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"You have taught me to believe in myself and to take things slowly, one step at a time, keep sight of my goals, both short term and long term.

Your coaching style was both nuturing and motivating, you seemed to intuitively know some days what I needed most. Your caring and understanding was so appreciated and it came from the heart."

-Holly C.

I would recommend the Simplicity Course as an easy, practical way to start simplifying one's life. I especially liked the segments on Tolerations, Wardrobe, and Office and Paperwork.

Each day focuses on only one task, which is helpful to people who feel overwhelmed by the complexities of modern life and hardly know where to begin downshifting.

-Joan, New York

Beth has an uncanny way of, "reading between the lines" to see a person's heart. I appreciate how genuine she is.

I have already begun implementing her suggestions, and am dumbstruck at how well they are working. I am feeling so much more secure, and feel I am finally put onto a life path that will bring me joy for many years to come."

-Sue Halpern

I feel more focused and have an objective instead of aimlessly filling up the day.

-Shelli Segura



September 2004 Newsletter

Deciding, choosing and planning

Creating a saner, simpler life


September 2004

Welcome to Encouraging Words monthly newsletter. You have subscribed because you want encouragement to create a saner, simpler life. Please pass it along to friends who could use this tips.

I hope you enjoyed your summer! We had lots of camping, hiking and going to the beach. Now is the time to bring our focus back to getting things done. I made myself a new schedule for the fall so I don't fall into the work-at-home trap of realizing at dinner I didn't get anything finished.

I ran across some great resources on serving and self-care. You can find them in my blogger:


Have you gotten your fr*ee list of 52 tiny changes yet? E-mail: 52changes@encouragingcoach.com with 52 changes in the subject line.

"Life is a sum of all your choices" ~Albert Camus


Deciding, choosing and planning

I have learned over the years that when one's mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.
~ Rosa Parks

Part of the reason many of us are so stressed and overwhelmed lately, is because we haven't made the choices, decisions and plans. We have so much we want to do, but don't take the time to choose what is best for us.

We have an illusion that we can have the perfect body, work 40 or 50 hours, spend lots of time with friends and family, write a book in the evening, keep a spotless home, have a constantly passionate marriage, volunteer at church and school, keep up with all the TV shows and books, and feel perfectly centered at all times.

I hate to break it to you, but you can't do everything you want and certainly not at the same time.

So how do we decide what to do?

Why are you here?

Find a basis for your life. What are you good at? What do you love to do? What makes you happy?

This kind of introspection takes awhile. Journal regularly, asking these kinds of questions. Once you get to know yourself and your strengths, you will better be able to decide what is right for you and your family.

If you don't think you have time for journaling, you can think about these questions while you are driving or in the shower. Or you can think of one as you drift off to sleep and quick write on it when you wake up.

Here are some questions to start you off:

1. When I picture a perfect day, what am I doing?
2. Who do I love to be with?
3. What am I committed to?
4. Do I sense a bigger purpose for my life?
5. What do I dread doing?
6. What do I most enjoy?
7. What comes easily to me?
8. What will I regret if I never end up doing it?
9. Who needs me the most?
10. What gets me the most frazzled?
11. What are my most important priorities?
12. What do I place too much importance on, when in reality it's not a big deal?
13. What do I do, that I only do because of what 'they' might think?
14. What kind of issues, activities, needs, opportunities, and ideas really motivate you and seem to give you energy?
15. Am I using the gifts and talents given to me?


Once you have taken time for introspection you are on your way to deciding who you want to be and what you want to do.

Decide what the most important 4-8 things/activities/people/projects are to you in your life at this time? Priorities will change, so reasess every few months. Take a peek at your calendar or planner. Are most of your activities related to your top priorities? If not, we are on to choosing...


I know I have so many ideas of things I want to do and places I want to go and people I want to be with. And I also know, if I did it all I would be a worn-out wreck. I have to keep reminding myself, that I am only putting something off for the moment. And the activity may come into my life at a later time.

