There’s No Trophy for Winning the Busy Race

busyraceThere was a time in my life when I took pride in the fact that I could do many things at once. I remember wearing my baby in a sling around my chest while bathing my other two children, making dinner and talking to my sister on the phone one night. All. At. The. Same. Time. I thought I was SuperMom!

How delusional was I? I don’t know when it started but somewhere in my early adulthood I adopted the belief that I needed to be busy at all times. And that accomplishing more “things” in a day was a sign of success. So I embraced the challenge and taught myself how to multi-task in an effort to win the “busy” race I had unintentionally entered.

Eventually, like most women, I learned the truth. That there is no trophy for winning the “busy” race. In fact, there’s not even a finish line to cross. The multi-tasking woman simply feeds on her own accomplishments and continues to get busier and busier until she falls apart.

And that’s what happened to me. I eventually fell apart. Physically, spiritually and emotionally. It wasn’t pretty, but it was the wake-up call I needed to drop out of the race and find some balance in my life.

If you’re like me, then you struggle to find balance because the edges of your different worlds collide all day long. You flip flop from your role as a mom or wife or friend to your role as a speaker or ministry leader or business owner. You go back and forth all day long, changing metaphorical hats more frequently that you check your email. You multi-task as a means of survival. It’s a dizzying existence. And exhausting!

For me, the solution has been setting boundaries. When I create boundaries around my time I gain a little bit of control and a lot of clarity. I can’t say I’ve achieved perfect balance – in fact, I’m probably still way too busy. But I’ve developed a few habits that help keep me on track: [Read more…]

The Art of the Graceful “No”

say no“No” is arguably the most powerful word in the dictionary. So why is it that we can’t seem to utter it when we need it most?

I suspect it has to do with guilt. Women are people pleasers by nature. So we say yes every time we’re asked to bake cupcakes or go on a field trip or teach Sunday school at the last minute. We also say yes when someone asks us to give away our products and services for free.

You know the routine. You reluctantly agree to oversee Vacation Bible School at church. And because you are a talented, hard-working woman, your team puts on the most organized and entertaining VBS ever. Then what happens? You are nominated to do it again the following year. And the year after that. And the year after that. This would not be a problem if you actually enjoyed it. But over time, your enthusiasm for the project diminishes and you’re left feeling obligated and resentful.

We bring this kind of torture on ourselves, you know. Nobody can force us to say yes in the first place. By saying yes and doing a great job, we establish a reputation as dependable and hard working. And this has the unwelcome side effect of attracting more “opportunities” to shine in the same way.

When we take on too many things, we don’t leave any space for ourselves. We don’t have any time to fulfill our life purpose. We don’t leave room to grow, to breathe and simply… to be. Imagine how it would feel to eliminate that one thing that is zapping all your personal energy right now! To freely and completely do what God is calling you to do without getting distracted by everyone else’s requests and expectations.

So, in the spirit of creating space in your life for growth and happiness, I hereby give you permission to say no to anything that no longer serves you and your family unless God has specifically called you to do it. Anything that is not truly in alignment with your values and goals. And the best part is that I’m going to give you some language to make it even easier the next time you need to say “No!”

7 Keys to Saying “No” With Grace

1. Be proactive: Most of the time, you know you need to say “no” to something or someone even before you are asked. Plan ahead by scripting out your response. Start by getting comfortable with a generic response you can adapt to different requests. Something like: “I’m working hard at spending my time on things that are the highest priority in my life right now. I’m trying to concentrate on just a few really meaningful activities and let other people step up to the plate. I’m really proud of myself for setting these boundaries and respecting my own limits because I’ve noticed it makes me more peaceful and leaves me with enough energy to enjoy my family.”

And – even better – you can prevent requests in the first place with a proactive statement such as: “I’m really looking forward to the children’s Christmas pageant! I’m not going to be able to lead the decorating committee this year but please feel free to have the new committee chair call me if she has any questions.” [Read more…]

Too Much of a Good Thing: Five of My Biggest Mistakes

Too much of a good thingSupposedly you can never be too rich or too thin. We all know that’s a lie.

But do you think it’s possible to be too kind? Or too generous? Too compassionate? Too hard working? Or too intelligent?

Unfortunately, there have been times in my life when I’ve realized this is most definitely possible. Let’s take a look at some of my lovely mistakes and find out if you have also experienced too much of a good thing in your life.

Too Much Service? Raise your hand if you’ve ever agreed to volunteer for something when you didn’t have the time for it. (Seriously, nobody’s looking – raise your hand if you want!) I’ve never met a mom who hasn’t made this mistake. It’s part of our natural tendency to serve. We agree to take on way more than we can handle.

Like the time I offered to help start a middle school youth group at church. Every Sunday afternoon I found myself holed up in the office planning the activities instead of spending time with my family. And on Tuesday evenings I had to hire a babysitter to drive my kids to sports practices that conflicted with the youth group meeting. The ironic thing was that my son, who was in middle school, could not even attend the meetings. I should have seen it but I was blind to the fact that my desire to SERVE others resulted in a willful neglect of my own family.

Do you have too much SERVICE in your life?

Too Much Philanthropy? My sister and I were just talking about this one – we pretty much buy whatever the kids in the neighborhood are selling. And we support charities whenever we are asked by our friends. Plus, we have our own charitable causes we choose to support as well as the church. So what’s the problem with being generous? It’s a problem when you are not a good steward of your finances.

Take for example the several years when I was making monthly contributions to three different charities on my credit card. I was spending $250 a month being philanthropic – yet I was carrying a balance on my credit card. I was paying interest on my charitable donations. I know. That’s completely irresponsible and ridiculous. But I did it. I did it for a few years before I woke up and made a change.

What about you? Are you being a good steward of your finances or do you have too much PHILANTHROPY in your life? [Read more…]