Journaling is Hard. Here’s a Great Tool to Start.

Happy Wednesday!

Early this year, I posted about two simple goals I made for this year (click here to read it). One was journaling at least once per week. This has proven to be a struggle for me all my life.

John Maxwell, the well-known leadership teacher, talks extensively in his book The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth about the Law of Reflection. He argues that this is one of the ways that successful people grow. Every day, they reflect on their lives and learn from their experiences.

Recently, however, I snagged a new journal to help me in this goal (up to that point, I just used a notebook). It’s called the Full Focus Journal and essentially is a souped-up Five Minute Journal for those who like to write more. Here’s a quick look at both.

The Full Focus Journal asks specific questions every day that helps you reflect on life and how you can learn from your experiences.

Image from FullFocusJournal.com

Image from FullFocusJournal.com

Image from FullFocusJournal.com

Tons of people love the Five Minute Journal. It’s an easy way to write down the highs and lows of the day as well as observations made. I may try one at some point. The thing that is attractive to me about this journal is the fact that it has a few lines to fill out, not extensive sections. I want to keep a journal but the larger sections honestly intimidate me.

Five Minute Journal
Image from intelligentchange.com

Five Minute Journal
Image from intelligentchange.com

I’ll be honest, I got the Full Focus Journal because I had a discount code for it and wanted to check it out. Updates to come!

What’s your favorite way to journal? How do you reflect?

I want to hear from you in the comments below! And as always, if you found value in this post, give it a like and give me a follow!

-Caleb

this free email gives you an entertaining look into what’s happening every day

This is an email that I get every morning that updates me in an entertaining way of the happenings in the world. It’s a long form email but it’s easy to skim and pick up the information you find interesting or relevant. Plus it’s a great way to support the blog and won’t cost you anything!


The best way to get physical books

If you like to read, I highly recommend Thriftbooks. It’s a great way to get discounted books for a fraction of what you might pay on Amazon. I’ve bought over $150 of books from them in the past two years and have had zero complaints! Plus you can get 15% off your first order!


Perfect graduation gift

I’m really liking my Panda Planner. I’m learning how to use it to make my time more productive. It would make a great gift for a new graduate! Especially those who are heading into college and don’t know how to plan out their time accordingly.

I Suppose I am Now Officially a Writer

It’s official! I’m a writer because I have a shirt that says I am. I got this from a friend last Christmas.

It states “I AM WRITER. I make the voices in my head work for me.”

It perfectly sums up the kind humor my friends (and I) have. It’s also my first ever blogging shirt. It doesn’t seem to give me much literary inspiration while sporting it, though. However, it does bring some laughs.

In all seriousness, I do call myself a writer because I think that’s part of building that image and to an extent, building credibility. If I discount writing my book, people won’t take me seriously as a writer. I have to be fully invested in a goal before I can expect anyone else to get on board.

What is a goal in which you’re working to build credibility?

I want to hear from you in the comments! And as always, if you found any value in this post, please like and follow!

-Caleb

Why I Haven’t Written About Faith in a Long Time

Two and a half years ago, I was entering my fifth and final year of college at The Ohio State University. It was a tough run and one way I chose to mentally process all my experiences was through writing. I found it a slow, effective process to put my thoughts into coherent sentences (whether or not they were actually coherent).

So, as every rational, busy college student would do, I started a blog. The Buckeye Beacon as I called it. It was going to be the next thing that OSU students would read every week. I even imagined people recognizing me on campus!

A friend of mine, Ethan, would take turns with me writing a blog post every week. It gave our blog a consistent stream of posts while providing us a fun way of sharing thoughts and improving our writing.

We even reached a rather consistent three views a day. Not bad for a couple whippersnapper engineering students.

In May of 2017, I obtained that infamous bachelor degree, then subsequently exited the bachelor scene as I tied the knot with my girlfriend of two years. And I dropped off with my blogging. My Facebook friends actually got a break from Caleb’s stream of consciousness every week.

“He’s like everyone else on Facebook except he has way to much to say in one status update” I could imagine them saying. 

But I had a wife to spend time with every evening after farming my desk for eight hours at my new engineering job. I gave it a break. It didn’t, however, change the fact that writing continued to be an effective way for me to communicate. So, I wrote a book about graduating and entering the real world called Graduated and Clueless.

And I started this blog.

I have had this intense desire ever since I graduated to reach the greatest potential God has for me.

I wanted to grow in my leadership. I wanted to improve my communication both in writing and in speech. I wanted grow in my character and influence. And I wanted to have a consistent avenue through which I could communicate what I am learning and how I’m growing. The only problem is, I had branded The Buckeye Beacon as a spiritual-growth blog. Nothing’s wrong with that until you write about something personal-growth related and no one reads it. What a motivator.

