Review, refresh, and recommit

I read recently that most people give up on New Year’s resolutions by mid-February.

I don’t think of us—that’s you and me!—as resolution-setters in the traditional sense, but I know many of us spend time in December and January thinking about what we want the coming year to hold, so I think this applies to us as well.

It’s pretty easy to dream big when thinking about all that a new year could hold, but as we move away from the shiny excitement of that planning and dreaming phase, we often start feeling…discouraged or unmotivated.

The more disconnected you feel from your goals, dreams, and plans, the less likely you are to work toward them.

And as you continue to lose steam, you then get discouraged about yourself—which means you’re even more unlikely to do the things necessary to move forward with your dreams and plans.

So I say let’s celebrate being past the mid-February slump by reviewing, refreshing, and recommitting*. Here's how.

Get all your dreams and plans into one place.

Pull out anything you wrote down or mapped out—a list of goals, a word of the year, a plan of how you saw the year unfolding, a quote you put on your wall to inspire you.

Read through it all.

Do this with an open mind and heart. Don’t immediately get discouraged by what hasn’t come true yet or what you haven’t taken action on. Imagine that you’re coaching someone else and you’re simply gathering information about what they have in mind. No judgment; just review.

Write down your victories.

Start from a positive place. Write down all things you’ve done to work toward those dreams so far. Yes, the little things count—even surfing Pinterest for inspiration. Moving in the right direction doesn’t always look like taking major, life-changing steps. Sometimes a good Pinterest session is the right place to start.

Now look at everything honestly.

What’s still relevant? What can you let go of? What needs to be changed? Try to balance that coaching-someone-else-objectively feeling against the whoa-I’m-so-excited-by-all-the-shiny-possibilities feeling. The most realistic and sustainable plans will come somewhere in the middle of those two!

Simplify whatever you can.

At the beginning of the year, I had a clear picture of many things I wanted out of this year. But I got too specific, breaking everything down into a bunch of different categories. I recently went back in and realized that I could simplify everything down into about five areas, which I feel much better about looking at on a regular basis. Too much detail can be overwhelming!

Take some sort of action!

After we had Nathan, I read over and over that sleep begets sleep. Well, I also think action begets action. So take action now. Schedule time to work on some of your plans, or jot down ideas that came up as you were doing this exercise, or do a little research that feels fun—get going and do your best to keep the momentum going!

Repeat this process as often as you need. Signs that it might be time:

  • You start feeling a little fuzzy about your vision.

  • You start feeling unmotivated or uninterested in what you’re working toward.

  • You start spending a lot more time scrolling through Instagram, feeling a little aimless.

  • You start sketching out all new plans…instead of following the ones you’ve already made.

It's never too late in the year to review your dreams, refresh your plan, and recommit to what you want! 

I’d love to hear what comes out of your review, refresh, and recommit session. You can do this!

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Gaining a Little Perspective

One of the themes I’ve been noticing lately—in conversations with you, in conversations with myself, in the things I’ve been listening to or paying attention to—is the idea of balance.

(I know, I know, it’s talked about a lot. But hear me out.)

I’m noticing that when we finish a particularly busy workday, we think, Ugh. I didn’t exercise or do my morning pages today, and I missed a call from a good friend. My life is totally out of balance. Or when we get to the end of a week where we concentrated mostly on client work, we think, Oh no, I didn’t send out an email this week and I didn’t spend any time on business growth. Everything is way out of balance.

But I’m starting to believe we’re measuring balance on the wrong scale.

I’ve been listening to I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time by Laura Vanderkam (who also wrote What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast and 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think). She did a study of how women spend their time and I Know How She Does It is all about what she learned.

I won’t get deep into details, but one of her conclusions is that we should measure balance weekly instead of daily. Maybe you have a couple of really busy days, but they let you have the entire weekend totally free from work—and if you look at the week as a whole, that might feel pretty darn good after all.

So let’s look at that busy day as an example. Yes, you skipped exercising, didn’t write your morning pages, and missed a call from a friend. But later on in the week, maybe you went for a longer run, sat in a coffee shop for an hour and wrote to your heart’s content, and met that same friend for a leisurely brunch. When you look at the week as a whole, do you feel like your life is out of balance? I’m guessing not—or at least not as much. You still got to do the things that were important to you—you just didn’t do them all in one day.

But I think you could pull back even further. Let’s look at that client-heavy week. Yes, you skipped sending out an email and didn’t focus on growing your business. But maybe in the same month, you sent out two well-written, well-received emails that gained you a new dream client and then sat down for a several-hour planning session for a new ecourse you want to create. When you look at the month as a whole, do you feel like everything is out of balance? I’m guessing not—or at least not as much. You still did the things that were important to you—just not all in one week.

Really, what we’re talking about here is perspective.

