A Huge 2014 Thank You to the Readers

The Archer's Guild isn't even a year old - it began May 5th of this year. But it has evolved one tiny tweak at a time. I'm thankful for all of you who have been diligent readers, who have taken a few minutes to leave a comment (I love hearing y'alls insight!), who have encouraged me to continue writing, who have offered up suggestions to improve TAG. It's been an incredible seven months with you guys. I wanted to let y'all have a peek at what we've done. Here's a quick look at the numbers for 2014.

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I FAILED a few of my 2014 goals

2014 was an incredible year for me, full of "firsts," full of adventure and full of transition.

I don't remember setting up any formal New Years Resolutions for myself. I scoured my room and computer anyway and couldn't find any written down anywhere. Shame on me. However, I know that I made two resolutions in my head, both of which which I completed so I guess that counts for something.

1. [CHECK] Read one book every two weeks or 26 books over the course of the year (I've read 30 so far and the year's not over - here are some of my favorites)

2. [CHECK] Publish my first book before my 22nd birthday (which was my Golden birthday, by the way)

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#HowToNewYear

Everyone used to set them religiously until they got tired of failing. Now their resolution is simply to survive... come what may. There are a few things that I have come to understand about life (from my extensive 22 years of experience).

1. You won't always accomplish your goals...

Life is such an ever-evolving organism, swayed by this piece of legislation or that natural disaster. We're never quite sure what to expect. Even if the local world in which we operate on a daily basis doesn't change all that much, we do. We grow, we learn, we adapt. As we understand more about our world our priorities change which shape what we want in life.

2. but having them is better than not...

If you set out on a roadtrip to Colorado without a map, you may eventually get there but it will almost be by accident. If, however, you have a map and on the way to Colorado you drive near Tennessee and decide to go there instead, you can change direction with relative ease. Knowing where you're going is better than wondering aimlessly (most of the time).

3. because a journey is just as important as a destination.

Even if you never accomplish your goals, it doesn't mean you shouldn't set them. The process of prioritizing your life based on your values - even if your priorities or values change later on - helps provide you with a starting point, a destination and a route to follow.

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The Serendipity of Failure

Yesterday, I invited my sister to come over and go through my New Years Resolution Template (you can download it here) with me. A few questions down, I saw that I had added a category entitled “Failures.” At first glance, it was an straightforward question with easy answers. I failed at finding a job right out of college. I failed at meeting my desired blog traffic. I failed at marketing my first book well. In retrospect, I even failed at writing that book - it has some good content, but I know I could do better now.

Yet, despite being labeled a “failure,” each of these shortcomings have led to something meaningful and worthwhile.

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Jesus and Joe: the psychology of task association

Some tasks are just so darn hard for people to do. Examples include flossing, feeding the pets, reading your Bible, texting your girlfriend or boyfriend that you made it home safely, making a million dollars... you know, the usual. The psychology behind it differs from person to person. Some genuinely forget, some don't care about it enough, some get distracted easily, some have a fear of it... whatever the case may be, nearly everyone struggles to keep up with at least one habit. Previously, I've written before on the topic of small wins as a way to build momentum for a task that would ordinarily scare you off. Depending on how you tick, here's another hack that may work better for you.

Life Hack: Task Association

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Are you confusing 'urgent' with 'important'?

The past few years or so have been highly impactful on the way that I craft my lifestyle. It started with the book I wrote, ARROWS, which is a primer on missional lifestyle design. As I began developing my thoughts on what a missional lifestyle should look like, I had no choice but to trim the fat. The bare-bones version of missional living meant simplifying life so that you have the flexibility, mobility, resources and time to hit the curve balls life throws at you in a way that does the most for the Kingdom of God. Naturally, my ideas evolve over time. As I come to understand more truths of life I can piece them together to create a new perspective within my old worldview.

Over and over, one theme keeps reoccurring:

Invest in things that matter and let those that don't matter take care of themselves.

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Stop being so humble!

