Day 30- Mental Spoke- Personal Growth Books

Day: 30

Spoke: Mental

Habit: Reading Personal Growth Books

Dude. How the HECK did I get all the way to the 30th spoke before realized I didn’t mention my books. My reading habit is probably the single greatest thing I have done to change my life. The more books I read the more I crave to read.

As much as I would LOVE to curl up on the couch with a hardback, those moments are rare in my world. What reading looks like for me is a combination of 4 ways to get the material in:

  • I downloaded the Kindle app on my phone. Instead of scrolling social media, I will read a couple pages of my book
  • I have a Kindle Paperwhite next to my bed. I will read a couple pages when I first wake up and when I am trying to fall asleep at night. When my son was born, and I was nursing around the clock, I read a ton on my Kindle. It syncs to my Kindle app on my phone, so I can read the same book on both devices and keep my place
  • Before I became obsessed with podcasting, I consumed several books through the Audible app. It was surprising how quickly I could get through an entire book just driving around in my car doing my normal routines. The ones that were especially impactful I would listen to more than once
  • Actual books. I really do enjoy actual books, so I always have one at time sitting by the couch that I am reading through. I will read for a few minutes on the mornings I get up before the rest of the family. This is my preferred method, it’s just not a luxury I have in this season of life

I decided to put together a list of several books that I have really enjoyed. Each one has touched me in some way that it’s made a significant impact in my growth. I could write a blog post on every one of these books and the nuggets I took away from each one. In no particular order, here are some books that I recommend:

The Gift of Imperfection by Brene Brown

The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks

The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller

Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud

Choose to Win by Tom Ziglar

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

Girl Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Everybody Always by Bob Goff

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins

The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

Heal Your Hunger by Tricia Nelson

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

The Kindness Challenge by Shaunti Feldhahn

The Business Boutique by Christy Wright

Grit by Angela Duckworth

On Fire by John O’Leary

Love Does by Bob Goff

How to be Here by Rob Bell

The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon

You are a Badass by Jen Sincero

The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy

The Seven Decisions by Andy Andrews

The Best Yes by Lisa Terkeurst

The Success Principles by Jack Canfield

The Zimzum of Love by Rob Bell

The 1% Solution by Tom Connellan

The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferris

How to Win Friends and Influence People

The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R Covey

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

Day 29- Mental Spoke- Wallpaper

Day: 29

Spoke: Mental

Habit: Cell Phone Wallpaper

Today is a quick one. Last year I picked a word for the year and made it my cell phone wallpaper. Every single time I looked at my phone I read the word. Are you ready for the irony of my 2019 word of the year…HABITS!!!!!! I reminded myself a hundred times a day that I am a result of the habits I create in my life. And now look what I manifested! One of the cornerstones of the Choose to Win coaching material is looking at habits we can improve.

This year my word is Peace. I want to remind myself to manifest peace everywhere I go. Peace in our home. Peace in my mind and heart. Peace in relationships. I want to create a peaceful life for myself and those around me. By having it as my phone’s wallpaper I will be reminded of it every single day this year.

Peace be with you my friends. Happy New Year!

Day 28- All Spokes: Minimalism

Day: 28

Spoke: All of them

Habit: Minimalism

Initially, I was going to write about this habit under financial because living below your means is one of the keys to building wealth.

However, as I started to reflect on the benefits I’ve seen in my life once I began practicing minimalism, I realize it affected every spoke.

The basic premise is that we don’t use 80% of the stuff we own. We are going through our day to day lives using 20% of our “stuff” but storing everything else. Excess clothes. Excess stuff in our kitchen cabinets. Excessive everywhere.

So I purged. Overtime we went through every room and got rid of what we don’t use. Before we purchase something new, we discuss if we really need it and if it will have a place to belong in the house. I used a combination of tips I learned from The Minimalists and Marie Kondo (Japanese Art of Decluttering) to learn how to be okay with throwing away, donating or selling things I had created attachments to in my mind.

Less truly is more.

What I found was that as I practiced this habit, every area of my life saw benefit. Spiritually, I felt lighter. Like a weight was lifted off my shoulders I didn’t know I was carrying. Mentally, it was easier to think because I wasn’t surrounded by clutter. My family benefited because our home feels more peaceful. Financially we benefited because we are living off less. Keeping things as simple as we can.

When I was a teenager in youth group, we were at a church gathering, and I was talking to one of the dads. I don’t remember the context of the conversation I just remember his response. He said “yeah, well, making more money isn’t that big of a deal. The more money you make, the more you spend. Your life just gets more expensive and you have to keep making more to afford what you own. So no matter how much you make, you always feel broke.”

