technology, Tools for Personal Growth

Putting Technology in its Place (Upcoming Webinar!)

I am so excited to host “Putting Technology In Its Place” twice this month!

This webinar is aimed at helping you establish and maintain healthy tech habits in 2023. Over the past year, as I have worked with clients of all ages and backgrounds, a theme that has come up with many folks has been the effect of technology and digital media on our quality of life.

Don’t get me wrong: I love what technology and digital media makes possible! I’m an avid user of apps and streaming services. I appreciate how these things help me be more productive, connected, and entertained!

But left unchecked, there is a shadow side to technology as well. Relationships, job performance, mental health, and sleep are all affected by having an unboundaried, unintentional approach to social media and digital engagement.

In this webinar, I will address the why behind our use of digital technology, and then offer eight practices you can begin implementing immediately to develop healthy boundaries and put technology in its proper place!

Tuesday, January 24, 2023 – 12:00 PM (EST)

OR

Tuesday, January 31 – 8:00 PM (EST)

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Putting Technology in it’s Place (January 24, 2023 – 12:00 PM EST)

A recording of the webinar will be available after the event for all who register! If you are unable to join live, you can access the recording later.

$19.00

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Putting Technology in it’s Place (January 31, 2023 – 8:00 PM EST)

A one-hour webinar on establishing and maintaining healthy tech habits in 2023 + access to a recording of the event afterward.

$19.00

A recording of the webinar will be available after the event for all who register! If you are unable to join live, you can access the recording at a time that suits you.

Make 2023 the year you put technology in its place!

Tools for Personal Growth

How to Get Better at Saying “No”

Saying “no” is really hard for some people, especially those of us who are bent toward connections. We fear that when we say “no,” we might disappoint someone. Or we might miss out on a cool opportunity. Or we might burn a bridge.

But the ability to say “no” is an invaluable asset. It contributes to better boundaries, better time management, and better mental health.

A question I like to ask my clients is, “By saying ‘yes’ to that, what are you saying ‘no’ to?” When we consider that we have limited resources of time and energy, we realize that we need to be selective about what we say “yes” to. There are only so many hours in the day, and if we aren’t intentional about our commitments, we can find ourselves spending our limited resources in places that don’t really matter to us, without anything left for the things that do matter.

With that, here are five tips for getting better at saying “no.”

1. Identify Your Priorities and Filter Requests Through Them

Two things happened in 2021 that helped me reprioritize my life in 2022. First, my dad was diagnosed with a “rare and aggressive” cancer called angiosarcoma. And second, my eldest daughter graduated from high school.

Both of these events served as wake-up call. In them, I realized that I won’t have my dad or my kids here forever. This season of life, with my mom and dad living down the road and my kids living in my house, are just that—a season. And as I did my year-end assessment and prepared for 2022, I recognized that I needed to make some changes in order to make the most of my time with my parents and my children while I can.

These priorities—time with my parents and my kids—have shaped many of the decisions I’ve made, and they have freed me to say “no” to things that would displace them from my schedule. Identifying your priorities can do the same for you.

2. Design Your Schedule Around Your Priorities

When you clearly identify and define your priorities, you can filter decisions through them, bringing clarity to when it’s appropriate to say “no.”

Time with my parents when my kids are there is very different from time with them alone, so I created a work schedule that allows me to spend time with them every Friday while the kids are in school. I go to the gym and, on my way home, stop in at their house. Mom makes coffee and often has something freshly baked, and we sit in the kitchen and talk for an hour or so. It has become a highlight of my week. Saying “no” to certain work opportunities, which would involve less flexibility and require me to work on Fridays, has allowed me to say “yes” to spending quality time with my parents each week.

Likewise, wanting to be with my kids more has helped me say “no” to things that take me away from them on a regular basis. They are in school Monday-Friday for seven hours, so I really only have between five-six waking hours with them each day. During those hours, we have extracurriculars, homework, piano practice, household contributions, play dates, and things like meals and showers. When you really think about it, that doesn’t leave a lot of time for meaningful conversations or going out for “special time.”

