I mentioned last week how I almost had a “come to Jesus” meeting on the addiction I had to my business, right? I also talked about deliberate ways I unplugged from my business to try another way to show myself that it was OK to spend time on parts of my life that mattered.
Did that process pop up overnight?
I have to say it didn’t. I saw signs of this as early as 2014. In 2013, it was interesting, because I felt very much God spurring me on to work hard and cast a wide net. And I did.
However, in 2014 and beyond, I started to feel the weight of the Lord telling me to shift my focus. The biggest issue with it? I didn’t change with the directives or the times. Whether hard wired into me or an inability to embrace and work toward change, I just kept putting more heavy work into my business because action yielded a booming business, so why wouldn’t LOTS of action?
It took me a good seven years to realize I forgot to make a massive shift in the focus of my work, to SCALING it to meet the needs of more people and allow me to learn to work smartly instead of hard.
What did I notice initially that made me want to take this step?
I noticed that I got to the point where I was so physically and emotionally exhausted that ANY work felt like too much! By 2022, I couldn’t lift a finger to support my business without being completely bowled over with exhaustion. I got tired of laying down for hours and days, too tired to do anything meaningful or productive. I literally could NOT get out of bed. I had hit a wall with my business. And suffice it to say, I’m not proud I got to this point, but I am grateful I chose another way, to save my business, my life, and my family.
What did I try first to change things within my business?
I first tried hiring an assistant. That worked for a while, but as Bob Kiyosaki talks about, I began to mull over the idea of transforming from a business owner who just gets along, to creating systems. The next step after this will be leveraging those systems to help others so I can help others succeed, too.
Focus on working smarter not harder.
I remember distinctly thinking one day that an 80-hour work week would yield the same results as 5 hours a week. I wanted those 75 hours back, so I began identifying systems I could implement, with the help of a business coach.
What traps did I fall into?
I kept falling into the traps of analysis paralysis, all-or-nothing thinking, perfectionism, which obscures the success of 95% work and makes you think that extra 5% is where the hidden money is. That extra 5% sucks the life out of you!
Where did I seek my guidance?
I started looking for help by paying expensive coaches to help me with mindset. I also looked to others I thought were successful and had all the answers. On the screen, I thought they had the life I wanted, so no doubt they had the answers for me too! I paid for courses that really pushed me to get to work myself (although I didn’t). For so long I expected there to be a golden ticket outside myself that held all the answers for me. Ultimately, I realized with the help of a strategic business coach that the answers were inside me and I just had to pray and trust my own intuition on what to do. I also realized I did an outstanding job lying to myself about the real issues plaguing my business, so I had to learn to really dial in and listen and discern what the true issues were.
What trouble did I have with that?
Other people’s suggestions and solutions were not mine. I could keep spending hard earned money to find my answers, but ultimately, I had some hard work to do. There was no avoiding doing the hard work ahead of me. I also learned that timeless spiritual lessons can truly be applied to every area of my life. I had learned to serve in my spiritual life, but why would that not be a lesson in all life? The vast secrets we often long for are the first lessons we ever learned in life.
What did I finally end up doing?
I ended up pulling the plug on my former ways and deciding enough is enough. What I should have done 8 years ago when I first felt led to change my practices is what I ended up doing in the end. I didn’t always have the info I needed when I first started to discern it was time to change my business practices, but I was wholeheartedly dedicated to seeing that through to completion and implementing those practices in my business. I think we think sometimes that delayed obedience is disobedience, and I do tell my kids that. I’m here to tell you there’s mercy if that’s you. It’s certainly me, and there’s margin and mercy for me, who took a long time to listen.
I ended up stopping every single practice I had been doing for so long. I then was able to evaluate each process as it came up. How beneficial is this right now? What is my end goal for sharing this information or sending this email? What is my end goal for scrolling social media? How will I connect with others? How do I need to show up right now? Each practice filters through these questions, then is evaluated for whether it needs to be completed.
Where am I now with that process?
I am two weeks into a new month with this new approach, and I am relishing the peace and quiet. We have traveled quite a bit this month for my husband's college homecoming/college visit, so I've needed that extra time and peace of mind. Now I’m working on the framework I need to be able to serve more people. So, I’m not starting over where I ended on August 30, but am anticipating serving more people. How can I show up in the tasks that help people, in a new way, that position me to serve more people? And how can I do that in such a way that harnesses the peace and prosperity we experienced in abundance in September?
What do I notice now that I’ve been taking these steps?
