Give It Your Best!

Whatever you decide to do, whatever you consider to be essential, whatever makes the cut, give it your best!

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A friend of mine is a part of an organization that means a lot to him. Just recently, there was discussion about how important it is for their participants to volunteer to make the organization strong so that they can impact lives and make a difference in the world. Even though I do not have the same conviction about this particular organization as he has, he made me think. Whatever we decide to do, whatever we decide to put our heart into, let’s do it well.

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about eliminating the non-essentials in our lives. Once we do that, we are left with a bunch of wonderful things. Things that are very important to us. Once we have defined our essentials and refined our lives to remove the non-essentials, then it is time to give our all to what we have defined to be our most important things.

How can we make the shift from filling our time with non-essentials to living our best life focused on what we have defined as most important? I am writing this blog post the Friday night before going into the long Labor Day weekend. There are a bunch of things that I have thought about doing this weekend, but even I am asking myself, “What is most important?” “What should get most of my time and attention this weekend?” As I sit here writing, I am changing my plans for the weekend. I want to fill it with my essentials.

This is an interesting process to go through. If you can take a short moment of time out of your busy schedule, try to think about your day a little differently. Think about what is most important to you and start to fill your time with those things. I have always heard the best way to get rid of a bad habit is to start a good habit. Well maybe the same is true here as well. Maybe the best way to stop spending time on non-essentials is to start spending more time on what is most important.

Life is an experiment right? I think I have my experiment for the next week. I am going to try to fill my time, as best I can, for the next week with what I consider to be essentials. I am going to journal as I move through my experiment and come back next week with my report. I would love for you to join me and let me know how it goes. As a subscribers, you have my email address. Send me an email with your thoughts and experiences.

Well, I can say I have started right now, because writing this blog post is one of my essentials. It warms my heart to share my heart with you. Next I am going to bed at my normal time and getting a good night’s rest so that I have a ton of energy for tomorrow. Stay tuned until next week to read the exciting saga of Jen Regan’s life of essentials!

Here’s to doing what is most important and giving life our BEST!

It Can Be Life Changing!

Do you know that it is never too late to learn? Seriously! We can learn new amazing facts and statistics, but we can also learn a new way of living. If something we are doing in our lives is not working well, we can learn a new way of doing it. We are not limited to what we know today, the sky’s the limit! Learning new things can be life changing!

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I have the dream of one day publishing a book, even many books. As I began dreaming a few years ago, I started to look into what it would take for me to do such a thing. Soon, my dream spawned into the idea of owning my own business, enabling me to better encourage others to live their best lives. Suddenly though, I found myself overwhelmed by my lack of knowledge. I started looking at resources to help me in my pursuits, but again, I found that there was SO MUCH I NEEDED TO LEARN! I had a decision to make. Keep moving forward, or be content with where I was in my life at that point. I love my life right now, but I want to go after my dreams, so learning became a priority.

I am going to keep this blog post short and sweet as we move into the holiday weekend, but I want to encourage you to never give up, keep making the changes you want to make in your life. It might be taking control of your “out of control” schedules. It might be getting a good night’s rest. It might be going back to school. Or it might be saving more money for the future. I don’t think it takes much time and effort for us each to list at least one or two areas that we want to improve in our lives. Just remember that you are capable to making those changes a reality. Let me repeat that. You are capable of making those changes, and I believe learning something new is an essential step in the process.

Have a great weekend! Here’s to never giving up, and learning new things to live our best!

What’s Essential?

If we want to accomplish something in our lives or start something new, one of our greatest barriers is not having enough time. The questions then is,  how do we move forward in our goals? How do we make our dreams a reality? How do we move forward?

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I might have you trained well in my philosophy to say “ Baby steps Jen, that is how we move forward” and I don’t disagree with that. I do know though, that even baby steps take time. What I am trying to figure out is how to make more time for the areas that are most important to me. This will then give me more time for more baby steps, continuing to move forward, steadily,  towards what I want to accomplish.

What I am working on right now, is to find more time to identify and remove non-essentials in my life. Non-essentials generally fall into the category of “good” things in my life, not “best” things. I think all of our lives are filled with a lot of “good” things, but they do indeed fill up our time. I am trying to differentiate between the “good” and “best” and distill my life down to the essentials, the BEST!

