I Don’t Wanna!

The day that I am writing this post is January 18th. I have made it 18 days into the New Year. 18 days after my “fresh start” and I am unmotivated, tired, and lazy and I simply DON’T WANNA! I don’t want to exercise, I don’t want to work, I don’t want to learn; I don’t want to do anything! I hope, for your sake, you are not feeling the same way I am, but if you are, we have to find a way to keep moving forward.

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I have signed up for my first ever triathlon. I have to be ready to swim, bike and run by the end of April. I have three months to come up to speed and this forty-four year old body is going to need every second of that time to get ready. After a week of travel and a week of being sick, yesterday was my day to get back to the Rec Center to train. I felt like I had a split personality because I had two voices competing inside of my head. One was one of the “parent” trying to convince myself that going to work out was the right thing to do, and the other voice was the “two-year-old” screaming “I don’t wanna!” After the battle continued for some time, thankfully the “parent” won the battle and I got to the Rec Center to swim and ride on the stationary bike.

You see, I am training and running in this triathlon for myself. I do not have a boss, I am not getting paid, I will not get reprimanded and no one will know any difference if I don’t train, work hard and complete this race. That is where the challenge lies when it comes to so many of the things we want to accomplish for ourselves. No one is there to push us, but we know we want to make it a reality. No one will know if we don’t succeed, but we desperately want to make things happen in our life and taste victory.

If you have followed my blog for long, you will know it is my heart’s desire to encourage you and help you live your absolute best. I tell you today that overcoming the “I don’t wannas” is not easy, but you can do it and you will! Here are a few things I did to help me keep moving forward.

  • I thought about the future. I thought about the day of my triathlon. I thought about getting out of the swim pool with that leg of the race behind me. I thought about the bike ride and how much I will enjoy it. Then I thought about crossing the finish line after the run and feeling the amazing feeling of accomplishment. When we are feeling unmotivated, let’s think about what it will be like when we accomplish our desired change or goal. It gives us a little boost to keep going.
  • I had to stop my mind from giving me reasons not to go. A few times that morning my mind reminded me of how cold it was to swim during the winter. How cold it was going to be getting out of the pool and walking into the locker rooms. My mind wanted to remind me of all of the negative, uncomfortable things involved in my training. We have to stop those thoughts right when they start. If we let them float around in our minds too long, they will convince us that it is ok to skip out just this one time.
  • I had to tell myself to “just do it!” I don’t use the words “shut-up” very often, but I had to tell myself to “shut-up and just do it!” I had to be frank with myself by telling myself to “quick complaining and go!” Folks, I can be a big baby at times. I love things to be easy, but that is not how life works, especially if you are working towards amazing things. We know what we need to do, so let’s just do it!

That was my story from yesterday. Today I have a day where I need to get some work done, and lo and behold I started in on the “I don’t wannas” again. We are going to have days when we feel like this, but we must keep moving forward, making good choices, one small step at a time.

Oh, by the way, when I was done swimming and biking yesterday, I felt amazing! And today, when I finish the work that I need to get done, I will be thankful that I pushed through the “I don’t wannas!” You will feel great too; just keep taking small steps forward! You got this!

Here’s to throwing our “I don’t wanna” tantrums and moving forward anyway!

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?

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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!

Here’s a Quick Way to Add Pizzazz to Your Life!

We sit here in January with an entire year in front of us. We are also coming off one of the most event filled times of the year. I don’t know about you, but I am asking myself “What is next?” Life is filled to the brim with work, family, friends, school activities, maybe church functions, and keeping up with household chores. You know I love routine, but we can easily fall into a rut of busyness and life can begin to lose it’s Pizzazz.  One remedy that brings some life back into our busy world is to always have something on your calendar to look forward to.

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I have a dear friend who modeled this for me in past years. Early in the year she started to plan, and she made sure her and her family had something on the calendar to look forward to. In the middle of one summer, her work schedule became crazy busy, but she did not falter on her plans to get away and have fun. At one point, we discussed how she was better able to deal with the stress of life and work because she always had something to look forward to on her calendar. Her and her family would get home from one activity and keep an eye on their next planned adventure.

Having something to look forward to provides three things.