By blocking out my working hours, evenings with my kids, and Friday mornings with my parents, I am invariably saying “no” to “calendar creep” — less important opportunities that would take me from what matters most to me in this season of life.

3. Resist Trying to Squeeze Things In

“I already have plans” is a perfectly acceptable reason to say no to something. Never mind the fact that your plans are to go to bed early, clean out a closet, or take a walk. Some people think if they don’t have a “legitimate” conflict, they need to try to squeeze things in, saying things like, “I can make that work.”

I encourage people to remove “I can make that work” from their vocabulary. Instead of squeezing things in, pursue a schedule that contains white space, and protect that white space as if your life depended on it! We can all use a bit more breathing room, and white space allows for that.

4. Give Someone Else the Ball

I’ve always been someone who had a high capacity for leadership and service, which naturally meant that I had positions of leadership in just about everything I was involved with, and I volunteered every time a need arose. But just because you can lead something doesn’t mean you should. Once I became more selective about the commitments I made, I made room for others to lead and serve. And it felt great.

Some people have no problem saying no, and God bless ’em! But for the rest of us, it’s a skill that takes honing. While we may indeed disappoint someone, or we may in fact miss out on a cool opportunity every now and then, I’ve learned that as we get better at saying no, we experience more fruitfulness in the areas where we have said an intentional “yes,” leading to a life marked by flourishing rather than frustration.

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Christy Tennant Krispin is a Whole Life Coach helping clients live more intentionally in alignment with their goals and values across all spheres of life. Schedule a free consultation with Christy here.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Finances

My Tips for Getting Out of Credit Card Debt

The year I turned thirty years old, I had approximately $12,000 in credit card debt. I had gotten my first credit card at nineteen, meant for emergencies. But my first “emergency” came a few months later during a visit to New Orleans when I was on tour with a theater company.

I wanted to buy gifts for my family.

But I had no money.

So I used my brand new credit card!

Later that same year, I needed a new vacuum cleaner. I had just moved into my first apartment, and I was making enough to pay my rent, utilities, gas, and grocery bills, but I didn’t have any extra for things like vacuum cleaners.

Or eating out.

Or a new outfit for my friend’s wedding.

Or… the list goes one.

In a matter of months, I had accrued a few thousand dollars in debt, but each month I was only able to pay the minimum payment on my bill. And over the next ten years or so, those few hundred dollars turned into twelve thousand dollars, as I added things like plane tickets, college text books, Christmas gifts, and retail therapy to the bill.

Can you relate? Most Americans can.

But the year I turned thirty, I decided enough was enough. This was going to be my year of getting debt free.

And I did! Over the course of about eighteen months or so, I paid off my credit card, and in the seventeen years since, I’ve managed to maintain my status of being credit card debt-free.

Here are my tips for getting out of credit card debt, based on what worked for me.

