When Joy, Money, and Flow Come Together In Perfect Harmony

I just finished reading Chris Guillebeau’s new book, Born for This. Guillebeau is a fascinating blogger, author, and entrepreneur who accomplished his own goal of visiting every single country in the world. He is featured in a portion of my upcoming book, Fully and Creatively Alive. Guillebeau has found in his own life a harmony of joy, money, and flow that come together to make him extremely well balanced and very happy in his personal and work life.


In Born for This Guillebeau explains that a perfect career for any one person is one that has joy, money, and flow in perfect harmony. Here’s how he explains the three:

  • Joy is something you like to do. It means that you enjoy what you’re doing most of the time. He says that if “you’re not sure whether your current work sparks joy, it probably doesn’t.”
  • Money is what supports and sustains you. You have to make a living. You have to pay your bills and provide for your family. Guillebeau says that money “isn’t everything…but it’s hard to love your life if you’re constantly stressed about paying the bills on time.”
  • Flow is what you’re really good at. Flow is what happens when you lose track of time immersed in a project you love. In your life there are plenty of things you could do pretty well, but flow work is different. Guillebeau says, “It comes naturally and easily to you. When you do this kind of work, other people are impressed or even amazed by how effortlessly you seem to achieve great results.”

Maybe you don’t have the harmony of those three in your life right now. That’s OK. There is always time to move toward the harmony of joy, money, and flow, no matter how old you are. As a first step you might want to pick up the book.

Beyond that, focus on what you can do today to work on one or two of the three:

  • Joy: If you can’t do what you like to do all day, find the time either at work or after work, to do something that brings you joy. Then do it again tomorrow, and the next day. Make it a habit.
  • Money: If you’ve got debt, do everything you can to get rid of it as soon as possible. Dave Ramsey has all kinds of resources to help you do this. Once you’re out of debt you will have more freedom to pursue the things you really enjoy while making the money you need to pay the bills.
  • Flow: Do you know what your flow is? Ask somebody close to you today what you do well that they couldn’t imagine doing as well as you. It will give you a good clue as to what your flow is.

After you discover and work toward these three things you will find yourself getting closer and closer to a joy, money, flow harmony. It’s a beautiful thing and something worth working toward. But more than that, the world needs the best you have to give. When you find this harmony you will find people coming to you for help in soothing the pain points in their lives.

What can you do today to work on the areas of joy, money, and flow to bring harmony and peace into your work and life?

Why New Goals Will Change Your Life

It’s a new year so it’s time for new goals. My wife, Tammy, and I have buckled down at the start of this year and are working on Michael Hyatt’s 5 Days to Your Best Year Ever. We’re right in the middle of it, so we haven’t finished yet, but on Day 1 we were coached to gain some clarity in our lives by doing away with cynicism that comes from past trials and failures, and taking note of the things for which we are grateful. In one session it made me think of new goals in ways I never had before.

Beauty smiling sport child boy showing his hand biceps muscles strength white isolated

What I’m really learning is the a new way of thinking and doing things propels us toward completing goals we previously thought impossible. This all came to light the other day when I decided to exercise with Tammy. Since my exercise of choice is bicycling, and since it was a bit cold by Florida standards, I thought it would be a good idea to run two miles and do the 7 Minute Workout App with her, like she usually does. Mind you, I haven’t run for about three years. If you see me running, it’s usually because I’m running away from something. I have a muscle condition that makes it difficult for me to run.

But run I did. I stepped out the front door with Tammy and started down the path with her. We hadn’t even gone a mile and my thighs began to burn. “Wait a minute,” I thought, “I exercise all the time. What’s the matter with me?” Needless to say, the muscles one uses for running, and ones used for biking, are completely different. Not to mention, I went out and attempted to run two miles without working my way up to it. I won’t be able to get up from writing this post because my muscles are so sore that they feel like they’re being stabbed by knives from the inside.

The more I thought about it, however, the more I decided that I should make a more regular habit of running and doing some strength training. It will help my biking. I will gain better lung capacity. I will be strong for longer rides. I will be less apt to injure myself. I will most likely lose weight more efficiently.