  • It provides a reward to work towards. We all love a reward. Having something planned and on our calendar is like being a child having a big yummy lollipop to look forward to. We can keep an eye on it and know that it is just a matter of time before we get to enjoy it!
  • It provides a life-preserver when life get’s really stressful. We have all been under loads of stress. When we have something on our calendar to look forward to, we see that relief is in sight.
  • It provides much needed fun and joy. When the planned activity arrives, it adds an immense amount of fun and joy to our lives and the lives of those we care about.

Each month, I am going to include a Bonus Resource for you. It is a “Something To Look Forward To” Planning Calendar. I will include it with the blog post that is closest to the middle of the month allowing us to make sure we plan some fun stuff for the next month. There are many activities that we will need to plan further ahead than this, but it will be a good reminder for all of us to make sure we have some fun stuff planned.

On the “Something To Look Forward To” Planning Calendar, I encourage you to, at a minimum, add something for:

  • You and your loved ones.
  • You and your co-workers.
  • Something just for you.

Click below for your “Something To Look Forward To” February Planning Calendar

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Here’s to a year of fun times with those we care about!

Are You Ever Stopped Before You Get Started?

Henry Ford once said “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” Do you believe that the power of your thoughts dictates your actions, and therefore the outcome? Do you believe that if you think you can, then you can? And do you believe that if you have the mindset that you can’t, then that mindset will sabotage your success and you will not succeed?

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This is a deep concept to grasp, at least it was for me. I have Mr. Ford’s quote in my office and I had to chew on that quote for quite some time. It took me a while to buy into his words, but I now understand them to be very true. When I believe I can, I start to put one foot in front of the other and move forward. When I think, deep down in my soul, that there is no way I can accomplish something, it stops me in my tracks. Action is key in this. If we believe we can, we start to move forward. When we believe something is impossible, we stay put in our current reality.  

It was a process for me to get to the point of believing I could succeed, specifically with my writing. I have struggled with grammar, vocabulary, spelling and writing all my life. I have felt like a failure many times. I have been told that my writing was not good and that my thoughts did not flow well. But I know I can do this and I know that I want to help you live your best life, so I keep going.

Remember, I am walking through this journey with you in real-time. I write about things that I have learned through the years, but I also continue to work through these concepts myself, literally,  as you read about them. Just this morning I was reading a book that was originally published in 1959 called The Magic Of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz. He was talking about his experiences with individuals who found success when they believed that “they could.” I instantly asked myself, “do I believe that I can do what it takes to make my desired changes a reality in 2017?”  I really had to chew on that for a while and I got fearful that I don’t have what it takes to succeed.

Do you feel that way sometimes when it comes to the area of change you want to make in your life? Fears start to crop up and memories of past failures rear their head. It is a normal feeling, but we have to put those fears in their place, stand tall and believe with everything we can muster, that WE CAN! Once we are in the mindset of “we can!” we start to put one foot in front of the other and move forward towards success!

I believe that I can make the desired changes that I want to make in 2017! Do you believe you can? Let’s do it together, one step at a time!

 

The Secret to Bringing Order, Clarity and Calm to Your Life

We are just a few days away from the New Year! With the new year comes the feeling of a fresh start as well as one of my favorite things, getting back into a routine! The Holidays are so much fun, but for me, there is nothing routine about them.

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I love routine and I live my best life when I can work within a routine. Here is what routine provides for me.

  • Routine bring order to my mind and life. When my routine is established, I try to keep the same things on the same days, at the same times, each week. Yes, there are always exceptions to the rules, but the more I can establish this, the more order it brings to my mind and life. You know, I do not even recognize that the feeling of order is there, until I have a week where my routine is completely thrown off. It is then that I realize how clear minded I was with my routine and then I work hard to re-establish it.
  • Routine brings clarity to my mind and life. When I am running around with my head cut off with no routine in sight, it takes all of my mental power to juggle all the balls and try not to drop them. When I am working within my routine, my mind is freed up to think about other important things. It is freed up to give that word of encouragement to someone who needs it. It is freed up to touch base with family and friends that come to my mind. Routine frees my mind up to dream a little and think about great possibilities.
  • Routine brings calm and peace to my mind and life. Think about the past few weeks. Think about the moment that was the most chaotic and had the least amount of routine for you and your loved ones. If you had to rate your level of calm and peace at that moment anywhere from a 1 to 10, how would you rate it? Can I answer .5? Establishing a routine brings a certain calm and peace that we all desire in our lives.

