Lifestyle

5 Ways Failure Can Help You Focus

November 24, 2014

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to attend something called The Fail Fest through the co-working space I’m part of  in Indianapolis IN. It was a whole day of listening to now successful entrepreneurs share their stories of failure. There were some epic stories that included millions of dollars in losses at times! But each time these entrepreneurs chose to learn from their mistakes and move forward to even more success in their businesses. Throughout the day we heard around 20 speakers tell their stories.
5 ways failure can help you focus
One of the most inspiring stories I heard was that of Marcia Barnes. She shared about day that her business was supposed to launch and she discovered that her business partner was a drug addict, stole hundreds of thousands of dollars, her car and had crashed it. A few hours later she was sitting on the floor holding her babies after having her son diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. I almost started crying at that moment remembering my own times on the floor crying as my heart was torn over my children’s health problems and a desire to be successful as an artist. She shared how she had to turn to God to get through this extremely challenging time. She had to make a decision to be a better mother, a better person, and to give back to those around her. Today she is a transformed woman and has a transformed and successful business. Her goal in life is for others to see themselves as God sees them and to know that everyone of us has so much potential placed in us by the one who created us. You can find her on facebook.

There were a lot of different types of businesses represented at Fail Fest 2014 from coaching, to traditional businesses, to tech based businesses. After hearing several of the speakers I began to see a pattern with their stories. Afterwards I was more inspired to get focused in what I was doing in my business. I wanted to share them with you in hopes that you might feel inspired to get focused towards your own goals.

1.) Have a bigger vision and goal for your business

Having a map will help you stay focused even when decide to stop for a coffee break -Tweet That

Failure can come when you are just focused on the here and now and make short sighted decisions.  After you accomplish your smaller goals  you can easily lose your direction, motivation and drive. As a result your business will no longer thrive. By having a larger vision and goal for your business smaller successes and failures will not affect your direction and drive because you know where you are going.

2.) Spin your story

Marketers are notorious for exaggerating or spinning statistics in their favor. Do that with your failures. I don’t mean exaggerate by any means but I do mean put a positive spin on your failure. I’ll give you a quick example. This past weekend I did my one woman show Sweatpants & High Heels in NY. It was a great opportunity and I was totally excited about it. However, I forgot some of my lines, and at times became a little distracted by things happening in the room and had to improvise parts of the show. Instead of beating myself up about it I decided to focus on the fact that I was able to stay open and react well to what was happening around me. Afterwards, women shared with me that the show really touched them. To me, that was a success! Not having a perfect show but impacting someone’s life!

3.) Don’t give up

I really don’t think that I can elaborate on this much more. You will have ups and downs, and set backs in your journey. Sometimes you will have to change directions to reach your ultimate goal. Sometimes people won’t understand what you are doing but you can’t give up. I think many times we feel frustrated at failure because we are surprised by it. I’ve begun to adopt the idea that I WILL fail. I will have bad days and I will mess up sometimes. But it’s a freeing thought process really. It takes the pressure off for immediate success. It’s really about staying consistent and focused. The race belongs to the tortoise not the energizer bunny.

4.) Be jealous with your time

One business woman really impacted me as she spoke about how careful she was with her time. She created priorities in her life and with her time in order to be a good mother to her child. She really stressed the importance of spending time with positive, helpful people. This was a common thread among many of the entrepreneurs. They surrounded themselves with like-minded people, mentors and coaches to help them along in their journeys.

5.) Have confidence

This is not necessarily anything that anyone said specifically. It’s an observation that I made among the 20 or so speakers. Many of them said that they didn’t fit in corporate America. Many of them seemed to march to their own beat in life. They admitted to being risk takers and they all believed in their pursuit of being successful business people. Their stories were varied and challenging at times, but they believed that they could make it.

You have to really examine yourself and what you want so that you can have the confidence and consistency that it takes to achieve your dreams.-Tweet That

Implementing these 5 themes into your life will help you to stay focused on your goals. Don’t worry if you fail or something doesn’t have the desired outcome. Think of failure as necessary steps towards your goals in life. Failure can help you continue to focus in on your goals, what’s really important to you and teach you new skills towards achieving your dreams.

