Posts

I love the underlying concept of work-life balance, but I don’t love the practicality of it. The word “balance” implies an even distribution over the course of time. So if you work too much one week, you will have to spend more time with the family the next, and vice-versa. You never arrive at your goal because this is an uncertain finish line. Luckily, there is a better way.

For years I have coached and trained others to live a more intentional life, and I am also on the same journey.  I have found that most people have a desire to change but become incredibly frustrated with the results they’re getting. Even worse, they look at those who seem to have it all together and have limiting beliefs that they can’t do the same.  I know how they feel as I have been there as well.

One of the greatest trades you can make when it comes to productivity is trading balance for healthy rhythms. While balance is unclear, rhythms are defined through a series of habits.

Almost forty percent of your actions are simply your habits according to the best selling book The Power of Habits. So if you change your habits, you will change your life. In order to create healthy rhythms, you will need to follow these five steps.

1. Decide on your goals.

The first step in the process of creating health in your life and business is deciding your desired destination, or goals. You need to clearly define what is your most important goal for the main areas of your life. We have our clients fill out a life and business plan.

Your goal should be in the form of x to y by z. For instance, your work goal may be to bring up sales revenue from one million dollars in quarter one to one million two hundred thousand dollars by the end of quarter 2. You may have a personal goal of losing fifteen pounds in the next 60 days.

2. Define your habits.

Once you have clarity on what your most important goal is for an area of life, you need to add the specific habit(s) that will help you to achieve it. Keep in mind that there are some habits, called keystone habits,  that set off a chain reaction for others to happen.

If you are a business owner, one of your habits could be to spend four hours a week working on the business instead of just in the business. Your keystone habit for your sales goal may be to contact ten loyal customers a week to see how they are doing and if they need any further assistance. Your habit to lose weight may be to write down your caloric intake every day and not to exceed so many calories.

Choose one or two habits that when done either on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, that will ensure that you will hit your goal.

3. Disrupt your schedule.

If the way you are currently spending your time is not giving you your desired results, then it’s time for a schedule change. You will most likely need to change your schedule to thrive in your key areas such as self-development, relationships, and business.

Some of your current fruitless activities will change and its place will be slotted for your new habits.

We look at the schedule a week at a time and call it our weekly rhythm. Inside your weekly rhythm is time to accomplish your habits and ultimately ensure reaching your goals.

4. Draw lines in the sand.

You can do anything, but you can’t do everything. In order to accomplish your goals, you are going to have to set some healthy boundaries in your life. There will be times when you say “no” to the good so you can say “yes” to the great.

Since you already have your time slots full of your new habits, you can say no to things since you have a prior commitment. This part will make or break your ability to grow your business or personal life.

5. Dig your heels in.

I would love to say that everything will magically fall into place once you start, but there will be resistance. That resistance will come from the fact you’re already predisposed to your current habits and life itself.

How long does it take to form a new habit? Though it varies, research shows it more likely to take two months or so. This is one of the benefits of our year-long leadership coaching program, the opportunity to solidify many new habits. Here is the good news–once something becomes a habit, it does not require much effort to keep it going.

Take some time and clarify your goals and follow the steps in order. Plan today for the business or life you want to live tomorrow.

How to Create a Weekly Rhythm

As leaders, we have aspirations to be incredibly productive every week. We come to work determined to get ahead and take care of what is most important. By the end of the week, many of us are left wondering why we didn’t get the results we were hoping for. So what is the secret to a successful week?

A few years back I struggled to stay on top of things, which kept me from getting ahead. I remember taking a self-evaluation test where I was asked to rate myself on how organized I was on a scale of 1–10. I gave myself a raving 3, only because I felt confident—confident my organizational skills needed a little attention.

This evaluation was given to me by Building Champions, whom I had hired for personal executive coaching. This was one of the best investments of my life. In the beginning stages, they had me create a life plan, which I have since renamed as my personal life blueprint. If you don’t have a personal life blueprint, I would encourage you to complete one of those first.

