How to Have a Great Year!

Regardless of How it Started

How did you ring in the New Year? With happiness and celebration? With concern and apprehension? With joyous anticipation? With sadness and heartbreak? These are real life emotions, and every single one of them is okay. My question for you to ponder is, no matter how your new year began, what do you want the rest of the year to look like?

My year started with sadness. My dad peacefully passed away in his sleep after an amazing life of 88 years. My new year was filled with family and friends, of many years, coming together to celebrate an amazing life, yet mourn the empty spot we now have in our lives. My new year started out a little rough, but I have many things to look forward to and work towards in the year ahead.

How did your new year begin? What do you want for the year ahead? You want the best, right? The best for ourselves and for our loved ones. I believe, with everything in me, that you can work towards a great year regardless of how it started. Here are a few things to remember in the days, weeks and year to come.

  • Know that you have it within your control to have a great year. Make it a point each morning as you wake up and transition out of bed, to decide it is going to be the best day you can make it. As you get ready and drive to your first destination of the day, remember what is most important in your life. Take a few short breaks in your day and dream about the life you want to be living. When we fill our minds with the right stuff, we automatically start to gravitate towards those right things. You have a ton of control! Use that control to live many great days this year.
  • Know that your intentionality this year will positively affect the people around you. Our lives are filled with amazing people, and even though we do not always see how our actions affect others, they truly do. This is especially true the closer someone is to you. The positive direction you make in your life makes their lives more positive too.
  • Know that your example this year will show others that making positive changes in their lives is possible too. Living intentionally is rare. The more you live an intentional life, the more you will stand out from the crowd. There are many people who don’t yet know that taking control of their life and living intentionally is possible. Your example will show them that there is light at the end of the tunnel, that the life they desire is possible.

No matter what state your life was in as you stepped into the new year, decide what you want for yourself and your loved ones and work towards that a little bit each day this year. You can make 2018 exactly what you want it to be.

Here’s to embracing where we are today, dreaming of what we want for tomorrow, and taking one step at a time to move towards a great year!


Summary of Simple Actions Steps:

  • Make it a point each morning as you wake up and transition out of bed to decide it is going to be the best day you can make it.
  • As you get ready and drive to your first destination of the day, remember what is most important in your life.
  • Take a few short breaks in your day and dream about the life you want to be living.
  • Notice how your positive changes and intentionality affect those around you.

 

Fill Your Life With Wonderful People!

Wonderful people are the difference makers in life. They make us laugh when we need to. They share in the important times in our lives, and they encourage us when times get tough. Who are the wonderful people in your life, and do you fall into the category of “wonderful” for others?

Tuesday afternoon, just after 4pm, it hit me that I had dropped the ball on a few things that are important to me. I immediately texted a few friends,  including one of those wide-eyed emojis, that I knew would commiserate with me. They immediately texted me back with light-hearted, loving encouragement. Soon we were texting the laughing emoji. They had immediately lifted my spirits and helped me see that it was not the end of the world.

Our lives can be so hectic. Being there for each other is so important. Wonderful people…

Take an interest in our lives.

Want us to succeed and will be a part of making it happen if they can.

Are happy to not only share life’s “ups” but the “downs” too.

Check in to make sure we are doing okay when they haven’t heard from us in a while.

Are happy to see us!

The list could go on and on, but the question I have for you is, do you have these people in your life? Are you this kind of person to others? Life is wonderful, but not easy. We need each other! It makes all the difference in the world!

My encouragement today is to fill your life with wonderful people, prioritize time with them and be a wonderful person in return. Wonderful people are the difference makers!

I’m Thankful For You!

Happy Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving is one day set aside each year to focus on being thankful. It is hard, at times, in the midst of our busy lives to remember to stop, count our blessings and express our thankfulness. As Thanksgiving approached, one thing that has come to my mind time and time again, is how thankful I am for you. Yes, I am thrilled and thankful that you read my blogs, but I am mostly thankful for the amazing individual you are and all that you bring to the world we live in.


I am thankful for the wonderful strengths you share with all of us! Each of us have amazing strength that contributes to those around us. Many have the eye for details. These are the individuals that love crunching numbers and working on spreadsheets. Many have the gift of hospitality. You walk into their home and you instantly feel welcomed. Some people have the gift of keeping things moving forward…fast, and others have the strength of being slow and steady. The amazing thing is that we all possess amazing strengths that our world cannot do without. We all come together with these strengths to make a pretty amazing place to live, work and play! Thank you for living out your strengths to make our world a better place!

