My wife and I are in one of the busiest seasons of our life. We currently have four young children, lead a church, lead a coaching business, and are renovating a house.

While we are definitely blessed, we have to be careful that our busy schedules don’t push us away from staying on the same page. For this reason, dialogue with one another is critical to the health of our marriage.

There are times when good communication comes more naturally and is not as rushed. This is what I have found to work for us.

1. Nightly Devotional.

When Christa and I are in bed for the night, we have a couple devotional that we read together. It goes over a ton of subjects such as communication, children, intimacy, and faith.

At the end of each devotion, there are questions designed to help strike up a conversation on the subject we just went over. This helps us connect with one another’s heart on a daily basis.

2. Weekly Schedule Layout.

At the end of my weekly review, the goal is for Christa and me to go over our upcoming week. This is to make sure that we are not missing something important and we are staying on the same page.

3. Biweekly Date.

Typically, we go on a date every other weekend. In our time away, we spend time conversing with one another to ensure we are keeping up with what is going on inside of each other’s hearts.

Since our stress level is lower when we are on a date, the conversation is more natural and not as hurried as it would be in the day-to-day. If you are looking to reignite your passion for dating in your marriage, check out this post.

4. Quarterly Check-Up

A few times a year we go through a list questions to help determine where our marriage is at. This usually occurs on a date night. Here are the questions we go through:

  • What’s one thing I like about you?
  •  What is some new information you have for me?
  • What’s one question you have for me about anything?
  • What’s one complaint you have about me?
    • This one has to be a behavioral complaint.
  •  What one dream hope or wish that you have?
  • What’s one prayer request?

These three different times of communication helps to keep our relationship together. Communication helps keep your marriage together when life it trying to pull it apart.

[bctt tweet=”Communication helps keep your marriage together when life it trying to pull it apart. #marriage #communication ” username=”justinsetzer”]

What times have you found best to help keep consistent communication with your spouse? 

Among other things, leadership always involves decision making. Many of the decisions we make in our roles at work have little to no impact on our personal lives, but not all are work decisions.

A few years back, I was at a church leadership conference, led by two top leaders in that industry. The first main session had to do with family life and was led by Andy Stanley.

The opening session suggested many goals that a family should have. Here are a few:

  1. Be in love even after the kids are out of the home.
  2. When the kids are old enough not to have to be together, they will still choose to be together.
  3. Pray together at every stage.
  4. Prioritize your marriage on your calendar, not just your heart.

While these were great goals to have, the thing that stood out to me the most was a statement he made; “Don’t give up what is unique to you for something someone else will do.”

Another way he has said it is. “Don’t trade something that is unique to you for something that is not permanent.”

Leaders, this is the one trade you must never make! Never trade what is unique to you, for something that is not permanent.

Your company, job, softball team, social media, and a fantasy football league can all be done by someone else. There are things you should never trade for the previous list.

1. Relationships.

These would include your relationship with God, spouse, children, and family. You should never trade in these relationships or the priority thereof over a career or anything else that is not unique to you.

We may not even recognize that we are investing more of our time and energy in people, activities, and engagements that are less important.

2. Values

If you are in leadership long enough there will be a deal, phone call, request that will cause you to stare your values straight in the face, and you will have to decide whether to give up your values or not. I encourage you that nothing is worth the price of your values.

Most recently, I had to choose between something I wanted and something that was unique to me. There was a leadership conference that I was planning on attending for some time.

As the conference was approaching, I needed to decide to pull the trigger on purchasing the ticket, airfare, and hotel. After recognizing what was going on in my family, I realized that this was a time that I needed to be home.

Just a few days after I made the decision, I got an email from the company hosting the conference that they were going to comp the conference for me. The free ticket would have cut the financial investment of going to the conference down considerably.  So there I was again staring down the priority barrel of my life.

I contacted the company and thanked them for the offer, but explained that I felt I needed to be home with my family during this time. They emailed me back and told me they believed I was making the right decision. That company has some very strong values as do their employees.

I wish I always hit a home run in this area, but I am learning as I go.

