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Could you use some help being more productive?

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Sometimes I’m amazed at how distracted I can get.

Even two years after reading Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less (my favorite book of 2015), I still tend to have too many plates spinning in the air.

Michael Hyatt's free Personal Productivity Assessment

I’ve learned to say no to a lot of things. In fact, I’ve used my tip sheet “8 Tips for Saying No Graciously” as my subscriber freebie for the past couple of years because I want you to understand the importance of saying NO to the nonessentials and YES to what moves the needle in finding your purpose and living it out.

If you’ve hung around To Well With You (or me personally) for any length of time, you know that I follow Michael Hyatt and have learned a lot from him. He bills himself as “your virtual mentor,” and that really fits. His courses, books, podcasts, blog posts and other resources have taught me so much – it’s like a college major! In fact, he’s where I first heard about the book Essentialism.

Despite learning the importance of saying no, I still need occasional reminders to focus on what’s important. (I’m a WIP – a work in progress!) And I strive to pass along what I’ve learned and provide tools to help you do that, too.

PRODUCTIVITY ASSESSMENT

Michael Hyatt has created a Personal Productivity Assessment that takes just a couple of minutes to click through.

He created the short quiz to give you (and me) clarity in nine areas of your life, identify the areas that need improvement and help you get to the next level.

Take the assessment by clicking here, then come back and tell me how you did and what NEXT STEP you’re going to take to move the needle in the area(s) you need to focus on.

Wanna know how I came out in the productivity quiz?

Visit the To Well With You Facebook page, where I’ll start a conversation and share my results.

Also, please SHARE this post with a friend and invite her/him to take the short assessment and join the conversation. Remember, it’s FREE. 🙂 

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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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3 tools to help you find your purpose

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hamlet quotes shakespeareWelcome to a new week! It’s been a challenging one in my family and circle of loved ones – including an epic ER visit (nine hours), multiple illnesses, physical therapy and two funerals – but we have survived and it’s a brand new day.

Before our ER visit with Mom, I had started writing a post with the famous Nietzsche quote “That which does not kill us makes us stronger,” but I decided to move in a different direction with today’s post. (I’ll still get to that one – because I truly believe adversity makes us stronger and allows us to help others through what we’ve learned – but not today.)

Last week we talked about apps that help us find margin in our lives. This week I’d like to share some less-tangible (but arguably more important) applications to move us along on the journey to well-being. These are things that are going to require you to think about what you want out of life, so warm up your brain.

The first one is a book, and I’ve talked about it before, but it bears repeating because it’s the best nonfiction book I read in 2015. Then a short video from a pastor with a different perspective on volunteering. And, third, a post from my favorite “virtual mentor,” Michael Hyatt, whom I’ve written about before.

Here are your three thought-provoking applications for this week:

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  • Boil everything down to essential vs. nonessential. I’ve mentioned a particular book several times on my two blogs: Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown (the best nonfiction book I read in 2015). I learned of Mr. McKeown on Michael Hyatt’s podcast, then I bought his book and devoured it. He gives a formula for how he decides what’s essential and what isn’t in his own life. I also wrote a post called “The art of saying no” (on my other blog), which wasn’t a direct result of the book but has the same goal: margin. Subscribers to To Well With You get the free PDF “8 tips for saying no graciously” as my thank you gift. (That PDF is a modified version of the one that accompanies my “saying no” post.)

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As you serve Him, you’re likely to find the greatest work God is doing is not through you, but it’s in you.” – Cory Lebovitz

  • Why is volunteering important, and what is its purpose in a Christian’s life? A pastor named Cory Lebovitz. followed me on Twitter last month, and I followed him back after viewing his recent Tweets and his website (I don’t follow back without checking out someone’s posts). Today I viewed his 3-minute video on volunteering, and it made me stop and think about why I volunteer and what it means. I hope this gives you something to ponder.

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Few things in life are more rewarding than marketable work fueled by passion and competence.” – Michael Hyatt

  • How to find satisfaction in your work. Pastor Cory’s video addresses volunteer work, and Michael Hyatt’s post is about finding meaning and fulfillment in the paid work you do. I’ve followed Michael for about a year and a half, and I’m so grateful to my friend Rusty for recommending that I check out his site. Michael has resources, wisdom and insight on so many topics, and I find myself seeking info from him on the regular. I subscribe to his blog and his podcast, I’ve read some of his books (still making my way through the list) and I’ve taken a few of his online courses. (More on that in a future post.) This week, you need to read his post on “The 3 Components of Job Satisfaction.” He has a podcast episode on this topic, too, and it goes into more depth than the blog post. It’s called “How to Discern Your Calling.” (It’s 36 minutes long.)