Do you have anymore tips or lessons that you’ve learned about failure?

 

 

Reviews

Popsugar November Unboxing

November 23, 2014

Hey this is my first unboxing video and it was so much fun to partner with POPSUGAR  this month! I decided to open the items for the first time with you just to give you an honest reaction to everything. I always love receiving these boxes because the variety and quality is always great. I’m also excited to offer you a special $10 off of a 3-month subscription!

november popsugar unboxing theinspiredcafe.com

Here are the coupon details:
  • Code: NOV14SELECT
  • Type: Save $10 on a 3-month subscription
  • Start Date: Today
  • End Date: 12/2

If you liked the video please remember to subscribe and share!

This was a sponsored post and all the opinions are 100% mine!

Adventures in Allergies, Food Stuff, Lifestyle, Recipes

3 Pasta Recipes for Kids with Food Allergies

November 22, 2014

power pasta collage

Sometimes it’s hard to get kids to eat enough protein which is necessary for their growing body. For some reason cookies, bread, and cereals are more tasty to them.

Who am I kidding?

They are tastier to grown ups too. They are easy to grab and usually what we crave when our hunger levels are high. Protein actually takes longer to digest which causes us to feel fuller longer. Protein is also the building blocks to our hair, nails and muscles. In fact some signs of protein deficiency are:

  • low energy, moodiness
  • hair is falling out
  • constant craving for sweets
  • muscle and joint pain
  • trouble sleeping

Growing kids need appropriate amounts of protein to develop. Ask your child’s pediatrician for more specifics on the protein requirements for your child.

Many of the recommendations to get more protein into children’s diets includes dairy, nuts, fish, eggs. Not the most helpful when your kids have a lot of food allergies like mine do. Needless to say making sure that the kids get a well balanced diet is always on the forefront of my mind. ALWAYS. (It has been known to bring on mild panic attacks at mealtimes.)

So you can imagine my excitement when I had the opportunity to partner with Power Pasta. Power Pasta is pasta that is made from 100% black beans or red lentils. Power Pasta is gluten free and it’s a great source of protein and fiber. What’s really super great about it is that it actually tastes good and maintains it’s consistency when cooked. I’ve tried other gluten free pastas and they just get mushy and frustrating and I end up throwing away batches of it. I was able to get this pasta right the first time! lol!

Here are three recipes that you can make with the Power Pasta. I’m going to share with you how I would modify the recipes for my kids.

perfect fall fiesta power pasta

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups uncooked bell peppers
1 cup onion
½ diced tomatoes
½ cup frozen corn
8 oz Black Bean Power Pasta

If your kids are allergic to dairy there are great alternatives available today. You can find veggie cheese products at your local grocery store. Some of these cheeses have soy as a main ingredient which might be a problem for some kids. After some research we found rice cheese at our local health store.

Lemon-Butter-Parmesan-Noodles-Recipe-modifiied

Servings: 4

  • 12 oz. pack of Power Pasta (or 6 oz. of Power Pasta and 1 and 1/2 cups of green peas)
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • Juice from one lemon
  • 1 cup parmesan
  • 1/4 c Parsley
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • salt & pepper to taste

Again for this recipe if your kids are allergic to nuts there is a chance that they could be allergic to peas as well. Surprise! Peas and Peanuts are actually in the same food family. I know. I was really overwhelmed when I found out. Not only do I have to worry about their allergies to certain foods but to FOOD FAMILIES! Geesh! Anyway. I would replace the peas with something else that is green! We love spinach at my house and that is my go to green because it’s full of the good stuff. (iron, protein, calcium, etc.) Again I would replace the parmesan cheese with a veggie cheese or a rice cheese product from the Daiya Foods or Rice Dream company.

halloween mac and cheese by powerpasta

Ingredients 

Servings: 6

  • 1 12oz package Power Pasta Black Elbow Macaroni
  • 2 TBSP Butter
  • 2 Cups Milk
  • 8 oz Velveeta Processed Cheese, cubed
  • 1 1/2 c. Shredded Extra Sharp Cheddar
  • Pinch white Pepper
  • Pinch Cayenne Pepper, to taste
  • 1/8 tsp Dijon,
  • Dash Salt

I love the colors on this ingredient. It’s really perfect for Halloween!