Once I became clear on what I wanted in my life, it was time to make it happen by scheduling it. Your desires will not become a reality unless you make time for them. If you really want to know how you spend your time, you can do a write-down for three days, listing how you spend every half hour. Yes, this is a grueling, yet eye-opening exercise. Building Champions has a time-blocking document you can use here.

[bctt tweet=”Your desires will not become a reality unless you make time for them.” username=”justinsetzer”]

Now it is time to create your desired time block, which I have renamed ‘desired weekly rhythm’. The weekly rhythm shows how you would spend your time if you could control it. While there are many unforeseen circumstances that can come up in a week, many weeks are normal.

The rhythm is broken up into thirty-minute segments, showing how you would spend your time in an ideal week. There are a few keys to creating a weekly rhythm that will help you get the most out of your week:

1. Plan your day’s theme.

The focus is important and having your day’s theme can be a huge boost to productivity. Instead of jumping from one unrelated task to another, you can get into the groove of working on one aspect of your job. You will notice that I have my theme listed at the top of the spreadsheet. The theme is my primary focus of the day.

2. Schedule your personal priorities.
• Them time: This is the time you have scheduled for your relationships. This should include time for dates with your spouse, time with your children, and friends.
• Renew time: These are the activities that renew you and keep you at peak performance. These could include your time with God, exercise, reading, outdoor activities, etc.

3. Schedule your high payoff activities.

These are the activities that Stephen Covey would place in quadrant II, as described in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. These activities will differ from person to person. High payoff activities may include vision casting, coaching your team, recruiting, managing sales relationships, top-level meetings, appointment setting, lead generation, etc.

4. Schedule the heavy lifting early in the week. 

If you don’t knock out the tougher aspects of your job early in the week, you will likely procrastinate with those tasks. If you are like me, it is better to get the hard projects done first.

5. Schedule time to work in the business and on the business.

• In-time is when you are working in the day-to-day operation of your organization when you are in the thick of things.
• On-time is when you walk away from working in the business to working on the business. This may include strategic planning, brainstorming, or working on a new initiative or product. In some settings, it can be easier to focus on working on the business at the end of the week when the other work is completed.

This process may take a few times to get down, but the return on investment is amazing. I have been able to free up an entire day of work per week for on-time.

More importantly, my family and priorities are not being neglected. It is an incredible feeling to know that you are spending time on the things that matter most, and still being productive in your organization.

If you are looking for further help. creating a weekly blueprint for your life is one of the steps I take my coaching clients through, Do yourself a favor and schedule a few hours to make a weekly rhythm. You can download a template here.

How would following a weekly rhythm be beneficial for you?

Take Care of These Five Priorities and They Will Take Care of You.

Life can speed by at an impossibly fast pace. It seems as if every year there is another child, more child activities, extra responsibilities at work, more bills to pay, or new church initiatives when we are already struggling to keep up with what we have.

I am the type of person who can be hyper-focused on one area of my life at the expense of other areas. Early in my marriage, I was super excited about following Dave Ramsey’s principles (which, by the way, I think everyone should). The problem was that it consumed me. I was excited and we were getting ahead, but other areas of my life were not doing so well.

Everything changed when I started the life planning process. I was introduced to this by Ministry Coaching International, a sister company to Building Champions. Building Champions is known for their Core Four- Life Planning, Business Vision, Business Plan, and Priority Management.

When I started doing a life plan, I began to invest in areas of my life in proportion to their priority. Instead of focusing on one area, I looked at my life and decided what the most important areas were. I believe there are five areas of life that will keep you moving in the right direction if you take good care of them.

1. Relationship with God. I am a Christian, so this is my number one area. Growing in my relationship with God is vital. I believe everything else in your life hinges on your personal relationship with God. Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” If this one is off track, it will affect every other area of our lives.

To get the most out of our devotional time with God, we should pick a time and a place. Some people will get the most out of spending time with God early in the morning, while others will benefit most from spending time at night. Choose the time when you can give God your best. If you want more information on how to get the most out of your devotional time, check out this post.