Your turn: Which of these three areas do you need to work on this week? Share with us in the comments, then schedule some dedicated time to think about it, even if it’s for just 15 minutes.

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The ‘Well Well Well’ Project – life declutter

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This is embarrassing. I hope you appreciate it!
This is embarrassing. I hope you appreciate it!

It’s time to take my “decluttering” mission seriously.

In that vein, I’m going to be painfully, brutally, embarrassingly honest.

(I can’t seem to do life any other way.)

I’m going to show you pictures. (Embarrassing pictures.)

This is such a big deal to me (and to you, I hope) that I’m giving this sucker a name: The Well Well Well Project.

I’m doing this for two people-groups:

1) Me.

2) You.

Why did I list myself first, when my purpose for this blog is to help others live their best lives?

Well, you know how the flight attendant always instructs you to don your own oxygen mask first, before you help your child or other helpless loved one do the same?

Same principle applies here: I have to help myself so that I can help you (does that make you my helpless loved one?). I can’t guide you on how to declutter your life without doing it myself first. With pictures. (Ugh.)

That’s my oxygen mask: starting the ball rolling on my own mess. It’s also how I’ll be able to tell what works and what doesn’t, what I can recommend and what you can skip, plus other helpful information. (With humiliating pictures.)

My desire is to dispense with everything that’s cluttering my life so that I can live it without regret, confusion, delay, displaced priorities or any other kind of stress. And I want that for you, too.

WHAT’S GONNA HAPPEN

Here’s what I want to declutter:

  • My home (household items, personal files, finances, car and property).
  • My body (with exercise, healthful eating and weight loss).
  • My mind (family calendar, freelance scheduling, email inbox and other things that tend to stress me out on the regular). This one is the real challenge.

Most of the process involves purging the unnecessary and organizing the necessary (after deciding which is which). I have many sources to draw from (I’ve been reading declutter/organize books and articles for years), and I hope you’ll come along for the ride.

This will require a lifelong maintenance plan, but let’s get the clutter out of the way first. We can learn about maintenance along the way.

I’ve already started this process in a few areas:

This chick has a lot of running shoes, no? (But you should see her husband’s collection!)
That’s a lot of running shoes, no? (But you should see my husband’s collection!)

1) Home: A year ago, I reorganized my bedroom closet (just mine; I didn’t touch Bruce’s). I wrote a bit about it on my other blog, including a “before” photo (above), but I never finished the whole-house project. I’ve been taking baby steps along the way (started working on a kitchen purge last month), but this time it’s going to happen – by Dec. 31. Period.

(What’s gonna be different this time? My expectations about how much I can get done at one time and how much time I have to write and post pictures about it. Also, setting a deadline makes a project much more likely to be completed – so the experts say.)

2) Body: I’m on Day 7 of a 30-day elimination diet (one that excludes potential “trigger foods” in an effort to find out what might be causing certain physiological problems). I’ll tell you more about that in a future post, but I can say that it is a CHALLENGE and I’m glad I’m on vacation this week. Being home makes it sooo much easier.

3) Mind: The best nonfiction book I read last year was Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. I wish I could say I had published a review of it, but that was one of my “good intentions” that I didn’t follow through on.

One of my failures to follow through involves my blogs (I’m probably cray-cray for having two, right?). For instance, I finish a great book and intend to review it, then I don’t. Or I start a great book and decide to write a multipart series on the book’s sections, then I write one post and don’t write the others (or finish reading the book). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, anyone?

Sometimes I think I have attention-deficit disorder (maybe I do), but a lot of it has to do with blogging and freelancing on top of my full-time day job. My schedule is overloaded, and my mind can’t keep up with the clutter.

BOTTOM-LINE IT FOR ME, SISTER

Here’s how I envision this project:

  • I tackle a particular area, take pictures (if appropriate – I will NOT be posting pictures of me in my underwear for the weight-loss portion), post here and on social media (this is going to get interesting) and basically humiliate myself – all for you (and, yes, for me).
  • You decide to join the fun by tackling a challenge in your own life. (Don’t worry; we won’t expect you to post pictures of you in your underwear, either.) Your challenge can be about ANYTHING you want it to be. Maybe you need to get into the habit of flossing your teeth every night (I finally started doing that this year, and I’ll tell you later about the two things that helped). Or maybe you want to start eating better. Maybe you need to start going to bed an hour earlier each night. Or cut out the late-night Oreos (not that I would know anything about that). You just pick a thing and tell us about it.
  • Or you wait awhile. Maybe you know you need to change some things but you’re not ready yet. I hear you, my friend. Change is hard (I believe I said that once before), and no one can make you ready before you’re ready. I’m here to hold your hand, though.
  • Expect at least one post a week. I’m not going to promise more than that (see? I’m learning), but I might write more if my schedule permits.
  • Let’s figure out together whether this needs to be a bigger thing: Do we need our own Facebook page, Instagram challenge, Pinterest board? Crisis hotline? Pint of Ben & Jerry’s? (Oops – nevermind that last one!)

