It’s now February and I am just barely getting to articulating my Intentional Year. I didn’t do it after Christmas. I didn’t start Jan 1 or even Jan 7, 15, or 31 with my intentions, resolutions, or any of it.
If you were on your game at the turn of the calendar page, Bravo! You are probably in one of two camps by now: 1. You’re killing it with your goals for 2017, or 2. You are rapidly throwing in the towel(s) on any or all of your resolutions.
For me, I missed the boat, missed the New Year’s Day magic-start-of-every-goal thing. I felt like a massive failure and I actually GAVE UP.
My email inbox had been filled for the previous 2 weeks with lots of people getting geared up to start the New Year with a bang and create the Best, Most Amazing year of their life, ever, in the history of living on this planet.
And frankly, I got really sick of it.
Because the reality of my life is that Christmas is a lot of work with five kids and a husband who is not a huge fan of holidays.
Compound that craziness with two children’s birthdays the week following Christmas, and you have an officially burnt out mama come New Years Eve.
Christmas + two birthdays with friend parties and extra gifts = Lots of Stress and to-do’s and not a lot of time for slowing down and really thinking about intentional creation for the next year.
And this year we added strep throat, pneumonia, ear infections, flu, and a furnace that stopped working the day before my husband went on a 10 day trip. Oh joy.
End result? Jan 7th I gave up.
For a few days I just didn’t care.
Kids missed sports, I didn’t return phone calls or texts, meals were whatever could be thrown together in a few minutes when I finally left my bedroom.
I knew I couldn’t keep going like this. So after a few days I took an hour of me-time where I read my scriptures and did some deep thinking and finally, FINALLY, things started un-blocking. The ideas started to come.
And the first idea that came through was this: Play by your own rules.
Why do I have to have all this stuff planned out by Jan 1st?
What difference does it make if I start my intentional living on Jan 11th or Feb 7th or even July 26th? It doesn’t. It’s just a day. A 24 hour period like any other.
The only difference between one day or another is not the date on the calendar. It’s the decisions we make about the kind of life we want to live, the kind of good we want to create, and the lives that we positively impact.
When I’m ready, I will begin. It won’t be Jan 1 or Jan 2, because I’m still in birthday/holiday mode focusing on the needs of my children.
And I want you to know that the same is true for you.
Play by your own rules.
When you are ready, begin. Make a decision, turn the key, and take action moving toward the life you truly want to live.
And it actually becomes easier if you tackle just one goal at a time. You get more accomplished this way than if you tried 5 habit changes on January 1st.
When you’re ready to get organized with your financials, begin with these steps:
- Do a devotional, regardless of religious affiliation or spirituality.
- Spend some time meditating and pondering on what is truly in your heart
- Start recording all the ideas that come, either with paper and pen, or recording on your phone.
Clean out the mental clutter so you can begin cleaning out the physical clutter.
Everything is mental before it’s physical…
When I was ready, I decided, and I took action.
The second thought that came through during my period of reflection was to clean out the disaster in my closet.
True Confession time: I had a messy secret.
Because 2016 had been so busy for me, I had a year's worth of paper documents and 5 months of digital financial data that hadn’t been sifted through. I had stashed it throughout the year with the intention of getting to it later. I know... (hides behind hands)
But later didn’t come and didn’t come until the small pile of to-do’s became a veritable paper-pocalypse. You know, an apocalypse in paper-form.
The chaos in my closet was eating at my brain, undermining my ability to think clearly. It was time for change.
After my epic pity party, I got up, hauled that paper-pocalypse out of my closet where I had stashed it for a year, and spread it out over my bed. And I unraveled the whole d*&% thing.
It only took me about 5 hours. Only?!
And my kids amazingly left me to it for nearly the whole time. That. Never. Happens.
(Maybe they suspected something harrowing was happening behind that half-closed door and steered clear.)
When I could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel I had a really clear idea about what was working and what needed to change in 2017.
Here are my lessons learned and how to use them in your own home:
Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.
If you are overwhelmed by paper, then stop letting it come into your house.
End magazine subscriptions that you don’t have time to read each month. Stick to their free online content instead.
When you collect mail walk back to the house past the recycle bin, and open all your letters for a quick scan before you leave the garage. Any junk mail gets tossed into the recycle bin in the garage. Anything you actually need is taken into the house.
Awesome, kid-friendly (ahem. Oriental Trading) catalogs? As much as I love it, they get recycled too. They are walking magnets for kids and create a me-me-me-gimme-gimme attitude. Don’t need that…
Leverage digital tech
My bills are now all digital. As much as can be. Some companies don’t give me that option, and others I want paper copies for my record. But most can be changed to paperless billing.
I know this might seem sooo yesterday, but if you’re like me and held out for too long, Do it.
Eliminate as many “Decision Points” as possible
One of our big hang-ups as moms is that we are required to make a lot of decisions. And sometimes we get so overwhelmed we push things to the side until we have more brain space to weigh the pros and cons of our choice.
I call those Decision Points.
Say you have a piece of paper in your hand and you need to make a decision.
Does it need to go onto the calendar? Does it need to go in your phone? Does it need to be recycled, filed, paid, called-on, etc?
When we can eliminate as much unnecessary paperwork as possible we limit the number of decisions we have to make.
For the rest, have one space in your house that is your place for making paper decisions.
For me it’s the end section of my kitchen counter. My children know to empty their backpacks on that counter. Mail gets piled on that counter. Miscellaneous papers brought in the house for any ol’ reason get piled on that counter.
In the cupboard right above that counter I keep my children’s Year folders. Everything that I want to preserve from their school, sports, friends, or year gets filed right there.
And no it’s not fancy. Just plain file folders with their name, year, teacher’s name on the tab. No stickers or color-coordinated labels. (See Epiphany #1) Also right next to the counter is the garbage can and the recycle bin.
On the wall next to the counter is our family calendar, where everything that is pertinent to our family gets recorded. We have a family meeting every Sunday night to go over the calendar for the week. Two tips: Keep the meetings SHORT for everyone’s sanity. And bring treats to attract your mini-me's. (Like moths to a flame... ;) )
Note: I also use Google Calendar in my phone for everything, but as my kids have gotten older I find that they need to see when they have events too. Thus the written as well as digital calendars.
Whatever strategies or epiphanies you decide to use, remember: Play by your own rules.
If it doesn’t fit your dynamic, family culture, or priorities; and it doesn’t feel like it will make your life simpler, more organized, and more intentional; DON’T DO IT.
Do what streamlines Your life.
For me, cleaning out my closet and deciding to change my habits has revolutionized my attitude. I feel more in control of my space. I feel that I have time for the things that are a priority to me. I don’t have to maintain a complex, archaic paper-system that, while it benefited me for many years, has become out-moded by newer more efficient systems.
I’m still trimming down what I’m subscribed to and using online tools as much as possible. But the difference in my attitude is immense.
Before I felt like I was suffocating under a pile of to-do’s. I had too many Decision Points! And not enough time or brain space to sift through them all.
Now, I made One decision and spend minimal time maintaining the simpler process.
I wanted to share my cringe-worthy experience with my entire community so you can benefit from my messy, mistake filled January in some way.
I created a free e-course to walk you through the entire intentional process: to clear out your paper-pocalypse and “Prep your brain and home to make room for money”.
It's five days, with one lesson delivered to your inbox every morning that has ONE actionable step for you to take that clears out whatever is blocking you.
Before you can ever have brain space to make clear decisions about your money, you have to clear out other things that are sucking your decision-making energy.
Let’s Get Started!
Remember: Play by your own d&*% rules this year! And let’s make it even more successful.
My very best just for you, savvy mom,