This new goal will change the way I exercise, the way I retain my health, the way I control my weight, and the way I feel about myself. This is just one example about a way in which new thinking regarding new goals will change your life. Do something different. As you’re setting or accomplishing your new goals, come at them from a different perspective and look at them from a different angle.

How are your new goals coming in this fresh, new year? Try assessing that question in this way:

  1. Are they SMART? All goals should be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. If they aren’t, you can’t call them goals, and you most likely won’t reach them.
  2. Are you writing them down? Studies show that people who write down their goals have a much higher chance of accomplishing them.
  3. Will they stretch you? Are your new goals just a repeat of the ones you’ve had in the past, or are you stretching yourself and thinking bigger?
  4. What’s your motivation to keep going? How will you reward yourself when you hit certain milestones? Do you have someone to help hold you accountable? That’s what Tammy and I are attempting to do by working through Best Year Ever.
  5. How will you feel when you’ve accomplished these goals? Paint a picture in your mind or put an actual picture on your wall that shows what your goal will look like when you get there. For instance, if your goal is to get out of debt, cut out a picture of something you could pay for with cash once your debt is paid.

New goals will change your life, because they will put you on the path toward accomplishing things you never thought you could.

What strategies do you think are important in accomplishing goals?

Don’t Give Up

It seems like simple and obvious advice, but here’s my advice for today: Don’t give up. I was recently in the presence of a man who has given up. Life has dealt him a great many blows. He’s living in a nursing home. He’s been plagued with diseases that have his body and mind whittled down to a fraction of his former self. In his day he was active, and agile, and very, very smart.

Do not give up on blue chalkboard with the hand of businessman.

But now he has given up. You can see it in his eyes and sense it in his demeanor. I can’t say that I blame him. I hurt for him and hope for him. His life is a far cry from what it once was. I feel helpless when I’m in his presence. I want to tell him not to give up, and I want him to heed the advice with all his heart and have him translate it to his weak limbs.

May it never be said of me that I have given up. And here’s some encouragement that it never be said of you, either. There is to much to learn. There are too many opportunities. Technology has given us opportunity after opportunity to grow, and discover, and even draw or increase income. Information is exploding minute by minute and day by day. And we have access to much of it with just a keystroke or two.

I have recently been avidly listening to a podcast called “EOFire” (Entrepreneur on Fire). I am fascinated by each episode hosted by John Lee Dumas. Dumas interviews wildly successful entrepreneurs seven days a week. Each day he asks the same series of questions to his guest. One question he asks each day is:

What was your lowest entrepreneurial moment?

You should hear the stories. Successful entrepreneurs talk about the times when people swindled them, or they were down to their last dollars, or they had to close down a business. But in every single case the entrepreneur goes on to tell the story of how they didn’t give up. They kept pressing on. If one business failed they went ahead and started another. They knew they had it in them. They knew they could be successful.

One man was doing door-to-door multi-level marketing in Utah. He didn’t make one single sale. He finally realized that his problem was that he only cared about himself and about making money. He didn’t care at all about his customers or what their needs or desires were. So he quit his door-to-door sales and went into a business that focused on the customer. He kept plugging, and pushing, and going until he turned a profit and began to operate an extremely successful business.

There is always something you can do each and every day to work toward your goal. Start small. Keep plugging. Keep going. Don’t stop. Don’t let a day go by without doing something that will get you one step closer to where you want to be.




What would be your advice to someone who feels as though they want to give up?

From Corporate to Creative

Daniel Robinson is a bookkeeping and business kind of guy. He’s not really who you’d think of when you think of a “creative.” But there was a creative spark deep down inside of him that he couldn’t ignore as he sat in his Kansas City corporate cubicle.

Colored wooden toys

“About 2 years into working at my corporate job I felt this restlessness. I wasn’t happy. I could see it when I came home from work in the way I was interacting with people. There was this emptiness that I didn’t really understand. I quickly figured out that it was because I was doing something that didn’t excite me,” Daniel said.  So the not-quite-thirty-year-old heeded the advice of some Nashville friends, quit his corporate job, and moved in with them for five weeks just to clear his head and discover adventure.

