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Start Today

For the past 3 months my wife has suggested I read the book Girl Stop Apologizing, by Rachel Hollis. After much resistance (for obvious reasons) I finally decided to listen to the first chapter. I’m glad I did.

Hollis writes about creating a ‘shame-free’ plan to focus on your dreams and desires without worrying about what other people think. She encourages you to stop apologizing for what you are trying to accomplish and just go do it!

I’ve learned in life that this requires us to cut through the mounting resistance that blocks our mind from taking action on things we know we need to do. Although seemingly straightforward, this is no small feat.

The Power of Resistance

Resistance often tries to take up residence in my mind. But it’s not always my dreams that I’m resisting. It’s the work I need to do on myself that often slows me down the most. Here are a few examples:

  1. It took me 10 years of struggling with seasonal depression to finally reach out to a therapist. And it took me 3 therapists to find the right one. Which added to the already compounding resistance!
  2. Even though these monthly newsletters are often on my heart, it can be a struggle to get them down on paper. And then doubt creeps in (resistances best friend) and makes me wonder if people really even care about what I have to say?
  3. Getting up early in the morning when I’m overtired and don’t want to deal with the kids can trigger a tap of the snooze button on my alarm clock. This tendency eliminates my extra time to work towards my dreams.

I could share a dozen more ways resistance has delayed my aspirations and goals. Instead, I’ll share two simple words that can kick resistance out of your life: Start Today.

Start Today

A dear friend of ours gifted my wife and I each a journal that Rachel Hollis created to help promote gratitude and making your dreams happen. The journal is appropriately called, Start Today. It begins with a writing exercise to help you see your future self. Once this foundation is established, you write daily based on the simple but powerful template below.

I’ve been writing in it daily. It helps me realize that the only way I’m going to fight through the resistance that comes with each day is to just start! Start by taking action. Start by writing things down. Start today.

If Not Now, Then When?

I know what your thinking, “ Sounds like a good idea, Mark. I’m just gonna wait and get started on this once my <insert reason here> happens.”

The problem with this answer is that it fosters resistance. By starting today, you will strengthen the muscle in your mind that builds character and self-confidence. So I ask you, If Not Now, Then When?

My wife has this exact saying framed in our kitchen helping to remind us daily to take action.

Fight Through The Resistance

What is preventing you from taking action? What lie has resistance been speaking to you? Take a moment this morning to reflect on this. Then pick up a piece of paper and write down what you are feeling along with 5 things you are grateful for. It’s that simple. Don’t over complicate it. Start Today!

“People don’t resist change. They resist being changed.” — Peter Senge

p.s.

I’m excited to share that I have completed my keynote speaker demo reel. This was a goal that resistance tried to rob for the past 2 years. Thankfully, my ‘StartToday’ mindset helped me accomplish this along with an amazing videographer named Anthony Marzilli. Feel free to share this with anyone you know planning events or conferences! 🙂

In The News

I had the chance to take part in a Digital Wellness collaboration wth 17 experts sharing tips on how to manage your digital life. I’m excited to share that this work was featured on Thrive Global last week!

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Let There Be Light!

Every time I need to cry I call my mom.

I’m not sure exactly why, but it works like a charm.

Tears of Joy and Sorrow

Yesterday my parents and brother joined my family at Christmas service at Kensington Church. As I sat between my mom and my wife I could feel the tears begin to swell.

While holding my mom’s hand I could feel her healing touch and the bond that exits between a mother and son. Our bond is particularly special. In an instant I felt a download of emotions from every Christmas service we’ve attended together for nearly four decades.

As I held my wife’s hand, I could feel the love that exists between us as we try our best to hold down the fort with two toddlers at home. My hand laid upon hers as I felt the rings on her finger, reminding me of our wedding day and the birth of our children.

The hands of these two women created a connection that words cannot describe. Only through tears could I express how I felt.

There was so much to be thankful for in this moment, yet so much emotion in a room full of people just like you and I.

Reflecting In The Light

I turned to my mom as she wiped away tears from her check.

I just got done doing the same to mine.

My tears were those of appreciation for the life that God has provided me with.

Yet as of late, I’ve let the frustrations of life damper the light that shines within.

I’ve been insensitive to my wife (a lot).

Short-tempered with my children.

And been feeling rather downcast.

Maybe it’s seasonal depression?

Maybe it’s because I’m tired?

Or maybe it’s because those closest to me are going through difficult times of divorce, disease, and discouragement.

As an EMPATH (a personality type that over empathizes for others), I have the tendency to take on the weight of the world. Sometimes it fills me up and allows me to give to others and not just focus on myself. Other times, I get overwhelmed with emotions making it hard to sort through the feelings on my heart.

I was reminded today that it’s not on me to fix or heal other people’s situations. I can only shine the light that exists within me and hope this brings peace and healing.

Let There Be Light!

These four words hold so much.

They were the first words God spoke into the world.

Light was the first thing each of us experienced when entering into the world.

And light was even present at the exact moment each of us was conceived!

Seeing Life In A New Light

Scientist recently discovered that at the exact moment a sperm penetrates an egg, the egg release billions of zinc atoms that emit light.

This means that sparks literally fly at the moment of conception! How amazing is this?!? As you sit with this thought, it points to the significance that light has on our existence. It’s the source of so many things.

The Source of Vision

Without light, we can’t see a thing.
This holds true physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

As we sang together at the end of church I could literally see hundreds of candles lighting up the room.

It was giving light to the darkness in our hearts and allowing us to see the power that comes from a single light that spreads to others.

