Tips for better sleep, Part 1

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Image courtesy of Hyperbole and a Half, http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com

When we last met up here, I tried to express, without making the post a statistical snoozefest, that sleep is important. (I wanted you to get to the end of the post before you zzzzzz…..)

As we all know, lack of adequate rest can cause all sorts of problems, from brain fog to accidents to dumb decisions to chronic stress and disease.

Yucko.

Today it’s time to talk about how we can make sleep happen. I asked for a few ideas in the comments here and on the Facebook page, and I think most of you must have been taking a siesta, because I didn’t get a lot of response. Or … you’re like me and have so freaking much going on in your life and on your computerized devices that you didn’t notice I was asking. 🙂  Actually, I posted the question twice and got a little feedback on the other one, but no actual tips. So the feedback comes from my personal experience and that of a couple of people I talked to.

We could learn a lot about rest from dogs. When they’re tired, they sleep. Pepper really knows how to get her zzzzz’s.

As for my own advice, with all the talking I do about my love of naps, you might think I consider that the No. 1 way to get rest.

Nope.

Naps are a stopgap. They’re secondary to getting a good night’s rest in the first place. So how do we do that?

Let’s count the ways:

1. Take it seriously. The first step to fixing the problem is to admit you have one. Admit that it’s not cool to burn the candle at both ends. Talking about how busy you are and how little sleep you “need” – and thinking it makes you more important than those who try to get the recommended seven to eight hours a night – is crazy talk. It’s popular in our culture, but it’s still crazy.

2. Maintain overall good health. This one’s tricky. You become healthy by getting adequate rest by eating healthy foods, exercising and keeping bad stress to a minimum by getting adequate rest. Yep, I said that. It’s circular.

3. Have an evening routine. I told my hairdresser, Natalie, that I was looking for sleep tips, and she shared hers:

She starts getting ready for bed at 8:30 p.m. It’s nonnegotiable (just like my Sunday nap). She takes a relaxing bath with a “lavender scented bath soak,” dims the lights to “create a complete relaxation zone,” then she “lubes up” with a soothing lotion. And she goes to bed right after, so as not to re-stimulate her brain and body with other concerns. Natalie understands the importance of good sleep, so she makes her nightly ritual a priority. Smart woman. (I may have to remind her of this nighttime routine after the baby arrives in a few months! Yep, she’s expecting her first.)

4. Do a few minutes of yoga or deep breathing. A while back, I found a gentle, 26-minute evening relaxation sequence from Yoga Journal that makes me feel soooo relaxed at bedtime. Try it! If you don’t want to do yoga, sit in your chair (sit up straight, like your mom told you to) and spend 10 minutes breathing deeply while clearing your mind of its stressors – heck, clear it of everything except the reminder to breathe in … and out … deeply. And you don’t have to wait until bedtime to lower stress with deep breathing; practice it throughout the day. Here’s how:

Sit up straight and tall. Breathe in through your nose for about 4 seconds. Then breathe out through your mouth for about 8 seconds (a 1:2 ratio). Do this half a dozen times, and try to incorporate the practice into your day as you recognize that you’re tense. You can even do it at your desk or in your car (parked, please).

Image courtesy of Hyperbole and a Half, http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com

5. Count sheep. Or 5’s. Candy, via the Facebook page, said she uses various mantras but recently has seen “counting by 5’s” to be effective. Count backward from 1,000 and see how far you get. Count your blessings (that could be a post in itself!). Count anything that will help you relax. Just don’t count your worries.

6. Practice biofeedback. My hubby isn’t really the person to ask for sleep tips … except this one. I asked him to share:

“I learned the essentials from a theater-type who taught it to acting classes to help students marshal energy for diving into their roles.

“To begin, stretch out on your back on the floor or comfortable surface, close your eyes and be still for perhaps 30 seconds. Quiet room, perhaps gentle background music. … Then consider the outer reaches – think of each toe in turn for a few seconds, imagine a wave of tension flowing out of it or, inversely, a wave of rest/comfort flowing in. Tension being released, jitters being damped down, calm settling in; if you can feel the pulse in a toe, think of slowing it. After toes, fingers. Ankles, wrists – work your way to the middle.

