2 Simple Actions for Growth in 2019

I find that it is too easy to focus on the big goals I want to accomplish in the coming year. The problem is when I think the big goals are the only things that will make a difference.

Contrarily, I believe that Mastering the Simple is what will make a difference because that is the foundation of Becoming an Expert in anything else. It’s the simple actions that will lead to bigger things. Make a simple goal of doing 10 pushups per day and it will create a positive habit that may grow into something bigger.

Here are 2 simple actions I am working on this year.

Action 1: Write one Thank-you note per week

Gratitude is a characteristic constantly attributed to successful people. Being grateful does something to you. Instead of focusing on what you want, it helps put what you have into perspective.

When you acknowledge what others have done for you, that makes a big difference in your relationships with them. People want to be acknowledged — by their boss, coworkers, family, friends, and even strangers. Maybe not always in a public manner but people do like to be acknowledged. A thank-you note is a thoughtful way of letting someone know what they or something they did means to you.

So I’m going to write 52 thank-you notes this year.

Action 2: Journal once per week

Well known leadership expert, Peter Drucker, said this,

“Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.”

In his book, The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, leadership and personal growth expert, John Maxwell, wrote an entire chapter about the Law of Reflection. In it, he describes his process for reflecting. He reflects every week and at the end of the year, he takes an entire week to reflect on the year and what happened. Maxwell attributes much of his success and growth to reflection.

This is why I am reflecting in a journal once a week about what is going on in my life. My problem is I tend to do too much looking forward. I mean, that’s how things get done. However, if I don’t learn from the past then it won’t help me at all. Once a week isn’t much, I know. But last time I tried to do this, I told myself every day and it didn’t happen so I had to make some changes.

What are some simple things you’re doing that’ll make a difference?

I want to hear in the comments!


2018 Look Back — What Goals Worked and What Didn’t?

2018 is DONE! And now we are into a whole new year. A brand new start and yet another opportunity to give up on goals in January. So, to avoid that, we’ve been looking at analyzing the goals we made in the past year and figure out what worked and what didn’t. Okay, first thing’s first.

I missed the mark on a lot of my goals this past year!


this year held the most goals I have ever made. I jumped in, made some goals, hit some and missed others. But like I said in a recent blog post, I am trying to focus on those that I hit.

Wayne Gretzky, the hockey Hall of Famer, said this:

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

Taking action is the most difficult thing about hitting goals. Good news is, action was taken. Now, let’s take a look at the goals I made in 2018 (click here for my post last year).

Goal Set 1: Financial

We did completely save the remaining money necessary to finish Bailey’s education (feels good!). And we also helped sponsor our youth group for our church’s summer mission trip which was rewarding to hear about after the trip.

Were these too easy? Maybe, maybe not. Bailey and I have talked about how we can change our financial goals to stretch us just a bit more in a few areas. More on this in a coming blog post.

Goal Set 2: Intellectual

I hit my reading goal of 4500 pages (about 12.5 per day)! This turned out to be an excellent goal. I haven’t ever read as much as I did this past year. As in, before I graduated from college, I probably had read fewer than ten books for the fun of it.

I completed this goal with seven days to spare. Towards the middle of the year, I was running about thirty days ahead of schedule. I was on track to hit my stretch goal of 5000 pages pretty easily but was slowed down tremendously by my second intellectual goal — writing a book.

Graduating from college, I experienced a lot of confusion surrounding the move out of my parents’ house, getting married, and starting a job. I’m still learning, but I wrote a book (called Graduated and Clueless) to help others in the same transition. Check it out on Amazon!

This goal was initially set to be completed by June 30th but I hit some roadblocks. Like the whole editing and formatting process took way longer than I thought. So I published it a month later on August 1st.

Goal set 3: Physical

Thus begins Caleb’s goal failures.

First of all, we didn’t hit our goal of going to the gym an average of ten times per month. It was closer to eight times per month. Not bad considering I have never worked out on a consistent basis. What we did find was that when the fall semester started, Bailey and I had a more difficult time of going to the gym regularly because I was getting up early to go to work and she would get home (very) late from classes.

It made it particularly hard to get enough sleep and get to the gym together. However, we did manage to change up our schedules a bit so so we could go more often. We’ve been talking about how we can make our physical goals a bit more achievable this year.