Many of us have mapped out our ideal day, and I love this exercise. It’s a beautiful way to look at what you truly find important and what makes you happy. But I think that where we fall down is thinking we can always do those things every single day.

For example, I would love to be able to meditate, stretch, exercise, write morning pages, take a walk, and hang out on the couch with a cup of tea reading a book that helps me grow—every single day. But realistically, at the pace I typically move and with the other things I have going on, doing all that would take more hours than I usually have. (And with a baby on the way, those hours are going to shrink even more.)

For a long time, I felt like my day was a failure if I didn’t check all those boxes. But what I’m coming to realize is that if I get to the end of a week and I’ve done each of those things, say, two to three times, I feel pretty darn good—meaning my body and mind feel taken care of and I feel like my life is pretty good.

But I only get those good feelings when I stop trying to force myself to do more than is realistic in one day (or even one week). And if I do have a day where I manage to do all of those things and still get all my other responsibilities taken care of, I have something to celebrate—rather than letting that super nice day get ruined by all the other “failures” around it.

So what do you do if things feel out of balance?

Take a step back. Imagine zooming out on a map of your time. Look at bigger windows of time. How are things going on a weekly basis? Monthly?

And then think about how that bigger view makes you feel. Are you ok with things the way they are? What changes would you make?

Maybe you decide, for example, that you want to write every day (even if just for ten minutes) but that you’re happy exercising three days a week. Or maybe you decide that you’ll have a marathon reading session once a week, and be content with ten or fifteen pages before bed other days. Or maybe decide you want to do a month packed with client work followed by two weeks of content creation, business growth, and other internal projects before firing up a busy client month again.

Or maybe you simply realize you're in a busy part of your life right now (new baby, new business, big move, hard personal things happening) and you just let go of some of the expectations you've been placing on yourself.

Just remember that you’re the one who gets to decide what balance looks like for you.

I would love to hear what balance looks like for you!

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On Making Time (whether for Explore or for something else entirely)

Time. It’s a beautiful gift—but sometimes it feels like the enemy, right?

I love how careful many of us are being with our time these days. But even though we guard it preciously, we still often feel like those minutes and hours are slipping through our fingers and we are left wondering where they went.

If time feels like a struggle for you right now (whether it’s holding you back from signing up for Explore—the last day to sign up is Thursday!—or it’s getting in the way of other big dreams), I want to offer a few suggestions:

Hop on over to, enter your email address, and start unsubscribing.

I'm sure you hear this advice a lot. But do you actually take it? It can make a huge difference.

Scroll through that list of things you're subscribed to, and be honest with yourself as each name comes up. Do you remember signing up for this newsletter? When was the last time you opened one of these emails? Is this something you need in your life right now?

If there are things you know you’ll want later on, make a document of them—you can always resubscribe later! But if you can reduce the number of emails coming at you each day, you might find you have a bit more breathing room.

Make friends with the filter feature in your email.

Now let’s go a step further. I don’t know about you, but the only emails I want in my inbox are the ones I need to read now. That doesn’t include newsletters (as much as I love the ones I subscribe to). Set up a folder (or several if you want to get all segment-y) for newsletters. Then as they come in, take a moment to filter them—so that they skip your inbox and go straight to one of your new folders. Then you can check them out when you have time and they’ll stop pulling on your attention. Do the same for any other updates that are important…but not urgent (I’m looking at you, social media notifications) and start breathing easier.

Make one big to-do list and then put things in order of importance.

My brain has been spinning with all the things I want to do to plan for the New Year—and it was making me crazy. Then I finally sat down, wrote them out, decided how much time I thought each would take, and then put them in the order I wanted to do them. I suddenly felt like I could handle it—because I could see it. Do this with all your to-do’s or just one project, but either way, make sure you know what you’re committing to—and know you can do it!

Take a walk.

I know, this one seems like it would take time rather than make it. But the thing is, when you go out for a walk, you can use that time to make connections, see patterns, and all that good stuff—things you struggle to do when you’re sitting in front of your computer (there's just too much distraction). Whenever I feel stuck, I write about why I feel stuck (to make sure I feel clear on the details) and then take a lap around the block. Every single time, I come back with a decision made, an idea that feels a bit more solid, or a fresh perspective on something that previously had me feeling stuck. So try sitting down for ten or fifteen minutes and mapping out something you’re struggling with—and then taking a walk. You may just find you have a little breakthrough, and that you do it in less time.

So there you go! Four ways to give yourself the gift of time—and space, and freedom, and breathing room. (They all go hand in hand.)

And I’d be honored if you decided to spend a little of that time with me in January. You already know about Explore, so I’ll just remind you that Thursday, December 17 (at 5pm Central to be precise), is the last day to sign up. If you've already joined in, I'm super excited to do this with you!