  1. Decide you’re ready to get serious about getting out of credit card debt. Thoughts lead to actions, so the first thing that needs to happen is a mindset shift. I remember distinctly where I was when I decided I was done carrying the albatross of debt around my neck. The shame of having spent so much money on interest was pretty intense, and for years, it was just easier to ignore my compounding debt and live in denial. And the credit card companies made it really easy! As long as I kept making my minimum payments, they would increase my limit every so often. It wasn’t until I decided enough was enough that I could start making progress on becoming debt-free.
  2. Consolidate your credit card debt into one place. This article from Forbes offers seven ways to consolidate your credit card debt. The way I did it was to open a new credit card with an introductory offer of 0% APR on balance transfers for a limited amount of time after opening the card. I transferred the balance on my existing cards. Then, I destroyed the new card, so I could not use it and increase the debt.
  3. Close existing credit card accounts. Once I had transferred all of my credit card balances to the new 0%APR card, I closed all of the accounts I had. Some people are afraid to do that, in case they have an emergency and need a credit card in a pinch. But I had the new account, and if I really needed to, I could request a new card. (Thankfully, I never did.)
  4. Earn more money. Credit card debt boils down to spending more than you earn. So, to get out of debt, you need to earn more money. When I decided to get out of debt, I was self-employed as a communication consultant. I loved my work and my clients, but in truth, I knew I could make more money as an executive assistant—a job I had all the skills for and knew I could do. So I went to a temp agency, took all of their proficiency tests, and began interviewing for executive assistant positions with a certain salary in mind. Within a few weeks, I had been hired as a temporary Executive Assistant to the CEO of Elizabeth Arden in NYC. After six months, I was hired permanently. My salary was twice what I had been earning as a freelancer, plus I had health benefits, a 401(k), and stock options. The job was not my passion—but I was grateful for the nearly two years I spent there.
  5. Pay more than your minimum balance. Once I started earning more money, I was able to make significant progress on my debt. Within a year, I had paid off the entire credit card debt, plus I had begun saving 10% of each paycheck.
  6. Live within your means going forward. In other words, don’t spend what you don’t have! Once I had paid off my debts and purchased a newer (used) car, which I also paid off quickly, I determined to live within my means going forward. This means not spending what I don’t have and going without rather than going into debt. About two years after I started working for Elizabeth Arden, I was offered a position with a small arts non-profit organization. The salary involved a 30% pay cut, but the work was much more meaningful to me, and by then, with no debt and a simple lifestyle, I knew I could afford to do it and still live within my means. I spent the next five years working for that organization, until I moved to Seattle to marry my husband and start my own business again.

Being free of credit card debt has made so many things possible. Without the burden of debt, you’re able to be more generous to others and to save and invest more in your own future. Before, it was all I could do to make my minimum credit card bill payments. Now, I can put my money to work for me.

One last thing: when I got out of debt, I was single. I realize that it’s much harder for people who have families, experience joblessness, etc. But it’s totally possible. Check out how this single mom paid off $35,000 in debt on a modest salary and went on to build her net worth to over $78,000.

It’s possible!

And you, too, can do it.

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Christy Tennant Krispin is a Whole Life Coach helping clients live more intentionally in alignment with their goals and values across all spheres of life. Schedule a free consultation with Christy here.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Family

Identifying Your Household’s Rule of Life

When it comes to living a life of meaning and purpose, an important step is to identify the priorities and core values that will serve as a framework for how you live. One way to do this is to determine your household’s Rule of Life.

What is a Rule of Life?

It’s simply the commitment to live your life in a particular way.

The word “rule” is based on the Latin word regula, which means “rule” or “measuring rod.” I first encountered this concept in the book The Rule of Benedict: A Spirituality for the 21st Century. In it, mystic and Benedictine scholar John Chittister presents St. Benedict’s Rule along with his personal commentary on why this ancient text is still relevant today. It has added so much richness to my life to incorporate this concept.

St. Benedict’s Rule revolved around five practices intended for those living a monastic lifestyle, but they are actually very relevant for those of us living outside the monastic community. These five practices include Prayer, Work, Study, Hospitality, and Renewal, and together, they offer the structure for a meaningful life.

Identifying Your Rule of Life

While most of us are not living as part of a monastic community, our households are communities unto themselves. Whether you live alone or with roommates, whether you are a married couple with no kids or you have a large family, identifying your household’s Rule of Life creates a deeper sense of intention and purpose for your household. While it may take some creativity to get everyone on board with being committed to the Rule you identify, it’s worth the effort.

To begin with, prayerfully consider your current season of life and the resources available to you. What is most important to you in this season? Who is part of our household community, and what do they need most in this season? If you live alone, how do you want your household to function, both in your solitude and in community with others?

Our Household Rule of Life

Our family’s current Rule of Life takes into consideration our children’s ages, our rhythm of life (school, work, extracurriculars), and our resources of time, energy, and finances. In our current season of life, we are committed to the following:

  • Meals Together. At least three nights a week and Sundays, we all sit down together and eat a meal prepared by someone in the house (usually me, but sometimes the children or my husband). We set the table and have conversation as we eat, and everyone participates in some way–either setting the table, cooking, or cleaning up afterwards.

