You Are One of my Thankfuls

meLaura2013

Sometimes kids are the best at summing up life’s lessons.  My friend Ellen’s grand-daughter, Carleigh, did that at Thanksgiving a few years ago.  When asked what she was thankful for, she responded without hesitation, “YOU!” meaning of course my friend and her Gigi, Ellen.  Don’t you know Gigi was pretty excited to hear that response?  Wouldn’t you be excited to to hear who is thankful for you?

With that in mind and in the spirit of the Thanksgiving season, each year I publish my list of the top ten people in my life that I am thankful for.  Here it goes:

10.  The inspirational figures--Dave Ramsey, Dan Miller, Andy Stanley, Kent Julian and Christine Kane –who have devoted their lives to making a difference in the lives of others and who have truly made a difference in mine.  I’ve read their books, attended their conferences and benefited from their coaching.

 9.  My co-workers at Sixes Elementary.  Although I retired last May from my 20 year career as a school counselor at Sixes Elementary, I still consider myself part of the Sixes family.  I continue to be involved with sponsoring a weekly writing club with my friend, Candace Meek.   This is a group of educators that is dedicated to making a difference in the lives of all the children they touch.

8.  My Sunday School class at Kennesaw United Methodist Church.  I have belonged to the same church for over 27 years and in that length of time I have made a a lot of friends.  These are all people who celebrate with me in good times and who wrap their arms around me in the bad times.  I am eternally thankful.

7.  My Thursday ‘Love Ya Like A Sista’ group.  We support each other, we vacation together, we socialize together.  We love each other like sisters.

6. My close girlfriends, Valerie, Barbara and Ellen who know me so well and love me anyway.  You are the best.

5.  My grandfather. He was the first writer that I knew. I am so grateful that he recognized my talent and encouraged me to develop it.

4. My sister and brothers. There is a special bond between siblings and I will always cherish this.

3. My Mom and Dad.  The older I get, the more I appreciate the support, the encouragement, the sacrifices, the constructive criticism and the love that you shared to make me who I am today.

me and hayley

2.  My daughters.  It’s amazing the depth of love a parent can have for a child.  I am so honored and privileged to be a part of their lives and I am proud of their journey to becoming the best they can be.

1.  My God who loved me before I even knew Him and who sought me out and sent His son to reconcile and seal that relationship.

What about you?  What if during this season of thanks, you recognized those to whom  you are most grateful in your life?  Who would that be?

This is a reposting of the Thanksgiving post of 2011.  If you like it please share on Facebook and Twitter.

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Five Ways to Create a Five Star Presentation

I just attended the Georgia School Counselor Conference for what must be at least the twentieth time. I started going as a student before I even had my first job as a school counselor.

GSCA

I was also a presenter at the conference for the fifth time or so.  (I’ve been a presenter every year for the last few years and I must admit I’ve lost count).  Attending a conference is a great way to increase your knowledge about a particular topic but presenting at a conference increases your knowledge exponentially while also building your network and showcasing your expertise.  I’ve attended dynamic, entertaining and informative presentations and I’ve sat through insanely boring and irrelevant presentations and while there is always room for growth, I’ve tried to imitate the former.

Here are my five tips for creating a memorable presentation:

  1. Begin with a personal story to connect with your audience.  People come for the information but they really like to know you and why you chose to present on this particular topic.  Share.  Be real. Be vulnerable.  When I present on personality style, I share my own journey with learning to accept and finally celebrate being an introvert.
  2. Include a reference to a theme that you will carry through your presentation.  In my presentation on personality style, I share how important it is to recognize your strengths and celebrate who you are.  Celebrating your own unique personality style is is the theme throughout the presentation.
  3. Begin by letting your audience know what to expect;  how long you will speak, what you will cover and what they will leave with such as a handout, knowledge of your particular topic or an offer to extend the lesson.
  4. Use stories throughout to enhance the topic and make it real and memorable.  I like to share how understanding personality styles has made a difference for me in my relationships with my family and co-workers.
  5. Create a way to follow-up with the audience and extend the presentation.  Audiences always like a give-away and I collect email addresses for a drawing  where I give away a book or something else related to the presentation.  Then I email everyone the next day to thank them for attending and offering another free item that extends the lesson.