Humility is one of those words that, somewhere along the way, has gotten lost in translation. Kind of like the word "love." I love my family. I also love pizza (can I get an amen?). The term has simply been demoted from its position of prominence and depth to one of flippant overuse. Like love, humility fell into the same habit of casual use and has since lost the punch in its meaning. Its proper or technical definition is "a modest or low view of one's own importance." These days, it's something more along the lines of, "ego buffer." You can't do anything awesome these days without having to preface your awesomeness with, "I'm so humbled to have this opportunity to..." Let's be honest, most of the people prefacing their Oscar acceptance speech with, "I'm so humbled" don't have a "modest or low view of their own importance."

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The average American wastes 43 days every year.

History is being made right now. What are you doing to make your mark? We read stories of great men and women throughout the last 100 years braving the frigid cold of the Arctic or modern day adventurers climbing snow summits in Iceland. These are compelling, engaging stories and guess what! You could be those people. After reading about the exotic adventures and meaningful discoveries that people are making, I have to wonder, "what am I doing?" We live in such an incredible world with adventure waiting on every side of us. I caught the bug over this past summer as I backpacked for two months across eleven countries. After returning home from that trip I couldn't help but see TV for what it is - a waste of a beautiful life. My friend, Micah, and I climbed to the peak of the tallest mountain in Ireland, jumped into the fairy pools in Scotland, saw Phantom of the Opera in London, hammocked in a coastal village in Italy, drank tea from a pier overlooking a crystal lake in Switzerland, got pick-pocketed in Rome, slept in a tent during a thunderstorm in Venice, soaked in the mineral pools of Budapest and drank wine under the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Television... lol

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Jolibois Family Christmas Picture 2014

Traditions are one of those subtle things that makes home, home. Even if it's an absolutely horrible tradition, like fruitcake. Do we even need to have that discussion? Either way, I'm a huge advocate of tradition, but - like inside jokes - the best ones aren't planned. They evolve over the years because a person or group enjoys doing something every year and it becomes a staple that everyone would miss if it didn't happen.

One such tradition for us, sort of fell into our laps - the annual Jolibois Family Christmas Picture.

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It's 6:00am and you're late for life.

Listen.

There is a constant war being waged in your mind. A war between your wants and your needs. Armies of voices in your head will tell you that you need to turn off the alarm and lay back down. But don't listen to them. Listen to the small voice in the back of your head that is whispering...

Get up.

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Big Business Isn't Cool Anymore

Just one generation ago, big business was where everything happened. Now, we're in an age of entrepreneurship and limitless potential. In the past, people would work at one job their entire lives - today, people quit, move on, start their own projects, enjoy the freedom, collaborate, explore and take risks.

Some of these risks have manifested themselves in game changing ways. Entire industries have been expanded, modified or completely disbanded because of brave people willing to go for it. Boundaries in innovation, creativity, industry, business and technology should be pushed - the results are empowering.

Let's take a look at a few...

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Stop pursuing your dream with reckless abandon!

I love listening to motivational speakers because, most often, it's like listening to stand-up comedy.

"Do you have a dream, ma'am? Yes ma'am, you in the front row, red sweater. Do you have a dream? May I ask what it is?"
"Um... okay... to... to have my own cooking show."
"And what an incredible dream that is! Give her a round of applause for her courage folks."
*clapping*
"Ma'am... you've just admitted to us what your dream is... that took courage. Now the biggest step is over with. We're all going to be here to support you along your journey as you pursue your dream. Pursue it with gusto! Pursue it with vigor! Pursue it with a reckless abandon!"

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The Psychology of Your Environment

Everyone who knows me well knows that I like to keep a clean and semi-orderly workspace. In fact, before I sit down to write I grab a cup of coffee, light a candle, put on some instrumental music, and straighten up my space. I always thought it was because I was a neat-freak... but that doesn't make any sense. My car, while uncluttered, has dirt and leaves on the floor mats that I haven't bothered to clean out from my last camping trip. What's the difference between my obsessive need for cleanliness and order in my work space but not in my car? Why don't those traits carry over to every aspect of my life?

