If you're an adult, chances are you have many priorities and it’s safe to say you stay busy. Balancing work, family, friends and “me” time can be challenging, and it can be really difficult to find a happy medium.
As a result of adulthood, a majority of us fall into a routine that prioritizes our career goals, and we end up sweeping our other hopes and dreams under the rug to be dealt with in our "spare" time. That poses one big problem – “spare time” is hard to come by. So what do we do?
It’s about actively seeking out balance. Balance is so important, regardless of your professional or personal situation. The stress that comes from having a full schedule of activities and responsibilities that don’t align with your passions can wear even the strongest person down. If I'm doing something I'm passionate about, I can do it for long periods of time. I love Uber driving and I have driven close to 300 miles and 12 hours before in a day; heading home sleepy because it's 3:30am--but not mentally tired. Take me shopping at IKEA and I'm ready to go home within minutes--tired, feet hurt, get me away from this! LOL
Do you find yourself spending too much time on tasks you don’t love? It may be time to rethink your priorities and start balancing your life approach. It may not be perfect, but finding the almost perfect work-life balance will allow you to gain peace and less stresses in your life. In the past I failed at this by saying "yes" to just about anything asked of me, and volunteering for several things. At one point my schedule was so packed of things to do--I didn't have 20 minutes to cut my lawn. I was working 6 days a week, coaching baseball, volunteering in two areas at church, watching my son play baseball or practice 6 days a week. I hired out that lawn cutting job and my inlaws cut it for me while I stayed on the go-go-go. Eventually my breakdown came.
Just doing these four simple things will help free up the time you need to pursue your passions and do the things that make you happy:
1. Define what's important. What values are most important to you? Maybe you aren't making the connection "balance to value", but this is the most important step! Once you know your values, it's easier to determine priorities, it's easier to know what to say yes and no to. Knowing your values will make it easy to determine priorities for your time, money and energy.
2. Set boundaries. Boundaries are to protect ourselves from getting hurt, overwhelmed, over-committed, etc. I've had to set boundaries because I was doing more for those outside my home than I was for those inside my home. I also was there for others, but didn't have time for Chris. I've come to know the truth: I am an important responsibility. I need to say no to good things so that I can say yes to the best things. With boundaries will come balance--saying no to things that don't fit with your values and top priorities will lesson frustration, bring more peace, free up more time and freedom.
3. Say 'no'. If you are like me, saying no feels hard. When I started saying it, I had thoughts of "I hope they aren't upset, will they still be a client...Saying no gets easier the more you say it. Saying 'no' is saying yes to something else, that something else that aligns with your values. You only have so much time in a day, week, life.
4. Arrange your actions with your values. Our stress and imbalances are mostly caused by spending energy on things that aren't in line with our values. Once you get good at or used to setting strong boundaries, saying "no" to things that don't align with your priorities---is putting your needs first. When you do this, you'll feel fulfillment and balance.
Evaluating these four four factors will help refocus and bring contentment. Finding your balance can make normal days feel great and stressful times manageable.
Have you set any goals for 2017 yet? If not, there is still plenty of time! It's never too late for goal setting, I'd argue. This year I have set goals in the areas of: spiritual, finance, family, social, physical, and mental.
As I shared in an earlier post, setting and remaining focused on goals in something I have not been good at, or made a priority. I have gone with the flow, aiming at nothing, no real purposeful living. And research shows that is 97% of Americans. This year I am hoping to join the 3% of focused, intentional, purposeful living.
Here are a few nuggets on doing this:
•Specific: What is the specific goal you’re trying to accomplish? Be specific! Example: "I want to pay off $10,000 in debt" is better than "I want to pay on some debt".
•Measurable: measure your success along the way. Am I paying enough each day•week•month towards debt? Where else can I save? What adjustments, if any, are needed?
•Action steps: what small steps are needed to help me achieve the goal? Whatever our big goals are--there may need to be daily actions towards hitting the goal---so new habits are being formed. Sharing this nugget from a recent Davy Ramsey episode: If you want to pay off X-amount of dollars of debt this year, daily steps: what can I sell? What can I put on eBay, Craigslist, garage sale sites that will generate income to go towards debt? If my goal is to pay off $10,000 in debt, that's $27.40 a day. If I have $27.40 to spend in my bank account today--pay on something! Then tomorrow do it again!
