Archive for Work-Life Balance

Weary working Momma?

Whether you CHOOSE to be a working Momma,

or NEED to be a working Momma,

rest in this fact:

God has you RIGHT HERE,  RIGHT NOW, in the midst of the chaos

that is your day-care-dash, powerpoint-prepping, working-through-lunch break, off-to-soccer day.

Because he KNOWS you are able.  He made you for this moment.

Thank Him and savor it.

Life Stands Still

For the next 5 days, every single event, task or appointment that was scheduled in our busy family of 6 has been cancelled or postponed. No blog posts, emails, sales transactions, meetings, workshops, coaching sessions, dentist appointments, boyscouts, dance, school, work, Saturday morning chores and laundry, birthday parties, church, reading and sorting mail, homework, bible study or conference calls. Essentially our life as we know it is coming to a stand still to honor another life that has come to a stand still. My husbands grandfather has passed away. In his 80′s and battling some serious medical conditions for the past few years, we knew the day would arrive sooner than later.Death is cause for much reflection on the life of the deceased as well as your own life.

Is my life really coming to a stand still because we are heading out of town, unexpectedly for 5 days to a really remote area of upstate New York without reliable cell phone access and no internet coverage?

No way! It is so sad to me that those thoughts even cross my mind in this moment of our life when we take time to reflect and honor the life of a loved one. It is at these junctures that life really continues to grow and blossom and move forward and we find new meaning in the menial tasks that fill each of our days.

Life is about the people, the relationships, the emotions we share, the blessings we give and the blessings we receive. Yes, many times in today’s day and age these things happen over email and blogposts and conference calls and text messages. But even without those convenient tools at our disposal, life does not stand still. Love doesn’t stop. Grieving doesn’t stop. Anger doesn’t stop. And life certainly doesn’t stop because all the events we had planned for the next 5 days will happen without us.

It is during these next 5 days that we do the most important and purposeful job here on this earth. We strengthen our family bonds and instill core values into our children as we reflect on the life of Grandpa. He exhibited a strong work ethic. Providing for your family. Humor. The importance of lifelong friendships. Surviving long, dangerous snowbelt winters with 72 inches of snow. Leaving a legacy for his children’s children. We honor, commemorate, grieve and rejoice the blessing he was to his family, employees, co-workers, friends and anyone who crossed his path. And certainly we will all chuckle and reflect on some of those moments when the firey Scottish redhead, who’s name is known all over the small county in the middle of nowhere New York that he lived his life, was not always the ‘blessing’ we wanted to receive

Grandpa’s life has come to a stand still. And I trust that he is now at peace and rejoicing with Grandma and reflecting on 80+ years of a life that truly did leave an impact.

If you do not wake from your sleep tomorrow, what impact has your life left on this earth? Have you left the legacy you want to leave for your children’s children? Have you fully exhausted your God-given talents and glorified the Lord with your daily tasks? Are you doing what you want to do with your life?

I think it’s said best in the words of this Rascal Flatts song (http://www.metrolyrics.com/my-wish-lyrics-rascal-flatts.html):

My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to,
your dreams stay big, your worries stay small,
You never need to carry more than you can hold,
and while you’re out there getting where you’re getting to,
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too,
Yeah, this, is my wish.

Or maybe said in another way from the song “Legacy” by Nicole Nordemann:

Not well traveled, not well read, not well-to-do or well bred
Just want to hear instead, “Well Done” good and faithful one…

I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love? Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace who
blessed your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy

Remember Grandpa “Red” McGregor and let his passing be an opportunity for you to reflect on your life.

Are you living the life you dream of? Are you going after goals that will make this world a better place? There’s a reason those burdens were placed on YOUR heart, you know. Because you were designed with the ability to accomplish them.
Are you taking steps towards those goals? It can all be taken away tomorrow, at God’s discretion and will you be able to face Him and hear him say “Well done”?

Do You Believe in You?

