Business

Slowing Down Time: The Easiest, Most Obvious Hack in the World

When it comes to getting things done, I know how to rock a to-do list. I can write things down and check them off like a boss! But when it comes to getting important things done, I have to admit that sometimes I struggle to just begin. Can you relate?

It’s the ‘ol tyranny of the urgent scenario that gets me every single time.

These last few weeks have felt like that.

The kids have been in school for about six weeks, which means the grace period for being unprepared is over. By now they should be in a good routine, and by default, so should I. Why, then, do I feel like I’m falling behind with every passing day?

That got me thinking: Is there a way to SLOW DOWN time?

Everyone knows there’s two kinds of time: Fast Time and Slow Time.

Let’s break it down:

First, the Fast Time. Think of something you dread. For example: Going to the dentist, giving a presentation in front of a large crowd, or the time between when you drop the kids off at school and they’re back on your doorstep asking “What’s for dinner?”

You could also think of something you enjoy greatly: Being at the beach, the best night of sleep you’ve ever had, or a foot massage. During all these times you find yourself saying, “Time—please slow down!”

In contrast, there’s Slow Time, and that’s for things like doing a one minute plank at the gym or when you’re waiting for brownies to cook or for an acceptance letter for your dream job to arrive.

Overall, though, as you get older, all time begins to act like fast time. Someone once explained it to me this way: “Time is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer you get to the end, the faster it goes.”

We can’t change our lives by making more time, but we can change our perception of it.

When you’re doing something new or focusing on what you’re doing, you actually can slow down how your brain perceives time.

I don’t want my life to slip away, but I do need to get stuff done.

And chances are you do too because if you’re anything like me, when you’re feeling rushed, you tend to get less done rather than more. And the things you are getting done have the tendency to be the most pressing rather than the most important. I have found that when I’m feeling rushed, I substitute my normal “focus on what I’m doing” rituals with poor substitutes that lack any sort of conscious processing whatsoever.

Instead of eating breakfast, doing my daily devotion, and spending time on morning pages, I find I do a quick workout at home, snack all morning, and then scroll through social media at five minute intervals throughout the day because I didn’t plan a solid chunk of time for getting my real work done. With no space for creativity, I end up filling these dead minutes with distractions.

What if there were one ritual I could do that would set the tone for the whole day?
Is there something I’m missing that would summon the rest and peace I crave?

Hey, friend, let’s make a pact this week to SLOW DOWN time.

I’m getting up in time to do morning work (i.e. plan the day, eat breakfast, devotion, and journal)—even if I have to trick myself into thinking I’ll get fired if I don’t show up for my own life. Hey, I can always fire myself!

And I’m JUST SAYING NO to distractions. Are you with me? No more scroll. Don’t be fooled—you can get a lot done in five minutes (Read a few pages of a book you’ve downloaded, open the Bible app, pack the dishwasher, transfer a load of laundry to the dryer, make the bed, or write a quick “I’m thinking about you” text to a friend.”)

If I would have known that Intentionality was the secret sauce for slowing down time, I could have saved myself a lot of wasted minutes. And I know what you’re thinking, “That’s so obvious, Chantel. Of course intentionality is the key.” Yeah, yeah.

Easier said than done.

But not this week: I’m doing it!

Want to take it to the next level?



A Simple Exercise to Discover Your Purpose

By Guest Contributor, Kristi Porter, Founder and Chief Do-Gooder at Signify.

Signify Vertical+Logo+w+taglineLarge.png
I first met Kristi about three years ago. At the time, I was just beginning my own journey into entrepreneurship, and the learning curve was steep. I felt like I had no idea what I was doing! Someone sent me the link to Signify’s website and blog and there I found a guide who seemed to know exactly how I was feeling and exactly what I needed in order to lead my growing business with confidence. If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed, unequipped, or just plain stuck, then I encourage you to check out both the free resources and paid offerings at Signify. You won’t regret it!

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And now, here’s Kristi:

I’m sure this has never happened to you, but there are times in my life when I’ve felt aimless.
Directionless.
Purposeless.

 It’s not a good feeling. In fact, it’s a pretty discouraging feeling.

 Ever been there?

 At times like this, one of the best exercises I’ve found to get back on track is one I discovered in the Experiencing God workbook. Three times I’ve done this Bible study, and three times it’s changed my life.

I’ll give you the 50-cent tour of this exercise below, but what I think it does so well is give me perspective. Perspective brings clarity, both for where God has brought me, and potentially where He is leading me.

When we’re feeling sad, restless, or like we have no vision for the future, I think it’s often because we’re caught up in our own stuff. It’s like not being able to see the forest for the trees.

However, when we have perspective, we can rise out of our own circumstances to see the path we’ve been on and, possibly, the direction we’re headed—even if it’s only the next step.

 

Share Your Story to Gain Perspective

I’ll give you a small example from my own life to illustrate. I’m a solopreneur, so I have no co-workers. If you’ve ever tried to do something big on your own, you know there are lots of moments of doubt. I go through those pretty much daily! Plus, because I have no one working alongside me, there’s no one to constantly talk me down off the metaphorical ledge.

It’s at these times God has been so faithful. Without a doubt, He sends me someone new, and I get to tell my story. It could be in a new client meeting, someone I met at an event, or just a new friend. Regardless, they don’t where I’ve been, so I get to tell them.

In the process of sharing my story, I listen. And by the time I arrive at the present, I think to myself, “Wow!

That’s MY story! I got to live that, and now I get to serve the people and causes I care about. That’s amazing!”

