Myth-Busters: Goal-Setting Style-How Might I be Getting in My Own Way?

It’s that time of year again, folks—the nearing of the wrap-up of summer (bummers. Why did I have to go there, right?)! For many people, this time of year marks a time for a fresh start into fall, a “clean slate” for some, and the opportunity to make some changes in the days to come. But how often do we find ourselves extremely motivated and eager at the idea of this venture, but struggle to carry out these changes on a consistent basis, let alone for very long?

I call this the “idealism syndrome” (OK, so it’s not TRULY an official name, but let me explain!).

We tend to see this time of year in the way that I just described above. While this view is not false or negative, it does not take into account the HOW factor: how we will plan to maintain our new positive habits or new perspectives once the luster of the “new changes” wears off. We become giddy with idea of all the bright and shiny new habits we can begin to form, and we look at this time as a whole while setting monumental (and oftentimes overly lofty) goals for ourselves. And once the sparkle wears off, it can leave us feeling unmotivated and defeated. We’ve all seen this before—how great we are doing in the beginning! And then once the middle of October rolls around…we struggle, start to fall off of the “changes galore horse,” and lose sight of what we set out to do in the first place.

This happens because we can unintentionally set ourselves up for a few common mishaps:

  • Setting a goal without breaking down the steps of how we will go about achieving it
  • Setting large goals without breaking down smaller goal “milestones” in order to keep us on track
  • Seeing the “big picture” without seeing the various components of the “journey”
  • Using “fresh start to fall” time as the only time we set goals for ourselves (or even “New Year’s Resolution” time)
  • Not focusing enough on the “why” behind our goal

We tend to do these things without even realizing—because goal-setting is positive, right? What we tend to overlook is the fact that sometimes we set goals in which we actually inhibit ourselves instead of empower ourselves. Goal-setting is a tricky science, but luckily there are positive methods for goal-setting that have the power to empower,increasing the likelihood of sticking to goals, which makes change more likely to be successful.

Let’s bust through some of these goal-setting myths that tend to center around this time of year:

Setting a goal without breaking down the steps of how we will go about achieving it.This tends to happen when we become very excited around the kick-off to fall, but what we fail to do is further examine the HOW factor. While I’m definitely not knocking enthusiasm, the HOW is equally as important.

  • Instead, try this: Remember to ask yourself, “Do I know what it will take to work toward this goal? What other changes might I need to make as a result of this intended change? How will I fit creating these habits into my schedule?” It may be helpful to write these down as they are important factors of goal success! Remembering the HOW will aid the goal into coming into fruition.

Setting large goals without breaking down smaller goal “milestones” in order to keep us on track. While I agree with the statement that you need to have a clear idea of where you are going in order to be able to guide yourself toward your goal destination, when we forget to keep track of the mile-markers along the way, we sometimes veer off of our goal path and into a ditch of disaster! Focusing only on the end of the goal (or the completion state of the goal) will not be enough.

  • Instead, try this: Think of your goal-setting process as creating a roadmap. Just like on road trips, you have to plan to make those necessary stops along the way in addition to your final destination. Breaking down your goal destination into smaller steps helps your goal seem more manageable. It will also prompt action in order to reach smaller steps that compile into your goal. This method helps keep the motivation going, and gives you opportunities to celebrate the smaller successes in order to keep you on track and keep the motivation flowing (even when “new goals” hype wears off)!

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Seeing the “big picture” without seeing various components of the “journey.” This is very similar to the points above. When we only have our “end point” in sight, the journey or the smaller successes can be overlooked, and we tend to miss out on the enjoyment of working toward our goals.

  • Instead, try this: Don’t allow yourself to miss out on the blessings that are in the journey! While it is a wonderful feeling to accomplish the end stage of your goals, there is beauty in the transitions, the growth, and the journey. Allow yourself to embrace the steps along the way, and reflect on the changes you are not only seeing but feeling as a result of all your hard work. Don’t forget to praise yourself for the smaller victories!

Using “fresh start” time as the only time we set goals for ourselves. Out of all of these goal-setting myths, this one may be the most ironic. It passes under our radar because we view goal-setting in general as positive. However, when we center on kick-off to fall as the only (or most monumental) time for goal-setting, we place ourselves in a situation that is hard to live up to. In addition, once the hype wears off, so can our goal-work and motivation.