    As Dr. Anne Fishel of The Family Dinner Project explains, “Over the past 20 years researchers have confirmed what parents have known for a long time: Sharing a family meal is good for the spirit, the brain and the health of all family members. Recent studies link regular family dinners with many behaviors that parents pray for: lower rates of substance abuse, teen pregnancy and depression, as well as higher grade-point averages and self-esteem. Studies also indicate that for young children, dinner conversation is a more potent vocabulary-booster than reading, and the stories told around the kitchen table help our children build resilience. The icing on the cake is that regular family meals also lower the rates of obesity and eating disorders in children and adolescents. What else can families do that takes only about an hour a day and packs such a punch?”

    Prioritizing meals together at least a few times a week is one of the easiest ways we can connect with one another and prioritize our togetherness as a family. It also helps our children learn how to conduct themselves around the table and what to do when they are served something they don’t like. Our hope is that our children will feel comfortable anywhere they go and be gracious guests when they are in someone else’s home.
  • Discipleship in the Way of Christ. As followers of Jesus, my husband and I believe that one of the best gifts we can give our kids is the experience of living as His disciples. This means that prayer, scripture, and regular discussions about what it means to be an authentic follower of Christ are part of our rhythm of life, as are home fellowship groups, worshiping together at church, watching movies and television programs that depict Bible stories in engaging ways, and cultivating friendships with other followers of Christ.

    And it’s not always the adults who lead the way! Our children each have their own thoughts about faith and life, and we welcome them to take the ball and run when it comes to what it means to live as a Christian.

    At the same time, we are not insulated or isolated from the non-Christian world. Our children go to public school and participate in clubs and rec sports with people from all backgrounds, and our community of friends includes people from a wide spectrum of backgrounds and perspectives. We don’t believe so much in shielding our children as we do in equipping them. We want them to think for themselves and find their own path to God as the Spirit leads.
  • Hospitality. Maintaining an open door policy and always being ready to welcome people into our home is huge value for both my husband and me. Back when we were dating and just starting to talk about what it might look like to do life together, we agreed that hospitality was a huge priority for both of us. We host meals, Bible studies, prayer meetings, playdates, movie nights, and overnight guests on a regular basis—and we love it!
  • Contribution to the Common Good. Fostering a sense of responsibility for the common good is a priority in our household. We don’t ask the children to do “chores,” but rather to do “contributions,” and we don’t pay them to help out—we expect them to help because they are part of the community of our household. This practice is based on the teaching of Amy McCready (founder of Positive Parenting Solutions)*, and it’s one of my favorite things about that program. I often remind the kids, “We want to be people who leave the world better than we found it.” This includes serving within our own household, as well as in our community and beyond, where we try to be intentional as we pick up trash in our neighborhood, rake leaves and shovel snow for our neighbors, keep bags of snacks in the car to give people we encounter who are asking for help, and do other things to serve one another and our community.
  • Fun Together. The Krispin family places a high priority on having fun together! Playing games together, Friday Family Movie Night, roller skating, hiking, one-on-one “special time” with the kids, and taking trips together a few times a year are all built in to the fabric of our family life. We are keenly aware that these years at home together are flying by, and soon enough, we won’t be able to spend as much time together. We try to make the most of it while we can!

What might a Rule of Life look like for you?

As you consider what it means to live with intention and build a life that is aligned with your priorities, what are some of the things that stand out to you?

What might your household’s Rule of Life look like?

______________________

Christy Tennant Krispin is a Whole Life Coach helping clients live more intentionally in alignment with their goals and values across all spheres of life. Schedule a free consultation with Christy here.

Photo by Spencer Davis on Unsplash

*Affiliate Link

Tools for Personal Growth

5 Tips for Putting Technology in its Place at Night

Do you struggle with nighttime tech use? Do you find it hard to wake up in the morning, because you stayed on your smartphone or tablet into the wee hours of the night?

What may seem like harmless scrolling is actually robbing many people of precious hours of sleep, leading to irritability, trouble with concentration, a weakened immune system, and health risks, like high blood pressure, weight gain, and an increased risk of diabetes.