I am thankful for your “Can Do” attitude! Keeping a “Can Do” attitude is hard at times, but at the end of the day, we cannot settle for less than the best. We know in our hearts that life is good, therefore, we keep pushing forward towards amazing things knowing that we can always do better! Sometimes it takes time to figure out how to make it happen, but we keep striving for our best.Thank you for your great attitude!

I am thankful for your serving heart! Everyday you take care of others. It may be co-workers, your kiddos, significant other, parents, or even a complete stranger. Your heart to take care of others makes a difference and makes the world a better place every moment of every day. Your serving heart makes a difference! Thank you for your amazing heart!

Thank you for sharing your life with me! Thank you for sharing your life with our world! You make it a better place every single day!

I am thankful for you!

Saying No Is Hard To Do

The Holiday Party invitations are starting to arrive in the mail, and the calendar for the next couple of months is starting to fill up. But what is the solution if we have decided to slow down this Holiday Season? What do we do if our priorities for the rest of the year conflict with what everyone else wants of us? I don’t know about you, but saying “no” is hard to do!


This December I have a weekend scheduled to remove myself from my day-to-day life and focus on how to move my dreams for my book writing and other dreams forward in the upcoming months and year. This week I received an invitation to an important event  that is scheduled for that same weekend. The individuals hosting the event are putting their hearts and a lot of time in the planning  to make it very special. How can I possibly say “no”?

I have a dear friend who has been crazy busy for the past few weeks. Her family’s schedule shows no signs of slowing down. Everyone wants to do a ton of fun things. There is no way she could say “enough is enough” or “no, we are not going to add that to our schedule!” How can she possibly say “no”?

When we are on the outside looking at these scenarios, it is pretty easy to say “yes Jen, you need to get away for that weekend to keep moving forward on your dreams!” but when we are faced with these decisions ourselves, it is so much harder. It feels selfish to put ourselves before other people and their wishes.

I absolutely believe we must work for a compromise with those we love, but sometimes that compromise does mean putting ourselves first. After a week of waffling back and forth, I finally told myself that I had to make a decision. It was incredibly hard, but I decided to decline the invitation to the event and stick with my original plan of focusing on my writing and the upcoming year.

My purpose of this blog post is to remind all of us that it is okay to prioritize ourselves. We all give to others every single day of our lives, so it is good and right for us to treat ourselves with love and respect as well. It may be one of the hardest things you have to do, but remember your life and your priorities are very important, they are essential for you living your BEST!

It may take some time to work through it, but if you feel strongly about adding to or subtracting something from your holiday schedule, talk to those you love and make it happen, for you, this Holiday Season!

Thank you John Regan, for supporting me and my dreams! For taking care of things at home while I take some time away, for myself, to plan and dream about the future!

They Have Gotten Me Through

I have had a week filled with systems at work that failed and needed updating immediately, the health decline of an immediate family member, not prioritizing a loved one and letting them down, and I topped off the week today by catching a cold. With each of these came a multitude of tasks with urgent deadlines, except for getting sick, then everything halted to a stop!  In addition to all of these things, laundry still needed to be done, bills still needed to be paid, I still want to eat right, exercise and keep going. The one thing that got me through this week were baby steps. I kept asking myself “what is the next thing I need to do?” then the next, then the next, then the next.


I started this year out with a set of videos on the topic of baby steps. I never imagined that I would have utilized this concept as much as I have this last year. Baby steps have gotten me through the ups and downs of life. Even though it was stressful at times, knowing I could take small steps to move forward brought me some level of peace and comfort.

I also shared with you that many small steps over a long period of time bring us to great places. I now look back over 2017 and I am thrilled with how far I have come. For me,  it has not been a year of great task achievement, but it has been a year of essential learning that will propel me into a great future. I hope you can look back over this past year and say the same as well.

Whatever it is you need to do, even if it is get through the next 24 hours, take it one baby step at a time. Ask yourself “what is the next thing I need to do to move forward?” and do it…then repeat. Baby steps keep us inching forward even when we don’t feel like it is possible.

Whatever it is that life throws at you this week, keep striving for your best! You are doing great things, one small step at a time!