  • Instead, try this: Try making a habit of employing goal-setting at various times during the year. This can be on a monthly, or even weekly, basis. In this sense, we create a habit and (just as importantly) a mindset of goal-setting that can carry through the entire year. In utilizing this technique, we create more opportunities for success, constant reflection, and re-evaluation of our mindset and habits, along with opportunities to see our work pay off and our motivation to hold steady. Don’t be afraid to scale back the “big idea goals” to monthly goal guideposts in order to further prompt your growth and dedication!

Not focusing enough on the “why” behind our goal. It’s difficult to stay motivated, energized, and dedicated toward a cause unless we know the purpose behind our activity. We tend to make our main motivator behind setting fall goals as “Because it’s the moving into the new season! I want a fresh start. That’s what you do at this time of year.” When that is our largest motivation for our goals, we struggle to keep those as priorities and tend to not stay on track for very long.

  • Instead, try this: Firmly establish your “why” behind your goals. Explore goal options that you have a personal tie to, something that tugs at the inner part of you. Challenge yourself to find inner motivation toward your goals that goes beyond the specific time of the year. These goals will speak so much more to us and pull us toward action if we feel personally and emotionally connected to our “why” factor.

While the wrap of of summer is an excellent time to think about new beginnings, opportunities, and all the blessings God has for us, it doesn’t have to end around mid-October! We were made for more. Busting through the “myths” of goal-setting and employing techniques that aid in consistent growth and motivation have the power to give us the consistency that we crave. Now get ready, get set, get going! The Lord’s richest blessings on all you seek in His name.

Stay tuned,

-AF

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Dwell, Abide, and Delight

Lately, this verse has been ever-present in my mind:

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

I think it’s more than fair to say that when life throws us curveballs, we either

  1. a. Hold on to Christ for dear life, leaning into him for that necessary guidance, or
  2. b. Shift our focus from him to the overwhelming stressors this earthly life is throwing at us.

It is so easy to get clouded by the demands of this world. I speak from personal experience as a fellow sinner, recovering perfectionist, and someone that has a slightly (or more) unhealthy relationship with control. One of the first things to go out the window when life appears to be in a constant state of overwhelm is my intentionality with fostering my personal relationship with Christ. I wish I could say that I never fall into this trap of getting wrapped up in what the world is asking of me vs. seeking God’s kingdom first. But truly, my sinful self at times gets off track, causing my focus to shift from the security I find in Christ to the endless “to do’s” and the mindset of “how can this ever be accomplished?!”

Which tailspins the anxiety. Which catalysts the rushing. Which leads to the social neglect. Which ends up in depletion.

There are some telltale warning signs that occur when our focus is a bit off-kilter. Maybe you’ve experienced them:

  • Fatigue
  • A sense of overwhelming worry
  • Feeling “burdened” by life; feeling a heavy weight of obligation
  • Living a more “rushed” lifestyle—finding very little wiggle room in which to be intentional about learning from God’s Word
  • Expressing more “If only this would happen…” vs. “I’m so grateful that…”

Sound familiar? I’m sure by now we know these all too well. These feelings or behaviors start to become “red flags” that something is out of balance. More times than not, our overwhelm, ironically, overshadows our ability to deliberately foster our personal relationship with our loving God.

That’s where this verse from Psalms that I mentioned above comes into play. It is something so simply stated, but it truly packs a punch in the comfort department. And it starts off with such a refreshing word: delight. How can one say this word and not feel a sense of relief? Let’s zone in on this word—an interpretation of the word “delight” in this context may be “to find the purest joy in, or “to lovingly and earnestly invest yourself in.” In essence, to throw ourselves fully into—emotionally, spiritually, and mentally—the presence of God and his everlasting promises. “Delighting ourselves” in him illustrates us as his children, seeking first his will and comfort, and finding the peace and joy that comes from the ever-fervent guidance of our heavenly Father.

