Swiffer Dust Mop and Paper Plates

Why do we always feel like we have to maintain a state of “perfect” in our lives? Kind of like the image that goes along with this post. We think we should have everything in perfect balance, our bodies should look perfect and there should be a perfect sunset at the end of each day! The idea of that made me giggle, because my life is far from that. There are certain standards we feel we need to live up to, or we are failures. Well, it’s time to take back the control, live our best even if it is not perfect, laugh at ourselves sometimes  and not take ourselves too serious.prefection
I started this past week in a foul mood. Sunday night I found myself mulling over all that I did not get done over the weekend, one of which was catching up on the pile of dishes on my counter. As I sat, slumped over in defeat on my coach, it dawned on me that I needed to remind myself of all of the things that I did accomplish over the weekend. As I did, my mood started to shift and I realized that I had much to be proud of. Suddenly, the pile of dishes on my counter did not seem as much of a big deal. In fact, I ignored them, knowing I would get to them when I had time. Monday morning when I got up, I pulled out a paper plate from the pantry and said to myself, “it is what it is, I’m not going to worry about it!”

I was sharing my experience with a dear friend later that week and as she giggled, she mentioned that a lot of people have a hard time resigning themselves to eating off paper plates and giving in to the dirty dishes. You might not be able to handle eating off of paper plates, but what I want us all to see is that we all need to allow some things to slide every once in a while to keep our sanity.

Walking away from the pile of dishes allowed me to:

  • Focus on the positives, not the negatives. I focused on what I did  get done, and was very proud of myself for what I had accomplished. All of the things I had gotten done fell in line with my “most important” things in life. I celebrated a “win” and did not feel like a failure.
  • Take back control. I was allowing the pile of dishes to control my mood and therefore, my behavior. I took back control and told my dishes I would get to them on my terms, and I did. Tuesday night after dinner I had some extra time to tackle the pile, but I did it on my terms.
  • Remember what is most important. Yes, keeping my home a clean and wonderful place to be is important to me, but there are many things that are more important to me. I prioritized rest over my dishes. I could have stayed up later, but I chose rest. I prioritized relationships over my dishes. I chose to spend time with John and Pebbles over doing the dishes. We are living a successful life if we give our best to those people and things that are most important.
  • Not take myself too seriously. Along with the dishes, I had a number of “mishaps” that reminded me to laugh and not take myself so seriously. I had a spelling faux pas at work that made me giggle. The same day I struggled to use a Swiffer dust mop to clean the floors at work, only to find out that the reason it was not working well was because I had not put a dust pad on it. I could only imagine what was going through the head of my co-worker. At the end of the day I could hardly wait to video message a friend of mine who I knew would have a good laugh with me.

Paper plates or Swiffer dust mops, life is too short to allow these things to control our time and our mood. As we go through our days, let’s give ourselves some grace. Let’s say yes to what is most important, take control over what is less important and not be afraid to laugh at ourselves when we are less than perfect.
Here’s to laughing a lot, living our best and having great people to share it with!

How Do We Stay Encouraged When Change Takes Time?

You have probably heard the saying that “the best things in life are never free!” Well, I am going to change it up a little and share an additional truth.  “The best things in life take time.” Healthy relationships are grown and enriched over time. The health of our bodies requires a lifelong commitment. Financial investments take time to mature. The question is, how can we keep going for the long haul, and how can we stay encouraged?

long haul

I am shaking my head at myself as I think back to something that happened yesterday. Last week I shared in my blog that I was starting the process of looking for a full-time job in addition to my Life Coaching and writing. Over the weekend, I put my job search plan together and hit the ground running on Monday. I felt like I had a pretty productive day, both on Monday and Tuesday, but Wednesday arrived with a cloud looming over my head. I woke up that morning starting to get discouraged and dead-end after dead-end that same day brought me spiraling down hill. At one point in the day, I just started to laugh at myself. I was on DAY THREE of my job search and I was already discouraged. DAY THREE!