Let’s Decide Now!

Happy November! Halloween is over and the weather has become colder. We can’t help but think about the upcoming holidays. I sat down with my calendar in hand this morning and realized that it was time for me to decide. Time to decide what my holiday season was going to look like this year.

As you reflect back on past holidays, what are the things that you want to prioritize? What are the things that are of less importance to you? These are great questions to ask now, before our already busy schedules shift into an even higher gear. Just like the other areas of our lives, we have control during the holidays and we have to be intentional in order for them to be the best they can be. Take a few minutes to think about these two questions:

What do you want the overall theme of your holidays to be this year? High energy? Exciting? Fun? Filled with people and events? Slow paced? Relaxing? Filled with one-on-one people time? A little bit of all of the above? Deciding this ahead of time will help us make better decisions as the plethora of invitations come our way over the next few weeks.

I am going to interject one important theme here that we can tend to take for granted, it is staying healthy over the holidays. Yes, there are flu bugs that we may catch that are out of our control, but there is a lot we have that is within our control when it comes to our health over the holidays. Let’s prioritize rest for us and our loved ones. When we are run ragged, it affects our immune system and makes us more susceptible to getting sick. We are also bombarded with special food over the holiday. When we can, let’s add in some nutritious stuff that will give our bodies a boost. I have already started to eat an orange a day to increase my vitamin C. Lastly, if you or your loved ones are sick, and this is purely my opinion, stay home, rest, get better and don’t share the bug with others. Sometimes, we feel like we can’t miss out on an event and this decision can be very hard, but let’s remember that our decisions will affect others in a negative way, in this instance. [end of soapbox]

What are the essentials of your Holiday? Let’s decide now what our essentials are and get them on the calendar. I do not know if you have ever seen the big rocks illustrations. Imagine you have a one gallon clear bucket. You have sand, small rocks, medium-sized rocks and large rocks that all need to fit into this bucket. The bucket represents our life, the sand represents the non-essential busy work that we feel is expected of us, the small rocks are a little bit more important aspects of our lives, mediums rocks are pretty important, but the big rocks are those most important things that are very important to us. Many times, especially during the holidays, we can get wrapped up in all of the little stuff that everyone else expects us to do. This is placing the sand in our clear bucket first. The same goes for those small rocks, filling our time with non-essential things. The heart breaking aspect of this illustration and what can easily happen over the holidays, is that we fill our bucket with the less important stuff. When it’s time to place our most important BIG ROCKS into our lives, there is no room to fit them in. If we take a different approach and place the BIG ROCKS in first, the most essential things, them some medium rocks, them a few small rocks fit in and we can even fit some of the sand in too. What’s so important is that we first and foremost, fit in the most important things. Whatever is most important to you for the holidays, your BIG ROCKS, let’s get them on the calendar now, then fit the other items in after.

We all go into the holiday season with a very special picture in our mind of what we want it to be. Let’s do all we can to make this holiday season the best it can be for ourselves and our loved ones.

If we do not decide what our holidays will look like now, everyone else will decide for us. Let’s take control, be intentional and have a great holiday season living our absolute BEST!

Is It Contentment That I Seek?

I have been asking myself lately, “What is it in life that I want? Do I seek happiness? Joy? What is it that I want?” Both Happiness and Joy and wonderful things, but they did not seem to be enough or realistic on an ongoing basis. Then the word contentment came to mind. Finding contentment in my life, as much as I can, sounds really nice.

I don’t quote the Bible very often in my blog posts, even though I am a believer in Jesus Christ and rely on the Bible as my source of direction in life. In Philippians 4:11, Paul says he has “learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Wow, I am far from that, but I would love to get to the point where I felt that way. As I was thinking about the concept of contentment, I took some time to think about what brings me contentment in life. When do I feel at peace? I found this to be an interesting exercise that might be worth giving a try. Here are a few things that I wrote down:

  • I feel content when I am strong (physically, mentally, emotionally & spiritually)
  • I feel content when I am doing things for other people
  • I am content in the quiet
  • I am content living and working at a moderate, steady pace
  • I am content in the warmth
  • I am content in the presence of a positive, can do attitude
  • I am content in a clean, simple and organized environment
  • I am content when I am living the life God wants me to live

It would be great for each of us to live in this perfect world of contentment, but reality can be loud, fast paced, disorganized, negative and cold, right? I am not yet sure how to find contentment when life does not go my way, but this exercise of identifying what makes me content helped me out in one big way.

