Why Less is More and Values Matter

This past holiday season, I found myself searching to drastically change the way I live, and I think I have found the solution.

Shocking, you might say at first glance, because on the outside you would have seen that I have a loving husband, a beautiful new home, and a growing career. On the inside, I was stressed out- and I mean really stressed out. Stressed out from working too many hours, focusing on too many things, taking on too many projects, saying yes to this new thing and that commitment with nothing but stress to show for it.

I learned living a meaningful life is not accomplished by hours worked, awards won, money saved, or things purchased, but in being consistent in aligning ones’ values with action. If I say I valued family, but continuously pushed family aside to work more hours, was I truly valuing time with family?  When my actions do not line up with my values, I feel discontentment, uneasiness, and unfulfilled.

By recognizing the ‘why’ behind my motivation to do more and have more, I realized pleasing others and seeking things to establish my worth never works. My worth is not found in my achievements on paper or the possessions in my home, but through my identity in Christ. Since realizing this, I have experienced a freedom like none other. I am free from the chains of guilt and the cycles of burnout that lead to long-overdue vacations of self-reflection followed by the need to work myself into the ground once again, only to repeat the cycle.

Saying no to things that are not essential gives room to say yes to the things that are most important. Balancing work and rest is something we often forget to manage as women because the lines between work and rest are blurred and we feel the need to do it all. Type A personalities also struggle with the “do-it-all” syndrome. Although many Type As appear to be a smooth sailing duck on undisturbed water, just beneath the surface, they are kicking their legs as fast as possible, and their river has no shores to rest. There is a definite lack of rest in our culture today. This go-go-go mentality can ‘go’ straight into a cloud of stress if not managed properly.

Unfortunately, I didn’t wake up from a prophetic dream having the answer to changing stress in my life; it has been a journey through continuous self-reflection. These past few months, I took my own advice to put my mask on first. Since then, I have had more time to grow and continue my journey as a student of personal and spiritual development. I found that the essentialist’s journey towards living with less is a lifelong hike rather than the pursuit of the ultimate goal towards what the ideal life should look like, including how many things one must own or do.

To be honest, I have been looking for the right moment to share with the world that today, planner girl Rachel is okay living with less. Yes, that includes less planners. No, I don’t need every new shiny thing that pops up, and I am okay with that. I am living with less physical and mental clutter, less guilt, less stress, and ultimately more time.

If something in your life isn’t working and you feel like it will never work, stop, and take a minute to ask yourself why. How does what is going on line up with your values and what can you change? First, Write down a list of your values and ask yourself how the things you possess (your actions, personality traits, physical items, and even personal relationships) reflect those values.

There is freedom in accepting our limitations and living within our means, because when we decide to change what isn’t working, it is only then that we can find true happiness.

With Love,

5 Ways to Prevent Burnout

Let’s face it: our society is overworked, stretched too thin, and  juggling 17 hats all while keeping it together on the surface. Recently, after a mini-breakdown and deep reflection on what caused my “freak-out”, I realized my experience could help others before they get the point of breakdown. When we find ourselves moving towards imbalance and more importantly, a place of potential burnout, we must then remind ourselves of one simple truth about the constant juggle:

We cannot take care of others if we don’t first take care of ourselves.


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This thought instantly brings to mind that infamous photo found in an airplane safety guide of an adult placing an oxygen mask over themselves first before helping a child. It seems so simple, so obvious, but the truth is many of us don’t stop to think how that photo applies to everyday life.

Here are just a few ways you can implement a buffer zone into your planner to prevent burning out:
1. Plan  “me time” each week. Many Etsy shops have “me time” stickers built into their weekly kits. “Me time” can be described as the time you allow yourself to block out all other commitments and let yourself just relax. “Well, shouldn’t me time be all the time?”, you may ask. Yes and no. We all have responsibilities and ongoing commitments, so although we work to fulfill our roles we have set for our lives because we value XYZ, we need to designate time in our schedule to slow down. A planner girl may be more apt to over-plan. Whether your idea of relaxing is a warm bubble bath, reading your favorite book, or creating something new, it is essential that you plan time each week to just be you and refresh.
2. Be realistic on timing. The biggest culprit of an over-planner is not being realistic on the amount of time it takes to do something. It doesn’t take just 2 minutes to drive to that friend’s house and yes, it is going to take you longer than 2 minutes to plan your weekly dinners. When we are realistic on how much time it takes to plan or prepare, we can begin to feel less stressed when scheduling out our week and carving out time for the things that deserve a big “YASSSS”.
3. Say No. Even though my planner has a ton of “YASSSS” stickers all over it, if I want to have any kind of balance in life, I have to say no.

