6 Simple Steps to Victory

I read a headline the other day about how big projects must address 6 key criteria. I’m not big on clickbate, but it did interest me so I looked below the headline to see what the sub text was, and it actually said what the 6 criteria were. To my surprise they were something that I was taught at a very young age, and you may have been taught too: who, what, where, how, when, where and why! It got me thinking about how much things have changed and how little some other things have changed. In some situations that’s a good thing, and in others they’re long past due or unnecessarily changed.

We’ve complicated our lives in so many ways, and that there’s value in slowing down, in simplifying and going back to some of those tried and true methods. Whether it’s sticking with email communication instead of 6 different apps and calendars, using a paper to-do list, sitting down for coffee or a beer with friends, or doing a yard sale, they may not be the trendiest things, but if they work for you, use them! Don’t get me wrong, I love how we carry phones and mini computers in our back pockets and have so many awesome things they didn’t have a hundred years ago.

As far as who, what, where, how, when, where and why, it’s amazing how these 6 simple words can help you figure out or organize so much information so simply. Many victories aren’t as simple as it is to spell the word, they have layers and steps and many people involved. For the big victories, it can feel overwhelming to try to figure out what to do or where to start. Using these 6 words can give you a very simple framework to help you make a really great plan for many victories, whether at work, home, church, with your family or in any aspect of your own health and happiness.

If your week is too much already or you’re feeling overwhelmed by being 3 months to Christmas (and almost also to the end of the year), take a deep breath, slow down for a few minutes and make a plan, perhaps using these 6 words and a piece of paper, to get things back in control and with a good idea of how you’re moving forward.

Time to Save Time

This week we’re a little more sensitive about the topic of time because Daylight Savings time happened on Sunday, which means we lost an hour. I enjoy the extended daylight we’ve got now but as for everything else, I’m not a fan. It’s just confusing and extra work and even though we don’t have to as much work as we used to because most of our devices update themselves, it doesn’t mean our bodies are able to make the adjustment as easily.

Whether or not you care about the time change or if we’ll ever be able to get rid of it or not, time is a topic that’s often on our minds. So today I thought I’d share a few tips on managing your time and making the most of the time you do have.

Schedules: I love freedom as much as the next person, and as important as it is to be flexible, having a schedule can really help keep you on track and help you get stuff done. This is especially true when it comes to social media and email checking. For email, it’s rare that whatever message comes through is important enough to need to be dealt with immediately, more likely it’s something that can wait until your next scheduled check in. As far as social media, it’s impossible to keep up with everything that is shared or going on even if you were on social all day every day, there’s just too much happening, so it doesn’t make sense to push yourself into over checking.

Learn to say no: I get it, we don’t really like the guilt trip we sometimes get when we say no to someone or something, and sometimes we feel that we can’t say no. But when you don’t say no it may mean that you don’t really respect yourself and your time, you don’t really understand how long things take (or care), you don’t always commit to giving your best effort to each activity or person, or you feel you have to be in charge of everything. Saying no means you respect your time, other’s time, and are committed to giving your best to yourself and your family.

Purge: I like my stuff and my information as much as the next person, but there’s something satisfying about being able to get rid of something you don’t need or use anymore or doesn’t work. The same holds true for the emails we’re subscribed to and all other subscriptions we have (audio, music, TV, movies, boxes etc.). There’s no reason to pay for something or get updates about something if you’re really not using it and aren’t going to be in the future, and if you need it in the future you can always resubscribe.

Time is one of the most limited resources we each have, I encourage you to treat your time with respect and make the decisions that will help you get the most out of it.

The Highway of Life

The other day I was driving down a 3 lane highway and had multiple cars come up quickly behind me in the middle lane and stay behind me. I was driving a little above the speed limit similar to other cars on the road, and while there were other cars on the road there weren’t so many that they couldn’t easily move to another lanes. You’ve probably experienced this, right? That there just doesn’t really seem to be a good reason for someone to be that close to the back of your car, not moving into another available lane, not to mention the drivers who consistently weave fast through several lanes of traffic.

Having this happen several times throughout a course of several days got me thinking about how we live our lives. We could talk about the issue some people have of rushing and never being on time for things. We could talk about how fast-paced life is and how much faster some people try to live it. We could talk about the inconsiderate nature of people expecting others to just get out of their way. Today what I wanted to talk about is in line with that last one, it’s about having multiple lanes in the highway of life.

