relationships.  You can pursue all kinds of achievement and accolades and everything, but the reality is the relationships that you have with others matters so much more than those career positions and promotions, those super-large portfolios, and those trophies.  Take time today to connect with those who matter most in your life.  And then repeat every day for the rest of your life.

If you want to find meaning in your life:

6 Essentials for Finding Meaning in Your Life

  1. Look in the mirror.
  2. Determine your priorities.
  3. Live intentionally in light of your priorities.
  4. Plug into key relationships.
  5. Above all else, seek God first.
  6. Repeat for the rest of your life.

What is the meaning of your life?  Knowing this, how are you living your life?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

 

balanced life

What is a “Balanced Life?”

People talk about wanting to live a balanced life.

There used to be a podcast called Pursuing A Balanced Life by my friend, Cliff Ravenscraft.

We all want balance in our lives, but is that really the right goal or are we really even defining a balanced life correctly?  This is something I’ve been thinking about lately.  I know for a fact that I am very busy.  I’m on the go all the time.  My calendar is full of things to do, and I’m always busy.

Sometimes, I don’t feel like I’m living a balanced life.

I’m pretty sure we often get the whole definition of balance wrong.

When I think of balance I think of chemistry class in college.  In the lab portion of the class, we used to measure chemicals with a balance.  We put a desired weight on one side of the balance.  This weight was measured against a standard.  Then we put the chemical we were measuring on the other side of the balance.  We would add a little more chemical or remove a little of the chemical until we got the right amount of chemical.  We knew that we were right – that we had the right amount of chemical, because the balance was balanced.  One side wasn’t higher than the other.  One side wasn’t lower than the other.

This seems to be what people want to do with their schedules.  They want to put so many things into their life that they are well-rounded in every area, but sometimes I wonder if that’s really the correct approach.  My guess is that we are measuring the balance of our lives against an incorrect standard.

We all have different priorities, and we all have things that should be higher on our priority list.  If you make a list of how you spend your time and you compare it with your list of life priorities, I wonder if they would match.

I know that my work is one of my priorities.  I know that my fitness is one of my priorities.  I know my family is one of my priorities.  I know my friends are one of my priorities.  I know my writing and speaking are one of my priorities, and I know that serving others is one of my priorities.  I have a lot of priorities.  The question is which ones are the top ones and are they getting the attention – the time and energy – they deserve

My top priority is God and my faith, but the reality is I’m not sure I give Him the balance of time and energy that I should.   If God really is a priority in my life, you would think I would spend a lot of time working on this priority.  The reality is I get distracted, I get confused, and I get misdirected towards other things that are much lower on my priority list.  And I’m guessing I’m not alone.

How do I go about reshaping and re-evaluating my calendar and my life in light of my desired priorities, so I really can live a balanced life?  Here are some ideas:

6 Essential Steps To Live A More Balanced Life

  1. Determine the top 5-10 priorities in your life.  I think it starts by figuring out your priorities.  Spend time listing what really matters in your life.  Put them in order from highest priority to lowest priority.
  2. Look at your calendar as it exists today.  Take note of how you are spending your time right now.  Where do we spend the most time?  Where do you spend the least time?  What occupies your time?  We need to know how we’re spending our time and energy in order to determine what changes we might need to make.
  3. Compare your priorities to your calendar.  Do they match?  Where do they match?  Where are they missing the mark?
  4. Adjust your calendar to match your priority list.  What needs to stay?  What needs to go?  What needs more time and attention?  Do the work of adjusting your calendar to match your priority list.  If your family is one of your top priorities, schedule time in your calendar to be with your family.  If your marriage is one of your priorities, schedule a regular, weekly date night.  Cut of the things on your calendar that are unnecessary and don’t line up with your priority list.  Do the work if you’re serious about pursuing a balanced life.
  5. Get accountability to make sure these changes stick.  Share your priorities and calendar adjustments with somebody.  You don’t need to share them with everybody, but find one or two people who can hold you accountable to making the changes a reality.
  6. Take action.  Don’t be afraid to reevaluate from time to time.  Plan regular check-ins, and figure out what is working well, what is not working well, and what additional changes you need to make.  This is an ongoing process.  You are not going to fix it all at once, but I’m convinced that through diligent, intentional thought and action we can take steps to live a more balanced life.

Are you living a balanced life?  What action do you need to take to live a more balanced life?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

If you want additional help in this are, be sure to check out the 7 Week Stretch Challenge.  Sign up below.

I Have A Confession

February 24, 2016 — 2 Comments

I HAVE A CONFESSION

I have a confession to make.

I suck!

Before you tell me to put an end to my self-limiting beliefs, give me an opportunity to explain.

I want to come across as having it all together.  I try to be positive.  I try to be confident.  I try to come across as the expert.  I’m a perfectionist, and I want everything just right.