•Support: who do I need to help me with this goal?
A manager, co-workers, friends, or family. Make sure you are aware help is needed, then contact them. When contacting them: share your goal and then ask them for help.
•Timing: some goals are short term, while others are long term. Long term goal: I want to lose 50 pounds this year. Short term: I want to loose 5 pounds by the Super Bowl.
•Having a life of consistency is difficult until the new habits are formed (3 weeks+).
•Hitting goals takes a plan and strict discipline. By the way, though it's good for us, most people don't like discipline. I know I don't. But God disciplines us and He is good, so discipline isn't bad. An example of having a plan and strict discipline: if my goal of 2017 is to do prayer and healthy reading before I touche my phone or computer, I have to take steps to help me be successful. I learned if I don't pray and read before I touch my phone or computer--it won't get done. I see things I need to do for work, people I need to call, now I'm responding to text messages. My wife is reminding me of this evenings gathering, so I tell myself, "I better get moving". So maybe I purchase an alarm clock so my phone isn't the alarm and thus an easy temptation for me. I put my phone and computer away at night and mentally I tell myself: "God first or he doesn't even come in last--He doesn't even get acknowledged period". I know that if I don't pray and read first--it won't get done.
•Most people float through life, instead of creating their life. Most people don't have goals and remain focused on them (97%). The ninety-seven-percent do what they "have to do"--work, school, react and rarely commit, watch tv, go to bed. i want more!
•Goals are to be where we see them constantly. This serves as accountability and a reminder of what's important to ourselves and who we want to become.
•If we acknowledge we have failed on a goal, begin the next day. Example: I failed to read and pray today. We aren't perfect, give ourselves grace and get back on the road tomorrow.
•Use phone alerts & sticky notes to remind ourselves of goals & steps to hit goals. Example: daily phone alert--can I pay $27.40 towards debt today? Sticky note: list something for sale before dinner today.
•Reward yourself briefly, then get back at the goal. An absolute strict year isn't going to be rewarding to our souls and likely won't last. Two ways of setting your reward: #1 a time line--I will abstain from dining out & shopping for 60 days, then I will reward myself with a girls day out. #2 a focused goal--I will pay off $5000 in debt before I book my next vacation.
•Do away with distractions. Goals and being focused on them will help us become more purposeful. Yes, we still need a life, yes we still need relationships, church attendance, to be serving, a day of rest, etc. However, it's also ok to say "no" to things that may keep us or distract us. You want that $27.40 to go towards debt today--tell the coworker no to lunch.
•Goals take sacrifice. They may cost money, time, effort, sleep, energy, relationships. Depending on what your goals are, they could cost you each of those things. Goals aren't easy, if they were easy--more than 3% of America would do them. Anything worth having is hard work.
"Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty. I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well." -Theodore Roosevelt
Thanks for reading!
When our health is fading away and death appears closer to our door step---there are going to be two things we'll care about: Faith and Relationships. Where do I stand with God and how are my relationships with family and maybe a few close friends?
Being a great parent is one thing we will reflect on most as we prepare to leave this world. I have read articles that interviewed people in the season. I also got to experience that in 2016, when my step father knew death was around the corner, he and I talked. From his hospital bed he said on those lonely nights when it's just him there he reflects on parenting, his relationships: do they know how much I love them? Did I tell them often enough? Have I apologized for the things I said and wrongful actions I did?
"Parenting With A Purpose" is an opportunity to have some questions to share with our age appropriate children in order to help us parent with a purpose. If you don't feel your children are mature enough yet, save them for when the time comes. I like to save things in either a note app, or I will create an email to myself and save it there. In my email I put keywords like: parents, children and questions, so when I do a search in my email--wala! Also, be creative--come up with your own digging questions or change the words around to mine. There's no wrong way to do it, besides not doing it. Communication between parents and their children is important in building & maintaining a loving and productive relationship. Children are like all people--they need to feel they have influence. Parenting with a purpose will promote that feeling, along with allowing our children to be heard and know their feelings are being considered. For parents, feedback is important. I know that I can say and do things, oblivious to how they are impacting Luke for the good and also how they hurt or frustrate him.