Doing this requires our recognition of our need for a Savior (especially during the more trying times) as well as the motivation to constantly foster our spiritual relationship with him in order to have a sense of comfort carry over into every aspect of our earthly lives—including the overwhelm! And doing this requires both time in our minds and time on our calendars.

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Whew. Not an easy balance to maintain, especially when life appears to get more and more hectic each day, making a sustainable lifestyle that includes spiritual growth through Christ quite challenging. As Christ’s children in an age of “I need this done yesterday” and constant overload, what are some habits we can incorporate to keep our focus on delighting ourselves in him?

  • Pick a verse of the day to meditate on. While reading sections of Scripture in a devotion is a wonderful way to foster our relationship with Christ, for the “pulled in a million different ways” individual, more focused and in-depth meditation on smaller passages can be carried out throughout the day outside of devotional time. For example, the passage from Psalms above can be meditated on throughout the day. Placing this passage as an hourly reminder on your phone or writing it on a sticky note and placing it on your computer desk or on your planner (things we look at numerous times throughout the day) are small reminders to keep God’s Word at the forefront of our minds all day long, even when our schedule gets hectic. This provides the intentionality factor of actively opening up our hearts to what the Lord is telling us through his Word and how it can be applied to the everyday happenings of our lives. Biblegateway.com has a verse of the day each day to help get you going!
  • Carry your Bible with you to use as you travel throughout the day. This is something a friend of mine told me that I thought was extremely unique. Even the physical weight of an object has the ability to shift our focus onto what really matters. The act of carrying your Bible with you as you venture to work, pick up the kids, head to the gym, and so on and so forth is a constant reminder to keep our eyes open to how Christ is revealing his mercy to us each day.
  • Have a Christian playlist geared up and ready to go. Music is a wonderful way that God reveals himself to us! There are many places that we can incorporate music into our daily routine: in the car as we sit through our morning traffic routine, in the office during our lunch break, and even during our exercise routines. Having music ready to go that speaks of Christ’s love and sacrifice and encourages us to seek him in his Word is a wonderful reminder of the focus we ought to have each day. AND this is a fun and energy-boosting way to hear of God’s promises for us!
  • Utilize transitions as time for brief prayer. There are many times during our workdays in which we transition between activities or move from place to place. Utilizing these time periods as times to spend a few minutes in prayer with our God (even if it’s just to say “thank you!” or “Lord, let me be your vessel”) can aid us in keeping God as the focus of our day even in the hustle and bustle of life.

Each of the above examples can be done with a sense of joy, as Christ provides us with the comfort that the world cannot give. One of the opportunities we receive from our God is the ability to come into his presence no matter where we are during the day: God can be seen in the struggle of work deadlines, in the abundance of activities to get the children to, and even in the busyness of a packed schedule. We need to delight ourselves in him fully and intentionally in order to dwell in the peace that comes from seeking him out in unique ways.

Join me this week in delighting yourself in the ever-comforting presence of the Lord! It is amazing how we can thrive under the hectic demands of this world when we are first delighting ourselves in our relationship with God and the comfort only he can provide. It is through the strength of God that we persevere, and it is through his grace that he restores our hearts and minds.

May He always bless our mess.

Stay tuned,

-AF

When to Say “No” to a “Good Thing”

Guys: One of my favorite words has got to become the word “no”.

In my more recent posts this month, you can see a theme in my struggle with the word “no” and how allowing myself permission to use this word generously has given me freedom in many areas of my life. One of the biggest things I am learning about myself is that I am the main person that backs myself into a corner. It’s so easy to blame work, life events, yada yada, but no: am the main person who tends to back myself into a corner by not exercising my right to say “no” as often as I should.

I’ve had people reach out to me telling me that they can relate to my love-hate relationship with the word “no”, and I feel so blessed to have ladies that walk along side me with a similar struggle so that we can look at each other eyeball to eyeball and say the most empowering phrase in the world: “Oh yeah? Me too.”

I think a certain commitment has been weighing on my heart and mind much more recently, where I am possibly struggling to accept the reality that it may be time to utilize a “no” and release myself from something I have been involved in for the last 3.5 years. While there are a few things that are holding me back from exercising this “no”, today I want to touch on some of the signs that may alert us to the fact that it is time to lovingly let something go through using the word “no”.