What does this look like?

  • The first thing I have learned is that this is a very individual and personal process. What I may define as essential for me may be non-essential to you, and vice versa. It is important not to compare ourselves with others. We can use others as examples, but at the end of the day, we each have to decide and be comfortable with what is essential to us. I have asked myself if training for my triathlon is essential for my life right now. After putting some thought to it, I have decided that it is essential for my physical, mental and emotional health right now. I can almost guarantee that training for a triathlon is not essential to you. Your essentials will be very personal to you.
  • The second thing I have learned is that things change over time. Things that I may define as non-essential at this time might be able to be elevated back to essential in the future. It is up to each of use to decided. I play the upright bass, but I have put the bass down for almost a year now. It does make me sad that I have not played it, but I know in my heart that it is a non-essential right now. Here in a few months, my plan is for that to change. After my intense training for my triathlon is done, the nights start getting longer and the weather starts getting colder, it is my plan to prioritize my bass playing again. If you have to set something aside for the time being, know that it can be picked back up at a later date.
  • Non-essentials take different forms. So far I have found non-essential thoughts that need to be removed from my life. I have found non-essential possessions, aka clutter, that needs to be removed. I have found non-essentials in my schedule that need to be removed. Non-essentials are anything that fall into the category of “less than best”.

How do we move forward on our dreams and goals by eliminating non-essentials?

  • I have found that identification of non-essentials is the first and most challenging step. I have spent the last 5 months asking myself what I can remove from my life, what is non-essential. It has been a slow process of many baby steps to identify the many “good” things in my life that I am willing to give up for the “best” things. In the end, we have 24 hours in a day and we have to make choices. If we want to find time and move forward with our dreams and goals, non-essentials will more than likely need to be removed.
  • Removing non-essentials is the next step which takes time and that is hard to find in our schedules as well. A non-essential I recently removed from my schedule was my container garden. The past few years I have set up a container garden on my back deck. I did the same this last spring, but with a very different schedule this year and very dry weather, my container garden required a lot of time and attention that I just did not have. Instead of being an enjoyable experience, it became a burden. I decided that, for now, the container garden needed to be closed down for the year. It took time to do that, but it has brought relief in the long run.
  • Next, I keep an eye out for the next non-essential that needs to be removed. Just this week, we had some small renovations done at our house. In the process, I have had to move some things around and find new homes for a few things. It has come to my attention through this process, that it is time for me to say goodbye to some non-essential possessions. It feels like I am drowning in clutter right now. My plan for the next week or so is to identify and start to remove some of the physical clutter from my space and life.
  • Lastly, we have to be on guard for non-essential creeping back into our lives. I think the more we spend time focusing on what is most important to us, the easier it is to identify the things that are non-essential, but we still have to watch out for them in our lives.

The end result to all of this is to spend as much time and energy focusing on what is most important in our lives and removing the things of less importance. This is hard and it is a process, but as I am finding out, I will not have time for the areas that I want to move forward in unless I make these hard choices.

Join me in focusing on the “best” and working to remove all of the non-essentials in our lives.

Home Sweet Home…Again

As I scanned my calendar over a few  weeks’ time, I noticed something kind of strange. I had a weekend coming up that was EMPTY! There was nothing at all schedule for this weekend. What will I do? This is such a rare occasion, I was almost paralyzed in disbelief.

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As that weekend approached, I decided to make sure it stayed empty, and doing so was not easy. In fact as it got closer, I had to be very intentional about saying “no” to the numerous invitations that came my way. As of Friday night, I still did not know what I was going to do with my time, but one thing I felt was the need to stay home. I followed that desire and it was exactly what I needed.

I love my home, but I can even dread coming home to it at times when there are dishes stacked up, piles of laundry that need to be done, floors that desperately need to be cleaned, and a dead container garden because I neglected watering it. There are weeds that need to be pulled, bedding that needs to be washed and mounds of paperwork that needs to be filed. I love my home, and there is nothing I want more than to enjoy being “at home” there.