After I picked myself up off the floor, I asked myself, what am I going to have to do to keep myself going for the long haul? How am I going to stay encouraged when the process is so long? Here are some of the things I thought about.

I had to adjust my expectation of the time it was going to take me. Going into this job search I was told that if I worked hard I might have a job in five months. Why then did I expect immediate results? Why is it that I thought it should go faster for me? I think we all fall into this trap, don’t we? We think we should be able to lose weight faster, save up money faster, quit smoking faster. Part of this comes from the fast paced and instant gratification culture that we live in. We are used to having everything right now. I had to adjust my expectation by:

  • Stepping back to reset my thinking.
  • Removing the thought that this was going to happen fast and be at peace with the fact that the process is going to take time.
  • I will have to re-commit and remind myself of this every single day.

I fell into the trap of “I will be happy when…” I don’t know how it happened, but my mind shifted to “I will be happy when I get this new job.” On day number three when I felt down in the dumps, I remembered that I want to be happy right now. Yes, I am really excited about going back to work outside of my work at home, but the only thing that was stopping me from enjoying life right now was me. That night I picked up one of my craft projects and enjoyed my evening. I guess it also goes back to my blog on the Hokey Pokey. I want to keep pushing forward with one foot out of my comfort zone, but also enjoy life while keeping one foot in my comfort zone. Have you ever fallen over while trying to dance the Hokey Pokey? Well I figuratively got off-balance this week and toppled over.

I have to do what it takes to keep myself focused on the positives. I just got off the phone with a loved one and they said to me “I am just trying to stay positive.” This is extremely important because our lives are filled with negative things. It is unfortunate that positive feedback or a complement is a rare thing in our lives. Why is it that it is so easy for coworkers, and even loved ones, to point out everything we are not getting done or not doing things in the way they want us to. I have always said that I love to encourage others because it is so rare in our world today. Let’s ask ourselves “what do I need to do to keep myself positive?”

These are just a few things to keep in mind as we tackle the big, long changes in our lives. Remember, you and I are doing great! We are running a marathon and we will get to the point where we will win the prize as we make our desired change a reality in our life. Let’s keep taking one baby step at a time, take our eyes off the road, look up to enjoy the sunshine and keep going. You can not begin to imagine how proud I am of each of you!

Here’s to the long haul!

Don’t forget this month’s Something To Look Forward To Planning Calendar! Click the image below to get your copy.

April 2017 STLFT Planning Calendar

Life is Like the Hokey Pokey

You put your left foot in, you put your left foot out, you put your left foot in, and you shake it all about! Just writing that reminded me of all the family weddings and roller skating parties I went to in my life where we boogied to the Hokey Pokey. But you are probably wondering, where in the world are you going with this post Jen? That’s a good question…

Sea Ocean Sand Beach Vacation Coast Chill Bare Concept

One of the areas that I wanted to change in 2017 was to enjoy life more. 2016 was great, but it was hard. It was filled with great things, but many times, at the end of the day, I felt very “Meh!” The question was, how could I change that this year? I spent a lot of time out of my comfort zone last year. One things I wanted to try this year was to keep one foot out of my comfort zone and one foot in my comfort zone. That sounds great theoretically, but the implementation of it looks a lot more like the Hokey Pokey.

This past week I have been nudged out of my comfort zone and it is a good thing, but uncomfortable. The question is, how can I keep that one foot in my comfort zone? How can I still enjoy this time even though it is uncomfortable? How can you too?

The first thing I had to do was identify the things that I enjoy. These can be big things or little things. I believe it is important to fill our lives with both. I took time to think about this and wrote some things down. I know many of you simply don’t have the time to do that, but I think we all instinctively know some of the things we enjoy. Here are some of my simple daily enjoyments.

    • I love to get outside, to be in the sunshine most of all.
    • I love to rest my mind and body, which for me means sitting, relaxing and not looking at my smart phone.
    • I also love being physically active, like taking a short walk.
    • I love doing things for others, small simple gestures.
    • I love being at home.
    • I love feeling productive and organized. A 15 minute house pick-up does me good.
    • I love a hot cup of coffee!

