Intentional Living Series


Intentional Living Series Week Seventeen: Fear As A Motivator

by Christine

{Charging Elephant in Republic of Botswana, Africa}

"Nothing is so much to be feared as fear". ~Henry David Thoreau

In week 16, I shared with you when and how to make course corrections to your Lifetime Priority Plan, this week we will explore the restraints that keeps you from living your priorities. 

What do you do if a elephant is chasing you? ruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuun!!!!!!!!! Fear can be a positive emotion if the fight or flight response is needed to ward off a charging elephant. But it can also be paralyzing or worse yet, a false motivator when used by others to instill fear. When crafting your LPP, hopefully, you pushed yourself to move out of your comfort zone and explore areas of interests that you have allowed to lie dormant. Now you are venturing out to take a class, start a business or take that dream trip you have been putting off for years. Your plans are exciting and just a little scary but you are committed to making them happen so you start working your plan. 

The next day you turn on the news and words like financial cliff, sequestration, or some other end of the world scenario comes at you. You then cautiously share your plan with a friend who breathlessly asks how can you do this now when you should be focused solely on saving for retirement because Social Security won't exist in a few years and what if you live to be 100. At that point, fear starts to reshape you Lifetime Priority Plan. Instead of taking the cooking class or writing your business plan for your new venture, you double down at your current job. 

My question to you is how do you use fear in your life? Are the things you fear real or an imaginary? Is your job truly in jeopardy or do you work in a fearful environment created by you and your colleagues? Will the cost of a class really impact your retirement savings or is it a negligible cost for the joy and education you will receive? Fear based living takes a toll on your health, your family and your Lifetime Priority Plan. It also allows you to self limit your plans and dreams; fear allows you to stay right where you are and not try anything new. 

Week 17 Assignment: Spend time during your Morning 30 to explore how you use fear in your life. How does it motivate you? Are your fears real or imaginary?

Footnote: It may make for a funny one liner but as I learned on our walking safari in Botswana, running is NOT always the best plan when being charged by an elephant. Our guides explained to us that running away in fear from a preditor in the wilds of Africa was a sign to the animals that we were food! I did not want to be food so I held my ground and it all turned out well. That is not to say that I wasn't afraid, well actually it was more like terror but it was necessary to contain my fear so that I could achieve a greater good...survival. 


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Living Intentionally Series Week Sixteen: Is Course Correction Possible?

by Christine

{The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens in Jacksonville, Florida}

"Sometimes I lie awake at night and I ask, 'Where have I gone wrong?' Then a voice says to me, 'This is going to take more than one night."           ~Charlie Brown

In week 15 I looked at what it meant to be something instead of being paid for doing something. In week 16, I will discuss when and how to make a course correction to your Lifetime Priorities Plan.

I drew up my plan, packed my bags, gassed up the Jeep and hit the road. I was/am on an adventure that would include visiting grandchildren, writing and training for a 2013 triathlon. The first stop was with my daughter and her family in Charlotte. When I arrived I found that the twins were sick and everyone else sleep deprived. I spent the week walking sick babies and helping my daughter whenever possible...while telling myself that I would start my plan once I got to Jacksonville. I hit the road again with a slight case of the snuffles to continue south to spend time with my son. Unfortunately, the slight case of the snuffles started to morph into something more by the time I reached Jacksonville. 

Regrettably, this is where common sense failed me...I was so focused on the fact I was "behind" plan that I did not adhere to the traditional rule of running that states "if the cold is above the neck run, if below, don't". After two days, I had to stop. I felt like I was going to cough up a lung and eventually I did strain a muscle from all my coughing. I was now officially sidelined until the fluid in my lungs dissipated. Instead of taking 3 days to heal, I now needed 14 days plus I was out of sync with my number one priority...maintain good health. 

So where did I go wrong? You could say I miss calculated the time needed to heal from my cold but I submit, there is more to it than that. I became too invested in hitting a certain plan timeline instead of embracing and incorporating various detours in my life. I want very much to participate in a triathlon this year and I am also aware that I need time to train smartly to accomplish this goal. I was excited about getting started so I jumped the gun...a running metaphor...when it came to training. I needed to give my body the time to heal and did not; I paid the price. 