Now I notice a clarity to move forward into my calling of serving others out of a heart of love, including those in my house. I notice now I want to soak up all this life has to offer, to be present every day leading them in service, as well. Now I notice that I have only so many sunrises on this side of heaven and my desire is to bask in those in the presence of my Father, knowing I am giving Him my all to everything to which He calls me. And I recognize He is expanding my territory, and all I need to do is breathe deeply, enjoy the space, and evaluate the situation in front of me. I need to rest and trust that I will develop that way to achieve more with better focused effort, to reach more, and serve more people as they need it.
A glimpse of my “perfect day”
The pandemic, with its many days we were at home with nowhere to go, left me days and days of blank canvas on which to paint my ideal day. For me, it is several cups of coffee on the back porch as the sun went up, with my Bible in my lap and a pen behind my ear. I just LOVE my mornings with the Lord with the sun on my face. Then, I roll inside to greet my family and have a beautiful breakfast of peace. Hubby leaves for work, and the kids and I start on our school. We read a few books together, and after lunch, we enjoy the afternoon, reading some more, playing the cello, violin, or piano, and then head out for sushi in the evening. Yes, this really happened recently. Then we culminated the day with a cult classic, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” Didn’t expect me to say that movie? Ah, you thought about it some, and you agree! I know, right? My kids really enjoyed it, and I loved reciting the lines!
Back when I taught at the Christian school, in 2010-2011, when I was running out of the house every day at 6:45 am, with two tiny kids in tow and half my curriculum still on the bedside table, as I was teaching at a Christian school 30 minutes from my house, I was not enjoying my life. That was hard, and it was hard on my kids. I quit the soonest chance I got, which was 8 months after I WANTED to quit. However, I did need to keep working. It was a HARD life.
When my son was 3, just a year and a half later, I got introduced to a stellar home-based business with products I adored and knew I’d keep buying. I decided to go for it. I’d buy the products anyway! Why NOT offer these products to my friends? Why not also introduce them to the concept of also having their own businesses? The compensation plan was amazing. Here’s the latest official Income Disclosure Statement. www.youngliving.com/ids
What happens when you’re wildly successful, but you don’t expect yourself to be? You end up saddled with the burden of figuring out how to scale when you didn’t even expect you’d get this far. Combine that with several moves as a military wife as well as several geographic separations due to military assignments, and you realize that you NEED to change for your family’s sake and for your own sanity, but you don’t know how to. You struggle for several YEARS, but don’t really identify your problem so you can’t really make changes.
One day, you realize your business owns you rather than the other way around, but you don’t know what to cut. So, you feel the pressure for a while and think, “if I don’t do it, nobody will!” Entrepreneurship is in my blood. My grandfather owned a store, and he was always there. He didn’t pay employees; he and my grandmother kept that store alive until they weren’t, themselves, and the store promptly closed.
So, I realize that I’m hard wired to completely throw myself into my business because I’m an entrepreneur.
However, without going into much detail, I stumbled on a matrix I first saw attributed to Bob Kiyosaki, which included the categories, “employee, owner, systems creator, and investor.” The idea is that as you move through those types of employment situations, you gain freedom. I was stuck on “owner” forever. I’ve been working on moving to “systems creator,” and finally, to “investor,” through investing time, love and interest in others intending to grow their own businesses.
The most glaring signal to me I have been stuck on “owner” as someone who is working when the lights are on is how few movies I’ve watched with my family over the years. Now, this is no one’s issue but my own. I’ve contributed lots, treated many instances as emergencies, and made myself feel important when people were reaching out asking questions. I also realized that I was not transitioning well enough to systems creator in looking at my budget for paying an assistant to help me. My assistant budget in 2015 was very similar to what it was in 2022, despite a large team size increase. Ideally, my systems would have been automated and grown to accommodate the team growth. Over the years, I missed Thanksgiving dinners, Friday nights, weeknight dinners, walks outside, because someone texted me and I made myself feel like the only answer was to respond. I didn’t grow with my business; in other words, I didn’t create boundaries around my business and automations that would help people with their products. I inserted myself as the service rather than the product. UGH. Think about that. People bought products and I tried to insert ME as their commodity!
In July 2022, I took a terrifying step. I confronted my addiction of work. I let my assistant go, at least for the time being, till I could figure out what could be automated, then identify what I could have her do in a systematized fashion for me. And more so, I stopped doing what I would normally have done for my business. I am auditing all my practices right now, determining what to delegate, what to automate, what to batch, and what to eliminate. I unplugged from my former way of operating. It may seem terrifying to do that, but it was robbing me of life to continue the labor-intensive process I had set up for myself.