What are some small things that bring you enjoyment? If they don’t instantly come to mind, keep it at the forefront of your mind this week and notice the small things that bring you joy.

Secondly, try to fit a few of them into your day. This is important every day, but essential when we are living outside of our comfort zone. When we are outside of our comfort zone, these small things will bring life to our day, a spring to our step, enjoyment instead of “meh!”

All of us are pursuing our best life, and I am very proud of you as you continue to push forward in your life. Let’s not forget to enjoy it, too. You deserve the simple pleasures of life.
Here’s to dancing the Hokey Pokey, stepping one foot forward while having a blast!

Have I Failed?

I am not going to be able to accomplish one of my first goals of 2017. Because of this, my week had been filled with feelings of disappointment, denial, frustration, but, ultimately acceptance. The big question I have had to answer for myself is “Have I Failed?”

fail runner cropped

Many of my goals are unclear this year, but the one that I felt was crystal clear and where I felt I had a clear plan, is the one goal where I have been stopped in my tracks. I am registered for my first triathlon in April. I started training on December first which gave me plenty of time to be ready for the big event. Even though my plan is in place, and I know in my mind that I can do it, my body has decided not to cooperate. I will spare you of the detailed descriptions of my aches and pains, but because of them I have fallen behind on my training to the point where I will not be ready in time. The one goal I was ready to tackle this spring is now out of my reach. I ask myself, what did I do wrong? I am the one writing a blog to encourage us all to live our best. Did I ignore my own advice? What happened?

In order to answer that last question I went back and read all of my blogs from the beginning of the year. What did I fail to do? What did I do wrong? Here is what I found.

  • I have been taking one small baby step at a time.
  • I have taken care of myself and stayed rested.
  • I have been disciplined.
  • I have hushed the fears that crop up in my mind.
  • I have stayed connected to people.
  • I have pushed through the pain and “just did it” even when I did not feel like it.
  • I have said “I don’t wanna” but did it anyway.
  • I have visualized what the accomplishment of the goal would look like.
  • I have had something to look forward to.
  • I have believed “I CAN!”

But after doing all of these things right, I am still not able to accomplish my goal.

I am here to tell you today that I am not a failure and if you are struggling with one of your goals, you are not a failure either. These are just bumps in the road and are just a part of the amazing long-term journey we have ahead of us.

Interestingly enough, I am reading a book about the fear of failure right now. I know in my mind that failure is a part of the growth process as long as we learn something to help us in the future.  But there are companies and individuals who believe that failure is essential. Here are a few quotes from Robert Kelsey’s book What’s Stopping You?

“Success is not built on success. It’s built on failure. It’s built on frustration. Sometimes it’s built on catastrophe,” wrote Sumner Redstone, majority owner of MTV, CBS, Dreamworks, Paramount Pictures.

Soichiro Honda, founder of Honda Motor Company said: “Success is 99% failure.”

I do not know where you are today in the process of moving forward on your desired changes, but let’s keep going! I have not given up on my dream of participating in a triathlon. I do not know the exact timing, but I am going to keep putting one foot in front of the other to move towards my goals and dreams. I hope you will do the same.

Here’s to failing, learning and continuing to move forward!

I Want To But…It Just Too Hard!

There are days when I simply can’t handle one more “hard” thing. Life is stressful and busy and I don’t feel like I have the energy to keep pushing forward in the areas I wanted to improve on in 2017. I’m tired and I want to throw in the towel. If you are feeling the same way, let’s stop for a second and ask ourselves a few questions.

too hard cropped

Do I need to adjust my goal? Sometimes in the beginning of year excitement, I set really lofty plans. I feel really motivated and I am ready to conquer the world! It is about a month into the process when I start to realize I may have bitten off more than I can chew. If you have found that you have done the same thing, take a deep breath, grab a cup of something refreshing and take a few minutes to think. What has worked so far, what has not, and adjust your plans accordingly. It’s ok!