At the end of my presentation on: DISCover Your Personality Style, I was excited to receive all excellent reviews in all three of the categories!  Here are two of my favorite evaluations:

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Understanding your personality style and working in your strengths can transform your life and your relationships.  Check out my Personality Plus Offer which includes a 45 minute clarity call to discuss the results of the online personality profile.

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Would you like for me to bring the DISCover Your Personality program to your organization or place of work?  Email me at lynnewatts@comcast.net and lets talk!

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Is Your Passion Greater than Your Fear?

 

meDISC2013cI’m a big fan of Dan Miller of 48 Days to the Work You Love fame. This probably doesn’t surprise you.  If you’ve ever talked to me for any length of time, his name and his wisdom have probably come up more than once.  He was kind enough to write the forward to my book, The Call;  Perfect Dream, Imperfect Life.  I am a regular listener of his weekly podcast.  In a recent podcast on following your passion, he referred to his son, Jarred who co-authored his latest book with him.  Jarred is a free-spirit and an entrepreneur who followed his passion to Africa when he lived for several years and worked out his commitment to the people there through helping them develop sustainable and profitable income.  Just prior to leaving for Africa to follow his dream and his passion for the first time, Jarred wrote a letter to his parents, expressing his excitement and his fears about the adventure.  Dan quoted Jarred as writing that “though he had fears about the outcome, he was certain that his passion exceeded his fears of inadequacy.”   That statement made me think.  Is my passion greater than my fear of inadequacy?

My Fear

In recent posts, I’ve written about being an introvert.  As a young girl,  I was very shy little.  Talking to people was not something I did easily.  I can remember birthday parties where other kids played games and I watched from afar, summer camps that I turned down the opportunity to attend because I didn’t know anyone and many other social activities that I avoided.  The thought of making a presentation to a group struck fear into my heart. One of my first jobs just out of college was as an addiction counselor in an alcohol treatment center. Part of the job involved  teaching regular classes. I can still remember the anxiety I would feel weeks ahead whenever my name would appear on the schedule. I would agonize over the material.  I would worry over the reaction of the attendees.  My hands would shake and my voice would quiver throughout the class.

My Passion

Fast forward to 2014.  I recently retired from 20 years of working in an elementary school as a guidance counselor, where I taught hundreds of classes to children and adults every year.  What happened to my fear, terror really, of speaking in public?  My passion is greater than my fear.  I am passionate about engaging children in becoming problem solvers, becoming successful at setting and reaching goals and interacting better through understanding personality styles.

Next week, I’ll be presenting to the Georgia School Counselor Conference in Augusta, Georgia.  I have two breakout sessions for school counselors where I’ll be teaching DISC personality style and lessons to empower children to be great leaders.  I also often present to women’s groups on finding and living your passion.  Do I ever feel the fear the old fear of public speaking?  Of course.  Fear, self-doubt and lack of self confidence still plague me.  Daily. But I keep moving forward.  Why?  Because my passion is greater than my fear.

Helen Keller said, “Feel the fear.  Do it anyway.”  Do you have a passion that you wish to follow, to nurture?  Is fear keeping you from venturing forth?  What can you do to increase your passion and overtake your fears?

