Day Follows Night: Handling Adversity

In the popular kids’ book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, the small protagonist starts out mournfully, 
“I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there’s gum in my hair. When I got out of bed I tripped on the skateboard and by mistake I dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running. And I could tell it was going to be a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.”

Ever had a day like Alexander’s? Or even a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad WEEK?  Month? Year?

Adversity, unfortunately is a fact of life, whe ther it’s as small as waking up with gum in our hair or as big as experiencing a major health issue, discouraging career setback, or the loss of a loved one.
When facing our toughest times, we simply don’t know how deep the pain will be or how long it’ll take to recover. For many, this kind of uncertainty can lead to hopelessness and even depression.

It’s important to remember that every trial has a different recovery path—some admittedly longer than others—but you WILL recover. That’s why in hard times, it’s essential to maintain a sense of hope. After all, some of our greatest triumphs will come following a pe riod of despair. We just don’t know it at the time!

When we’re in an emotional valley, it helps to remember that it won’t always be this painful, and that one day we we’ll experience joy again. Thankfully, time has  a way of healing and getting us through our toughest challenges. We may even come to realize that our adversity prepared us for something greater or was even for our own good!

Regardless of the adversity you experience, it’s critical to remain hopeful and connected to your support system. This may mean reaching out to others for hel p rather than relying solely on yourself (tough for us independent types!). After all, that’s what friends are for, and you would do the same for them!

Finally, if you’re really struggling with a tough time, consider “projecting” your situation onto a friend by imagining that he (or she) is experiencing what you are. What objective advice would you give if him or her? Then, listen to your own advice! It may sound a littl e strange, but it works!  

Bottom line: When hard times come, keep going, keep looking up, and keep moving forward.  It’s an ancient and proven truth that day follows night and “joy comes in the morning!”

During times of trial have you found ways to engage the principle that
“Day follows night… and joy comes in the morning?”
We’d love to hear your stories and suggestions!

Setting Goals that Stick

Sometimes I wonder how we all survived before sticky notes. They come in handy, don’t they, for jotting down all those things we want to remember to do? The discipline of writing down our tasks, and the sense of accomplishment received from completing them, are tell-tale signs of a productive person. I begin each day with a to-do list and I know with certainty it has made me more focused and effective. 

Doesn’t it stand to reason, then, that we should also take a “sticky pad” approach to planning our lives? After all, the most successful people begin with dreams and then establish goals and plans to make them come true. Poor or random planning puts your dreams in jeopardy and, at best, makes it take that much longer to realize them.

Even if you’re not naturally a goal-setter, it’s not difficult to become one.  Start by imagining what you want your life to look like. What are the large-scale goals you hope to achieve?

Once you’ve established your long-term goals, you can set some shorter-term goals that will help you achieve them. You can set one-year, six-month, and one-month goals, all of which will ultimately contribute to the larger picture.

At the same time, don’t forget your daily to-do lists.  You’ll be amazed how much more you accomplish. It doesn’t have to be a fancy leather-bound day-timer to keep you on track.  Many times all you need is a vibrant-colored sticky note placed somewhere visible to remind you what you hope to accomplish that day. Oh, and once all your items are checked off the list, be sure to take some time to enjoy yourself for a job well done!

“If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.”
Lawrence J. Peter


What kinds of goals have you established for the short-, intermediate-, and long-term?
What strategies have you learned to help accomplish them?

We’d love to hear your ideas!

Let’s Take the Integrity Challenge!

It seems last week’s email, “The Power of (Your) Words,” really resonated with people. Those who responded told me they found it both challenging and convicting.  Several also mentioned they thought the world would be a much better place if EVERYONE heeded its message: to only say things about other people that you wouldn’t mind them overhearing. I couldn’t agree more.
Of all the success pointers in What I Wish I Knew at 18, I think this is possibly the most dynamic—and the most difficult—to uphold. It’s so easy to fall short on this one. Somehow we have this warped view that tearing others down builds us up. You’d think we would outgrow it as adults, but all too often, we don’t.

So, I want to throw out an idea.
What if we started a movement to take this “Integrity Challenge” to heart?

What if teachers and school administrators everywhere challenged their students to live by this principle and see the difference it makes? What about all of us adults in our workplaces, families, and social settings? What if it became a way of life in how we think, relate, and communicate about others? Can you even imagine the possibilities? It might just change the world—in a very good way!

Are you game to try…and, if so, to spread the word?


I’d love to hear if you’re going to take me up on the challenge. Please leave a comment below to let me know you’re in. Then share the link–and the challenge–with your friends!

The Power of (Your) Words

Words have incredible power. They can be uplifting or destructive. They can be true or false. They can stay solely with the person with whom you’ve communicated or go in a million different directions outside of your control. This is especially true if you express them in an email, Facebook®, Twitter®, or text. Words also reveal much about our character—especially when we talk about someone who is not present. They speak to our trustworthiness, loyalty, kindness, and respect.

In the past few years, some horrific tragedies have occurred among young people when they were publicly ridiculed through gossip, texts, or social media sites. Some of these even resulted in suicide. So much heartache—all caused by the power of words—used heartlessly and irresponsibly.

One way to demonstrate impeccable character is to only say things about other people that you wouldn’t mind them overhearing. Try it even for a week and you’ll be amazed by how this affects your choice of words. You’ll be admired by others for your tact, restraint, and uplifting spirit! And, if you can get others to join you, it might be the beginning of a wonderful movement in our culture! Are you up for it?

What are some ways you’ve helped build a positive culture of words
in your classroom, school, family, workplace, or community?

Off to College or the Workplace? Stay Connected!

Here’s a big heads-up for teens heading to college or a new workplace this fall: If you’re a person of faith, keep up your spiritual momentum after high school!

Leaving home, to college or the workplace, is a time of both newfound freedom and  huge distractions. Most of you will have a total blast with wonderful new experiences, but it can also be overwhelming. If you’re not careful, the social life can take precedence and lead you down the wrong path. All of this comes at a time when you may be in a new town, don’t know anyone, are adjusting to a new study schedule, miss your family and friends, and need to find a new worship venue—a daunting task, even for adults!
If you’re a parent, coach, counselor, mentor, or faith leader, you can be a great source of support at this crucial transition time. But don’t overdo it. This has to be a decision they make on their own to carve out time for their spiritual life and stay true to their faith. 

Fortunately, most communities and colleges offer a wide range of choices, including spiritually focused organizations for young adults. It will be important to connect with either one of these organizations or with a

worship center of some kind that offers opportunities for fellowship, service, and education.

Studies show that students who attend religious services weekly
average a GPA 0.144 higher than those who never attend services!

Another benefit is that spiritually connected students more readily develop new friendships with peers of similar norms and values.[i] What’s not to like about that?

There’s a proverb that says, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” So, if you’re a person of faith, don’t lose your spiritual momentum when you leave home. By connecting with a worship center and continuing your faith walk after high school, you’ll make new friends, receive support, and be spiritually sharper during this amazing and crazy time of your life!

Do you have some ideas for staying connected in your faith walk when you leave home?

Please share them by commenting below.

[i] Religious Involvement and Educational Outcomes: The Role Of Social Capital And Extracurricular Participation, Jennifer L. Glanville, David Sikkink, Edwin I. Hernández, Article first published online: 11 JAN 2008, DOI: 10.1111/j.1533-8525.2007.00108.x, Sociological Quarterly, Volume 49, Issue 1, pages 105–137, Winter 2008.