Reflection Week: Three Questions to Help You Look Back on the Month

January, 2017

breathe

 

Hello readers! It’s the end of January (already!) and if yours was anything like mine, it was very full and fast. I hadn’t totally prepared myself for the wave of the new year, yet I am grateful for what it represents!

I’m opting for a short post this week, providing you with three questions for reflection. I encourage you to take some time (maybe during a lunch break or as part of your morning ritual) to jot your thoughts about this first month of 2017 in relation to your professional life.

1. In what area of my work/business life did I feel the most stress and what can I (of did I) do about it?

2. What three things did I do very well? (Don’t skip this one in our human tendency to be embarrassed to celebrate the gifts and skills God gave us.)

3. What surprised me this month?

 

Taking time to reflect is very important. If we don’t think a bit about how our professional journey is going, we risk staying in a rut-like routine and a comfort zone. We may miss out on that one tweak that would help us breathe easier, or the opportunity to be grateful for an unexpected blessing.

I’d love to hear how your reflection went!  See below for mine!

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Beth’s reflection:

1. In what area of my work/business life did I feel the most stress and what can I (or did I) do about it?

I experienced a growth spurt in business that I wasn’t totally surprised by, but also wasn’t totally prepared for. I am tweaking my approach to my morning ritual, which is helping me devote the right focus to each unique day of the week. I learned that a “one size fits all” approach to how I start my day isn’t a good fit. The customizations seem to be helping.

2. What three things did I do very well? (Don’t skip this one in our human tendency to be embarrassed to celebrate the gifts and skills God gave us.)

  • Customized morning rituals to better fit the day of the week
  • Started a prayer appointment with a colleague from a different state, where we pray specifically for clients by name.
  • Got a Fitbit and increased my fitness focus. I feel I am in a little better shape at the end of the month than I was at the beginning. Got a Fitbit? Let’s be friends.

3. What surprised me this month?

The growth spurt in my business. I’m grateful.

35 Healthier Snack Ideas from People Like You

Substitutes for the not-so-good stuff

snack

Most of us like to enjoy a snack during our work day, but it’s easy to get into a rut and go to the same–sometimes unhealthy–items for a pick me up. I asked my Facebook friends to chime in on some healthy options…enjoy this list and comment with ideas of your own!

John S.:   Almonds

Allison C.: cheese/dried fruit/nut combo

Javela S.:  Yogurt with nuts and/or fruit

Lee M.:  Apple; carrot; vegetable and/or fruit smoothie; boiled egg; piece of meat

Paula K.:  Edamame with a little salt

Wendy W.: peanut butter filled celery sticks

Hillary K.  Clementine orange

Patrick V.:  Almonds; yogurt; jerky; protein bars; water; peanut M&Ms as a treat

Kristen M.: Hummus and pita chips/veggies; trail mix

Larry E.: Triple Zero yogurt with frozen blueberries

Steve.: Craze box

Lynda M.: cashews or raisins

Unique H.: Amonds, cashews or fruit medley

Amy H.: walnuts; Cutie clementines

Elisa R.: Watermelon; cut up cucumber, sometimes with a little salt

Rebecca K.: nuts, cheese, hummus

Christopher R.: almonds

Richard G.: water

Mariah W.: Cheese or avacado spread on Ezekiel toast with fruit; apply with peanut butter; yougurt, berries, homemade granola; carrots and hummus

Chris E.: Kind bars, Think Thin bars, almonds

Bucky B.: Natures Bakery bars; mixed nuts

Sheila H.: two slices of deli meat wrapped around a piece of string cheese; banana

Toni K.: apples with peanut butter; carrots with vegetable dip

Dave C.: almonds, carrots, grapes

Bobby T.: wasabi almonds

Cindy H.: Laughing Cow cheese wedge with lLight Rye Wasa crackers; slice of turkey; slices of cucumber

Kim R.: strawberries; Sahale snacks

Ricky H.: beef jerkey

Richard H.: peanuts and raisins with dried cranberries

Sue M.: apple

Sherry B: almonds; sliced apple; yogurt with chopped nuts

Brenda B.: Halo clementine

Dana H.: Greek yogurt with honey & Oats bar crushed on top

Beth B.(me!): cottage cheese with nuts, seeds, microgreens sprinkled on top; smoothie

Keith B:.  Fruit, Clif bars

Your turn: What’s your favorite healthy snack to enjoy at work?

