Today – a special treat! Friend and author, Carrie Daws, shares how she finds success managing the same 24 hours a day we all have. Thanks Carrie!
Hi. My name is Carrie, and I like to stay busy. Wait. That’s not right.
I mean, I do stay busy, but I try to keep in mind that God put me here to do some things. So maybe this is better: Hi. My name is Carrie, and I like to accomplish what God planned for me to do.
For those of you who don’t know me, I should tell you a little about myself. I’m the wife of disabled veteran, we’ve been married eighteen years, and we move about every two-and-a-half-years. We have three children, ages 17, 15, and 12, and I’ve homeschooled them all their lives. I volunteer with the local military ministry in each place we live, and I’ve been a volunteer with Cru Military for the past four years. We all stay active in our church, which currently means I organize the children’s church program while my husband leads Worship, and our children serve as needed each Sunday. And I’m an author, along with all the blog posting, social media, and continuing education trappings that go with the job.
And I like to sleep. And read. And watch movies with my family. And occasionally they like me to cook and clean.
How do you do it all?
Yes, I hear that a lot. Which is why I rarely tell people all that I do. I could give you a list of books that I pulled tidbits from, but I thought it might be more helpful if I just gave you the quick run-down on how I got to this point. After all, 1,300 words is easier to fit into my calendar than 250 pages, and I suspect yours is similar.
So, here we go.
First, I had to decide what I wanted to do with my life.
Some will ask you where you want to be in five years, but I tend to do better if I ask myself this: Five years from now, what memories do I want to have? Pray, make a list, and prioritize it.
When I first started doing this about 3 years ago, I decided that I wanted these things:
- I want to still be married to my husband and love it.
- I want to have great relationships with my kids. I want to not only love spending time with them, but also be a great influence in their lives.
- I want to have wisdom to teach and mentor women throughout the US and to have a positive, Kingdom-impact on their lives.
- I want to have multiple encouraging books on the market.
That was a HUGE list to me, particularly since I prefer the background and avoid the limelight whenever possible. But, it’s how I thought God was directing me, so, it’s what I wanted.
This led me to the second step: Was I currently doing anything that supported these goals, or was I sabotaging myself?
This is where you need to take to heart everything Lindon and Sherry teach in Declutter Now! I carefully looked at my life—how I spent my time, what events covered my calendar, who I talked to through email, what I was doing on social media—and I started decluttering.
The easiest part was finding those things that were counter to my goals. Out they went, mostly without a second thought. The things that weren’t directly opposed to my goals were much tougher. Asking for God’s perspective, I examined each thing to determine whether I needed to cut it out of my life or tweak it so it didn’t consume so much of my time.
For example, I used to watch quite a bit of television. I justified this habit by saying that I needed to monitor what my children watched, or that my family loves to watch movies and I need to spend time with them. Both are true. But, I couldn’t spend time watching TV and get a lot of writing done. So, TV had to decrease so writing could increase.
Time for step three: Now what? Where do I go from here?
Once I began making progress decluttering, I looked again at my goals and considered what it would take to reach them. Again, part of this process was easy and part was not.
Making time to write had to be a priority if I was going to author several books. But to have an impact on women meant I had to prioritize friendships, as well as find time to learn how to guide them and read the Bible to gain wisdom. To have an influential relationship with my kids meant I had to spend time with them, and to love my husband meant he had to be a priority too!
I felt overwhelmed. I couldn’t possibly do all that and still get a healthy amount of sleep.
So I circled back to God and confirmed my goals. He gave me no wiggle room. I circled back to decluttering, but I struggled to find more time. I went back to God, asking if I really needed to do all four of my goals; He got very quiet, which told me that He’d already answered.
This was when I learned step four: Grace.
I have a bad habit. When God tells me to do something, I assume He means now. All of it. Immediately.
I wasn’t giving myself time to ease into my new habits. I was trying to invest in my husband and invest in my kids and influence women and write books and be great at all of it without any kind of learning curve.
What I needed to realize is that this process is itself a process. Some days are not going to go well, and that’s okay. Some days I will focus more on my husband and less on writing, and that’s okay. Some days my family will fix their own dinner because I’m in the middle of writing a really good chapter, and that’s okay too.
Grace. Because God expects me to try, and to get better. He never expects me to start at my destination.
Which led me to the fifth step: Discipline.
Once I knew my goals, knew how to start, decluttered my life, and was ready to proceed one step at a time, then I needed to do that: proceed one step at a time. Faithfully. Consistently.
I had lots to learn; I still have lots to learn! But I had to start, and I need to keep going. I learned to break my big goals into small chunks, making weekly or monthly goals and then holding myself accountable to meet them. Yes, sometimes life happens, and in those moments I offer myself grace. But I try to keep in mind the first question I asked: what memories do I want to look back upon?
Finally, about once a year, I re-evaluate my goals and processes.
God has yet to change my goals. The four I started with are still my focal points. But every year I find I need to declutter, because life sneaks in and takes over when I least expect it. And every year I find I have learned something new that’s helpful, and I find I still have additional tweaks to make.
I also try to look ahead to the next year and what I expect to happen. Travel plans, a new job or volunteer opportunity, and much more can dramatically affect life for a while. Building those changes into your plan will be very helpful.
So the question you need to ask is this: Are you happy where you are?
If so, then keep doing what you’re doing.
But, if you want anything—even a small piece of your life—to be different next year, then you must change something.
If you know that God is asking you to fit something into your life and you don’t know how, then start by writing down your goals. Just see where it leads. A year from now, you might be surprised.
God rewrote Carrie’s dreams from being a full-time accountant to being a stay-at-home mom and an author. Carrie’s husband medically retired from the USAF in 2008 and they currently live in northern Virginia with their three children. She stays busy homeschooling and volunteering within military ministries. You can find Carrie at carriedaws.com.