I want to challenge you to look at your life and ask if you are saying yes to the wrong thing. I have found one of the greatest tools for staying on track in your life is to create a life plan.

Remember, the one trade a leader must never make is trading something that is unique to you, for something that is not permanent.

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to the popularity of social media, we are able to get a sneak peek into the life of others. Although in the midst of seeing so much, we can be left with the feeling that something is missing.

I personally love the advantages that technology and social media afford to us. Without it, I may not have been able to locate my half-sister. With that being said, I think there are some are some things that we have to be careful of.

Just before writing this post, I was looking at my social media feed. In the feed I noticed a couple capturing an important moment in their lives. In the same photo, there were multiple other people doing the same thing.

It was a little strange to see people capturing the same moment for themselves in the same photo. It left me wondering if there was a difference between two different experiences.

1. Capturing the moment:

Capturing the moment is a very common thing these days. All over social media, we see pictures of others family life, important moments, dinner, animals, and vacations.

These pictures are put out there for everyone to see and enjoy. Sometimes we get jealous of others “highlight reels.” There are times and places for capturing the moment, but if we are not careful we can miss out on something far more important.

2. Captivated by the moment:

Capturing the moment on social media can sometimes come at the cost of being captivated by the moment. We are having an incredible moment in real life, and then we pause something epic, so we can capture it for others.

[bctt tweet=”Capturing the moment on social media can sometimes come at the cost of being captivated by the moment. #socialmedia” username=”justinsetzer”]

Beyond this, it can cost you engaging deeply at the moment and following it wherever it may lead. That simple moment may have turned into something unforgettable.

I am not negating the need for capturing moments, but it’s not worth losing moments that were meant for those who are currently present. I heard someone say today, “Wherever you are be all there.”

What would happen if for one month you decided that instead of trying to capture the moment, you would embrace being captivated by the moment? 

By the way, I created a worksheet to help you determine whether certain social media channels are having a substantial positive effect on achieving what you deem most important. You can get the guide by signing up in the right column of this page.

 

 

 

My wife Christa is the greatest woman I know. I believe that she is a one in a billion type of person. With that being said, there are times when she needs a recharge from the day-to-day.

Last week, I came home from work and knew that she had a stressful day with the kids. Being a man, I had the desire to “fix’ the situation and provide her with some relief. While that strategy is not always most effective, this time it was.

The solution I gave her was a blessing and showed that I truly want to keep her recharged. Here are some ways to help recharge your spouse.

  1. Give your spouse a break.

This is what I did in the evening I came home and realized my wife needed a break. I encouraged my wife to call someone and go out and have fun with them. So she and her sister went out and just enjoyed an evening without the kids.

Is there a way you can give your spouse a monthly break from the grind? Maybe they can go get coffee with a friend, or a pedicure, or go for the gold and let her have a girl’s weekend. It speaks volumes to your spouse when you do so and few things help recharge your spouse better.

  1. Give your spouse your full desires.

It is very easy in this world to be tempted to lust at people other than your spouse. And when your spouse knows that you are looking at other people, it can destroy their self-esteem.

I want to encourage you to focus your sexual energy towards your spouse. Look at this Bible verse:

Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth. She is a loving deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts satisfy you always. May you always be captivated by her love. (Pro 5:18-19)

Does anyone else love the power and freedom of this verse? While some may see this verse as restrictive, I see it as incredibly freeing. One of the greatest results of this kind of focus- incredibly focused passion towards your spouse.

As one person once said, “keep it hot with the one you got.”

  1. Give your spouse some encouragement.

Life seems to move at the speed of light and in the midst of it we get stressed and worn out. While there could be things that your spouse could do better, I want to challenge you to look for what they do really well.

Are they great with the kids? Then let them know. Do they make killer desserts? Tell them. Are they sacrificing things they want to help get out of debt? Recognize and celebrate it.

Find moments to let them know that they are great and you appreciate them. If you are looking for some other ideas check out this post.

Take a moment to consider how you can recharge your spouse this week with a break, your full desires, and some encouragement. You will be glad you did.

I would love for you to add some other ideas to these three. Post in the comments your ideas.