 

Here are my replacements:

Milk-Almond milk (if the are not allergic to tree nuts) or Rice Milk. Again for the cheeses I would replace them with a non-dairy alternative. Daiya has some good products that you could use to replace for the velveeta cheeses in this recipe.

*This was a sponsored post. All of the opinions are 100% mine. 

Inspiration, Reviews

RESPECT! Campaign & Challenge #RESPECTCHALLENGE2014

November 13, 2014

respect challenge

Today I have the honor of partnering with Futures Without Violence (through Popsugar Select Moms) in support of its RESPECT! Challenge. Futures Without Violence provides  programs, policies, and campaigns to end violence against women and children around the world. 

command respect don't demand it

“Command respect. Don’t demand it.”

That is what a mentor told me when I interviewed him for a high school career project. The  summer before I went to college I worked for a Systems Engineering company close to Washington D.C where he (my mentor) was the Founder and CEO. This summer would be one of my first encounters with an entrepreneur. Seeing how a small business worked where everyone had to chip in from developers to support staff. Like my father, he had come from India and built a life for his family in the United States.

I would learn a lot about respect that summer.

I was the front office secretary and I hated it. I split the job with the CEO’s daughter who was just one year behind me in school but was brilliant. She would go on to get a perfect score on her SATs and go into the medical field. My less than perfect score would cause me to struggle with the thought that I was a failure to my Indian heritage.

Boredom was my companion that summer.  I would sit and calculate how much I would make on my paycheck that week to pass the time.  My mind didn’t naturally work in the administrative tasks. At 17 I didn’t know the company mission or understand how support staff was everything to a small company.  I was tired every day from getting up early with my dad and driving through rush hour DC traffic to work and coming home late into the evening. I didn’t know how to take pride in my job.

“Command respect. Don’t demand it.”

These words echo in my mind even 18 years later.

To demand means to: To ask or call for with authority; to claim or seek from, as by authority or right; to claim, as something due. (webster dictionary)

To command means to: To have power or influence of the nature of authority over; to obtain as if by ordering; to receive as a due. (webster dictionary)

The main difference between the words “command and demand”  is that demanding respect is asking, seeking or claiming something that is due. I would elaborate to say that one can think that it is due when it might not be. If you have to ask, seek or claim respect…then you don’t really have it. To command means to have influencing  and to receive something that is due. It is due, there is no question about it. You have it there is no need to seek a claim. Commanding respect means you have earned it and it’s due to you.

At 17 I wanted it. I thought I deserved it. I did well in school, I never caused trouble at home,  and I was going to college soon. However,  I would react in the normal teenager-ish chip on my shoulder way  if I felt disrespected. (I still fight that tendency). I demanded it. I would keep my frustration inside when I didn’t feel like I was getting respect. After all,  this job was easy…just sooo boring. I wanted a project, something to engage my brain. I remember getting a firm talking to for falling asleep at my desk one day. How could you blame me when every 3 hours only 1 person came into the office and the phone rang maybe 1 time an hour? Geesh.

But I didn’t know that when you do a good job at the small things you  get entrusted with the bigger things.

I went to work every day getting up while it was dark, driving through the crazy, scary 6 lanes of traffic (my dad took the drive home), sit at that dang desk for 8 hours and drive another 1 hour and 45 minutes home every day of the work week. I would come home to more chores, family demands and trying to figure out how to prepare for my move to Purdue University. Life wasn’t so carefree anymore.

My father never complained. Not one time that I could remember. He woke up, went to work, came home and dealt with the traffic, bills, family, work at home without complaint.

That summer I saw the work ethic of men who traveled from east to west with courageous hearts to start life for themselves, have a family and give their children the best opportunities they could.

While I internally fumed  at how 13-14 hours of my day were taken up by work, how 4-5 of those hours weren’t even paid for and how I really didn’t like my job; my father went to work and provided for our family without negative words. He just kept going every day…for us.

That summer I learned about respect in the most unexpected way. My dad quietly earned my respect. He commanded it because of his work ethic and his diligence every day for his family. He patiently let me learn about working with patience and support. He could have chosen to react to my bad attitude. But he didn’t.