That stuck with me because it sounded AWFUL. My husband and I have set some very intentional goals related to places we want to travel together with each other and our family. Time we want to be able to take off to spend together and things we want to accomplish. None of them are possible if we stay broke from living at our means.

Day 27- All the Spokes: Daily 10 Year Goals


Day: 27 

Spoke: All of them 

Habit: Daily Goal Writing 

Almost every morning (life with a 1 year can inhibit daily morning rituals) I begin my day with my tea or fizz stick and notebook on my couch. I open it up to the next page, and I write down my 10 goals for the next 10 years. These are BIG goals y’all. 

I picked this habit up from Rachel Hollis after reading Girl Stop Apologizing. They are written as affirmations in the present tense. The more I write them down the more I believe in myself and my ability to make them a reality. 

When I created this list, I sat in the quiet and dreamed up my biggest, boldest, best life. What would that look like? No limits. And then I wrote it down. The first time was the hardest to write them and now I write them every single morning (almost). 

My goals touch on all the spokes. Some are related to my health and fitness, some are dream vacations with the family and hubster, several are career oriented, and one is a goal of my husband’s that I’ve been dead set on helping him achieve in his lifetime since we were 21 and 23 years old.

For me, these goals are private and personal. I don’t need anyone dream stealing my big hairy audacious goals. I just need to remind myself every single day where I’m going so that I continue staying the path. 

Because I know people learn best from stories, I’m choosing to share two of them with you so you see an example of what I’m talking about. 

Number 8 says “we take a month sabbatical to the mountains every summer.” I fully intend on structuring my life and business into a position that I can have one entire month of rest with my family every single summer. I know I can’t do it this year, and probably not next year, but I can get there. For the past 5 years it’s been a one week trip. Maybe this year it’s two weeks, next year three and by 2022 I’m checking out for the whole month of July.  

Number four says, “I have a full time executive assistant.” I am capable of managing details, but it is NOT my strength. It’s actually a point of stress and contention in my life. I thrive when I am operating at high levels and big picture thinking and have someone I trust walking out the details. I know if I’m going to do big things in this world I need a right hand person managing the details for me. I need to take the weight off my shoulders and free up my mental capacity to grow in other areas. 

What is one of your long term big goals? How often do you write it down?

Day 26- Personal Spoke- Retreating

Day: 26 

Spoke: Personal 

Habit: Retreating 

Rewind ten years ago, I was always on the go. I filled my calendar to the brim with commitments and activities. If someone said “can you meet at XYZ time?” and I didn’t already have an appointment on my calendar, I said yes. 

Naturally, as anyone who has ever done this experiences, this habit leads to burn out. We cannot go extended periods of time without rest. 

Previously, I would go, go, go until I crashed one of two ways. 

One reaction was that something really small would upset me so badly I would cry for an hour and then spend the evening in a bubble bath. I never cried or processed my emotions. I never slowed down. So I would run as hard and fast as I could and then every 3-4 months have a total meltdown, take an hour long bath, and then do it all over again. 

The other reaction is I would get sick. I had reoccurring colds and every now and then my body would shut all the way down until I had to spend a couple days in bed. 

Nowadays, I sense the feeling rising before the crash. Whether it’s stress, overwhelm or fatigue. At the first notice of it, I figure out how to retreat. I haven’t been on bed rest from a cold or illness in literally years. I no longer have emotional breakdowns over the tiny things.

For me, it takes building a little rest time into every single day. Whether it’s my cup of tea before the kids wake up, or sitting on the couch reading a book after they’re asleep, I know I must prioritize quiet time in my day. 

Obviously there are seasons where I can’t. I may have a chaotic stretch where I go-go from wake to crashing at the end of the day, but I know it’s not sustainable. If it happens more than two maybe three days in a row I will look at my calendar and find commitments to cancel so I can stay home and recuperate. I would rather miss out on one activity of a couple hours than days or a week of commitments. 

Building rest into every day, even if all I get is 15 or 30 minutes, is an essential part of my routine. 

Day 25- Spiritual Spoke: Leaping (A Christmas Story)


Spoke: Spiritual 

Habit: Leaping (A Christmas Story)

I recently heard a different take on the Christmas story, and it spoke so strongly to me I screamed “YES!!!! THIS!!!!” by myself in my car. 

We all know the premise of the story, right? Girl finds out she’s pregnant out of wedlock. Doesn’t know if fiancé will leave her. Doesn’t know what’s going to happen. At full term pregnancy has to leave her community to travel for the census. She goes into labor without even a home. Time passes and the wisemen come bearing gifts for the baby.

At every step, she doesn’t get the answer in advance. She takes the leap, and then it all works out. At no point does God tell her HOW it all will work out, just that it will. 

The wisemen do not come like a baby shower. “Here’s your gifts. You’re gonna need these.” The baby is born and THEN they start making their way. What triggers their arrival? The baby being born. The action. 

