Priority is something that you think is more important than other things and should be dealt with first (according to the Oxford Dictionary). I would add that priorities are also a very helpful guide (and should be the only guide!) to decide what to take on and what to schedule in when.
So how do you decide what your priorities are when there’s a multitude of important areas?
I think the best way to identify priorities is to reflect on your life vision and your current season in life.
You can also look at your Wheel of Life (I went into some detail about what it is and how I use it on my Facebook page Dec 2019-Jan 2020). I like to use these areas with my clients:
Another tip in setting priorities is to be quite specific. For example, if you say “My family is my priority”, I would challenge you to get more specific:
If you’d like to work with someone independent first to get clarity on your own priorities, I’d be happy to offer a couple of 60 min long sessions to support you. Just get in touch!
Remember - “Action expresses priorities” (Mahatma Gandhi).
I see way too often how women turn schedules into To Do lists: Endless To Do lists. Finding themselves pulled into multiple directions, everyone wanting a piece of them. They end up never feeling accomplished because there’s still stuff on the list.
How do you change that?
I’d like to share with you a 4 step method I have developed:
When you start planning with your priorities in mind (or even better on paper!), the process will help you ensure that things that make you happy and fulfilled don’t drop off the schedule. You will not forget something crucial. You will not miss what your priority is.
You may be wondering about two things now:
If you don’t want to wait and would rather end the To Do list overwhelm, get in touch - we can transform your planning and scheduling within just a few coaching calls!
Halfway of the NZ lockdown. Last couple of weeks have definitely brought a change, a somewhat abrupt and disruptive change. I've seen people adopt and promote mindsets about staying safe rather than stuck at home, taking advantage of the opportunity to be home with family more, and just enjoying slowing down and practicing gratitude. I've also seen people really struggle with all the uncertainty, anxiety, worries and real losses (including family members passing away). Because there are such extremes, I thought it would be most helpful to share my personal experience of how I'm staying present and empowered during this lockdown.
Before I get into it, I want to acknowledge and validate some people today:
• if you feel like you’re on a “staycation”, it’s ok to be where you are. We are all asked to stay at home and remain local.
• if you feel like you're in “crisis management” and you’re overwhelmed, it’s ok to be where you are. We are dealing with a global pandemic.
• if you’re somewhere in between the above, it’s ok to be where you are. We are all unique and have unique circumstances and unique ways of dealing with change.
• if you’re still not sure how you feel about it all and are just getting on with things (much like me), it’s ok to be where you are.
• if you’re an essential worker, I’m sure you will fall into one of the groups above - a heartfelt THANK YOU for your service amidst how you're feeling about the lockdown. You have made a huge difference to hundreds and thousands of people already. I pray for your health, safety and families every day.
My husband and I talked about the likelihood of the lockdown for weeks before it was announced. I felt prepared but I found myself not ready. Do you ever feel like that?
On the day of the lockdown I did contemplate (rather thought in panic!) that I should take the kids and go to my parents, because that would make it easier to look after the little ones and keep my work schedule. But I couldn’t do it because then my husband would be left alone in an empty home after serving people putting his health at risk, working amidst a lot of anxiety.
On day 1 of the lockdown, as usual, my husband left for work before kids and I woke up. And when I had to start the day it dawned on me that day 1 would largely repeat itself for the next 4 weeks. I did contemplate taking the kids to the beach, or the park, or... wherever! But no, the rules told me otherwise. And if I were to compromise, how would I teach my children integrity?
Day 2 I started wondering how I would continue to work with no childcare. My husband had more emergency planning meetings and was often late. I realised the most important thing would have to be a family / home environment that supports him because that would (at least should) help everyone.
Day 3 or so kids and I have started to have fun. And I only planned one new activity a day. Boredom is a creativity driver in my books. I reached out by text to most of my friends, particularly in the UK and the US, and those with family in Italy. I stayed up late that day to re-focus the 4 weeks ahead and it felt good.