Did I take too big of a bite of that HUGE plate of spaghetti? After evaluation, you may be fine with your overall goal, but you may realize that instead of taking the first few baby steps, you tried to jump the Grand Canyon. The cool part about all of this is that it is a learning process and we can make adjustments. Take a few minutes again, and think about how you can make your next step a little smaller and more realistic for your life. Remember, we are in this for the long haul. A bunch of small baby steps are going to bring us to amazing places.

Do I need some rest? I do not know how many of you do all that you do in a 24 hour period. I do know many times it is sleep and rest that gets the short end of the stick. Rest is an essential part of good health for you and your loved ones. As you try to fill your life with amazing things, remember that the gift of rest will do everyone some good. It is amazing what a good night’s rest can do. When we get one, we are ready to start fresh in the morning, but when we don’t, well, you know the rest of that story.

I do have some uncomfortable news for you. When we tackle the BIG, MOST IMPORTANT areas of our lives, it is not going to be easy, but we can make them manageable. I appreciate all of the hard work you are putting in to live your best! Hang in there! Keep going one little step at a time and you will move to where you want to go!

Here’s to swinging the towel over our shoulders and taking the next small step forward!


Free Resources: It’s time for our next month’s “Something To Look Forward To Planning Calendar! Spring is right around the corner, so let’s plan some fun stuff for ourselves and those we care about! (Click on the image below)

March 2017 STLFT Planning Calendar

Life Can Be Blurry

Do you have any areas in your life that you simply don’t know where they are headed? One of the exercises I go through when I am trying to set a goal is to think about what I want that area of my life to look like in the future. It’s very helpful to have a picture or a vision of my future. But sometimes that picture is not clear. Sometimes we have to make one move, assess our situation, then make another move. Sometimes the roadmap of the future is not clear.

hands-way-guide-tourist cropped

My life is in a state of “weird” right now. I am someone who usually knows exactly where I want to go and has a 10 page plan on how to get there. That is not the case for me so far this year. I knew there were a few areas of uncertainty, but one area that I felt like I had a set goal and a plan is not working out that way. Every area that I want to move forward in this year is blurry and down right weird for me. So here is my plan, since I don’t have a plan! Hee Hee, that even made me giggle!

Take one step. Assess. Take another step. Assess. Take another step. Assess. Take another step….

At the beginning of the year I provided some resources to help us move forward one baby step at a time. Holy Cow! I never imagined the level I was going to have to depend on that philosophy. Quite frankly though, if it were not for the concept of baby steps, I would be stopped in my tracks at this point.

Here are a few things that I have to do to find success in this weird, new and unorganized stage of life.

  • I have to be more disciplined than ever before. It is really easy to get up in the morning and do nothing to move forward. I continually have to ask myself what do I feel the next step should be? I then have to be disciplined to do it, and that’s not easy.
  • I have to hush the fears that crop up in my mind. The fear of failure is ever-present when the future is uncertain.
  • I have to take care of myself. Moving forward into uncharted territory takes a lot of mental, emotional and physical energy. I have to do all I can to feel good and stay sharp.
  • I need to stay connected to people. It is very easy to pull in and isolate myself. I’ll be honest with you, it is hard to talk to my friends right now.  I don’t even know what to talk about, but spending time with those most important to me is vital.
  • I need to push through the pain and never stop asking “what can I do to move forward?” All change has it’s challenges. I have to push through those challenges and keep moving forward.

If the future is not clear for you right now, hang in there and keep moving forward. You have so much to offer this world, even when the road is a little bit blurry. Keep taking one small step at a time. I’m right here alongside of you!

Here’s to moving forward, no matter what!

Are you Prepared to Profit from the Insightful Words of Others?