“The middle is your heart rate and your breathing; as the outer reaches settle, you’ll be needing less work from heart and lungs and you can send them the same soothing wave signal and should be able to slow the rates. … Let go and sleep easy.”

7. Keep the same bedtime. Try to hit the pillow at approximately the same time each night (or morning, if you work the night shift), even on your weekend. Resist the temptation to stay up late when you don’t have to work the next day.

Homework assignment: 1) If you have a great sleep tip, share it in the comments or on the Facebook page. I already have 10 more tips written and waiting for the next post, but I can always add more. 2) In the coming week, try one of the seven tips mentioned above, then return here next report back here. 3) Share this post.

Up next: More sleep tips.

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Are you getting enough sleep?

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We’ve all heard plenty of statistics about the devastating effects of sleep deprivation.

This post won’t be heavy on statistics, partly because stats can vary widely and I’m confident that what I’m presenting here supports my argument for more rest.

And also because statistics can be boring and might put you to sleep.

Oh, wait

(If you’re reading this close to bedtime, feel free to stop and go to bed. No, seriously. Your sleep is more important than finishing this post right now.)

If you think I’m referring only to extreme sleep deprivation (pulling all-nighters) as “devastating,” understand that chronic sleep deprivation (even just a little too little on a routine basis) hampers proper functioning.

Over the years, studies have presented evidence of:

  • Impaired physical performance. Athletes who sleep adequately have been shown to perform better than those who don’t, and the same holds true for all sorts of activities. Some studies have compared sleep deprivation to drunkenness above the legal limit for alcohol. Do you want to be on the same highway as a driver who’s had too much to drink … or too little sleep? Or, worse, do you want to be that driver?
  • Impaired judgment (see previous item). Maybe you’re an accountant and mistype a number, and the IRS goes after your client, who sues you. Or maybe you’re a medical student and you ruin someone’s life – and your career. Maybe you make the wrong decision in a social setting and end up pregnant by a stranger – or with a sexually transmitted disease. (Extreme examples? You be the judge – but first get a good night’s sleep!)
  • Crankiness (not that I would know anything about this 🙂 ). Relationships suffer: family, social, spiritual, workplace. A bad mood and impaired judgment can lead not only to lawsuits and diseases but an unhappy, dysfunctional household and other relationship problems.
  • Overeating and weight gain. This can be the result of hormone imbalance and cravings – and I’m not talking carrots and celery sticks. Under-sleeping can lead to a rushed schedule and food on the run, and emotional factors that lead to overindulging or unhealthful eating; It can be from impaired judgment, the need for comfort and a host of other physiological factors.
  • Immune system impairment and chronic illness. Even an excess of caffeine (coffee addiction, anyone?) can have unfavorable effects on your health. A friend’s loved one – a young man in his 20s – died because of prolonged excessive consumption of energy drinks, which included megadoses of caffeine. I know of a coffee variety called Jet Fuel; if you’re jet-lagged, choose sleep over caffeine.
  • Depression. Before I came out on the other side of my depression – in the mid-1990s – I was working a 4-to-midnight shift; I’m a morning person, and I never felt rested in those years. Besides depressed, I was cranky, angry and critical about everything around me. Do you think I was a fun person to be around? (NOTE: When I worked through the depression, I still had the crazy work schedule, so I’m not blaming it solely on sleep deprivation, but it played a role.) Fortunately for Bruce, I had worked through my depression before we started dating. He knew me in those years, though, and he worried about me.

If you are depressed, reach out to me (or someone else you can trust) and we’ll talk about ways you can get help. I’m not a clinician, but I can point you to some resources. (My pastor’s wife and a good, in-depth book and companion workbook were my lifeline; for you it may involve medication and/or another type of solution.)

IF YOU ARE SUICIDAL, seek IMMEDIATE help from your physician, your pastor or someone else you can trust, visit the confidential National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call the Lifeline at (800) 273-8255 (toll-free numbers are also available for Spanish speakers, hearing impaired, veterans and people in emotional distress related to “natural or human-caused disasters”).

http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/talk-to-someone-now

SO … HERE’S WHERE THE RUBBER MEETS THE ROAD.

About 10 years ago, I started requiring a Sunday nap to get through the week. It was not long after I started The Worst Job I’ve Ever Had (I still have nightmares about it). I was stuck in that 60-hour-a-week job for 11 months, and I’m convinced it would have killed me if I hadn’t broken free.