I did hit my benching goal of 175 lbs! This was exciting because I have rather long, gangly arms which makes some physical things more difficult than others (engineers know what I’m talking about).

I did not hit fifty push-ups in a row. Also, twenty-five chin-ups are unbelievably difficult to hit. So I didn’t hit that. Also, also, I didn’t hit my 500 miles of biking. I biked like 100 miles. It was so pathetic, I haven’t even added them up yet.

Goal Set 4: Spiritual

This was a tough one. Mostly because I get a slightly weird feeling when I make a spiritual growth goal. I think it’s because it feels like if I hit my goal, I wouldn’t strive to grow even more in my spiritual life. However, it was a great way to get more Biblical learning and spur growth in my faith than I would get otherwise.

In the first few months, I was great at getting to work twenty minutes early three times a week to read my Bible. I dropped off a bit during the middle of the year. After Bailey and I reworked our schedules in the fall, we read the Bible almost every workday morning together which worked well.

I did participate in a bi-weekly Bible study. I also served as an usher at church, joined the choir and am currently responsible for the website and monthly newsletter.

Almost every week, I listened to five sermons. Plus, over 1000 of the 4500 pages were in spiritual learning. The two that impacted me most were The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn and Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby (check out the list of books I read in 2018).

Reasons for goals

To be clear, I don’t say any of this to pump myself up for my spiritual goals (or any of them). This is all by the grace of God that I was able to hit any of these. I don’t want it to sound like “I did this good, spiritual thing!” or “I did that good, spiritual thing!” They were simply goals to help me grow in my relationship with Jesus Christ.

Speaking of which, that’s why I do all of these goals. God has given me so much (not to mention taking away a lot of sin!) and this is one way I am striving to glorify Him with my life. It’s like the parable of the talents from Matthew 25:14-30. One man was given five talents, doubled them and was consequently given more to manage by his master. Similarly, the man given two talents doubled his and was given more to manage. The last man was given one talent. He did nothing with it and was punished for it. I’d be thrilled if God used my life to give even more back to Him!

That’s it, Folks

That is a look back at 2018. And though I’m having a slow start to 2019, goals are being developed. In fact, my family just did a couple of days away to look at our vision for this year. I’m really looking forward to seeing what happens this year!

What goals did you hit last year? I want to hear from you in the comments below!


21 Impactful Books I Read This Year

This morning, I FINISHED the reading goal that I set back in January! This year I read 21 books. Here’s a short clip of my opinion of each one!

One quick thing. I liked almost all of the books I read for various reasons. I try not to pick up a book if I think I’ll hate it. Thus, most of my opinions are positive. Every book was impactful, however, some were certainly more than others.

The Treasure Principle – Randy Alcorn

This was the first book I read of 2018. It really got me into a generosity mindset. It drives home an eternal perspective of material wealth from a Biblical worldview. If you like books that will help you grow in your faith as a Christian, this is an excellent choice. It is the reason Bailey and I increased our giving this year.

Intentional Living – Dr. John Maxwell

I loved this book! Intentional Living works through questions in each chapter designed to prompt action in the personal development arena. I’ve read a couple other books by Maxwell and they always incite a sense of urgency for me. In fact, in one section, he encourages the reader to write the book he or she has always wanted to write. This encouraged me in my own book-writing endeavors and I finished mine in July!

Linchpin – Seth Godin

This book is about becoming indispensable in whatever field you find yourself. The author discusses the benefits of working in an area in which you are deeply passionate. He talks about how each and every person is an artist, not necessarily in what they do but in how they do it. For a more in-depth analysis, read my book review about Linchpin. Godin is a deep thinker and the books I’ve read by him are very conceptual in nature. If you prefer books that tell you exactly what to do (you know, like “15 Ways You Can Make Yourself Indispensable at Work”), you may not like his style of writing.

Capital Gains – Chip Gaines

This book is an entertaining read. I like Chip’s quirky humor because I have a very quirky sense of humor as well! Literally, I’ve been told that I am well prepared for the job of a dad when it comes to jokes. Chip gives an overview of what he’s learned from business to family since he was in college. Kind of a memoir of sorts. Rather heartwarming if you like an emotional read.

Retire Inspired – Chris Hogan

This is an excellent book for anyone who doesn’t understand finances. I know so many people my age who don’t know how to prepare for the future financially. Retire Inspired puts in laymen’s terms the process for reaching financial security and achieving the dreams that you have. It really got me fired up for ensuring Bailey and I are saving enough for the future. As Chris Hogan puts it, “It’s not an age. It’s a financial number.”

