How to Refocus Yourself

Or, how I overcame my fear and frustration of a crazy busy life season and found my focus once more.

It’s easy to lose focus, isn’t it? I know I can’t be the only one that gets distracted as easily as Doug from UP who’s dialogue is constantly interrupted with “SQUIRREL!”.  Life starts filling up with busy schedules or unexpected surprises and setbacks and I struggle to keep my mind on what’s really important.

Now I know that everyone is different and there are a million google results for “how to refocus yourself”. Your steps to refocus and regroup may look different than mine and I would love to hear about yours in the comments!  Today I am sharing five basic things I did these past few weeks that really helped me to regain my focus and peace.

  1. Realize that busyness/chaos is okay!

Life is busy. There are thousands of things that beg and call for our attention throughout the week. Work, chores, emergencies, responsibilities, family, meetings, errands; the list can go on. Being busy is not a bad thing! Experiencing some chaos in your life is not the end of the world. I think too often we believe the lie that if I just wasn’t so busy, everything would be better or if I didn’t have this chaos going on right now, I wouldn’t be so frustrated. Can we reduce our schedules and organize our lives in such a way that we are less stressed? The answer is probably yes! Learning to prioritize tasks and learning when to say no are both important tools to help us live “easier” lives. However, I know I too often have a negative view of busy seasons in my life, when in reality, it’s how I respond to such seasons that makes the difference- not whether or not I am busy.

2. Keep your goals in mind.

Several long months ago I wrote a series on “How to Be Happy“. In Part 1 (Which you can read here) I included a free Big Picture Goals printable (you can go download it if you want!) that divided my goals into each aspect of life; Spiritual, Personal, Married, Physical. Once I decided what my overarching goals for the year were, I then filled out Part 2’s free printable (you can read that post and download the document here) which broke down the big goals to monthly, weekly, and daily goals. I’m not saying you need to be so specific in goal setting- I’m just a type-A who goes a little overboard- however, I know the benefits of having a few goals in mind for yourself.

Blogging, Writing, Working on my Heart

I wrote that goal series when we were living in our first apartment; since then we moved into our first house, then another apartment in a different city, and most recently into our new house. Even with all the moves and changes of life, those goals I originally wrote still stand as goals I have for myself. But I lost sight of them in the midst of the busyness. This past week I reread through them once more and realized that my current attitude and actions were not leading me closer to those goals! I knew I had lost my focus and needed to adjust.

3. Remember that this season will pass.

Maybe you are facing an unusual season of life right now, like I have been. Sure, life is busy and a little chaotic as always, but there are some circumstances you haven’t had to face before; you are adjusting to a new job, have entered into a new stage of life, are facing new health challenges, or maybe you’ve lost your old community or support system  and are learning how to adjust. It can be scary. Uncertain. Frustrating.

As I mentioned in my last post, my breakthrough moment of changing my focus was realizing that this is just a season of life. It will not be this way forever. Just look back at all the seasons of life you’ve already conquered! You will get through these challenges and realize that it wasn’t so bad after all. I know that in this new season of my life, I am acquiring new information, gaining new skills, relying more on Jesus, and learning how to be more independent and to manage life on my own (when my hubby is away on business). I’ve just been too focused on the negative aspects of the last few months to realize all the benefits and blessings that this new season is bringing! This season will pass soon and I will enter a new season- so I should appreciate the good of this one while I can.

Finding my Focus
Appreciating the good in this season- which involves lots of tea.

4. Take time to reconnect with yourself, your Savior, and your spouse.

Isn’t it cool how we can have thoughts about our thoughts? Too often in the last few months I have just been thinking, acting, and reacting on autopilot. I wasn’t taking my thoughts captive to Christ; I wasn’t focusing on the positive; I wasn’t challenging myself in any way; in other words, I wasn’t thinking about what I was thinking about. I felt sad for myself, frustrated at the situation, and grumpy that I was “stuck” there. That is, until I stopped and forced myself to analyze the situation and my part in it! When I reconnected with my thought process, I saw that my thoughts, attitudes, and responses needed to change asap! I had been lazy and lost focus of my goals. I was unrealistic in my attitude that I was “stuck”, since I know that this is just a season and I also have power in how I react to the situation!

I also saw my need to reconnect to my Savior. Whenever life gets really busy, its so easy to cut back on these things first, when really, I need to step it up! I needed to prioritize time spent in God’s Word, time set aside in prayer, and simply talking to Him throughout the day.  Life is so much easier when I give up the sense of control that I have to Jesus, Who really has it all to begin with.