That summer I had a brief moment of stepping into my dad’s shoes, walking his path. A path that traveled across lands, oceans, and roads to another country, and a new culture. A path that resulted in building a life from the ground up with faith and determination and love. I say love because my mother walked a similar path coming from Jamaica. And so this life they built was together.

I would find out later that my dad had been laid off from his job and had taken this new job close to D.C., which he was actually over qualified for…to keep us going. My mother kept things going at home while her spouse was away many hours of the day as well. We always had a homecooked meal to come home to, gifted to us by a strong woman raising her children with love and support to go out into the world. Never being selfish or holding us back. These words from her I still hold in my heart:

“The sky is the limit, Dija. You can do anything you want.”

That summer I learned about respect. It’s not pretty, or glamorous, or loud. It’s earned in the quiet, steady work or a person. It’s earned not in loud demands or fearful tones; but it is earned in kindness and diligence.

A beloved leader who has earned his followers respect over time can command his troops into the fiercest battle without fear of rebellion. Commanding respect means you can trust that those you expect it from will give it willingly because you have earned it.

18 years later this lesson has affected my life in a major way. As I parent my children, as I go to work, as I deal in business, or in the community. I remember that respect is earned and then commanded.

Respect is  a good thing, a noble thing. When it’s mutual, amazing things can happen in our world.

When I finally told my dad I felt like a disgrace  because I didn’t get a perfect score on my SATs (I know, I have a dramatic streak.) My dad told me that he was proud of me. He said that he was proud because his kids asked questions, had our own thought processes and didn’t just accept everything that we were taught. He was proud of us no matter what.

Today he tells me the same thing when I feel inadequate having had chosen to stay home to raise our kids. He encourages me in my choice and I know he is just as proud of me (a stay at home mom)  as he is my sis ( a surgeon) and my brother (a father of 4, and VP at an Engineering firm.)

That is the summer I learned about respect. Today I’m working to live it out.

Share who taught  you about respect by joining the Respect Challenge put on by Futures Without Violence and win $10,000 for a non-profit or school or even a VIP trip to NY and a $500 gift card from Macy’s.

Their mission:

“For more than 30 years, FUTURES has been providing groundbreaking programs, policies, and campaigns that empower individuals and organizations working to end violence against women and children around the world.

Providing leadership from offices in San Francisco, Washington D.C. and Boston, we’ve established a state-of-the-art Center for Leadership and Action in the Presidio of San Francisco to foster ongoing dialogue about gender-based violence and child abuse.

Striving to reach new audiences and transform social norms, we train professionals such as doctors, nurses, judges, and athletic coaches on improving responses to violence and abuse. We also work with advocates, policy makers, and others to build sustainable community leadership and educate people everywhere about the importance of respect and healthy relationships.

Our vision is a future without violence that provides education, safety, justice, and hope.”

To find out more you can watch the video below. Don’t forget to support a future without violence by liking their facebook page.

31 days of focus, Productivity

Are you a Procrastinator? (31 Days of Focus – Day 5 )

November 6, 2014

31 days of focus for blog header large
Once there was a little girl who had a plastic pearl necklace that she absolutely loved. She would never take it off no matter what. She wore her pearls to the store, to school and even to dinner. Every night her father would ask her if he could have her pearls. Her chubby little hands would grab them tightly to her chest and she would shake her head no. But every night her father persisted in asking if he could have her pearls. After many nights of asking this same question the little girl began to wonder why her daddy wanted the pearls? On this particular night when her dad asked the same question she asked him,

“Dad, why do you want my pearls?”

He responded,

“Why don’t you trust me? Give them to me and you will find out.”

She slowly took her pearls from around her neck. Her little hand trembled as she  placed them gently in her father’s open hand. He smiled widely and gave her a hug. He pulled out a beautiful velvet box from behind her back and handed it to her.

The little girl opened it and inside was a pearl necklace.

The little girl looked up at her father questioningly.

“Another pearl necklace?”

Her father lovingly put them on his daughter and watched her prance around the room. He took her by the hand and sat her down.