Here’s the problem:  I don’t have it all together.  I’m not always positive.  There are times when my confidence is lacking.  I don’t know everything.  And I’m a perfectionist with more imperfections that I care to admit.

Several weeks ago, I announced the 7 Week Stretch Challenge.  (You can sign up for it today by clicking here or by filling out the short form below.)

7 WEEKSTRETCHCHALLENGEIn each of the weeks of the challenge, I focus on various topics designed to help you grow (STRETCH), help you move forward with more intentionally, and help you make a bigger difference.  Here are the topics for each week:

  • Week 1 – Still yourself.
  • Week 2 – Take note.
  • Week 3 – Reflect.
  • Week 4 – Engage in key relationships.
  • Week 5 – Try something new.
  • Week 6 – Community (plug-in).
  • Week 7 – Help others.

If you sign up for the challenge, I send you an email each week focusing on these things.  I picked these topics, because I know you need to work on these things.

Do you know how I know this?

I know you need to work on these things, because I need to work on these things.

I suck at taking time to be still.  I suck at taking note of the things going on in my life.  I suck at taking time to reflect.  I suck at engaging in key relationships.  I suck at getting out of my comfort zone to try new things.  I suck at putting aside my own wants and desires to plug into community and to help others.

I need to work on these things, and you do to.

The 7 Week Stretch Challenge is for you, but it’s also for me.  If you haven’t jumped on board yet, sign up below.

What’s your confession?  What area of your life needs some attention?

The 7 Week STRETCH Challenge

January 11, 2016 — 1 Comment

7 WEEKSTRETCHCHALLENGE

Thanks for being part of the Stretched Community, and for reading the regular posts at Jon Stolpe Stretched.

You may have noticed a few less posts here last week.  I’ve been busy working on something special, and I can’t wait to tell you about it!

Today, I’m excited to announce something special – The 7 Week STRETCH Challenge!

The 7 Week STRETCH Challenge is designed to help you STRETCH to the next level.  By signing up for the challenge today, you will get:

  • An exclusive email in your in-box once a week.  The email will give you practical advice to help you stretch and will give you an important action step for the week.
  • An invitation to join a closed Facebook group only for those going through the Challenge.
  • A special opportunity to help me with a special project (more on that to follow at the end of the Challenge).

To sign-up for this Challenge, you simply need to sign up below.

What are you waiting for?

Sign-up for the 7 Week STRETCH Challenge today!

7 Week STRETCH Challenge Sign-up Form

(Can I ask you to do me a big favor?  I know you have friends, family, and co-workers who would benefit from the 7 Week STRETCH Challenge.  Tell them to sign-up at http://www.jonstolpe.com/7weekstretch/.  Thanks!)

BOOK REVIEW_THE 3 GAPSARE YOU MAKINGA DIFFERENCE_BY Hyrum W. Smith

Gaps in our lives drain the power needed to make a positive difference in the world.

Hyrum W. Smith

The 3 Gaps: Are You Making a Difference? by Hyrum W. Smith officially releases today (January 11, 2016).  I received a preview copy of this book courtesy of Becky Robinson at Weaving Influence.

I took time to read this book between Christmas and New Years, and it provided a few great insights and ideas for me to pursue as I seek to clarify my beliefs, values, and priorities.

While I’m still wrestling with Smith’s assertion that the pursuit of personal inner peace is the ultimate goal of man.  I deeply agree with the thought that we can make a big difference in our lives and in the lives of those around us by clarifying our beliefs, by confirming our governing values, and by intentionally managing our time.

The 3 Gaps: Are You Making a Difference?is a quick read that will challenge readers to fill the gaps they may have in their beliefs, values, and time.  Personally, I was challenged after reading The 3 Gaps to write my own personal constitution, to define my governing values, and to practice the discipline of daily planning.  If you are looking for a book with practical advice to help you stretch, you should consider picking up a copy of this book.

What are the biggest challenges you are currently facing when it comes to your beliefs, your values, and your time?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

(Please note:  I received a copy of The 3 Gaps: Are You Making a Difference? for free as a gift from Becky Robinson at Weaving Influence.  I was not required to provide a favorable review.  I believe this book can be a helpful tool for being more intentional with your life.

Also to note:  There are affiliate links in this post.  Should you purchase The 3 Gaps: Are You Making a Difference? by clicking one of these links, I receive a small percentage of the purchase.  These funds are used to support The Stretched Blog and to extend ministry and missions to Guatemala.  Thank you!)

STRETCH QUOTE A Look In The Mirror

But let’s face it, I still have to look at my self and look at the things I’ve done down the STRETCH.

Luther Allison

We are coming down the final stretch for 2015.

Take time to look in the mirror – to reflect on the past year.

What went well in 2015?  What were your big wins in 2015?

What didn’t go so well in 2015?  What do you want to change as you head into the new year?

What help do you need as you head into 2016?

Use this last week of 2015 well.

How would you answer the questions above?  Leave your answer in the comments.