Yet, Day 4 came. It was a Sunday. My husband went to work. My son woke up and asked if Grandma was coming, and tears came rolling down his cheeks when I said “no”. I felt like my world was crumbling as I started crying too feeling his pain, and then mine. I felt the weight. I felt the overwhelm. I felt how much I missed family and friends. I felt how much I was worried about my husband’s health (physical and mental as the stress levels at work were rising). I felt how upset I was about having so little time for work. I felt frustrated that my workouts were only half the usual time. I felt the anxiety about managing the household chores. I felt the pressure of doing more activities with the kids (my social media filled up with the amazing craft and learning activities which were out of reach for my boys due to their age gap). I felt the pressure to do video calls with family and friends and guilt because those calls could not happen in “social hours” with my kids around (we don’t do screen time so they just get upset when we’re on the phone for more than 2 min). I felt how I missed being by the ocean, or just getting out of the house. I felt it all.
What have you been feeling? What are you feeling now?
That acknowledgement of feelings was Step 1 of my personal method of staying present and empowered.
Step 2. Identifying what you are dealing with
For those of you who have been following me, you can look at your Wheel of Life. Write down everything that you’re dealing with: balancing working from home and caring for the kids; being social without seeing people; keeping to your usual routine; providing activities for the kids; facilitating your kids’ learning; dealing with challenges posed to your work / business; ensuring you keep on top of housework; finding time for self-care; maintaining your quiet time, prayer life, worship and Bible study in the absence of life group and church gatherings... List it all. Take time. Write out a master list of everything that's on your mind.
Step 3. Defining reality
Consider and accept that the lockdown is only a season. Yes, we don’t know how short or long it will be. But it will be only a season.
If this season has brought you losses, please allow yourself to grieve. You don’t need to compare your losses - some might have lost family members, some
- jobs, some may be really struggling spending so much time at home. Remember - you are unique. Your life and circumstances are yours. Attend to yourself. Take care of yourself. You will then be able to care for others.
Now it’s time to take a deep breath and move forward.
Step 4. Setting priorities
Ask “What is most important in this season? What is needed of me in this season? If you’re a believer, ask “What is God asking of me in this season?”
Listen. Hear it. Receive it. Accept it. Embrace it.
Look back at your list of everything you’re dealing with. What is important? What is helpful? What is needed of you? What are you grateful for?
What can you cross out? What can you re-prioritise? What can someone else get done for you? What can wait? What do you need to communicate to your family/work/friends?
I had to accept that April would no longer be the time to focus on growing my coaching practice and doing the annual Easter "spring clean". If I resisted accepting the change in the season, I'm pretty sure I would be very frustrated with the kids as well as my husband needing my attention, while I'd be willing to give my attention to other things. There is great peace in accepting reality.
In a nutshell, my priorities for the lockdown became:
• for my the boys to bond and enjoy playing together (I crossed out in my Master List creating new daily activities to stimulate my eldest)
• for me to stay loving, gracious and patient (I crossed out anxiety and worry - I acknowledge I feel these, but they won't run my life)
• for me to keep a happy home, and serve my existing and potential coachees (I crossed out extra house jobs as well as the launch of the female entrepreners group - these will have to wait).
I set specific goals under the priorities above using the Be-Do-Have-Serve model I shared with you a few days ago.
Weight off my shoulders.
Can you feel it lifting? Keep crossing things out until you feel it. It’s ok if you have just one thing left to focus on this season!
Step 5. Staying in the Now
How will you stay present? What do you need to let go of to be present? One day at a time. One thought at a time.
This is really about what goes on in our mind and with our emotions. I can't offer a one-fits-all solution, but I'll share what I do in the hope that you can find your unique way to ground yourself in the present.
I ask God and myself "What is today about?", "What's most important today? I do it the night before or first thing in the morning, and make quick notes in my daily organiser. When I try to be quiet in my head, usually a multitude of thoughts and tasks shows up. To clear my head, I write them down in my Projects or Master To-Do list (as relevant) without worrying about when I'll do these tasks. I aim for just 3 things to get done in a day. Just getting the 'clutter' out of my head enables me to focus on the now.
Step 6. Gaining the momentum
What will empower you to stay in the present and to focus on what's important only? What or who can support you?