There are 2 magazines that I take the guilty pleasure of reading cover to cover each month. This is the sum total of my entertainment reading. They are Working Mother and Family Fun magazines.

Yesterday, I was forced to slow down and focus entirely on my daughter who was not feeling well. It’s always great to have an excuse to just take it easy and turn off all the other work, and at the same time, sad that these are the kinds of occasions for which we take time to do so. So as I sat in my comfy chair resting with her, I poured through my newest issue of Working Mother.

In the article, Score Your Dream Job, I found a paragraph that was so very applicable to all of our lives. Now, I am nowhere near looking for a new job. I like the corporate job I have and at the same time, I’m working part time on one of the greatest business opportunities that may ever cross my path in my lifetime. But this excerpt from the article is true of so many women I know. Women who are intelligent and witty and great relationship builders and networkers and creative and all the things that go into being successful. Yet they are so unsure of themselves! So I’m going to stop here and let this article do the talking.

Read this if you are trying to make the next sale, trying to build your direct sales team, aiming for a promotion, looking for a new job, or just feeling like you’re not being effective in your current job.

Amp up your ego
If you want people to believe in you, first you have to believe in yourself. Pour yourself a cup of tea (or a martini), get comfortable and write down all your accomplishments. Seeing right there in black and white how capable you are just might motivate you to take the leap, whether that means making a strategic move in the same industry or jumping to another field entirely. A teacher, for example, may have excellent managerial skills from years of keeping a room full of first graders on task. A marketing manager may have what it takes to run a nonprofit because she can raise funds by highlighting the organization’s strengths.

Focus on what you have to offer, not on what you don’t.
Include any volunteer or community work you’ve been doing— or even the coordination it takes to get everyone in the family where they’re going on a tight schedule.To get the job you want, you need to conquer your insecurities, transform your thinking, tailor your behavior and demand the professional recognition you deserve, says Rebecca Shambaugh, author of It’s Not a Glass Ceiling, It’s a Sticky Floor. “It’s incumbent on women to look beneath their own feet to see what behaviors, assumptions or beliefs they have that may be self-limiting or keeping them from achieving their own career goals,” she says. Gaps in your skills set? Fill them in. Take courses at a local college or online university and immerse yourself in the world you want to join. Attend conferences; speak with others in the field; check the Web and read trade journals. Find a mentor who’s doing a job similar to what you’d like to do, suggests Shambaugh. “If you want to be CFO of your organization and you’re not quite there, find a mentor and ask her what she did to get there,” she says. “Set up an action plan. You’ll be shocked by how empowered you feel.”

If you’ve been out of the workforce for a while caring for your children, don’t apologize. “Recognize yourself as a competent professional instead of wasting time explaining an absence from work,” says Michelle Tillis Lederman, founder of Executive Essentials in New York City, which provides executive and career coaching. “If you come from a place of insecurity, it translates that way.”

Upgrade your identity
Now that you’re brimming with confidence, you have to visualize yourself in your new job. For instance, if you’re in the No. 2 slot aiming for the No. 1 position, you have to start thinking and acting like a leader so that the world starts seeing you differently as well.

“There are parts of your identity you’ve just accepted from childhood and take into adulthood,” says Mary Lynne Heldmann, an executive and team coach and author of When Words Hurt: How to Keep Criticism from Undermining Your Self-Esteem. “Identity becomes destiny if you keep looking at yourself that way.” Take an inventory of everything you believe about yourself—both good and bad. It’s likely that many of those beliefs are limiting, such as I am not very organized or I could never be the CEO of a successful business. “You need to challenge each and every item on the list,” says Heldmann. “Limiting beliefs aren’t reality. They’re just something that we make up. So why not change that to beliefs that work for us?”