Just like the exercise below, sharing our stories gives us perspective. It’s not about our busy calendars; it’s about the journey. And I think it’s that kind of outlook that truly gives us vision.

So, if you’re feeling restless, burned out, or looking for deeper insight in your life, give this exercise from the Experiencing God workbook a try. It can be an incredible opportunity for breakthrough, especially when trying to discern those things that bring meaning to your life, and maybe even your purpose.

 

Take an Objective Look at Your Past

The first step is to figure out where you’ve been. Getting perspective can be incredibly difficult in the day-to-day. There’s so much being thrown at us all the time to keep us busy and distracted. This could be a source of great unrest for a lot of us, because we feel like we’re just moving through life on autopilot. And autopilot is the opposite of what we’re after—purpose.

So, to move forward, we’ll start by looking backward.

Essentially, what you’ll need to do is list your “sign posts,” as the study calls them. These could be major milestones as well as meaningful moments. Think about the points in your life that stand out.

Oh, and before you begin to “put pen to paper,” also think about how you personally like to process information.

Me? I love bullet points, so I keep a list of these sign posts in Evernote. I’m a list maker at heart, and I don’t like keeping up with paper.

But if you’re a more artsy type of person, maybe you want to take a big piece of paper and create a map or draw your sign posts visually.

Find a way to help you get the information out of your head so that you can analyze it later.

 Okay, back to it! Here are a few prompts to get you started:

·      What are the major milestones that have occurred in your life? (ex: moves, college, marriage, kids, jobs)

·      What moments have been meaningful? (ex: pivotal conversations, experiences)

·      When/where/why have you grown spiritually? (ex: What did this look like?)

·      What other times stand out in your life?

Having done this study three times, I started with the big transitions and then began to fill in the gaps. Now, I add to it annually with anything I think adds a dot to my personal timeline.

The important thing here is write down anything that stands out to you, and that you consider to have shaped you in some way. 

Look for Common Threads

Whew—that’s a lot, right? Some good stuff and some not so good stuff? Me, too.

There are definitely days I’d rather forget about heartaches, bad bosses, and having chronic health issues, but those experiences shaped me, too.

So, after you’ve written what amounts to the abridged story of your life out of your head, move on to the evaluation. Basically, connect the dots of your life.

Look for common themes, threads, and occurrences.

What continues to pop up?
What trends do you see?
What makes you happy?
What makes you sad?
What do you want to see more of?

If you’re having trouble spotting themes, ask someone you trust to take a look. They might be able to spot them more quickly.

Next, add your own summary section so you have a dedicated place for your takeaways. You’ll want these to stand out for future reference.


Move Forward with More Clarity

Hopefully, you’re starting to see more clearly. You’re able to identify lessons, ideas, and values you couldn’t see as easily before.

Maybe it reinforced your thinking, or maybe it surprised you. Regardless, I hope and pray God has revealed Himself to you.

 Here are just a few of my own insights:

·      Justice has looked different to me over the years, but it’s always been important to me. I volunteered for years with social justice organizations, but I realized that I needed it to be a bigger part of my life. So, while I love working with all my clients, my favorites are definitely in the social impact space.

·      Writing has been a big part of my life since I was a kid. Even when I wasn’t doing it full-time, I had to start a blog to not only keep up with the practice of writing, but feed this source of creativity.

·      Traveling brings me both enjoyment and clarity. Over the last couple of years, I’ve made it a point to figure out ways to travel, even short distances every couple of months. It’s not just for fun, but to use as periods of reflection for my business.

·      It’s not uncommon for me to have major spiritual breakthroughs after moving to a new location. I think one of the reasons I’ve felt spiritually stagnant recently is because I’ve been in the same place for too long!

 And remember, new experiences can change your perspective. I think it’s a good idea to do this exercise each year to see what new insights appear and where God might be leading you next. Your purpose might indeed look the same throughout your life, or may shift from season to season or year-to-year.

What about you? What has been revealed to you through this process? With all of this newfound knowledge, what will you do next?

 Whether you found a new direction or purpose or not, you should see that there is order to the chaos we call life. You have been created and called, loved and led, gifted and given, restored and redeemed—over and over again. You have not been forgotten, you have been favored.

 

 

 Kristi Porter helps nonprofits and for-profits with a social mission get noticed and grow through effective marketing and communications. She also teaches solopreneurs and small businesses how to incorporate easy philanthropy strategies. Essentially, Kristi makes cause-focused organizations look and sound more professional so they can build a larger audience, increase sales or donations, and do more good. Connect with Kristi here.

Kristi Porter, Founder and Executive Director of Signify. Focus and Shine!

Kristi Porter, Founder and Executive Director of Signify. Focus and Shine!


If you missed our interview with Kristi Porter for Mission Driven Monday, you can catch up HERE.


Ready to take it to the next level?

 

 

 

 

Your Job is not the Problem--You Just Didn't Know it Was Work

One of the best icebreaker questions I ever heard was, “Tell me about your first job.”

Our first job not only teaches us a lot about ourselves, but also prepares us for future work.

The very first job I ever had out of college was as a fitness consultant in a Ladies Only gym. Newly married with a degree in Biology, a passion for exercise, and aspirations of medical school, I thought I had found the perfect job.

Spoiler alert: that job had almost nothing to do with health and wellness and almost everything to do with high pressure sales techniques.

I haven’t had a real job in nearly twenty years. But my life has been filled with purposeful work.

In this post, I’ll show you how the way you work in every job is a clue to the real work you’re meant to do.

Problem solving, and I don’t mean algebra, seems to be my life’s work. Maybe it’s everyone’s life’s work.
— Beverly Cleary, Children's Book Author

Oh, I do believe it is everyone’s life’s work!

