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

January, 2017



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!


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.

How to Say “No” – Graciously

A flashback on an important skill


I was chatting on social media with a friend—let’s call her Angelica—and asked if she wanted to help me with a project. She replied, “No.”

Then she added, “But thank you for asking me.”

I admit I was briefly taken aback. Moments before, Angelica had just agreed to help me with a different task, one that was related to the latest idea I had suggested. However, the second idea would be more of an ongoing commitment, and she said, “No.”

I told Angelica that I respected her decision and thought it was great that she felt comfortable saying “no.”  She said that “old age” had helped her with this–I responded “not old age…maturity.”

“No” is one of the hardest words to say. Why?

  • We like to be liked, and a “no” can be disappointing to others.
  • We want to be positive, and “no” comes across as negative.
  • We are afraid of missing out on great opportunities.

However, if we don’t say this word enough, we can end up disillusioned, disappointed or exhausted.

There are ways to say no graciously and effectively. Angelica did it. Here’s how:

She understood her life.

Angelica was able to discern pretty quickly whether my request would fit into her current season of life. That tells me she was keeping an informed perspective of her opinions, commitments and relationships.

She gave an immediate answer.

Angelica didn’t hesitate or string me along. It made the outcome quick and relatively painless.

That’s not to say that we should always answer quickly. It’s completely appropriate to tell someone you want to think about it, IF you give them the courtesy of a self-imposed deadline. For example, she could have said, “I’d like to think about this. Can I give you my answer Friday?” and then be sure to give the answer on Friday or before. It wasn’t necessary in this case because of her confidence in her decision, but if she needed a little time, that would have been fine.

She thanked me.

Angelica understood that it is an honor to be invited to participate in an event or project. The requester is somewhat vulnerable when extending the invitation, risking rejection. By saying “thank you” she acknowledged that she appreciated being considered, which softens any possibility of coming across as rejecting the person doing the inviting.

She didn’t give an explanation.

Angelica gave a simple “No, thank you.” She did not feel compelled to explain or rationalize her decision. I admire that. I tend to provide more information than necessary and would do well to just provide a simple answer more often.

“No” isn’t easy to say, but it often makes your life easier!

Question: Do you find it difficult to say “no?” 

This post originally appeared in January, 2014.

Setting Goals? or Forming Habits?

Which one will move you down the road faster?

Hope down the road

A few times a year, we start to feel the urge to do some goal setting. There’s nothing wrong with that, but sometimes I think we focus on the wrong thing.

Maybe instead of setting goals, (or perhaps in cooperation with that practice) we should focus our energy and efforts on forming habits. So it would look more like:

Instead of a goal to lose 10 pounds, developing a habit of exercising 30 minutes a day most days of the week.

Instead of getting a big project done by the end of the month, working steadily on it daily for 30 minutes and let it be finished when it is finished well.

Instead of setting a number of books to read in a year, forming a habit of reading at least 30 minutes a week…or making a habit of finishing one book per month (not necessarily STARTING and finishing one, but finishing one in progress.)

Instead of reaching in-box zero, setting firm appointments with yourself to go through your email. (This one was hard for me to write–I’m a huge fan of in-box zero. But for some, this idea may work better and be less overwhelming.)

Other good habits to consider are

  • Regularly investing in certain relationships (i.e. getting together with friends the third Saturday of the month, etc.)
  • Eating certain healthy foods on a scheduled basis (i.e. pre-plan and repeat your snacks–have the same healthy one planned for each Monday mid-morning, for example.)
  • Using timers to keep your morning or after-dinner routines on track
  • Doing one small chore a day to bless your house/family

Even if you don’t set a specific goal, good habits will generally lead to the kinds of positive outcomes you often shoot for with a goal. They may also be easier to sustain. While it’s great to dream big, it’s the daily actions that will move the needle. Keep your goals in sight, but concentrate on becoming a positive habit forming person. Habits are the fuel that will keep you moving toward your destination.


Copyright: convisum / 123RF Stock Photo

What You Should Do When Meetings Don’t Meet Your Expectations

A guest post from

If you’ve got a job, then you’ve probably got one thing that’s guaranteed: meetings.  And if you’ve got meetings, there’s another thing that’s guaranteed: people complaining about having meetings. They take time, of course, and time equals money. And too many people—about one quarter—say that meetings are unnecessary.