Tell me what you want and need. Better yet, tell me what you’re going to commit to. Then you can tell me what you need.

Life is hard enough on your own; let’s do this together.

SOME RESOURCES TO GET YOU STARTED

Here are a few books I’ve read, apps I’ve used and websites I’ve visited over the years that have helped me along the journey to sanity. In fact, I plan to read a few of the books again. Take a look at some of them if you need help deciding what to tackle.

IT’S YOUR TURN

Ready? Your first assignment, once you’ve decided what you’re ready to tackle (something small, like flossing, or something big, like eliminating processed sugar from your diet): Tell me about it in the comment section.

Let’s do this!

(On social media – Twitter, Instagram, Periscope, wherever – use the hashtag #WellWellWellProject.)

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A farewell and a fresh start

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It’s been a crazy week, and it promises to be a busy weekend. A few highlights:

NEW JOB

Thursday was my last day at First Community Bank, where I had worked since moving back to Batesville in 2010. It was a tough decision because it’s a great place to work, but I’m going back to another awesome company, Edward Jones, so all is well. I was working at one of the North Little Rock branches of Jones when Bruce and I decided to move to Batesville, so I already know that it’s a fabulous place to work. Only the location and the boss-man have changed. Plus, I’ll be working with another office administrator instead of being the only one (this is very helpful when I need a bathroom break – someone to cover the phones for a minute, right?).

CLEAN EATING

Monday will be a new beginning (again), so I’m using it as an opportunity to restart my aborted Whole30 challenge. I started it in August and had been on the plan two weeks when I had a weekend conference out of town, and, people let me tell you, conference food is typically not Whole30-friendly. I tried, but by Saturday night I had caved (when we ate at a German restaurant).

It may be a little crazy to try to start a clean-eating plan the same day I start a new job, but I have a couple of things in my favor:

  • I’ve done Whole30 before.
  • I’ve worked for this company before.

I’m choosing to look at Monday morning as a fresh start on all counts.

Also, if I wait any longer, what will fall in the middle of the schedule? Thanksgiving and my birthday.

If I start Monday (Oct. 26), the 30-day plan will end two days before Thanksgiving, so I’ll be able to reintroduce a food type the day before the big holiday. I think I’m going to start with grains and save dairy for last.

This isn’t about losing weight (although I certainly do need to lose the weight I’ve regained recently). This is about clearing up some minor health issues that are dragging me down. I’ll tell you about those over the next month.

One thing I won’t do: journal this daily on the blog, as I had planned to do last time. Ugh – what was I thinking?

I’ll give you weekly recaps.

THE MAGIC OF TIDYING

Also to come: recaps on my decluttering project around the house. I wrote about my bedroom closet declutter in July, and I’ve been struggling to find the time and energy to finish the bedroom. I gave away a ton of books, so my big bookcase isn’t about to collapse anymore, but I still have to sort through the dresser contents and make some donations to the new resale shop in town. (I’ll tell you about Hidden Treasures soon.) And then there’s the kitchen. Don’t make me talk about that today; our kitchen is poorly laid out – nothing I can do about that right now – and I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to organize it. It stresses me out. Our two office workspaces will be last (unless I still need to procrastinate about the kitchen).

I also owe you a couple of book reviews, but I was waiting to present those until I finished the whole-house declutter. But, in case you’re interested in reading these life-changing books in advance, they are:

PROJECT STIR

One final thing: I realized after Monday’s post that I had already talked a lot in the previous post about Project STIR. But I hope you’ll forgive me for one more mention, because Sarah’s fundraising deadline is a week away and I hope you’ll consider making a small donation. This is such an awesome project, and your donation will help Sarah tell families’ stories through their recipes. Heck, she’ll even let you write about your own beloved family recipe if you want to. Watch the 3-minute video (so sweet – a young woman learning a recipe from her Mamaw), then scroll down to the Kickstarter section, click and donate. Sarah will be so appreciative of your help!

RECOVERING PERFECTIONIST …

I wrote all of this in a hurry because I have to head over to Mom’s to watch a football game, so forgive any typos.

Go, Hogs! And …

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How to stay true to your mission when you’re tired or weary

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GandhiQuoteWhen you purport to be a coach, a teacher or a mentor (of anything), it’s tempting to let everyone believe you’re a strong, infallible and powerful superhero, no chinks in the armor, ever.

I used to be that person. No, not strong, infallible and powerful, but someone who wished she could come across that way to the world (remember, recovering perfectionist here).