I’ll tell you that story some other time (such as: in my last week there, I was diagnosed with a heart condition that eventually led to surgery). But today, I want you to think about YOUR story.

Ask yourself a few questions:

  • Do you feel tired all the time, or much of the time?
  • Do you get cranky, hangry (hungry/angry) or forgetful more than occasionally?
  • Do you feel achy or breaky in your body … or your emotions?
  • Do you drag your butt out of bed – and off to work or school – every day, and the feeling lasts all day, every day?
  • Have you ever stopped to think about the amount of sleep that is optimal for your body and brain? It varies with age and other factors – small children need about 13 hours; teenagers about 9 ½ hours; and adults about 7-9 hours – so you need to figure it out if you don’t already know.

I’ve written about the importance of my nonnegotiable Sunday nap and my designation of Sunday as my Sabbath. For you it might be a different day of the week, but YOU NEED A SABBATH.

If your schedule is too busy for adequate rest, you need to figure out a way to change that. The past couple of weeks here at To Well With You, we’ve talked about margin (which includes saying NO to nonessentials) and decluttering (which includes the admonition to take a break from unproductive habits to clear some space for mental calmness). Today, it’s rest. (Next week: ways to get more and better sleep.)

Homework assignment: Ask yourself what ONE step you can take in the coming week to make a change in your sleep habits and satisfy your body and brain’s need for restorative rest. Post a comment here or on the Facebook page. Your idea just might spark a good habit for someone else.

Next week we’ll consider some ways we all can make changes, so come prepared to share your ideas and let us know how your week went. I’ll share our collection of ideas in the next post.

We’re all in this together, my friends. Now, go have a restful week. Zzzzzzzzzzz.

Resources:

 

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Tips for clearing clutter and being more productive

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How well did you do on your homework assignment last week?

What? You forgot all about it?

OK, refresher: We talked about creating margin. Your assignment was to take 10 minutes (plus a few seconds) to pause, breathe and think about how you could create some space in your schedule … in your head … to cut back on the crazy. And then write it down.

If you didn’t do the assignment, here’s your second chance. Go on; we’ll wait.

The next thing is a bit different but still gets us toward our goal.

Your goal may not be exactly what mine is, but maybe they will align, because my ultimate goal is this:

To help you live to your fullest potential, to figure out your purpose (if you don’t know it already) and to live the life that God intended when He created you. Your life has meaning, and He does have a purpose and a plan for you. And when you figure that out (and live it out), it brings Him glory.

I can’t tell you what your exact purpose is, but I’m here to help you figure it out.

And let me repeat this, in case you skimmed past it:

YOUR LIFE HAS MEANING.

It has meaning, but sometimes we’re too distracted by stuff to remember that.

So we need to do something about it.

Today’s assignment is to establish a time each day – just 10 minutes – that you can do something productive. Ten minutes, people. You can do it.

Maybe your inbox is bursting at the seams. Maybe your desk is piled with crap*. Do you need to make a couple of quick phone calls? Is there moldy food in the fridge? Do you have a gazillion photos on your phone that are gobbling space and slowing things down (and maybe causing you to pay for extra storage)? Is the countertop in the bathroom so cluttered it stresses you out every morning?

So that you won’t think I can’t feel your pain, here’s the right half of my bathroom counter:

declutter
Don’t tell my Mary Kay director I have a L’Oreal lipstick (it’s so hard to find a good red!) And where the heck did that Superball come from?

Yes, it stresses me out, and decrapifying it is on my to-do list.

What do YOU need to decrapify this weekend?

Homework assignment: Spend 10 minutes decluttering, organizing, purging or in some other way tackling something that has been on your to-do list for too long.

Go ahead. Put down the internet and do it now.

After 10 minutes, stop, even if you’re not finished. That’s enough for now. (Besides, I want you to finish reading this post.)

Now pause for a moment: Doesn’t that 10 minutes of productivity feel GOOD?

That’s what I call a baby step. And if you’ll do that every day for the next week, you’ll be well on the road to establishing a habit.

You’re in the habit of checking Facebook, watching TV or playing [insert addictive phone-app game] for well over 10 minutes a day, no?

So consider this Step 1 toward PRODUCTIVITY.