I’d love to help you follow your passion and move beyond your fear.  Get a free download of The Call Workbook to help you get started:  http://lynnewatts.com/DISCprofile  Use the code word:  reinvention

For a limited time I am offering the Online DISC Personality Profile and a 45 minute personality clarity call for a special price.  You will love the doors that this assessment will open to your understanding of yourself and your relationships.  You can find it here:  http://lynnewatts.com/DISCprofile

 

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What Type of Introvert Are You?

disc2

Do you wish you were someone else–personality wise?  Introverts wish they were more outgoing. Extroverts wish they were more chilled out and focused.  In this series of posts on personality style, I’ve been sharing how understanding how we are wired can lead us to celebrate our strengths and and stand in our own power rather than wishing we were different.

Are You More Outgoing or Reserved?

According to the DISC personality profile there are four basic personality types and 41 possible combinations or blends of those. That’s a lot of combinations! Two of the types are outgoing.  They are fast paced, energetic, enthusiastic doers who have an internal motor set on go.  Two of the personality types are more reserved and slower paced.  They are more laid back, tend to take their time and think things through carefully.

Are Your More Task Focused or People Focused?

Another way to divide the four types is according to their focus.  Two of the personality types are more people focused.  They tend to be more social, interested in teamwork, communication and personal interaction.  Two of the personality types tend to be more task oriented.  They tend to be more focused on process, plans, program, guidelines and accomplishment of a goal.  Which one describes you?

Here is today’s video that will help you decide which of the four possible personality styles describes you:

Your Personality Style from Lynne Watts on Vimeo.

As you can see from the video, understanding your personality style is crucial to success in so many areas!  It affects our relationships with family, co-workers and friends.  Did you see yourself in the personality types?  Did you see your spouse, friend or boss? What type of introvert are you?  Let me know in the comments below…

Want to learn more about working in your strengths and aligning with your true personality?  Join me for a teleseminar, Sunday, November 2 at 8:00 EST.  Sign up here to get the call in instructions:

http://acalledwoman.com/teleseminars/

Everyone who signs up will receive an audio replay of the teleseminar so don’t worry if you can’t attend!

Do you have a question you would like me to answer in the teleseminar?  Please comment below and I will be sure to address it!

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Learning to Celebrate Being an Introvert

disc2One of my favorite gifts that I received when I retired from my career as a school counselor was a lovely canvas designed by Kelly Rae Roberts.  Her extraordinary work combines quotes and collage.  Even though I don’t know her, I feel we share something in common and her art pieces always speak to me.  The one I received says, Your beautifully, messy, complicated Story Matters, Tell It.  Don’t you just love that?  Do you believe that your story matters?  Are you telling it?

My Unremarkable Story

One of the reasons that I failed to tell my story in the past was because I believed it was not extraordinary.  After all, the story of a shy introvert who was so afraid of her voice that she tried to live under the radar while she waited for permission, waited to be discovered/rescued and waited for her life to be “just right”, isn’t a story worth telling… is it?  To have a story to tell, you need one that’s remarkable, don’t you?  You need to have scaled mountain peaks, and overcome great obstacles, and slain a few dragons.  I hadn’t done any of that so what was there to tell?

It’s All in Your Perception

It wasn’t until I started telling my unremarkable story that I learned that telling my story could be an inspiration to others.  It could bring comfort, hope, and challenge to someone else who felt the same way. And then this amazing thing happened.  As I told my story, it became a remarkable story because through telling it I was no longer the shy introvert who tried be invisible and didn’t make a difference or take a risk.  I became the shy introvert who moved beyond the story I told myself to the confident, capable, make a difference in the world person that I am (most of the time!) today.  That’s a remarkable story isn’t it?  It’s a story of overcoming personal challenges, scaling seemingly impossible mountains of doubt and slaying some internal dragons.  Turns out there’s a lot to tell.  And there’s a lot of people who need to hear my story to give them the encouragement and the strength to slay their own dragons.

Join Me for a Teleseminar:  Work in Your Strengths for Introverts

One way that I like to share my story is by teaching others about the four basic personality styles and how we can all learn to celebrate our personalities by working in our strengths.  Let me share the first video in the series with you:

 

personalityintro2 from Lynne Watts on Vimeo.