The Power of Who – Bob Beaudine

This was one of the top two most mind-blowing books I read this year. The Power of Who is such an unbelievably simple concept. Beaudine talks about the six levels of relationships that everyone has. He says that networking isn’t everything because those who you give your business cards to don’t have enough emotional connection with you to help just because they care. He focuses on Who Friends. These are the people who actually care about you and want to help you in whatever ways they can.

Beaudine encourages the reader to go to his or her circle of Who Friends and ask for help in whatever way. If you’re looking for a specific kind of job, ask your Who Friends and see what comes up. Each of your Who Friends has their own Who Friends which gives you opportunities that you may have never gotten otherwise.

The Gates of Hell – Concordia Publishing House

This book’s subtitle is “Confessing Christ in a Hostile World.” This was a deep read. It compiles writing from various pastors who tackle some challenging topics. Some include the world’s view on sex, the church’s work, and the effectiveness of international mission. This is one of those books that can be difficult to understand if you don’t have a background in theology (which I don’t!), however, I liked it because it gave me a different perspective on how we as Christians are to communicate with those of other worldviews.

Platform – Michael Hyatt

This is an excellent resource guide from Michael Hyatt who has a lot of experience developing a platform online. If you aren’t interested in developing a platform (blog, YouTube channel, reader base, podcast following, etc.) you likely won’t be interested in this book. But if you do, it’s an easy way to get a TON of information about how to get started in blogging or developing a following on Twitter, etc. It has quite a bit of practical advice for building a platform without spending an unbelievable amount of time on it every day.

Talk Like Ted – Carmine Gallo

Personally, I want to work on my presenting and public speaking skills in general, so I picked up this book based on a recommendation from a podcast. Gallo gives an in-depth look at the characteristics of killer speeches given at Ted Talks. He covers nine simple ways of boosting the effectiveness of your next speech based on the highest-rated Ted Talks in history. It is worth the read!

All Marketers Are Storytellers – Seth Godin

Like I mentioned in the snippet about Linchpin, Godin has a very conceptual way of writing. In this book, he gives a lot of good information about how we can improve our effectiveness in our marketing. There isn’t a list of steps though, so if you like lists of how to move forward, you may not like it. But if you are a marketer, you’ll likely glean some valuable insight into how you can set up an effective marketing plan to hit as many eligible customers as possible. Also, you MUST read Building a Storybrand by Donald Miller if you want some mindblowingly simple strategies for improving marketing.

The Pumpkin Plan – Mike Michalowicz

Honestly, I got this book because the Kindle version was on sale and I heard about the author from a podcast I frequent. Plus, it was focused on small business so I gave it a shot. I really like books that put things into practical terms and this one fits that category. In it, Michalowictz talks about his development of the “pumpkin plan” after a conversation with a pumpkin farmer. The plan, in essence, is killing off the small pumpkins in order to invest all energy into the fewer large pumpkins. In business, he says this is “firing” those clients that require a ton of energy to serve and focusing all your energy on your best clients so you can attract more clients who are alike. He gives practical strategies for implementing the “pumpkin plan” in small business. This book comes highly recommended by me for those working on a startup!

The Christian ATHEIST – Craig Groeschel

Groeschel tackles the issue many people find prevalent in their lives — being a Christian Athiest. That is, as the subtitle so clearly states, “Believing in God but living as if He doesn’t exist.” I like Craig Groeschel quite a bit. I think he has thoughtful sermons that are very applicable to modern struggles. Also, he is an entertaining author — more than most. However, I didn’t find that this book helped me grow in my faith much. He makes some good points as he covers topics that many Christians face (forgiveness, doubt, fear). But being a Christian from a very young age, I know a lot of what he said, so I didn’t learn much of anything new. What he does well is reminding Christians how we are to model our lives after that of Christ.

Influencer – Patterson, Grenny, Maxfield, McMillan, Switzler

This is an excellent book for those who care about influencing others. The authors cover the ways people are influenced and give tons of examples and case studies to back up their claims. I liked the book and would recommend it. The challenging thing is that you and I encounter people every day that respond differently to influence. There is no cookie-cutter solution to the best way you can influence those around you and inspire them to do something specific. However, this books gives an great starting point.

