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.


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

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)


Tuesday, January 31 – 8:00 PM (EST)

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.


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.


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!


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.


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 Used by permission.

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!


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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What’s Important Now?

via @ChristyTennantKrispin on Instagram

“What’s important *now*?” is the question that will most ground you when life is feeling hard, overwhelming, or just “too much.” 

This morning came too soon, after I was up with a sick child after already going to bed much later than was ideal. (May is, after all, the new December! 😳) My husband’s away, so tagging out was not an option. (My hat is off to so many of you who parent solo 24/7!)

So this morning, I needed to swim through fatigue and find my way back to being fully present—my kairos moment, here and now. And this is what I came to: I need time to read and sip coffee on my front porch.

My dog and I got a much shorter walk, but a long walk did not feel nearly as important as going treasure hunting in the pages of these books.

I set a timer and let myself be fully present to the singing birds, neighbors on their morning walks, sounds from the construction zone down the street, lawnmower up and running first thing a few doors down, strong (decaf) coffee in my mug, pages of my books, and smooth feel of the highlighter in my hand. When ideas came that tried to take me away from this here and now (the email I need to send, appointments I need to make or cancel, paper I need to work on for class, thoughts for the coaching calls I have later today, and even this Instagram post), I jotted it down on my “for later” list then got back to my books. The other things will get done, but by putting them in their place (“Later”), I could be fully present to what I’ve recognized is what I most need here and now. 

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” (Socrates)

Getting a lot done is not the same as being busy.

I get a lot done.

But, increasingly and with much intention, I’m very rarely “busy” these days. It’s an important distinction. 

Grateful to Greg McKeown’s work in his books Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less  and Effortless: Make it Easier to Do What Matters Most, and to Mike Garrison for recommending them.