I hope you’ll join me for the rest of the story…. To sign up for the teleseminar:

Go to:  http://acalledwoman.com/teleseminars/

What’s Your Story?

Do you believe that you have a story to tell?  Are you afraid that it’s too unremarkable, too messy, too imperfect, too shameful, too embarrassing to tell?  Who needs to hear your story?  Begin today to share your story.  Maybe you only share it with one person at first.  Maybe you start slowly and cautiously, but please start.  Because your story does matter.  Tell it.  Someone is waiting to hear.

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Two Secrets to a Productive Day

meKathyWhat Do I Do All Day?

Now that I am retired from twenty years as a school counselor, lots of people ask me how I like retirement and what I do to keep busy all day.  My response is that I love my new job of working full time as an author, coach and speaker.  I am truly busier than ever.   In fact I was just commenting to a colleague that I don’t have enough time to complete all the tasks and ideas that are swarming around in my brain.  So just what is the secret to managing my time effectively when there is no boss or predetermined schedule?

You Can’t Really Manage Time

You can’t really manage time because it is, well, time. You can’t corral it.  You can’t stop it or speed it up. But you can manage your activities. The problem most people have is that they try to manage their time by keeping track of information and priorities in their mind.  The brain is not designed to hold on to and maintain a list of everything that you need to accomplish.  The brain is designed to be used as a problem solving organ.  Here are my two secrets to having a productive day:

Begin Your Week with a Plan

Each Sunday afternoon I spend some time creating my calendar for the next week.  I have it on a whiteboard that I keep in a very visible place.  I put all my appointments, client calls, speaking engagements etc on it.  I also have this on my ipad but the large visual that I can quickly see each morning over my coffee helps me organize my day.

I have another whiteboard where I list ongoing ideas and projects.  Some of these are in various stages of completion.  Some are in my parking lot of ideas.  This means that I will get around to them at some point in the future but they are not currently demanding my time.  For example, I am currently working on completing programs for two breakout sessions for the Georgia School Counselor Conference which is in a few weeks.  This is an active project.  Creating a proposal for speaking at other conferences is in my parking lot.

Begin Your Day with a Plan

There is something incredibly compelling about a schedule that is written down. There is something powerful about knowing how you are going to spend your time and being accountable to a schedule, even if you are the only one who created it.

I begin every day with a very simple form that I complete.  I’ve tried lots of different approaches and forms and this one addresses everything that I’m trying to do in my day.  It guides my day in terms of business activities and personal schedules but it also begins with getting my mindset firmly in place.  I’ve found that this is often the forgotten piece in so many checklists.  We spend time recognizing what we want to do but don’t spend any time centering ourselves in who we want to be.  I begin each day answering the questions: Who do I want to be?  and How do I want to feel?.  Then I align my mindset with that before I even begin my tasks.

Why Creating a Plan Works

One thing that we know about the brain is that the brain is drawn toward congruity and completion.  This is why it is important to have a plan or a goal for the day.  Our brain will then want to align our daily activities with those goals.  It is drawn toward activities where completion is a given.  This is one reason that we often find our selves emptying the dishwasher when the plan was to contact three possible clients or write 1,000 words on the book.  It’s not just procrastination.  We can easily see the end of emptying the dishwasher or sorting the mail.  Other tasks are not so clear.  This is why having a system for managing tasks and setting priorities is so important.

Learning to identify the important activities in your life and structuring your day and your weeks to direct your energy is a necessary part of  living an intentional life.  It is how dreams become reality and  goals are achieved.  A goal is simply a dream with a plan.

For more information on living an intentional life, including how to structure your time, check out my book: DreamAchiever:  Simple Steps to an Extraordinary Life.

Do you need some help with creating a plan that will help you move closer to you dream job and dream life?  Check out my coaching packages.  I’d love to talk with you!