He ended up working for a business management company in Nashville. The job revolved around a different process, but it ended up being the same old corporate thing. So he went and got a part time job, and began to help his buddy do business management for a successful singer-songwriter. For a few months he did the work for free. Once the songwriter’s team realized he was pretty dog gone good at what he did, they brought him on to do paid work, and his business management company was born.

At his corporate job, Daniel remembered thinking that he would never use the skills he was learning there in the cubicle. But now he’s using all the skills that he acquired from both of those companies to help other people who are on the creative path. Daniel is passionate about interacting with people and helping them. Now he creatively cares for and loves people by taking on the moving parts of their lives and enabling them to focus on just a few things. His clients include musicians, entrepreneurs, and independent artisans.

You can almost hear the “corporate” Daniel coming out when he says, “Be ‘mindful’ of what it is you’re good at. Hear what people say you’re good at. Don’t ignore it. People don’t just tell you you’re good at things when you’re not. People have told me ‘you’re good at this.’ That’s why I have a little business today.”

But don’t think for a minute that there isn’t a creative side to him as well. Daniel’s encouragement to those who feel trapped in a corporate life is to be creative in  figuring out what it is you’re good at. When you notice that you have some special skills you can start to foster those and press into them. You can do it whether you’re coming out of college or if you’re forty years into a corporate job.

He says, “If you want to do something on your own, take notice of the skills you have that people will pay you for. In all reality I don’t know if three or four years ago I even really wanted to be a business manager. I wanted to be a design guru. But I learned that I’m skilled in this area and people can pay me right now. And out of that has come this really rewarding fun job where I get to work for myself.”

Moving out of the corporate life and into his own business has made Daniel happier than he’s ever been. He says, “I might not be making the most money, or have a home right now, but I’m more happy than I’ve ever been in all aspects of life: work, relationships, being active.”

The next time you drive by an office building, think about all the creativity that’s pent up in those corporate cubicles. Maybe it’s your own. And maybe, just maybe, there’s a “Daniel” inside of you waiting to move from corporate to creative and experience a brand new life.

“I can remember sitting at my old job and wondering what it would be like to be outside, work in a coffee shop, or go get food and not feel pressure about taking a little time to go and get it.”

What skills do you have that people might pay you for right now?

5 Steps Toward a Major Decision

For the past week-and-a-half I have been relatively radio silent. I didn’t want to make the following information public knowledge until all the proper people had been informed. My last post will bring you up to date on recent major events in my life. I had been one of the finalists on a “Call List” at Ascension Lutheran Church in Casselberry, Florida. My wife, Tammy, and I went to Florida where I stood before about 140 members of the congregation and answered the same twenty-two questions as did three other pastoral candidates on separate nights.

It was a daunting evening. But the people of Ascension Lutheran were very hospitable and gracious. Just before we got on the plane to return home I received a phone call from the president of Ascension informing me that I had been elected to receive the Call to be pastor of their church.

So I returned home in possession of two Calls: one to Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and one to Ascension Lutheran Church in Casselberry, Florida. I now have to make a decision that will not only have an impact on me and my family, but literally hundreds of people in two different places.

There are now four to six weeks for me to make a God-guided decision. This is what I plan to do:

  1. Pray. The Lord has a plan and a place for me. First and foremost I need His guidance and direction. Not only will I be praying, I know the people of Mt. Calvary and Ascension will be praying as well. I ask for your prayers, too.
  2. Listen. I really want to know if my ministry is still effective at Mt. Calvary. I will be listening to what Mt. Calvary members have to say about where we are and where they hope to go. It’s also important to pay attention to silence.
  3. Visit. We plan to visit Casselberry once again to learn more about its people, its worship, and its ministry. I need to determine where best my gifts fit by learning as much as I possibly can.
  4. Talk. As you can well imagine, my wife, Tammy, and I have already discussed this all a great deal. I also cherish and respect the thoughts and opinions of both of my children. This decision impacts not only me, but all of them. They deserve a voice.
  5. List. I will physically write down pros and cons, positives and negatives, regarding both scenarios. It’s always helpful to see in black and white which list is longer and which is shorter, and what all of those items bring to bear on the decision.