This helps us stay accountable in being good stewards of the time that God has entrusted (yes entrusted!) to us while truly living out our authentic truth. It also will save us from building resentment, depletion, and a strapped schedule.

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I’ve slowly come to learn to watch out for these warning signs when I am considering exercising a “no”:

You consistently dread said commitment. Now I know there are days in life where even a blessing can seem like a stressor, and we reallllllllly don’t want to engage, but I’m talking on a consistent basis here. For example, some days I just dread going to work. But once I’m there and have gotten going, I’m good! I truly LOVE my job, and it’s normal to struggle to engage some days. However, if the thought of engaging in said commitment consistently gives you a sinking feeling of dread-even if it’s a good thing-it may be time to consider exercising the much needed “no”.

You find your time more useful elsewhere. If I’m consistently saying to myself “I truly feel my time would better be used elsewhere”, I may not be engaging in the right commitment for myself at the time.

You don’t prioritize the time for it. Our priorities direct our goals, which guide our behavior, which decide how we organize our time. If I’m not actively and intentionally prioritizing the time for said commitment after I’ve examined that I DO have the time to devote to it, my heart may not truly be in it.

You simply need the time elsewhere. Similarly as I mentioned before, some seasons of life require our time to be dispersed a bit differently. And this is OKAY! It is okay to give ourselves permission to change our minds depending on the demands that we have at the time. We need to adapt as life challenges us to adapt. It’s okay to say “my time is needed elsewhere” and give yourself the freedom to invest in what needs investing.

You have a “passive attitude” while involved in the commitment. This is something I had noticed more recently while engaging in the commitment in consideration: I was starting to get very apathetic about the entire process-meaning I truly did not devote the energy to care how it went. It was at this time that I could tell my feeling toward this activity had shifted, as I was developing different priorities throughout the season I was growing through.

You aren’t getting your “baselines” met. This was something that became SUPER apparent to me when I needed to exercise some “no’s”: My baseline functions were suffering as a sign of too many “yes’s!” What I mean by that is this:

  • Is this activity cutting into sleep?
  • Is this cutting into your ability to consistently fuel your body with the nutrients and food it needs?
  • Is this activity interfering with your time to prioritize the Lord and listen to His voice?
  • Is this commitment adding too much pressure on your other roles in life-wife, friend, Christian, daughter, parent?

Baselines first. Everything else second.

You can’t define a concrete purpose for engaging in this activity. At this time, my purpose for engaging in said commitment has shifted from “investing in my passion and building community” to “because I’ve been doing it and am worried about upsetting others by leaving”. This is not an authentic reason to stick to something. People-pleasing will get us nowhere. We have to have a definitive purpose to engage in a “yes” vs. prohibiting ourselves from using a “no” when needed.

Whew.

This is NOT easy to do. Only when we empower ourselves to give ourselves permission to exercise a “no” can we truly live sustainable lives filled with balance. I should know-I spent WAY too long doing the opposite! And this still tends to be my ‘default setting’- I have to work very intentionally to live out this truth for myself.

Embrace “no”: it can be kind to you.

 

Stay tuned,

-AF

 

What Worked and What Didn’t: July in Review

8/1/17. I don’t know about you, but I LOVE greeting the first day of a new month (except if those months are November-March. Ew Winter).

I want to go back to a system that was working for me VERY well in the past (why do we drop things that work so well for us?! Ugh.). What I would do is each month, and the very end or very beginning of the next month, I would look back at the past month in a sort of reflective-review style and figure out “what worked” and “what didn’t work” in terms of goals and lifestyle. I feel like this type of reflection is important because it allows us to 1)see what changes might be beneficial to make and 2)allows us to praise ourselves on what IS working and what IS going well (which we often times overlook, well at least I tend to 😉 ).