But if I were trying to advise you in how to do something (or stop doing something), wouldn’t it be better if I could relate to the challenges you face, and better still if I had gone through those challenges (or similar ones), myself? Whether I had succeeded the first time or failed 1,000 times and finally figured it out, you’d be more likely to come to me for advice … or at least for empathy, right?

Sometimes a “superhero” needs to just be real.

Sunday, we had a visiting missionary in our church services. He has written before on his blog about how missionaries are expected (by some) to be perfect saints, and, in fact, some missionaries try to perpetuate that myth. The tendency is to think you can’t show vulnerability or you’ll turn people off to Christianity. After all, isn’t following Jesus supposed to make our lives rosy and perfect?

Well, no.

In John 16:33 (NLT), Jesus said, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” He never said life would be perfect; He said he’d never leave us to face life alone (Deuteronomy 31:6).

Our missionary friend knows this truth. In fact, his wife and daughter couldn’t be with us Sunday because they were with his wife’s family, grieving the unexpected loss of his father-in-law a week earlier. And Sunday evening, he told us that he had just gotten a call from his mother; she and his dad were meeting with hospice the next day because his dad is dying of cancer and the end is that close.

IT IS WELL

There is plenty to be weary about, but this missionary friend told us, “It is well.” He knows where his source of strength comes from, and it is not from striving and trying and wearing himself out in an effort to attain perfection. As he told us Sunday morning, Jesus didn’t come to heal the well, but the sick.

The missionary’s wife has written beautifully, too, about the struggles they face on the mission field and, heck, just as human beings living in a broken world.

I use the word beautifully a lot when I share others’ words, and the common denominator – the thing that causes it to be beautiful to me – is that the speaker is letting herself or himself be vulnerable.

Authentic.

Imperfect.

Real.

I’m writing about being real today because I’m tired and I want to let you know about it. I know my mission, but lately the path to fulfilling it has seemed to take a lot out of me. I’m learning a lot, but some weeks I feel as though I take two steps forward and one step back. I’m working on learning how to discern the essential from the nonessential, but figuring that out is not easy or simple.

The one below – picking out a birthday card for my mom last week – was an essential. Waiting until the day of … not the wisest decision. But I allowed hubby to help, and he picked out a beautiful card for her. (I think I’ll keep him.)

TextMsgScreenShot073115HOW TO STAY ON MISSION

Here are 10 things you (and I) can do to stay on mission when you’re tired or weary – or when life is just plain hard:

  1. Be honest. Don’t try to hide the fact that you’re hurting. Talk to a trusted mentor. Ask for prayer from your circle of friends. You don’t have to go into all the gory details, but share what’s on your heart. We were made for community. Reach out.
  2. Take a break. If you can’t take a full-blown vacation, escape for just a day, or even an hour. This will help refresh your mind and your body. If you can do this on a small scale every day or week, even better.
  3. Spend some time examining the things that got you to this point. Don’t think about it for five minutes and quit; really reflect on what’s going on in your life.
  4. Remember your “why” (aka “look at the Big Picture”). Have you figured out your mission – your purpose? If not, get in touch with me or a trusted mentor to help you through the process. Remembering your why is probably the most important thing on this list. I have it as a reminder on my idea board, in notebooks, on my bathroom mirror and as a hashtag when I post a workout to my running app. Remembering my “why” carries me a long way when I’m tired or wondering why I’m doing this.
  5. Decide what’s important. Figure out what is essential for you to fulfill your purpose and what is not.
  6. After thinking through what’s important, focus on the No. 1 thing on the list. Get rid of what isn’t essential to your mission, with the realization that you cannot do everything. (I’ll be writing a review of the book Essentialism as soon as I finish reading it – so much great advice.) Last weekend, our missionary friend’s wife and daughter stayed behind in their home state to grieve with their family before they return to the mission field. This was their No. 1 priority at that time. (If family is not near the top of your list, it should be.)
  7. Pray. Some of you who read this blog might not pray to God, so substitute the word meditate. I pray to God for peace, comfort and guidance. If you don’t pray, at least take some time for peace and calm so that you can gain clarity.
  8. Ask for help. I’m not talking about divine help, notwithstanding Item 7. If you have a task that’s overwhelming, ask someone to help you accomplish it. As wise King Solomon said, you get a better return for your labor; a cord of three strands is not easily broken (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).
  9. Celebrate what you’ve already accomplished; recall the progress you’ve made – even the small stuff – and take time to appreciate it. If you have trouble remembering any of the good, ask a friend! (See Item 8.)
  10. Let go of “perfect.”

This isn’t a comprehensive list. What have I left off? (See, I’m asking for help! Leave a comment above with some of the things on your list.)

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