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!

It’s A Season

How would you define your life right now? Is it easy? Hard? Enjoyable? Frustrating? Happy? Sad? Whatever season you are going through in life, a new season will come. For life is ever changing.

I have read the verses in Ecclesiastes many times about all of the seasons there are in life. I have to admit, that even though there have been distinct chapters in my life, the idea of seasons was kind of foreign to me. That was until recently.

This has been a very difficult season, that along with the midwest weather, is finally turning towards Spring. The sun is starting to shine again and new life is starting to grow. As I transition from one season to the next, and feel the contrast between the two, it has made me aware of all of you around me who are going through your own seasons. Both good seasons and challenging seasons.

Can I share with you what I learned during my most recent challenging season?

  1. Don’t fight the challenging season you are in because you will not win the fight. Like the changing of the season in nature, your season has a certain amount of time it has to live out. I spent 11 months fighting my challenging season I was in and all I achieved by fighting was exhaustion. When I decided to embrace the season I was in, and stopped fighting it, I found more peace.
  2. Surround yourself with loving people and rely on them for love and encouragement with no judgement. A professional counselor is a wonderful option as well. They are there to listen, encourage and help.
  3. Don’t stop moving forward. The reality is that you do have to go through it to get out the other side. This is where my famous baby steps come into play. Keep moving forward, no matter how small the step and how slow you feel you are going. You can keep going, and you will make it through!

I have three hopes for the future for us:

  1. That we will not forget our challenging times and how important they are for our personal growth and understanding.
  2. That we will better love and support our friends and family that are experiencing a challenging season.
  3. Now that the sun is shining in life again, we can better appreciate this time of joy and not take it for granted.

Whatever season you are going through in life, be kind to yourself, keep moving forward because you are truly amazing!

Are You Overloaded?

I have talked to a number of ladies, just in the past few weeks, who feel like they are drowning. They simply have too much to do and not enough time to do it. Life is stressful enough, a long to-do list adds to that stress, but not seeing the time in your schedule to take care of these important things almost makes life feel unbearable. Have you ever felt this overloaded?

It breaks my heart that you have to go through moments in life that are so overwhelming. I wish I could provide for each of you, exactly what you need to calm the storms of your life. The reality is, that you will have these times, but also know that it is possible for things to slow back down.

The life-preserver that I throw out to you today is not going to surprise you. I hope with all of my heart that you grab a hold of it and utilize it to lift your head up out of the frenzy you find yourself in.

The life-preserver I throw to you today is the reminder to utilize baby steps. I know, you wanted a better life-preserver than that, and trust me, I wanted to give you one better than that. I have not found one that works in real life though. It makes me sad to say this, but we do have to go THROUGH these challenging times in order to get out the other side.

I just recently went THROUGH a similar time, and I am not out of the woods yet, but it’s getting easier. A few times in the processes, I felt a high level of stress bordering on panic. I wanted out! I wanted something or someone to save me. I wanted immediate relief, but that did not happen. I hated the idea that I was going to have to push through on my own. To be honest with you, I got angry with myself for teaching the concept of baby steps. I wanted to throw that life-preserver back, but it was my only hope. It was all I had.

I know sometimes you are pushing through deep water in your life, but know that as you get closer to the shore, the water becomes easier to push through. Keep taking one step at a time and before you know it, the water will only be ankle-deep.

Here’s to keeping our eyes on the shore, dreaming of sitting in the sun and taking one more step to get there!


Action Steps:

  • Make a list of the thing you need to get done. Divide the list into “must dos” and wanna dos”.
  • Start to take one baby step at a time to work through your lists.
  • Celebrate each baby step that you accomplish.

 

Lovingly Say Yes To…

I intentionally did not include what you are to say “yes” to in the title because I wanted you to open my post. There is one thing that very productive, busy women have a really hard time saying “yes” to. It is essential for you to lovingly say “yes” to YOU! Taking care of yourself, first and foremost, is a difference maker. This is very serious and BIG STUFF!

I have shared with woman after woman, in my years of Life Coaching, the importance of prioritizing oneself. Much to my sadness, most do not feel it is possible for them. They feel as though there is no possible way. I am here to tell you it is possible. It will not happen overnight, but it is possible and I beg you to start on that journey today.

Let’s look at where to start. Read the following “starting points” and pay attention to which one resonates with you the most.

  • What can you start to do to prioritize your physical health?
  • What can you start to do to prioritize your mental health?
  • What can you start to do to prioritize your spiritual health?
  • What can you start to do to prioritize your emotional health?

I do not feel these need any additional explanation. Which one caused you to pause and shake your head “yes”. That is your starting point.

What one small thing can you add for the next month to start prioritizing this area of your life?

No more excuses, get started!

  • Prioritizing yourself will be a difference maker in your life. You will start to really feel like you are living again, and as you feel better, those around you will be impacted in a positive way as well.

I make it happen each day, other women are on the journey with us. You can lovingly say “yes” to yourself as well. Join me!

Here’s to loving ourselves, loving those around us, and being a difference maker!

 


Action Steps:

  • Decide on your starting point.
  • Decide on the one small way you are going to move forward this month to lovingly say “yes” to you.
  • Get started!

 

Lovingly Saying No To…”I Should”

How often in your day do you think “I should be doing…”? How many times, when you take a moment to sit down, do you feel guilty and think of all of the things you “should” be doing? How often do you think back on your day and feel like you “should have done something, but didn’t”? When we pay attention, our lives are filled with “I shoulds”. They can torment and bring us down. It’s time to lovingly (or maybe even a little forcefully) put the “I shoulds” in their place.

When you find yourself unsettled in life, what “I shoulds” are responsible?

  • There are many unhealthy “I shoulds”.
  • There are some “I shoulds” that do need to get your attention because they are the right things for your life.

How do you know the difference?

It all comes down to what is most important to you. Defining what is most important to you at this stage in your life will help you differentiate between the things that you hold dear and all of the other clutter that tries to intrude into your life. Defining what is most important to you is one of the greatest exercises and investments of time you can partake in. It will shape your life into exactly what you want it to be.

I have a simple resource that is designed to help you do exactly that! I have used it in my Life Planning Classes, and I just recently had one of my former students pull his out to share with his co-workers. He shared how this tool was life changing for him and how it has shaped his life into what he wants it to be.

Click here for your free resource: Live the Life You Desire – Define What Is Most Important To You

Once you have defined what is most important to you, you can compare your “I shoulds” to your list of “most important things”.

  • If your “I should” is on your list of most important things, it should get your attention. You should find a way to prioritize it in your life.
  • If your “I should” is not on your list of most important things, you can lovingly say “no” to it, knowing that spending time on it would pull you away from what is most important.

No longer allow the “I shoulds” to torment you or bring you down. Say “YES” to what is most important to you, and lovingly say “NO” to the rest.

Here’s to leaving guilt behind, knowing we are living the life we desire!


Action Steps:

  • Ask yourself: When you find yourself unsettled in life, what “I shoulds” are responsible?
  • Download: Live the Life You Desire – Define What Is Most Important To You and start to work on your list of most important things.
  • Improve the lives of others: If you have someone in your life who could benefit from the free resource, please pass it on to them! We are all in this together!

 

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.