How to Tackle Those BIG Projects

Three ideas that will get you moving!

Summer is my favorite time a year! There is so much to do, and I generally have the energy to tackle some good projects. But sometimes, the projects are overwhelming and it is hard to get started. After all, the garage did not get into that bad of shape overnight, now I have to clean it out and get it organized? I’ve also been watering my front landscaping to ensure that my new bushes stay watered until they become established. Well, the weeds loved the water too, and are now starting to overtake my landscaping. I don’t mind projects, but they can become a little overwhelming at times. Baby steps are the solution!

I used to live by the philosophy that I would only work on big projects when I had a big chunk of time. Well, big chunks of time are rare in our lives today, but it still feels great to move forward and get things accomplished. You and I can make it happen through baby steps. Here is how:

  • Divide your big project into smaller, more manageable projects. Instead of weeding the entire landscape, decide to weed a small section. You will have it done in no time and feel like you have gotten something accomplished. Instead of cleaning out the entire closet, work on one section at a time. The next time you have a small period of time, work on the next small sections. Before you know it, you will have the job completed.
  • Shift your mindset. If you have not worked in baby steps in the past, it will take some getting used to. Stop looking at the project in terms of the BIG project. Divide it up in your mind into smaller pieces. Then move forward one small project at a time.
  • Accept the fact that some jobs will never be done. I know, I don’t like it either, but there will always be more laundry to do. In my case, there are always weeds growing that need to be pulled. Don’t get me wrong, tt does feel good to “check these things off our list”, but who says our laundry has to be 100% done? Sometimes these are expectations we put on ourselves that simply make us miserable. Let’s get done what we can, and be happy with what we accomplished.

What project do you want to tackle this summer? Right now, divide it into small projects and start on one at a time. I bet a few months from now, you will be amazed at what you have accomplished. One small baby step at a time!

Here’s to a great summer and accomplishing a bunch of mini projects!

An Important Key To Performance

It doesn’t matter what role you are living out in your life, I believe you want to perform well. You want to perform well as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, employee, boss, coach, or friend. There is one key area that can tend to be neglected, that is vital in the pursuit of performing well, and there is science to back it up. The key is Rest.

If you have read my blog for any amount of time, you know that I am a huge advocate for rest. I think, at times, we run ourselves ragged and we take our loved ones, even our children, along for that same rough ride. Summer is here. It is time for some fun in the sun, but it is also time for some much-needed rest and rejuvenation.

I read a very interesting book that is filled with stories and studies about how peak performers stay highly successful in their pursuits that is called Peak Performance by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness. They introduce the equation for growth and success. Part of the equation is rest. Top performers don’t just know how to work hard, they know how to rest hard, too. They know that their bodies and minds need down time. They know that in giving their bodies and minds rest, they are able to grow and take things to a level that many of us only dream about.

Imagine it…

You want to be a great mom. Work hard at it, but also rest hard at it and you will take your ability to be a great mom to the next level.

I want to be a great writer. I have to work hard at it, but also give my mind time to rest and grow, and I will take my writing to the next level.

The unfortunate news is that the chronically busy lives we live work against this concept of rest, therefore, the benefits of rest. It is suggested that we get between 7-9 hours of sleep a night and many of you start to laugh out loud when I even suggest it. What science is telling us is that when we are not resting, we are not working at our peak performance when we are awake. What science is saying is that if we prioritize sleep and rest, our awake hours will be much more focused and productive.

How, then, do we make the change? One small manageable step at a time. I do not take my morning and afternoon breaks at work. I would even bet that if I did not have to go home to feed my dog at lunch, I would probably work through it, too. What the science is telling me, is that I will be more focused and productive if I take those two extra breaks in my work day. Those are the two small manageable baby steps I am going to start this week.

What is it that you want to take to the next level? Work hard at it, allow yourself breaks throughout your day, week, month and year, and that rest will foster taking whatever it is to the next level.

If you are not giving yourself enough rest right now, how can you change that? What small manageable step can you start this week to prioritize rest?

Summer has begun! Enjoy it! If you want an encouraging yet motivating book to ready, grab Peak Performance. Give your time to what is most important to you, then rest and see yourself and your endeavors grow!

Here’s to being the best you can be, doing the things that are most important to you, and enjoying a good night’s rest!

