Last week Ken and I got away for a few days. It's always our aim to take some time out each quarter, and especially at the beginning of a new year, to think, pray and plan. This time for us is so refreshing and a chance to refocus and look at where we're at in all areas of life - marriage, family, hospitality, finances, business, personal goals and health etc. Chatting, praying and taking time to think and plan help us to get clear on what the next steps should be. It's a time to make sure that what we believe is affecting our lives. Sometimes it's a step back, sometimes a step forward and sometimes God completely convicts us and changes our course. We want to be always open to that.
This time, as it was the beginning of the year, I chose a "word for the year" again. Maybe you've heard of people who do this? It's my third year doing it and I find it really helpful. I'm not even sure where I first heard the idea. For me, the process is pretty simple, as I look at the year ahead and pray about what areas of my life need work, there's often a bit of a theme and that becomes my "word for the year". This year my word is routine. There's a few reasons behind this, but mostly I want to be more productive and use my time well - taking care of a family, a home and a business - not wasting the days.
Practically I've found it helps to plan the next day the night before. And put in place a few tasks that I always just do at the same time as something else. Slowly they become just part of the day and I don't have to think about them. Ann Voskamp has blogged about this recently and I love her thoughts and practical ideas - you can read it here
Already the days feel more productive and things are less stressful. One example - taking care of this farmhouse! - there's lots of rooms and I'm thankful for a house that's big enough for us to enjoy sharing it, but sometimes I feel the weight of responsibility in taking care of it! Cleaning isn't really my favourite (ha!), and my tendency is to procrastinate or get busy doing other things and then one day just snap, hit the adrenaline button and go crazy cleaning from top to bottom. In the end I'm exhausted and know that it's not great for my health (or anyone's!) to run on adrenaline to get stuff done. (...preaching to myself here!!) In between these manic days of domestic transformation I'm stressed because there's always something staring me in the face that needs doing.... The solution? Routine.
This word is popping up in other areas of my life too, and I'm seeing the benefits there too. It's not rigid and it's not something I'll cling to with white knuckles at all costs, but it's healthier all round, at least in our house, when there's a structure to work from. So far it's helping us de-stress and simplify life - and that can only be a good thing in my book!