 Saying no is essential to success, especially at work. This is where it gets tricky when bosses and pressure take hold. The bottom line is in order to say yes to anything, you have to say no to something. Not everything or everyone deserves your attention. No, you cannot take on every new project or cause. Even Superman, or a Supermom rather, has only one body and cannot save everyone at once.
4. Speak up when we you are overwhelmed. I cannot stress this one enough because when you are overwhelmed, something has to change. To prevent things falling apart, you have to communicate what is going on. Also, those around you asking you to do more of this or that often have no idea you are overwhelmed. Here is where I failed miserably because I feared being viewed as weak. I believe women in general feel an instinctive need to appear “just fine” even if we are cringing inside or barely holding it together. Before you have a complete breakdown on the balancing scales of life, you have to raise your hand when you are feeling overwhelmed. Someone close to you can help you reassess what is important right now and what you may need to throw out, because after all, cleaning house in your planner can be really freeing. You may also find that reorganizing your priorities will help you cope during a stressful time and after you reach out, things will get better. After you send that email or make that difficult phone call to say you cannot take on any extra work, it will relieve your stress.
5. Learn to respect the “White Space” in life. If you are reading this blog, chances are you plan with stickers. Even if you don’t, here me out on this one. White space in the planner community is the space referred to that is untouched or unstickered (hey Ma, look, new word!). Although to many it may be a aesthetic preference of artistic design, it applies to so much more. When Snap-chatting about planner preference before the big planner conference this year, of my favorite planner girls, Cynthia Sifonte proclaimed, “Ladies, respect the white space!”. She was really onto something. Life happens in the white space. The things that are unplanned are often the things we must value most. Friendships are formed in unplanned moments. Creative ideas are cultivated in the downtime while waiting to rush off to the next event, and smiles are made with loved ones on those days we just can’t find the right sticker to fill up space.

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It has taken some time, but I have learned if we all allow just a little more space into our lives and our schedules, we will begin to feel more balanced and gravitate to the things we love.
With Love,

Rachel

Created To Create Something New

The best way to fall back in love with crafts is to step outside. This weekend, my church put on a retreat focusing on “our story” and how it intertwines with “God’s story”. God certainly has not given up on shaping and molding my story. The two things that kept calling out to me the most this past weekend was how much beauty there is in art and nature and also how my passion for the arts stems from that beauty.

Nature has a way of calling us back to the thing we love time and time again. It inspires and moves in the most unexpected places. Inspiration outside can be rare when the weather is muggy, but while singing “Have Your Way” outside, a beautiful song about the Holy Spirit, I noticed leaves twirling into the wind and falling down on the crowd. Just as a leaf touched my shoulder, I realized God’s creation has a way of touching us just when we need it. It was a beautiful moment that reminded me He created us to create and mold the world around us to be more beautiful. When you are out in the woods or on a secluded street, take a moment to stop and observe. If we take a step away from the everyday and listen, it becomes easier to step back into the craft room and make something new.

I live by the mantra, “We were created to create”. I truly believe we were put here to make things better. It seems, though, our ability to create is often a truth we block out and maybe that is because we feel out of touch with our creativity. We get swept up into the mundane repetition of life, bills, and schedules so much that we forget to shake things up. We forget to take the time to write how we feel, make a list of possibilities or identify our favorite things. Things can get stale, and when they do, it is our job to look for something new to create and find beauty in the little moments we have left on earth.

Inside you, there is a masterpiece waiting to be born. Something new is so close to beginning, you just have to look around and react. Believe me, artists, it is never too late to begin again.

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