How To Get Off The Starting Line

Remove four obstacles that can stop you before you get started.

Spring is here, and summer is right around the corner. It’s the time of year that we experience new-found energy. We are ready to start new things or get back on track in areas of our lives that were put on the back burner over the winter months. Getting going again should be simple, right?

I would love to tell you getting started will be easy and simple, but I have found that very few things that are important and good in our lives, are easy and simple. Getting started has its challenges, but these challenges can be overcome. When you are aware of the obstacles, you can push through them and move on to accomplish what is important to you.

Obstacle #1: It’s easy to look back at how things used to be and get discouraged with where you are today. You were younger in the past. As you grow older your body changes, which can bring discouragement. At the end of last summer you were in great shape. How is it possible that all of that progress was lost? I have found that looking back is good for the sake of learning from our past, but not good when we compare where we were to where we are today. Stand proud on the starting line today and be proud of yourself. You are starting fresh and moving forward in an area that is important to you! I am proud of you for that!

Obstacle #2: It’s hard to find the time in your busy calendars to prioritize starting fresh in this area of life that is important to you. Isn’t’ it crazy how our calendars fill up? If there is an open time slot, it is quickly filled with something. If you want to start fresh and move off of the starting line, blocking out time right now on your calendar is essential. It is always hard to hear, but if you don’t fill your time with what is most important to you, someone else will fill it with things that are important to them. Figure out a plan, block off time and make it happen!

Obstacle #3: The first few steps off the starting line can require the most amount of energy. Sometimes we want to jump right up to the line and speed off only to stumble and fall. Starting fresh on what is important to you might require some thought and planning. Do you need to plan out a menu and do some grocery shopping? Do you need to plan out and prepare the clothing or equipment you need to get started? A little bit of planning and prep will allow you to jump off of the starting line and keep moving forward more smoothly.

Obstacle #4: There will be hurdles in your path. Deal with them and keep moving. I don’t know if this has ever happened to you, but just when you get started, something happens to stop you in your tracks. This past week I got out on my bike for my first ride of the season. It felt great and I had a great plan to keep going. One day into my plan I came down with a cold that put me out of commission for a week. How frustrating! The reality is, it happens. Some things we have control over, some things we do not. They might keep us down for a short period of time, but don’t let them stop you for long. Get back up and get going!

Is it time for you to get started on something that is important to you? If so, push past the obstacles that get in your path and keep moving forward towards the results you desire. You can do it, and I will be right here with you, pushing ahead one step at a time! I am proud of you for getting up and getting going!

Here’s to a great week ahead and being proud of starting fresh!

UGHHH! It’s Been One Of Those Days!

Have you ever had one of those days where you feel like you failed those around you? Your boss is not happy with your report, your loved ones are displeased with your selection for dinner, your friend or family members are disappointed that you could not make it to their get-together. It’s a day where you feel like you have let everyone down.

I don’t wish these kind of days on anyone. They drag us down to the point where it is hard to pick ourselves back up. Here are a few things I want you to remember on days like these.

Remember, you are very talented! You have many talents that you have worked hard through the years to grow and foster. Remember, you are a very talented and capable person.

Remember, you have wonderful strengths! You have many strengths that are unique to you. Your strengths make the world a better place every single day.

Remember, Making mistakes are a part of the process of becoming even more amazing! As hard as it is  to make mistakes, it is through that process that we become, better, stronger, smarter. Any mistakes you have made today, are stepping-stones to a better you!

Remember, you have done a lot of things very well! It is on these hard days that we focus in on all of the things that have not gone right. I am here to tell you, you have done many things very well! Take a minute or two to remember and acknowledge those great things.

Hang in there if you are having a rough day. Remember, you are amazing! You are beautiful! You are the perfect you! Celebrate those things today!

It’s Good Medicine!

During the ups and downs of life, it important to fill our lives with good things. Many times, we have to be very intentional about adding these good things to our lives, because they do not happen on their own. One of those “good things”, which brings contentment to our lives, is gratitude. It is good medicine!

I do not know what your life looks like right now. You might be going through some really tough stuff. I have found that it does seem easier to feel grateful when life is going well. Although, it is in the midst of the hard times of life where we can find glimmers of peace, joy and contentment in gratefulness.

