John Grisham was an attorney who hated his job. He wanted to become an author, but he didn’t know where to begin. Finally he decided to start writing a one-word message to himself on the early-morning squares of his monthly calendar: “Write.” Grisham said to himself, “I’m going to get to work sixty minutes early each day, and I’m going to write just one page per day.”
And that’s what he did.
He began writing…and he kept writing. Today he is one of the most prolific and appreciated novelists of our day. That’s the power of even a single word written on a schedule and lived out. Bill Hybels, Simplify.
That example, in a nutshell, is the core message of Chapter Two: overscheduled to organized – harnessing your calendar’s power. This is the third instalment on my blog-crawl through Bill Hybels’ Simplify: ten practices to unclutter your soul.
Many people’s “schedules are packed so tight we couldn’t slip a razor blade between appointments…we almost brag about it don’t we? It makes us feel important,” Hybels writes. But he cautions us to take control of our schedules because “a runaway calendar will keep you from simplifying your life…without conscious intervention, this pattern of chronically overscheduling ensures that the priorities you care about most will take a backseat to the urgent priorities of others every time.”
Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important, wrote Stephen Covey in his 7 Habits… book that sold more than 25 million copies. We’ve all done it! I still do it!
Hybels adopted a life-changing practice and began living it out when his children were tiny and he was out every night of the week. He wanted to become a better (less absent) father and after prayerful discussion with the Big Boss he wrote H-O-M-E on his calendar four nights each week. That one word changed the course of his family history. Deciding his calendar should also include his nonwork responsibilities, he proved the truth: “My schedule is far less about what I want to get done and far more about who I want to become.”
A simplified life begins with well invested hours each day. Your calendar is more than merely an organizer for what needs to get done; it’s the primary tool for helping you become what you want to become, Hybels writes. Ask yourself, “How would God have me spend my time today?”
The Action Step in this chapter explains how to write a God-first schedule.
- Begin by asking, “Who do I want to become?” This doesn’t have to be an over-arching total-life goal wrapped in a 30-word statement that only lawyers can understand! It can be as simple as “involved mother,” “dedicated employee,” “happier wife,” “joyful Christian,” “fit woman,” and so on. Prayerfully look inside yourself and see what sort of unrealized dreams might be lurking therein. Has God whispered ideas into your soul that you are now ready to act on? Things like, “homeschool a child,” “a career change,””a master’s degree,” “an organized household,” “a more satisfying relationship with God,” for example?
- The words “servant leader” came to mind when I asked myself this question. I would much rather serve than lead but I recognize that by virtue of my position as the wife of a minister, the mother of adults, the grandmother of darlings, a speaker and author, I am a leader whether I like the title or not. However, as a servant leader I can set aside my agenda, my rights, my plans and can learn to lay down my life for others; I can serve others with my time, talents, and treasures. I like that.
- Next, add to your schedule those plans or engagements, and those relationships or activities, that will lead you down the path toward who you want to become. This is where the power of a word can change the trajectory of your future.
- At Hybels’ suggestion I wrote Chair Time on my calendar for 8 a.m. As a servant leader, I need to stay connected to God every day so I don’t miss opportunities He places before me. Even if I don’t get to my chair exactly at that time, I see it at some point during the day and it reminds me to take 15-30 minutes to focus on God. I use a One-Year Bible for this and read some or all of the portion on that date. I journal my prayers after my reading and keep my journal and Bible in the breakfast nook. Even if I don’t see my calendar, i will see my Bible and journal because I never ever skip breakfast! (I can barely fall asleep the night before in anticipation!)
- He also suggests, and I agree, that you schedule CHURCH. Don’t make that decision when you wake up on Sunday morning. If i did that, I might seldom go. But I consider it a commitment like showing up at work. People don’t make the should-I-go-to-work-today decision based on how they feel when they wake up — if they did the world would stop turning pretty quickly because we’d all stay in bed! Why calendar church? Like I said in my book about following God, if you want to bag a moose, you go to moose habitat. Likewise, if you want to connect with God, you go to the places you are most likely to find Him. A servant leader leads by example so even on those days when I am tired or cranky I still go and demonstrate with my presence that I believe church is important. And before long I forget my troubles and thank God I am there!
There are other things you could calendar, like family vacations, date nights, gym time, Bible Study group, marriage enrichment conference, and Hybels recommends you do so. By adding a word to your calendar and then following through on that scheduled event, you could save your marriage (date night), change your career (night class), lengthen your life (gym), deepen your spiritual walk (chair time), improve your portfolio (money management course), or write a book (WRITE). I did. Which proves anybody can!
The post The Power of a Single Word on your Calendar appeared first on Connie Cavanaugh’s blog.