As I woke up on Saturday morning, after sleeping in a little late, I decided to start with the laundry. As it was going, I jumped over to the dishes for a little bit. Then started to tackle the floors and so much more! Some may say that this is a waste of a day, but I say this is exactly what I needed, and I think we all need this every once in a while.

Here is what my day at home provided for me, and will provide for you too:

It allowed me to have full control of my time. So often our lives are dictated by many other schedules like work, school, extracurricular activities, family, church, etc. We get in the mode of going where we need to go, when we need to go and no longer have control over our time. That was not the case on my day at home, I did what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it and it was refreshing.

It allowed me to take control over those things that were nagging at me, aka, my dirty floors. When something is not the way it should be, it nags at us. It could be a cluttered office, weeds that have taken over your landscaping, or dirty floors in my case. I took the time on my day at home to tackle my nagging projects and it felt great!

It made me feel productive. Doesn’t it feel great when we have a productive day at home or at work? It almost feels like we can take a deep breathe and breath easier. This is not the feeling we get when we are running around with our heads cut off all weekend. My day at home felt productive and great!

It allowed me to enjoy my home again. When all was said and done, the laundry was done and put away, the floors were clean and a number of other odd jobs were done, I was happy to come home again. Don’t get me wrong, I did not finish everything on my “ To-Do” list, but I did take care of those things that were nagging me. Our homes are supposed to be a place to come for rest. My day at home allowed me to restore that feeling of being “at home”.

I do not have children, but I think these days at home are refreshing for them as well, even though they may not want to admit it. I remember days growing up that my mom put us to work in our rooms, usually cleaning out our closets. It was a lot of work, but at the end of the day, it was nice to have a clean and organized space. Maybe end the day with a special meal and a great family night.  Home and family are great things to prioritize.

Having a day at home is great medicine for you and for your family. You may not be as lucky as me to have a free weekend “pop-up” on your calendar, but you can be intentional about blocking off a day or an entire weekend. It will require some intentionality and saying “no” to some good things, but it will all be worth it in the end.

Here’s to being at home again!

An Ordinary Wek

I am writing this blog post on Wednesday night, the night before it is to be posted. My original plan was to share an article that I had saved quite a while ago, but just got around to reading this week. When I went to find for the article online, it apparently is so old that it is not longer available. I am sitting in my recliner thinking about what I am going to share with you this week. Hmmmm. It’s been a pretty ordinary week.

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I read an interesting article today and it make me think about the next “step” in the process of baby steps. So far this year I have been thinking about and taking just the next baby step. Life has been crazy busy and that is all I could handle. That is ok, in fact that is great and better than no steps at all, but this article suggested thinking about and planning out the next two or three baby steps. I realize I cannot do this in all areas of my life, but I think I am going to start to try this in at least one area that I am trying to move forward in. I will let you know how it goes.

I have been trying to read more articles this week. The articles I am reading are focused around one of the areas that I want to grow and do great things in the future. Monday morning I read one and today I read one. It has not been a huge thing, but it is more than what I had been doing, and they have really enhanced my week. I am going to try to keep it up.

I have spent time with some great people. Sunday I spent the day with my parents, sister and her family. I have taken some nice evening walks with my husband, John. Tonight I had dinner eating some yummy ribs with a dear friend, and I have more great times with great people planned for the rest of my week. Oh, and I can’t forget my cuddle time with my puppy.

I also have to share that I was quite cranky Monday and Tuesday of this week. I don’t want you to think that my life is all rainbows and bunnies. I did not have a good attitude for a few days.

I guess my point to this blog post is to let you see that I live a pretty ordinary life, but I still plan to do extraordinary things. I try to keep learning. I keep taking baby steps. I spend time with great people. I even get cranky. Whatever you want to do in life, no matter how ordinary it might look, be proud of it and go for it. Be true to who you are, be kind to yourself, and keep going!

I hope you have a great rest of the week! Good or bad, we will keep plugging away, right? Here’s to living our BEST ordinary life!  

