Last year I did mini resolutions - and I loved it! It was so much easier to make small changes in my life rather than doing a complete overhaul on January 1st and expecting it to stick after the feeling of motivation had passed. I did very well with my monthly goals until we had a baby, moved, and started new jobs in the same summer. Then the goal was survival. This year I have decided on a One Word Theme à la Gretchen Rubin. My word is prepare


I chose this word because I dislike urgency and love to linger. But my lingering is causing me to be unprepared for my day, which causes me to rush around like a crazy person shoving diapers, wipes, and power bars into my bag, 10 minutes late for wherever I'm supposed to be.

It doesn't have to be like this!

As with many things in life, the more structure I have, the more freedom I am allowed. So in addition to scheduling my week ahead of time, I will prepare by laying out clothes the night before, packing lunches, packing bags, and enacting a 10 minute clean up before bed. I think the most important component to fixing this issue, though, is waking up earlier, and getting my makeup and hair done before the day begins.

I am so sick of feeling irresponsible and rushed. I'm unkind, brusque, and stressed when I'm running late. It has to change, and it has to change quickly.

On the flip side, when I prepare for my day, I can linger without guilt. I have more time for the things I enjoy, I am kinder to my husband and children, and I actually feel like a responsible adult.

I will still have goals to hit throughout the year, just not in the form of resolutions. I'll be reading the entire Bible in a year with a group from my church. I want to use less creamer in my coffee. I need to drink more water. I will be leading a personal development book club in which we read one book each month. I have huge business goals. We are continuously improving our budgeting process. I know this will all be achieved with small changes as the year goes on, though, and not all at once.

Just typing this up is getting me so excited for everything that's coming up in 2016! It's going to be an incredible year!

Do you pick a One Word Theme for the year? What's yours?

schedule your week - not your day!

As I read through Stephen Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, I find myself wanting to stop and reread every single page. Generally speaking, I enjoy racing through a book. Seven Habits, however, prompts me to physically highlight, dog-ear, and note-take like a college student cramming for exams.

The book is broken down into 3 sections - private victories (habits 1-3), public victories (habits 4-6), and renewal (habit 7). The chapter which is currently capturing my attention is Habit 3 - Put First Things First. This sums up the first section on private victories - victories of moving from dependence to independence. Anyway, before I read about the third habit, I always assumed I was the type of person to put first things first. I have my priorities! I go to church and occasionally work out. I mostly make food from scratch, do daily devotions when I get around to it, and budget when I can. I sometimes write - but only when everything else is done.

Then I realized there was a common theme running through all of these daily habits or tasks - if performed daily, they would make my life excellent. Not just good. But I don't actually do these things daily, because I don't prioritize them. I mean, I sometimes add them to my to do list, but there are many days when I don't get around to them because I have a cold, or the baby is fussy, or I have to finish Christmas shopping, or it's super cold outside so I'm obligated to sit on the couch and eat popcorn all day.

Mr. Covey's book was a serious wake-up call for me. I am living a reactive life. Contrary to what I think about myself, the facts don't lie. I am not prioritizing what is important. I'm only getting around to them. So what is the practical solution? What's the take-away? How do I stop being this flimsy Mrs. Wishy Washy type person?

Covey suggests planning our weeks instead of planning our days. It's so simple! The strategy is to first write down everything that is a priority after spending time reflecting on what you deeply value. This reflection is key. If you haven't taken the time to identify and write down or verbalize what's important to you, how can you prioritize it in your life?

This chapter began by asking "What one thing could you do, that if you did on a regular basis, would make a tremendous positive difference in your personal life?" Naturally, I thought of a dozen things. Eventually I narrowed it down to one spiritual and one physical goal to add to my routine. I then went straight to my planner and scheduled those things into the next week with specific times and dates. I put first things first. My week, my time, was reflective of my deepest values, not things that just so happened to come up.

Every other aspect of my day can be scheduled around these important things. Throughout 2013 a major frustration of mine was always feeling like I was forgetting something important. I am hoping this positive change in habit will rid me of that nagging feeling.

Here are some of my personal priorities that should be scheduled before all else:

  • personal Bible study
  • daily devotions
  • writing blog posts or book chapters
  • one phone call each week to a friend
  • working out several times per week
  • cooking nutritious meals
  • weekly family budget meetings
  • quality time with my husband
  • reading with my daughter
  • connecting with parents I teach or coach

Naturally, these priorities will vary from person to person depending on your living situation, your job, and your personal preferences.

If you actually get the chance to read through this powerful book, the chapter on Habit 3 has many more practical tips and thought-provoking questions to help you plan your weeks and days to meet your needs. Dave Ramsey always says to be the master of your money, not a slave to your money. I think the same thing goes for our habits and priorities. If we don't schedule our priorities, we will be subject to things that come up or happen to us.

I think Covey's main point of this chapter was to say that when we are in tune with our own values and priorities, and our habits and actions reflect them, we begin to live a more effective and meaningful life.

what is…time?

When I was young, my parents called me Lightning. The epithet was meant to be ironic; I was anything but swift as a child. It was not my athleticism they referred to, but rather my deliberate manner. I could not be rushed. Everything would be done in its own time.

I still maintain a propensity for leisure, but alas! I am a polychronic person living in a monochronic culture. I am expected to be on time, even early! Deadlines are absolute, and no one wants to hear my reasoning or excuses for being 10 minutes late. Even if they did, I'm not sure 'getting lost in my own thoughts' or 'I ran into a friend!' would be counted as passable reasoning. As a responsible adult, it is important for me to comply with my culture's view on time.

There is no right or wrong way to view time. It is a personal and cultural preference. Some view time as a valuable commodity to be spent, saved, killed, or wasted. Others don't think much about time at all, but rather focus on relationships and big-picture objectives. I have found it beneficial to be aware of what my own view on time is, in order to avoid misunderstandings and to compensate when it comes to job interviews, work or school deadlines, and transportation schedules.

No matter how one views time, I am of the opinion that we could all be less urgent. Urgency should be saved for emergency situations where time is of the essence. When you think of yourself as urgent, how does that look? I picture myself as being short with other people, failing to notice the beauty and blessings around me, clenching my teeth, tense shoulders, and an overall aura of unapproachability. It is physically and emotionally uncomfortable, and I never feel good about myself after urgent interactions with others.

When I find myself behaving this way, I try to picture a time in my life where time and pressure were the last things on my mind. I picture myself having a refreshing margarita after class on a sunny Friday afternoon in Quito, playing cards and chatting with new friends. I recall the salty air and long leisurely days of my honeymoon in Mexico. Those were moments when I was taking it all in, appreciating the details and relationships of my life.

Not every moment, not every job, not every lifestyle is conducive to ease and repose. But we always have the decision to act like we're on a beach vacation. Good mood, big smile, relaxed shoulders.

At some point during the school year, the clock in my classroom stopped working. When the students would ask halfway through class what time it was, I always responded, "What is…time?" Some laughed at the abstract question; others were, I'm sure, infuriated. I guess I never told them the time because I was so engaged in the lesson, and wanted the students to experience that same flow. To enjoy the class. To appreciate the opportunity to learn.

Anyway…I guess I'm late a lot of the time. I'm polychronic, I get lost in what I'm doing, I let interruptions distract me. Having to bundle a 6 month old for a Minnesota winter isn't helping me get out of the house "on time", either. It's something I know I have to work on.

Just know that if we plan on having coffee together at some point, I won't expect you to be "on time." Just don't expect me to be, either.