A Winner’s Guide to Negotiating – Molly Fletcher

Molly Fletcher comes from the sports negotiating world and brings with her a lot of experience and advice. I read this after having listened to Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss (an ex-FBI hostage negotiator) and was a bit disappointed with the organization of the ideas and recommendations. Never Split the Difference was a book that I would HIGHLY recommend for anyone to read. It gives very specific advice that applies to any situation. Plus, it comes from an ex-FBI hostage negotiator who couldn’t take no for an answer or people would die. I thought Molly Fletcher’s book gave a lot of great advice with stories galore, however, I thought the application was a bit lacking.

Experiencing God – Henry Blackaby

I LOVED this book. I wrote a blog post about it recently in which I highly recommended it as a faith-building resource (after the Bible, of course). Blackaby gets deep into Scripture as he encourages the reader to pursue God more fully. He gives practical methods to seek God’s voice through His Word, through prayer, through circumstances, and through His church. It completely changed my perspective on faith in more ways than one. If you want a deeply challenging book, give this one a read.

Everybody Always – Bob Goff

Bob Goff is someone who I would consider rather eccentric. Eccentric but caring. It comes through his writing which makes this book an entertaining read. In it, he talks about how we as Christians are to love “everybody always” as Christ does. This is another book that is a great reminder of how we can put faith in action, but I didn’t think it was a very deep book. It’s really focused more on action than theology.

The Miracle Morning – Hal Elrod

I’ve been wanting to use my mornings more effectively. Elrod explains his S.A.V.E.R.S. method of spending time in the morning before his normal activities. This stands for Silence (essentially meditation), Affirmations (positively speaking to oneself), Visualization (mentally preparing oneself for the future), Exercise (getting the blood flowing), Reading (learning) and Scribing (writing and reflecting).

Some of these things seemed a little weird to me while reading them. But using the morning to positively start the day has helped a lot of people improve productivity so Bailey and I made a modification of “The Miracle Morning” for ourselves. For the last five weeks or so, on work days at least, we’ve been getting up early together to get our days kicked off right. This involves working out (or doing something active like pushups), reading the Bible together, praying, and reading a normal book. I’ve found that it has indeed helped improve my perspective and makes me feel somewhat productive before even starting my work.

How the Mighty Fall – Jim Collins

I love business books and Jim Collins as an author. I’ve read Good to Great and Great by Choice, both of which I would recommend to a business enthusiast. This book covers the consistent poor decisions made by great companies that fell into bankruptcy. Collins uses some excellent analogies in his books to paint a picture of the concepts he teaches. He continues the practice in this book which is why his writing never ceases to improve my understanding of good business strategies.

The 12 Week year – Brian Moran

In this book, Moran talks about how to improve productivity during the year by splitting it up into smaller chunks. This is because it produces urgency to get goals done instead of pushing them off till the end of the year. In his case, he recommends a “12 week year.” He also goes through steps to set up the reader’s 12 week year and to make the most of it.

I like the concept. We will see if I use it in the coming year to pursue my goals.

The $100 startup – Chris Guillebaeu

Ok, ok, I haven’t actually finished this book yet. But I have a week left before the start of the year! This is a motivating book for those interested in pursuing other passion-based streams of income. Guillebaue is an experienced side-hustler and gives practical steps for starting a business in this book.

I love it so far!

What’s next?

Wow! That was a long blog post! By writing it, I hope I motivated you (at least a little?) to get into reading more this coming year. The amount of information you can glean from experts is unbelievable and motivating. I can’t wait to hit the next set of books in 2019!

What books do you recommend I read?

I want to hear from you in the comments below!


If You Like to Write (Or Don’t), Grammarly Is For You

For at least a year, I have seen ads for Grammarly specifically on YouTube. I’ve thought, “Hey, that’s pretty cool, but I have pretty good grammar and don’t need anything like that.”

I guess repeated advertising actually works because I finally tried it. I mean, I blog regularly. It couldn’t hurt to try.

One might argue, “That takes all the work out of having good grammar!” but I can honestly say that it has helped me a lot. I don’t have to worry about having a blatant misspelling in my writing. You know, the kind of misspelling that you cringe at when you’re reading a book and notice a word the editors missed (unbelievable).