P.S. An amazing lady named Beth takes time each week to edit my blog posts. Since I am writing this the night before, she will not be able to do her magic on my post. Sorry for any spelling or grammar mistakes, and thank you Beth for always making me look good and for making my weekly blog post a positive experience for everyone. I plan to be back on track next week, but Beth has heard that many times from me before. : )

I want to…but it’s just too hard!

One of the challenges we face as we want to make improvements in our lives is the feeling of “I want to….but it’s just too hard!” We live busy, full lives that require a lot of energy. Sometimes we are excited and motivated to get going with a new project or goal, but we soon find ourselves hitting a wall because we never imagined it could be so hard.

Too hard

This is exactly where I am right now with the running part of my training for my triathlon. I feel like I am in pretty good shape. Biking and swimming come pretty easily for me. I cross train two times a week, I should be able to pick up this running stuff relatively easily, right? Wrong! I am not fooling myself into thinking I can do this overnight, but I have had to take my baby steps down so small that I don’t think I can make them much smaller. I have asked myself a number of times this week, if it’s time to throw in the towel and realize this was not meant for me, but deep down I don’t want to give up.  I will not continue if I feel like I am at the point where I am hurting my body, but that is not the case. How than do you and I keep going when things are so hard?

  • We keep showing up. In other words, keep doing something, because doing nothing will set us back even farther. Take your baby step down to an even smaller step. There is nothing wrong with it because you are still moving forward. For me, I get out to walk and I throw in some jogging here and there. I do as much as my body can handle, then I do it again in a few days. Triathletes that are reading this post may think that I will never make it at this rate, but I will surely not make it if I give up. The same goes for you. Show up. Keep doing something.
  • Set a goal date. I want you to know right up front that my first goal date was April of this year, then June, then July, now it’s September. Many people might ask “what’s the point in a goal date if you don’t meet your goal?” Well, what it has done for me is kept me moving. I keep the picture in my mind of me participating in a triathlon and it keeps me going. With this being as hard as it is, I can guarantee I would have done nothing if I had not committed to these dates. One of these days I will hit my goal date. What date can you set to help you keep moving forward?
  • Change things up a little. If one thing is not working for you, try something else. Yesterday I spent some time thinking about the areas of my body that are not happy with me when I run. I then decided that I was going to start a new set of stretches to see if I could loosen them up and get them moving better. For you, it might be changing up what you eat, or what you are trying to cut out. Think a little bit about what is not working and see what you can tweak to see if it will work better. Life is one big experiment. Let’s learn from what works and change what does not. We will get to our goal if we don’t give up.
  • Try not to get discouraged. It is hard when we are not seeing the results we expected. Keep reminding yourself that you have not given up and that you are doing something small to continue to move forward. If you have given up, pick back up and do something small. We see all around us those who “did it” and it was “so easy”. That is a lie! Sure, some things are easier for some people than others, but everything in life that is worth doing is going to have it’s challenges. Keep going and know that whatever you are doing is great. I am proud of you for it!

I am proud of you for working hard every day to live your BEST! It is hard work, but you keep going! Know that you are not alone, we are in this together! Keep going, keep showing up, keep moving forward towards great things!

Here’s to showing up even when things are hard!

Mid Year Refresher

It’s hard to believe that August is right around the corner,  but, with August comes a feeling of a fresh start. Whether you have children in school or not, the beginning of a school year and the feeling of getting back into a routine feels refreshing. With this mid-year fresh start, I wanted to touch base with you on the concept of baby steps. I don’t know about you, but baby steps have kept me sane and moving forward through the twists and turns of life so far this year.

Foot Steps

Here is what baby steps have done for me this year:

Baby steps reduce pressure. Life is filled with constant pressure from work, family, friends, and probably the biggest culprit, ourselves. We all feel continual pressure, but when we can stop and ask ourselves “what small step can I make to move forward?”, it removes the enormity of the task and reduces pressure.

Baby steps allow us to move forward even when we don’t feel like we can. For me, this came to play in my physical health. There were times that my body felt tired and sore and I felt like I could not possibly do any more. When I reminded myself of baby steps, I would realize that I could, at minimum, take a walk or get up and stretch. Even though it was a small step, it was better than doing nothing. Baby steps kept me moving forward, no matter how small the step was.