The potential repercussions could have kept me up at night. Did people think I wasn’t doing my job? Would I lose business? Would people miss me or think I was taking advantage of a situation? When I see it presented like this on black and white, I realize that everything I feared was an illusion, and I really owed it to myself and my family to take my family back, and to reorient my business practices to a system so that my time could be used well, people could be served well, and I could get back to living. How ironic to have a solid income if you have no outlet to enjoy it.
One of the first days I did this was one of the most ironic days in my business to do it! I unplugged on the last day of August, and the first day of September. Traditionally, those are the busiest days of my month. The kids and I went to a sushi restaurant almost immediately after school, and enjoyed green tea, sushi, and sashimi, and mochi. It was a lovely evening. Then we capped it off with a home viewing of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” My kids loved it! They asked me about mine and my husband’s romance and wedding, and questions about Greek culture I could only answer because of my time in the Orthodox Church. It was a marvelous evening, and I didn’t have questions waiting for me in my inbox, as I had conditioned myself to believe, almost to my detriment.
What would your ideal day be? How does it compare to your typical days? Take some time to write both scenarios in your journal. What do you need permission to do and not do? What is a hard-core priority for you that you need to refocus on and reorder in your day? I give you permission to reorient that item! Spend some time talking with your spouse or significant other or praying over this exercise so you can gain clarity on small shifts you can make that will have a monumental impact, as my shifts did. How soon can you implement this change?
No doubt many of us feel that the last 3 years has been a water slide of change. Things seem to be constantly changing, and we are left figuring out how to not only keep up but do our best to navigate the BEST way through the change. How do we prepare for change?Read more...
Recently I witnessed an online conversation that (in my words) weaponized the word, “sovereignty.” The accusers stating this word was offensive and unbiblical were arguing that to say we are sovereign is to minimize the impact of God in our lives. They said it was New Age to use the word “sovereign,” and argued that this word was reserved to describe God, especially in the Old Testament wisdom literature, Psalms and Proverbs.
I was surprised by that, because though I’m very familiar with the passages they were referring to, I have a different understanding of the word “sovereign,” and it dates to Genesis. God created Adam and Eve to have DOMINION over the earth, which required them to be sovereign over it, in the context we think of, to have dominion. We can think of it in the context of our individual freedoms, too, to have sovereignty is to have control or autonomy over your body.
Think about it this way. I’m not talking about how we relate to God; I know that’s a concern for us Christians, but we need to expand our view. Sovereignty can also apply to having the wherewithal to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that our thoughts, words, actions, and bodies are under our care. I’ll get to the connection with God in a minute. If we think about it in relation to others, we should have sovereignty. To live otherwise is to be subject to others, which can make us either a slave or a victim. Both of which are not under God’s divine order, because He calls us to be submitted to Him. Even within our families, though there is an order laid out in Ephesians 5 as well as 1 Peter 2 and elsewhere, Ephesians 5 and 1 Peter 2 talk about being submitted primarily to God. Then, listen to this, as we submit to God, and maintain sovereignty, we WILLINGLY submit to others.
Why am I going into so much detail? In the Christian community, there are some hot button issues, and our relationship to God is one of them. I’m making the argument that God’s sovereignty makes way for Him to give us sovereignty. You know what I just remembered, too? We are made in HIS image. Why can we not relate to the world with sovereignty? He said in Genesis 1:28 to be fruitful and multiply and have dominion over the earth. Why? He created us for that. Not only do we relate to God as children, but we mirror His glory.
We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10)! We MUST grab on to what that means. I believe most people who claim to be Christians have a preconceived notion of what that means and are not allowing God to speak into that space and show them the fullness of what He would have created them in advance to do. We must not limit God.
If we are made in God’s image, we do have His special anointing to do what He has created us to do. He creates, and we are both benefactors and agents. We mirror His character. I was telling my daughter yesterday that our character reflects God, whether we are allowing Him to work through us, or not. Let me explain. If we have the Lord in us, and the Holy Spirit is permitted (by us) to demonstrate His power, God is glorified and allowed to work. If we limit God’s power in us, and thereby demonstrate behavior or actions inconsistent with His character, people know. Why? Because we as humanity KNOW God’s character since we have the capacity to reflect God’s glory. We all know His character because He stamped it on us in our mother’s wombs. By virtue of being God’s workmanship and created in His image, we know when we see Him at work.
How much are you letting the Lord demonstrate His power through you? What does it look like? How do we let Him do that? Oh, friends, that’s the culmination of God’s work in us in daily submission to Him. He says we are to be perfect, and we are perfect when He is perfectly reflected in us! Daily submission, daily time with Him, daily asking Him what He would have for us, those are all necessary for giving the Holy Spirit room to have His way with us and be perfected in us.