While you need to ground your intentions in reality, you don’t want to limit your goals or become tied to a specific outcome. Your new way of thinking may lead you into something completely different from what you’d originally envisioned—but just as rewarding. “As you get clearer and clearer about the future you intend and you keep connecting to it,” Heldmann says, “you actually move closer and closer to its becoming a reality. I’ve seen so many lives change for the better simply because people created a new belief system.”

I believe in YOU. Me, Lori Mercer. I may not even know you personally. Do you know why I believe in you? Because you are taking the time to read this blog post. It’s not “the man keeping you down!” as some people like to quote. Look inside. What is it in ourselves that’s holding us back? And when is the last time you heard someone say they believe in you? I’d love to hear your feedback and I’d love to be the person in your life who believes in you.

Mind Mappin’ Mama

I have a Mindmap for practically everything. Sometimes it is a mindmap I make and manage for a long period of time – like my personal scheduler. Other times it’s a quick throw away mindmap that helps me think through a difficult conversation.

What is a mindmap?
Here’s the official definition from our generations “Encyclopedia Brittanica” AKA Wikipedia:

A mind map is a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks or other items linked to and arranged radially around a central key word or idea. It is used to generate, visualize, structure and classify ideas, and as an aid in study, organization, problem solving, decision making, and writing.It is an image-centered diagram that represents semantic or other connections between portions of information. By presenting these connections in a radial, non-linear graphical manner, it encourages a brainstorming approach to any given organizational task, eliminating the hurdle of initially establishing an intrinsically appropriate or relevant conceptual framework to work within.A mind map is similar to a semantic network or cognitive map but there are no formal restrictions on the kinds of links used.

The elements are arranged intuitively according to the importance of the concepts and they are organized into groupings, branches, or areas. The uniform graphic formulation of the semantic structure of information on the method of gathering knowledge, may aid recall of existing memories.

Here is an example of a hand drawn mindmap:

And one that is generated with a computer:

All the way back to Junior High School, my class notes looked like a mindmap. There’s just something about this format with multiple colors and lots of arrows and boxes that helps me really process information more quickly, not dwindle on decisions and be most productive and effective.

Here’s just a short list of how I’ve used Mindmaps recently:

  • My personal organizer mindmap I use at least 3-4 times a day. It tracks my meetings appointments, goals, tasks, idea brainstorms, bible verse to memorize, personal journaling, notes from meetings, you name it. It is like command central for me.
  • Brainstormed a website layout
  • Organized my thoughts for writing an eBook
  • Focused myself for a difficult conversation
  • Created a meeting agenda
  • Picked apart ideas for a marketing plan
  • Took notes during a phone conference
  • Put together a presentation outline before moving it into Powerpoint

Why I like Mindmaps:

  • It’s fast and easy to add items. Mindmapping actually keeps up with the pace of the thoughts pouring through my brain!
  • The levels, branches, legs make it easy to separate and differentiate ideas
  • There is no wrong or right way to organize! You can start quick and get your thoughts out then very easily drag and drop to move your ideas around

Mindmapping allows you to be more efficient in organizing your thoughts. You can focus on the outcomes you are trying to achieve and not be distracted when your brain runs in another direction. I can spend 5 minutes mindmapping in preparation for a difficult conversation that will lead me to a better outcome in a shorter period of time.

My personal favorite Mindmap Software is by Mindjet. There are also a variety of free mindmapping applications but I do not use them so I can’t give a personal recommendation. But I do suggest you visit Mindjet’s website to understand the potential of how it can used.

Would you pay $5 per voicemail to have someone return messages for you?