Eventually, a decision will have to be made. It’s a decision that will have an impact on a great many people. But in the end I will have to trust that I will be led to make the best decision for all concerned.

When you have to make a major decision what one thing do you make sure to do?

God Working His Way Through an Odd and Unsettling Place

It’s an odd place to be. Some people change jobs when they make the conscious decision to pursue another opportunity or a different career. Others lose a job and have to write resumes, pound the pavement, and ask for interviews.

My vocation works in a different way. As a pastor in the Lutheran Church one does not seek the office or the position, it seeks him. Which has put me in an odd place.

In December I received a phone call from a member of a church in Florida. It always starts like this: “Is there any reason right now why you couldn’t consider a Call.” (I intentionally capitalize the word “Call” because we believe that the Call comes from God through His people. It’s Divine.)

“Um, no. I guess not.”

And that set it all in motion. Apparently my name was submitted by someone in the congregation. Other names were submitted, as well. A list was put together. Each person was called and asked the same question as I was. Some may have had compelling reasons why they couldn’t move forward in the process. Others had no good reason not to move forward.

So on it went like this:

  1. An area church official called and said that after looking over paper work for all the candidates, I had made a “shorter list.” He said that he would keep me informed as to whether or not they wanted to move forward with me.
  2. A couple of weeks later a member of the Call committee contacted me and let me know they wanted to interview me over the phone. They emailed 15 questions so that I could prepare.
  3. Another couple of weeks later we spent about an hour on the phone doing the interview. Six people on the Call committee asked questions, and I answered.
  4. Finally, I received a phone call telling me that I had made the list of final candidates. They told me they wanted to fly my wife, Tammy, and me to Orlando, Florida, for a congregational forum and other interviews.

Shortly after our visit, the congregation will hold a Call meeting. They will take votes until one of the candidates has a clear majority. That candidate will receive the Call, and will have the opportunity to deliberate whether or not to accept the Call and begin a new ministry.

So I am currently in an odd place. I have fifteen years of relationships with the people I currently serve. Another congregation is in need of a new pastor. At this point, I have no idea whether or not it will be me that they Call.

It’s a bit unsettling. But it’s also a time of trusting and knowing that ultimately it is God’s will that will be done. He will make the outcome clear one way or another. And there’s something sacred about that.

How do you see God’s hand working through your work and vocation right now?

New Chapters and Big Risks

Sometimes creativity requires new chapters and big risks. I’m in the midst of starting a new chapter and witnessing a big risk, but it’s not my own. And it’s not just because the new year is right around the corner.

We are in the midst of traveling to Orlando, Florida. It’s not necessarily a pleasure trip. We’re moving our daughter, Ashlyn, there. She’s starting a new chapter by taking a big risk:

  • She knows no one in Orlando
  • She doesn’t have a job
  • She only has a temporary place to live

I don’t know necessarily when it started, but for a long time now, she has wanted to work for Disney. Ashlyn graduated with a degree in theatre. She loves kids. She loves entertaining and making people happy. She’d love to be a Disney princess (yeah, really). Or, at least work at Disney in some creative capacity.

In order to turn the page to that new chapter, she’s got to take a big risk. No risk, no new chapter. No risk, no Disney. No risk, no chance of any of it ever happening. This whole plan may include U-turns or variations along the way. But to her, it’s all worth it.

Sure, it’s a risk. But a risk should never be taken without preparation:

  • She has spent the last six months working and saving money
  • She has set specific goals
  • She arranged temporary housing
  • She made important connections at Disney
  • She’s ready to take on temporary jobs until the larger goal comes to fruition

The new calendar year begins this weekend. Are you ready to turn the page to a new chapter in your life? Are you set to take some risks? If you have answered yes to both of these questions, now is the time to begin preparations. What do you need to do before you start a new chapter and take a calculated risk?