For the past five years I’ve been a part of an Atlanta nonprofit called Plywood People. They have a motto I’ve adopted as my own: “We will be known by the problems we solve.”

Being known.

Those two words by themselves can be really scary.

We want to be known and yet we want to remain anonymous.
We want people to understand us but we want to retain an element of mystery.

And over the past year, on Mission Driven Monday, I ask women this final question: “Can you tell me about your aspirational self?” That question is essentially, “What do you want to be known for?” The answers vary, but one thing remains consistent: all the women want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. When they talk about work, it’s in the context of the values they uphold.

We all want to do work that matters.

Even if you don’t believe in legacies you have one. And you get to choose what you want that legacy to be.

I interact with lots of women caught between the threshold of having babies and raising kids. It’s important work, but sometimes I hear the longing in their voices, the shy whispers that “one day” they’ll go back to work, that their education “won’t be wasted,” that this is “just a season” and that “real life” can begin again “when the kids are all grown up.”

What are you waiting for?

When I was a young mom, I couldn’t even imagine a day when I didn’t have to get up in the middle of the night or change a diaper. I felt like I would always have someone at home and that I would always be a servant to someone else’s needs. And yet here I am, with one child out of the nest for good, one with one foot already out the door, and two more squarely in the throes of middle and high school. I will blink, and they too, will be gone.

No one ever told me that I could find intellectual fulfillment in the expression of who I was apart from paid work. I had always thought that the job I got paid to do and the work I was meant to do had to be the same thing. It wasn’t until I became a mother and set aside my so-called career that I discovered on my own what it means to live life within the context of a larger story.

Young moms tend to think that all that time spent at home is like putting a sweater on hold at Anthropologie. You’ll pick up where you left off—when you’re ready. The sweater will wait for you; the job probably won’t. You could spend the in-between contemplating whether or not you actually need the sweater or whether or not it makes sense to invest in something so seasonal and trendy. Maybe after you’ve walked around for awhile you’ll discover you don’t really want that sweater anymore.

The Tension

Our lives are not sweaters to place on a shelf. And a job isn’t just a job. For some, a job defines who we are, even though we know deep down that we are not what we do. “But if that’s true”, we wonder privately, “then why does everybody I meet keep asking me about work?”

How can we place “the job” on hold and still participate in work that’s fulfilling?

I remember someone telling me once that they never answer that question about jobs with a one word answer of their own. For example, when my friend is asked, “What do you do?” she says something like, “I inspire small children to aspire to a lifetime of curiosity.”

Ooohhh, tell me more about that.

Is my friend a teacher? A therapist? A children’s museum director?
Or is she just a mom?

A job is simply the expression of our work, so while jobs come and go, the expression of ourselves within that job is the real clue to the person we are meant to become. I wish I had known that when I was a 22-year old fitness consultant biding my time and waiting for my real break. I would have discovered that the part of my job that made me feel most alive was when I was learning something new or when I had a chance to hear transformation stories from clients one-on-one.

If you’re wondering about the work you’re meant to do, I recommend checking out The Good Life Project. Jonathan Fields developed an incredible tool called Sparketype that helps you identify the work you’re meant to do. Once you’ve taken the test, I’d love to know what you learn about yourself! Leave a comment, and let’s chat.

Bonus:

There’s a book called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. It’s one of those books that comes up constantly in creative circles, but until now, I’d never read it. Let me tell you—YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK. I’m only three weeks into what feels like a 12 step program to unlocking creativity, and it’s the first time in a long time that I’ve felt freedom to explore the artist within. One of the activities in that book is to write down your Imaginary Lives, those dream jobs you would do IF ONLY you had the education, training, experience, and connections to make them a reality. Two of my imaginary lives include Professional Tap Dancer and TV Chef. I will never be either one of those things in real life, but I can live my best life now by either taking an adult tap class (which I did a few years ago with some of my best friends and we had the best time) and by pretending that I have my own show and hosting demonstrations in my own house with my own kids (Fun Fact: One time I did get to cook on the Food Network, and it’s all because I believed I could when I was at home). When we give ourselves permission to imagine, what we’re really doing is giving ourselves the space to practice and discover new ways of making our dreams come true.

So whether I’m at home with my kids in my kitchen or volunteering in my community, the expression of who I am is front and center.

  1. Live your best life now. If you could be anything, what would you choose to do? How can you bring the best of that life into the life you have now? Is it a class you need to take, a party you need to host, a book you need to read, or an organization you need to to support?

  2. Identify your “why.” Think about that very first job. For example: Why did you want to work in healthcare in the first place? What do you love about marketing? How can you use your passion for systems and organization in a fresh new way? I thought I wanted to be a doctor. When motherhood came calling and asked me to postpone medical school, I shelved that dream and decided to become a certified doula. It gave me the patient interaction I craved, allowed me to work alongside real doctors and nurses in a hospital setting, and provided valuable practice scenarios for things like honing my bedside manner and researching the challenges and tensions facing healthcare practitioners today. Becoming a doula was just one of many opportunities I was able to cling to when my kids were little. As they got older, I realized I was finding fulfillment in a wide range of creative pursuits. I no longer needed to become a doctor to feel like I was adding value to the world.

  3. Your job is what you do. Your work is who you are. Learn the difference, and you’ll be able to find joy in both the mundane and the magnificent. Think about how you can describe the work you do in in a fresh new way.

Ready to take it to the next level?

Follow your mission, not the madness!







Mission Driven Monday--Chantal Sheehan

Meet Chantal Sheehan!