Why not brand a new blog directed only towards personal growth for students and young professionals? Keep them separate. It’s like Church and State in blog form.

Now I had two blogs to write: one for my spiritual growth whenever I had time and one for personal growth every week.

This was when I realized: personal growth involves improving every major part of me. 

For me, Jesus Christ is the one person that affects everything I do. I believe in eternity (both Heaven and Hell) and the power of His blood to save me from my sins. Because of this deep belief, it influences my thoughts and my actions, my pursuits and my motives.

My faith directly affects my growth into who God wants me to be. 

I haven’t written on faith in a long time because I’ve been trying to focus my writing on branding a new blog. I will no longer be blogging at the The Buckeye Beacon but I will be sharing how faith influences me here at Master the Simple. I don’t want to feel like the two subjects I’m writing about are separate. They’re not because the one directly influences the other. Spiritual growth is even more important than personal growth and I will not be afraid to let the two connect.

If you don’t consider yourself spiritual, that’s ok. This blog still focuses on growth personally and professionally. However, my belief is that we are deeply spiritual beings and what I write will be impacted by that belief.

Thread Quest:

Do you allow your beliefs to impact the other areas of your life?

I certainly struggle with it. But I want to hear from you in the comments!

-Caleb

No Time to Drift (and 4 Questions to Help Prioritize Time)

A new condition has surfaced recently called FOMO (probably not that recent but hey, I’m frequently behind the times).

FOMO stands for “Fear Of Missing Out” and conveys in four words the reason so many of us experience priority issues. 

Take me as an example of the struggle. I have a hard time going to bed early. If I have the opportunity to meet up with a friend after work, I want to take it. We meet on the opposite side of town and we don’t meet that often so we’re generally out late. And that makes me tired.

Or given an opportunity that I may not have in the future, I’ll take it for fear of missing out.

I read a book in the past year by Michael Hyatt, a time management and productivity expert, called Living Forward. He says that no one gets to where they want to go by drifting.

If you have FOMO like me, you’re likely to drift.

That is unless you’re intentional about your priorities. This is where I’m at right now. Here are a few of my priorities that I’m working to pursue so I don’t drift.

CLEAN DISHES

Ok, so this is kind of a joke. But I seriously would’t finish this blog post until I finished cleaning dishes. I hate a full sink. Ok, onto the serious ones.

WRITING

I’m working on writing a lot more. For one, I wrote a book. Two, I’m writing on this blog once a week in order to help develop my writing voice more fully and improve my communication.

Priority: Practicing my writing voice regularly in order to gain more experience and understanding of effective communication. 

SPIRITUAL LEARNING

I’m trying to grow spiritually through the reading of my Bible and learning through fellow Christians’ writing and teaching. This is a particularly difficult one for me if I am being honest. I find it difficult to really spend the time that I would like on spiritual learning, particularly in reading my Bible. I read a portion of scripture every night with Bailey, though sometimes our comprehension is low due to heavy eyes.

I listen to 5 sermons per week outside of the sermon I hear on Sunday morning. I’m actively involved in a biweekly Bible study. As a part of my new year’s reading goal, I am working on reading 1000 pages of spiritual learning books. Currently I’m reading Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby and Everybody, Always by Bob Goff.

This all will by God’s grace push me to a deeper relationship with Him. Of course, nothing I do will change His love for me but pursuing that relationship will make a difference on how I view His Word and how He works in my life.

Priority: Growing closer in my relationship to God so that I can more effectively share Him with others.

PHYSICAL FITNESS

I’m working to develop healthier habits when it comes to staying active. Given my new year’s goal, Bailey and I have been going to the gym regularly about 10 times per month. Recently this has been particularly difficult because of both of our schedules which is why we have been considering an earlier morning workout to start the day.

Priority: Developing habits of physical activity to remain healthy in the coming years.

FINANCIAL HEALTH

Bailey and I both have dreams for the future. We want to own a home in less than 15 years. We want to continue to cashflow the remainder of her education without taking out any loans. We want to continue increasing the percentage we give to church and other organizations every year. We want to consistently save for retirement by delaying gratification.

Priority: Budgeting monthly, tracking expenses, saving and talking regularly about financial goals. 

RELATIONSHIP WITH BAILEY

Bailey’s my wife and I value our relationship greatly. From our relationship will stem the growth we experience together (both personally and spiritually) as well as the environment in which our future children will be raised (Lord willing). Because of this, we aim to spend at least one night per week doing something together. Maybe it’s taking a walk and watching a show. Or grilling out. Or hitting a local rodeo (that’s a recent one). The key is we are attempting to strengthen our relationship so that our kids have a strong home in which they can grow up. And that will bleed into innumerable other areas of life.