I believe that there’s almost always more than one way to get things done, to get to a destination, to become successful, to improve yourself, or to work through an issue, with the most obvious exception being that of salvation through Jesus (that’s a one-way street). I believe that we should always have a ‘plan b’ and an alternative plan or direction if things don’t go as expected (and sometimes a ‘plan c’ and ‘plan d’). I don’t believe it’s smart to rely on one source of income unless you’re in an absolutely recession proof career. I believe you can be committed to just one partner (one marriage) as long as you are both on the same page about being committed to really working things through, tackling necessary changes, talking often, and working together.

With as many resources and options as are available to us, there’s no reason for us to force others to live our way or get in line with how we do things, nor should we expect them to. We also should not feel cornered or stuck in one option and not, at the very least, be aware of the options. Our life journeys can be full and rich, or they can be filled with frustration because we tried to do things one way and only one way when the fact of the matter is life is changing at a very rapid pace that doesn’t allow us to live in the past.

I would encourage you to take a minute and consider if you’re living life trying to force others into your way of living, if you’re feeling restricted by your current life path or if you’re trying to get things done in a way that isn’t truly productive. If any of those are true, I would encourage you to look into options and start opening up your mind to alternatives that are healthier and more satisfying for you and others.

More Victories for 2018

The new year is here and it’s time to talk about resolutions and making changes. I’m not a big fan of setting resolutions, they add extra stress to life that most of us don’t need. But, I do like the concepts behind resolutions: taking action and making changes. If you didn’t have as many victories last year as you wanted, there’s no time like the present to make changes so that you do have the victories you want this year.

Each day is a new opportunity to be better, live better, love better, work better and build better relationships than you did yesterday. You don’t have to wait for a new year, but there are reasons people choose to start fresh or make changes at the beginning of the year. And there’s nothing wrong with making resolutions and changes now, it’s as good an opportunity as any.

So what are you going to do with this new year and this day? Here are a few keys for making the most of it:

-set up a plan and take at least a little action each and every day that will bring you towards your goals. You can do something as simple as cleaning off your desk at the end of the day or journaling every day, or as big as cooking/preparing meals for the week or creating content for your business for the month.

-make sure there are plenty of rewards along the way. Maybe that means you get cookies or ice cream at the end of the day after eating really well all day long. Maybe that means having 30 minutes to yourself at the end of the day with no interruptions or other people involved unless you want them there.

-expect and plan for setbacks. There will be issues that appear along the way so it’s better to be prepared now for them to happen. That means having extra money in the bank, extra time in your schedule and extra plans (plan b, c, d, e etc.) thought of that you can put into action if necessary.

What are you going to work on accomplishing this year and how will you make it happen?

An Enemy of Freedom

As we talk about the topic of freedom this month today I want to talk about the challenging topic of indecision. I talked about what indecision means in your business on my other blog, but here today I want to talk about indecision in your personal life. Let’s face it, sometimes we really stink at making decisions. I get it, we’re tired or there’s too many choices, or not enough choices, or there’s too many opinions, or we’re feeling lazy, or we don’t feel it’s really a priority. But when you don’t make a decision you actually do make a decision, it’s just not the decision you may have made if you actually made a decision. Not having an active role in making the decision leaves you up to the whims of the universe. I like a little luck in my life, but some things are too important to leave up to luck.

Indecision and decision making is an important part of freedom, because without making decisions you’ll never have the freedoms you want, or help others get to that freedom. If others are making decision for you, you may end up at what someone would consider freedom, but not what you want as your freedom in life. So if you’re really serious about having those freedoms in your life, you’re going to have to make some decisions and take action on those decisions.

If you want to beat your struggle with indecision, a really effective way is kind of a trick. Ready? Make more decisions. Yep, that sounds really dumb but if you’re consciously making more decisions you’ll learn how to make decisions through experience so when the big decisions come your way you’ll be prepared to make those decisions quicker and better.

If you’re not sure how to make a decision about something, part of that decision making practice should be to make a step-by-step plan. This should be more of a strategy or plan framework so that you can apply it to other decisions you make. It will probably include listing the options you have, researching your options, setting goals/steps, asking for or finding opinions, and trying things out, and maybe even role playing so you can get a feel for how things might go if you make a particular decision. Of course the last step of every plan or strategy you create is taking action!

As I mentioned in the last point, one of the ways you can make better and quicker decisions, and make decisions at all, is to better tap into the available resources. I hear from too many people in this internet age that they have no clue about being a parent or being in a relationship or starting a business or using social media. There’s almost no excuse for not having or getting some foundational knowledge about any topic you’re experiencing in your life with all the blogs, podcasts, videos, courses, webinars and classes available both online and offline. There are also tons of people in your physical circle as well as online that you can talk to about topics that confuse you, and give you some of the information you need to make your decisions.