Time or Money.
It’s always a trade off. Or is it? Spend more money. Save more time. Save money. Spend more time. Here are the typical examples that come to mind:

- Paint your own house or pay someone to do it
- Spend 6 hours bargain shopping around town and coupon clippling or 30 minutes dashing into the department store….or even better, paying a personal shopper
- Making your own scrapbooks or paying someone to do it for you
- Cooking from scratch dinners with fresh veggies and meat and bread bought daily or buying “Meals Made Easy” that must be heated up within 2 weeks of putting them in your fridge.
- Clean your own house or hire a cleaning service

We are always having to decide where is the most effective place to spend our time because there are simply not enough hours in the day. For me personally, I chose to short cut the bargain shopping, the home made meals and pay a housecleaner. But it is because I have been blessed with a profession that allows us those luxuries so I can spend my precious free time with my children. It also means I have to spend a lot of time working. And most entrepreneurs trying to start their own business don’t have much of either – time or money – and must chose very wisely how to spend both for the first couple years of their business.

Think about how this applies to your business and your own strengths and skills. What tasks should you outsource versus those you should spend your time and talents on? Where are you going to get the most bang for the buck? Here are some things to consider outsourcing:
- Writing the content for your website or marketing materials
- Website design and development
- Logo creation, graphic design and branding
- accounting and tax preparation

There is a website called eLance.com that allows you to find freelancers who will do practically ANYTHING for you. This includes things for crazy busy people like “listen to my voicemails and transcribe them into emails for me daily so I can chose how to respond”. Can you imagine being so busy that you have to outsource your voicemail answering???? Now there’s either a business that is really exploding or someone who has set the wrong priorities and is not being productive enough. Either way it’s proof that you can outsource anything.

No matter what you decide to outsource remember YOU ARE IN CHARGE. Be sure that you have a well-planned and scoped project to be outsourced so you get what you want. Think ahead about the outcome you are looking for and definitely spend the time interviewing and finding the right person for the job. Even if you get a personal referral for someone local, be sure you fully know and understand everything you are getting.

Of course there are so many things money can’t buy and time is all you have. And for those, we need to hold tight. My 3-year-old son this morning. Shaking his finger at me and looking me straight in the eye and saying “You promise you will stay home and have breakfast with us tomorrow?” It’s priceless. And THAT, is exactly why I am burning the candle at both ends. Working full time at the corporate job and part time on my dream that will allow me to be home more and be the influence I want to be on my children….before someone or something else takes that role.

Time or money trade off? Personally I want both. I want to have it all. With both you can make a HUGE difference in the world. Think big and you will find a way.

Finding time to exercise

There are a million barriers to exercise when you’re a mom, no matter how many children you have and if you work or stay home.

  • During nap time, you are either exhausted and napping too or you have other tasks to finish before the baby wakes up.
  • In the early morning, just when you find the willpower to get on the treadmill at 6 am, the baby changes their routine and starts waking up earlier.
  • You find a spare moment but can’t go get your workout clothes on cause the 3 year old is sleeping in your bedroom.

As a mom, we have to take exercise whenever and however we can get it. Here are some of the best ways I’ve found to burn a couple extra calories when I can:

  • Change into work out clothes right when I get home for work. That way, when I find 10 minutes that the kids are quietly playing, I can squeeze in 50 sit ups or squats or a short run on the treadmill.
  • Dance and play with your kids. Playing Wii sports (boxing especially!). Doing Bella Dancerella with your 3 year old (and tightening those abs and buttocks in good form while you do!). Practicing your child’s dance routine with them. Running around the house playing chase. Pushing the stroller fast like you’re in a car race.
  • When carrying them upstairs, go fast and make it fun.
  • Go for a walk everyday with the kids in the stroller. Make it a fast paced walk with hills where possible. Even on cold days – bundle up and get some fresh air and sunshine.
  • Just walk around and sit tall with your stomach muscles tightened. Every little bit counts!!!

The latest fitness craze I’ve tried (thanks to my husband and his good friend Dru) is called Crossfit. Crossfit is about strengthening your core body strength and recommends basic, simple exercises to do so. Pull ups, dips, sit ups, etc. The results I’ve seen from people doing crossfit is unbelievable…..including my husband who lost 16 pounds sadly enough before I even noticed!