So here I am to air out my “dirty laundry” of how I let some things go this month (why? Because brokenness and imperfection needs to be embraced and accepted), as well as pinpoint what was working well for the month of July:

What worked:

  • Consistent weekly date nights-making time to just be newlyweds and enjoy new experiences together! Also provided us with something to look forward to each week
  • Saying “no” to extra work obligations (this was a big step for me)-I turned down 2 presentation opportunities and a promotion this month in order to hold on to my sustainable work schedule, and I have NO regrets about this
  • Attending my weight watcher weigh-ins regularly, no matter how I thought the week had gone-I had extra accountability as well as my most consistent weight loss this month since November of last year 🙂
  • Checking out of “work mode” the moment I entered my car after work (I used to be a CONSTANT work planner at home, checking work e-mails at all times of the day from home-no more!). Overall, being less accessible
  • Making more time to invest in close friendships and family relations-making more of an effort to host people at our new home, meet up for coffee dates, and check in with loved ones (especially those who we knew were struggling a bit more)
  • Starting to get back into writing again (hence this blog) and investing in this area of expression and life

What didn’t work:

  • lack of paying close attention to our social spending-which dipped into our finances more than I am typically comfortable with
  • Not writing down a meal plan each week-how easy it can be at those times to just “pick something up on the way home” and not make the healthiest choices!
  • Inconsistent church attendance-due to travel, changing schedules, fatigue-what have you
  • Missing out on my group exercise classes that I like-I missed the variety in activity!
  • Lack of sleep-I was SUPER cranky and irritable at various times this month, and I know it was because my body was not getting the rest it needed. However, I don’t like that side of myself and don’t wish to see it more than I need to
  • Lack of group-based support-I think I’m recognizing I need more time with the sisters in Christ I have in my life on a group basis to discuss and support one another in the specific challenges and blessings that come along with being women
  • Lack of time in personal prayer as well as prayer with my partner-we need more of this in our lives

Even as I’m writing this, I’m recognizing that more things have worked this month that I thought. Sometimes when we are in the midst of a challenging or inconsistent season, it can be hard to see that there is blessing in the storm, and that things are going better than they feel. 

I’m a goal-oriented gal, but I also don’t believe that goals should run EVERY area of my life (I’ve developed a healthier, more balanced relationship with this over the last several months). However, I oftentimes find myself setting a few goals here and there over 5 main categories of my life: Financial, Health, Professional, Social, and Personal/Spiritual. Based on my reflection from above, here are some things I am challenging myself to stay accountable and intentional in (giving myself some grace every now and again 😉 ).

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Financial:

  1. Update our budget and budgeting app to reflect recent financial changes
  2. Weekly analyze/reflect back on our spending patterns (especially socially) to see how we are doing with our means

Health:

  1. Continue to regularly attend weekly Weight Watcher Meetings
  2. Use our new whiteboard (of course) to meal plan for the week before going grocery shopping-map out food prep days
  3. Encourage myself to schedule in 2 group fitness classes a month

Professional (not a big emphasis this next month):

  1. Continue to only check/respond to work-related e-mails/duties when at the office-my job is NOT on-call and I should not be inducing guilt on myself for this choice 🙂
  2. Continue to only schedule client appointments within office availability

Social:

  1. Host one larger gathering at our home (if our dog is ready for it!). If our dog is not ready for it, create a larger group outing to eliminate some of that pressure
  2. Invite 2 friends that I have been meaning to connect with out for coffee/drink dates
  3. Continue weekly date night (love this!)

Personal/Spiritual:

  1. Choose a devotional app that I enjoy and begin to incorporate this into my daily schedule
  2. Make a consistent effort to pray with my spouse each day
  3. Become more consistent in our church attendance
  4. Continue to write on this blog 3-4 times weekly

 

There ya have it! My reflections and intentions. I’d love to hear how your monthly reflections have gone, and what is on your heart and mind for the month of August. I’d love to provide any support I can!

Stay tuned,

-AF

The Things I’m Striving to Let Go of

Oftentimes in life, we focus on what we would like to gain. Lately, I’ve spent more time focusing on what I’d like to lose. 

Author Lara Casey calls these things “weeds“: the elements that need to be ferociously pulled from our lives versus the tidbits that need to be nurtured and cultivated. Because (and I’m so learning), that essentially when we lose these elements, we have the opportunity to gain so much more.

This is such a central theme in my life: trying to tow the line in finding the balance in obtaining and releasing. 