Baby steps make life manageable. There is so much to do each day of our lives. When I focused on ALL that I needed to get done, I would quickly feel discouraged, even defeated. But when I broke up my day and what I needed to get done into small pieces, I would get one thing done, then another, then another. We know our “To Do” list will never be completed, but before I knew it, I had a few things marked off. My “To Do” list became more manageable.

Baby steps make goals achievable. Every day is a new day and a fresh start when it comes to baby steps. It is not about looking back, it is about looking forward and asking, “what small thing can I do today to move forward?” As I reflect on the goals I set at the beginning of the year, I realize I have not “arrived” at any of them. Today, I remind myself of what I wanted to achieve and ask myself what I can do to move forward. We can all achieve our desires as long as we keep moving forward.

In January, I sent out a video series on Baby Steps to help us get off on the right start this year. I spent some time watching them last night and I felt like you might enjoy a refresher as well. As a subscriber, I have included the link in the email you received for this blog post. If you are not yet a subscriber, you can subscribe to my blog on the right hand column and I will be sure to send you the link for the baby steps video series.

You all are amazing! Keep doing amazing things, one small step at a time! Here’s to living our BEST!

Start Talking!

In most cases, I am an advocate of listening over talking. I find my relationships are much stronger when I can focus on listening to others versus focusing on what I am going to say in response. There is one instance though that I am learning the importance of talking over listening and that is when I have dialog with myself.

Talk to yourself

Just recently, one of my blog subscribers, Pat, sent me an inspiring blog post from Jon Gordon entitled “The Best Advice I’ve Ever Heard”. In the post, he shares an inspiring story of Dr. James Gills, a man in his fifties, who completed two triathlons back to back not just once, but six times. When asked how he did it, he shared some very wise words. He said “I’ve learned to talk to myself instead of listen to myself.” In the blog post he continued, “If I listen to myself, I hear all the reasons why I should give up. I hear that I’m too tired-too old-too weak to make it. But if I talk to myself, I can give myself the encouragement and words I need to hear to keep running and finish the race.” It’s the same way with life.

I have been putting some effort the past few weeks into paying attention to the things that I say to myself, the things that pop into my mind throughout my day. Here are some of the common themes and what I have done to start talking to myself instead of listen.

“I am tired!” I found this to pop into my head on a regular basis, even when I am not really all that tired. Every time this thought would pop into my head, I would start to feel more tired. Once I started to recognize this, I would ask myself if I was really tired. If I was, I would prioritize some rest, but many times I realized I was fine. I started to talk to myself by telling myself that I am fine, that I am not tired, that I have plenty of energy for my day.

“I don’t have enough time to get things done!” Well this is the truth, right? There never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything done. What I found though is that when this thought popped into my head it would drag me down, it would make me feel like a failure. The thought that I have been trying to replace it with is two-fold. First, I have been reminding myself of all of the things that I have accomplished in that day, which is a ton! Second, I have been reminding myself that the time I have “is what it is” and to use the time that I do have, the best I can. Essentially, I tell myself that I am doing great and to keep going!

“Others think poorly of me and are unhappy with me.” In our busy lives we have periods of time when we don’t see our family and friends as much as we would like. It is during these times of absence that thought pop into my head that others are displeased with me. As I write this, it sounds so silly, but the thoughts do pop into my mind. I have to remind myself that these thoughts are not founded in truth, but if the thought will not go away, I take action. I learned a while back that the best way to remove a fear is to take action against it. If I am fearful that someone is unhappy with me, I take action and give them a call. They are usually as happy to hear from me as I am to call and talk to them. I quickly find out that the thoughts that had popped into my head were completely wrong.

Well, you have just gotten a glimpse of my thought life, but I imagine if you start to pay attention, you will find certain thoughts that pop into your mind on a regular basis. Start to recognize them, ask yourself if they are making you feel better or worse, make an effort to refute them, and start talking positive things into your mind and life.

Pat, thanks for the article you sent me which helped me tremendously, and will now help so many more.

Here’s to talking to ourselves more and filling our minds with positive, life-giving thoughts!

Be Energized!