” I have something to tell you.  They are real pearls. I love you and I want you to have the very best.  I couldn’t give you these while you still held on to your plastic pearls.”

That story always gets me because it makes me think about the things that I could be holding on to that are just keeping me from moving forward in life.

What emotional baggage, thought processes or habits do you hold on to?

I’ve heard it put another way. If there is a hooptie in your driveway then there’s no room for a Rolls Royce to park.

I made a huge realization this week during some studying I was doing. I realized something about myself that I NEVER realized before. I’m a procrastinator. I’ve never considered myself one. I’m too focused, I work to hard, I’m to driven to be a…procrastinator. But I am…let’s call it what it is. Procrastination is kind of a sneaky thing.

Except I procrastinate in the worst way. By staying busy…super busy. I can find projects and opportunities to take part in like no other when I want to avoid doing the hard work. But in the end the hard work is what I want to be doing. It’s hard work to write a book…but I want to. It’s hard work to produce a movie…but I want to. It’s hard work to figure out how to run an online shop…but I want to. Instead I find that I take on mini-projects to distract me from the fear, worry, and anxiety that grips me when I think about writing a book.

I told a friend that I didn’t feel adequate to write a book. That I was no theological scholar and didn’t think I could do it.

She sent me this in response from a devotional she read:
Too many Christians have already decided how much the Lord can do with them, based on education, personality, or talent. But God isn’t interested in qualifications. He seeks willing followers who echo Isaiah’s call, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isa. 6:8). That’s triumphant living.

“Man! That made me check myself really quick before I wrecked myself! I was certainly holding on to my finite “qualifications” instead of simply having a willing heart. Willing to let go of my plastic projects and receive the real things He wanted me to focus on.

Have you ever experienced this? I’d love to hear from you!

Here’s a great article from Inc.com to check out on the subject of letting go.

Crafts, Lifestyle, Reviews

Kidecals Review

November 3, 2014

kidecal review with theinspiredcafe
We are well into the school year and that means it’s really important to stay organized. I will be the first to admit that I’m struggling in this area. With three kids, with three different schedules, homework assignments and organizational personalities it can get overwhelming at times. In the past years, when it didn’t seem as important to stay organized with their preschool and kindergarten work I would just shove all of their papers in a bright green tray I bought  a few years ago. It served it’s purpose well being a gathering area for papers I had no idea what to do with but as each year added another child to the school roster more papers started to pile up at my house.

This year I have a first grader, 3rd grader and a 5th grader. Assignments are starting to get a little more complicated and the papers that come home has tripled. I already have the tendency to miss out on details so not having a system of organization has backfired a few times with missed signing of permission slips or homework assignments

Not good.

I decided to purchase some files  to start organizing the kids’ reports, artwork, and stories they wanted to hold on to. Creating a system to me was the best solution for the kids and myself to not feel overwhelmed with papers. The bonus is that I have a place for those special awards and art projects that we want to keep. Next I needed a way to label the files so that each child would know which one was theirs. I was racking my brain trying to think of different yet creative ways to decorate the files on a budget when kidecals came to the rescue. I know that statement was cheesy but it  was crazy timing seriously!

They contacted me to check out their products so I perused the site and found their amazing chalkboard labels! YES! I’m obsessed with chalkboard everything right now.

The kidecals  labels are very durable and easy to place on a clean surface. I was able to write on the labels easily and if you mess up the chalk labels can be wiped off with a rag and written on again. Bonus. The kids have fun relabeling their files when I’m not looking! lol!
chalkboard labels on file folders- theinspiredcafe.com
chalboard labels on files 2
I also got a little something for myself. If you are a creative person or just like pretty things you will love their keyboard labels! I fell in love with this floral print. The kidecals labels I got were designed for a mac keyboard. You can also get a coordinating skin for your laptop. I also made a neat little discovery that you can customize your keycals with your own business logo or design as well. I love making technology prettier and more stylish when I can!
kidecals keyboard labels - theinspiredcafe.com
kidecals keyboard labels collage

The labels can be placed on several types of surfaces if  labeling something else is what you need.
kidecals review theinspiredcafe.com

These would make some great gifts for Christmas for a busy mom who needs to stay organized. You can go check out Kidecals and right now you can save 15% on your order by signing up for their newsletter. Thanks for stopping by!