For my 17 year old son, this will be difficult for him. Therefore, I give him plenty of time (1-2 weeks) and I need to gently explain that we both know I can always improve in the area of parenting and these questions are to help me be a better parent. While these questions may be difficult, answering them helps me and benefits you. And who doesn't want a better parent and who doesn't want to be a better parent?
Parenting With A Purpose Questions:
1. What could I do to make you feel more loved?
2. If you were writing a mission statement for our family---what would you want the mission statement to be? Meaning, the 3 of us were tragically hit by an asteroid--how do you want us to be remembered by those left behind?
3. How can I better meet your needs? (emotional needs, spiritual needs, physiological needs, safety needs, love/belonging needs, esteem needs.)
5. When you and I spend quality time together, how would you like to spend that time together? (Examples: bowling, Xbox, fishing, biking, playing musical instruments or reading a book together.)
6. What trait/characteristic would you like for me to develop or get better at?
7. What characteristic would you like me to help you develop?
8. What are some things you'd like to see us as a family complete in the next 6-12 months?
9. My Mom/Dad would be more Christlike if _______.
10. Describe a perfect day for you? Share one or more scenarios--just you, you and me or all three of us, you and friends, etc.
11. If you could change one thing about our family, what would it be?
12. What is one thing you value most in our family?
13. Looking ahead to the day you leave home, what are some things you want to be sure we have shared with you before that happens? Or what are some things we can teach you, show you, expose you to? Examples: going through Dave Ramsey's financial class, changing a tire, mission trip.
15. What do you like us doing together? (Either me and you or as a family.)
16. What would you like to do together in future, including me and Mom?
17. What overwhelms you?
18. If you could ask your parents to pray one thing for you, every single day, what would it be?
19. What are some of your greatest hopes?
20. What do you want to be remembered for?
21. Anything else you'd like to add that hasn't been covered?
Thanks for reading!
This time of the year, it's popular to reflect on where we are, what want to accomplish, where we want to go over the next year. We may look at our health, relationships, career and other areas of our lives. If we are really serious about improvement, we will set some goals and establish a plan to move forward.
Goal setting helps us decide what we want to do, which leads to who we want to become. Willow Creek Senior Pastor Bill Hybels has said more than twice that our schedule should reflect who we want to become, instead of what we want to do. Goals also help us seperate whats important from what's irrelevant, or a distraction. Goals also help motivate ourselves, family, teams. They buld confidence as successful achievement in hitting goals happens.
Ever heard the phrase: "If you will aim at nothing--you will hit it every time"? I heard that line almost 11 years ago now. While I agree with it's meaning heartadly, I like the other 97% of the population has spent a lot of time aiming at nothing. In 2016 I made conquering my mountain of anger my priority, my focus. Thank God I maintained that goal for the year. I now know that it's not a one year thing, but rather a life long process...so that goal continues. This year I'm doing something different. Instead of having one thing to focus on or like most years--not having goals at all, I have made out goals and plan to spend 2017 focused on hitting those goals.
Studies show that homes earning $250,000 and more in America is about three percent (2.7%) of the population in America. Thats husband and wife togther, either one working or both working. Now, check this: three percent of people who make goals earn more than the 97% of the population combined. So, if you took all the paychecks of the 97% of those homes not making $250,000 or more, and you added all their paychecks up--they are still less than the top three percent. Can we see how big of a part "goals" likely plays in the part of top income earners?
Now, maybe you are like me and don't have a desire to become super wealthy. I enjoy making money and enjoying the fruits that come with it, but I also enjoy my time, freedom and family more. I'm not an "all out to obtain wealth" kinda guy because in most causes: more money means more commitment, more time in career and less of family and experiences. While I can admire succussful stories of those that climb to the top, I don't want to put in what it takes to get there, at the scarifice of the other things I currently enjoy. However, I do think it's wise to follow actions of those that have success. If you want to be an athlete--you must do what athletes do, if I want to be be debt free--I must do what debt free people do. If your goal is to become wealthly, then you will likely want to write out goals that will help you get there. Even if that isn't a goal, and for 97% of us--it isn't going to happen, we still need to have goals.