That being said, I would love to clue you in on the areas of life in which I am trying to become free of. Those “weeds” that I’m slowly chipping away at pulling from my garden called life. The things that oftentimes get in the way of potential gains. Here goes:

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  1. An over-emphasis on the perceptions of others: This is something that has been more of a silent battle for me. On the outside, appearing a very outgoing, confident, out-spoken woman. However, my over-emphasis on others’ perceptions has caused me to over-work and over-committ myself in ways that I would never advise anyone to do. It’s also led to over-using “yes”, which has gotten me into a lotttttt of trouble.
  2. Constant accessibility: Here’s where I start to sound like an “old lady”. I wholeheartedly HATE the concept of always being able to be reached. With so many ways to communicate (both verbally as well as virtually), individuals tend to think there is little to no excuse for not “getting back to someone”. I would be the person who would take on such a tone of urgency whenever someone needed something of me, whether it was a work-related e-mail, or a social invite, or even just wanting to “catch up”. For what?! I am striving to let go of this sense of urgency and adopt the perspective that there is no rush when it comes to pace of communication (as well as the fact of being “off the grid” when I choose to be 🙂 ).
  3. Gymtimidation“: One of the staff members at the gym I attend threw this term out at me one day, and I was like “Yes, that’s exactly how I’m feeling!” I was having so much trouble stepping out of my comfort zone at the gym, whether that meant venturing over into a lesser-traveled strength training area, or even using a machine that I wasn’t 100% confident on what it actually did (hey now, some of those are STRANGE). I feel that since identifying what I was actually feeling and where that fear was coming from (hello, recovering perfectionist, remember?), I have felt more empowered to be able to modify this for myself, whether that’s taking more classes or even using funny-looking weight machines ;).
  4. Financial fear: ugh. Ugh. UGH. This is such a tough one for me. Growing up, a great emphasis was placed on working your butt off in order to be independently secure in terms of your finances. I’ve never worked less than 3 jobs at once in my life (UP UNTIL THIS YEAR, Holy guac), as was constantly urged by my parents to work work work and save save save. This “financial fear” mentality has led me to go through periods of out-of-control impulsive spending as well as periods in which I would have so much anxiety even buying the essentials. I remember those awful days standing in a corner of a grocery store aisle, having the false mentality that all eyes were on me and that my fear was somehow exposed, feeling on the verge of a panic attack staring at the items in my cart (all of which were essential, nothing over the top). This is something that still has such a powerful grip on me, and I see how it comes through in my hubby and I’s marriage. I’m still the type that is either constantly checking the bank account with a pit in the bottom of my stomach, or going weeks without looking at bank statements because the fear of the thought of being financially insecure is a fear that my body will avoid facing at all costs.
  5. Being everyone’s solution: I feel this one might need it’s own separate post, as this was the driving force to my excessive weight gain, unsustainable pace of living, and almost complete isolation 2 years back. In summary-I just cannot allow myself to be in this mentality, as well as have to view this is absolutely unrealistic. For my own health’s sake. Others in my life are also being challenged to accept this, as it has changed the way I act professionally, personally, and emotionally.

What are you challenging yourself to let go of in order to make gains in your life? Can you identify with any of these areas? I’d love to hear what’s on your heart. How lovely would it be for us to know we are not alone in these areas that grip us?

Stay tuned,

-AF

 

From One Fellow NON MORNING Person to Another

I don’t know about you, but I am NOT a morning person. No sir.

I mean, I truly WISH I was a morning person. I look at all these chipper morning people, you know the kind, the kind of people that are up before dawn, get a work out in, have hustle-bustled around the house completing some chores, taking time to even meditate or do their devotions, and this is all before even heading to work. My goodness! I can barely wake up on time to have a cup of coffee before heading to work (#priorities).

While my example from above may be a bit on the extreme side (however, I have met people like this!), one of my goals is to reach a more comfortable shade of this. One of my absolute least favorite things in the world is feeling rushed. My anxiety is literally in tail-spin mode when I feel that I am rushed in any way, either by myself or someone else. I mean truly, who likes to feel pushed about like they have no time to even stop and breathe?! But how often is that how we live most mornings? With not even a second to spare? Being on “autopilot?”  I know I’ve been there far too many times. Particularly, this morning.