But you don’t have to let meetings go out of control, and you can make that time trapped together productive and efficient. An agenda helps, as does an invitation list that doesn’t include any extraneous people. Set a goal from the outset, and include follow-up as part of the meeting wrap-up too.

Want more ideas to love your meetings more? Use this graphic.

What you should do when meetings don’t meet expectationsWhat you should do when meetings don’t meet expectationsInfographic by Quill

Multi-tasking isn’t Always Bad

multi tasking

The concept of multi-tasking gets a bum rap. Articles such as this one are telling us that we are not as effective when we multi-task. We are being told to slow down, focus on one thing at a time, and not over-commit ourselves. That’s great advice–but it’s harder for some to implement than you think. What if your personality is one that thrives on having several things going at once and being fast paced? 

As a seasoned multi-tasker (seasoned meaning I’ve been doing it for a long time, not that it is always successful for me) I am challenged by this wave of thinking (some call it “uni-tasking.”) However, I have my doubts that swinging the time management pendulum from one extreme to the other is the best way to go. I think there is a middle-ground that can be a healthy place.

The idea of multi-tasking is to have several things going on at once. The idea of single, or uni, tasking is to focus on one thing at a time. Let me pitch to you a compromise: complementary multi-tasking. This approach embraces doing two (or possibly more) things at once, but being intentional that they complement each other, not distract from one another. Common sense and safety are key components of this idea.

When you are planning your “to-do” list, ask yourself the following questions to see if you can apply complementary multi-tasking to your list. (For the sake of simplicity, we will consider planning two complementary tasks, although sometimes you could plan three or more.)

1. Are there two tasks that can be done in the same general vicinity? For example, making sandwiches for tomorrow’s lunch while waiting for water to boil for tonight’s spaghetti works better than leaving the kitchen to check email in another room.

2. Is one task relatively hands-off and one hands-on?  While a new software program is downloading, I can organize one drawer in my desk.

3. Can two things be going simultaneously, safely? Your copier can be producing a large print run while you work on a blog post.

4. Could I mix a mindless “task” opportunity with a “people” opportunity?  With the help of a phone earpiece, I can fold laundry while talking to a friend, which would be better than trying to answer email while also talking with her on the phone.

5. Will doing these two tasks at the same time add cause more mental fatigue or less?  Listening to a podcast or some music while commuting may help pass the time nicely, while trying to help your child with homework while also preparing a meal can become frustrating for both of you.

So before jumping on the bandwagon that all multi-tasking is ineffective or wrong, consider that complementary multi-tasking may be the way to accomplish two important tasks without driving yourself crazy.


Facebook Live Replay: Let’s Take a Moment to Breathe

You do not have to be on Facebook to enjoy these videos. If you receive posts by email and can’t see the video, you can click here.

Let’s take a moment to breathe…

Posted by Beth LeMay Beutler on Tuesday, January 3, 2017

You do not have to be on Facebook to enjoy these videos. If you receive posts by email and can’t see the video, you can click here.

Let’s take a moment to breathe…

Posted by Beth LeMay Beutler on Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Client Spotlight: Alison Ryan

Literary Specialist and Consultant

Alison Ryan

Hi! I’m Alison Ryan and I love getting kids excited about reading and writing. I also love getting teachers excited about teaching literacy!

I share ideas and tools to help teachers simplify their planning and create engaging lessons. I believe that teachers should have access to materials that are both easy to use and written around best instructional practices.

I work with young children and their families, and I present professional development sessions for teachers.  I have a master’s degree in literacy leadership, experience as a classroom teacher in Pre-K through 2nd grade (general education, bilingual, and dual language), and experience as a reading specialist.

How HOPE Unlimited supports Alison:

  • Assisting with email management
  • Selecting and scheduling pins for Pinterest
  • Video production needs

What Alison says about HOPE:

Starting work with Beth and her team was one of the best decisions I made in 2016. Beth helps manage my email, so I have more time to connect with other teachers and create teaching materials. She helps with a task that I never imagined asking for help with – but I am so glad that I did! I feel less overwhelmed when tackling my inbox each day. Plus, Beth is so professional and fun to work with! She’s also connected me with some other fantastic members of the HOPE team for social media and other media tasks. I love working with Beth and the HOPE team!

What HOPE says about Alison:

Alison is a top-notch client–we love her! She’s organized and clear in communicating how we can best be of help to her. She has a good sense of humor, and the materials she produces are very highly regarded in the educational world. We enjoy helping her help teachers and children develop the very important life skill of reading well.

Learn more at