I encourage you today, wherever your journey has taken you, to take a few minutes to think about the following area, and the blessing you have to be grateful for.

  • The important people in your life. Family, friends, significant others, co-workers.
  • Your mental, emotional, spiritual or physical health. The health of those close you to.
  • A roof over your head and comforts like clean water to drink, heat, running toilets, transportation, etc.
  • Your job and income to meet your needs.
  • Blessings that are special only to you.

There is much to be thankful for and gratitude warms our hearts. It is worth the short investment of time.

I am thankful for you! Enjoy your week and the blessings that are all around you!

Something’s Gotta Give!

In the midst of your busy schedule, have you ever felt absolutely exhausted and like something has got to give? I think we have all been there at one point or the other and I am here today, to tell you that when life throws you a curveball and your busyness goes to a whole new level, something should give.

What happens so many times, is that we keep pushing through without making any adjustments. We pile the added project onto our already busy life. I am all for pushing through the hard times, because it is in the pushing through that eventually gets us out the other side. However, I also believe it is essential, during particularly difficult times, to make adjustments to help us make it through in one piece.

Here are a few positive ideas to help you through the tough times.

  • Be extra kind to yourself by giving yourself some grace. If you do not get everything done, it is ok. This is when you get back to your “must do” and “wanna do” lists. When life is particularly busy, give yourselves the grace to just focus on what has to get done for now. There is even a chance some balls may be dropped in the process. Be kind to yourself, take responsibility, ask for grace from others and keep going. I am having to remind myself of this exact thing right now in my life. It is hard.
  • Be extra intentional about blocking off some rest time for you so you don’t get worn down and sick. Our bodies can only take so much. When you get worn down, your immune system gets worn down too. Take your calendar right now and block off some time for rest, and make it happen.
  • Find and savor the little moments in the day where you can get outside, get some fresh air, some sunshine, and some peace. Every day at work, I have to walk down a nice long driveway to get the mail. It does not take long, but I try every day to take my time, enjoy the moment, take some nice deep breaths and savor the few minutes of peace. Find a similar moment in your day. It’s there if you look for it.
  • Listen to some uplifting music. Listening first thing in the morning starts your day on a positive upbeat note.  Listening as you wind down for bed sets your mind on something positive as you fall asleep.
  • Try to keep up with the things that will ultimately help you feel better and give you energy. I know sometimes we are so tired and don’t want to get to our exercise class, or would prefer a big old candy bar over something more nutritious. I am all for rest and treating ourselves to something special, but I know we always feel better after we have worked out. Eating the more nutritious food gives us much-needed long-term energy to keep us going.
  • Remind yourself that this time is temporary. If you have an “end” date, mark it on your calendar. Countdown the days to when life gets back to “normal”. I know there is not such things as “normal” but,  you do have to be intentional about slowing yourself down once the additional commitment is removed. Plan a celebration dinner, plan a weekend away, or send yourself flowers to mark the end of the difficult time you have made it through.

I know there are a lot of you with added pressures right now. Be kind to yourself, keep pushing through and celebrate as the end approaches!

Take care of yourself, for you are amazing!

10 Simple Step Towards Amazing Free Time!

Many of you work hard outside of your home forty plus hours a week, giving your heart and soul to the work you do. As much as you try to leave it behind, it finds its way into your free time. Is it possible to leave work behind, enjoy your time off and jump right back in with energy when you return?

It is if you prioritize one essential habit at the end of every work week. Weekly planning! Here are 10 steps that are sure to transform both your work and your free time!

  1. Prioritize 30 minutes of uninterrupted time at the end of your work week.
  2. Use whatever system you prefer to organize your “to do” list and calendar.
  3. Dump your brain. Write down everything that needs to be added to your “to do” list and your schedule. There is a chance a few personal “to dos” will flow out with your work stuff. Make a note of it and keep dumping.
  4. Decide what tasks are most important to get done when you return to work. Use some system to prioritize them. I start with “must dos” and “wanna dos” or “must get dones” and “wanna get dones”.
  5. Look at your calendar for the next week and your current appointments. Make sure everything is documented in your system. The benefit of planning is to get everything out of your mind so you can free your mind during your time off.
  6. Block out time during your week to get the most important tasks done, your “must get dones”, giving yourself ample time to do your task and meet your deadlines.
  7. Realistically plan out your first day back to work, and have tentative plans for the rest of your week.
  8. Walk out the door at the end of your week with a plan. As work tries to intrude into your time off, remember you have a well thought out plan waiting for you at work. If other items pop into your mind that you had forgotten about, write them down immediately to release them from your brain. Bring them into work when you return.
  9. Walk back in the door of work having a plan and feeling empowered.
  10. As your work week evolves, adjust your plan daily. Try not to let others pull you too far off course. You know what you “must get done”, and it is up to you to defend the time you have set aside for them. Leave each night with a plan for the next day. Enjoy all of your time off!