Once my heart was in a better place, I could see my error in how I have treated my husband throughout this season. Not only is he going through the same life changes I am, but he also has a new role at a new company with high expectations to meet and a new schedule to adjust to. In my selfishness, I had been adding more pressure on him to work long nights on home improvement after long work days, was a major complainer, and was not taking him or his needs into consideration at all. Obviously I don’t want to be a burden to the love of my life! But because I had been operating in autopilot selfishness, I was not achieving my goals of being his encouragement, his safe place, or his help meet. A much needed reconnect without house projects or to-do lists was in order, especially after our nearly two weeks apart. Though our anniversary date night was a good start, I know that I need to be making changes in my actions and perspective so that our home is a good refuge for both of us when life gets hectic. Hopefully this weekend is a good chance for us to relax and reconnect- even in the midst of some more home renovations :).

Reconnecting with Christ | How to Refocus Yourself |

5. Lean back, laugh, and learn.

Take a deep breath. Actually, take several deep breaths focusing on inhaling and exhaling. Remember not to take yourself too seriously and that every difficulty, every mistake, every challenge is a chance to learn and grow. This season of my life, though busy and challenging, is actually a really amazing one. Looking back over the last few months, God’s faithfulness has been shown time and time again. From the ease in which we sold our house, to how fast we found this new one, to how well my husband has done in his new job, to how many more visits we’ve had with family now that we live closer; these and many more have been showcases of His goodness to us. My own faith has been challenged and grown in several ways already in this season. And as I mentioned earlier, I am learning so many new skills during this season, both handy skills like laying flooring, and life skills like managing the stress and anxiety of being alone at night. God is using this season to grow me and to refocus my attention back to Him.

Lauging in Love

Though it hasn’t been easy, I feel so much more energy and excitement now that my focus is back on track! I would love to hear how you refocus! Let me know in the comments. Thank you so much for reading my blog!



How to Be Happy: Part 2 (with Free Printable!)

How to Be Happy: Part 2 with Free Goal Schedule Printable |

Yesterday I was so happy to be writing my post on How to Be Happy that my husband commented on my smiley mood!

Blogging, Writing, Working on my Heart

Really, though, after filling out my big picture goals for the different aspects of my life using the printable I gave out (which you can download here ->How to Be Happy: Part 1 Printable |, I started to get excited. It is amazing how taking the time to analyze my life, see what was lacking and what could be made better, and making a plan of action has encouraged me to keep up the momentum! Is it wrong to say that I feel like I am taking charge of my life again? Over the summer we had so many adventures, and over the last few weeks we have had so many visitors, that as school is starting back up and autumn is falling into place, it feels so freeing to be making a new schedule and creating new goals for my life!

Goal Setting Session

In my last post I asked, “During what circumstances or events have I been happy? What circumstances and events have led to feelings of disappointment, sadness, or failure?” I then analyzed my life and my actions and decided what new goals I wanted to put into place for the following aspects of my life; Spiritual Life, Personal Life, Married Life, and Physical Life.

Happiness Goal Making

I listed three attainable goals for each section. Attainable is the key word, as many of my college professors have drilled into my head. If you set goals that are impossible to reach, you will only get discouraged, frustrated, and likely quit trying! I know I have done that many times before (new year’s resolutions, anyone?), so I wanted to make sure I set goals that I knew I could reach with some hard work, discipline, and effort.

Here are my goals I completed in Part 1 (forgive the messy writing, please):

How to Be Happy: Part 1 Filled Out

For my Spiritual Life section, my big picture goals are

• Grow in being a prayer warrior/prayer faithfulness
• Have consistent, daily devotions, including reading and applying Scripture
• Be less STRESSED

These are good goals to have. I know that if I reach these goals, I will be happier, stronger in my faith, and even healthier (because stress is very bad for the body).

But I want to take a more detailed approach to my goal setting.

I want to break down my BIG goals into little steps for scheduled success.

That leads me to today’s FREE Printable Goals Schedule!

How to Be Happy: Part 2 FREE Goal Schedule Printable |

You can download the image above or you can download the word document for easy printing here ->How to Be Happy: Part 2 Printable |

Here is a poor quality picture of how my specific goal sheet turned out:

How to Be Happy: Part 2 Filled Out

I chose to do my Spiritual life aspect first, then after thinking through my three BIG Picture goals, I decided that my goal of growing in prayer faithfulness and my goal of stressing less were likely tied together as the same goal. When I go through my other life aspect BIG Picture goals, I will list each goal on its own sheet and build little steps for each goal.

I worked my way down from the personal BIG goal, to monthly goal, then weekly goals, then daily goals- thinking that each goal is really broken down to smaller things I want to do weekly or daily. For me, this is what it looks like:

Personal Goal: to be less stressed and grow in prayer faithfulness.