When making my goals out for 2017 I rememberd Pastor Bill Hybel's advice: "your calendar and goals should reflect who you want to become." I read over them a second and third time, asking myself "Does this help who I want to become or is this something I want to do". The areas I wrote goals out for are: Finance, Family, Social, Physical, Mental and Spiritual. Obviously, you want to customize your goal setting areas for you. For ideas, a simple google will help you with ideas on where to possibly set goals and also some goals to have.
Here are a few simple guildlines for goal setting:
1. Focus your efforts. Set one, two or three goals at a time for each area. When you hit one of your goals to that area, add another goal.
2. Be realistic. Setting unrelastic expecations only set us up for failure and disappointment. Make goals that are attainable goals. If you don't read your Bible reguarly now, I wouldn't set a goal to read all of it in two months. Instead reading it 3-5 times per week is more realistic.
3. Include stradegies. Develope baby steps or stepping stones that help move you towards your goals. If one goal is to lose 25 pounds, determine how you will do that. How often will you exercise? What will you do to count calories? When will you exercise (morning or night)?
4. Create manageable steps. Break down your overall goal into a series of smaller goals that are doable and will lead to success. If you wish to pay off $12,000 in debt....that means you need to pay off $1000 a month, $230 a week, or just shy of $33 a day.
Three desires essential to a woman's heart, which are not entirely different from my man's and yet they remain distinctly feminine. Not every woman wants a battle to fight, but every woman yearns to be fought for. Listen to the longing of a woman's heart: she wants to be more than noticed----she wants to be wanted. She wants to be pursued. "I just want to be a priority to someone," a friend and her 30s told me. And her childhood dreams of a knight in shining armor coming to rescue her are not girlish fantasies, they are the core of a feminine heart and the life she know she was made for.
Every woman also wants an adventure to share. One of my wife's favorite films is "The Man from Snowy River". She loves the scene where Jessica, the beautiful young heroine, is rescued by Jim, her hero, and together they ride through horseback through the Australian wilderness. Another female friend says, "I want to be cherished, pursued, fought for--yes. But also I want to be strong and a part of the adventure." So many men make the mistake of thinking that the woman is the adventure. But that relationship immediately goes downhill. A woman doesn't want to be the adventure; she wants to get caught up into something greater than herself. I know myself and I know I'm not the adventure. So when a man makes me the point, I grow board immediately. I know that story. Take me into one I don't know."
And finally, every woman wants to have a beauty to unveil. Not to conjure, but to unveil. Most women feel the pressure to be beautiful from very young, but that is not what I speak of. There is also a deep desire to simply and truly be the beauty, and be delighted in. Most little girls remember playing dress up, or weeding day, or "twirling skirts", those flowing dresses that were perfect for spinning around in. She'll put her pretty dress on, come into the living room and twirl. What she longs for is to capture her daddy's delight. My wife remembers standing on top of the coffee table as a girl of five or six, singing her heart out. "Do you see me?" ask the heart of every girl. "And are you captivated by what you see?" she wants to know.
The world kills a woman's heart when it tells her to be tough, efficient, and independent. Sadly, Christianity has missed her heart as well. Walk into most churches in America, have a look around, and ask this question: What is a Christian woman? Again, don't listen to what is said, look at what you find there. There is no doubt about it. You'd have to admit a Christian woman is tired. All we've offered the femininine souls is pressure to "be a good servant." No one is fighting for her heart; there is no grand adventure to be swept up in; and every woman doubts very much that she has any beauty to unveil.
book "Wild at Heart"
Thanks for reading! I feel we can each learn from this blog post!
Chris & Jenn live in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. They were high school sweethearts, marrying in 2001. They are parents to one son, Luke (born November 1999) and two loving pups: Miley & Elsie.