REPEAT!

The goal of weekly planning is to free your mind from work “stuff” enabling you to focus on what is most important to you personally during your time off.

Having a plan for work turns your free time into:

  • Time to focus on your health and well-being!
  • Time to focus on those you care about the most!
  • Time for rest and better sleep!
  • More fun and less worry!
  • Feeling more clear minded and less scatterbrained!
  • Time to work towards your dreams!
  • So much more!

Don’t wait another week! Start weekly planning this week! It is a difference maker!

Here’s to a great plan for work and much needed down time just for you!

You Will Make It!

Celebrate at the finish line!

Sometimes in the midst of life, as we work hard to take small baby steps and keep moving forward, we wonder if we will ever get to where we are going. We wonder if we will ever accomplish our goal. Will we ever see light at the end of the tunnel? Will we ever cross the finish line?

The answer is YES!

In the past few weeks, I have talked to a number of amazing women who are crossing the finish lines of big goals.

  • One is retiring after many years of hard work and savings. She is on to her next adventure!
  • One is finishing up her last class to receive her Masters degree! She sees the light at the end of the tunnel!
  • One is wrapping up all of the paperwork for a family member’s estate after they had passed away. What a relief!
  • One is making her last tuition payment for her children. How exciting!

You will cross the finish lines of your life, if you keep going and don’t give up!

I bet each one of the ladies above would share with you stories of their journey, and they would include the following.

  • Their journey did not look exactly the way they had originally envisioned it. We set out on a journey and I think most of us think we will travel from point A to point B in a straight line. Once we get on the road though, we inevitably run into delays, detours, and even distractions. These times can be challenging because we see where we need to go, but for whatever reason, we can’t get their on a straight path.
  • The time it took to travel their journey may not have been what they originally planned. This is not true for everyone, but it is true for many. Accomplishing big goals in life require time, growth, learning, and persevering. All of the delays, detours and distractions listed above require our time, and that waiting time can be hard.
  • They could not have done it alone. Thank goodness we do not have to tackle life alone! The people in our lives bring the spice to it! They also bring encouragement and, many times, real help that we need. People make our journey worthwhile and interesting!

Congratulations to all of you who are crossing the finish line of your goals! You have persevered through many small baby steps and have won the race! We celebrate your amazing accomplishment with you!

For those of you, like me, who are smack dab in the middle of our journey, let’s try to enjoy the journey, embrace the time of learning and growth, and know that WE WILL cross the finish line if we keep taking one baby step at a time!

For those of you who are getting ready to set out on a new journey in life, set your sights on that goal, keep it before you at all times, don’t be surprised if you experience a few detours, delays or distractions. Plan your course, keep moving one step at a time, and plan your celebration when you reach your goal!

Here’s to a great journey, great people and a great celebration at the finish line!

It’s So Easy…To Say Yes!

Last week we talked about how sometimes the plethora of opportunities that present themselves in our lives gets in the way of the quality. This week we will touch on why we love saying “yes”, why we don’t like saying “no”, and how we can find the quality of life we are yearning for.

Have you ever been in a situation where you were asked by a really great person to do something, attend something, make food for something, or volunteer for something? Even though you know your schedule is crazy busy, the word “yes” slips right on out. After all, this is a really great person asking me and it is a good cause. It feels good at that moment to say “yes!” You suddenly can’t ignore the unsettled feeling deep down in your soul though. You know you will need to figure out how to fit this in amongst all of the other opportunities that you and your loved ones have said “yes” to. But for now, it feels good to have said “yes”.