My teleseminar on Work in you Strengths~Stand in Your Power for Introverts is less than two weeks away.  Learn all about it here: http://acalledwoman.com/teleseminar

 

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Three Dog Dogmas for Winning at Life

frisbeedog

Recently, I attended the US Disc Dog National World Cup Competition in Cartersville, Georgia.  This is a fascinating organization that provides opportunities for all breeds of dogs to compete in a free style throw and catch and throw format.  Many countries were represented at the competition including Canada, Japan, China, & Czechoslovakia.  I was mesmerized by the energy and skill of these dogs.  I can only imagine the training and dedication that it takes on the part of the owners to develop the dogs into top notch competitors.

Roxy  the Rock Star and Jac

Roxy the Rock Star and Jac

Roxy the RoxStar

Here’s the back story to my attendance at the event.  While attending an author event, I met another aspiring author, Trish Greenlee who wanted to publish a book about her dog, Roxy, a rescue dog that her husband  trained to compete in disc dog events.  Roxy the RoxStar is a rags to riches story of a dog no one wanted who became a winner.  I met with Trish to advise her on how to publish her book and her book will out soon.  This competition was Roxy’s last performance as she will be retiring  and resting on her laurels which include the following:

  •  In 2009 she won 1st place in Division II Freestyle.
  • In 2010 she won 2nd place in the US Finals, and then 4th place in the World Finals.  She has qualified to compete in the World Finals event every year since 2009.  All of this is pretty incredible when you realize that she had a Titanium knee replacement in 2012.  Jac took her out of “Freestyle” competition at that time, and only competes with her in “Toss and Fetch” now.
  • In this past weekend’s events, Roxy won 7th place out of a field of 80 dogs competing in the “Toss and Fetch” competition World Finals.

Three Must Do Dog Dogmas

It occurred to me as I watched these amazing talented dogs compete that  there are a number of lessons that we as humans could learn from them.  Here are three Must Do Dog Dogmas to move into the World Cup Winning Circle in our own challenges.

  • Focus-The focus that each dog had for their trainer was the most obvious attribute.  They enter a field where there are hundreds of distractions all around:  other dogs, people talking and clapping, an announcer on a microphone, the smells of food, the wind blowing just to name a few, but the dog’s eyes remain glued to the trainer.  While they may pace and circle around in barely restrained excitement, their eyes are focused and ready for the first command.
    • What about you?  Are you focused on your goals?  Do you tune out the many distractions all around you?
  • Persist-The winning dogs persist throughout the whole routine no matter how many mistakes they make.  Certainly not every dog caught every disc thrown to them.  Some missed several in a row but not one laid down and gave up.  They gave every throw, every trick 100% of their effort and if they missed, there was not a moment’s hesitation before they took off in pursuit of the next throw.
    • What about you?  If you miss the mark, if you fail at a goal, do you collapse in a heap or do you gather up your energy and keeping moving forward?
  • Celebrate-The finish of each performance often ended with a leap of the dog into the trainer’s arms, hugs, kisses and a proud salute as they acknowledged the accolades of the audience.
    • What about you?  Are acknowledging your wins and accomplishments?  Are you taking the time to hear the cheers of the crowd?

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Winning at Life

The dogs in the competition came in all shapes and sizes.  There were dogs that may have had an advantage due to their breeding.  There were dogs that were large and could leap high in the air.  There were dogs that had long legs and could run fast.  But there were also winning dogs, like Roxy who overcame obstacles and through focus and persistence accomplished more than could be expected.  It’s all up to you how you play the cards that you were dealt in life.  No matter your circumstances, you can achieve your dream.  Just look at what Roxy accomplished and be inspired.