2. Spouse. Many will agree in theory that their spouse should come second only to their relationship with God, but in reality, this area is not usually given the attention it deserves. With so many other things competing for our time, we usually push this priority down the list. I once heard someone say, “Never trade something that is unique to you for something that is not permanent.” That means we shouldn’t put our family below things that may not be permanent, such as career and finances. Common sense and wisdom tell us quality alone time with our spouse is a must. I wrote about ways to be a blessing to your wife in this post.

3. Children. When it comes to your children, making memories is more important than making money. My wife once told me you show how much you value your children by time spent with them, not the amount of money spent. Mark Merrill, the founder of Family First, wrote a great blog post on how to have a positive influence on your child.

4. Health. If your health deteriorates, it will be a burden on many of the above relationships. To be honest, this is an area in which I need to improve. We all know the essentials of good health— diet, exercise, and rest. The issue is putting to use the knowledge we have. Instead of going from one extreme to the other, decide on two things you can improve today that will have the biggest impact on your health

5. Finances. Like health, this is more behavior-based than knowledge based. Everyone knows you shouldn’t spend more money than you make, yet many do. I believe the greatest defense against financial problems is making a monthly budget and sticking to it! Deciding where your money goes is much better than trying to figure out where it went. Early in my life, I really struggled with money management. It wasn’t until I decided to follow the principles laid out in Dave Ramsey’s book, Total Money Makeover, that I got on track. I learned all I know from Dave Ramsey, so I encourage you to buy his book.

Keeping all these areas in check is not easy, but it is easier when you have a personal life blueprint. Being intentional in these areas will keep the rest of your life in the right lane.

What area(s) do you need to give a higher priority? What could you add to this list?

If you enjoyed the post, please share the love by sharing on your social outlets.

Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock

 

The one hour a week that can change your life

We are all given 168 hours a week. I believe that there is one hour that will help you stay on top of a busy life.

Many times I’ve had an experience at the beach that reminds me of how my life was going. I am enjoying myself in the water, bar the occasional splash of saltwater in the mouth. After an hour or so, I look up to see my stuff on the beach and realize I have drifted far away from my belongings.

My life for many years felt like this experience at the beach. The current of life was constantly trying to pull me away from things that are important to me. This has changed since I became intentional in the areas of my life that matter most.

I learned about the Life Planning process. This process that ultimately changed my life was picked up from Michael Hyatt and Building Champions. After learning the process, I created what I call your Personal Life Blueprint. You can learn more about creating a blueprint in this post. Once I knew what was most important, I implemented a weekly review to stay on top of those areas.

In the weekly review, you take about an hour out of the hustle and bustle of your life to look up and ensure you are not drifting away from what is important. The system I use is an adaptation of the Getting Things Done method from David Allen. Here are the steps I go through during my weekly review:
________________________________________
1. Read your blueprint.
Once you have created your blueprint, review it every week to help you reach the goals you have set. Reading about what is important to you will help you from drifting too far from your goals. This built-in accountability will go a long way.

2. Process all emails and get my inbox to zero.
Emails are like weeds. If you don’t stay on top of them, they will get out of control. During the weekly review, you decide what to do with each email.
• Respond immediately if it takes less than two minutes
• Put in a respond-later file
• Delegate the needed action from the email
• Delete

3. Review other digital messaging outlets.
Check other accounts for outstanding tasks/items including:
• Social media
• Work Instant Messengers
• Software- CRM or other management systems

4. Process any loose paper.
File or process all loose paper including:
• Notes in Evernote- are they tagged properly so I can find them later?
• Receipts- tag or process
• Paper inbox (file any papers that have made it to my paper inbox throughout the week).

5. Go over previous week’s calendar.
Make sure you didn’t overlook something, such as a task assigned to you from a meeting. You may realize there is something you have to follow up on in the near future. You may be reminded of a thank-you note you want to write.

