Friday, June 19, 2015

Obligation as Opportunity


What would our lives look like if we began to view our daily tasks and responsibilities not as obligations, but rather as opportunities?

Think about this for a moment.

How would this paradigm shift affect your relationships, your work environments, your spiritual life, your physical health, and many other areas of your life?

For me, this paradigm shift changes everything. Daily living goes from a list of to-dos to an exciting adventure that is continuously unfolding and evolving. It is intentional living. It is being proactive rather than reactive. And the very best part? It enables us to take ownership over our outlook and actions. When we choose to view our lives as being full of opportunities rather than obligations, we dictate our circumstances and choose how we spend our time. This is so much better then allowing our circumstances and responsibilities take ownership over us and dictate our emotions and energy. Living with intentionality and a heart open to opportunity is extremely freeing and cuts the unnecessary fat out of our lives. We choose the type of life that we want to live and the outlook that we want to have.

Ownership over our attitude and choices can literally turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. Rather than letting our day be dictated by obligations that we have to fulfill, we are able to take ownership over our approach to every moment of the day and embrace the possibility of growth and enrichment in every situation we encounter. This allows the best to come out of every situation.

For example: Lets say your boss asks you to take on an extra responsibility at work or attend an extra function that you normally would not be required to attend. There are two ways to respond: You can see the extra responsibility as a burdensome obligation that someone else is making you do, or you can take ownership over it and see the extra responsibility as a way to expand your repertoire and strengthen your relationship with my boss and department, which is wonderful for professional development and advancement. Likewise, we can see that extra event as a time stealing obligation, or we can see it as an opportunity to meet new people and build relationships across departments. Perhaps we have mundane tasks at work that we hate to complete. Look for the opportunity that lies within those tasks. The choice is always ours.

Another example: Fitness. I can view my time on the treadmill as a monotonous obligation or as a healthy opportunity to invest in treating my body well while listening to the latest podcast or watching a favorite show. Lets say I have a great book that I know I should read to expand my knowledge, but crashing on the couch to watch TV all night instead sounds so much convenient. Of course there are days when just simply relaxing and vegging out for a bit is needed, but let's be honest, those days are not every day. I can view choosing to read the book as an obligation for self improvement or I can view reading the book as an opportunity to stimulate my mind and further develop myself as a well-read woman, which I always want to be.

If we have a goal in mind of who we want to become as we continue to grow as a person (which is always a life long journey), we have to make choices today that will grow us into the person for tomorrow. Make those choices and create those opportunities as if you are that person already. If you want to be a business owner, act like a business owner and see opportunities within your life to expand and strengthen your business skills. If you want to work in politics or be a PR executive, see every situation as on opportunity to hone your communication & people skills.  If you want to be a writer, act like a writer and see those hidden opportunities within your life to hone your writing skills--even if it is just in writing a thank you card for a coworker or an email to a friend--that is an opportunity! Start with the intention and see that the opportunities will follow. Remember, "Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin..." -Zechariah 4:10.

I heard Bishop TD Jakes say in a message, "You have been wired for a greater purpose...You have to be something instinctively and intrinsically before you can be it experientially". To paraphrase his message: if you are not a leader on the inside right now, you'll never be a true leader once you get the title. If you are not a preacher right now and naturally preach to yourself and others, you'll never be a preacher once you get the title. It comes down to your character, values, and the intentions of your heart. It is also a matter of recognizing our natural gifts, talents, and desires and living our lives in a way in which we seize each moment as a powerful opportunity for the next. After all, all we have is right now. 

We choose to set an atmosphere over our lives, whether we realize it or not. We can set an atmosphere of creativity, opportunity, and excellence over our lives or we can set an atmosphere of strife and mediocrity. After all, you reap what you sow. In other words, whatever you put into a situation is exactly what you will get out of it. If you are doing the bare minimum in life to get through tasks and responsibilities with as little effort or engagement as possible, you are not going to get an enriching and highly fulfilling life back in return. If, however, you meet every task and responsibility as an opportunity in which you can immerse yourself and open yourself up to new possibilities and learning, you have now created an atmosphere in which your life can thrive and grow, and others in return will be attracted to it. Why? Because passion, intention, and dedication is contagious.

Life is way too short to only do things half way and just get by. Laziness and routine patterns may be convenient in the current moment, but they do not take us toward the bright future that God has destined for us. All we have is the ability to choose our response and efforts here and now. Let's choose wisely. Let's choose opportunity.

Click here and jump to 21:00 min to hear Bishop's TD Jakes' message that I'm referring to.

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