My Hope For You

Take time to be with the light that shines within you.

Reflect on the things that may be covering it up.

Grab a candle, put on some music, and light up the room that you are in. Even if you are by yourself.

And know that the greatest source of light is looking for a crack in the door of your heart to shine through!

“I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

Past Speaking Events:
Comcast — Year end leadership meeting
mParks — 2019 Annual Conference
AllState — Thrive Talks
ICLE — Health Law Institute Conference — 25th Anniversary

I’m currently reading the book Whisper: How To Hear The Voice of God, By Mark Batterson. Like all of Mark’s books, he has the ability to make the pages come to life and inspire you to dig into your spiritual health.

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Feeling Lonely?

Taking care of children may be the hardest job on earth.

I’ve had the chance to spend some solo dad time with our kids as my wife headed out for various photoshoots (she’s a gifted photographer). The day would start off with smiles and laughs (as shown above).

But as the morning went on, I found my sanity melting away as each hour that passed felt like an entire day!

Between nap schedules, making bottles, temper tantrums, soiled bed sheets, and amazon prime deliveries (which always come at nap time #doorbell #dogs-barking) I felt like I was going insane.

During any moments of downtime, I found myself turning to my phone to catch a glimpse into the outside world. It went beyond checking social media and email. I found myself checking Slack, Skidmore’s internal messaging system for project updates, lunchtime banter, and random gifs that made there way into the rhythm of the work day. Anything that gave me a sense of connection!

Facebook, Instagram, & The Obituaries?

Although a quick glance at Facebook or Instagram appears to fill the social void of adult interaction, it often leads to feelings of envy and increased loneliness.

I recently asked my mom for perspective on what she would do when feeling exhausted and overdue for some social connection while raising 4 kids in the 1980’s. Her response was telling.

She would reach for the newspaper and read the obituaries.

Yes. The obituaries!

She went on to say that it made her feel better because she knew that she was alive — even if she was juggling the needs of 3 toddlers and a baby!

At first I found this strange.

But then I quickly realized it’s really no different than what motivates us to check our phone.

We crave connection.

We seek attention.

We need human interaction.

We were designed for real relationships.

But it’s not just stay-at-home parents that can feel lonely.

The corporate workplace is also showing signs of loneliness.

So Why Are We So Lonely?

Sherry Turkle, Professor at MIT and author of Alone Together says it best:

“Technology promises to let us do anything from anywhere with anyone. But it also drains us as we try to do everything everywhere. We begin to feel overwhelmed and depleted by the lives technology makes possible. We may be free to work from anywhere, but we are also prone to being lonely everywhere.”

Another great example of Turkel’s work can be seen in this video “The Innovation of Loneliness

Ways to Combat Loneliness

Although checking the obituaries seems like an odd way to combat loneliness, the act of picking up the paper and reading the the death notices probably takes a sum total of 5 minutes.

In today’s scrollable world, it’s easy to spend countless hours hoping to find meaningful connection in our day. And the more we scroll, the less likely we are to find time to be in relationship with those around us.

Deep down inside I know there is a way for us to truly find connection beyond our screens.

Here are a few suggestions to combat loneliness:

  • Seek involvement in community (join a small group, engage in mentorship, start volunteering)
  • Take a mental health day off work
  • Skip the email or text — Call a friend!
  • Find someone to talk too (a therapist, friend/family, co-worker, etc.)

Whichever ways you choose to combat loneliness, there’s a good chance it will have a positive impact on you and on someone else — which is a great way to start making a shift in the loneliness epidemic.

And for those parents out there, be present with your children and put down the phone — especially while changing diapers!

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Too Busy For Your Goals?

Every year my wife and I spend an afternoon together writing down our goals and manifesting the future that we want for our family and ourself.

We’ve learned to reflect on the things we desire and take time to thoughtfully write them down. Words have power and when written down they can become your reality. However, your goals can fall apart if you are unable to defeat the distractions that prevent you from accomplishing them.

Don’t Repeat Last Years Distractions

Before you craft your 2018 goals, I suggest you reflect on the things that distracted you from accomplishing your 2017 goals. It will come to no surprise that social media and cell phone use top the list.

According to research aggregated by Medikix, below is the average time spent per day across the most popular social media sites in 2016:

Add these minutes over the course of the year and your jaw may drop! Below are the total hours per year the average user spends on each site.

Youtube = 240 hours
Facebook = 213 hours
Snapchat = 152 hours
Instagram = 91 hours
Twitter = 6 hours

Even if you are only on Facebook, you spend upwards of 200+ hours per year! Don’t believe me? See for yourself.

Just imagine how far you could advance your goals by redirecting your time to something more productive. Here are a few examples to inspire you for 2018:

  • Read a 300 page book in 10 hours
  • Train for a half marathon in 28 hours
  • Learn Spanish in 480 hours
  • Become a basic guitar player in 120 hours

And these are just a few thought starters!

Digging Deeper

How long do you think it takes to repair a relationship with a loved one? How about the self care required to heal the emotional pain you’ve been holding onto for the past decade? Or breaking that habit you know isn’t good for you? All of these things require an intentionality that is best cultivated by spending time reflecting and writing — not scrolling and liking.

Your time is precious. There is no app, no post, and no amount of virtual attention that can replace the benefit of investing time towards goals that advance your emotional, physical, and spiritual health.

My Challenge To You!

Invest time in passions and people that matter most to you.
Travel beyond fake news and edited moments portrayed online.
Begin to thrive in an environment created first in your mind, then on paper, and eventually in the world around you.

Anything is possible in 2018.
Write your goals down!