I know that I’m one of the lucky ones. (And when I say lucky, I mean fortunate.)
I have a career I love, one with purpose and meaning and serves God in a way I was created for, people I love working with, and enough income to not stay up late at night worrying about how we are going to pay the bills (most nights, that is).
But let’s be clear… my life was not always this way.
I spent most of my twenties and thirties living paycheck to paycheck, in a job that had no potential, loving some of my coworkers but barely tolerating some of the people I worked with.
Some of that was just finding my place in the world – it’s what a lot of 20 and some 30-year-olds do. But part of it was not really believing I could be successful in what I wanted to do in my life. It was easier (and safer) to just do the day to day and survive instead of having a hope for a better, more successful future.
When did things finally begin to turn around for me? Was it a job promotion or a new opportunity?
No – it was a planner.
It was a simple, paper planner that, for the first time, I actually used to plan what I was going to accomplish instead of using it like a calendar.
I started to write down my dreams and started turning those into goals.
And this is what I’ve noticed with every successful woman I’ve ever worked with:
Most of them have great teams of people.
Most of them get up early to attack their day.
Most of them have supportive family and friends to encourage them.
But all of them take time away from their crazy, busy, jam-packed days to pull back and plan for what they want.
How to Pull Back and Plan
I call it Pull Back Planning because I have to be intentional about pulling back from my regular life and setting that time aside to plan for my day, my week, my month, my year, and yes, my whole life.
Each day, before I end work, I take a look at what is coming tomorrow to see what I need to plan for, pray for and do. I apply the same principle to my week, month and year.
I love what Dave Ramsey says about budgets: “A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.” It’s the same with a planner – a planner will help you tell your time where it goes instead of wondering where it went.
Proverbs 16:3 (NIV) says:
“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.”
I love that verse. But we have to know what we are planning to do in order to pray about it and commit it to God.
I want to give my readers the opportunity to try this out.
My favorite planner this year is Valorie Burton’s The Successful Woman Planner. I love the motivating, clarifying quotes placed throughout the week-at-a-glance page layout, and that Valorie (one of the most successful women I know) has shared her wisdom throughout those pages. It is my go-to planner for 2019.
In order to be entered to win a copy of Valorie’s planner and a $50 gift card to Office Max, simply comment below and tell us the next step to success you want to take.
Offer open to US residents only.
Deadline to enter: January 30, 2019.
A bestselling author and Certified Personal and Executive Coach who has served clients in over 40 states and eight countries, Valorie Burton has written nine books on personal development, including Successful Women Think Differently and Happy Women Live Better. She is the founder of The CaPP Institute, providing tools and training that build resilience, well-being, and productivity for life and work.
She has been a regular contributor on CNN, HLN, and the Today show, where she gives practical career and life advice. She has also been featured in and on The Dr. Oz Show, NPR, Oprah Radio, Ebony, Essence, “O” The Oprah Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, LA Times, and hundreds of others. Valorie’s corporate clientele includes multi-million dollar businesses such as Accenture, Black Entertainment Television (BET), Deloitte, General Mills, McDonalds Corp., and many more.
Join 25,000 subscribers to her weekly e-newsletter at www.valorieburton.com and visit her company site at www.cappinstitute.com.
I’m so excited for you to meet my next friend, Glynnis Whitwer. She is part of Proverbs 31 and is the author of Taming the To-Do List (she is a woman after my own heart.) When I go to Arizona, Glynnis and I get together over food (lots of food) and talk about keeping life simple and beautiful. Today, you get the same opportunity by reading her post. And be sure to head over to her blog to enter to win a copy of her book!
Some people love Christmas and look forward to it all year. Me? I love the reason for Christmas … but the extra work required? Not so much.
Although Christmas should be a season of pausing and pondering, rejoicing and revering, it can turn into just one more thing on my overloaded to-do list. It’s so easy for me to lose the beauty of the season in the bedlam of an overloaded schedule.