Next: Post a victory comment and/or share a productivity tip or resource of your own (a few of mine are below), then share this post with a friend who needs to decrapify something and spend a few moments being GRATEFUL that you have more than enough to be happy.

*DISCLAIMER: My mother did not teach me to use the word crap or any variation. In fact, she maintains that if I say “crap,” I might as well use the S word. (She has a point, so pardon my French.)

Resources for decrapifying your life:

Now, go have an awesome and productive week!

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Does your life have margin? (And what the heck is margin?)

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I’ve been reading about margin the past couple of years.

Anyone who follows Michael Hyatt will read about margin of some sort (and anyone who follows me will hear about Michael Hyatt occasionally). Michael’s a big advocate of creating space in your life for what truly matters, and I’ve been getting increasingly on board with that concept. You’ll see it sprinkled throughout To Well With You because it’s such an important theme here.

Two years ago, Michael had Greg McKeown as a guest on his podcast. Mr. McKeown (pronounced muh-kyoo-un) wrote my favorite book of 2015, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. If you’ve been around me much – online or in person – you’ve heard me mention it several times. I tell everyone they should read it. (I’m annoying that way.)

In the disciplined pursuit of less, I’ve:

  • Learned to say NO to almost everything. (Jury’s still out on how well I’m doing there … it’s a journey, not a destination.) I wrote about the N word a couple of years ago. In fact, when you subscribe to this blog, you get a free PDF called “8 tips for saying no graciously.” I’m helping you practice what I preach!
  • Worked on getting my husband to say no more often (not to me, of course! 🙂 ).
  • Become single-minded in my pursuit of getting organized – in my office space, my home, my brain. Bruce is coming along on that journey with me, albeit a little less single-mindedly. 🙂  I’m creating more space for doing what’s truly important … essentialism.

This has been a fun(ish) journey, because a lot of it plays along with my natural bent toward “being organized.” I’ve been astounded, though, at how out-of-whack things have gotten. (It’s embarrassing, actually.)

So I figured it was time to get serious about it. I’m dedicating the entire year (if it takes that long) to making the spaces in my home, head and heart free of distracting clutter. Once I have more structured systems in place, I won’t spend half my time looking for items, stepping over things and being COMPLETELY STRESSED OUT about stuff whose main purpose is to serve me, not have me serve it!

https://momismore.com/SO … WHAT IS YOUR FORM OF LIFE CLUTTER?

I started To Well With You as a way to help others live their best lives, and sometimes that means being brutally honest about where I fall short.

I want this to be a safe place for you to come clean about what you need to work on, too.

Right now, I want you to pause long enough to be honest with yourself (and post a comment about it if you’re brave enough!). If you have enough margin in your life for what’s really, truly important, stop reading now. Go on, hop on over to Pinterest or Facebook and waste a couple of hours reading about cupcakes in a jar or commenting on your friends’ perfect children.

If not …

Here’s your homework assignment. It will take 10 minutes and 10 seconds (maybe longer if you have to spend extra time looking for a sticky note 🙂 ).

  1. Sit still and relax for five minutes. Just 5 stinkin’ minutes – you can do that. Close your eyes if you want to. Do nothing but RELAX YOUR MIND and BREATHE. Next …
  2. Spend five minutes thinking about ONE area of your life where you need to create margin. Do you need to declutter a physical space, take a couple of extracurricular activities off your schedule, stop watching so much TV so you can spend more time with your family, pause to write in a journal? You decide.
  3. Write it down (10 seconds). Also feel free to share it in the comments here or on the Facebook page. Here’s an example from my list of 2017 goals:


Next week we’re going to talk about ONE AREA you’ve decided to work on, and I’m going to talk about 10-minute microbursts of productivity. I’ll also tell you about the book I’m reading and share some other resources.

We have only so much time to live our best lives. Do you want to spend your years running around in stress mode every day, or do you want to get intentional about making a difference in the lives of your loved ones and others around you?

It’s up to you, my friend. Time to decide.

 

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‘To Well With You’ reader survey

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Hey, there!

It’s been a fun first week of 2017. I hope you’ve had success so far and are pursuing your dreams and goals with passion and gusto!

Would you do me a huge favor? It won’t take long. I’m trying to make sure you have your best year ever in 2017, with the help of To Well With You. I want to help you have what you need to be successful on your personal journey to well-being.