6. Look at the upcoming week’s calendar.
Make sure you are ready or will be ready for upcoming projects or meetings. Ask yourself what are the three to five things that must be accomplished this week?
If you are married, go over the calendar with your spouse. Once you are finished with it, make sure to ask yourself the question, “Have I scheduled the most important things in my life?”

7. Review and add to task/project list.
I use Nozbe to help me with my tasks and projects. There are many other project management software programs such as Asana, Trello, and Basecamp. The goal is to find a system or software that you enjoy.

Whatever task manager you use, I encourage you to set up a template for your tasks that are recurring. This will help you from having to reinvent the wheel every week.

This one hour (or less) weekly investment has changed my life and paid more than its fair share of dividends. I am more prepared every week than I ever was before and able to stay on top of a busy life. The more important areas of my life are getting the attention they deserve, and everyone around me is benefiting.
________________________________________

Action Step: What one hour a week works best for you to do a weekly review? What else would be beneficial to add to your weekly review?

Photo Courtesy of Adobe Stock

 

 Creating a Personal Life Blueprint

Someone once said, “Everyone ends up somewhere, but few people end up there on purpose.” This does not have to be the case.

In 2013, I found myself at a challenging point in my life. From the outside things looked picture perfect. I had a great wife, I was leading a church, and I was a foster parent, but I knew something was missing. Internally, I had a lack of peace about how I was leading, and it bothered me greatly. Most of us avoid discomfort, and it was the pain I experienced that drove me to make serious changes.

First, I did what I knew God wanted me to do– pray. Then, I did what I felt God leading me to do. King Solomon said, “Unless the LORD builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted.”  I believe all planning in your life must begin with Him; prayer and planning should always go hand-in-hand.

For months I searched for a personal coach, and I finally found him through Ministry Coaching International (MCI), a part of the Building Champions family.  I expected him to start with some amazing plan to turn around the ministry I was leading. That was not the plan. He wanted to begin with self-leadership, and he introduced me to the life planning process, which I call the Personal Life Blueprint.

There are many ways one can create a life plan, but here are five ways that have worked for me and thousands of others:

  1. Take a day off. Yes, you need a day away from the busyness and distractions of this world. Creating a life blueprint is a very personal thing, so I encourage you to be alone for a bit. Some people can afford to stay at a hotel to make their plan, but there are many other free options that will work. Go to a park, library, or coffee shop. I encourage you to find a place where you can pray and reflect without being interrupted as you go through this process.
  2. Figure out your priorities. You have to decide what the most important things in your life are. List them in descending order of importance. Each of these priority accounts will have their own sections where you will define them further. God is my number one priority account, and I believe it should be the same for everyone. Some other suggestions are a spouse, children, self, work, church, education, health, friends, and finances.
  3. Make an account for each priority. Each account will describe where you want to be, have a purpose statement, include a scripture, state where you currently are and list goals to get you from where you are to where you want to be. The screenshot below describes each subheading under the account:

Personal Life Blueprint Account Heading Description

Here is an example of a completed health account.

health account blueprint

 

  1. Schedule those priorities. Since your goals are S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound), you should be able to insert them into your calendar. Whatever calendar you use, start by placing what is most important. If you are married, you should go over your calendar with your spouse.
  2. Review weekly. There should be some method to make sure you are staying on top of what is most important. This is where the weekly review comes in. There are many things that can be done as you prepare for the upcoming week, but reviewing your Personal Life Blueprint and calendar is a must. I have written a more detailed post on the weekly review.

This may seem a little overwhelming at first; I know it was for me. However, I can’t say enough about how my life has changed for the better since I implemented this process. I have improved personally and at leading my family and church because I decided to be a better steward of the time God has given me.

If you are looking for greater accountability, I have a few one-on-one coaching spots open. Creating a life plan, business plan, and weekly rhythm are a few of the key things we will work on.

Action Step: Take out your calendar and see when you can schedule some time off to create your Personal Life Blueprint. What is the day and time that works for you?

Photo Courtesy of Adobe Stock