Have you ever had an individual say just the right thing at just the right time? Their simple words can bring instant clarity, direction, and excitement. They feel great! How can we recognize the significance of these moments and put our new-found insights into action?

light insight cropped

Just recently I went in to see my Chiropractor, Dr. Matt, followed by rehab with Dr. John. I have had back problems for years and these two guys have been dedicated to helping me find the problem and solution. Over the past year that they have been seeing me, we have slowly built a level of trust to the point where we can be pretty candid with each other. During my appointments, we talk a lot about my back stuff, but we chat about life stuff too. Dr. Matt and I were talking about goal setting, something that I have a good amount of experience with, and I was explaining to him that I wanted to find a way to have one foot out of my comfort zone and one foot in my comfort zone. Out of curiosity, he asked me the simple questions “What does your comfort zone look like?” and I could not answer his question. I did not know. His simple question inspired me. I wanted to dig deeper and find the answer.

The story is not over yet. As I left his office, I walked back to the training room to meet with John to work on some new exercises to build strength in the areas that I am weak. I get a little gung-ho when it comes to exercise, so he has learned that he has to reign me in a little bit at times. John has been telling me since day one that it is not about how many reps I can do and how much weight I can lift, but it’s about being aware and doing things right. As we were finishing up this particular day, he looked me in the eyes and said “Jen, it’s not about quantity, it’s about quality!” I don’t know if I was just in an insightful mood that day, but the light bulb finally went on in my head. How important quality is over quantity finally clicked and now I see the same principle repeated in all areas of my life.

These are examples of two moments where the right words were spoken at the right time and they have the potential to propel me in a great direction. The question is, what happens now? Do I do something with these insights, or do I let them drift away? I think all of us would agree that doing something with the amazing insights that come our way is the answer. Here are some things to help us do just that.

  • Recognize the insight as something special. We have all seen the light bulb go on in others. It happens with our children, our co-workers, and our friends. I have been across the table many times when I saw a thought strike a chord with a friend. The insights strike a chord for a reason. Recognize them as special, first and foremost.
  • Document them. If we are not careful, the busyness of life will swoop in and steal that insight from us. We need to do whatever it takes to remember it. I have a friend who carries a small notepad with her, mostly for things she needs to remember throughout her day. A notebook or note on our phones would work. Write a note on a napkin. I have even had someone call and leave themselves a voicemail. Do whatever it takes to remember that great insight.
  • Figure out how to put it into action. Most insights don’t mean anything if they are not acted upon. I can think all day about how quality is more important than quantity, but it means nothing until I apply it. Ask yourself how you can apply your newfound wisdom, and do it!
  • I’ll say it again, “DO IT!” These special insights are gifts. Let’s unwrap them, enjoy them and make our lives better because of them!

I admire your tenacity in life. You are determined to Live Your Best, and I commend you for it! Let’s fill our lives with amazing people who will encourage us with life changing insights!

Here’s to embracing insights and make our lives even better!

Learn How To Put Fear In Its Place, and Embark on New Territory

As you work towards living your best life, do you suddenly experience fears that seem to come out of nowhere? Fear is something we all face to one degree or another. Some of us fear disappointing others, some fear looking foolish, and some fear financial uncertainty. The list of fears goes on and on.  No one is immune to fear, the difference is how we deal with it. It can be the difference between moving forward or staying still.

pexels-photo-30546-croppedStaying still is not an option for me. I always have to be doing something or working towards a goal. It is who I am. Because of this, I continue to travel roads that I have never traveled before, embarking on new territory. I wonder at times if I can really reach my goals. I wonder if I have it in me to keep going. I look into the future and wonder how I’m going to climb the mountains that are ahead. But I also see the sunrise over that mountain and I know there are great things for me on the other side. So how do I keep going? How do I persevere not knowing what lies ahead?

Here are some things I am trying to focus on. I hope they help you on your life’s adventures and goals as well.