We’ll start with the first benefit — it’s free! There is a premium version that I have not used. It provides guidance on things like word choice, sentence structure, and misplaced words or phrases. I will personally be trying it out soon.

If you get the desktop editor, it’s super easy to use on your computer. The thing I like most about it is that it is an unbelievably simple editor. In our time, it’s far too easy to get distracted. But as I’m writing this blog post, the editor takes up the entire window. It’s almost entirely white space except for a few simple buttons and the grammar assistant on the top right. This allows me to focus on my writing without ads popping up in the sidebars. I blog once a week so being able to bang out some writing without distractions really helps.

Obviously, it provides feedback on misspelled words and problems with grammar (not gonna lie, I probably would have spelled “grammar” with an -er). Ok, ok. So I misspelled “misspelled.” I’m an engineer, not an English teacher.

If I double-click on a word, it will automatically pull up not only general definitions of the word, but it will also give synonyms. This is a feature I particularly like because when I write a blog post, I find it difficult to have a variety of word usage. This feature will at least allow me to increase the quality of my writing. Here’s an example.

Aside from this, I have also put the extension into my online browser. Then, it uses the same software to check my emails and almost any other text box I write in. For example, I have now looked back through my previous blog posts using Grammarly. After the software has analyzed my text, it makes suggestions or points out mistakes so I can further edit my posts for future readers.

Overall, I really like the software and it has helped me increase the quality of my writing. I highly recommend it for those who write frequently AND for those who don’t (I mean, everyone has to send emails to their boss).

If you want to support my blog, hit the banner at the top of this post and sign up for free!

Disclaimer: This is an honest review and I was not asked by Grammarly to give a good review.

Correct all grammar errors with Grammarly!

Quit Making Your Goals Into God’s Goals

My goals are regularly self-focused. How can I make myself better? How can I increase my physical strength? What about my finances? What ways can I improve my relationships with others?

However, what I really haven’t considered is this: As a Christian, I claim that God is the Lord of my life.

But I haven’t asked God what He wants my goals to be for the coming year.

I routinely ask God to give me guidance for long-term direction. You know, general stuff like where to live and where to work. But not the smaller day to day goals.

Previous year’s Goal Strategy

It’s like this (a paraphrase of my goal blog post from last year):

“Ok, goal-making, here we come. I’ve got a goal to lift this much weight by the end of December. I’ve got to finish writing my book by the end of June. We plan to save this much for Bailey’s education by the end of October. And I plan to read this many books. Oh! And God, to satisfy you and make me feel better about myself, I’ll read this many spiritual learning books, listen to this many sermons, and read my Bible every day. Capiche?”

To be clear, I am not trying to take anything away from the significance of daily Bible reading, learning from other Christians through sermons and books, or even improving oneself through physical, financial, or personal goals. I believe it is more about the mentality with which we create goals.

Henry Blackaby, the author of Experiencing God, says this about our plans:

“Noah did not call on God to help him accomplish what he was dreaming of doing for God. In Scripture, you never find God asking people to dream up what they want to do for Him. He never urges His people to set impressive goals and generate grand visions for Him and His kingdom.”

The fact is that I tend to dream up things on my own. And to be sure, I ask God to help me accomplish those dreams. I don’t set goals and dream dreams that are out of line with God’s will. At least not on purpose. But I don’t necessarily pursue God as I plan my goals for the coming year.

New Mentality

I am trying to hold my goals for 2019 with open hands for several reasons. First, it is frequently difficult for me to understand what God’s plan is for me and my dreams. Because of that, I want to make goals that are glorifying to Him, but if he wants those goals to change, I don’t want my plan to be so locked-in that I’m not willing to change it to join Him in His work.

Secondly, when my hands are open, He can take the plans out of my hands and replace them with better ones. I wish I could say that’s easy, but it’s not. However, I am attempting to have this attitude.

Quit making your goals into God’s goals! I’m working on it by His grace.

Your Turn!

How do you think we can be glorifying to God as we create goals for our lives? I would love to hear from you in the comments below!


Graduated and Clueless Book on Sale!

I’m a graduate of The Ohio State University and today was autumn commencement! In honor of that (and the fact that Christmas is creeping up on us very quickly), my book Graduated and Clueless is on sale on Amazon! 

Currently, the ebook version is $0.99 and you can snag the hardcopy for any graduates you know for only $6.99. Order now so it can arrive before Christmas!