But as we’ve said throughout the post today, the biggest aspect of indecision that has to be addressed is action. It’s great to make a decision, but once you make that decision you have to take action on it. Yes, sometimes that will mean you’re not taking action because you decided not to pursue the options that were presented to you, but more often than not you’ll have some things to do, buy or change as a result of the decision you’ve made. Don’t let the fear of taking action or worry about commitment be the reason you are indecisive. I encourage you to decide to choose your future today.

Making Room for Freedom

If you talk to most people and ask them if they want more freedom in their life, they’ll say yes!  Just about everyone wants a little (or a lot) more of whatever freedom means to them.  So today we’re going to take a look at a few things you can do if you want more freedom in your life.  Unfortunately they’re not as sexy or cool as the freedom will be, but if with just a little work you’re able to have that freedom, I’d say it’s worth a try.

As a small business owner I am fortunate to have a lot more flexibility in my life than someone who works a traditional 9-5 job.  But it’s still important for me to have schedules in my life and business.  Schedules help keep me on track and it’s always awesome to be able to check things off the to-do list.  Creating and sticking to a schedule means that you can schedule in the freedoms you want in your life as part of what you do on a regular basis.

We’ve all got some no-so-great habits, but if you can get control over some of those bad habits you’ll have more financial, time or relationship freedom to pursue the things you enjoy and want more of in your life.

Plan Ahead:
This is one of the biggest factors in whether or not you’re able to have more freedom in your life.  There are so many of us who live day-to-day and don’t have a whole lot of consideration for the future, certainly not a plan that we’re working on.  But if you’re able to come up with a plan for how you’re saving money, how you’re paying for upcoming big expenses, how you’re spending your time, where you want to be in the future and making a plan to achieve the freedoms you want, your future will be a lot less uncertain and you’ll be more likely to actually get to those freedoms because you’ve got a plan for how you’re going to get there.

Know your Goals:
In line with the previous point, if you don’t know your goals you can’t make a plan to accomplish them.  I know that we don’t always think about goals because we’re wrapped up in life today (including today’s issues), but tomorrow does arrive, and someday you may be wondering how you got to where you are and why you aren’t somewhere else.  If you want the freedom to say where/what your future holds, the only way to choose it is to set goals and then plan ahead and put those plans into action.

Get Organized:
One of the biggest time wasters for people who have stuff and lead busy lives is lack of organization.  Whether it’s putting things away in a rush or not putting them away at all, over time things build up pretty quick.  In line with our first point of scheduling, the same is true for our lives, if we’re not getting organized about what’s happening when and how we’re fitting it all in, it’s a lot harder to get stuff done and you’ll feel like you get less done at the end of the day.  If you’re disorganized it’s also easier to put off those things you don’t want to deal with but really need to be dealt with if you want that freedom in your life.

This weekend I encourage you to put in some effort into making room in your life for the freedoms you want, and even deciding what those freedoms are if you don’t know that yet.

Make 2016 Your Year

Welcome to a new year! The year before us will be filled with lots of choices to make, people to meet, and opportunities to thrive. We’ll be faced with more choices than ever and in many ways that’s a good thing. It means that there are more ways than ever for us to stand out and be who we are without having to settle and fit into the box the world tries to fit us in. But it also means we’ll have to be more decisive than ever and more willing to stand up for what we want and what we believe is right. There’s no time like the present to stand up for ourselves, each other and the world we live in.

It’s my hope and prayer that you go into this year choosing to accept yourself, own up to your mistakes and failures, and choose to make empowering decisions each day that will allow you to love, thrive and grow in more ways than ever. Don’t let your past hold you back with fears and regrets, instead choose to move into the new year knowing that you were born with gifts and a purpose that when embraced is essential to the world becoming a better place.

Will 2016 be your year? Will you let this new year be the year you finally choose to love and accept yourself? Will it be the year when you finally move into all that you were born to be? Will you finally see the positive results of what you’ve been working on for the past few years? What are your hopes and dreams for 2016?

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”  Brené Brown

Productivity Plans

Summer’s here and I want you to make the most of your summer.  So today I thought I would share about productivity.  I know, it sounds strange to talk about productivity when summer is about having fun and relaxing like we talked about on Wednesday.  But let’s be honest, we’re not in school anymore where we’re guaranteed the summer off, most of us are still working.  Knowing how to be productive is important especially in the summer because it means that you’ll be able to complete your work and commitments sooner and get to the fun stuff.  Sounds good, right?!  While I don’t advocate dragging things out at anytime, summer’s the time you really don’t want to drag things out.  So let’s talk about what we can do to be more productive.