There is one question with regards to routine that I would love to get your feedback on. How do you establish a routine while still being spontaneous in your life? Spontaneity is not a strength of mine, so I would love to hear your thoughts and I know my other reader would too. Just reply below this blog post so everyone can join in.

Routine is a great thing in our lives, and quite frankly, we are the ones to make it happen. Do you realize that you hold the power to establish a routine for you and your loved ones, providing them with much-needed order, clarity and calm?  That is pretty amazing!
Here’s to order, clarity, calm and a fresh start!

Cherish Every Moment

We are smack dab right in the middle of the Holiday Season! Family is starting to come into town, final preparations are being made for all of the yummy meals we are about to partake in, and those last few trips out to the stores are taking place for last-minute gifts and goodies. All of the preparation of the past few months were made so that the next few weeks are the best they can possibly be. Now it’s time to cherish every moment!
cherish-the-moment-croppedLast night I enjoyed an amazing night with friends. We grabbed dinner at a local restaurant, enjoy glorious ribs with all of the fixings, shared stories around the table, then walked to the park next door to enjoy a walk through Christmas Lights Display. One thing made the night magical. That one things was my choice to make it magical.

You see, I can forget to have fun. I can focus in on the large crowd, and the baby screaming. I can focus on the blog post that I need to write the next day. I can focus on how cold I am or allow my mind to get wrapped up on so many things, that I miss the magical moments right in front of me.

This blog post is scheduled for Thursday, December 22nd. The next week and a half are going to be filled with amazing moments. Here are a few things to help us all cherish every moment.

  • Cherishing every moment requires us to take a deep breath and slow down. When we are rushing around with our heads cut off, we will rush right past these special moments. Today, I took a little bit of time to sit in my favorite chair by my Christmas tree with my puppy on my lap. I had a lot to get done, but I took some time for a breather and cherished that sweet moment. Remind yourself in the next few days to take a deep breath, slow down and enjoy!
  • Cherishing every moment requires us to recognize and savor the experience. I remember the exact moment last night that I did things. The group I was with had stopped to get some hot chocolate. I was off to the side waiting for them when I realized how absolutely beautiful the night was. It was around 30 degrees, chilly, but not too cold. The cold air felt refreshing on my face because that was the only skin showing since I tend to bundle up pretty good in the winter. I suddenly got a waft of the small hot chocolate and it brought great memories to my mind. There were people all around waiting in anticipation for a fireworks display that ended up being spectacular. I was thankful I took the time to savor the moment. Regardless of where you are at; in the kitchen cooking, outside shoveling snow, or even in line at the grocery store, find something to savor.
  • Cherishing every moment requires us to stay in the moment. It can be challenging to stay in the moment when we have numerous places to go and many events to attend. I don’t know about you, but my brain is trying to think about all of the things I have to make sure I don’t forget. I have to keep an eye on the clock to make sure I put the potato dish in the oven on time. Then we have to make sure we are out the door no later than ‘rush-o’clock’ to get to the next location for round two, then round three, and then round… well you get the idea. This can be reality, I know. The question is how, then, can we stay in and enjoy every moment. I’m sure there are a lot of tips and tricks that you all may have and if you do, leave them in the comment section to help us all out. What I try to do is utilize some tools. I use lists. They allow me to take all of the things that are in my brain, get them off my brain and onto paper. Then my brain is freed up to enjoy the moment at hand. I also utilize the alarm on my phone. If I know I need to do something at a certain time, Instead of focusing on the clock, I set my alarm and enjoy my moment at hand. When the alarm goes off, I know it’s time for whatever is next. Do whatever you need to do to stay in the moment.

Merry Christmas Everyone! I can’t wait to see pictures of your cherishing moments if you share them on social media! It makes my heart warm just thinking about them.

You have worked so hard for this to be your Best Holiday Season Ever! It’s time to enjoy it! Cherish every moment. You deserve it!

Now, Have The Best Holiday Season and Have a Ton of Fun!