I like crossfit because it maximizes the results for the time you put into it. A lot of days, the exercises can be completed in 15 minutes. But I must warn you, they are an intense 15 minutes which is why it works. And just having done a couple of days worth of exercises, I can tell that I am already stronger, walking taller, feeling healthier, closer to fitting into my skinny jeans again I wanted to share this with all you working moms because even doing this 2 or 3 times a week, you will see amazing results.

3 things that will make a mom never want to work another day her entire life

#1 Holding your newborn baby in your arms.
It does not matter how career driven and focused you are. That precious newborn that just sprung forth from your womb needs Y-O-U. 100%. 24/7. She is priority #1. In your hormone induced opinion, there is not a single other qualified person on the planet who is capable of caring for that child. Daddy gets his chance to bond of course. And depending on how close you are to your mom or sisters or girlfriends, they can be briefly entrusted with the care of your newborn so you can escape for a shower or a meal. Sometimes this feeling lasts for 2 days, sometimes it lasts for 2 weeks or 6 weeks or even longer. By the time I was due with my 4th child, I knew it was coming. I thought about my career and how to manage my job while on maternity leave and I fully expected to have that window of time where all I wanted to do was hold that baby and gaze lovingly upon her and watch her breath as if she needed my moral support for every single inhale………..and swear I’d never go back to work for another day until I ushered this little creation through her high school graduation. But this time, I saved myself the emotional agony of wrestling with the guilty working mom decision again. I told myself it was coming, to enjoy that time period where I was allowed to sit and do nothing but love on her. It would quickly pass. And before long, this little bundle of feathers would be rosy cheeked and vibrant and ‘durable’ enough that I’d entrust her to a caregiver. And even sooner, she’d be a strong-willed, temper-tantruming 3 year old whom I’d gladly handle over to the authorities for fear of ringing her little neck! To all those expectant moms out there…..you too will feel this way. It’s our hormonal natural animal instinct. My advice: don’t make any rash decisions with raging post-partum hormones

The #2 reason you swear to never work another day in your life: Not having trustworthy, reliable childcare
As soon as you discover that your childcare provider is throwing lunchables in front of your kids everyday for lunch instead of a well balanced meal with apples, cheese sticks and chicken soup. Or doesn’t greet you at the door with a smile. Or talks on the phone incessantly (in front of you!) in a depressing tone to her friends. Or doesn’t stand up for your child when he’s being picked on at the daycare center. Or, or, or, or. The list goes on and on. To some of you, these may not sound like big things. But for that delicately balanced teeter totter of guilt, it only takes one small item to tip things the other way. You are already sacrificing time away from your children for a career you feel called to or that is required to make ends meet. But never, under any circumstance, would you do that if it meant your children were not happy and satisfied during the day. I always say we’d move to a trailer in the boondocks before we’d sacrifice the well-being of our children. You’ll cancel the most important meeting under the sun (or call in a very difficult favor!) if you felt that the childcare situation was compromising your child’s well-being.

Reason #3: Having a sick child
Even if you have the best Mary Poppins nanny who stays at your house to watch your kids, when babies are sick, they want their mommies. My brain completely turns off as I snuggle in my feverish, stuffy nose, red cheeked babies from 6 am to 3 pm. I’ll let work know not to expect me and put all my focus on them until I feel they are safely out of the woods and I see nourishment and a smile cross their lips. This works for the occasional virus or flu bug. But there are children who are really, really sick with a life threatening illness. I experienced this with my first child who was born 10 weeks early and weighed only 3 pounds. He spent the first 30 days in the hospital and the first 6 months on various medications and monitors that taught me more about the medical field than I care to know. During that time, my full focus was on him and his well being. He recovered and so did I and went back to my career. But that is the one scenario in which I can’t imagine trying to be a working mom. Thank the Lord I have been blessed with healthy children and have not had to make this a consideration. But should that be the case, then I know exactly what will be required of me. At that point, my purpose in life becomes nurturing my babies. And for those moms out there who have done this, you are amazing and strong. More than you even know and way more than you are probably told. For those individuals and those seasons of our lives, I leave this thought which was shared with me by the attending physician when my son was born 10 weeks early: God does not give you more than you can handle!