Your Life Priorities Plan is just that a plan, a living, breathing proposal for how to achieve the life you want to live. My admonition is to take your LPP seriously but remember, plans can evolve and grow as your life changes. The key is to embrace the detours and incoporate them in your LPP. Evolution does not mean to halt or stop but to rethink and in some cases modify your plan. A course correction can lead to a more positive outcome and get you to your ultimate goal.

Week 16 Assignment: Take your Morning 30 to reveiw your LLP. Are you pushing to hard in one area? Is your life evolving? Is your LLP evolving too?



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Intentional Living Series Week Fifteen: Do You Remember When?

by Christine

"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them." ~ Walt Disney

In week fourteen I discussed the key element needed to succeed...will. This week I am going to explore what it means to "be". 

I started Monday chasing the sun and ended the day in Charlotte with my daughter and her family. A joyful part of my time with them is that I get to participate in everyday family activities. This morning I went with Lucy to her preschool class and was lovingly introduced to her teachers and friends. Morning drop-off is a high octane activity as moms, dads, and kids get in and out of cars and classrooms. After goodbye hugs and kisses, I started to leave the building when the flip-chart list titled, When I grow up, I want to be: caught my eye. 

I was amused and delighted to read the answers compiled; it definitely made me smile. Liam wants to be a bumblebee...does that mean he will morph into an insect or resurrect John Belushi's Saturday Night Live Bumblebees? Is Macy's plan to marry into royalty or will she actually wear a princess ball gown and tiara to her Veterinary office everyday? Teagan wants to play with a baby octopus and if the profession allows him to pursue that dream, he may become a marine biologist.  Each declaration has it's own logic and goal and I could only interpret its meaning though my personal filter. 

But the more I thought about the question, I realized that as we age the question of "When I grow up, I want to be:" turns into "When I grow up, I am going to make money by doing:". When did we start confusing being something with making money for doing something. Do you want to be a happy person, a healthy person, a singer, an artist? To be something does not require that you be paid. What is required is that you know what you want to be. 

Week 15 Assignment: Write down 3 things you want to be.

This week use your Morning 30 to think about what you would like to be, not what you would like to be paid to do. 


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Intentional Living Week Fourteen: Do You Have The Key To Success?

by Christine

{New York City Marathon fans supporting the .1%}

"The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential...these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence." ~Confucius

You are ready to go, maybe you've even started to follow through on some of the actions you promised to take to fulfill your plan. This week we will discuss the final element you need to succeed. 

My son, Matthew...Matt to his friends, runs marathons. He gets up every morning at 4:00 to run. He runs in the rain, he runs in the cold, he runs when he is tired and he runs when he is stressed. Each season Matthew puts together a training plan and when he travels out of town he maps out his morning run the night before. In short, Matthew is dedicated to running and puts his effort into making it a rewarding experience. 

When he first started running, I believed he did so because he loved to run. My logic was that he runs through rain, cold, physical exhaustion and stressful periods of his life because he just plain LOVES running. But as I listened to him talk to other runners and watched him train for a race, I learned that he, like all the non-runners, would like to stay in bed when the temperature dips or he stays up later the night before than usual. But he gets up and runs. Why, because he has the will to follow through on his plan. He has the will to take action each day that will result in his crossing the finish line at the next race. 

You now have a plan to live your life more in line with your vision and stated values; you want to be more intentional about how you live your life. So what is the spark that means success? Will. A true four letter word. It means following through with the actions you have outlined even though you may be tired or stressed. It means mustering the will to go forward even on those days when you just plain don't want to do so. 

There are two reason why it is important to "will" yourself through the process:

1. Will is like a muscle. The more you exercise it, the stronger it will get. Conversely, the more you allow it to lie dormant, the more it will entropy. A strong will can see you through the hard and uncertain times. 

2. As your will sees you through one challenge and then the next, you will come to understand that you can shape your life. You will come to each experience stronger and positively because of your past success.

You may wish, want, need, or desire a certain outcome but unless you use your will to obtain that outcome, it will only remain a dream. You can live your priorities because you have the will to do so. 



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Intentional Living Week Thirteen: Sharing Your Vision

by Christine

{Visiting the set of the Late Show with David Letterman}

"Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others." ~ Jonathan Swift

Last week we discussed creating a document that will be a tool for formatting your aspirations. This document will be your touch point for staying focused and on plan as you strive to intentionally live your Life Priorities.  Today we will look at how to enlist the help of others. 

