A Little Bit Better

Today’s the day — the first day of the new year! Whether you are a dedicated resolution maker or just enjoy a fresh start, it’s a milestone day for all of us.

My challenge for you this year: Get a little better at something of value. You don’t need to become an expert this month, just improve a bit. Take some time to look at your areas of responsibility, list your strengths and weaknesses, and tackle one weakness. Just one.

Remember, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.elephant-1598359__340

Looking at the Proverbs 31 description is usually intimidating and overwhelming. The breadth of knowledge and skill used there is impressive. But take a deep breath, step back, and think of all the things you already do. There is a wide variety there! If you continue that trend, adding a little more each year, learning something new, sharpening your tool set — think of how much more skill you will have in a few years. You are capable and are able to become even better.

This can be a brand new skill that would be useful but you’ve never tried before (like bread-making or book-keeping) or just getting a little better at what you already do (cleaning the house or studying or calendaring). Either way is progress.

Take advantage of the resources available to you, whether that be through people you know or online or at the library. We are blessed with so much to use for learning. A friend holding you accountable helps a ton (and keeps you from settling for less out of laziness or discouragement).

Sharing what you are learning to encourage others is a fringe benefit of these efforts. We’d love to hear what you will tackle and your plan to do it. Comment below or on social media. We’re in this together.

Happy New Year!

 

Personal Goal-Setting Session Giveaway

Are you thinking about New Year’s resolutions? Are you afraid to think about them because they’ve failed before?

Personal coaching is a tool for you to use as you seek to handle all your responsibilities calmly and confidently. Strategies and support are at hand as you successfully create a resolution — or just a personal goal — and then work the action plan to see it happen. Instead of viewing goals as a certain failure, you can face each year with confidence!

IN their own words

Enter the giveaway for one personal goal-setting session below. You can win and walk away with clearly defined and achievable goals to make 2018 a great year.

 Enter Now

Habits Help

Each day a million thoughts run through your head. You see and hear lots of good things to try. Your goals are many and varied. But, how to do it?!?

We have discussed multiple strategies on this blog that help answer that question, and today we will add one more aspect.

Routines are effective. The more habits you can create in your day and then string together into a routine, the more you will accomplish without thinking about it. Yes, it takes time to build those habits, but the investment pays off immensely in the future.

When you think about eating an elephant one bite at a time, habits are a great illustration of “one bite” a day. If you do one thing every day (or every weekday), how much would be accomplished in a month? Or a year? If you want to do something more (like exercise or read), doing that thing 10 minutes a day will add up. After a few months, you will indeed have done something more.

Habits provide rest. When you get to the point that you have a habit (like brushing your teeth), you don’t have to think about what you are doing while you are doing it. Some days that is a micro-nap for your brain; other days it is free space for creative or deep thinking. Make the most of it!

Also, we are not designed to go full-out all day long. Scattering mental breaks throughout your day gives you a chance to catch your breath — while still accomplishing what you continually need in hygiene or chores or growth — before expending energy on the major efforts of the day.

Structure builds security. When you know the road you’re on, you are comfortable lifting your foot to take a step. In complete darkness in an unfamiliar room — not so much. When your routine is established, making exceptions is safer. When you know what to expect, you will naturally feel less anxious. You can be confident you will come back to the “normal” day. Bases are covered, so a special activity is not a concern.  If you have put wise effort into big picture planning ahead of time, you can relax and enjoy the small trip.

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Not only do these points all apply to us, they also help with children. A regular, daily routine will:

  • minimize repeated instruction (they know what they are doing; they do it every day), and
  • require less energy in creating and communicating a new schedule for every hour and every activity.
  • Children love the security of structure. Once it is established, they will be active advocates for keeping it in place and you on track!

Planning Your Day

You may not lay in bed each night and plan out the next day’s steps while you try to fall asleep, but we all benefit from at least a few minutes of thinking ahead. We all have a limited number of hours any given day. How best to use them?

At the most basic level, you need to know what needs to be done and when. Often a day contains scheduled commitments. Other tasks fit around those.

The most effective way to keep track of what you have to do is to keep a to-do list written down. Some times you can remember the three things for the day, but how often do needs change during the day? Writing it down frees up mental space and ensures you won’t forget as distractions keep coming. Whether you use an app, a planner, a calendar or a Post-It note, having a list will keep you on track.

Once you know what you need to do, you can consider your schedule for the day. Somethings are non-negotiable (i.e., school pick-up). Thinking through how long each item will take and how long your unscheduled blocks of time are will help you fit each task into your day.

Your energy level is also a factor. We tend to have daily cycles. Some are morning people; others are night owls. Sometimes you need to take time to get up to speed in the morning, so late morning is high production time. Know yourself, and then you can plan your more difficult tasks for when you have the most resources to handle them. Chores requiring less brainpower can be completed when you are winding down or warming up.

Prioritizing is valuable. Ideally everything that needs to get done gets done. We all know that doesn’t necessarily happen! You create margin in your day by knowing what is most important and focusing more time and attention on those things. Also, if you are not intentional about identifying and investing in your priorities, they will fall by the wayside.

Multitasking is often dangerous, but it can be used to your advantage. For instance, if a daily walk is a priority for you — great! Can you make that time even more productive and valuable? You can walk and think or talk without having your stride suffer. Perhaps you could use the time to memorize Scripture or keep up with edifying podcasts. Would this be a good time to spend with your children or mentees or friends, focused time on your relationship that also benefits your health?

If you have a sedentary task, you could combine it with laundry, which is not a completely all-consuming process. You can sit and work for an hour, then use the need to get up and switch a load to also satisfy your physical need for a stretch break. Then back at it for another hour. You finished a few hours of desk work AND a few loads of laundry. Now to fold it all…

Personally, I’m a big fan of being able to cross items off the list! It is motivating. Success breeds further success. Crossing off also helps visually more than check marks (unless you have isolated check boxes) because you can see in a split second what is done and what isn’t. A nice wide marker has even more impact. Then at the end of the day, you have the satisfaction of knowing what was accomplished and the help of knowing what may need to move to the next day.

Taking a few minutes prior to tackling each day to write it down, prioritize, map a path and mark your progress will make a difference!

 

FYI: Planning

Following is a collection of links that may be of interest to you related to our current topic. Note, listing does not imply endorsement. Please evaluate for your own situation.

Systems

File Crate System — a method to plan a year for your family

Personal Retreats — book and templates for personal retreats

Progress toward Goals

Starting Your Day with Purpose — living intentionally, one small step at a time

Setting SMART Goals — five filters for successful goals and how to achieve them; another description here

Kaizen — the large impact of small, continual change

Daily Goals and Wins — a daily exercise to maintain focus and document progress

Ideas for Goal Setting — how to achieve progress with small steps forward

Personal Development Plan — the importance of making a plan in advance

Benefits of goal-setting — motivation as you walk through your preferred method

Managing the Gap — Your goal vs. your present

Calendaring

Making Time — how our values impact our use of time

Effective Use of Your Calendar — what goes on the calendar and what goes on the to-do list?

Using a Daily Planner — from the bullet journaling angle

Busyness — how busy are you?