*This is a sponsored post. All opinions are 100% mine fo’ sho’.

Lifestyle, Reviews

Tour the Minted Site with me!

November 2, 2014

I’m a huge fan of stationary. Like HUGE! Pretty paper makes my heart sing. So I was really excited when I found a company called Minted a few months ago while poking around on the internet while researching online card shops. I loved their style and the high quality of their products. What got me over the moon excited was when Minted contacted me to do a review on their site!

minted site tour

A site review?

Yeah that’s what I said.

But when I started looking more deeply into their site and saw that they have a really cool thing going on over there. Not only do they provide stationary and greeting cards, home decor, gifts and event decor; but minted is a marketplace to thousands of independent artists. Meaning if you are an artist looking for a platform to get your work out into the world you can literally design and submit your work to be voted on by the minted community. The winners will have their work sold on the minted platform. There are also opportunities for artists to have their work sold with West Elm through their partnership with the retail store! Minted has curated high quality work for their customers and winners will get a boost in selling their work. Not to mention you get to be part of a community of fellow paper and art lovers! I think it’s a win win situation for everyone!


“Our purpose in life is to uncover exceptional design from all over the world and bring this to savvy consumers who won’t accept anything else.”

Minted also has some programs that you can take advantage of. If you are a blogger that writes related articles you can join the affiliate program to share products with your readers and also earn a commission as well. Also if you are a photographer they have a program for you as well. You can join their photographer’s affiliate program and use minted to help you with your design and printing needs so that you can take your photography business to the next level.

I was thrilled to discover that Minted partners with several non-for profits that work to make our world better.

Minted partners with Plant it 2020 which is a nonprofit founded in 1992 by the late singer John Denver, that plants indigenous tree seedlings in non-logging sites to ensure long-term survival rates. Minted is committed to planting 100,000 trees or more each year which is 7 time more than what they use. I am really impressed with their commitment to go above and beyond replacing resources back into the earth for future generations.

Minted also partners with another nonprofit that is actually close to my heart. As a mother I truly believe in the work that Every Mother Counts does. Every Mother Counts an advocacy and mobilization campaign founded by Christy Turlington Burns.  A percentage from Minted art’s sales will go to benefit Every Mother Counts to help it’s mission to increase education and support for maternal mortality reduction globally.  Christy Turlington Burns was a guest judge for  the recent Little Journeys: The Nursery, Children’s, and Family Tree Art Challenge. I chose a few from the winners that I liked as well!
everymothercounts
1. It’s takes a village and lot’s of love print
2. Smile because you are loved print
I’ve been an avid journaler for 20 years now (Ouch, did I really say 20 years?) Having a place to write my thoughts and ideas out is very important to me. The journal design is very important to me as well because when I look the cover I want to be inspired to write. You can also get coordinating planners and address books with your order.


Since we are planning to move by the end of the school year I decided to check out some of their decorative prints. Seriously. Ah-mazing. I literally could have looked all day at what they have to offer.

I love the color and airy feeling in this photo. It just transports me to a more simpler time when I look at it.

What I like about this picture is the simplicity of the sketch with the beautiful pop of color. There is something whimsical and free about this print that I think would go great in a living room or child’s bedroom.

This print just makes me happy. The palm trees make me think of my dream location of Los Angeles and the ferris wheel  just gives me that feeling of fun. Again I love the simplicity of the photo and all of the white space the artist allowed in the photo.

This watercolor print combines one of my favorite mediums as well as my favorite color combination. I would place this print in my dream office with white furniture and femine accents.

I was attracted to this print because I love taking road trips and traveling to new places. The visual of crossing a  bridge into a new adventure is very inspiring to me. The black and white aesthetic is almost dreamlike for me.


I’m planning on getting a headstart on the Holidays this year so I was really geeked to see that Minted has many holiday items available too. As well as…


fabrics…

…and items for parties

and weddings.

Over all the Minted site is jam packed with many beautiful and high quality items. One of my favorite aspects is that many of the products could be personalized so that they reflect your own style like this beautiful family calendar.