After weeks of thought, planning and preparation, you now have your Life Priorities Plan in place. You may have decided to live a healthier life, be financially independent, live a greener life or accomplish any one of a number of other personal priorities you have set. You are excited about your plan and bam!, your mom, husband, sister or friend starts to knowingly or unknowingly roadblock your efforts. Hubby charges a new flat screen TV without discussing it with you...there goes your financial plan, your sister brings over you favorite, a chocolate pound cake...healthy living will have to start tomorrow. It could be any number of things done by the closest people in your life that stops you in your track. What do you do to protect your LPP?

First, proactively share what you are working to accomplish with those who influence your life . Explain to your spouse that you want your family to to be financially independent. Get his or her by-in and discuss how you can achieve the goal together. Whenever possible make it a team effort. If baking rich desserts has been a "thing" between your sister and you, explain how changing your diet is important to you and enlist her help. Suggest other activities beside baking or eating or challenge each other to come up with desserts that are tasty and good for you.  Again, if possible include others in helping you reach your goals.

Next, stay the course. Just because your husband blows the budget on a new TV, doesn't mean you should throw your hands up and declare your LPP a failure. Continue to manage the budget  as you planned and over time your husband will see your are serious and may be willing to support the goal of becoming financially independent. People need to know you are serious about your plan and may test your resolve in the beginning. Don't give up when you hit the first speed bump in the road. 

Finally, confirm that your LPP is about you and not about others. If you want your home to go "green" but your wife refuses to separate the recycling from the trash even after an adult conversation, then the decision is yours. You may need to take leadership on moving your household forward on your LP. If it is important to you, then you may be the one who needs to make it happen. 

It is our desire that other's think our LPP's are as important as we do. But if they don't, it should not be an excuse to quit. In the end, our Lifetime Priorites are about who we are and how we want to live our life. 

Week 13 Assignment: List 3 people you can share one or more of your Lifetime Priorities with over the next week.


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Intentional Living Week Twelve: Self Realization

by Christine

{Mosaic in the New York subway}

"Your own self-realization is the greatest service you can render the world". Ramana Maharshi

Last Wednesday I addressed questions several of you had about how to draft your #1 LP. I restated why you need to write down your LPs and suggested you start looking for patterns and complimentary priorities in your draft. Today we will look at how to format your aspirations.

Year-to-year my Life Priorities remain the same but what I am willing to do to support them can and does change depending on where I am in my life. For 2013, my #1 LP is to Maintain Good Health. I am highly motivated to support this priority because I know that when I feel good, I can be more positive about my life and admittedly kinder to others which, is another important LP for me.

For 2013 I have committed to three actions that will help me attain my #1 LP. First, I will eat properly, second, I will exercise regularly and third, I will seek medical advice when appropriate. While these are basic approaches to maintaining good health, what I am willing to do is changing this year. As an example, my commitment to exercising regularly will be stepped up this year. I committed to running a triathlon. To keep from being bored with exercise, I decided to challenge myself with a sprint triathlon. To accomplish this goal, I need to research a good training program, find an appropriate level race that is being hosted on a date that works with my schedule and finally and most importantly actually train. 

To create a document, you need to state the priority, declare the actions you will take to support your priorities and then record the goals you set to live your priorities. It looks something like:

1. Maintain good health
        Eat Properly
        Seek appropriate medical advice
              Run a triathlon
                    Find a race
                    Develop a training schedule

As I mentioned last week, I use Excel to chart my plan but whatever works for you is okay. Additionally, if you are of a  personality type that likes to map out your plans, you can drill down to include a monthly, weekly or daily activities. Again that is not required but could be helpful over the course of the year. I firmly believe that human beings need deadlines...that is why the IRS has a deadline for submitting your tax returns, I mean who would ever be on time if you weren't required to be...and it is helpful to set deadlines when establishing personal and professional goals, touch points during the year that keep you on track.  As you move forward, remember, this tool needs to work for you. 

I have an Excel document that I use so if I you would like to see a copy, just email me at and I will get it right out to you. Let me know if you have anymore questions and I will help you anyway I can as you put together your plan. Until next week...