It made me realize that I want to fill my life with as much “contentment” as possible. There are a lot of things that are out of my control, but there are a lot that is within my control too. As I finished up the above list, I reflected on my life, on my list of “things I want to do” and compared them to the things that bring me contentment. Most of the things that I want to do in my life fit well with the things that bring me contentment, but there were a few that did not fit real well. I suddenly realized that I could use my “contentment list” as a tool to help me determine my future pursuits. I do have some control over bringing contentment into my life, and so do you.

Now, for those times when life is loud, fast paced, disorganized and cold, I am going to have to find a way to find contentment and peace in the middle of it. I am not real sure how to do that yet, but I have a lifetime to figure that one out. In the meantime, I would love for you to join me in creating a list of things that bring you contentment. Use that list to intentionally bring more contentment into your life. Life is one big experiment, right?

I would love to hear from you and your thoughts on finding contentment. Thank you to each of you who have commented or sent me an email in past weeks. You are all an inspiration to me! Keep the thoughts coming, and I am sure to incorporate them into future posts.

Here’s to adding more contentment into our lives in order to live our BEST!

As Good As One, Two, Three!

Be kind to yourself. Be true to yourself. Chart a course for yourself.

These three things are so important!

First, be kind to yourself! You and I can be our own worst critic. We know when we have fallen short. We do not need anyone else to beat us up about a mistake, because we are usually well on top of kicking ourselves when we are down. I am learning though, and I hope, you are learning along with me, that we are never going to be perfect. In order to live the best life that we can, we need to learn to be kind to ourselves. Just like learning any new things, we have to start, keep trying and over time and with practice, we will get better and better at being kind to ourselves. We all extend kindness to others each day, let’s keep a portion of that kindness for ourselves, too. Let’s also remember to treat ourselves every once in a while. It could be grabbing a yummy coffee, scheduling a spa day, or maybe spending some time with a friend. Whatever makes you happy, let’s make sure we get those things added into our schedule.  

Second, be true to yourself. This is one that I have been working through quite a bit lately. It is human nature to try to impress our desires onto someone else. Our desires are so much a part of who we are, it seems natural that others should feel the same way. For example, I have the desire to look at everything with rose-colored glasses. Because this is so important to me, I shared with my husband, John, that he should look at life the exact same way. He was kind and listened to me, but a few days later he explained that he does not see things the same way. It was a good reminder for me to allow John to be true to who he is, and it also reminded me to continue to be true to who I am. The same goes for our dreams for the future. It’s important for each of us to have our own dreams for the future. It is true, when we have a significant other in our lives, that we share our dreams with each other, but I am coming to see that John and I need to have our own individual dreams too. I have dreams of getting on my bike for multiple day trips to see the countryside. John has a dream of having an RV and seeing our country that way. I think we can make those dream mesh together, they are simply going to look a little different for each of us. It can be easy at times to just go along with someone else’s dreams, but I encourage you to have dreams of your own, and be true to them.

Third, chart a course for yourself. You have probably figured out by now that I am a planner. Chances are, if you have continued to read my blog for this long, you are too. The only way to get where we want to go is to decide where we want to go, figure out how we should start moving forward, and start take steps towards our goal. There are times that numbers need to be crunched to make sure we reach a goal. There are times where we have to learn new things to move forward, but regardless of what it is, I believe we need to chart a course for ourselves. John and I were out on a walk this morning talking about our future, and we both acknowledged that there are so many variables that make planning for our future a challenge. We have an end goal in mind, we know the things we already have in place, the things we need to work on, and we keep moving forward. But I also need to set my own individual course as well. Sure, John and I have shared goals, but I need to make sure that I am setting the right course for myself too. I want John to do the same for himself as well. Having a goal and moving forward on a plan gives us something great to work towards and hope for the a great future.

I don’t think you can go wrong if you are kind to yourself, true to yourself and chart a course for yourself. Enjoy your week ahead and live your BEST every single day!

You Mean There Is No Finish Line?

Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. wrote in her book Mindset, “once a problem improves, people often stop doing what caused it to improve.Once you feel better, you stop taking your medicine.” She continues, “But change doesn’t work that way. When you’ve lost weight, the issue doesn’t go away.” “These changes have to be supported or they can go away faster than they appeared.”I AM DOING EXACTLY WHAT DR. DWECK DESCRIBED!!!…and I have done it so many times before. Wow this one is challenging!