I could go on and on but I’ll let you go check out all of the other awesome things Minted has to offer. I want to thank Minted for this opportunity to get to know their company better. It is always exciting to me to find a company that not only creates high quality products but is also committed to serving it’s community, giving opportunities to artists, and striving to make our world a better place.
*This was a sponsored post. All opinions were 100% mine. I had permission to use photos from the site. 

31 days of focus, Goal Setting

31 Days of Focus – Day 4

October 28, 2014

31 days of focus for blog header large

In today’s world, multi-tasking has become a way of life. Ask any new mother. Multi-tasking means survival.

David Meyer, a cognitive scientist at the University of Michigan says that multi-tasking can be “very often highly inefficient and can be dangerous to your health.” 

I used to be the mom who thought that I could do a billion things at one time. I would literally stop what I was doing throughout the day every time one of my kids yelled “mommy!” Soon began to realize that I would get NOTHING accomplished. I finally learned how to be deliberate with my daily tasks and that  the kids would be okay if I made them wait a few more minutes while I completed unloading the dryer or making a bed before attending to their request.

Years later I’m in the beginning stages of creating my own business. I’ve had to apply those same skills to getting projects completed throughout the day.  We all know the parable of what sunlight focused through a magnifying glass can do to an ant. I’ve never tried it myself but the point is clear. Here’s another way to look at it. What if you started to cook an egg over the stove and kept turning off the burner every few minutes to go and do something else? The egg would take forever to cook!

Being focused throughout the day isn’t just about DOING. It’s also being effective in what you choose to do during the day.

Doing your best and most focused work requires getting to know yourself. You need to know what time of day you do your best work? Are you a morning person or a night owl? Are you an extrovert or an introvert? What kind of work makes you energized and what kind of work drains you?

Think about these answers as you read the following tips to stay focused.

1. Start your day right so you can make it through the forest.

I am working on the practice of reading scripture and a short devotional in the morning and at night. Then  I take some time to pray and think about what I need to do that day. I’ve begin to ask myself what is the most important things that I need to do today? Then I mentally capture those tasks as my goals in order to summon the energy that will be needed to accomplish those goals in the midst of distraction. I know that sounds a bit dramatic. I look at goals like the holy grail on the other side of the enchanted forest. Waiting to be my reward after dodging the distractions and dangers that await me on the journey. The ferocious emails, the flying arrows of phone calls, the ogres that come to make you upset or even the pretty fairies of pinterest that catch your eyes and make you vear off the path. You have to stay focused to make it to the other side!

2. Make time to think…and nothing else.

I work in a creative field so it’s important that I take time to think and imagine and dream. But I don’t believe that taking time to think is just for creative business owners. It’s for every entrepreneur. Every parent. Everyone. Take time to think and write down your ideas. Take time to dream about where you would like to go with your business or your life. Just breathe. Evaluate what you are currently focusing on and if it’s getting you where you want to go. If not, find a way to change directions, processes, or clients so that you can take your business to the next level. If you never stop to think, you could end up just being busy without progress.

3. Put on your blinders.

In life it’s important to be able to see the big picture, stop and smell the roses and be open to new opportunities. But sometimes you need to block out things that can distract you from what you are trying to accomplish. You need to put on your blinders. Just like horses where side blinders to keep them from losing focus, we need to do the same thing. When you are ready to work you need to know exactly what you are planning on doing so that you can immediately identify what is unnecessary or unimportant. Recognize where you are getting drained and sucked dry for no reason. Maybe it’s social media, maybe it’s a particular client, maybe it’s a co-worker that loves to talk…about nothing. Recognize those things and practice ways to handle them.

4. Have a system to handle email.

Email has been a panic zone for me lately. I’ve spent a lot of time cleaning out and catching up on my emails. I finally learned about tags and archiving email. This has been great for me. Tags are like little file folders that you can file your email into. The emails are still there if you ever need to search for them, but they won’t be cluttering up your inbox. Secondly, I’ve begun to work requests into my project planner so I can go ahead and tag then file the email. For example, I had a deadline for a guest blog post come through my email. Before I would have just left the email in my box and probably forgotten about the due date. Now I can just put the due date into my project planner with a reminder on my task list, then tag and file the email away if I need to refer to the details again! You have no idea how this has helped me! Now I can look at an email, make a decision about it and take action!