I like to look at the energy that we have for each day similar to how we see money in a bank account. Sometimes we make deposits, sometimes withdrawals and sometimes our balance stays steady. If I had to guess though, I would say most days, our energy bank accounts experience more withdrawals than deposits. The question is, how can we deposit more and withdrawal less to live our best?

Pig BankIn my day job, I work within my strengths most of the time. I am very fortunate that my energy bank account does not get depleted there. I do have to admit though, that my day job generally does not make deposits in my energy bank account either. I end up with a pretty neutral balance. It all changes when I start to add in all of the “stuff” before work, after work, and on the weekends. I can suddenly find my energy bank account plummeting. How do we take control and produce more energy for our lives?

Identify withdrawals. What are the things in your life that drain you? These areas are specific to you. Pay attention to the times in your life that you feel drained. What is causing it? Identifying these withdrawals from your energy account is the first and most vital step.

One item I have identified that will drain me almost immediately, is to be forced to rush.  When I am forced to rush out the door or from one place to the next, I can feel the anxiety rise and the energy drain.

What are the things in your life that drain you of energy?

Reduce withdrawals. Once you begin to identify these areas that drain you of energy, it is time to ask yourselves if and how you can reduce these withdrawals. In my example of not wanting to be rushed, I have learned to build in a buffer in my day as much as possible which gives me time to move at the speed that works for me. Yes, I am forced to rush at times, but most of the time it is within my control to slow things down to the pace that works for me.

How can you begin to take control of the areas that drain you to reduce their draining effect?

Identify deposits. On the opposite side of the coin, what are the things in your life that replenish your energy? These things make you feel great when you are done. I am an introvert. What this means for me it that I fill my tanks by having “me” time. I have found a number of things that I can do by myself that replenishes my energy. You might be able to relate with me, or you might be the opposite and feel replenished by being surrounded by as many people as possible. Identifying the things that make deposits into your energy account is a great step towards living your best life.

What are the things in life that energize you?

Increase deposits. I think this is an obvious next step, right? Do as much as we can to add energy to our lives, but it is easier said than done. Life is filled with a lot of obligations and many of them zap our energy. The reality is that it is hard to find the time to add these positive things into our day. It is also hard, at times, because we tend to take care of everyone else and give ourselves what’s left over,  if there is any. Increasing the things that bring us energy in life will be a process, but remember we can do amazing things if we just focus on one small step at a time.

What small step can you take today to start to increase the positive, energy giving deposits in your life?
Learning to live our best life is a journey. An important things to remember is that we are in the driver’s seat. We have control of the breaks if we need to use them, we are in control of the accelerator, the steering wheel, but most importantly, the gas tank. Let’s make sure we are doing what we can to fill up our tanks so that the journey of life is the best it can be!  

Perspective

I have to be straight with you, I have been struggling quite a bit lately. The transition from working from my home, for myself with all of the flexibility in the world to working outside of my home with very set hours, has been a lot harder on me than I could have ever imagined. I am not going to go into all of the details of the transition, but will share with you that I knew part of the solution for me was I needed a perspective change. I probably knew that I needed a perspective change for a good month before I was ready for it. I had to grieve, for lack of a better word, and work through things at my pace. But ultimately, I needed a perspective change.

Perspective

My perspective change came right when I was ready for it. I read a blog post from a woman who has done some pretty amazing things in her life. In this particular blog post, she shared with her readers some very sad things that have happened in her life and in her marriage. My heart absolutely broke for her. She is picking herself back up, healing and moving forward, but what her blog post did for me, was to bring my life into much-needed perspective. My life is not perfect by any means, but it helped me to change my focus from all of my struggles to the things that are going well in my life, to all of my blessings. Now, I am not neglecting all of the tough stuff, because I think it is important to work through that stuff, but I am trying to be thankful for what is right in front of me, for the things that I do have in life.

My purpose for this blog post is to encourage you to be open to a perspective change. If life is tough right now, know that a change in perspective might be a part of your solution. When we are open to the idea of a perspective change, life usually serves one up for us.

Even when we do all we can to live our best, gook happens. Here’s to working through the tough stuff and embracing a perspective change when they come our way.