Priority: Cultivating a loving and growing relationship with my wife and raising godly children.

Here’s the list I like quite a bit less.

THINGS I NEED TO WORK ON PRIORITIZING

  1. Sleep (I hate to admit it but the amount of sleep I get is abysmal)
  2. Biblical reading (I only read my Bible before work if I conveniently have time)
  3. Organization (I am utterly horrible at putting papers away, keeping my office clean and knowing where things are when I’m looking for them. Setting things down after work is something Bailey would say is one of her husband’s many flaws.
  4. Healthy eating (Yeah so I like mac n’ cheese a lot. What about it?)

 

So how do we overcome these areas in which we need to learn prioritization?

Here are 4 questions I ask that can help you determine your priorities as well:

1. What do you want?

Do you want financial freedom? How about a healthy lifestyle? Do you want it enough?

2. Why do you want it?

Are you tired of debt? Sick of living paycheck to paycheck? Do you not want to be winded when you get to your office after taking the steps? On a more personal level, you have to Start with Why as leadership expert, Simon Sinek, would say.

3. What steps do you need to take to prioritize [blank] starting today?

How about skip the Starbucks and put that $4 to paying off the student loans? If this is what it takes, open a bank account and put money into it every day that would have been coffee money. Or take a walk over lunch break if health is your priority. I try to do this daily and it is remarkably refreshing! Break these down into small, manageable goals. But make it something you can do today.

4. Who can help you with your priorities?

Does one of your friends have their financial life together? They’d be a great person to help keep you accountable. Do you know someone who’s fit and hits the gym? Ask them to help you. Chances are they will be more than happy to help.

Conclusion (YAY)

I want to be clear, I certainly don’t have all my priorities straight. I struggle with them, just like you. However, I know life is too short to drift or have regrets at the end so I better have a plan for my time now.

Also, I’m sorry if you got this whole thing in email. It’s super long.

-Caleb

Two Things I Want in Life (and How I’m Getting Past the Fear of Them)

alphabet-business-close-up-326642Where do you want to go in life and do you want it enough? That’s the question I’ve been asking myself over the past year. There are certain things I want to do in life. One is be a speaker. I want to become a master communicator and I believe that part of that involves becoming a master at verbal communication specifically. But the whole goal of this blog and my pursuit of growth is Mastering the Simple to Become an Expert.

And that means I have to start small and build up.

Take a conversation I had recently with my sister, Atalie, about pursuing a possible speaking opportunity to a small group. This was a friend’s young men’s group who showed interest in me presenting to them based on the topics in my book. The leader showed interest while I was writing the book and we agreed to talk after I finished.

“I really do want to be a speaker. I want to contact the leader about giving the presentation but I’m having trouble actually doing it.”

“What’s holding you back?” Atalie responded.

I embarrassingly said, “Ok, I’m afraid I won’t have much to say and that they’ll ask me questions I have no idea how to answer.”

“So share about how God has grown you this last year and tell them that you are growing just like them and may not know the answers” she said with almost no hesitation.

That calmed my fear and made me think this was actually doable.

It simplified the fear and made it easier to move forward.

Subsequently, I contacted the leader that evening and asked if they would still be interested in me presenting. I am on their schedule for the end of October.

Here’s another thing I have wanted to do in my life: write a book to aid others in their transition to life after college. 

I wanted it enough that I worked almost every weekend and many, many weeknights for four months in order to get it done. But writing something and actually putting it out there for others to read are completely different things. I wanted to reach as many students as possible and part of that involved contacting local bookstores to see if they would be interested in selling my books on consignment.

This made me nervous because of the possibility of rejection.

I had to take the first step. So I contacted a local, college hangout bookstore to see if they would sell it. Sure enough, today they contacted me back and said they would be happy to sell it at least for a period of time. Score! And an exciting score at that.

Here’s my point. I’m not perfect by any means. I’m learning right alongside you. I don’t have the guts I would like to have when it comes to speaking and putting my work out there. I haven’t contacted anyone else about the potential of speaking. I haven’t physically walked into any bookstores and asked to speak to a manager about holding my book yet. But do I want it? Yes. Moving forward in that despite the fear is difficult. But I want it enough to take the first step which gives just a bit more motivation to make the next step that follows.

What do you want to pursue? Do you want it enough to get past your desire of comfort to get out there and do it? Do you have strategies to get past your fears?

I want to hear from you in the comments!

Until next time, onward!

-Caleb