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Intentional Living Week Eleven: Are You Being True to Yourself?

by Christine

"Action expresses priorities". Mahatma Gandhi

I started this course in 2012 as an introduction to Intentional Living and how to be more mindful in living ones life. The holidays have been a period of review and today, we move forward as we continue building our Life Priorities' plan. 

Now that the Christmas decorations are back in the attic and the champagne glasses are washed and put away, the time has come to embrace the opportunities of 2013. January is the perfect time to build and implement your Life Priority plan. Several of you have reached out, asking specific questions about writing your plan for your #1 Life Priority.  Questions range from "Do I really need to write it all down?" to "What does your plan look like?" This Wednesday and next I will share with you how I build a Life Priority plan. 

First, I need to be specific when I create my plan. I have so many interests that I can get off course or over extend my time if I am not careful. An example of getting off course would be in relationship to my #1 LP-Maintain Good Health. The mornings are my high activity time and sometimes I want to jump right into whatever my current project is at the time instead of exercising. Exercise and eating properly are the stuff that keeps me going so I can work on all my other interests. Writing down my #1 LP and those actions that support my LP helps me keep my commitment. Just this morning I was in a hurry to get to my office and started to drive away without my lunch. My first response was I will get something out. Then I said, "No, (in a mopey inner voice) go back and get the lunch you made". Writing down and being specific about the actions I will take to accomplish my goals helps me stay on plan. 

Second, seeing your plan on paper, virtual or physical, may help you see patterns or complimentary priorities. If one of your priorities is to have a better relationship with your friends then as you write down the actions you are willing to take to live that priority, you may find that you haven't been a good friend. You may learn you haven't remembered birthdays or anniversaries, been unwilling to join in activities that your friends finds enjoyable or generally been unavailable to your friends. Or conversely, you may find that you really don't have anything in common with your current "friends" and will question why you don't reach out to people who truly align with your LPs. When push came to shoved, I learned a lot about myself when I choose to write down what I was going to do to fulfill my LPs. 

Finally, I use a form I crafted over the years to capture my LPs and what I am willing to do to make them a reality. I started with a Word document but the last couple of years, I have used Excel. Candidly, I like the structure of Excel; it helps guide my thinking. But you must chose a media that you are comfortable using. A journal, a three ring binder with lined paper, an artist sketch book or notes on your iPad all would work effectively and get you to your goal of a more intentional life.

Week 11 Assignment: Write it down.

Re-read your LPs. Do you see any patterns? Are you being true to your stated LPs. What are you willing to do to accomplish your goals? 


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Intentional Living Week Ten: Four Reasons Why

by Christine

"A goal without a plan is just a wish".
Larry Elder

I want to take this week's to share a few thoughts about committing to Intentional Living. It is not always an easy journey. At times it requires going against current trends and mores and it means living values that others don't understand. Sometime is requires questioning the "prevailing wisdom" while others look at you in disbelief. Living Intentionally means not allowing habit or custom to rule over your innate sense of fairness. While living in a world that constantly changes you must remains steadfast in virtue. As you continue to craft your Lifetime Priorities plan, keep your focus on your ultimate goal. I can not tell you what your ultimate goal is but mine is to live a contented and virtuous life.

I will give you four reasons why I encourage others to live an Intentional Life. 

#1. You will accomplish more that is important to you and be happier. Once you are clear on how you want to live your life, you will be able to steer clear of those "requirements" that did not support you vision. You will be happier as you spend time on what you value most. 

#2. You will miss fewer meaningful opportunities. Have you ever said, "I just don't have the time to..."? Life is movement but sometimes slowing down allows you to see through the clutter of the world and recognize when opportunity comes your way. After I started my own business, I "found" time to volunteer as a storyteller in our local elementary school. To date it is the most rewarding endeavor in which, I have participated. 

#3. When life gets difficult, you will have already thought through and articulated your belief system. When my ex-husband became terminally ill, I did all I could to make the end of his life pleasant. There were those who felt that he did not deserve my kindness. I did not do what I did for him because of who he was but because of who I was and wanted to be. It was a difficult time made easier because I had already done the hard work of forming my belief systems. 