Monthly Goal (this could certainly just be one goal, but I wanted to break it down further):
• Create extensive/detailed prayer list for me and those around me
• Create a dedicated “Thankfulness” journal and fill it up!

Weekly Goals:
• Log 3 journal entries a week about feelings, events, and emotions
• Pick a verse each week to memorize/meditate on (to battle stress!)
• Pray with my husband 2-3 times a week TOGETHER

Daily Goals:
• Pray in the morning for at least 5 minutes (before devotionals)
• List 3 things I’m thankful for everyday in Thankfulness journal
• Pray over prayer list, added to as needed

I am going to rate my progress in reaching these goals every week, so I added markings in this section.

I also think it is important to give myself some reward of recognition that I was diligent, disciplined, and reached my goal every month. However, I want this “reward” to be something that helps me reach other goals too! So my reward for meeting my monthly goals and being faithful in my weekly and daily goals is to buy myself a new devotional book (which will aid in my other Spiritual Life goal of faithful devotions!).

I am really excited to go through and use this goal worksheet for the rest of my life aspects and BIG goals! I am going to post about them here occasionally, because I know I can always use more accountability! : )

I still have one more post in my How to Be Happy series! This one requires less work and is more fun, but I truly believe that taking the time to analyze, observe, rework, and set new goals in my life is going to be vital to me being a happier and better person overall!

What are your thoughts on specific goals in your life? How do you increase your happiness? I would love to hear your thoughts- as well as if you use the printable!- in the comments!

How to Be Happy (with a Printable FREEBIE!)

How to Be Happy Part 1 Post |

Complaints. Frustrations. Anger. Upsets. Disappointments (sheesh, I could do a whole post on disappointments!). There are many other feelings that often get in the way of me and the emotion of happiness.

But it’s just that, right? An emotion? I grew up learning that happiness is temporary and bound to external circumstances; on the other hand, joy is something internal and is a state of being. For example, “the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). I can find strength and rest when I pause, pray, praise, and meditate on my Savior and the manifold blessings, physical and spiritual, He has blessed me with; knowing these things gives me joy that cannot be changed by outward things. When life seems difficult and nothing is going right, I still have joy in what my God has done, is doing, and has promised to do in my life. My joy isn’t hindered or taken away due to changes in circumstance. But I am not happy all of the time, because it is an emotion affected by my circumstances.

Our culture seems fixated on the pursuit of happiness. And who doesn’t want to be happy? But I think sometimes happiness seems like this elusive thing that we have no control of feeling or not feeling. When I start to feel depressed or frustrated with my circumstances, it is easy for me to think that forcing myself to feel happy is just fake. ->Now, I am not saying that life should be run by our emotions… although I can easily fall into that trap of thinking! When I just look around me and selfishly look at just me and how I’m feeling, it is easy to lose sight of an eternal focus- a spiritual focus- an other’s-first focus. When I take my eyes off my Savior, I start to stumble into self-pity!

Back to the point: I think once we realize that we are not going to be happy all the time (remember, it is an emotion more than a state of being), it frees us to actually be happy and find happiness day-to-day. Because I have realized that happiness is somewhat controlled by external circumstances, I can take a look at my life and ask, “during what circumstances or events have I been happy? What circumstances and events have led to feelings of disappointment, sadness, or failure?” Once I start analyzing my life and what makes my emotion of happiness more frequent, is it possible to then adjust my weekly schedule or events so that I am maximizing my ability to feel happiness? Now we are getting somewhere!

One of my favorite bloggers (seriously, go follow her!) posted not too long ago about the top ten ways she brings happiness into her life. I was really inspired by her post and started thinking…

How can I be happy? (More often than I already am- how can I be intentional about being happy?)
What are things in my weekly – and daily- activities that make me happy?
Can I incorporate these things in a greater way?
Can I make a pretty chart to help me figure this out?

I enjoy pretty charts and I think more clearly when I can write things down. However, I think this topic of how I can be happier is big enough to talk about in at least two posts! So today I am going to share Part 1 and give you a printable to think about this with me!

How to Be Happy: Part 1 Printable |

How to Be Happy Part 1: set personal goals for happier living. The chart I created divides up life into four different sections because I believe life can be sectioned off a bit when discussing different goals. These sections are Spiritual Life, Personal Life, Married Life, and Physical Life.