The day I Messed Up

Thoughts on when the mistake is your own

mistake

 

It was meant to be a happy day–the first day a published piece on a client’s blog would go out to hundreds of subscribers.

This client offered space for contributing writers to share on topics that aligned with the client’s business.  My job was to take the pieces submitted and edit/format them to fit the blog, and run them on a regular schedule.

I worked to set up a system, arrange for Mail Chimp to be able to pick up the RSS feed, and started editing and scheduling posts to appear routinely every other Tuesday.

The first “send” came and I was delighted to see that the technology worked. I even emailed the client and the contributing writer to celebrate.

That’s when it happened.

In all my setting up of a process, I neglected to carefully proofread the piece. The first paragraph somehow showed up twice. Another small error appeared. And the joy of publication was marred by the obvious mistakes, and we had to put in place a plan to overcome the distractions–which we did, successfullly.

In the end, all worked out just fine.

But it was worth thinking about what happened in order to grow. As I reflected, the following came to mind:

  • My focus on developing a good system blinded me to catching an obvious error.
  • My focus on process kept me from asking for help from another proofreader.
  • My “years of experience” in this type of project led to focus on efficiency over collaboration.
  • My speed overcame accuracy.
  • My responsibilities were nearing the state of overwhelm (this all happened in a season of increased opportunity and decision making.)

Are systems, processes, experience and speed wrong? No. Without them, we’d be far less productive. But it’s easy to sacrifice collaboration, attentiveness, and consideration on the altar of efficiency.  

Perhaps the most important thing I learned was to understand my limits–to think through what I can do well over the long term, and to extend grace to myself and others.

How about you? Are you getting overwhelmed and finding yourself making more mistakes? What are you going to do about it?

If having some assistance would help you feel less overwhelmed, check out HOPE’s collaborative virtual assistance services.

 

Ancient Wisdom about Hard Work

Are you working hard today?

Bible

 

We welcome Rich Howard from Bibleverses.com, a site dedicated to bringing a free version of the Bible created specifically for users with vision disabilities. Rich shares verses on the topic of hard work, which may be timely if you are feeling some distraction or lack of motivation right now.  I’ve also added a few thoughts. Thanks Rich!

Sometimes you may lack the motivation to work hard or you may simply get discouraged about giving your best at whatever it is that you are doing. Below are five verses to give you the motivation you need to keep moving forward, even if it is the last thing you want to do.

Ecclesiastes 9: 9 – 10 Work with all your might

This verse encourages you that whatever it is you lay your hands on, do it with all your might. Don’t do it for the sake of earning an income or pleasing the employer, but know that it is a God given opportunity and if you give it your best, the Lord shall surely bless the work of your hands and use you to bless others.

Colossians 3: 23 – 24 Work as if you are working for the Lord

From this verse, we learn that in whatever you do, you should do it as if you are doing it unto the Lord and not to men. This should help you remember that God is your ultimate boss, and Provider. You do not need to just focus on the monetary rewards from the employer.

Proverbs 12: 11 No quick way to riches

This verse teaches that those who work hard will have plenty of bread, but those who follow worthless pursuits lack sense. In essence, if you want to be rich (which can be defined in lots of ways), then you must work for it and if you waste your time, then you will have nothing to show for it.

Genesis 2:15 Work is a divine institution

At the beginning of it all, God created man and placed him in the Garden of Eden so that he can work it and keep it. From this verse we see that work is essentially a divine institution and wherever God places your or whichever job He gives you, you should strive to “work it and keep it.”  Do your best.

2 Thessalonians 3: 10 – 12 No work, no food.

This verse places a heavy emphasis on the concept of earning your keep with the abilities that you have, and is worded in a way to take in consideration a person’s willingness to work. It’s understood that not everyone may have the physical ability to work at the same level as someone else, and God cares about our helping the poor.  However, an attitude of willingness to be productive in whatever way reasonable is a key character trait.

Want more wisdom? See more Bible Verses and other posts like this at BibleVerses.com.

25 Business Lessons from Romans 12

Ancient Wisdom for Modern Professionals

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1. Continually learn and refresh your mind.