My real life example right now is exercise. As many of you know, I have been training hard for the past year. It was challenging, but, it felt so good to be strong and vibrant. In my mind, I was determined to keep up that same level of exercise after I crossed the finish line at a recent event, but the past two weeks have not played out that way at all.

After achieving a goal, I have faced a big challenge and I wonder if you have dealt with this as well?

It has been my desire to stay “fit” after I cross the finish line, but I also want to move forward on other plans as well. Suddenly though, I realize I do not have the time or energy for both, so the fitness level I had just reached has started to slip. Another example is losing weight. Losing weight is tough stuff, but as the pounds come off, we feel better and better. Losing weight requires a tremendous amount of energy and focus. It is easy once we reach our goal to think we can move on to other things and not give our eating the same amount of attention. Unfortunately, when it does not get our focus, the scale starts creeping back up again. Yes, I think we can get into some level of “maintenance mode” with our goals, but I am having to face the fact that they will still require a lot of my energy.

This makes me sad, I’m not going to lie. Because I have a lot of things I want to accomplish and I want them all to happen NOW! But reality reminds me that I only have so much time in a day, and I only have so much energy I can put forth. Therefore, I am grappling with a truth that I do not like. If I want to put forth time and energy to stay healthy, and reach other goals in life:

  • First I have to choose which areas are most important.
  • Second, I have to limit the number of them that I pursue at one time.

It’s giving the most of my energy to a few big, important things, instead of spreading myself out trying to do a lot of little things. I still plan on accomplishing my goals, but it might just take a little bit longer to accomplish all of them. I guess it’s the bucket list concept.

Wow, the paring back continues. In the past I have talked about removing non-essentials, but I never imagined I would need to cut back this much. I will have to be honest with you, this process of paring back also brings me hope, hope that I can accomplish some things that are big and important to me. Trying to move forward on so many things at once in the past has drained some of the hope out of me. I do have a lot of great things to look forward to in life, they will simply take time and focus.

Please share with me your thoughts on this cutting back stuff. Feel free to comment below or send me an email. It is not easy stuff, and I am still trying to figure it out too. I would love to hear your thoughts, even if you do not agree. There is so much I can learn from each of you!

Here’s to a great week ahead trying to figure out this BEST life stuff!

I feel like I’m letting everyone down.

It is a horrible feeling to feel as though we have let others down in our lives. Is there a solution? Is there a way to live our BEST life and manage to be everything to everyone? I think we all know the answer to that, but it is not easy when you are in the middle of it.

As I was driving home for lunch one day this week, I was listening to a friend’s message sharing a story of a woman in her life who was feeling overwhelmed and brought to tears this past week. When my friend talked to her, she simply said “I feel like I am letting everyone down.”  As I continued to drive home, my heart broke for this woman, but, also exposed in me a very similar feeling. I too felt like I was letting a number of people down this week, and it was a horrible feeling.

I would love to come to you with an amazing solution to this problem, but I do not know of one. In fact, I was laying in bed last night coming to the realization that there was nothing more I could do this week. I did what I felt like I could do and sometimes that is simply going to fall short of the expectations of others. I forced myself to acknowledge what I did accomplish and find a way to be okay with falling short in other areas. It was hard to accept, but, once I did, I was able to relax and give myself a break. I felt my shoulders relax, not even realizing how tense I had been. I realized the longer I felt the guilt and pressure of letting others down, the more depleted I felt. I realized the more I focused on letting others down, the bigger that feeling grew in my mind and the worse I felt.

I certainly don’t want to make light of letting others down because many times it is our own choices and over-commitments that get us into those situations in the first place. It is not something I want to do often, because it does hurt others as well as me. I did find, though, that it is not healthy to ruminate on it either. I tried to learn from the experience so that I do not do it again. I got a good night’s rest and tried to treat the new day as a fresh start.

I know I am not going to be perfect, but I am going to try to put the past in the past, and try to live my best and give my best each day.

Here’s to being kind to ourselves! We are amazing individuals giving life our all. Let’s keep our heads up, give today our best, accept the fact that we won’t be perfect, and know that tomorrow is a new day with new opportunities.