So on this journey of being a working mom, there are peaks and valleys, bumps and turns, and lots of crossroads where we must re-evaluate our decision. Keep in mind these 3 scenarios and realize it is only for a season and make your decision when standing on a firm foundation and not in the midst of turmoil and change.

100 emails a day and a fear of deletion

I came home from the office today looking like a zombie. My husband kept asking me what was wrong and it took me a second to figure it out. I was tired. I went straight to making dinner, cutting up bite size pieces of chicken for everyone 5 and under (that’s 3 people!), dishing out the appropriate portions of peas and carrots, buttering dinner rolls and pouring milk. I couldn’t even force a smile across my lips. Because I was worn out from my day and not able to enjoy my family! That is clearly NOT having it all!

So I thought and thought what the heck was wrong with me and came to this conclusion. I was mentally and emotionally spent from my day at work. Not all days are like this but today was exceptionally challenging with some high intensity meetings and emotional co-workers over projects gone way bad and……..over 100 emails! Yes, that’s how many I received today. Starting at 12:35 AM actually and ending, well, do they ever really end? There’s one from Australia popping in as I write this.

So, that’s just my ‘corporate job’ email. My personal pictureyourlife email is equally overwhelming. Because I manage my own website, I control the size of my mailbox. That has led me to frequently increase the capacity instead of deleting. Most people would have a panic attack to know that I have now 2099 emails in my inbox Friends and family I haven’t touched base with in forever, the obligatory 3 or 4 jokes a day (thank goodness there were none chiding my alma mater Ohio State Buckeyes after last nights no show at the BCS Championship game!). And of course the spam. Do I care that Kohl’s is having Super Saturday AGAIN? Do they really think I’m going to spend one of my only sleep in days to be there for the doorbusters at 6 AM? Why am I still subscribed to this stuff?

How do I get a handle on this? DELETE, DELETE, DELETE and UNSUBSCRIBE! We all need to get this excess noise out of our lives and focus on what is really important and necessary. In comparison to what I received, I only sent 14 emails today. And to the credit of some of my thoughtful teammates, a few emails were eliminated by a quick trip to my desk to shore up some strategy. How about that? We actually spoke to each other face to face!

Ultimately, I think I am my own worst culprit. The email overload is so bad that I’ve gone into survival mode. I don’t delete! Our company policy is 200 MB and 60 days. So I just manage from the top of the stack and let the system weed out the old. So far so good on that method. I haven’t lost anything important with this approach (which makes me wonder, if nothing important happened over 60 days ago, does what I’m doing right now really matter at all??) But even as I process through emails while I’m reading, I just can’t bring myself to deletion. I have this false sense that I will go back and check something, forget a date, want to log that person’s email address, maybe do something about that sale, etc, etc. But it really rarely happens.

On the positive side, the quantity of email I receive is in direct proportion to the number of people in my own circle of influence. Let me tell you, before email, I wasn’t receiving 100 phone calls or letters a day! Thank God for this technology that helps keep us all connected!

So here is a new resolution for the year……read and process, read and process, read and process!

Read your email and do one of the following:

  1. If it requires only a short reply (< 30 seconds), do it right away then delete the original
  2. If it will take some time, effort, research to reply to, tag it as a task and add it to your task list so it does not get lost in the shuffle
  3. Have a system in place to capture email addresses so you can feel comfortable deleting one from somebody new (if in doubt, keep an email address. you never know!)
  4. Just delete it and don’t feel guilty! You’ll forget about it by tomorrow anyhow

Happy deleting!