Roxy

Roxy, Trish and Jac Greenlee and family

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Five Top Sales Strategies for Introverts

kathyandme

I talk with lots of introverts who are passionate about their product and passionate about starting a business.  They just know that once they get it up and running, start promoting their wares or their services on Facebook, their book will be flying off the virtual Amazon shelf or people will be standing in line to sign up for their services.  Then reality hits. After the first circle of friends and family purchase the product, sales dribble in slowly if all and soon they are desperate to reel in some more customers.  But where are the customers?  What is the next step?  Please don’t tell me I have to start networking or making cold calls.  I’m an introvert, after all.  I was hoping to let Facebook be my face and my voice.

Five Top Sales Strategies for Introverts

I’m an introvert myself and learning to sell my children’s books and now my coaching services for women has taken a huge mind shift for me.  However, I’ve come to realize that introverts are uniquely wired to be great salespeople.  When you work in your strengths and learn some new strategies, it can actually be something that you not only enjoy but look forward to.

Here are my top five sales strategies for introverts:  (they’re not a bad idea for extroverts as well)

  1. Make sure you love  and believe in your product.  This seems obvious, but if you signed up to sell jewelry or make-up or vitamins or whatever, because someone told you you could make tons of money at it, but you don’t really care for the product, in fact you don’t even use the product yourself, you are going to have a hard time persuading others to buy it either.
  2. Make sure you identify your ideal customer.  Just because your product is made for women, doesn’t mean that all women everywhere are going to want or need your product.  Spend some time determining exactly who you are marketing to.  Here are just a few questions to get you started:
    1. What is your ideal customers’ biggest challenge or problem?
    2. What does your ideal customer love to do?  What would they pay anything to make happen or change?
    3. Where does your ideal client hang out?  online?  in the real world?
    4. What are three mistaken beliefs that your ideal customer has?
  3. Provide value that helps your client overcome the challenges or problems that you identified in #2.  You can do this in lots of ways.  You can write a blog, send out a newsletter, offer a free class, start a podcast or create videos.  Use the medium that works best for you.  Here’s the key word:  consistency.  Don’t write a blog today and the next one six months from now… or never.  You will just be shooting yourself in the foot and losing clients rather than creating them.
  4. Develop a relationship with your clients.  People buy from other people that they know and trust.  Rather than pushing your product on others, pull the customer toward you with a genuine, heart felt relationship.   This in particular is something that introverts are good at.  Spend time listening to your clients’ concerns and showing them that you care and want to help.  This is the heart of good sales; helping others.
  5. Create packages with your product that create exceptional value, creativity and/or service.  People are naturally drawn to packages whether it is buying a series of books or signing up for a series of online classes.  Not only is this more profitable for you but it also better meets client’s ongoing needs.

Want to learn more about the introverted personality profile and how you can work in your strengths in all areas of your life?  Join me for a four part series on:

Working in Your Strengths~Standing In Your Power for Introverts

You can sign up here:  http://acalledwoman.com/teleseminars/

Hope to see you there!

 

 

 

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Simple Steps to Living Each Day Productively

meDISC2013cNow that I’ve retired from my career as a school counselor to run my writing and coaching business full-time,  a lot of people say to me, “What will you do with all that unstructured time?  How did you start a business while you were working full-time?  How do you manage a business when you don’t have a full-time job to report to?  The answer is organization and scheduling.

For many years, I lived my life by being reactive instead of creative.  In other words, instead of living intentionally by creating a plan and a schedule, I simply reacted to whatever was going on around me.   I started my day with a vague notion of something I’d like to accomplish.  I often had a to-do list in my head or even jotted down somewhere.  Then I would hear the ping of an email or a text message and immediately stop what I was doing and respond.  A co-worker would stop me in the hall and I would take on a new task or responsibility.  A phone call  or a memo would redirect my day.  I constantly allowed the tyranny of the urgent to swallow up the important tasks in my day. My day was at the mercy of whoever and whatever got my attention.  At the end of the day, I would wonder where my time went and why nothing of substance was accomplished.