You are right! It has been shown that saying “yes” brings a good feeling to our bodies, much like the good feeling eating sweets, drinking caffeine, or filling our tummies with our favorite food. It literally feels good to say “yes”. We instantly feel approval. We instantly get a smile of appreciation. It instantly feels good.

Verses…

The disappointment that we perceive when we say “no” to others. We generally don’t get a smile in return. We certainly don’t feel approved of. If there is any feeling that can be associated with saying “no” it would be the feeling of cold, not cozy. Then the guilt sets in. The person we just said “no” to is such a great person, they work so hard, we feel like we owe them. I just finished reading a book by Andy Stanley called Enemies of the Heart, where he talk about guilt. He explains that when we feel guilty, we feel like we owe someone something. I have found that to be true in my life.

No wonder the word “yes” flies off of our tongue so quickly!

Reality then sets in. How are we going to fit it all in? I guess the morning jog that I long for can wait another day. The kids are fine running around with me at night and the sit down dinner around our home table that I long for will just have to wait. I will have my significant other run to pick up the food for the next night’s event and we will eventually see each other when we all get home  at night just to start in all over again the next morning.

I’m worn out just writing that paragraph, and I know there were probably a number of things I missed in that description. I do know something that was missing in the descriptions… many things that you hold dear to you as most important.

That just made my heart hurt a little. It feels so good to say “yes” until reality sets in. Reality does not feel good at all.

I do have a solution and a way for you to still get the good feeling by saying “yes”.

Take time to define what is most important to you, even define the pace of life you desire to live. Start saying “yes” to those things. Fill your calendar with those things. When the really great person comes up to you and asks you if you can add something to your calendar, here is what you do:

  • You think about what you have defined as “most important” to you and ask yourself if this fits into those categories.
  • You think about the pace of life you want to live and you ask yourself if this will help you live at that pace.
  • You tell them you will take a look at your calendar and get back with them.
  • You look at your calendar, which is starting to fill up with “most important” things and you make a decision…then you get back with that really great person with an answer.
  • There is nothing wrong with telling someone you already have plans for that night, even if those plans are to cuddle up with a book on your couch to rejuvenate your soul.

It feels great to say “yes” to the best things, and you actually feel good deep down, even when you have to tell someone else “no”. You know you are living the life you want to be living by doing the things that are most important to you.


Actions steps:

  1. Start adding a few things on your calendar that are things that are most important to you.
  2. Make one of those things “taking time to define what is most important to me, and the pace of life I want to be living.”
  3. Gradually transition the things on your calendar to the things that are most important to you and away from the “yeses” that are driven by the guilt of letting others down.
  4. Keep moving forward in this fashion, one step at a time!

Say “yes” to the best things! You got this!

 

Opportunities!

What Is Your Heart Saying?

Life presents so many opportunities every single day. Opportunities at work, for your children, opportunities for your significant other, opportunities with family, friends, church, and your community. We live in a time of such great opportunity that it is hard to say no. We do not want to pass up the many opportunities we are given. As a result though, is the quantity of our activities interfering with the quality of our lives?

If that question just brought a tinge of pain to your heart, I want you to rest for a moment and think about this for a little bit. The first thought that might jump to your mind is “but I have to keep doing all that I am doing, that is just the way it is.” I want to encourage you right now that you do not have to have this pain in your heart, there is an answer. It might feel impossible today to change something in your life, but I promise you, you can!

While you take just a short moment to think about that pain in your heart, what one area of your life comes to mind? What are you neglecting that makes you sad? Your significant other? Your children? Your health? Your dreams? Your home? You might say “all of the above, Jen!” For now, choose one.

What little itsy, bitsy thing can you do right now to prioritize that one thing?

Do you think you can prioritize that one itsy, bitsy little thing for the rest of the week?

I know you can! If you are like me, it might slip your mind in the busyness of life. Right now, set an alarm on your phone to remind you all week. That’s it. That’s all you have to do. You want to know the amazing thing? You have just moved forward on one thing that you would not have moved forward on before you read this blog post. You are moving forward, and I am proud of you!

All it takes is one itsy bitsy step! You got this!

I’ll see you next week, and we will talk about why we love saying yes to all of the opportunities in life. It feels so good to say yes doesn’t it? Al least in the short-term.

Take care of yourself! You are amazing!