Not to mention being chronically late to work or school!

No one means to be at the mercy of their devices. We convince ourselves that we can stop anytime we want. We tell ourselves, “I’ll just check Instagram once more real quick,” and an hour later, we’re still scrolling. Then, suddenly, it’s 1 AM, and we’ll be lucky if we can get five and a half hours of sleep before the alarm goes off.

If you are someone who struggles to maintain healthy boundaries when it comes to tech use at night, here are some things I have found helpful in placing boundaries around nighttime tech use and putting technology in its proper place.

  1. Get an alarm clock. You remember those, right? All they do is tell time, or perhaps they have a radio as well. If you don’t still have one, get one and put it beside your bed. This way you do not need to rely on your device to wake you up in the morning. You also don’t need to pick up your phone to check the time in the middle of the night.
  2. Create a charging station at least fifteen feet away from your bed. It could be in the hallway, a closet, or even a drawer on the other side of the room. It just has to be far enough away that you have to physically get up from your bed to access your device.
  3. Create friction around accessing your apps after your pre-determined end time. First, decide on a time you will be done with your device for the night. Set an alarm for fifteen minutes before that time, and when the timer goes off, put your device on the charging station you’ve established. (If this is the only phone you have, and you’re concerned people won’t be able to reach you on the off chance you get a call, put the ringer at full volume. If someone needs to reach you in the middle of the night, you’ll hear it.) Next, create additional friction by turning on Downtime, App Limits, and/or Focus. These are great tools on Apple devices (I’m sure non-Apple devices have their own versions) that allow you to set an intention around tech and place boundaries of access and time around your app use.
  4. Identify what’s behind your nighttime tech use. Are you bored? Keep a book or some magazines beside your bed to look at as your brain begins to shut down for the night. Lonely? Keep some pens and notecards beside your bed and write a letter to someone you care about before turning off the light. Mind racing and struggling to “turn off your brain at night?” Keep a yoga mat beside your bed and do a short series of breathing exercises and stretches before climbing into bed.
  5. Involve another person. Tell someone you trust about your struggle with tech use at night. Many of our struggles lose power when we bring them into the light by acknowledging them aloud. If loneliness is behind your tech use at night, perhaps you could even end your day with a short phone call with a friend.

Technology is a great thing. I’m grateful for how many aspects of my life are more convenient and streamlined because of the apps I use on a day-to-day basis. But technology can have a way of taking over. These steps can help put technology in its place—and give you a good night’s rest.

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Christy Tennant Krispin is a Whole Life Coach helping clients live more intentionally in alignment with their goals and values across all spheres of life. Schedule a free consultation with Christy here.

Photo by MART PRODUCTION on Pexels.com. Used by permission.

Tools for Personal Growth

Prioritizing Under Pressure

Part of being a good leader, whether of many or just in your own home, is being able to manage effectively and make decisions when under pressure. But not everyone realizes that prioritizing under pressure is a skill that can be developed. As a professional businesswoman and homemaker, I know this well.

Recently, I had one of those days.

You know the ones: To Do List a mile long. Looming deadlines. Last-minute “emergencies.” A client meeting in the middle of the day. A birthday dinner to prepare and presents to wrap. Not to mention I was flying cross-country with my husband and four of our five children the following day, and I had not yet packed for anyone.

That morning, I woke up and felt the panic slowly beginning to creep in. How am I going to get it all done before we leave tomorrow? Everything felt urgent and important, but the truth was, I wasn’t going to get “it all” done. That would have been impossible.

But there were some things that I had to get done, because they were time-sensitive and important. As I felt my chest tighten, my mood darken, and my thoughts starting to spiral, I turned to a tool I use with clients who are struggling to prioritize tasks when under pressure, a framework based on something called “The Eisenhower Matrix.”

Dwight Eisenhower was a man who carried a lot of responsibilities, first as a U.S. Army General, Allied Forces Commander during WWII, and NATO Commander after that, and then as the 34th President of the United States. In other words, the man knew how to get stuff done. Making decisions and prioritizing tasks while under immense, life-and-death pressure was a skill he developed and systematized in order to help others develop this skill as well.