I am SO dragging this morning. Who’s with me?

SO, today’s blog post is on tips of how to beat the “morning slump” and kick-start your morning into a revitalizing, joyful experience (Or at least, a bearable one. Some days, that’s all I shoot for).

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  1. Begin your day with intentional gratitude. The Lord’s mercies are new each morning! Gratitude is not only an attitude, but a practice. When we make this practice intentional, it becomes a more habitual perspective of thinking, and modifies how we experience the life he has given us! What better a way to set the tone for the day than by taking in the world around us and giving thanks to the One who made it all possible? This can be done in a variety of ways, but I do have a few favorites:
  • Gratitude journaling: This can take as little as 3 minutes! Challenge yourself to put on your lens of gratitude in write down 3 ways you are thankful today. If you would like a more structured way to do this, Ann Voskamp has wonderful gratitude challenges to do this each day!
  • Take a gratitude walk: If morning activity is your thing, this could help you kill 2 birds with one stone! (I sincerely just realized how morbid this well-known phrase is…moving on!) A gratitude walk involves somewhere in your neighborhood, or in a favorite nature area, and verbalizing the beauty that you see in God’s creation. Really make this a full sensory experience and be intentional with what your senses take in!
  • Consistently involve gratitude in a morning prayer: set aside a time in your prayer life to not only ask of the Lord, but to merely give thanks
    • A holistic prayer style: PART
      • Praise: Use His names and give Him the glory- Almighty One! True Healer! Source of Life!
      • Admittance: Personal confessions to the Lord
      • Request: What we are asking of God
      • Thanksgiving: gratitude of our many earthly and spiritual blessings

*Many of these take anywhere from 3-20 minutes, so plan in what works best for your morning routine! Moral of the story:

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Jesus Christ.”-1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18

 

  1. Set the Scene. Make your morning environment enjoyable! Who wants to revitalize themselves in an area that sucks the life out of you? Yikes! Pull open the blinds, crank up some favorite tunes, and get your body in motion! Sometimes, I even like to use some fresh scents to help awake my senses, such as a refreshing candle or some fruity lotions  (bath and Body Works has made SO much money off of me). Make the setting you awaken to somewhere that you look forward to engaging in!

 

  1. Skip the snooze button. Gah, this is sooooooooo tempting! This is my #1 vice when it comes to mornings. However, it is proven that continuing to engage your body in the “snoozing process” actually leads you to feeling more sluggish, and decreases your chances of actually getting up out of bed. Plus, when you continually snooze, you leave yourself with less time in the morning to do all the wonderful things that we are talking about here. So, do yourself a favor, and break up with Mr. Snooze! Sometimes, it takes people putting their alarm/phone across the room, so that when the alarm sounds, that physical act of getting out of bed is required.

 

  1. Plan out the day. Mornings are a wonderful time to get organized for the rest of your day. Take a review of your calendar, review any monthly/weekly goals you have set out for yourself (YAY! More on this later!), and if it is helpful, make a short to-do list for the day based off of your goals or obligations. This helps us to feel more organized and ready to take on the day.

 

  1. Take some personal time with God. This is probably the most important thing I can suggest to you. Our God has a relentless love for us, and craves time on our mind and calendars. Starting the day out with quiet time with our Savior is soooo revitalizing, my dears. It also helps us stay in the mindset to put God first, instead of having him get lost in the never-ending stream of our day. This can look different for everyone, but morning meditations and prayers, a short devotion with our coffee (holler!), and engaging in a bible-reading program are excellent ideas of how to do this. The point is to be intentional about our personal relationship with him by engaging in his Word to kick off our day. To be fully present in this time with him is hard, as I’m sure we fall into our mind wandering to the day ahead, but challenge yourself to be fully present with God as he opens up his mercies to you through his word.

 

There you have it! There are many more ways to engage yourself in the mornings, but here are a few of my favorites. I am so excited to hear what you all are involving in your morning routines! Share with me. I wanna know. Because I still need help on this each and every day.

I am by no means an expert, mearly someone who is navigating through these struggles with you.

Let’s be real. Together.

 

Stay tuned,

-AF