I’ve never met an accountant I didn’t like. There’s a special place in this world for people who choose to do math. And Chantal is a special kind of accountant. She doesn’t just calculate the value of numbers, she provides value to her clients by simply being helpful. I am grateful for the wisdom she’s shared with me, and I think you’ll fall in love too.

Self proclaimed numbers nerd Chantal Sheehan is the founder of Blue Fox Accounting. If you thought accounting was boring, then you haven't met Blue Fox. Chantal believes the key to a successful business is knowing where you've come from, where you are, and where you're headed. That's what we believe here at Mission Driven Woman, too! The past, present, and future shape the stories of our lives. Can meaning and purpose be QUANTIFIED? Watch and find out! And follow your mission, not the madness.

And if you are a nonprofit or a social entrepreneur, let me be the first to recommend Chantal Sheehan for all your accounting needs! (Yes, I know that was a shameless plug)

Important Links from this episode:

Blue Fox Accounting: Take a moment and check out their incredible website and helpful blog. You’ll find all your most pressing money questions answered here.

I just love their manifesto!

The Blue Fox Manifesto

This is what makes us tick and keeps us on track.

We believe in having fun every day.
We believe that life is short and work done well makes a workday worth living.
We believe in solving problems.
We believe that there is no substitute for authenticity.
We believe in making the world a better place.
We believe that egos get in the way of progress, so we try to check ours at the door.
We believe in servant leadership above all other forms.

We believe in giving back - always.

We believe that our clients deserve to be served with dignity, respect, and heart.
We believe that our clients are doing critical work effecting our planet and our communities.
We believe that the world is best served when our clients focus on change making and we focus on counting the change.
We believe that our impact in the world can be magnified by our clients' success.
We believe in a service model of true partnership and collaboration.

We believe in outfoxing the competition.
We believe in intrapreneurship, innovation, and iteration.
We believe that a warm, kind human + the latest tech = an accounting superhero.

We believe that we can help create an accounting and finance industry that actually makes a difference.

Ready to take it to the next level?

Mission Driven Monday--Jennifer Robinson

Meet Jennifer Robinson!

She and her husband are the founders of My Audio Pet, which was born out of a need to create new work for their family after her husband was let go from his corporate job. Jennifer and KJ hit the ground running, hustling hard, and putting one foot in front of the other until some big companies took notice, including Oprah Magazine and Good Morning America. She’s a firm believer in the power of prayer and her unofficial motto is: “Keep going.” God’s grace lives in the midst of the mistakes.

The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.
— Isaiah 50:4

Important Links from this episode:

My Audio Pet: the tiniest, cutest, most kick-butt blue tooth speaker on the planet. Makes a great gift! Use Code MISSIONDRIVENMONDAY for 20% off until 10/31/2019.

Living Beyond Yourself: Exploring the Fruit of the Spirit by Beth Moore


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Choices and Consequences: Is Unpaid Work Holding You Back?

Dream Jobs

I write a lot about finding your purpose and figuring out the work you’re meant to do.

I blame it on my childhood.

We’re asked at a very young age what we want to be when we grow up. We usually reply based on what we’ve seen, either in our neighborhoods or on TV. There’s probably a disproportionate number of people out there who wanted to be things like teachers, doctors, and policeman.

When my son was in kindergarten, he wanted to be a garbage man (his words, not mine).

At the time, we thought it was funny and cute.

Hanging off the back of a truck, wind whipping through your hair…what could be better?

He’s 15 now, and his new dream job is one he calls “fragrance mogul.” I don’t think he’s seen many of those around, but he likes girls, and I guess he’s started caring about whether or not he smells good when he is around them.

There’s a bunch of kids going off to college, and they are stressed to the max. Everyone is asking them where they are going to school and what’s their major. Students like my daughter, with ambiguous majors like Leadership Integrated Studies, get asked a follow-up question, which is typically a variation of “What do think you want to do with that someday?”

How could she possibly know the answer to that question?

Our first jobs rarely determine our final destination.

Case in point: I used to work in a hardware store, and my first job out of college was as a trainer in a gym.

Don’t get me wrong. Work is necessary. Work is good. My daughter’s been working since she was sixteen. All the jobs we have in life prepare us for the work we’re meant to do.

Humans were created to work. But there are so many different kinds of work and ways in which we can work and possibilities for the future that I would never want to lock my 19 year old daughter into just one way of thinking. She’s young and smart. I’ve never told her to choose a major based solely on the fact that she needs something concrete, something “she can fall back on.” I have faith that she can figure out work because she’s figured out so many other parts of her life.

And she’s got time.

So many of the jobs that sound interesting to me now did not even exist when I was her age. I never could have imagined the work I’m doing now. But (and this is the big thing), I knew what kind of life I wanted, and therefore everything I was learning would not be wasted, no matter what the future held.

Choices and Consequences

But the point is that we often don’t think about the consequences of our choices.

Twenty years ago I made a choice.

I made a choice to leave full time paid work in order to stay home and do full time UNPAID work. It was a choice I made, and the consequences were many. I have no regrets because this unpaid work has been fulfilling in other ways

If my son had thought through the consequences of being a sanitation worker, a valiant occupation to be sure, and something we can’t do without ( Does anyone remember New York’s great garbage strike of 1968?), he may have chosen a different path—even as a kindergartener. However, he didn’t think about the fact that it’s pretty stinky riding behind the garbage all day, that HE would be pretty stinky, too, by the end of it, and that lifting garbage bags hour after hour is some kind of back-breaking labor. In hot weather, on cold days, and even when it’s raining, sanitation workers are on duty.