Start by submitting to Him right at this moment. Confession is good for the soul, they say! Confess all your sins you are aware of at this moment and ask Him for forgiveness and for cleansing (Psalm 51:4). Ask Him to have more sway in your life (John 3:30) and to demonstrate His mercy toward you (Lamentations 3:23) because His compassion does not fail (Lamentations 3:22). Once off your knees, brush the dust off and rejoice! Check out what Jesus says about fasting (which can signify release of burden of sin) in Matthew 6:17!
Next, stand tall and walk with authority as a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17)!
As with beginning an exercise routine, you may find yourself deliberately taking these steps over and over until they become second nature! As God has increasing Lordship in your life, you will find yourself over time doing this naturally, just like consistently running, lifting weights, playing hockey, or dribbling a basketball makes that second nature! Walking with God takes focus and skill, and over time you will see the fruit.
To me, sovereignty in the context of our humanity is using my free will to choose God repeatedly!
“Do not fear the one who tries to kill the body but can’t kill the soul.” (Matthew 10:28)
We are in a REAL battle for our existence right now. Movies are made of this, though now I believe those movies were made to PROGRAM us for this time!
Christ Himself says we are to beware the enemy of our souls, because he can kill the body but can’t kill the soul. But boy is he trying!
Humanity is fighting. All the scourges we’ve learned about over time (which – are they true? Did they organically pop up? Were they manufactured? What do you mean, “manufactured?”) are converging on humanity for such a time as this. What will we do with it? Will they be successful? Not if we have anything to say about it!
How do we not let them kill the soul? We’re trying hard to keep our bodies alive, but man, are these mongers going after our souls! How are you fortifying your soul? Have you noticed all these things? What kinds of questions do you have? How do you get them answered? What do you do when faced with the terror that just seems to come out? What’s going to happen? We have so many questions.
I wager that one of the things this enemy feeds off is our fear. Why do I say that? One instance for every day of the year, 365 times, the Bible cautions against fearing. That’s SUPER comforting to me. Makes it seem like besides physical elimination, FEAR can lead to us losing our strength, leading to the potential of losing our spirit. Jesus advises the disciples in Matthew 10:28 to ultimately fear God, who can destroy the soul and body in hell. Ultimately, we are NOT to fear man or any evil works, but to fear God. That gives us a SUPER different vantage point than I think most of us have been taking. Try this on for size – look OVER the ensuing battle TO God. I know it sounds weird but remove yourself from the fray. Look to God for strength. Reminds me of the time in Exodus when God told Moses to raise the staff and have the Israelites look at it. When they looked at the staff, they were ok. When they took their eyes off it, chaos ensued.
What does this mean for us now?
Let’s turn to our opening verse for this blog post. We are focused on the wrong thing. Many of us are so focused on the “one who can kill the body” we have sold out to temporal things and forgotten the One who holds our lives in HIS hands. We have seen in the past that God allowed the devil to torment Job. We also see that God sustained Job and restored his belongings twofold, and his family size. We have been so focused on current events I wonder how we would fare in God’s consideration of our restoration (ignoring God’s infinite mercy, if He treated us the way we treat each other). What can we take from that? Let’s have a LONG GAME approach to our lives and focus on the One who holds our souls and bodies in His hands.
If we focus on the Lord (Isaiah 26:3) and make His renown our aim (Isaiah 26:8), then we demonstrate the long game in our attitudes and actions!
In addition, we cry out to the LORD (2 Chronicles 7:14), then He WILL hear from heaven and heal our land!
Our FOCUS is what matters to the LORD. We can cry out to Him, but He wants our attention focused on HIM and not on our circumstances. He cares about us deeply, and He is ultimately super interested in ensuring that He is glorified, honored, focused on, trusted, submitted to, and humbled before! And He will in His infinite mercy restore us and grant us both eternal and temporal blessing.
So, we note in this blog post that my focus shifted from being concerned about the one who can kill our bodies but not our souls, to being fearful of the LORD, the ONE who holds our bodies and souls in His hands. Jesus makes it clear that He knows who we are regarding and where we are focusing. It is supremely important that He takes our focus!
So, what do we do about our temporal concerns? Doesn’t God care?
Matthew 6:33 and Matthew 11:28 demonstrate a compassionate and all-knowing and capable God. Focus on HIM and pour out your hearts to Him. He knows your burden; He wants you to turn to Him and cry out to Him! He loves you and is ready to uphold you with His righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10).