Here are some suggestions:

  • Set a major goal for every month of the new year
  • Take a couple of days to think through Michael Hyatt’s Life Plan
  • Use smaller goals and objectives to work toward the larger ones
  • Have faith in your own gifts and abilities
  • Don’t worry about what “others” think
  • Think creatively
  • Turn the page, take the risk, and start the chapter.
What new chapter are you going to start in 2012, and what big risk are you going to take? Please respond and share your thoughts.

How Zig Ziglar and Seth Godin Taught Me to Write and Keep Goals

It was late in the summer and another activity year was on the horizon. Floating around in my mind were all kinds of ideas, deadlines, possibilities, prospects, options, and opportunities. It was overwhelming and frustrating. I knew I needed to prioritize, but didn’t quite know the best way to go about it.

That’s when I turned to Zig Ziglar’s Legendary Goals Program, updated and simplified by Seth Godin. It has been newly published under the title Pick Four. At one point in his life Seth Godin felt very much like I had been feeling:

I was rudderless. Every project seemed like a shiny new toy, a new opportunity to make something work. I was so busy lurching from one project to another that I never had time to do the work necessary to make my ventures succeed. The lurching was a natural response: when things get tough, go do something else.

…Then I found Zig…Within a month I had written down all the steps he describes in his goals program, and I started following the steps. Drip, drip, drip. Day by day, bit by bit, I started to make progress. And then, quietly, my progress started accelerating. Suddenly, the bricks started falling into place, sales were made, personal goals achieved.

So I heeded Seth’s advice and began to work through the opening pages of the book. It is safe to say that it is just that: work. But it’s a good kind of work. It clarifies thoughts, ideas, and priorities. It’s even a little scary. Seth says:

…the reason we don’t set goals is that we’re afraid. We’re afraid of saying a goal out loud, even to ourselves, and certainly afraid of writing it down. We’re afraid of trying to achieve a goal and failing. And, surprisingly, we’re afraid of reaching our goals, because reaching them means our lives will change, and change is often at the center of our fear.

As of this writing I have composed my four goals and intend to keep track of my progress the next twelve weeks. I’m sleeping on them for a couple of nights before I sign the book and make my final commitment. I’m hoping that when I waver, this little notebook will keep me on track. When it doesn’t, I hope that my family and those close to me will.

If you have read this far, I want to give you a special opportunity. Pick Four comes in a four-pack, meant to share. I would like to give away my three extra workbooks. If you would like a chance to receive one of the three workbooks, completely free, here’s what to do:

  1. Comment on this blog post (not on Facebook or Twitter…but right here on this blog);
  2. Explain in your comment why you should receive the Pick Four goal setting book;
  3. Share a link to this blog post either on Facebook or Twitter.

At my discretion, I will select three people who do all three of these things to receive a copy of Pick Four. I will send or deliver it to you at my own expense. Then we can, together, bring priority, change, and accomplishment to our respective lives.

How do you prioritize and set goals?

U2 From the Top of the Stadium or From the Front Row?

Would you rather see U2 from the top of the stadium or with General Admission tickets where you could watch so close you could touch Bono’s hand? Would you rather watch a baseball game from the front row or one level up? When you’re making your way through daily life would you rather put your nose to the grindstone with only a micro-view or do you have the ability and desire to take the long view?

I have strong opinions about the first two questions, and am quickly forming an opinion about the third:

  1. I would rather get up at 5:00 a.m., sit in line all day, and stand right in the front when the opening strains of the U2 concert begin. In fact, I’m going to do that in Chicago this July 5th.
  2. When I go to a baseball game at Miller Park to watch the Milwaukee Brewers I would rather sit up one level where I can have an overview of the whole field than sit in the front row where the perspective isn’t quite as good.
  3. I’m learning that taking the long view of tasks, work, and vocation is better than seeing only the task in front of me.

I’ve been learning about this by watching our kids make their way through their college experience. It’s been particularly clear this summer as I see them both working hard at jobs that, at first glance, may not seem to be career enhancing positions. But from my perspective (1000 feet up, as it were), I see the skills they are learning, the connections they are making, the responsibilities they are taking, and the networks they are building.