The garbage never stops.

But just because we get older doesn’t mean we think about the consequences of our work. Maybe you have found yourself on the business end of a poorly executed choice. For example, I once thought it would be fun to run a company, which would probably mean time away from family, travel, late nights, stressful working conditions, and possibly even more education.

Is that what I really wanted?

We make the choices we can live with.

And all choices are not created equal.

As I’ve watched my children get older and my friends, stay-at-home moms mostly, go back into the workforce, I’ve noticed that even now we forget what our choices mean.

We want so-called REAL work because it means that the years we spent at home raising our children, volunteering at school, and keeping house were not wasted. We can add value. And if we can, we should…Right? And let’s be honest—kids don’t get less expensive as they get older. We trade diapers and preschool for drivers ed and tutoring. They need and want more than we can possibly give them.

Going back to work is the next logical step.

So we go back to work and discover that we are still needed at home, that children still get sick, that teachers still have conferences, that the laundry and cooking do not cease simply because we are not there to do it. We can enlist the help of our spouse and kids, but everyone is busy. So, so busy.

And we realize that what we really want is not necessarily more money, but more time. The kids are getting older. They will leave us soon. We only have four more summer vacations. Three. Two. One. And then suddenly they are off to college. And family vacations are a thing of the past. At least the way they used to be.

Where did the time go?

Real Work

I want you to know that the work you’re doing now IS real work. It’s important, and it matters. In a LinkedIn article I was reading just last week, 91% of employers say that soft skills are more important than hard skills when looking to hire a new employee. These skills are becoming increasingly important, not just in the workplace but everywhere. Those are certainly the skills I can practice, teach my kids, and cultivate in a variety of non-traditional unpaid ways.

Just because I was (and still am) what some would call a stay-at-home mother, I don’t necessarily do a lot of staying home.

According to the LinkedIn report, these are the soft skills companies need, but have a hard time finding:

1)    Creativity
2)    Persuasion
3)    Collaboration
4)    Adaptability
5)    Time Management

Where better to practice these skills than in the context of motherhood and volunteerism and community service? 

Think about what you’re doing right now. If you’re not doing REAL work, can you think of anything that’s preparing you to lead with the soft skills necessary for the future?

 It’s so easy to think that time spent at home and time spent not earning real money, is wasted time. And this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Your soft skills are getting stronger every day.

 It is possible to chase your dream without running away from your life.

You are not stuck.
You are not stigmatized.
You are not a doormat.
You are not a slave.

You are smart, and special, and someday (but maybe not now), your dreams will actually be closer than you think.

 You will not always have children at home.
You will not always need to be the one who does the cooking and cleaning.
You will find, if you’re willing to share now, that which you have, that when the timing is right, you will receive exactly what you hoped for.

Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.
— Galatians 6:4-5 MSG

Ready to take it to the next level?

 

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Mission Driven Monday--Dara Buczynski

Meet Dara Buczynski!

Dara Bucynski opened Ephiphany Athens in 2014. But her life of faith and adventure actually began many years before. After adopting a daughter from the Ukraine and learning more about orphan care there, Dara decided to use her gifts to partner with global organizations caring for children around the world. Her beautiful boutique is grounded in a simple truth: "God decides you're beautiful." May this episode inspire you to follow your own mission (not the madness) because where purpose lives, love thrives. Thanks, Dara!

Important Links from this Episode:

Epiphany Athens: Check out their new arrivals! Free Shipping over $75!

Heart for Orphans: provides support and care for teens aging out of the orphan care system in the Ukraine and the former Soviet Union

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.
— Proverbs 31:25

Ready to take it to the next level?

Mission Driven Monday--Kristen Witzel

Meet Kristen Witzel!

What makes your heart happy?

Meet the Founder and Executive Director of KidsBoost! Kristen is a mom and former hospital Child Life Specialist who turned her passion for generosity into an opportunity to mentor kids taking on service projects to raise money for the organizations that matter to them. In this episode, we talk about how the challenges of being a single mother and how being an entrepreneur helped her find meaning and purpose in the work she was clearly meant to do.

We both have kids who just finished fifth grade and are about to embark on the adventure of middle school. I think it’s interesting how ideas percolate over time, building tension, and ultimately inspiring us to take action.

As moms, we want to pursue our dreams and also do ALL THE THINGS. Is it possible? Kristen says she spent years living off peanut butter and a prayer. She’s working to build a culture that values working parents as they raise kind and generous kids while using their own gifts to give back to the community.

You don’t want to miss this incredible story.

Important links from this episode:

Does your kid have an idea for a project they’d like to pursue? KidsBoost would love to help!

KidsBoost: Creating a sustainable cycle of giving by equipping kids to serve others

The Moment of Lift : How Empowering Women Changes the World by Melinda Gates

Big Magic: Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

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Mission Driven Monday--Jen Guynn

Meet Jen Guynn!

Everybody wants their kids to care about their community, but not everybody knows where to start! How do you find the projects that include families and allow KIDS to be a part of the process? Kids love to play and they love to help. Guess what? There’s a place for them!

Because my husband works at a church, and I’ve been leading an adventure club for girls for the last five years, people are always asking ME how they can get their kids involved in service. I’m not the expert, but I know someone who is, and here’s what I tell them—Check out Pebble Tossers! They are the leading platform for kids to find the opportunities and resources that will fuel their leadership skills for a lifetime.

In this conversation, Jen and I talk about proudest accomplishments, how we’re practicing mindfulness in this new season, and future dreams. The world is full of incredible opportunities—somebody needs to seize them!