2. Be realistic about your strengths and challenges.

3. Don’t make impulsive decisions.

4. Focus on using your gifts well and team up with people who have different talents.

5. Be sincere.

6. Do the right thing. Be ethical.

7. Be devoted to your clients and customers.

8. Honor other businesses above your own.

9. Be zealous and passionate about what you do.

10. Be optimistic and forward looking

11. Be patient in the hard or lean times.

12. Build on a foundation of values.

13. Share with others.

14. Practice hospitality.

15. Bless your haters.

16. Rejoice with others who succeed.

17. Be compassionate with those who fail

18. Practice cooperation, not competition.

19. Don’t be arrogant.

20. Be willing to network with people outside your industry.

21. Treat all clients and customers, small or large, with excellence and dignity.

22. Don’t take revenge.

23. Develop a good reputation.

24. As much as in your power, live at peace with everyone else.

25. Overcome evil with good.

Bonus: Remember Who the true Boss is.

An Open Letter to the HOPE Family

One Year Anniversary and 200th Post

Beutler-3264(edit)An open letter to all of our HOPE family,

October 15, 2015 was my last day as an employee of another business. While HOPE Unlimited has been around since 2005, I consider October 15 as the anniversary of being fully focused on my own company, and I have much to be thankful for in this first year. Since that “marker” day is coming up this coming Saturday, I wanted to kick off this “anniversary week” by using this 200th post to say “thanks!”

I want to thank God for providing clients, students, readers, and colleagues that have helped HOPE Unlimited begin to serve key leaders and bring encouragement to overwhelmed professionals around the country. I have appreciated several opportunities to speak and teach in live settings, and anticipate increasing what I offer via online tools.

I have one more ebook coming out by the end of the year, and my other books are in production as audio books now.  There’s been at least one new post a week on the blog since January 2014, and now I’m regularly doing Facebook live Tips in 10 presentations.

On the virtual assisting front, we are steadily incorporating team members to provide excellent service on a variety of tasks for our clients. Four additional professionals who share our values allow us to seamlessly provide many kinds of support, and our retainer system remains a flexible way for individuals, executives and entrepreneurs to receive the administrative support they need without hiring an employee.  Thank you to those who have spread the word–word of mouth is a great form of advertising.

For all these things, I give thanks. I wouldn’t have a business without people contracting us, buying my resources, hiring me to teach, or keeping up with us on the blog or social media. And I wouldn’t have HOPE if God didn’t instill the gifts, energy, and time and wisdom to steward it. It’s a constant learning process.

If HOPE can be of service to you in any of these areas, please contact us. And again, THANK YOU for allowing us to serve you and be part of your life.

Beth

many thanks

The Pursuit of Excellence

How do you define it?

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“Excellence” just becomes a more respectable word for “control” which is a fancy version of “manipulation” which is a physiological word for “sin.”…   Emily Freeman

I read these words from the book Simply Tuesday and let them sink in.

I help overwhelmed professionals EXCEL.

Is it wrong to excel?

No.

But it depends on what you excel at.

In 1 Thessalonians, 4:10, Paul commends the Thessalonians for their love, but exhorts them to excel still more.

“or indeed you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more.”

When we think of excellence, especially in business, what do we think of?

  • A product that is selling better than we expected.
  • A published piece that has no typos.
  • Getting all the facts straight in a report.
  • The financial reports being accurate.
  • The presentation to the investors going well.
  • The office looking spiffy.
  • Employees looking sharp.
  • Meeting and exceeding customer needs.

Are those bad things? No, but what’s the motivation?

Do we want to excel so we can control our image or turn certain outcomes our way? Or do we want to excel in loving and serving people?

I confess that I want to excel in business and often measure it in my bottom line. Am I contributing enough to the household budget? Do I need to supplement by finding more work? How many clients do I have or teaching gigs lined up or online books/resources are selling? These are all tangible measures of business “excellence.” They deserve some attention, but also, quite frankly, too much focus on these results can cause stress.

Instead, what if I were to think in this framework at least some of the time, to complement the look at financials and metrics?

  • Did I excel today in helping (insert client name here) improve THEIR business or work life (or even personal life) a little bit?
  • Did I guide (insert a reader’s name here) to think more clearly about an issue or idea?”
  • Did I help (insert student’s name here) streamline their day a little bit or get along better with their teammate?’’

And, am I willing to reach beyond my comfortable “Macedonia” to help and love others, even those different from me?

An answer of “yes” to THOSE questions is what excelling is all about.

If only…