We have the ability to choose if we are going to be happy. Granted, it is much easier at times than others to choose happiness, but we do have the ability to do so. I have to remind myself during the hustle and bustle of the holidays that I have the ability to have fun, and the choice to not have fun, and so do you.

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I am, overall, a pretty serious person. I do have a silly streak, but it does not come out very often. I am okay with that because that is who I am. But I still like to have fun. What I find so often is, I can be in the middle of a very pleasant activity, yet find myself not having fun. My friend, Linda, has helped me with this specifically during bike rides. We would be riding along, chatting, yet my eyes would be focused on the gravel path before me. Now it is important to keep an eye on the path, but what Linda has taught me is to look up, look around, enjoy the day, feel the breeze on our face, check out the birds, the cliffs on the side of the path, and be a little silly every once in a while.

I do have to say too, that because I tend to be on the serious side, it is fun every once in a while to say something that is uncharacteristic for me and shock everyone. I will not go into any detail, but this happened once when we were on a three-day bike ride. It was a very cold night to camp and somehow the disposable hand warmers made it into my undergarments. It was quite a pleasant experience, both the warmth and the good laugh we had.

Remember to have fun in pleasant situations. This almost sounds silly, but let’s all try to slow down, and enjoy being right where we are. Look around and enjoy the Christmas decorations, the sound of music, people, and depending on where you are, either the warm cozy air or the fresh crisp breeze. Let’s remember to just BE, and ENJOY!

Remember our attitude is our choice when we are in unpleasant situations. First of all, it’s wise to eliminate unpleasant situations, especially if we are already tired and irritable. That might not be the time to go out in heavy traffic or do your Christmas shopping. I know, sometimes we do not have a choice about the traffic, but try to set yourself up for success. And yes, there are those events that you will attend that are simply torture (did I say that?). And shopping with the masses is inevitable. Just remember we have a choice whether to have fun or not. Today I was walking on an indoor track after my workout and an older gentleman passed  me (I was tired after my workout, okay?). As he passed by, he made a fun, silly, yet true statement that made me laugh. His silliness and fun was contagious and I really appreciated it. Spreading joy is good medicine for us and those stuck in traffic or in the checkout line with us. Choose Fun!

We are a group of amazing individuals who want to Live Our Best and Give Our Best. We may not know everyone who reads this Blog by name, but we all have one thing in common, we want to continue to grow and live better each day. Living Our Best does take some effort, but it is worth every bit of it and I am so very proud of you for prioritizing it!

Here’s to Being Our Best and Having Fun!

Special Announcement: I am starting to dabble with making short, encouraging videos for you and I threw my first one out on YouTube and social media this week. If you missed it, here it is!

I am practicing up so that I can include some really great videos in your January Goody Bag coming out on Tuesday December 27th. I am going to approach 2017 very different than I did this last year in the hopes of living with more joy. I can’t wait to share more details with you in January!

RIGHT NOW YOU CAN…DON’T DELAY!

I woke up this morning to an email inbox filled with “ACT NOW”, “DON’T MISS OUT”, and “LIMITED TIME OFFER” emails. It did not surprise me since I am writing this post just a few days after Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday. It dawned on me that the message of “DON’T MISS OUT” can cause havoc in our lives and our Holidays. There are so many fun things to do that come around only one time a year after all, and we suddenly feel the pressure to fit it all in. DON’T DELAY!

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As my business is growing, one of the areas that I am taking time to learn about is how to get my products and services into the hands of wonderful and amazing people like you. Like it or not, this is called “marketing”. As I learn more about the marketing world, one of the strategies it employs is creating a sense of urgency. When companies and organizations create a sense of urgency, we act quicker because we don’t want to miss out. And I hate to tell you, it works.

During the Holidays this sense of urgency is all around us and if we do not recognize it and take control over it, it will control us.

Here are three areas for us to recognize and take control of this Holiday Season.