Important Links from this Episode:

Pebbletossers—Start a ripple of giving! Their mission is to empower and equip youth to lead through service. Ahhh…don’t you just love that?

Plywood Presents—Get your tickets now—ATL Ideas! A festival of all things good!

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Mission Driven Monday--Amanda White

Meet Amanda White!

What does it REALLY mean to find meaning and purpose in your life?

Today, Amanda and I addressed one of the biggest tensions we have as moms: Am I JUST a mom? Is that enough? Who am I and how do I navigate this changing, crazy world?

“I start fast.”
”I work hard.”
”I finish strong.”

That's Amanda White in a nutshell.

She's a writer, blogger, mom, and empathetic friend. Today, she's your friend too! I loved talking about what she's learning and how she's growing. Seriously, y'all, there's so much wisdom jam-packed into this episode. Don't miss it. Follow your mission, not the madness.

Until the day when God will deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is contained in these two words,—‘Wait and hope.’
— Alexandre Dumas--The Count of Monte Cristo

Important Links from this Episode:

Oh Amanda: Helping You Impress God’s Word on Your Kids’ Hearts

Truth in the Tinsel: Experience the Christmas story with your kids

A Sense of the Resurrection: An Easter experience for families

The Disciplines of the Christian Life by Eric Liddell. ”I believe God made me for a purpose. But He also made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure.”

We Choose Virtues: Inspiring Character that Lasts

The Road Back to You: An Enneagram journey of self-discovery

We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place .... Rest in God alone, O my soul, for my hope comes from Him.—Hebrews 6:19

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Mission Driven Monday--Pamela Barba

Meet Pamela Barba!

In addition to about 100 other wonderful things, Pamela Barba is the founder of Vamos Ladies, a coaching and branding studio for Latinx women. She helps women communicate their value and earn more money. Talk about being mission driven! There's a word that comes to mind when I think of Pamela, and it's CLARITY. Not only does she know who she is--strong and capable and worthy, but she also helps other people understand who they are. And that's how you bring business to life. She literally puts LIFE into your business! Thanks, Pamela, for following your mission not the madness. And Happy 30th Birthday!

Important Links from this Episode:

Connect with Vamos Ladies

Meet Pamela Barba

More about the Enneagram Personality Test

A question to think about: Are you focused more on where you’re BELONGING or on who you are BECOMING?

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Mission Driven Monday--Amber Pert

Meet Amber Pert!

Amber Pert helps turn young dreamers into real-life doers. Her Navigator book series chronicles how leaders across a range of disciplines built their brands. Amber is passionate about purpose, and she brings it to life through the inspiring words she shares with young leaders. I loved hearing about her vision for the future because kids truly ARE our future. Experience is a great teacher, but for young people--learning from the experiences of others is EVEN BETTER. Follow your mission, not the madness.

Important Links from this Episode:

Wellspring Crew—Information and Navigator Book Series

Book she recommends: Measure What Matters

And a book I recommend: Barking to the Choir by Father Gregory Boyle

Millennials and Money

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Mission Driven Monday--Abbey Glass

Meet Abbey Glass!

When you were a little girl, did you ever make clothes for your Barbies or baby dolls? Did you spend hours drawing fashions in a notebook? Abbey Glass is a maker, too. For as long as she can remember, she's been making things. Today, she is the owner of Abbey Glass Studio, a fashion design and manufacturing house located in Atlanta, Georgia. But that's not all she does. Abbey is motivated, driven, and committed to pursuing the biggest challenges she possibly can.

In this conversation, we talk about the challenges and joys of owning your own company and transferring your personal values to the brand you're building.

At the end, the conversation takes a philosophical turn as we talk about what it's like to be a business woman who is not married and does not have kids.

Follow your mission, not the madness!

Important Links from this episode:

Want to be the most stylish woman in town? You can! Click here.

Visit the Flagship store in Atlanta.

A Podcast Abbey likes: How I Built This

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The One Essential Ingredient that Makes Food (and Life) Even Better

The Beginning

When Gavin and I were first married, I was just learning how to be a homemaker. I missed 4-H the day we learned how to sew a button on a shirt, and I never had a Home Economics class in high school. Although my mom cooked every night, this was not an activity we did together. I guess I thought I would just be able to make stuff because my mom was good at it.

You learn how to cook by osmosis, right?

Wrong!

The first time I made mashed potatoes they turned out soupy and bland.

At 21, I was both health conscious and budget aware, so I made my signature mashed potatoes with margarine and skim milk.

Boy, was that a big mistake!

Good butter and real cream are essential to tasty mashed potatoes.

Since that first cooking fail, I’ve had many more disasters in the kitchen. Sometimes my disasters are the result of sweeping misguided attempts to act gourmet (like that time I tried to make a chocolate bowl using a balloon as my template) or just pure laziness (like that time I put the insert from the crock pot directly on the gas stove), but more often than not, my failings are the result of a single, seemingly inconsequential ingredient.

Like salt.

But any good cook will tell you salt isn’t inconsequential at all. Of all the spices I have in my cabinet (and I have more than 100), salt is the most important. If you leave it out, you’ll know.

The Question

Which got me thinking—is there ONE ingredient that’s essential to success in business and in life?

We create a recipe for success that includes hard skills like on-the-job training and experience, and soft skills like a strong work ethic, an ability to communicate effectively, and self-confidence.

But the most important thing—the one thing that ‘s absolutely essential to success—is someone who believes in you.

Someone who believes in you is the SALT that makes everything else work.