5. Know your super objective.

In acting there is a method called the Stanislavski method. In this method we break the script down into objectives that the character wants to achieve in each scene. However, there is something called a super objective which is what the character wants for the duration of the entire play. I liken the super objective like our over all goals in life. For example if your overall goal in life is to live by the ocean you would make choices that build towards your super objective in life. When opportunities present themselves your super objective will guide your decisions.

6. Know your priorities.

This is related to the super objective tip. When you know you’re priorities you can easily make decisions about your time and money without feeling guilty. Make your choices with confidence. I recently had to make a choice to turn down a performance opportunity because it fell on my wedding anniversary. I know that it’s important to that we take time out and celebrate this milestone. I know that my husband would never hold me back from an opportunity but I want him to know that our marriage is the priority. I know some people may not agree with my decision but that’s okay. I can feel confident because I’ve got my priorities set. At the end of the day standing by your priorities will gain you respect…and help you keep from feeling out of control with your commitments the majority of the time.

Staying focused takes practice and discipline but if you put these tips in place I’m sure you will see improvement in your focus. Do you have some more tips for staying focused? Please share!

31 days of focus, Productivity

31 Days of Focus Day 3- The List

October 15, 2014

31 days of focus day 3 - theinspiredcafe.com

Day 2 of my 31 Days of Focus entailed me torturing myself by requiring myself to write out a list of things I want to focus towards in my life. My.entire.life.

Why did I do that? Ugh!

I’ve been pondering this question for days now. It seems too overwhelming! I have to make the decisions for my entire life in just a few days?

No not really.

I actually started reading the 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss. This book is really amazing in that he really gets down to super practical things to do to be more efficient. To the point of giving you scripts that you can use until things start to come more naturally to you. One thing that he asks us to do is to write out what we want to have, be and do in 6 months and 12 months time frames.  After that we are supposed to reverse engineer the money it would take to accomplish each goal. What a relief!! I realized that I need to actually set smaller short-term goals so that they are attainable and don’t incite so much anxiety that I could dope up a rhino on the cortisol.

I noticed that my main goals really revolved around paying off debt and writing more. We are currently living with a family member in order to recover from that night and get back on our feet. This weekend my husband and I sat down and decided that we are going to “do this thing”. We are going to live like no one else in order to live like no one else as Dave Ramsey would say. To tell you the truth I’m scared out of my mind! I’m not the lady who goes around trying to clip coupons, or find the best deals for everything to save money. I would rather just go buy what I need at a store than order it online at a discounted price. I’m nervous about the changes that I will have to make and the new relationship with money that I will have to establish. But in the end…I know that we have an opportunity to change our family’s future if we can be focused. There are also other things that I would like to accomplish in terms of my entrepreneurial goals. One thing that I picked up at The Influence Conference this year was to take the time out and make a business plan. I kind of fell into what what I was doing here at The Inspired Cafe as well as Sweatpants & High Heels. When I started I didn’t see it as a business venture. But 6 years later…I think this could become a viable business if I stay focused!

Here are some things I’m working on implementing in my day to create more focus (really remove distractions):

  • Read scripture every morning and night as well as one devotional from my Jesus Calling Calendar
  • I changed my work schedule so I could have 1-2 days free during the week.
  • I’m currently working on cleaning out my email addresses. Afterwards I will delete one account so that I only have 1 personal account and one business account. I’ve also spent time unsubscribing to a ton of newsletters I no longer read.
  • Next I would like to try and delete extra google, google plus and youtube accounts. I know that this is going to be a huge challenge because I DON’T UNDERSTAND google! This way I can streamline my online accounts. If I’m feeling sassy I might delete some extra facebook groups as well.
  • I also have been trying to reduce my daily interruptions. This is a challenge but doable. I have to fight that guilt-ridden voice that pops up when I don’t answer the phone.
  • I am also working to create sense of cohesion with my websites so that someone can find out everything about me at one place. This was suggested to me by my mother (she hasn’t steered me wrong, yet).

What are some ways that you could remove distractions and thus create more focus for your daily life?

31 days of blogging challenge