That might be physical fitness, financial freedom, relationship success, time management or any number (or combination) of things. Please take a couple of minutes to check a few boxes and let me know what you need from me. (You’re also welcome to suggest a topic that’s not listed.) And please share the link with a friend.

The survey is below. Thanks in advance for your feedback!

 

 

 

 

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Enter to win: Put Your Faith Where Your Fork Is

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The week after Christmas is typically a time when our thoughts turn from holiday excess (including all the food we indulged in for several weeks) to preparing for a new year and all the hope for change that it can bring.

(We won’t talk about the indulgences that may be to come on New Year’s Eve. Fortunately I don’t have to worry about parties and food on this occasion, as my head drops to the pillow long before the ball drops on Times Square.)

I, for one, am looking for a fresh start in some of the areas I struggle with, including letting stress trigger bad habits with food. Sometimes I let that derail my goals.

I’ll be spending this weekend formalizing and putting to paper some of the goals that have been swimming around in my head for the past few weeks. (Remember the “5 Days to Your Best Year Ever” goal-setting course that I told you about in early December? Well, it’s time for the rubber to meet the road!)

So … what about you?

If getting a handle on your weight issues is one of your goals for 2017, I have an offer for you.

Nettye Johnson, a wonderful woman I’ve been following for a year or two, has written a book, Put Your Faith Where Your Fork Is.

Here’s a description:

In Put Your Faith Where Your Fork Is, author Nettye Johnson shares spiritual truths and scientific principles to help you:

  • Put God first and grow closer to Him in the pursuit of health and wellness.
  • Right skewed relationships with food.
  • Embrace moderation and eliminate food guilt.
  • Create a personalized, effective, and livable food philosophy for healthy weight loss and maintenance.
  • Change your view of healthy disciplines from a challenge, battle, or struggle to a privilege, joy, a part of who you are, and a way to honor God.

As are many books about weight control and healthful living, this one is written by a person who’s been there.

Nettye knows.

And because Nettye has been victorious in this battle, she wants to help others achieve the peace that comes from eliminating guilt and remorse and get on with the business of health and honoring God in the process. A few weeks ago, she offered a buy-one-get-one-free opportunity.

So … thinking of you … I bought a copy of the book and got an extra.

And I’ve been waiting to read it.

I’ve been waiting for you, my friend. The next step is yours.

I’m giving away a FREE copy of Nettye’s book, Put Your Faith Where Your Fork Is, to one reader. Here’s how you can win:

  1. Commit to reading the book with me and discussing it a chapter at a time (12 chapters, 12 weeks).
  2. Fill out the short form below telling me why you’re making this commitment (and why I should give you a free book!).

That’s it.

It’s simple: Make a commitment, then tell me why.

You have until noon Central time Monday, Jan. 2, 2017. I’ll announce the winner that evening. And if you don’t win the free copy, you’re welcome to purchase one and let me know if you’re interested in starting a group discussion. (By the way, I am not an affiliate and get no compensation for promoting this book; I just think Nettye’s awesome and has really valuable things to tell us.)

Feel free to share this post with your friends, and ask them to enter to win the free copy of Nettye’s book. (Also, subscribing to To Well With You – separate from the giveaway – will ensure that they receive my updates by email.)

The winner and I will figure out the best way to go about discussing the chapters. If you’re local, we might meet each Saturday morning over coffee or tea. If you’re my long-distance friend, we can email or connect online. (We’ll figure it out.) And if we have enough interest for a group discussion, I might create a private Facebook group to do that.

TO ENTER, fill out the form below (you’ll have to scroll to see all the content). And thanks!

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I can’t wait to see what you have to say!

#FaithWhereForkIs

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Dort’s Vegetable Beef Soup

Dort’s Vegetable Beef Soup
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As I write this on Christmas morning, it’s warmish and humid in north-central Arkansas. And on Christmas Day, no one is thinking of big bowls of hearty soup, right?

But I made my mom’s Vegetable Beef Soup recipe many times over the summer, and it saved me from caving in to fast food or otherwise unhealthy food temptations. Maybe you’d like to have this one handy for the post-holiday hangover – something you can dump in a pot and forget for a while. Or hold onto the recipe for a busy workweek. (Tip: Cook the meat in advance and freeze it. The cooked soup freezes well, too.)