I love conversations with people who care about me and are willing to ask the tough questions. These people care enough about you to see the good in you but desire to pull out the great.

I just had one of those conversations the other day with someone. They were trying to challenge me to be the very best version of myself; the one God created me to be.

During the conversation, we talked about quite a few topics and then something that was said stood out to me. In essence, they asked me what one thing in my life, if changed, would have the biggest impact.

This got me thinking about different areas of my life and what one thing for specific areas of life, if changed, would make a significant difference.

1. What one thing in your marriage/relationships?

Is there one thing in your marriage, if you improved, that would make a huge difference? The one thing could be not being on your computer or phone when you are home. Maybe it is getting better at recognizing the small things other people do for you and pointing them out.

Could it be the romance is waning, and you need to start having date nights again?

2. What one thing in your health?

I grew up in a house that had dozens of cartons of ice cream in the freezer, you heard it right, DOZENS. While we don’t keep that many, we eat ice cream almost every night. So maybe this is my one thing that would make the biggest difference in my health.

For you, it could be meal planning, joining a gym, or taking your bike out a few days a week.

3. What one thing in your finances?

Finances and food have one thing in common; everyone knows what to do, but few do what they know. Like food, our spending is driven by behavior, not knowledge.

So what is your one thing that if you started to do, would make the biggest difference in your finances? Is it starting to make a budget, opening an IRA, or cutting some excess expenses out of your budget?

If you are looking for a step-by-step guide to financial freedom, check out this post.

Don’t get bogged down with changing everything, that you end up changing nothing. There are a few essential changes that if you make them will give you tremendous results.

Once you decide what needs to be changed, find something and someone to keep you accountable. First, have personal accountability by creating a life plan, and secondly, find a trusted friend to hold you to your commitments. If you are looking for even greater accountability in your personal and professional life, consider using the services of a coach.

I would love to hear your feedback on this post. If you love the post, spread the love to your friends on social media.

If you have a smartphone, can you imagine your life without it? I had a small taste of what it was like to not have one after having had one for almost a decade.

We can all benefit from advancements in technology these days. We are able to sync calendars, project management software, and see our family in real time if we are away on a trip.

While there are many advantages to technology, there are some downsides to it as well. For me personally, I can become distracted at times by what is most important in my life. I have come to terms that fully connected does not mean rightly connected.

Last week I dropped my iPhone and it would not turn back on for almost a week. Luckily, my wife had an older phone that I could use to call and text. I have concluded that the number nine in T9 texting is the level of torture it takes to send a message on the scale of what to nine. In all seriousness, this is what I learned from my days without a smartphone.

  1. Mobile technology has a gravitational pull that needs to be monitored.

Because of the array of functions my phone has, there is a strong pull to use it. I can check a myriad of social channels, order my coffee, listen to Spotify, check my bank accounts, jot down a note in Evernote, listen to a podcast, take a picture, watch a movie, send an email, read a book, check the weather, and don’t forget the aspect of texting and making a phone call.

The first few days without a smartphone I was still reflexively picking up the phone, though it could really only call and text. After a few days, that tendency dropped quite a bit.

2. I was more present.

I hate that this is true for me, but it is. Without access to the entire world, I was much more present in my world.

[bctt tweet=”Without access to the entire world, I was much more present in my world.” username=”justinsetzer”]

3. I didn’t miss it as much as I thought.

I was surprised by how quickly I adapted to what has been my normal life for almost a decade. In just a few days, there was no longer a shock of using a phone that came out before the iPhone era.

4. I am still thankful for technology.

I should not place fault from being distracted from important things on technology; the fault is my own. That being said, I am still very thankful for the functionality my phone offers.

My big takeaway from all of this was that while I love the power behind the phone, I don’t enjoy it anywhere close to the power of close relationships.

We all start off our weeks believing we will be able to get to the things that are most important. Why then at the end of the week are we no closer to achieving what is most important to us?

Besides my relationship with God, there is nothing more important to me than my wife, Christa. Though she was so important to me, there was a time when I wasn’t being intentional enough in our relationship. I could sense a little tension between us. I realized something needed to change.