One of my unofficial goals for this next year is for my blog to make enough money to pay for itself. So as a part of that strategy, I’m working on signing up with affiliate programs for products that I personally like a lot.

When I bumped my WordPress subscription up so that I could put ads on my site (not my first choice but a start), I hated all the ads it automatically placed. And based on the book Platform by Michael Hyatt, I wanted to ensure that the ads on my site were for products that I cared about and those that I thought would be beneficial to my readers.

You will see ads on my website but only those that I actually care about. I wouldn’t recommend anything that doesn’t work for me.

Prepare for January Now (5 Questions to Ask About the Previous Year)

Goals can feel overwhelming. As a result, it’s easy for me to focus on what I am going to be doing during the Christmas season and push off planning for the coming year. To avoid this, I’m working on analyzing the previous year now.

Do you have any idea what you want to accomplish in 2019? Now’s the time to start preparing! 

Here’s a series of questions I like to ask myself:

1. What goals did I set last year? 

It greatly helps to write down goals. It helped me this year because I got to see exactly what my goals were when I looked back at them. There were multiple times I forgot the time frame or magnitude associated with a goal. 

I wrote a blog post on what my goals were for 2018 on my previous blog. I look at these to analyze my year and prepare for the next. And in the next couple weeks (hopefully, after I finish hitting a few more of them!), I plan to cover my 2018 goals and how I can improve on them in the coming year. 

2. Did I accomplish those goals?

If I hit a goal, I try to celebrate it! I have to intentionally do this because it’s easy to focus on the goals I didn’t hit. Consequently, discouragement creeps in. Then it’s tough to conjure up the motivation to make goals in the future. If you hit a goal, celebrate! Don’t pass it over!

3. What goals did I not accomplish and why?

I know I didn’t hit all my goals from last year. For instance, one of my goals was to go to the gym 10 times a month. I didn’t hit it and that’s one of the things I’m analyzing for the coming year. Similarly, I set a goal to ride my bike far more than I actually did. 

Why didn’t I hit them? Were they too lofty? Did I lose motivation? Did circumstances change?

Answering these questions sufficiently will help me develop a better understanding of how to set effective goals in the future. 

4. Were my goals SMART?

It’s a good practice to make goals that are SMART goals. I like to point to a Dave Ramsey article as a great resource for SMART goal making. Plus, this article has an outline for the types of goals to set for the year (such as financial or physical).

The general definition of SMART is this

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-sensitive 

If you set goals with each of these in mind, your goals will certainly have the capability to make a difference on your personal growth. 

5. how can I modify unreached goals to make it more likely I’ll hit them in 2019?

Some of my circumstances changed in 2018. For example, at the beginning of the year, Bailey had day classes which allowed us the time in the evening for going to the gym (to hit our 10-times-a-month goal). However, once fall semester rolled around, Bailey had only evening classes which made working out very difficult. 

We had to modify our schedule so we could work out in the morning but for a couple months, I have to say that I allowed the change in schedule to impact my monthly goal. 

Preparation doesn’t start in January. It starts now!

To sum up, I find that if I am not prepared for something and know exactly what I am going to do when it comes about, I may not do it. Here’s an example on a much smaller scale. This past Saturday, I had a list of things in my head that I knew I needed to get done. Bailey asked me what I was going to do because she was going to be working all day. I responded “Well, I’ll probably do this and that and maybe that.”

Come Saturday and I got only one of my major things done. Not because anyone interrupted me or I didn’t have the time. I just didn’t have a plan for what I was going to get done. I didn’t even have a list of things I wanted to accomplish. Therefore, Netflix proved to be a worthy opponent for my precious time. 

How are you going to prepare for next year? Have you already started making goals? I want to hear from you in the comments!


How to Design Memorable Moments for Yourself and Others

My family and I traveled to Yosemite National Park in 2014 to do some hiking and camping before I hit my first semester at Ohio State that fall. Literally a day before we left, I had a small blister pop up on my arm.

It was larger than normal poison ivy but I’ve had poison ivy plenty of times so I wasn’t worried. (Isn’t this how all overly dramatic stories begin?) Until the next day when I pulled my jacket off in the San Francisco Airport. To my horror, the blister had grown and spread in the mere 5-6 hours of flying we had just completed. Over the next 7 days, it got so bad that we had to visit a medical clinic so I could get some steroids to fight what we then knew was poison oak.