Focused and Guilt Free

Can life be any crazier than in December? I’m not sharing anything new. All of us are in the pre-Christmas madness. In the past, craziness like this would have tipped me over the edge to uncontrollable panic, stress and anxiety. But I’m sitting here today as cool as a cucumber. Here’s just a little background into what’s on my plate right now: Christmas is 2 weeks away. I’m not done with my shopping by a longshot. I just spent 4 days in Sweden for business. Our new au pair arrived the day I got back so I’ve been spending every spare second getting her up to speed on our household and childcare needs, driving her around town to get familiar with the area and helping her do all the logistics of social security card, drivers license and bank account and trying to learn to cook special new food so she feels welcome and comfortable here in America (Did I tell you cooking is so not my gift? . Not to mention this little Heritage Makers business I’ve drummed up. Oh yeah, and we are hosting my oldest daughter’s 5th birthday party this Saturday. That’s enough to commit most people to the insane asylum. And I’m sure each of you has an equally comparable list of things going on right now and I commend you for even taking the time to read this article! May the 5 minutes it takes you, provide 15 minutes of productivity for you this week. The best way to capture that time…

1. Replace your ‘freak out’ moments with ‘in focus’ moments. It may sound cliché but life is really about how you look at it. I could seriously freak out and panic and let my heart race and get grouchy with my kids but none of that will help get everything done. All I can do is the one thing I am focusing on at this moment. I can’t change anything that’s already behind me. I can’t make anymore time. And worrying about the stuff to come doesn’t help either. (Preparing for it does but that’s another lesson Just focus completely on enjoying and completing the task at hand…decorating the tree with your little ones, visiting Santa, choosing the perfect gift. Focus on them for the right amount of time without straying from the goal and GTD (Get Things Done!) My example from today…getting my Christmas Cards done. I had a zillion other things on my mind but today was the ordering deadline. So I focused solely on that activity after the kids went to bed and got it done. Something knocked off the list. BAM! It feels great. If all I do is focus on one activity like that an evening, I’ll have 12 more things knocked off the list by Christmas. When you focus and look at it that way, you see how much you can really accomplish and you are able to more completely finish an activity and quickly switch gears and move on to the next (like writing this article!)

2. Don’t overcommit. You’ve heard it a thousand times before but here is another reminder to help you have a guilt-free day. It’s ok to not be the mom who is sending in the snack for the classroom holiday party. It’s ok that your Christmas cards do not get into the mail until Dec. 30th. It’s ok to make the easy-cheesy-pleasey dip with store bought crackers for that holiday party. It’s ok to not put up all your Christmas decorations this year. It’s ok to skip your husband’s boring office Christmas party. It’s ok to not bake a tray of cookies for each of your neighbors. My example for the week, my daughters birthday party. Instead of inviting 25 kids and spending a small fortune putting together goodie bags that every mom hates having around their house, we are doing a smaller, more intimate lunch and afternoon at the ballet with my daughters closest friends. We get to dress up in pretty dresses and go down to the ‘big city’. That is an experience for all of us to remember and saves so much prep time. Now I can look forward to a fun time with my daughter, her friends and their moms without fretting about a clean house, activities and food for 25 people.

Remember, saying “No” is really giving you the opportunity to say “Yes” fully and completely to your other commitments.

How does this apply to my business?
1. Focus Moments: When you are ‘working the business’, really work the business. Don’t be distracted by unimportant email newsletters. It won’t hurt your busines if you skip reading the daily newsletter or even if you miss a week on a Yahoo Groups. Pick your few, specific, business building tasks and focus directly on them alone. Call clients and book events.. Call potential customers to sell gift certificates. Call that person you’ve been trying to connect with to join your team. And focus only on that person and their needs for those 15 – 30 minutes.

2. Don’t Overcommit: Did you tell yourself you were going to send a personalized holiday thank you card to all your clients from 2007? And a tempting postcard to everyone else on your potentials list? Consider this…will it just be lost in the shuffle of the holiday season? You can still do it but make them and send them just after Christmas so it stands out from the crowd and has a bigger impact for you. Remember..work smarter, not harder! And this Christmas season, family first, then business will follow.