The framework he used is exactly what I turned to that day. I didn’t have to look it up; I have used this so many times that I could just imagine the grid in my mind and quickly categorize every task accordingly. And it was just what I needed to help me focus, prioritize, and regain a sense of peace in the midst of the storm of stress that was swirling around me.

Here’s how it works:

First, do a quick assessment of the tasks and decisions before you. Ask yourself, “Is this urgent? Is it important?” Depending on how you answer those questions, quickly do one of the following:

DO IT NOW. If the task is both urgent (i.e. time-sensitive) and important (i.e. necessary), buckle down and do it now. Because of our trip the next day, tasks like cleaning out the car and packing the kids’ and my suitcases were both urgent and necessary. So was the client meeting and running to the grocery store for more cat and dog food and a birthday cake for Dad. I got to it and did those tasks that day.

PLAN TO DO IT LATER. I keep a document in my Notes app on my phone, and anything that can be done later goes on that list. If the task is important and necessary, but can wait, it goes on that list. I then block out time on my calendar for those tasks. The particular day in question, I had bank deposits to process, invoices to log, a blog to write, a letter to write, copious amounts of reading for my current seminary class, and some other things that were demanding my attention. The bank deposit can happen today, but I can log the invoices, write the blog and letter, and those other things later. Once I put those tasks on my “Later List,” I could move on from them for now.

DELEGATE WHERE POSSIBLE. One of the things I wanted to do before we left town for a week was to get my Christmas tree out to the curb before all of the needles dropped in my living room. But just the thought of taking time to remove the ornaments and get them packed up with everything else I had going on felt overwhelming. So I asked my son to remove all of the ornaments from the tree. Soon, without being asked, my older daughter began taking down the lights and garland from our staircase bannister, and the younger kids followed her lead and started pitching in to help as well. Within an hour, the Christmas decorations were mostly packed up and the tree was on the curb. A task that had felt overwhelming earlier that day was finished.

ELIMINATE ANYTHING THAT IS NOT IMPORTANT AND URGENT. Just delete it from your radar. Poof! On the day I’m describing, I eliminated cleaning the house (why do we always feel the need to clean our house top to bottom before going on vacation?!) and baking a cake for my dad (I bought one instead, but displayed it on my fancy cake stand. It was beautiful and delicious and no one cared that it wasn’t made from scratch!)

We may not be leading an army or the free world, but each of us is fighting our own battles every day. Whether we are running a company, a department, a church, or a household (or some combination of these), we face the challenge of knowing what to do when and how without losing our minds or operating from a place of stress, when we are more likely to drop balls or make poor decisions.

Getting to know the Eisenhower Matrix adds a tool to our toolbox and helps us develop a skill that every high-capacity leader must have: the skill of prioritizing under pressure.

Tools for Personal Growth

How Do You Plan to Flourish in 2023?

This image represents a popular tool used in personal development to help identify areas for potential growth. This tool goes by many names, but I call it a “Life Alignment Wheel,” and I love using it with my clients to help them get a baseline before we begin working together. Aiming to raise my client’s awareness, I invite them to think through each area of life and ask the question, “How am I doing here?”

It may or may not come as a surprise that many of my clients come to me because, in their words, “I just want to be happy.” Many people know that something is “off” in their lives, but they can’t quite put their finger on why. The Wheel can help!

As you think through each area, you will begin with a general sense of things. For example, you may look at Physical Health and say, initially, “I need to get in better shape,” or look at Finances and say, “My finances are a mess. I don’t even know where to begin.” Believe it or not, that’s a great place to start! Once you have identified where you want to grow and improve, you are ready to utilize coaching to help you design each specific step in getting there.

The end of the year is a great time to go through the Life Alignment Wheel and get a clear picture of where you would like to grow in the new year. There are many images out there to help you do this, often called “Wheel of Life” or “Coaching Wheel,” but this is one I made to reflect my understanding of which areas of life need to be brought into alignment on a regular basis in order to feel a sense of holistic flourishing.