The funny thing is, even though I remember the discomfort of having blisters all over my left arm, that’s not what I remember most about that trip. I started listening to Chip and Dan Heath’s book The Power of Moments recently and understood why. Our brains are wired to remember defining moments. Sure, I remember the poison oak, but I even more vividly remember our 15-mile round trip hike to Cloud’s Rest near Half Dome.


I remember taking our goofy family “WHAT!?” pictures because it was out of the ordinary.

I remember running into an astronomy club on a mountain and getting to see the most unbelievable display of stars with professionals to describe what I was looking at.


Looking back, I see how I remember defining moments in my life or even just a vacation.

The premise of the book is this: significant, memorable moments don’t have to just happen to us. They can be designed into life.

And more specifically, you can design defining moments into other people’s lives. 

Chip and Dan outline defining moments as those that occur through four different avenues: elevation, pride, insight, and connection. Here they are.

Moments of Elevation

These are through something unexpected. It is doing an activity that is out of the ordinary. My dad took me on my first fishing trip when I was 6 years old. That was a defining moment for me because it wasn’t anything I had ever experienced in my day to day life.

Moments of Pride

These are moments in which you or someone else has a sense of pride about something. For me, college graduation commencement created a sense of pride in me (oh my word was engineering difficult), making it a defining moment.

Moments of Insight

These involve helping you or someone else realize something new. I realized when I edited my first short video with some friends that I loved filmmaking.

Moments of Connection

These can involve showing particular interest or care for others. A friend of mine wrote me the most meaningful letter I have ever received about six months ago. That was a moment of connection when I read that letter.

This book changed how I think about impact because it put into understandable language the reason I feel a particular way about every big (defining) moment I remember. So this week I am going to take it to heart and create a moment of connection by writing a letter of gratitude to someone I know. 

If you want to design moments that are powerful in your life or others, the Heaths say do things that fit into these categories. You will create meaningful memories that last!

What are your biggest memories and how do they fit into the four kinds of moments? I want to hear from you in the comments!


Why I Don’t Live a Life of Great Faith

As my economics professor spoke to our class, she taught us a very simple principle: opportunity cost. 

That is, for every opportunity that an individual takes, there is something for which they’re missing out. If a man purchased a sports car, the cost may be that he lost the opportunity to put a downpayment on a house for his wife. Sorry, but that white Corvette with accents of black looked so good.

It’s the same with time. If a student chooses to watch a college football game on a Saturday afternoon, the cost is that he (ok, it was me) loses the opportunity to prepare for a test on Monday. This raised an important question recently.

What is the opportunity cost of not following God and living a life of great faith?

Bailey and I have been reading a section of the Bible almost every day for the past year and a half. The other day, we read through Hebrews 11 which was a bit of a coincidence because the book I was reading at the time was Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby.

I’ve told many people that this has been the deepest book I’ve ever read (aside from the Bible). It discusses quite a bit about faith and how our faith grows as we experience God firsthand.

Check out Hebrews 11:32-34,

And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.

It documents the acts of many men and women of faith. These people accomplished absolutely unbelievable things because of the work God did in their lives.

It made me realize that I don’t think I am living a life of great faith. 

I have a good wife with a good job and a good apartment. I don’t have issues at work. I don’t have many stresses personally. We don’t have financial difficulties. But almost nothing in my life requires great faith.

I know for a fact that I’ve become comfortable. That’s what scares me because in Sunday morning Bible study this week, we talked about the danger of comfort and where that can lead us in our personal and spiritual lives.

I think of myself as being an introvert. So staying comfortable in what I know is important to me. But regret takes so many people at the end of life and the last thing I want is to see the opportunity cost of my decisions to not live a life of great faith.

One thing that God spoke to me as I was reading Experiencing God was this: potentially the reason I do not feel like I live a life of great faith is because I am missing opportunities He gives and missing His voice on a regular basis. 

I am trying to combat this by God’s grace and with His strength. One way I am doing this is by getting up early with Bailey to read our Bible in the morning (when we’re more alert) and invest a bit of time in prayer. My prayer is that we open our hearts to God’s work and that He brings opportunities that require of us great faith. And if this is a training period for something bigger, so be it.

How do you listen to God? What are you doing right now that requires a great amount of faith? Just comment below and I will engage with you!