 

Living a Creative Life

Living a creative life does not mean that we ignore the necessary tasks and the relationships in our lives.  It does not mean if there is an emergency, we don’t respond.  Lets face it though.  Most of the things that we are distracted by don’t enhance our relationships and they aren’t emergencies. The things that draw us away from our goals are the black hole of social media, the endless but mundane tasks of our world or the vegging-out-in-front-of-the-television type of activities.  We all have the same amount of time in our day, but how we plan out our time is the difference.

meKathy

You Can’t Really Manage Time

You can’t really manage time because it is, well, time. You can’t corral it.  You can’t stop it or speed it up. But you can manage your activities. The problem most people have is that they try to manage their time by keeping track of information and priorities in their mind.  The brain is not designed to hold on to and maintain a list of everything that you need to accomplish.  The brain is designed to be used as a problem solving organ. The other thing that we know about the brain is that the brain is drawn toward congruity and completion.  This is why it is important to have goals.  Our brain will then want to align our daily activities with those goals.  It is also drawn toward activities where completion is a given.  This is one reason that we often find our selves emptying the dishwasher when the plan was to contact three possible clients or write 1,000 words on the book.  We can easily see the end of emptying the dishwasher or sorting the mail.  Other tasks are not so clear.  This is why having a system for managing our tasks and setting priorities is so important.

Begin Your Day or Week with a Brain Drain

The first step of managing our tasks is to figure out what we’ve stored in our brain. You can’t organize or schedule tasks until you know what is calling out for your attention or what you should be paying attention to that isn’t a squeaky wheel.  At the beginning of the day and at the beginning of each week, take a piece of paper and write everything that you can think of that is on your mind to do.  Include even the silly and ridiculous things that you are worried about or just obsessed with.  Honesty counts here.  No one will see this but you.

 

Create an Organized List

Next, take another sheet of paper and divide it into four quadrants.  At the top of each section write the following categories:   Time wasters, Have-to-dos, Top Priorities, Maintenance Tasks.  Now take all the things from your Brain Drain and put them in the correct quadrant.  You probably know what time wasters are.  Have-to-dos are all those tasks that must get done regardless of whether you want to do them or not.  These are things like completing all the paperwork for taxes or paying bills.  Top Priorities could also be labelled Money Makers if you are running a business.  Sometimes creative types get so involved in the creative part of the business that they neglect to give priority to selling the product or running a marketing campaign for an upcoming event.  For me this includes book signings, book festivals, presentations at conferences, clients that I am contacting and coaching. When you are running a business it is important that you spend a good part of your time working in this quadrant.  Otherwise you find that you have a hobby but not a profitable business.  Finally the last category is all the things that you do to maintain a business but that don’t perhaps result in quick return.  For me this relates to the actual writing of articles or books.  Sometimes items from the Maintaining the Business category are moved to the the Top Priority category.  This is a fluid vehicle for organizing your tasks and may change day to day.

talkingtoLiz

  Create a Daily/Weekly Schedule

Once you have all your tasks divided into four categories, you need to get a calendar and schedule your time for the upcoming week. It can be a huge calendar that you put on the wall or something on your computer.    I organize my upcoming week on Sunday afternoon on a whiteboard so that I know what I have coming up for the next week.

Begin with the obligations that you know you must show up for and block out those times.  Do you work a 9-5 job?  Block out those hours.  Do you have a doctor/dentist appointment? Does your child have basketball practice twice a week? Block out the time for that.  Now look at the time that you have left surrounding those obligations.  It may be a little or it may be a lot depending on the season of your life.  If you have young kids, there are certainly times to be blocked out for family time and children’s activities.  However, there will still be blocks of time, no matter how small, that you can use to accomplish your goals. Now start plugging in the activities in your Top Priorities and Maintaining the Business quadrant into those blocks of time.  Be reasonable but be proactive.  Chances are you won’t get up at 4:00 AM every morning to work on that novel you want to write but you could get up at 6:00 AM on Saturday morning to garner some quiet time to write creatively before the rest of the family gets up. Maybe evenings are a better time for you.  Two nights a week you give up watching television and instead put in two hours of networking and creating a marketing plan on the computer.