It reminds me of this verse we used to have painted over the fireplace in the keeping room of our old house:

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
— Colossians 4:6 NIV

Someone who believes in you (and tells you) is the most important thing.

The Lesson

It took months before I figured out I wasn’t really a bad cook; I was just using the wrong ingredients. Whole milk and real butter are ESSENTIAL to perfect mashed potatoes. But even after I started using those ingredients, sometimes I would still forget to add the salt.

In life, your words are like salt because there is nothing that hurts worse than an unkind word and nothing that soothes a wound quite like a kind one. I’m reminded how much we depend on them. From those first admonishments when language was just beginning and we heard this phrase:“use your words,” to the phrases we toss back and forth so flippantly in elementary school: “I’m rubber, you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you” to the lie that continues to sting long after the words have left our accuser’s lips: “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

Words matter. They are ESSENTIAL. That’s not new info. It’s like telling you the world is round. This post actually started out as an outline of five different things that I believe successful people do. As I wrote, though, I realized that success looks different for everybody. So I deleted a whole bunch of paragraphs. But even though our definition of success looks different, our validation of it shouldn’t. We should encourage one another and inspire one another to do the very special and unique things we’ve each been gifted to do. As I wrote, I realized the people I admire most, the ones who are building things and leading things and serving people, and creating beautiful art are doing it not for themselves, but for others.

And I realized something else: Every good thing that has ever come my way has been the result of a connection with someone who kindly said, “I want to help.” And likewise, the times when I have felt the loneliest and the worst about myself have been when someone has said something unkind to me.

I want to get life right. Right now, I’m trying to figure out how I can be the SALT for someone else.

One of the ways I’m doing that is by featuring women I admire on my weekly video cast, Mission Driven Monday. Simply go to our website and scroll through our blog. We post new content every single Monday. I hope you meet someone who inspires you. It’s our effort to validate the work Mission Driven Women are doing in the world today.

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Mission Driven Monday--Steen Jones

Meet Steen Jones!

Steen Jones is a serial entrepreneur and writer who lives outside of Atlanta, Georgia. She has a husband, two beautiful teenagers, and a treehouse office that would make Tarzan jealous. When we say "Follow Your Mission, Not the Madness," what we really mean is: FOLLOW YOUR CURIOSITY. The world is full of beautiful things, and as seasons come and go, there's time for enjoying ALL of it. I hope you enjoy this fantastic conversation.

I promised you some pictures of Steen’s amazing treehouse office, so here you go!

The outside of Steen’s Treehouse—a tranquil little spot in the woods!

The outside of Steen’s Treehouse—a tranquil little spot in the woods!

The treehouse office—Inside. I think anybody could find their muse here!

The treehouse office—Inside. I think anybody could find their muse here!

Important Links from this episode:

And fun fact: We talked about Steen’s first business, COLORS, which trained women coming out of the sex industry on how to crochet. In the pic above, Steen’s wearing some of them. And in the pic of ME on this website, I’m wearing some of them too!

Steen’s TedX talk at Georgia Tech

Buy the book, The Door Keeper by Steen Jones

Learn how to WAKE YOURSELF UP with Wim Hof. Follow him on Instagram! Here’s everything you need to know about the Wim Hof Method.

Elizabeth Gilbert’s Book, Big Magic

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Mission Driven Monday--Monica Lage

Meet Monica Lage!

What started as a senior project grew to be one of the premier entrepreneur camps in the country.

Meet Monica Lage, the founder of Break Into Business, where kids move from idea to pitch to profitable business in just five short days. Monica says launching Break Into Business and being present for her children is the hardest thing she's ever done. (And this is coming from a person who has an MBA from Harvard!) She makes it look easy, but don't be fooled--Monica has worked VERY, VERY hard.

One of the things I love most about the Break Into Business business model is its emphasis on generosity. That's a core value of Monica's, too, and it shines through loud and clear. Monica is following her mission, not the madness, and inspiring hundreds of kids along the way.

In THIS interview, Monica confesses that she's learning how to be INefficient. What? You'll have to watch to find out what she means.

Want to learn more about how your kid can be a part of Break Into Business? Click here!

If you have a child between the ages of 9-14 and live in the Atlanta area, this is a summer camp worth exploring!

Kids build real businesses and have the chance to earn real money. And this summer is extra special—camps just for GIRLS and even a camp for kids who want to learn more about SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP are available. Campers also have the opportunity to sign up for one of Break Into Business’s fall accelerator programs. USE CODE GIRLBOSS FOR $30 OFF GIRLS CAMP THROUGH 5/17/2019.

My own son participated in camp for four straight summers and loved every minute of it. He loved hanging out in Atlanta’s coolest co-working spaces, pitching his business, and coming home with cold, hard cash in his hands. I am a thoroughly satisfied customer and recommend B. Camp without reservation!

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Mission Driven Monday--Kim Gentry Meyer

Meet Kim Gentry Meyer!

Kim Meyer is an accomplished singer and songwriter with a passion for animal welfare. She's channeling her creativity and love for animals into a brand new project aimed at helping kids understand how to better care for animals. Kim is partnering with a children’s book author to write an accompanying soundtrack full of songs about animals. Doesn’t that sound like fun?

Kim is living the dream alongside her husband, Adam, in Boston, MA. In this conversation, we explore how you don't have to be the BEST at one thing as long as you can be PRETTY GOOD at two or three different things. "Use all you have," is a motto we won't soon forget. Thanks for following your mission, Kim!