  • There are many Community Activities that only come around this time of year. Do you feel the urgency to participate in as many as possible? There is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying these activities. I hope to get to a few of them myself. Just remember that many of them will be back next year and it is not necessary to overwhelm you and your loved ones schedules with too many activities. You have control.
  • How many sales ads and coupons have you received this Holiday? Do they build a sense of urgency inside of you? I love sales and I love coupons but sometimes I forget how they really impact my life. Yes, they can save me some money, and that is great value in and of itself but, they can also consume a lot of time. When I transitioned to working at home, saving a buck was very important since we had to make ends meet on one income. I would travel to multiple grocery stores to hit the best deals at each one, and yes, I saved some money. What I realized over time was that I was spending a lot more gas money, for one, and a ton of time running in and out of stores. We each have to decide for ourselves what is most important. I simply want to help you see that sales and coupons not only impact your pocket-book, they impact your precious time. Don’t forget, you have control.
  • How many invitations have you received to different events this year? I have not received very many. What I have received is expectations. We are no longer invited to things and no longer given the choice of declining the invitation. In most cases these days, it is communicated that we are expected to attend. I want to remind you that you are invited to attend these events. Yes, there are trade-off to attending or not attending. I simply want to remind you that it is within your control to accept or decline the invitation.

Your choices this Holiday Season will have a huge impact on you and your loved ones. You are their rock and the glue that holds things together. They need you, they value you, and you have so much to contribute to their lives. Accepting and taking control is vital for all of us as we are bombarded with messages of “URGENCY!”

Here’s to taking control of what we can and having our Best Holiday Season Ever!

The Christmas Gift that has the Power to Change our Future for the Better

Thanksgiving is behind us. Christmas trees are up and decorated. Now it is time to get a move on our Christmas shopping. Choosing the perfect gift for those we love can be fun for some of the people on our list but can feel daunting for others. Isn’t it great when we come across that perfect gift for someone? We can hardly wait for them to open it up! I have been given many amazing gifts through the years, including Mr. Microphone as a child, but there is one gift that we can all give this Christmas that is so big and amazing that it can not fit in a box.

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My parents gave me this amazing gift day in and day out as I was growing up, but the gift was always magnified during the Christmas Season. The gift was the gift of serving others. Serving other people is at the core of who my Mom and Dad are. Because of that, they share this gift, to this day, with each of their children, grandchildren, church family members, and community.  They are now in their eighties and their life continues to be filled with serving and giving to others.

Because giving was a big part of my parent’s life, it became a big part of my life too. When my parents went to the local nursing home to brighten the residents’ day, they brought me along. When my youth group was distributing food to those in need, my parents were right there beside us, caring for people. When a family member or friend needed help, my parents would bring me and my siblings along to help them. I now recognize the amazing gift that my parents gave me by doing that. Today I LOVE to do things for other people, and it’s all because of the example my parents set for me.

You have an amazing part to play this Holiday Season! I encourage you, as you write out your gift list, to add one more “gift” to the list for those you love. Try to fit in some way to serve others. As you do, here are three ingredients, that mixed together, will impact lives in a positive way for years to come!

  • Experience it together. My parents had seven children. It would have been much easier for them to go out on their own when it was time to help someone, but they knew how important it was for us to go with them. Serving others along-side my parents taught me how to serve, taught me how to love, taught me to have mercy, and brought amazing joy. Serving together is an amazing gift!
  • Talk about how your acts of kindness make a real difference in real people’s lives. With six siblings, I certainly could not comprehend the feeling of being alone during the Holidays. My parents helped me understand the positive impact we were having when we visited a home-bound elderly women at Christmas. They helped me understand that she had no one in her life to spend time with and how hard that was on her. I also got to see, first hand, the living conditions of people who had nothing. I get emotional when I remember the looks of gratitude on people’s faces when we delivered food for them to eat at Thanksgiving. Helping your loved ones understand the positive impact of their actions is an amazing gift.
  • Recognize that small acts make our world a better place. There is so much that is out of our control when it comes to our world around us, but there is so much that IS within our control. When we teach our loved ones to serve, we give them something they can utilize every minute of every day, 365 days a year. Small acts of service will brighten others day, like smiling when you both reach the checkout line at the same time and allowing them to go ahead of you. Thank you, by the way, to all of the Boy Scouts who spent two weekends of their time coordinating food pickup to help those in need. If every single person on this earth threw a piece of litter on the ground today, think of how messy this world would look. Now think if every single person on this earth served someone else today. Think about how beautiful this world would look. Every small gesture is an amazing gift.