This is when I learned about the life planning process, and it had a tremendous impact on my life. In the life plan, you clearly articulate how you desire the most important areas of your life should look, what is your current reality, and how you are going to bridge the gap.

Here is what my current reality looked like years ago within my relationship with Christa.

Current Reality:
We are not regularly going on date nights.
I am not interested enough in what she is into.
We are hit or miss with connecting with one another.

Why was one of the most important things in my life was getting neglected? I have come to realize that these three things are needed to create space in your life for what is most important:

1. Define what is most important.

This is where it all has to begin. When you know what is most important, you also realize what is not.

I have written down the most important areas of my life plan which are: God, Christa, children, self, ministry, friends, finances, and health. For you, some of these areas may be the same. You may also have some that I do not depending on your marital status, age, job, etc.

2. Schedule it.

Knowing what is important was not enough. I knew Christa was important, but it wasn’t until it was scheduled that it showed. What gets scheduled will get accomplished, and what does not get scheduled will not.

What is most important should have priority and therefore should be scheduled first. As Stephen Covey says, “you have to put the big rocks in first.”

I keep a running document on what an ideal week looks like. I put what is important to me in the document. For actually scheduling I use google calendar.

3. Let key players in your life in on it.

You need to let the people who these changes will affect in on it. For me, this meant Christa and I got together to talk about and schedule what was most important.

This process helped Christa and I see some positive gains in our relationship with one another. Creating a life plan is one of the key things I work with when I am coaching. The reality is you will either plan your life, or life will plan it for you.

Today what is one area of your life you need to create space for?

Do you ever get the feeling you need to start or stop doing something? I believe we all have experienced this.

I recently met with a key leader. During our bi-weekly meeting, we discussed our normal three evaluation questions:

  1.  What has been your biggest win(s)?
  2.  What has been your biggest obstacle(s)?
  3.  What hot topics do we need to discuss?

During this talk, the conversation shifted. We discussed the effectiveness of the different areas he led. The shift went from simply talking to evaluating an area.

This was when I introduced him to three words that would help him in his evaluation process. In fact, these three words can help you improve not only at work but at home as well.

1. Keep. What do I/we need to keep doing?

These are the areas of your life or business you need to keep doing. These areas are important to your future success.

For your business, this may include staff meetings, one-on-one’s, dynamic customer experience, etc.

For your personal life, this may include personal devotional time, exercising, consistent date nights, etc.

2. Start. What do I/we need to start doing?

There may be things you or your team are not doing but should be doing. These are the new things that will energize you/your team to reach your desired outcomes.

For instance, if you want to have a culture of leadership development at your organization, but there is no defined plan to make that a reality, that would be something that needs to start.

The things you start should help connect where you are today to where you want to go.

3. Stop. What do I/we need to stop doing?

This can be the hardest, but most important, question to ask. Are there negative habits you or members of your organization must stop doing?

For your personal life, this may include activities that negate your most important relationships. You may have gotten into a habit of bringing your work home with you, and it has affected your family life. That may need to stop.

For your business, this could include you stop allowing employees to bypass their department heads, and go straight to the top when they have questions or concerns.

The keep/start/stop process has effectively been used by countless individuals and organizations. The process was designed to be used for feedback and is, therefore, very effective when used with a team, whether that is your family, department, or volunteer team.

I would love to hear from you, “What is something you need to keep, start, or stop doing.” Leave a comment below and begin the conversation.

Do you ever wonder how your marriage is doing? I mean, really doing.

I’m someone who enjoys knowing where I stand. I remember asking my wife a while ago if she felt like I made her a priority. Her answer: “Sometimes.”

Ouch!

It was hard to hear that. But it would have been far worse to not know that she felt that way.

Christa and I had a date night less than a week ago. During our date, I asked her if she wanted to do a marriage checkup. I had learned about the marriage checkup from Randy Bezet, Pastor of Bayside Community Church.

A marriage checkup consists of these six questions:

1. What’s one thing I like about you?

It is great to start off the checkup on a good note. Telling your spouse something you like about them gives them a sense of self-worth.