If you have spent any time walking with Spirit leading you, you know this is the story. God calls you to the next thing and you follow the lead. You leap. You don’t know where you will land or how you will get there but you know you must act. 

This is the Christ story. Always. I’ve lived it over and over again. Will people around you think you’re crazy? Yep. Will people criticize you and call you foolish? Yep. Been there done that. Will it lack logical reasoning? Often times. But when spirit is guiding you, you know your only choice is to leap, follow and wait for the gifts to come. Sometimes quickly, but usually much, much later. 

This is always the story. Leap and THEN you’ll be given what you need. 

From now on, when I think of the Christmas story, this is what I will remember. A reminder that the gifts always come, but not until after we step out on faith. 

Day 24- Physical Spoke: No Food Shaming!

Day: 24

Spoke: Physical 

Habit: No Food Shaming 

Guys, this is a big deal. Just watch…your newsfeed is about to BLOW UP with comments of people feeling so much shame for the food they ate at Christmas. 

I know it all too well because I spent YEARS AND YEARS living in the shame and sharing my shame! I was one of those friends, the kind posting, commenting and talking relentlessly about the “bad foods.” I would use all the unhealthy language that showed I just carried around a ton of guilt and didn’t have a healthy relationship with food. 

In case you needed to hear this: 

You have permission to enjoy great food and not feel bad about it!!!! 

It’s okay to gain a little weight over the holidays. 

It’s okay to enjoy delicious family recipes. 

It’s okay to eat more sweets than usual. 

Now, as you do so, I highly recommend drinking TONS of water to help your body process it all. I highly recommend taking a stroll around the block with some family members to maybe get a few extra steps in. But do not beat yourself up for being normal. 

I used to have so much shame around food that I would eat it and then immediately feel bad. I would then look at my body in the mirror and have tons of negative thoughts around the extra 1-3 pounds I may have gone up on the scale. Let’s be real, I didn’t actually look much different. I just changed the story I told myself about my body.

Am I saying to go eat a whole pie and not feel bad about it? Well, no. Be reasonable guys. Haha. But a slice isn’t going to hurt you. Or, as a classic Enneagram 7, I’m more likely to have 1 or 2 bites of 5 different desserts. 

Follow the joy. Take care of your body. Love yourself in whatever way loving yourself and your body looks for you. 

Merry Christmas. Happy New Years. Happy Holidays. Happy Chanukah. Happy whatever you do for joy this season. 

Day 23- Mental Spoke: Mindfulness

Day: 23

Spoke: Mental 

Habit: Mindfulness 

Creating the habit of mindfulness means to learn to control your thoughts and tell your mind where you want to focus your attention. Most of the time it’s best to focus your attention on the present moment in front of you, but sometimes in my meditation I choose to be mindful of situations I want to reflect on and process. 

Mindfulness has helped me in so many ways. Obviously I am not perfect at this, but the difference is now I am aware of it and have tools in my tool belt to help me. 

Many times we miss the moment right in front of us because our mind is somewhere else entirely. I heard the quote once,

 “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” 

This resonated so deeply with me. Most of my stress came from clutter in my mind focused on things in the past I couldn’t control, or things in future I couldn’t control. The more I learn to override those tendencies and focus on the present, the healthier I am. 

Now, I am NOT a counselor, therapist or psychologist, so if you are reading this and actually struggling with severe depression or anxiety, as much as mindfulness can help anyone, I’m not trying to be an expert here. Please talk to a professional.

I’m sitting here writing this post on Christmas Eve morning before anyone else in the family wakes up. As many of us begin gathering with our families, let us be mindful of the moments in front of us. Let us leave work, relationship, financial or whatever stressors we are carrying, at the door. Let’s set the phones down and give all of our attention to the moments right in front of us.

This holiday season, take control of where you are giving your mental attention. 

Day 22- Family Spoke: Dinner Table


Apparently we are too busy being present that I can’t find a single photo of us sitting at our table eating dinner. So this image from my phone of a meal I apparently felt should be Instagramed will have to do.

Day: 22

Spoke: Family

Habits: Dinner Table Conversation 

In our family, we prioritize eating dinner together around the kitchen table. Most weeks five out of seven nights it’s all of 4 of us.

At some point during dinner I always ask “What was the best part of your day?” And then I follow it with “What’s something you’re thankful for today?” I heard someone share this habit who has nine children. He said it forces everyone, even on the hardest days, to find something good to focus on. 

It’s easy to just sit down and eat a quick meal, but I find a lot of value in intentional conversation. Through this dialogue we learn what each other cherishes most and little details that may not otherwise come up. 