How can you share the amazing gift of serving others this Christmas Season? How can you include those you love? Every small act of service makes our community and world a better place to live.

Here’s to giving the best gifts this Christmas!

Two Options for Navigating Obligations and Expectations this Holiday Season

How is everyone doing the day after Thanksgiving? The topic of obligations and expectations may be fresh in your mind. Obligations and expectations during the Holiday Season can be a good thing or a bad thing. There are wonderful events that we feel obligated to attend and there are the not so wonderful events that we feel obligated to attend. The same goes for expectations. Some are healthy, some are not. So how do we navigate these obligations and expectations this Holiday Season so that we can have our best Holiday Season ever?

Mother and daughter baking together

I just recently started reading a book that came highly recommended called Essentialism, The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. Through the years, I have worked hard in my life to keep things as simple and as enjoyable as possible. With that in mind, this book looked like it would enhance what I already knew and held dear. I did not pick the book up with the Holiday Season in mind, but I have found the concepts to be very applicable. Here are two options I want us to consider when it comes to obligations and expectations in the next few months. The direction we decide to take will not be cut and dry, but hopefully, we find a middle ground that will help us to focus on the right stuff.

One option is to say yes, yes and yes. So many times it feels easiest to just say yes to everything and everyone who makes a request of us. We certainly feel a sense of reward when we say yes, because everyone is happy with us. But what happens so many times when we say yes to everyone and everything, is we start to fall into a cycle of “I have to”, “It’s all Important”, and “How can I fit it all in?” We take on so much “good stuff” but we find that other areas in our lives start to suffer. We start to feel out of control and unsure of whether the right things are getting done. Especially during the Holidays, we start to feel overwhelmed and exhausted. I’ve been there, and I am pretty sure you have too. In fact as I have spent time with wonderful individuals already this month, folks are already feeling the stress as they anticipate the months to come. That is heartbreaking to me. The Holidays were never meant to be miserable. They were meant to be filled with wonder and joy! I want to remind you, as I have to remind myself, that we do have a choice in how we fill our time and energy. There is another option.

The second option is to say yes only to the Best things, and no to the rest. The first thing that comes to my mind when I read that heading, is dealing with the many people who I might have to say “no” to. I almost get a knot in my stomach. Wow! It feels so much better to just say “yes”, at least in the short-term. I need you to trust me on this, choosing the best and saying “no” to the rest is the best thing. The initial interaction of saying “no” might be hard, but it will pay dividends in your life and relationships. Greg McKeown even mentions that in the long run, people respect you more for saying “no” and prioritizing what is most important to you. Choose the few best things over a quantity of good things. Saying yes to the best requires making a choice. It requires discerning what really matters. It requires accepting trade-offs, because there is always a trade-off. When we choose the BEST things we feel in control. We get the right things done. We experience more joy in our life. Isn’t that what we all want?

One strategy I have employed over the years when I am unsure whether I should say “yes” to something or not, is to tell people that I will get back with them with an answer. This creates a time of “pause”, which allows me to ask myself how this fits with what is most important to me. Just recently, a friend of mine was looking for volunteers to help with a fundraiser for a very worthy cause. She was getting desperate, so she sent a plea out to her friends and family to see if anyone could help. When I received the message, I held off for a day or so and asked myself if this fit with what is most important to me. I also thought about how it was going to affect my time with my husband. Once I had thought it through I agreed to help. Yes, I said yes! But I only said yes when I knew I was going to have plenty of time with John the rest of that weekend and that volunteering fell in line with an area of my life that is most important to me. When you receive a request, slow things down, take time to think, and know that your “yes” or your “no” is the right thing…is the BEST thing.

We have SO MANY CHOICES with regard to how we spend our time each day and during the Holidays. It is great to have options, but ultimately we have the power to choose. Let’s try to stay zeroed in on what is most important to us and center our lives and our Holidays around those most important people and things.

Thank you Mr. McKeown for your book Essentialism. A number of the above concepts were pulled from a simple graph he created on page 8 of his book. If you want to live more intentional and focus on the few most important things in your life, this is a great book to add to your Christmas Wish List this year.

Here’s to saying YES to our BEST!