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me’
— Erma Bombeck

Important Links from this Episode:

Animal Welfare Work: What Baxter Started

Kim’s Music:

Connect with Kim: Instagram Handle and Facebook

whatbaxterstarted.com and https://www.facebook.com/whatbaxterstarted/


The children's songs she wrote for the two books will be available at this site: https://petpunditpublishing.com/. The website is currently being redone, but they will be up soon. Stay tuned!

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Mission Driven Monday--Sarah Sasson

Meet Sarah Sasson!

Are you a risk taker?

That was the question I asked Sarah Sasson, Founder/Executive Director of Kula Project, an organization that provides industry training, business investment, and life and leadership skills in Rwanda. When I first met Sarah, she was a jet-setting woman on-the-go, with one foot firmly planted here in the United States and one straddling the ocean and chasing her heart to the faraway beauty of Rwanda, Africa.

Today, the incredible fellows of Kula Project are building profitable businesses, raising healthy families, and sending their children to school. It didn’t happen overnight, but rather over many, many years of fostering strong relational ties and empowering leaders—young and old alike.

In this episode, Sarah and I talk about the highs and lows of running a nonprofit, celebrating wins, and enjoying hobbies that have their own measurable results. I asked Sarah if she was a risk taker because I've always felt like she was a girl who knew how to take adventure to the nth degree. You know what? She's just like you and me. She's following her mission, not the madness, and that has made all the difference in the world.

Important links from this episode:

Check out the beautiful photography on her site! You can even sponsor a budding entrepreneur. And if you’d like to buy some of the yummy coffee produced by the Kula fellows, you can do that here.

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It’s time to DREAM BIG!

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How Do I Know What I'm Supposed to Do With My Life?

Last week, I attended a magic show hosted by renowned magician, Peter Morrison. For a full hour, our party was mesmerized by sleight of hand tricks, mentalism, and illusion. Plus, Peter is an engaging personality with a twinkling eye and a winning smile. You can’t help but sit on the edge of your seat.

Between sets, he regaled us with personal stories of his journey as a magician. I was struck by this little tidbit: “I practiced 8-10 hours a day 7 days a week for five years.”

Wow!

Is there anything you love so much you’d be willing to practice 10 hours a day for five full years? I often say, “I wish I could” when I see somebody doing something cool, never stopping to think how long it probably took them to get there.

That means the thing you love has to become your job before it’s actually your job. And it’s not rocket science—you will get better at whatever you practice.

So here’s two important questions to ponder:

  1. What’s the main thing that deserves your energy?

  2. Can you narrow your brand to discover the things you do really well?

Knowing who you are and what you want is a lifelong process, but the magic is in the process.

It’s time to start practicing now.

Pursue not only what interests you, but also what you’re good at. And remember what Greg McKeown said about priorities in his book, Essentialism.

Creating an essential intent is hard. It takes courage, insight, and foresight to see which activities and efforts will add up to your single highest point of contribution. It takes asking tough questions, making real trade-offs, and exercising serious discipline to cut out the competing priorities that distract us from our true intention. Yet it is worth the effort because only with real clarity of purpose can people, teams, and organizations fully mobilize and achieve something truly excellent
— Greg McKeown, Essentialism
  • Cultivate vulnerability. Believe it or not, this will actually give you more confidence!

  • Practice direction-setting. A lot of people start out with good intentions. Direction, not intention, determines destination.

  • Craft a process for the life you want. Be patient when it comes to the results. All rhythms also include seasons of rest. Be radically iterative through the process and you will find that you absolutely will improve over time.

“Who you are is continuously transforming through courageous creativity and a deep commitment to what you believe.”

I don’t know if I’ll ever love something enough to practice a full ten hours a day, and at this stage of life, I don’t have ten hours a day to devote to my one true love—but if I can find two or even five hours in a day, then that’s something worth pursuing.

What’s your thing?

Share in the comments below, and I’ll make a commitment to cheer you on!

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Mission Driven Monday--Amber Robinson

Meet Amber Robinson!

I met Amber at the Indiana Christian Writers Conference back in 2012. She was writing a book called Mercy Rising and working on a number of other projects. But she's not only a writer--she's a composer, pianist, and teacher, and her newest book, Piano Lessons for Kids, is making waves across the U.S. In this episode, we talk about Essentialism, Mission Statements, the lives we live, and the legacies we leave. I wish we lived in the same city because I know my life would be better if I could make time with Amber a regular part of it. Amber will inspire you to make music, create art, and just get out there and PLAY. Be like Amber and follow your mission, not the madness. I’m cheering for you!

Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.
— Booker T. Washington

Thinking Tree Books: This is an awesome resource! You’ve heard of home-schooling and un-schooling, but have you ever heard of FUN-schooling?

Mercy Rising: Simple Ways to Practice Justice and Compassion

Piano Lessons for Kids: Piano Lessons for Kids is the inventive book that unleashes a student’s imagination and love for music! This self-paced, 168-page book spans a semester or a school year, depending how often you visit the subject – once or multiple times in a week.

Adults need no prior musical training and are encouraged to learn right along with their kids. The audio/video materials make this possible.

Students will learn not just to read notes, but also to hear music, compose, and tell a story with the piano – all with songs they really want to play. Separating it from other method books and online programs.

This book – with essential audio/video instruction – solves the problem of having to purchase separate books for note reading, music theory, listening skills, and composing – it’s all here, in one book.

Essentialism: This book by Greg McKeown is THE BOMB, and if you’ve ever struggled with saying YES to too many things, this is the book to help you prioritize well.

The 90:90:1 Rule: For the next 90 days, devote the first 90 minutes of your work day to the one best opportunity in your life. Nothing else. Zero distractions. Just get that project done. Period.

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