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The Impact of Thanksgiving on Christmas

The holiday season is notoriously stressful. Between shopping for dozens of people, decorating the house and tree, cooking extravagant, multi-course meals and being crowded into tiny spaces with lots of family members, you can empathize, I'm sure. The insanity and chaos that ensues from traditions such as Black Friday certainly doesn't help either.

As I sat in Sunday School yesterday morning, our teacher brought up a rather cool connection. I'm sure many of you smart cookies out there have already drawn this conclusion but it was new to me! He said that Thanksgiving comes at a time of year that perfectly precedes the Christmas season because it buffers the onslaught of Holiday stress with a time of gratitude. Though the histories of the two holidays are not related, it's quite incredible how one acts as the gate keeper for the other. The practice of being grateful that is often encouraged during the Thanksgiving holidays primes the heart and mind with contentment. As a result, you're more likely to have a greater focus on family and friends, more apt to give even if you don't receive and more inclined to get through the daily grind with minimal stress.

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The 40-hour-a-week-er's Guide to Rescuing Time

There is an assumption among those who work full time that certain suggestions don't apply to them:

  • pursue what you love
  • do more interesting things
  • travel
  • don't be boring

Somehow, these encouragements for everyone are misconstrued as commands to the sluggards and the couch potatoes. Well, here's your post! This one goes out to the 40-hour-a-week-ers!

Your time matters too.

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My NTF policy on Christmas...

I put my tree up a week ago. Sue me.

When it comes to Christmas, I operate by a strict NTF policy - November to February. When 11-01 rolls around, the tree is going up and the tunes are coming on.

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When life gives you lemons, it doesn't matter cause you got gumbo at home.

Hey kid! I've got a proposition for ya, I think you're gonna love it. You know I'm running my own company and we've done pretty well over the last five years... well, I was thinking that once you graduated college you might like to come work for me! I've got a position with your name on it. It's a pretty good job if I do say so myself... you'll be making six figures to start not to mention bonuses, a company car and some great perks. Anyway, if you're up for it, I have a few requests for you. I want you to complete every homework assignment, make A's on every exam, get involved in a student life organization on campus and volunteer at the local food shelters on the weekends. If you can do that, the job is yours. Waddaya say kid?

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Do you know how to napkin?

Doodles, by their very nature, are non-threatening.

I mean, seriously... doodles? Rather than have religious doctrine laid out in front of you in all its complexity and depth for the first time, wouldn't you rather your friend buy you a cup of coffee and ask the barista for a few extra napkins to doodle on? See, here's the cool part about it - no one expects doodles to convey the complexities. No one sketches a Rembrandt and expects the viewer to stand in awe or examine the play of light and color or admire the details... because you can't. So if you ask an art aficionado to give you a beginner's lesson on Rembrandt and he pulls out a napkin and his sketch pen, you don't freak out. You expect simply to hit the highlights - to ski the bunny slopes. In the same vein, when you pull out a napkin to share the Gospel, your listener doesn't expect incredibly daunting theology to be thrust upon them but rather a crash course. With a napkin, the concept is so utterly familiar that you feel like, at least on a rudimentary level, you can understand it! No one is afraid of a napkin.

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Fine, I'll do you a favor. Will you marry me?

I found a little gem on social media the other day. As I read it, I knew something wasn't quite right. I got a sickly feeling in my heart, not because I was offended by what I read but because I realized how many people hold a slighted and cynical view of marriage. My first instinct was to stamp everything with a bright red "FALSE!" but as I brought my gavel down, I realized I couldn't... because it was all true. Here's what it said:

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It's [NOT] my party, I can [NOT] do what I want.

The emphasis on individuality in our culture has infected the minds of everyone, myself included. While that may sound unnecessarily ominous, the impact is quite larger than many believe it to be. We are one of the relatively small number of cultures that puts such large stock in being your own person, being self-sufficient, riding solo etc. Many other cultures place greater emphasis, instead, on family, working teams, groups and larger functioning units of society. The understanding behind this way of life, that I'm afraid is being lost in our culture, is that our lives, though we may have persuaded ourselves otherwise, have a huge impact on other people.

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