First we need to establish what productivity is: it’s really a commitment to getting stuff done.  It’s more than knowing you have deadlines and you’ll have work to do that day, it’s being committed to getting that work done.  Some people feel they’re productive if they get stuff done however it gets done, but I believe that if you want to be truly productive you have to do decent work, not a shoddy half-ass job.  If you’re really making a commitment to get something done, do it and do it right the first time.

To be more productive there are lots of things you can try.  Everyone is different so you have to find the productivity techniques that work for you.  Most people commit to working certain hours each day.  To make the most of that commitment you should schedule within those hours meetings, private time for you to get your work done, time for connecting with clients, and time for emails.  If you’re working more than 3-4 hours make sure to schedule in food and stretch breaks so you don’t get overwhelmed.  The scheduling aspect is important so you can pace yourself and make sure it all gets done (or as much as possible).

Other people find they’re more productive when they start out doing the hardest or most important and valuable tasks each day.  Once those are out of the way they can then focus on the other tasks.  Some people start by getting the easiest and quickest tasks out of the way so they feel encourage that they can get stuff done.  Lists are another great tool to being productive, they keeps you on track for what has to get done and you get the satisfaction of crossing things off the list.

What about you? What are your productivity tips?

“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” Paul J. Meyer

Prepared to Trust

This month we’ve been talking about being prepared.  There’s only so prepared we can be, we can’t predict what other people will do, how the weather will change or our health.  Yes, we can be prepared for possibilities, but other than death, change and taxes, there aren’t too many guarantees in our human existence.  But as people of faith there’s another aspect of this all, the spiritual side, the parts of us and our world that connect with God.

When it comes to the topic of being prepared and God, God does put people and situations in our lives to help prepare us for things He knows we’ll face later in life.  But He also asks us to trust Him, that He has our best interests at heart, with plans to protect us, not harm us.  He asks for our trust because He knows that no matter what happens He will be there for us, and throughout the Bible He’s made promises along those lines, even as early as Abraham and Noah.  Those promises continued with the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus.

When we have a strong relationship with Jesus we’re able to trust that Jesus will be there for us.  When we’re Sunday or Christmas-and-Easter Christians we may not have the foundation of relationship and trust with Jesus to know that beyond a shadow of a doubt we are His and He cares for us.  This week I encourage you to take time to make sure your relationship with God is built on an unshakeable foundation, one that you spend time together each day, one that you rely on His strength and power in times of challenge, and one that helps build you into the person God created you to be a little each day.

“Come before Him with your trust in His promises…with your feet standing on the truth of His Word…and with your heart filled with the power of His Spirit.” Roy Lessin

Planning for Fear

One of the reasons that being prepared is so important is because it means that we take a lot of the fear out of the situations we face or may face. When we’re not trying to catch up with what we find ourselves dealing with we’re able to not only work through the problem quicker, we’re able to do it in a better frame of mind and with less stress. Personally, that’s my choice.

One of the reasons the Bible talks about teaching and learning the Word of God is because it means that we’ll be prepared for facing challenges to our faith, and have a few guidelines for what we can do in situations we haven’t experienced before or aren’t sure how to handle it even from a strictly human perspective.

We talk about going through different experiences as a test or as preparation for what is to come because God doesn’t usually find it best to spring things on us, but rather prefers to send us in with tools and support so that we can set a good example and succeed rather than fail. Despite what some may believe, God isn’t one who likes to see us fail or takes joy in it. Usually those failures are lessons we need to learn for what is to come or just to develop us as people.

If you’d rather be prepared for what is to come in your future there are a few things you can do. First read your Bible daily and read other devotionals, blogs or books too. Second, don’t overexpose yourself to the things of the world. Yes, it’s good to know what goes on so that yo aren’t out of touch or irrelevant, but it’s not the goal to be a superfan. Third, take time to educate yourself on things that will add value to you personally or professionally like courses, events and mentors. Spending time working on these pursuits means that you’ll have more foundation and education to support you through your experiences. Finally, make sure you’ve got a good support network to help you with whatever challenges you face. The people in your life and their experiences are some of the most valuable tools you have.

“In my distress I prayed to the Lord, and the Lord answered me and set me free. The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?” Psalm 118:5-6