There are many practices to empower yourself. Think about a time in your life when you have felt really empowered. What gave you that feeling? Sharing with someone, writing it down, visualizing, have a physical object as a reminder? Would it energise you to say / write what you’re thankful for? Would it focus you to have a daily routine of reading a particular scripture / meditation / inspirational quote? Would you get stronger and happier from just ticking things off your list?
I'm empowered by sharing with someone and having a visual reminder of what I’m committing to. Most often my visual is just my kids (they won’t leave my side at the moment) and my daily organiser. Nothing fancy, but enough to make me feel excited and purposeful throughout the day. Remembering - one day at a time, especially in the season of the lockdown.
I hope you find these seven steps helpful. I hope you will feel the weight lift off your shoulders and re-focus your attention on what's important. Reach out if you want to chat about the practice of staying present and empowered. I’d love to have you and your 'bubbles', as well as friends, thrive in this season!
Here are some pointers I hope to be of use for your business (whether you’re self-employed or have an employer) as you navigate the next 4 weeks:
1. Let’s think about Customers
- How can I bring value / serve my customers during the lockdown?
- When would it be best to check in with them to see how they are doing?
- When would it be appropriate to ask them how their business / job is going?
2. Let’s talk Strategy
- What will my ideal customer(s) be like after the lockdown?
- What will they need from my business/ me?
- How can I adapt / develop my products or services in preparation for the post-lockdown environment?
3. Let’s invest in Relationships
- Who can I build / strengthen / amend a relationship with to get my business back on track after the lockdown?
- Who can I partner with to enhance my product or service to come back ready and relevant to the market after the lockdown?
4. Let’s focus on Development
- What can I invest my time in to move myself and my business forward even in the uncertainty?
- What new skills will I / my team need after the lockdown? How can these skills be developed during this time?
5. Let’s maintain Productivity
- When are my naturally most productive hours? What do I need to put in place to keep this time for work?
- What are some admin things I have been putting off that I can tackle while the business is closed?
I've been thinking and praying about how I can serve you as a coach in these uncertain times. There's a lot of kindness and encouragement out there. There's also a lot of anxiety and change. One day at a time feels right to me. But I struggle taking a step without knowing where I am going. So I'd like to share with you a coaching exercise that has helped me re-focus the next 4 weeks.
Start with HAVE - that's effectively your goal(s). Work your way around to DO - actions you need to take. Move over to BE - this is really the key to how the next few weeks will be for you. SERVE - is about giving what and when you can. It is optional. Not everyone has the emotional, physical, mental capacity to give in uncertain times. It is there as an invitation for you to consider how serving others may help you feel less isolated in this time.
I really would love to be there to support you / your friends. However in absence of any childcare, I offer support via messages only, rather than a call. I will reply within 12 hours max! So please do get in touch. Feel free to share this post with your network to help someone who needs it!
Making room for God
Mark 4:19 (NIV) But the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.
Since getting married my husband and I have moved seven times. When we stayed in rental properties, I would dream about our own home and how I’d make it a beautiful place to create family memories, enjoy spending time in the evenings and weekends, and host family and friends. Once I heard someone talk about hosting the presence of God and so I intended for my home to be inviting for God too.
Fast forward to about 10 months of living in our own home and I realised I had little of what I’d dreamt of. I had spacious rooms with slightly off white walls, flowy curtains, and large windows letting in natural light. However even with our minimalist approach and post-decluttering, all that space very quickly got filled with essentials such as furniture, clothes, books, toys and a million little things always landing on my once empty and streak-free kitchen bench top (think pens, keys, mugs, unopened mail, magazines, broken toys, baby spoons and drink bottles...)
As a busy Mum of two I was finding it hard to make time for soaking in God’s presence. I bought devotionals recommended in various forums and I had my Bible handy but it didn’t create any more opportunities to meet with God or feel the presence of the Holy Spirit. That’s when it hit me: my dream for a peaceful and inviting space to create and enjoy, and host God’s presence, got choked by possessions taking up the space and distractions in the form of trying to keep on top of things.