I first posted the recipe on my other blog, Suzy & Spice, but I had a request for it this morning and thought I’d share it here, too. After all, this is the space where you come for stuff that’s good for you and pleasant, amen?

As I wrote at Suzy & Spice last year:

One of the great things about my mom is that she has always gone out of her way to give her kids everything we needed and much of what we wanted (within reason). (I guess that’s a mom’s job, right?)

One of those ways is with food … 

So here’s the recipe from my mom, Dorothy (aka Dort), totally customizable to your and your family’s tastes. I originally cooked it on the stovetop like Mom does, but when I got my programmable slow cooker a couple of years ago, that was a game changer.

NOTE: I’m trying out a new recipe app today. Comments and questions welcome. (Tell me if this format works for you.)

Print Recipe
Dort’s Vegetable Beef Soup
My mom shows her love by feeding us. She has made this hearty and healthful vegetable beef soup for years, so I named it after her!
Course Main Dish, Soups
Prep Time 20-30 minutes
Cook Time 3-4 hours
Passive Time 3-4 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Main Dish, Soups
Prep Time 20-30 minutes
Cook Time 3-4 hours
Passive Time 3-4 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Crumble ground round in skillet. Add onion, and cook until meat is browned. Drain, then add garlic powder, salt and pepper.
  2. Transfer to large soup pot or slow cooker. Add tomato juice and vegetables.
  3. Cover and cook 3-4 hours on low heat if using stovetop, or 7-8 hours on low setting in slow cooker, stirring occasionally.
Recipe Notes

OPTIONAL INGREDIENTS:

  • Bag of mixed vegetables instead of bag of corn.
  • Green beans.
  • Red potatoes (cubed) or new potatoes (halved).
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Want to make meaningful changes in 2017?

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I wrote this to my email subscribers this morning before I left for work, and I thought I should share it here, too. (In fact, I thought it was so important that I just couldn’t go to work without pausing to write it. I was almost late, y’all!If you want to be sure you don’t miss any important announcements (or blog posts), please subscribe by filling out your name and email address in the “Subscribe to” box. (On a computer, it’s at the top right; on mobile, it’s probably below this post.)

________________________________________________

Just a quick heads-up this morning, my friends.

We’ve been talking about goals for the past few weeks, right?

OK, I’ve been talking about goals, and you’ve been listening.

You’ve been listening, right?

So here’s the deal.

Michael Hyatt’s course “5 Days to Your Best Year Ever” is the best way I’ve found to set goals and actually achieve them.

The course, available now, is something you want to consider if you’ve ever wanted to make a MEANINGFUL change in how you go about living your life.

It’s an online course that takes just 5 days to complete (yes, only five 45-minute sessions). It includes videos and a downloadable workbook and action plan to guide you.

If you’re still not convinced that Michael Hyatt totally rocks the goal setting (and achieving) arena, sign up for one of his FREE webinars. It will be worth your time – I promise. Or listen to this special edition of his podcast where Michael and COO Megan Hyatt Miller (his daughter) discuss The Top 10 Mistakes Derailing Your Goals.

I have to be honest here: I did some serious soul searching about sending this email.

Why? If you buy Michael’s “Best Year Ever” course, I get a commission.

So I felt like it would be 100 percent selfish of me to tell you about it and persuade you to sign up. I literally lost sleep over it last night.

Then I had another chat with myself. If I kept this information to myself, then I truly would be 100 percent selfish. (And I should have sent this email 2 days ago, when the course first opened.)

Yes, the course will cost you some bucks (but there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee). And, yes, I’ll profit from that.

BUT … my goal with To Well With You, in starting the website last year, in getting a coaching certification (two, actually), is to help you craft the life that God intended for you to live.

To live your life with MEANING, PURPOSE and DIRECTION.

Jesus is my compass. Yours may be something else. But God created you with a plan and a purpose.

If your life is a mess, even just a little bit, it’s time to get some clarity and start sorting it out. Set some goals (notice I didn’t say New Year’s resolutions).

Take the course (EARLY-BIRD PRICING ENDS TONIGHT) … or at least start with the free webinar.

We’re all in this together, my friends.

As the saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats.