2. What new information do you have for me?

Life can be incredibly busy, and during certain seasons your marriage can feel like two ships passing in the night. You don’t really know how your spouse’s day went, and sometimes each of you can miss some very important information.

By asking this question, you show that you care about what’s happening in your spouse’s life. It also gives you a chance to catch up on the pertinent information you need to know.

3. What’s one question you have for me – about anything?

This may be a question you’ve wanted to ask for ages, but it never seemed like the right time. This is the time.

4. What’s one complaint you have about me?

This can be the most important question and the one whose answer requires the most maturity to hear. One key to this question is that it must relate to something behavioral.

5. What is one dream, hope or wish that you have?

In the midst of busyness, you can forget that your spouse has dreams and ambitions. By asking this question, you show that you’re still interested in making their dreams come true.

6. What’s one prayer request?

You can ask this question, and then grab your spouse’s hand and pray. This is a great way to end the marriage checkup.

Though some of these questions will be painful, they will help you both know where your marriage is at.

Our last date was amazing, and the marriage checkup added much to our conversation. If you need to rekindle dating in your marriage, check out this post.

Take what you learned in this post, add a question if you like – and begin the conversation!

The life of a leader can be both exciting and challenging; rewarding and exhausting at various time. Leadership can also be incredibly lonely at times, but it does not need to be.

The first few years of my current leadership position were exciting and lonely at the same time. I loved my calling but soon realized the phrase, “It’s lonely at the top,” had some truth to it.

I fought against the loneliness by trying to reach out to other people. I knew in my line of work this took more perseverance than I expected, as my first few attempts at connecting to others in my role were just me leaving voicemails. I didn’t give up, and it paid off.

Eventually, I found a local gathering of others in my position, who met once a month. Through this group, I realized that leaders need to break away from isolation and have others join them on the journey.

I believe, in order to thrive, Leaders need to invest time in five different relationships.

1. God– If you are passionate about what you do, you may have a hard time shutting down the “Thinktank.” For this reason, and others, every leader needs a daily quiet time.

As a person of faith, I spend this time in prayer, scripture reading, or worship. If you struggle to have a devotion time, this post may help you out.

2. Family – This may sound as if it is a given, but it is not. Leaders who are passionate about their organizations, sometimes do so at a heavy price to their family.

I heard someone say, “Do not trade something that is unique to you (ie.your family), for something that may not be permanent.” Your family is permanent, but your job or business may not be.

3. Your tribe – In his book Tribes, Seth Godin states, “A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea……A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.”

The group that meets once a month is my tribe. It is helpful to meet with others who can clearly relate to what you are experiencing.

4. A coach– Coaching is one of the best investments you can make in your personal development. I define a coach as someone in your corner to challenge you to be the best version of yourself that you can be.

Yes, there is usually a price with this, but the return on your investment far outweighs the cost. I personally have had multiple coaches, and have invested thousands of my own dollars, but I believe it was more than worth it.

You can hire a coach that is either experienced in your industry or has the skills to help you reach your desired goals. If you need more motivation to hire a coach, read this article by Forbes.

I have used the services of coaches for years, and now am coaching myself.

5. A friend- This is the person you want to go fishing with, watch a ballgame, or meet up with for coffee. You can talk about a myriad of subjects with this person, or say nothing at all.

You can also share about things that have been bottled up and needed to be shared. An article from the Harvard Business Review tells us:

“Emotional support is equally essential. Like anyone else, executives occasionally need to vent when they’re dealing with something crazy or irritating at work, and friends and family are a safer audience than colleagues. This [support] serves as a much-needed outlet from the pressures of raising a family and leading an organization.”

As you can see, a leader does not need to be lonely. The relationships mentioned can help a leader endure challenges and thrive in their role.

The level of change I have experienced when I have all of these relationships in my life is revolutionary. Prioritizing these relationships not only helps you keep the right perspectives by honoring God and your family with time, but you are also getting the other supports you need to be the best version of you, you can be.

Take out your calendar and give some space for each of these relationships.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Is something else you would add to the list, or are there one of these that you struggle with?