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Change of Plans

Confession: I'm a person who really likes to have a plan. I keep my week organized in multiple calendars, and I set goals to keep me motivated and productive. Knowing where I'm going and deciding how I'm going to get there is a fun part of the process for me. However, one of the biggest lessons I've learned is that sometimes having a perfectly executed plan isn't always possible or beneficial in the long run. Life is often filled with unexpected twists and changes, and many valuable lessons can be learned from a change in plans. Here's a few things I've learned in this process. 

1. Done is better than perfect--don't waste too much time planning. 
Plans are good, but too much planning can be a sneaky form of procrastination. You may feel like you're doing something, but in reality, you're actually avoiding the risk of taking action to get started. It's smart to have a plan, but eventually you need to stop planning and start doing. We learn far more by doing than simply planning. Once you take that first step, it's so much easier to continue that forward motion; unfortunately, many people get stuck in the planning process and never begin the action.

2. Don't let the pursuit of perfection keep you from accomplishing something. 
It's ok if things aren't perfect. If you're always waiting for the perfect timing, the perfect set up, perfect reason etc. you'll never accomplish your goals. In fact, you probably won't accomplish much of anything. So, if you're looking for a sign to begin, this is it. Start now, don't wait. Things will never be perfect and that is ok. Begin now!

3. Don't become so attached to one plan that you're unable to be flexible as circumstances change. 
One of the best pieces of advice I received was to set your goals in concrete and your plans in sand. The end result doesn't necessarily need to change but the way in which you get there might. The best laid plans may not be what is best for you. Go back and read that sentence again because that's something we all need (myself included) to realize. I can think of many times in my own life where I had made a plan A or plan B and plan C and ended up doing something completely different in order to reach that goal. Looking back, I realized that had I stayed on the original course, I would have never had the experiences, friendships, or learned some valuable lessons that were necessary for my success. My original plan was not the best route.

Even recently, as I've set out to accomplish my current goals, my initial plans have required some changes along the way due to shifting situations or new information. Think about how a pilot flies a plane. Airplanes need mid-course corrections to be made throughout the flight in order to stay on course to reach their final destination. Our goals often require us to make shifts and adjustments along the way, but if you're so attached to a specific way to do something or a certain plan, you'll miss out on what is best for your life. Flexibility is one of the most important skills we can have as leaders and individuals. When you're flexible, you open yourself up to new opportunities and successes that can change your life for the better. Flexible people don't get bent out of shape. This doesn't mean that they are easily swayed or opinion-less, but rather, they are dedicated to a goal and open to change. When plans change, and they often do, a flexible person doesn't get stuck, they simply shift to a new course of action. The challenge for you and I is to be flexible and open to change! I always remind myself, especially when plans change, that God's plans are always better than anything I can come up with, and when I choose to trust him and his timing, things are always exceedingly more wonderful in the end. Besides, when you relinquish control of the plans, you also allow yourself to let go of the stress and can fully enjoy and embrace the journey.

Which lesson do you need to remind yourself of today?

March Motivation

Happy March! I love the beginning of a new month. March is especially exciting because it brings in the beginning of Spring. Every month I like to share a few thoughts that are inspiring me lately. It's so important to create an environment for yourself that aligns with your goals and purpose, and much of that environment is dependent on the words you speak and the belief you have about yourself. I encourage you to speak words of life, success, strength, and faith into your world and see what kind of a difference it will make for you! What's inspiring you this month?

Entertaining At Home: Simple Spring Tea

Spring is one of the most fun seasons to entertain! I love the warm sunlight that filters through the trees, the sound of twittering birds and beautiful bouquets of the freshest blooms. This time of year begs for outdoor parties, late afternoon tea, or brunch that invites guests to linger for a few hours. 
Entertaining at home doesn't have to be complex or stressful, and this is one simple set up that you can pull together in just a few minutes, so you can enjoy the time with your guests. 

Strawberry Tea Sandwiches

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
24 slices thin white bread, crusts removed
15 sliced fresh strawberries
Garnish: fresh baby basil leaves

In the work bowl of a food processor, place cream cheese, mayonnaise, and salt. Process until smooth, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Stir in basil.
Spread cream cheese mixture onto half of bread slices. Top with sliced strawberries. Cover with remaining bread slices. Cut into triangles. Cover with a damp paper towel, and store in a sealed container to keep bread from drying out. Garnish with basil, if desired. Serves 12

Turkey, Apple & Brie Sandwiches

Smoked turkey, thinly sliced
1 french baguette
2 apples, thinly sliced
1 wedge Brie cheese
Honey to garnish

Slice baguette in half and cut each half into 6-7 small pieces. Layer open face sandwiches with turkey, apple slices, and brie slices. Secure with a toothpick. Drizzle with honey to serve. 

Spring Trends: My Top Picks

With the onset of Spring, I'm looking forward to incorporating all things fresh and pretty into my wardrobe. There are so many fun spring trends that I'm loving lately! Here's a few of my top picks!