I’d like to invite you to take some time today or tomorrow as we wrap up 2022 and think through each area. Click here for a free printable PDF.

The way it works is that you shade in how strong you feel in each area. If you feel really good about a particular category, color it in. If you know you want to improve or grow in an area, shade it in accordance with that sense you have.

Don’t be surprised if doing this exercise evokes strong emotions. It is very common for people to experience some surprisingly big feelings when they begin to come to terms with their life. I have had clients begin to cry as they became more aware of things after having ignored or denied certain aspects of their lives.

It may be hard to look at, but it will be impossible to begin to make the changes you want to make if you don’t.

Start the new year with a clear sense of where you want to go in the next twelve months! If your life is perfect just as it is, this is not the tool for you. But if you feel like there are areas you would like to grow in, the Life Alignment Wheel can help.

Cheers to having a new year filled with joy, meaning, purpose, and fulfillment!

Uncategorized

What’s Most Important in 2023?

Photo by lil artsy on Pexels.com

A concept that has had a profound effect of my life (or, more specifically, my way of life) is, ”One Decision That Makes a Thousand.” It comes from Greg McKeown’s book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. When you distill your priorities down to a clear and specific intent, that makes future decisions much easier.

Here’s an example of how it looks for me. At the end of 2021, I spent time thinking about the season of life I’m in and what is most important to me *right now.* My dad had just been diagnosed with cancer (“rare and aggressive”). My oldest child had just started college. My youngest child was in first grade. I was 46.

As I considered what I wanted most in life *right now,* I realized that it was all about presence. I wanted to be more present with my parents and more present with my kids. I felt the swift passage of time and realized that there were things I could only do *now,* things I won’t be able to do when my folks are gone or when my kids are grown.

Once I realized this priority in my life, it made so many other decisions for me. I let go of a part-time position that required me to work on Thursday nights and Sunday mornings so that I could be there for dinner and bedtime with my kids, sit with them in church, or go to church with my parents sometimes (my mom played the piano at her church and my dad sang in the choir, and I wanted more opportunities to hear them both).

I started a new job with hours that could be correlated to the school calendar. I also added a standing weekly appointment to go to my parents’ house to sit and have coffee with them. Our weekly coffee dates are the only time I get to spend with my mom and dad without anyone else around, and they have become a highlight of my week. (Theirs, too, I think.) For 26 of my 47 years, I have lived hundreds or thousands of miles away from my parents and only saw them a couple of times each year. The luxury of being able to see them a couple of times a week is a gift, indeed.

When opportunities come along, they get filtered through the question of how they will affect my ability to be present to those who matter most right now, and I find it much easier to exercise “the power of a graceful ‘no.’”

For some folks, the priority right now is to finish school, or get out of debt, or start a new business, or get a promotion. Whatever your top intent is in this season, once you have clarity on that, so many other decisions are already made; you just have to have the courage to say no to anything that does not support your intentions for this season of life.

We can do a lot, but we cannot do it all. We all have the same finite resources of time, money, and energy. Choices have to be made, and too many people make choices reactively instead of proactively. And most of our reactive choices are not aligned with our intentions for life. They are aligned with someone else’s intentions for life.

So with a few more weeks left in 2022, ask yourself: what is most important right now? And how can 2023 be more aligned with what matters most to me in my current season of life?

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What Changes Will You Make in 2023?

Are you ready for 2023?

Now is a great time to start preparing for the year ahead.

Here’s an exercise I encourage everyone to do sometime in the next month. If you try it out, I’d love to hear what becomes clearer to you from doing this?

This is the first step in my “2023 By Design” plan, but I’m telling you here exactly what I do with my clients so you can just do it on your own if you don’t want to sign up for the whole plan. I *promise* you, this will help set you up for a more focused and fruitful 2023!

Sit down with your 2022 calendar/planner/datebook, bank and credit card statements, and a piece of paper folded in thirds.

On one third of the paper, write “More,” on another, write, “Same,” and on the third side, write “Less.” Starting in January, go through each month and put each item from your calendar into one of those columns. Scan your financial statements and consider those as well. Where did your money go in 2022? What do you want to do more/less/same of?