  • I’m finding individuals who have found success and I am learning as much I can from them. I have no desire to reinvent the wheel. Most people who have gone before us would love to know that their hard work is helping someone else succeed. We live in a day and age where the information we have access to seems endless. There are YouTube videos for every possible project you can think of. I am reading a ton, watching tutorial videos and spending time with people who have experience that I do not. An added bonus is these people bring much needed encouragement as well!
  • I’m talking to myself, A LOT!  I don’t know about you, but there are a lot of unsolicited thoughts that enter my mind that are negative. These uninvited thoughts tell me that I am silly to think I could accomplish such big goals. These thoughts try to coax me to stay inside my comfort zone. These thoughts tell me that I cannot make a difference in the world. These thoughts are WRONG, and I need to constantly remind them of it. So I tell myself, sometimes in my mind, sometimes out loud, that I can accomplish big things! Other have persevered before me, and so can I. I read myself a quote by Neale Donald Walsch that I have on my refrigerator that says “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” It is true! I remind myself that I am making a difference in the world. The negative thought will never stop invading my mind, but I am going to do all I can to stop them and refute them as quickly as possible.
  • I’m creating a plan. This is challenging when we don’t know exactly what lies ahead, but I at least know what needs to happen in the foreseeable future. I take what I know, I create a plan, then I work my plan. As I move forward and crest the next hill, I suddenly see what the road ahead looks like. I add to my plan and keep moving forward one step at a time.
  • I’m doing it afraid. This is no lie. I see things coming up in my near future that I need to tackle that are out of my comfort zone. But doing it afraid is the greatest way to move past my fears. I have done it before, I can do it again!
  • I’m trying to remember to celebrate the victories, big and small. If I look back, I can see that I have come so far, and so have you! Isn’t it easy to jump right back on the road and keep moving forward? I have to remind myself to stop and enjoy the view. Look back and enjoy the view of the road I have already conquered. I have to celebrate how far I have come!

I want you to know that I am pushing forward in my dreams and goals right alongside of you. You are not alone. Moving forward can be hard at times, but don’t give up. We got this! 

Here’s to putting fear in it’s place and conquering new territory!

One Easy Tool to Boost Your Motivation and Gain New Momentum

Many of the improvements we are trying to make in our lives are life-long improvements. When we decide to eat better, exercise, or lose weight, these are things we want to continue persevering at for the rest of our lives. But life-long goals can be very challenging because we can get bored, fall into ruts, and lose our motivation over time. When we begin to feel this way, it is time to review what our original goal was, and make revisions to help us gain much needed motivation and momentum to reach them.

stairs-man-person-walking-1-croppedI enjoy exercise, and my flavor palette is not real broad, so I’m fine with eating a pretty simple diet. Because of this, staying active and sticking to my eating plan is not extremely difficult for me. But learning how to play a musical instrument is an entirely different story. Three years ago I started to learn how to play Bluegrass Music on an upright bass. At the beginning, I felt like I picked it up pretty quickly and was able to play some basic stuff. I felt pretty good about it. But as I continued to take classes and lessons in the pursuit of playing better, it has become REALLY HARD, and very hard to stay motivated. I wrote in my blog a few months back that I felt like I had hit a wall this year with my bass. I can tell you that I am still trying to scale that wall, and I’m still working hard to move forward.

One simple tool has been key in helping me continue to move forward. I have created and utilized a goal picture. It is an exciting picture of what I want my goal to look like in the future. Here are a few more details:

  • Why create a goal picture? When I started playing my bass, the picture of my end goal was of a group of friends and our significant others sitting around enjoying each other, eating, chatting and playing music. My goal was to learn to play my bass, to learn to play Bluegrass with others and enjoy my time with them. This picture of my future brought excitement and therefore motivation to continue. The pictures you envision in your mind will help you stay excited about your goal and motivated as well.
  • How to create a goal picture. Take time to think and dream about what you want your goal to look like in the future, 5,10, even 20 years, and create in your mind an exciting picture of what that looks like. The picture you create in your mind must be realistic, but it’s important to stretch yourself and dream big. Take some time to write down your goal and your picture of the future. When I am tired and unmotivated, I go back to this written down “picture” to re-ignite my dream and motivation. You can also print a literal picture of your dream. If your goal is to save up money for your dream vacation, find a picture of your dream vacation and display it in a place that will keep you excited and motivated to continue to move towards that dream.
  • When is it time to make changes to your goal picture? If you find your goal picture no longer motivates you, it is time to reevaluate your goals and change your goal picture. As I was driving to my bass lesson recently, I spent some time thinking about why I feel unmotivated, why I really wanted to put my bass in storage and forget about if for a while. There are times when our dreams need to be adjusted and our goal picture as well. With my bass, it was because I reached my initial goal and wanted to take my dream farther than what I originally thought. The next day, I took some time to write out my new goal and what that would look like in the future. There are many reasons why our goal picture may become out dated. Whatever the cause, don’t hesitate to adjust it.