 Use a Timer

There is something incredibly compelling about a schedule that is written down. There is something powerful about knowing how you are going to spend your time and being accountable to a schedule, even if you are the only one who created it.  Use a timer to create boundaries for the task and set it for the block of time that you have designated.  Don’t allow outside urgent activities and requests to overcome the important work that you are doing.

Learning to identify the important activities in your life and structuring your day and your weeks to direct your energy is a necessary part of  living an intentional life.  It is how dreams become reality and  goals are achieved.  A goal is simply a dream with a plan. Set aside some time this week to create a plan for your life.  I promise you will find it so empowering, you will wonder how you ever functioned without it.

 

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Five Tips to Tap Into Your Creative Spirit

Every creative is challenged with how to best structure their life to engage in creative pursuits. Just how do you get the work done? How do you tap into that creative spirit?  Do you require yourself to spend a designated amount of time staring at the computer no matter what?  Do you write a certain number of words per day?  Do you schedule time in the morning?  Do you set aside a particular day?  Do you simply wait to be inspired by your personal muse?

We All Are Creative

I just returned from spending several days at the beach with friends.  It was a time of rest, renewal and and relaxation.  It was also a time of productivity, creativity and focused work.  How do you meld the two?  I recently finished a great book on creativity and how to best nurture the creative spirit.   Be Your Finest Art was written by Joanne Miller and Dorsey McHugh, two speakers from the Called Woman Conference 2014.  Here are five tips from the book to rev up the creative juices and tap into the wellspring of creativity that we all have.

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Learn to Paint Light

While Dorsey and Joanne are a painters and I am a writer, I still believe this advice is worthwhile for all of us.  Dorsey writes, “There is always light even in the darkest shadows…We retrain our eyes and brains to see what light is doing.  This takes a new kind of seeing.  No color exists apart from light.”  Just as a painter must retrain their brain to see light where there appears to be only darkness, it is important to retrain our brains to see the possibilities and opportunities all around us.  Focusing only on the negative does not encourage creativity.

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Be Willing to Do It Badly (even in public)

Dorsey writes that “It takes courage and discipline to do art.”  We must be willing to practice our art imperfectly in order to grow our creative spirit and ability.  Too many of us hold back for fear of making a mistake or looking foolish.  We compare ourselves to others and decide we are not gifted enough to move forward and consequently lose out altogether on creating something worthwhile.

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Think of Yourself as a Modern Day Prophet, a Story-Teller

When you stop thinking of life as  just surviving each day but instead think of it as creating a story with your life, you have become an artist!  With this in mind it is easy to see that we are all artists in some sense of the word even if we don’t pick up a paintbrush or a pencil.  Every day is an extraordinary gift filled with potential.  What will you create today?  What chapter will you add to the story?

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You Are Playing, Not Failing

Our creative self thrives when we play.  When we focus on doing everything the right way, following instructions and avoiding mistakes, we squelch our artistic nature.  To release our creativity, we have to let go of the fear of failing and learn to play freely while simultaneously learning from trail and error.

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A Broken Line is a More Beautiful Line

Just a nature abhors a straight line, we are all broken in some way.  The life lessons that we have learned from personal failings and tragedies is what makes us who we are.  Being authentic and sharing our brokenness frees our creative spirit and helps us connect with the brokenness in others.  Ask yourself, how can you take your mess and make it your message?

Pablo Picasso wrote, “Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up. ”  Are you nurturing your creative spirit?  I hope so.  Just as we were all created, we have a spark of that creative ability  inside each of us that is yearning to break free.  Take time to recognize and nurture that spirit.  I promise that you will be richly rewarded, perhaps even amazed, at what you can create.

 

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