I’ve had telephone conversations with both kids, listening to them (mildly) complain about the weight and responsibility of full-time summer jobs. From the perspective of a parent I see the many ways these summer positions are preparing each of them for life in the working world and for vocations that will be fun and fulfilling.

It got me to thinking that I far too often take the near view in my own daily life. The old cliche is that I “can’t see the forest for the trees.” More accurately, I can’t see God’s plan for my life because my own near-sightedness gets in the way. When I take the time to step back, take the long view, head to the top of the stadium, I see from where I’ve come and to where I’m going.

Here’s what I’m trying to do:

  1. Beginning the work day prioritizing the things that will have the greatest impact.
  2. Ending the work day reviewing what I’ve done, what it meant, and what it means for tomorrow’s work.
  3. Take stock at the end of each week to see whether the goals set have been met, and if so, what new goals ought to be set.
  4. At least once a month taking some time to think about the major things that have taken place so far in the current year, and what that means for next steps as the year proceeds.

How do you take the long view in your daily life?

Five Resources for Advancing Your Life’s Plan

It seems that life often turns out in a different way than one thinks it’s going to. The other day I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen in more than four years. The last time I saw him his youngest son was literally the star pitcher of his youth baseball team. The boy was poised to move on to high school and have an impact at a higher level. It looked like all the ducks were in a row and a wildly successful baseball career was on the horizon. That was four years ago.

So  I asked how the boy’s high school baseball career had gone. To my surprise he said that he dropped out of baseball. The kid grew tall, and thin, and sat on the bench…a lot. So he took up golf.

I told my friend we had a great deal of catching up to do, and that we should get together soon. He agreed, and had to be on his way.

It got me to thinking about just how often it is that peoples’ hopes, ideas, and very life sometimes don’t turn out the way they envision it all will. Baseball dreams take a left turn to golf. Dreams of being a doctor take a right turn to a career as a medical assistant. Dreams of motherhood make a u-turn to adoption.

Sometimes it’s the result of uncontrollable or unforeseen circumstances. Finances, friendships, or fear can become obstacles or hurdles that bar hopes and dreams.

But it doesn’t always have to be that way. A will and a plan go a long way toward finding the fulfillment of a dream.

I have recently run across some resources that may be helpful to you in dreaming, planning, goal-setting, and strategizing. These items may help your life follow the direction of your dream and give meaning to your vocation. The first is free; the others are relatively inexpensive. Take some time to dream, plan, find purpose, and follow a definite direction.

  1. Creating Your Personal Life Plan, by Michael Hyatt. This is a free resource that you can get simply by subscribing to Michael’s blog. I’m currently working on it. It is simple yet highly profound in terms of impact on one’s life. It consists of thinking through and writing down outcomes, priorities, and action plans. It provides true direction and great accountability to accomplish things in life you dream of having accomplished.
  2. Linchpin and Poke the Box, by Seth Godin. Linchpin was for me a life-changing (no hyperbole) book. It shows how to be an essential building block of a great organization. Poke the Box is impetus to be an instigator, create initiative, and seek discovery. You will thank me after you read these two books.
  3. The Creative Habit, by Twyla Tharp. Twyla Tharp is one of the world’s great choreographers. But you can have two left feet and still gain a great deal from this book. With exercises like “Where’s Your Pencil?”, “Coins and Chaos,” and “Do a Verb,” Tharp shows anyone how to make creativity a habit and use it to advance both your career and your life.
  4. The War of Art and Do the Work, by Steven Pressfield. Both of these books give tools to overcome what Pressfield labels “resistance.” Resistance is the inner force that prevents most anyone from accomplishing what needs to be accomplished. Two must reads.
  5. Quitter, by Jon Acuff. The jacket cover says that Quitter is about “closing the gap between your day job & your dream job.” It’s not a book just for people who want to quit their jobs and find something better.  It provides methods to recover your dream, work toward your dream without blowing up your life, and methods to use for finding real direction in your life (all from a Christian perspective).

What resources can you share with me for better planning, goal-setting, and accountability for moving forward?