Have you created a picture of your desired future? If not, it is worth the investment of time to do so. A picture brings life to our dreams and desires!

Here’s to dreaming big and moving forward towards a great picture of the future!

Do You Make This Mistake When Stress Hits?

None of us strive, day in and day out, towards our goals only to end up backsliding and have them fall apart. That is what happens many times when an unplanned stressor hits our lives. These stressors can come through personal or family illnesses, job changes, moves, and even happy occasions such as weddings. The reality is that each of these, and so many not listed here, require an extra amount of energy. If we do not make adjustments to divvy out our energy appropriately, we can find our goals and most important areas of our lives placed on the back-burner. What can we do during these times of increased stress to stay focused on what is most important?

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I have realized that I only have a certain amount of energy to use up each day. I have a limited amount of mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual energy. Much like allocating the 24 hours in each day, we also make decisions on how we disperse our energy. I feel the easiest of these to manage is our physical energy. I know that if I go on a long bike ride, I am not going to have much physical energy left to tackle my landscape project later that same day. I think as we learn more about ourselves, we naturally learn to manage our energies, but it is when stress hits, that it can become more challenging.

A mistake we can all make during these stressful times, is to think we can keep going at our current pace in all areas of our lives. Stress consumes energy, and a lot of it. Here are some things to keep in mind to help us make adjustments needed in order to stay focused on what is most important.

  1. Keep your “most important things” in front of you. I would recommend making a list and read it every day, if not more often. There is something powerful about starting your day reminding yourself of these good things.
  2. Be intentional about who and what gets your focus and energy. If you don’t take time to think about this, the things that scream the loudest will get your attention, and the quiet “most important things” will not. My friend, who has two boys in elementary school, said that her shower time is her thinking time. I give you permission to take a little bit longer shower to reflect on what areas are most important, what should get your attention that day and what areas you can cut back on until the stress subsides.
  3. Watch out for unhealthy comforts. We all have a default “comfort” we go to when stress hits. It may be food, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, etc. For me it is sleep. When stress hits, I get extremely tired because I can ignore the stress when I sleep. The problem with comfort is that it’s hard to stop once we have started. I get into the mindset that “I deserve” this comfort because of all the stress I am dealing with. Give yourself some grace, but realize that many times these comforts cause us to backslide. Allocate some energy towards resisting unhealthy comfort because it does take energy to say “no” to the unhealthy stuff and “yes” to what’s most important.
  4. Guard against unnecessary stress. There are two stressors that I have to watch out for. The first one is self-imposed deadlines or overcommitting. I love setting goals, and good goals, in my opinion, have associated deadlines. This is great until it creates unnecessary stress. There are times we have to take a step back and realize we are not going to meet our original deadline. It’s okay to adjust and extend the deadline for our own sanity. The second unnecessary stressor is taking on someone else’s problems. It is my desire to help other people and I do on a regular basis. I simply have to recognize that when I give my energy to someone else, it take energy away from something or someone else. I reference back to what is most important to me and decide from there.
  5. Prioritize yourself. I put this last because I knew that if I put this first, many of you would immediately stop reading. Am I right? This is one of those truths we all know, but struggle with. The better you take care of yourself, the better you can take care of others and stressful situations. When you prepare your “most important” list as recommended in #1, please put yourself as MOST IMPORTANT. We are stronger and better able to handle stress when we are rested, eating well, getting some exercise and taking time to think and plan.

How have you kept moving forward on your “most important” areas when stress has hit?  I, along with my other readers, would love to hear what has worked for you. We are all in this together, trying to do the best we can. I would love to hear from you!

Here’s to staying focused on what is most important, even when life gets stressful!