Now, I love it that Jesus meets with us in the middle of our “mess”. It’s comforting to know that He can come into my kitchen full of dirty dishes and floors covered in spilled milk and bread crumbs, and just Be with me. I had to ask myself though “How is my home honouring God?”. I felt like the Holy Spirit didn’t have space to breathe in my house.
As a Life Coach, I often see my clients find inspiration and solutions when asked “Who has what you want”? Applying it to myself, I turned to Prov 31:27 “She watches over the affairs of her household”. Watches over. I felt like the word to me in that season was to clear and simplify our house so that there’s room and time for God.
Transforming these four areas freed up my mind and time:
1. creating functional spaces with few things carrying information noise, especially in the kitchen/dining which is a place where we all gather for most time
2. using vertical toy storage in containers and kid friendly book shelves
3. adopting cleaning routines (aka 15 min a day to a guest ready home)
4. organising To Do lists into a master list on an erase board on the inside of the pantry door.
Once there was space, I put and began to regularly rotate the Bible, prayer cards and devotionals (bonus - kids ask what these are when the new ones appear!). In the tidy and clutter free kitchen, I can make and share meals with the kids mindfully. A dedicated space for musical toys is inviting for the kids to praise and worship. In our bathroom I keep a wall calendar where I write my daily prayers for my husband most of which are said while I do my make-up. My current project is to have a “prayer wall“ - photos of the moments that signify miracles witnessed and prayer answered and of the people I pray for to be put on the inside of my wardrobe door.
I feel God’s presence is tangible in my home now. I hear His voice again. I freely sing songs of worship, and prayer flows easily. I believe it’s a combination of my heart’s desire, seeking God’s direction on which areas to transform and how to go about it, and pure faith that God’s word is true: “Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them” Exodus 25:8 (NIV).
Ever wonder why other people are so successful?
I must admit, it’s hard in this information / social media age, to not get caught up in how others’ lives look like. But here’s the thing. The key to YOUR success, or happiness, or fulfillment, is how YOU define it. What’s a success to me, may mean nothing to you. What’s true for all is that success fuels success. It’s just how we are wired. We chase the happy feeling!
In coaching we work out what success is to you at the very beginning. This means we design actions that you will WANT to take.
Remember - you are UNIQUE. So... how do you define YOUR success?
Cover some miles to gain territory
I absolutely love what I do. I’m excited for each coaching session just as if it were my first! I get excited when my coachee’s face lights up as they discover something that empowers them. But running a coaching practice requires admin tasks which I don’t enjoy. And I procrastinate! A lot.
To get myself into the “doing mode” I take a minute to remind myself of my big Why behind coaching and then I just do. And as I do, I get motivated, because even getting a single task done is moving me forward.
What do you need to get done right now to move forward in your territory?
Naps and productivity
My fellow Mums, do you ever do this - kids go for the midday nap at around the same time, so you have at least an hour when you can get stuff done. But you just get so excited and/or overwhelmed so you don’t know where to start? Please tell me I’m not the only one!
Happened today. My mind was like “shall I write down all the 2020 goals?”, or “shall I just have that chocolate biscotti with a hot (!!) drink?”, or “shall I finally watch a YouTube video on how to care for these orchids?”
In the end, thanks to my #resourcefulstate of being prepared, I looked at my To Do note for today. It was in the order of priority, and the first item wasn’t on my mind at all. I got done more than on that list because completing at least 3 things stimulates you to have another 5 done!
Feeling quite #fulfilled.
Toys and motivation
1am last night I was trying to understand why I hadn’t been able to write a single post in the last few days... Only just realised it’s because I have a big task that I just haven’t been able to get myself to do - rearranging my kids’ toys. It’s been taking up space in my mind and robbing me of energy. Do you know that feeling?
I’ll be lying to you if I said I suddenly got inspired and motivated. Truth is there are many things we do because they need to be done. My key is reconnecting my mindset with my goals to get the “I can” attitude. So off I go to organise!
What’s the task you’ve been putting off that’s been robbing you of energy?
My tips, how-to's, thoughts, ideas, and reflections on personal performance, growth and success mindset, and