This week’s practical resource is a simple quote so as to not add further tasks or guilt to this already busy time:
“I really cannot give you the formula for success. But I can give you the formula for failure. It’s this: Try to please everyone.” Bernard Meltzer

2 Traits You Will Find in every Happy Working Mom

People ask me all the time how I do it all. I have 4 kids (age 7 and under), I am a Heritage Maker and I also work a full time job aside from Heritage Makers. I have a career position in technology and business management with a wonderful company that I have been with for nearly 15 years. With this career, I get to travel the world and lead large teams of people. Despite all these roles, I was able to work the Heritage Makers business on the side and achieve my goal of director even faster than I had anticipated. This month is my 9th month as a Heritage Maker and I just achieved director (thanks to the equally amazing efforts of my team!)

I’m not sharing all of this to boast or brag. In fact, I’m trying to figure out how to share it in the most inspiring and empowering way possible. There is power in example. Power in seeing and knowing that your dreams are achievable. What I hope you see and understand from me is that I am your typical working mom from the Midwest. A girl who grew up in small town America, the daughter of a high school math teacher and quiet, obedient stay at home mother who was a product of the 1950′s catholic schools. A young woman who went off to the local state university and now lives an almost non-descript life in “anytown suburbia”. Yet I feel I am abundantly blessed and have found true happiness in being able to ‘have it all’. To be a mother and wife and have a career. To not have to sacrifice being a soccer mom, classroom volunteer or help with the boyscout pack in order to be in business and use these other talents that God has blessed me with. Yes, I feel I have discovered some of the many keys to leading a successful and happy life and I am compelled strongly to share this with others.

There are so many places to begin sharing on this topic so this week I will start with an overview of what have been a couple of the keys to my success: Passion and Productivity.

Do you know what you are passionate about? When is the last time you got up in the morning and said “I can’t wait to do what I’m going to do today”? What makes your heart race and gives you warm fuzzies inside? For what do you get so excited that you have to pick up the phone and call your mom, sister, brother, best friend? Sometimes as a parent, we get so focused on raising children that we forget there is also a ‘me’ and something that I love to do. And more importantly, something I need to do to recharge my batteries as an adult and ultimately be a better parent. Is it a sport? Running, walking, yoga, volleyball, mountain biking? Is it reading fictional stories or watching movies? Is it cooking? Is it scrapbooking – either traditional or digital? Is it photography or writing? If there was one thing you could do in your life and there was a way to make money doing it, what would it be?

For me, I have a passion to take new technologies and bring them easily and effectively to the people who need them. Whether its an easy way to preserve your stories and digital scrapbook as with Heritage Makers or finding the latest new software development technique that will allow my team to produce better quality software, I am passionate about doing this. It is uniquely me and part of my genetic make up. If I stray away from this in one area, I pick it up in another. From setting up and programming a new TV to designing my own family website. It always creeps into my life. It is a passion.

Productivity. No matter how passionate we are and how sure we are of our life purpose, we still must plan and be productive to make it happen. Sure you could just go with the flow and do it when there’s time but when is there ever time?? We have to be intentional about fulfilling our purposes in life. There needs to be discipline, processes and planning. I didn’t just make director without hard work and a plan. I knew I had limited time due to my job and my 4 children (well, 3 at the time I started. Yes, I even gave birth during these past 9 months as a Heritage Maker!). So I had to choose to focus on the most impactful activities that would help me achieve my goals. And I had to do them at times that would not take away from my family or my job. That meant late evenings on the computer after the kids went to bed nearly every single night. It also meant sacrificing some lunch hours to meet with clients and potential consultants. Much more to come on productivity. This is certainly a big reason I can do what I do. By spending my time in a focused and effective manner. And getting rid of those time wasters!