1. Blue & White: Is there anything lovelier than this classic combination? My go-to outfit lately has been any pairing of pieces in this color palette. Think blue and white stripe tops with white pants, delicate blue florals, navy and white for a nautical-inspired look, or blue embroidery on breezy white pieces that evoke a vacation vibe.
2. Pastels: There's something so fresh about pastels. I recently purchased a pair of sneakers (linked above) in pale blue (they also come in a beautiful blush shade!), and I've been partial to soft pink and blue stripe button down tops with pearl embellished or neutral accessories. These shades pair so well with denim and add a feminine touch.
3. Ruffles: Ruffles are the new statement sleeve. They add interest and a bit of sophistication to an otherwise basic piece. Instantly elevate your look with a ruffled top, skirt, or dress.
4. Floral Prints: Florals are basically a spring staple that somehow manages to never get old. I am a big fan of a silky blouse in delicate floral prints and love to pair them with a white pant, skinny fit denim, or high waisted shorts. This is a classic look that's always on trend.
5. Statement Earrings: There are so many fun versions out there this season! I picked up a pair of pretty teal tassel earrings and look forward to wearing them with much of my spring wardrobe.

What trends are you loving this Spring?

What's Your Love Language?

February is a month where we place an emphasis on love and relationships. Regardless of  relationship status, Valentine's Day is the perfect reminder to show appreciation and gratitude for our loved ones. People always appreciate being appreciated, and while we might think these things, it's so important that we actually let them know how valuable their presence is in our lives. One of the habits I've been cultivating in my own life is the practice of a gratitude journal, and each day I make time to jot down a few things that I'm grateful for. I encourage you to make a list of some people in your life that you are grateful for and and let them know--make a phone call, send a text, send an email, write a note, or set up a time to get together and tell them in person! In my experience, this not only makes their day, but also strengthens the relationship.

How else can you express your gratitude? Start by speaking their love language. A number of years ago I was introduced to Gary Chapman's research and writing on the 5 Love Languages, and I took the quiz again about 2 years ago to get a refresh. It's based on each person's preferred communication styles, and will give you so much insight into how you like to receive love as well as how to better love other people. Communication is such a critical element in all of our relationships, and when you know how to speak someone's love language, you'll be able to understand how to relate to one other better. Also, I've found that it is so beneficial to continue to learn more about yourself and identifying your love language is a powerful tool for personal growth and understanding. You can take the quiz here!

Finally, decide to see this holiday and focus on love as the perfect reminder to freely give and receive love. It is easy to place barriers around ourselves, but life was meant to be done in community. Relationships with other people are so essential to living a meaningful and satisfying life; we need one another! It's scary at times to put yourself out there, and perhaps you've been hurt by others in the past, but I encourage you to love others anyway. The more love we give, the more our capacity to receive love is expanded; I can't explain it, but it's one of those things that the more of it that we give away, the more we seem to discover within. Whether it's through a smile, a hug, a card, a phone call, or time invested with someone, decide to show some love and appreciation for the people in your life. I promise it will make an incredible impact!

February Inspiration

Happy February! It's the second month in the new year, and we're officially inching closer toward Spring! We've had a couple days lately that have been the picture of perfect spring weather. I'm looking forward to many more days of that to come! Each month I like to choose some thoughts and quotes that inspire me for the next few weeks, and I enjoy sharing them with you in the hope that you will gather a little motivation from them also. This time, many of them seemed to have a rosy hue which seemed most appropriate for February. Here's to a fabulous, inspiring month ahead!

How I Achieve My Goals Every Month

It's almost February which means it's close to the end of the month. One thing that really helps me to stay focused and achieve my goals is to do a check-in around this point. I thought I'd let you in on the process in case you want to use these for your own progress!

1. I start each of these checkpoints by writing out my goals for the year as well as the goals I had for the month. By writing them out, I am able to clearly see what my overall vision is and can begin to quantify my progress for each one.

2. For each of my monthly goals, I list the 2-4 action steps I've taken to achieve the goal or progress I had set out to accomplish.

3. For each of the yearly goals, I look at the progress made in that month and check to see if I am still on track for the goal or if there needs to be any modifications.

4. Next, I create action steps for the upcoming month's goals.

5. Finally, I celebrate the progress made, made a note of any lessons I learned that month, and check off any of the items on my yearly fun experience list (like a bucket list but more fun!) that I completed.

In addition to this process, I also go through and answer a list of progress-related questions which helps me plan out the right steps for each goal and keeps me laser focused throughout the month. Let me know if you'd be interested in seeing a post on those! It's so important to make time for checkpoints. When we track our progress, it is much easier to actually achieve what we set out to accomplish. Challenge yourself to take a moment or two before the month ends and check in. Where are you on your goals, what needs to be done, what have you accomplished, and where are you going? Here's to great success!
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