Let’s lift each other up.

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What is your ‘life score’?

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michael-hyatt-quote-progress-only-starts-when-you-get-clear-on-where-you-are-right-nowDo you sometimes have trouble seeing the forest for the trees?

I seem to be in that state of mind a lot more often than I’d like.

I’ve set many goals over the years (physical, spiritual, financial, business and otherwise), but sometimes I get so caught up in the overwhelm of life that I have trouble moving forward.

Sometimes I need help to gain clarity on where I stand so I can get to where I want to go.

Most of life is a journey, not a destination, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t set goals, work toward outcomes and assess our progress along the way. (That’s the journey.)

Progress, not perfection, is a phrase I’ve had to cling to when I catch myself falling back into my perfectionistic tendencies.

For nearly two years, Michael Hyatt, his team and their resources have helped me have more clarity as I work toward a more effective, confident version of myself. (I want to use my own little corner of the internet – here at To Well With You – to help you on the journey toward being the person God intends for you to be, as well.)

As Michael says, “What you don’t measure, you can’t improve.”

If you’re not already in the habit of assessing where you are, Michael’s free LifeScore Assessment will help you get started. It’s a measure of 10 interconnected areas of your life.

I just took the assessment and scored 70.

This simple tool, where I was asked to rank myself on a scale of 1-4 in 10 categories, pointed out areas where I’m doing great and areas I might need to put some more thought and time into developing (such as physical health and finances).

The results were very encouraging, because they gave me a base from which to work.

I’d love it if you’d take this quick assessment and share your results and any thoughts with me (either in the comment section of this post, or in private by emailing me).

If you’re honest with your self-assessment, you might just be pleasantly surprised at where you are, or maybe you’ll decide to reach out for more tools (accountability buddy, perhaps?) to nudge you toward making some needed changes.

We’re just four weeks (FOUR WEEKS!) from a new year, a time when many people like to start fresh and move with greater focus toward self-improvement.

Personally, I look forward to 2017 as a year to #focus and #bebrave.

What are you looking forward to in 2017 – or for the next four weeks? If you need some ideas, take the assessment and share your thoughts.

And, as always,

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Letter from my dad, 1989

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dadquote1989I’m feeling a little sentimental as I write this tonight, so instead of issuing some goal-setting challenge as we prepare for the new year or bragging about how I actually lost weight over the Thanksgiving weekend (trust me, it had been going the other way for several weeks, so I was due for some good news), I thought I’d share something incredibly special to me.

letterfromdad1989_pg1

letterfromdad1989_pg2Here’s what I wrote a few minutes ago in a “get organized”-type private Facebook group I’m a part of:

“This is what happens when you start mining through the detritus of your life. You find diamonds under all that dirt.

Thing 1: I found this letter today while clearing out old file boxes. My dad wrote it in 1989, around the time I graduated from college and was preparing to spend 2 months as a summer missionary in Guatemala. He didn’t finish the letter before I graduated, and he wrote on it some more while I was in Guatemala. We found the letter – still attached to the legal pad – after he died (Dec. 23, 1997), and then it was lost again in a bunch of file boxes. Until today.

Thing 2: A few days ago in a short burst of decluttering, I found a poem Dad wrote me for my birthday many years ago. I may post it tomorrow (my birthday) on my blog or my social media (we’ll see).

Thing 3 (but really it is the MAIN thing): God is GOOD, and he’s good ALL THE TIME. This has been a stressful year for my family, with accidents, illness, financial hardship and [other things]. My dad wrote a TON of stuff (I got my love of reading and writing from him), but these two gems were written specially for me. They give me such a feeling of being loved – by my earthly dad and my heavenly dad. If you’ve kept reading this far 🙂 thank you, and I hope it has inspired you to #bebrave and keep digging!”

So … normally I’d try to end this with some type of life lesson or challenge, but I’m going to let you come up with your own take-away. We all know we should embrace our loved ones more often and tell them how we feel. And, as we’ve just come off of Thanksgiving, we’ve read all the “I’m grateful for” posts – and that’s wonderful. (I even have a “gratitude partner,” and we email each other a list every day.)

But tonight I’m letting you enjoy the rest of your weekend guilt-free and full of my gratitude that you’re a reader here, whether regularly or sporadically. Until next time …

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