My husband and I are both grateful to have been raised by families that placed a high value on sitting around the kitchen table every evening together, and we are making sure to pass that same gift along to our children. 

Day 21- Financial Spoke- We’re Debt Free!!!!!!

Day: 21
Spoke: Financial


Today I’m changing it up a little bit. Instead of writing about one habit, I’m going to share our story. This week my husband and I made our final payment on our last credit card to officially become debt free.

We set this goal TEN YEARS AGO. It shouldn’t have taken ten years to get out of debt but we made a bunch of mistakes along the way. The last three years we went 100% on Dave Ramsey’s plan and we finally felt like we were moving forward, not backward. 

I decided the most helpful way to share this information is through two lists. One is a list of the choices we made that helped us make progress financially. The other is a list of the bad choices that created the hole we had to dig out of. After all, I am a Choose to Win certified coach, so writing about choices makes sense. 

Good choices we made:

Listening to Dave Ramsey podcast almost every single day for about two years 

Read the book The Total Money Makeover

Using the Every Dollar Budgeting app and all the features it offers 

Sitting down to plan our budget for the next month at the end of each month. Usually I would create a first draft of it and then have my husband look it over to see if I forgot anything. 

Only making changes to the budget if we agreed on it as a couple 

Paying cash for our cars. We both bought older Toyotas with about 95,000 miles on them. People have a fear of the 100,000 mile mark so the prices drop drastically but both our car models are known to get 300,000+ miles so they have tons of life in them. The repairs and maintenance are also reasonable because they’re popular cars so most any shop can work on them. By paying cash we were able to get great deals. We both bought ours private sale off Craigslist for around $4,000 and they’ve both been excellent, safe and reliable vehicles. 

Meal planning and avoiding restaurants

Cutting up the credit cards. When there’s no back up plan you figure out how to make it work with cash 

Looked for any way to slice the budget we could. One example is I went with my natural hair color and a style I could maintain easily without as frequent trips to the salon 

Found ways to increase our income. I chose to turn my business into a side hustle and get a full time job, which doubled the income I was adding to the household. 

The bad choices we made that got us into the mess:

Mistake #1: As business owners we kept thinking we could out-earn our problems in the future. There were so many times we let the balance on the company credit card grow because just around the corner we were going to have a great month and pay it down. Dave Ramsey always says “you can’t out earn stupid.” We had to swallow the reality pill and start living below our means so that on the bigger months it could all go toward savings, not debt payments 

Other mistakes: 

Buying into the belief that you need a credit card to build credit 

Purchasing a custom-ordered brand new Beetle on a 6 year loan. Expensive to maintain and repair. When I sold it four years later for the amount I still owed, I had spent $18,000 on car payments and had nothing to show for it. 

Purchasing a 1 year old vehicle. We have since learned that statistically speaking, most depreciation is in the first 4 years. So now we only shop for used vehicles more than 4 years old 

Taking out student loans to fund private college tuition 

Feeling like we were smart for putting everything on a credit card “for the points.” It didn’t work out well for us. For me, it was the equivalent of saying “I’m giving up sweets” and then on the first day accepting free Publix chocolate chip cookies to sit on the counter because I got free broccoli out of the deal too and now I gotta stare at these things all week. I would have been better off to just pay for my broccoli. If you can have Publix cookies in the house and not eat them, then by all means, take the broccoli. But I gotta say “no thanks.” Because goals. 

Believing that business debt is more acceptable than personal debt. Debt is debt, and it’s all the same. Buy what you can afford. 

Not planning meals for the week. When you get hungry and you don’t have a food plan you just swipe, swipe, swipe for those convenient options. The first time we did our budget and saw how much we were spending a month on small swipes here and there, we were flabbergasted. 

If you haven’t plugged into the Dave Ramsey materials, I highly recommend them. These were the steps we took that we learned from his teachings: 

  1. Stop the bleeding. Financing anything is no longer an option. No more borrowing or using credit cards. Figure out how to do everything you want and need to do with cash 
  2. Start using a budget. At the end of each month, plan how you are going to spend the next months money. Spend every single penny on paper BEFORE the month begins. Then stick to that plan. Most months, unplanned things will pop up, sit back down with your budget and adjust according to your priorities. 
  3. Save up a $1000 initial emergency fund to avoid having to throw something on a credit card if something unexpected comes up 
  4. List all your debts smallest to largest. Pay off the debt with the smallest remaining balance first, regardless of interest rates. And then move onto the next. The thing with the largest balance is what you tackle last 
  5. Once all your debt is paid off, you build up the 3-6 month emergency fund. Determine how much you need each month to cover all your expenses and stick a few months worth in a checking account to be ready when the storms of life come 
  6. Now you begin investing and building wealth for your future, saving for kids college and paying off your mortgage.