You can download the image above or you can download the Word document ->How to Be Happy: Part 1 Printable |

I have several “big picture” goals that I want to keep in mind as I look at bringing more happiness into my life. For my Spiritual Life section, my big picture goals are to be growing faithful in prayer, doing daily devotions, and becoming less anxious/easily stressed (because I know that reflects a lack of faith in God). I have taken the time to analyze this part of my life and see what actions link to me feeling happier. I know from experience that I have a thankful heart, am more aware of blessings and joy in my life, and feel more happiness when I make time for prayer and devotions and when I am not stressing myself sick. Therefore, I realize I need to incorporate these things in my life on a regular basis to get these desirable results!

In Part 2 of my How to Be Happy series, I will look at specific monthly/weekly/daily goals to help me reach my big picture goals. My Spiritual Life specific goals will look more like setting a consistent morning schedule to set aside time for prayer, having a plan for different devotional books to work through every week, and keeping a journal so I can better catch myself becoming worried or anxious and turn to prayer instead of escalating those feelings of fear! (I’ll provide a FREEBIE printable in that post too!). But I think it is important to think in long-term, big picture goals first, so we know what we are striving for- and because there are often several things we can do to better reach those big goals!

Taking the time to stop and think about happiness and the way it affects my life has been a bit of an eye-opener for me, and I have wanted to talk about it for a while! In my next post on How to Be Happy I will show what my personal goal printable looks like, talk about how I got to those conclusions, and show how I want to change my schedule to incorporate the things that make me happier!

Do you know what makes you happier? Have you ever taken the time to analyze and change things in your life to make happiness more attainable? Will this printable get you thinking about your life and schedule differently? I would love to hear about it in the comments!

Finally… Friday & a FREEBIE

It’s finally Friday!!!!

This week has been never ending. As much as it has been fun serving in our Vacation Bible School every night, it is exhausting and makes for very little time spent together during the week. Combined with the fact that my love and I will be separated for a week this month due to a business trip, and with all the craziness of offer-making this week, I can say I am sooo looking forward to this weekend to sleep, relax, and just enjoy some quiet time with my husband!

Speaking of offer making, we learned a lot this week. God is always in control and worked things out differently than we thought they would; in other words, we are still on the house hunt. The blessing through it all is that we made the right decision to not over-stretch our budget for gratification now, but monthly burdening of our financials later. We realized what was most important- and we stuck to it. Even though it was disappointing now, I know we will be thankful for it later! Another blessing is that we are under no time pressure to move out of the apartment, so if nothing comes up this month we will just wait until next spring to look again (there are literally no houses on the market in the late fall-winter, nobody wants to move in the artic season up here).

I woke up a little grumpy this morning: I miss having the evenings with my love and am really missing my family back home now that it has been a few weeks without a visit. I was still disappointed about the dashed hopes of putting on offer on the house and being rejected- and it’s been gray skies and gloomy weather today. I knew my attitude and mood needed to be redirected to something constructive and positive or else my heart would start to breed discontentment and selfish pity! So I turned to my devotional book that goes through different chapters in the Psalms (my favorite book of the Bible) and had some quiet time with Jesus. I could immediately feel my attitude being lifted as I poured out prayer and praise for all the promises and provisions my Savior has made for me. Today I studied Psalm 34 (go read it for encouragement!) and was reminded of the fact that when I “magnify the Lord” (v3) with praise and devotion, my problems, disappointments, and frustrations begin to pale in comparison to the greatness of the God I serve. Verses 9 and 10 stood out to me today; “O fear the Lord, ye His saints: for there is no want to them that fear Him. The young lions do lack and suffer hunger, but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing”.

As I thought about it I realized that I am not lacking in anything; my God has provided all my needs and many of my wants, exceeding many of my expectations; why then do I still complain?

This week I struggled with discontentment. This little design project helped me place my focus back on the King of kings and all He has mercifully and bountifully done for me.

Reminder for Contentment ~ Philippians 4:11 |

In light of all God has given me, especially this week, I want to give a little something too: it’s Freebie Friday! I wanted to make something that I could use in doing devotions without the aid of a devotional book for a guide. Though I sometimes journal as I do my Bible reading, I usually get distracted and then walk away forgetting the important lessons or insight I gained. This guide provides a prompt and a space to summarize one thought to meditate on the rest of the day, whether that be a verse, a promise, or a command.

(Here you can download and size it how you want)

FREE Devotional Journal Guide |

Or you can download the Word doc which includes 4 cut-out cards per page:

FREE Devotional Guide for Bible Journaling |

I use this size because I write super small and the cards more conveniently can be kept in my Bible. Once I get a good stack going, I can punch-hole the top corners and ribbon through to make a little journal book. I’ve found I always am encouraged to go back and read through what God has revealed to me through my quiet times with Him!

Have you had days that completely turned around after time spent in the Scriptures with the Savior? How do you get the most out of your devotional time? I would love to hear about it in the comments?