#4. Life becomes easier. When you are true to your own gifts and live the life that reflects your values, it just plain gets easier. When I headed off to college years ago, my father felt strongly that I should major in business. He was a practical man and believed a business major would be most useful to me. I signed up for accounting and other business courses and by the end of the term had earned a lackluster C in each class. After much angst and anguish I decided to follow my passion and changed my major to Political Science. I was completely engaged in the work it required to complete this major and I graduated with honors. The effort I put into the business major was greater and I achieved less because it was not a strength of mine and my heart just wasn't in it. 

As you continue to draft your Lifetime Priorities plan, remember you goals. Your reward for all your effort will be the life you desire.


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Intentional Living Week Nine: Review

by Christine


Review your goals twice every day in order to be focused on achieving them. 
Les Brown

I started this series because of the questions I was receiving on the meaning of and how tos of intentional living. The ideas and concepts of how to take control of your life and live intentionally have been shared with you each Friday. As the end of the year is upon us, I believe this week would be good time to stop and reflect on the steps we have taken so far. Dedicate your Morning 30 to sitting quietly, maybe make a cup of peppermint tea or a cup of gingerbread latte and review the steps you have taken to get to this point in the series. 

Week One: To get started commit to a time of day that works best for you to spend 30 minutes a day in quiet thought. 
Week Two: Make a list of key life questions.
Week Three: Discover what is working in your life and what is not.
Week Four: What are you spending your time on now?
Week Five: Are you moving foward?
Week Six: Identifying your Lifetime Priorities.
Week Seven: What are you top 4 Lifetime Priorities?
Week Eight: Draft your plan to help you achieve your LP's.

The groundwork has been completed so that you can start 2013 by implimenting your plan. I will share with you my plan for supporting my own LP's in 2013 and together we can help each other reach our goals.  Until then if you have any questions or comments on what we have done to date, please drop me a note. I would welcome the opportunity to work together on your priorities. 


Intentional Living Week Eight: Planning

by Christine

"In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable".
Dwight D. Eisenhower

The assignment for week 7 was to decide on your top 4 Lifetime Priorities. Was that an easy or difficult task for you? Are you clear about where you want to spend your time and energy? This week you will learn how to develop a plan that will help you accomplish your goals.  

There is a 1980's TV series called The A-Team. It is a campy, action adventure show that boasts of 4 former Vietnam vets fighting crime. Yes, there is a little more to it than that but for our purposes that is enough explanation. Anyway Hannibal Smith, played by George Peppard, cigar in hand, mugs for the camera as he says, "I love it when a plan comes together"...while everything around him is blowing up.

Life is about planning. You have worked hard to identify what is important to you in life; you even put your LPs in order of importance. Now is the time to draft a plan that will help you achieve your LPs. You are going to start with your number one goal and dedicate the first three months of 2013 implementing your plan. As the year progresses, each quarter you will take on a new LP. 

There are three guidelines to keep in mind as you build your plan. First, start small. My #1 LP is Maintain good health. I needed and wanted a regular exercise routine and after attending a marathon with my son I decided to take up running. I love the positive people at the races and the sport really only requires a good pair of shoes and the desire to Just Do It. Now let's be clear, I did not lace up and run 26.2 miles the day after making this decision. I purchased a new pair of running shoes, got a training program from my trainer at the gym and set a goal of running a 5K (3.1 miles). I started slow and worked the plan...I ran my first 5K in October after 4 months of training. (I finished second in my age group.) I have seen positive health benefits which support my #1 LP but I am no where near running a marathon. As I said, start small. 

Next, keep it simple and be specific. I have a friend who can take the simplest task and turn it into the most complicated chore. As a result many things are left undone. As you move forward with creating your plan, keep it simple. You don't need a complicated plan, just straight forward and clear. Also, be specific. When I started to run, I set a specific goal, run a 5K. In doing that I knew what I had to accomplish and when I was successful. In the coming weeks we will talk more about this but for now as you are developing your plan, resist the urge to make the creation of the plan an overly complicate task.

Finally, make sure the plan fits into your life. I know enough about myself to understand that if I had to drive a half an hour everyday to exercise that I wouldn't. Running fits in my life at least for as long as my knees hold up and I can head outside to do it. Create a plan that works for your life.

Week 8 Assignment: Build the plan.

This week start putting on paper ideas on how to further you #1 priority. What are you willing to do to achieve your goal? Start small, keep it simple and specific and make sure works in your life.


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