And that’s not God’s wish for me.
I’m confident God longs for me to use this season of joy as an opportunity to connect with Him in a deeper way and to connect with others as we celebrate the birth of Jesus together. Christmas is a time to remember Emmanuel, God with us. And my heart and home need to be prepared for this Special Guest.
But without a plan, my heart will struggle. I’ll feel resentment at the added expectations. I’ll feel frustration at the extra time shopping takes. I’ll feel stressed when other people are stressed, and then I can add to the tension with my out-of-proportion reactions.
I don’t want to be the Grinch! I want to be a woman who reflects God’s love and grace, especially when others might be feeling the pinch of the season.
Even though it can feel a bit overwhelming, it is possible to minimize, or even eliminate, many of the practical challenges of Christmas. And when there’s order at the foundation of my life, my heart is lighter and I can laugh rather than cry when something goes wrong. I can also take advantage of opportunities that only come around this time of year.
But while some people can spontaneously make all this peace and joyfulness happen, I need some intentionality to bring about special moments and experiences.
I’ve discovered I don’t need a fancy planner or app to help bring some order to my life at Christmas. All I need is some quiet time to think and some paper or a computer to create my lists.
Christmas is a time when there’s more required of us. And lists help me keep track of all the things I want to remember. They help me prepare in advance so I can enjoy the moment. They help me think through gift giving so everyone doesn’t get a mug. They help me plan events where I can show the love of Jesus.
A good way to keep track of all your lists is a Christmas notebook. This is something you can easily create digitally or with a 3-ring binder, tabbed inserts and paper. You could also pick up a pretty journal and keep your lists there.
Next, grab a hot cup of coffee, your notepad or computer, and find a quiet place. It’s good to start with prayer, asking God what He wants for you. Let Him bring to mind people who need to be remembered, lessons you want to teach your children, maybe a lesson you need to learn. Lists don’t have to contain things to do. They can also be personal and spiritual goals.
Then, think through what would make this Christmas special for you and your family. What are your hopes? Once you’ve thought about it, invite your family into the discussion. Capture these ideas on your lists.
Here are some other lists you might consider making:
Gifts for others
Books to read
Stocking stuffer ideas
Outreaches you want to do (Ex. Operation Christmas Child)
Menus for special dinners
Holiday events to attend
Decorations you need to buy
Traditions you want to remember
Cookies you want to bake
People you want to connect with
Now that you have a fabulous start to your lists, keep them handy so you can add to them. But don’t let all those wonderful ideas stay on a list. The final step is to transfer some of them to your schedule. Just do what you can do this year, and save other ideas for next year.
Don’t worry about doing any of this perfectly. The goal isn’t to have a perfect Christmas. The goal is to be more intentional and to create a foundation where everyone will experience more peace and joy than stress.
Lists certainly aren’t the solution to every holiday challenge. But in a season when we tend towards overload, they are a good practice. And hopefully they’ll create some margin in your life so you can do more pausing and pondering, rejoicing and revering.
Looking for encouragement to help you recover from that pesky problem of perfectionism? Today’s featured book is Taming the To Do List. You can enter to win a signed copy by leaving a comment directly on Glynnis’ blog. PLUS, you’ll also be entered into the grand prize drawing for the Wrapped In Grace gift package: signed copies of all five of our books, a $100 Visa gift card, and a bunch of other fun goodies. All winners will be announced Saturday, October 24th at http://www.WrappedInGrace.info.
Glynnis Whitwer, executive director of communications for Proverbs 31 Ministries, is a regular contributor to Encouragement for Today, the Proverbs 31 email devotional. She is the author of I Used to Be So Organized, When Your Child Hurts, and work@home: A Practical Guide for Women Who Want to Work from Home, and the co-author of Everyday Confetti. Glynnis, her husband, Tod, and their five young adult children live in Arizona. She blogs regularly at http://www.glynniswhitwer.com.
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