Include everything! Appointments, coffee dates, work, church or civic commitments, vacations, pet expenses, kids’ extracurriculars, family rhythms, etc.

Once you have your three lists, begin looking at 2023. Using a blank 2023 calendar or planner, begin to plug in the things from your “More” column. At the same time, take stock of your “Less” column and act accordingly.

For example, this exercise helped me realize at the end of 2021 that, as much as a love being a worship leader, I did not want to have that weekend commitment (and all of the extra work throughout the week that goes along with it) during this season of life, so I stepped down from my staff position, freeing me up to be more present to my family during the weekend and host Sunday dinners—two things from my “More” column. I’ve been a worship leader for the better part of the past twenty-one years—it’s just what I’ve always done!—but making these lists helped me see clearly that it was not the season for me to be doing it every weekend. This also created space for me to pursue coaching, which I love and can do while my children are in school.

This exercise also helped us decide where we were spending too much money on extracurriculars and what changes we could make the next year.

What might these lists help you see more clearly about how you’re spending those precious resource—your time and your money—in your current season of life?

This is also a great time to make those “Same” appointments, like annual physical exams and dental check-ups, and to plug in the things that are working well for you in this season (for us, this includes blocking out Friday nights for pizza and movies with the kids, a beloved tradition in our home and something everyone looks forward to, but tweaking how we do it so I could spend less than I had been spending on it in the previous year!)

By doing this exercise in 2021, I was able to design a 2022 that has turned out to be a really fruitful and surprisingly spacious year, considering all of the people and moving parts in my life! This year I was able to focus on doing more of what mattered and less of what didn’t. This year has held more quality time with my husband, children, and parents, more prayer, more reading, launching a new career as a coach, less chaos, and less frustration with feeling like my time is not my own. Even though much of what I do in this season of life is about serving others, I have created space and intention, allowing plenty of time and opportunities for filling my own bucket.

This was especially helpful when some things came up during the year that were really hard and required a lot of emotional strength and clarity. Because I had space and good alignment, I had a greater capacity for handling the necessary interruptions and pivots required.

I am really passionate about this practice, and I want to help others experience the fruitful results of being well aligned with your priorities and values.

If you try this exercise, I’d love to hear what became clearer to you as you did it! What changes are you going to make in 2023?

Click here to learn more about my six-session coaching series to help you head into the new year with a plan!
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It’s Summer Break! Do You Have a Plan?!

This is a picture my son took of me walking home from my children’s end-of-school awards ceremony on Thursday. Don’t you love my little stowaway? 😍

So, summer break is officially upon us!

In the last few weeks, I have had three clients come to their coaching sessions with the goal of working on a plan for summer break. Clients who are parents with careers outside the home and full-time stay-at-home parents are recognizing that they want to be intentional and proactive in how they “do” summer break. As one client lamented, “We waste so much time!” Another expressed concern for how much time her kids spend on screens. The struggle is real!!

(Homeschooling parents, don’t judge 😉 It’s a big adjustment to go from the structure of the school week to nearly three months of free time!)

I have loved working with these three women, all with different circumstances and personalities. I asked each one a few questions, and their responses helped them identify what was most important to them—their core #values for summer break. This led to being intentional and proactive with designing a realistic rhythm of daily life they felt good about, and each of them left our sessions with unique-to-them plans that were doable and left plenty of room for enjoying a break from the demands of school.

Summer break is a wonderful time for families to connect, for kids to develop new skills or pursue new interests, and for everyone to get some respite. And some people do fine winging it! But for those who benefit from structure and a plan, I’m here to help 🙂

If you’re looking at the next three months and feeling 😱😱😱, I’d love to help. Schedule a Pay-What-You-Wish coaching session, and we’ll come up with a summer plan you can feel really good about.

#lifecoach #summerbreak #parentingcoach #worklifebalance #worklifebalancegoals #essentialism #simplify #parenting #parentingwithpurpose #parentingwithintention #raisingreaders #raisingleaders