Choose the best, not just the first thing, or what looks good, or because you were asked. This is your life we are talking about. You need to be pulling the strings, not the rest of the world.

I may be making a little less money and a ton less security right now than I did when I worked full-time outside the home and we didn't go on a long vacation this year, but I was able to stop work in the middle of the day and go to the beach with my kids. I can leave when I am needed for the most part. I work less hours and am able to volunteer more for my church.

One of my friends put her writing on hold while she goes to school for her master's degree. Her son just got married so school and full-time work seemed possible to her. She has also decided her house doesn't need to be perfect at this point in her life.

Another friend works full-time, but limits her volunteering, hired a housekeeper so she would have more time with her kids, and watches almost no TV so she has time for personal renewal and friends.

What are you willing to sacrifice or quit doing to get the life you want?


Now that you have decided what is important and chosen what you are willing to do and what you want to give up at the moment, now it's time to plan.

Everyone plans differently. Personally, I plan a different way every few weeks. I get bored with a traditional to do list. How you plan isn't as important as actually making a plan. So many people, race around trying to keep everything in their head, wasting more energy than they have. Others have a to do list, but one that is filled with routine to do's, not goals and priorities.

Planning weekly, helps give you a bigger picture. You don't have to do every priority every day. But, at least once a week. I have work focus days, where I attempt to work uninterrupted and get lots done. I have family days where I love to be interrupted and I follow my spontaneous hubby. I have get it done days, where the priority is just to finish all those little projects and fix things and work on paperwork. I try to meet a friend for lunch on Thursdays. I like to pick a focus every morning that eases the decision making process. And it is different just about every day. That helps me balance things out a bit.

So what are your most important priorities this week? What days are you going to work on/play with them?


Action Plan

1. Work on some introspective journaling or thinking

2. Decide on the 4-8 most important priorities of your life right now

3. Take a look at last month's list of "Projects and things to let go of that no longer enhance my life." If you never filled it out, this would be a great week to do that. What can you let go of?

4. Plan this week or next week according to your choices, decisions and priorities

This is a process I go through with most of my clients. Looking in from the outside I can see things that aren't as obvious to my hurried, overwhelmed client. Talking about what is important and what we only think is important brings clarity. And we can brainstorm solutions for getting time for what is important. Then I bring accountability as my clients pare down their life and make tough decisions. If this process is of interest to you, sign up for a free exploratory session at: http://www.encouragingcoach.com/coaching-free-session.htm to see if we work well together and to come up with an action plan for your life.


Journal writing exercises
Creative journal exercises



Write Your Way to a Life You Love: Personal Time Management from the Inside Out



Self-Care Tips for September:

         Turn up the music and sing loud!

         Express your anger respectfully


         What are 20 things you prefer?

"Four steps to achievement: Plan purposefully. Prepare prayerfully. Proceed positively. Pursue persistently. " ~William Ward


Relationship Ideas for September:

         Take your parents or kids to music in the park

         Have a casual Tuesday night dinner for a few friends

         Connect two people you think could be good for each other

         Send a congratulatory note

"If you don't design your own life plan, chances are you'll fall into someone else's plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much." ~Jim Rohn

I encourage you this month to decide, choose and plan.


Beth Dargis
The Encouraging Coach


A Note About My Recommendations: I provide links in this newsletter to products and services I am offering or I have personally found valuable. I have an affiliate agreement with some of the products I like. If you are ever disappointed with one of these recommendations, please let them and me know. If they don't make it right, I will.

Copyright (c) 2004 Beth Dargis, Zeeland, Michigan. All rights reserved. Feel free to use these articles on your website and newsletters as long as the footer is included. Permission is granted to reproduce, copy or distribute this e-letter so long as this copyright notice and full information attributing Beth Dargis is attached.

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PO Box 233 Zeeland MI 49464 Beth Dargis