intentional living

How to Pick Your Word of the Year + FREE Word of the Year Worksheet

The new year is upon us.  With that, comes new possibilities and fresh starts.  We all want to kick off 2021 simply on purpose.  We all have good intentions and hope and dreams.  However, will you accomplish them or they will diminish once real life sets in?

Several years ago, I ditched the new year’s resolutions that always left me defeated in favor of picking a word of the year.  The word became my anthem for the year, the ideal I wanted to live out that year.  In 2018, I chose the word grateful.  In 2019, I chose the word believe.  In 2020, blessing.  In 2021, savor.

woman holding letter board with believe word of the year

What we look for, we will see.

There were days that were easy to be grateful and days that were hard but daily obedience made it possible to practice on all days.  At the end of 2018, I had cultivated a daily habit of gratitude and have seen the purposeful positive change in my life.

So, how do you pick a word of the year and cultivate new habits that lead to a purposeful positive change in your life?  

word of the year free printable worksheet

5 Steps to Choose Your Word of the Year

1. Reflect on areas of your life that could use refinement.  

Start by reflecting on an area of your life that you want to improve.  What is an area of your life you are struggling with?  Where would you like to grow?  Do you want to be more present?  Do you want to let go of fear?  Do you want to find freedom from something?

2. Make a list of word choices.

Now that you have reflected, what are some words that are coming to mind?  Record them all, you don’t have to pick yet.  Give yourself some options.

3. Look for a word that is actionable?

Once you have a list of words, you need to look for one that you can and want to take daily action on.  You won’t make a lasting change unless you practice daily.

Last year I was able to practice gratitude daily by recording things I was grateful for in my journal (get your simple purposeful living daily journal here).  Think about how you could practice your word daily.

4. Choose 1 Word.

Your inclination will be to choose them all but remember to keep it simple so you can be purposeful with the change you want to make.

5. Make your word of the year visible & practice it daily.

Now that you have your word of the year make sure to write it in places where you can see it daily.  Whether it’s your journal, your planner or your cell phone screen.

Then, make a plan for how you are going to live it out.  It won’t just happen by good intentions.  Make your word a part of your daily life.

This year I chose the word blessing. I chose that word so I can accept the blessings that come and also see all things in life as blessings, whether that’s in the moment or not.

In 2020, I am going to practice looking for blessings and also hopefully being a blessing to others.

Don’t forget…

Take Time to Reflect during the year.

Sometimes, change happens so gradually we don’t stop and celebrate.  It’s important to celebrate the positive change in your life.  Take time to reflect on how you are doing.

Is your daily practice enough, is it too much?  Do people see a change in you?  These are all good indications you have adopted your word of the year as an anthem for your life.

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A word of the year is just a word until you make it a purposeful practice in your daily life.  You are in the driver’s seat of your life and you have the ability to make changes and course-correct as you drive through life.

Let your word of 2021 be the anthem that leads you to where you want to go.  What will your word of the year be?  Tell me your word of the year in the comments below.

If you are making new years resolutions, check out these articles –

5 New Years Resolution Mistakes to Avoid 

5 Questions to Ask when Setting Goals

Until next time keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life!

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The Secrets to Creating Effective To-Do Lists

Our lives are full and on any given day you probably have a million things on your mind.  One way I love to decrease all that mind clutter is to write it down on a to-do list.  Writing it down signals my brain that I will get it taken care of and I don’t have to worry or think about it anymore.  So, what are the secrets to creating effective to-do lists?


The Secrets to Creating Effective To-Do Lists

write a daily to do list

Make Tasks Specific

 Make sure you are specific enough that you can accomplish the task in one day.  If you have a large project like sorting all of your photos.  Break that project down into bite-size daily pieces.  Little by little work adds up, especially when you give yourself the grace to do a little every day.  Remember Rome wasn’t built in a day, what task can you do today that you will thank yourself for tomorrow?  What will move your needle in the right direction?  Put that on your to-do list. 


Do A Brain Dump.

Start by listing off all the things you need to.  If you are spring cleaning, what are all the areas you need to clean?  Write it all down first.  Then, work from that list to create. your daily to-do lists.


Make A Manageable List.

Keep the number of to-do list items manageable, preferably no more than 5 but ideally 3.  There’s nothing more defeating than creating a list and not completing it.  Depending on the season of life, choose a manageable number of items.  

If you have a bunch of items to do,  make a long-range to-do list.  Then, pick more time-sensitive items to do first and then come back to those bigger lists to pick for your daily list.


secrets to effective to do lists


Keep Your List Visible.

Choose a spot to keep your list.  I like to keep it in a weekly planner (like this) so that I can easily see what needs to be accomplished.  When it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind.  The to-do list is only effective if you can see it.


Do the Item that’s Taking up Your Mind space First.

You know that thing you can’t stop thinking about that you need to do but you just keep putting off.  Just do that first and get it out of the way.  


Write Your To-Do List Down on Paper.

There’s something magical that happens when we actually put pen to paper and record our to-do list.  I have a digital calendar just like the rest of you but I have a weekly print planner open on my desk and write it down.  Studies show we are 2-3 times more likely to complete a task when we write it down.


Enjoy Crossing It Off.

When you complete a task, cross it off.  I don’t know about you, but it feels good to cross things off.  Sometimes, I add items to my to-do list I have already done just so I can cross it off!


Move Undone Items to Next Day.

If you don’t get all the items marked off your list, don’t beat yourself up. 

At the end of the day, move undone items to the next day.  Start with those items tomorrow.  Then, add to your list for the next day that way you can hit the ground running the next day when you have pockets of open time!


Remember to Delegate.

When we were kids, we would enjoy a family breakfast on Saturday mornings and my dad would pull out a napkin and write down our weekly chores on it.  Then, he would assign us each a job.  Many hands make light work and often times we assume we have to do it all.  Is there something on the list, you can delegate to someone else? 


Your Worth is Not In the To-Do List

When I first stayed home after a full-time job, I literally was lost.  It’s hard to measure success as a mom and so I turned to my to-do list. If I completed those things it was an effective day if I didn’t well then it was a bad day.  Never mind the fact that all the things I DID do.  

Remember, although todo lists are an extremely effective tool to increase productivity and help you to use your time purposefully, what you do or don’t check off a list does not define you!  Some days just don’t go how you expect them to go.  Remember, just move it to the next day!


to do list tips and tricks


Just remember this when it comes to creating effective to-do lists…

Be specific, keep it manageable, write it down on paper, and don’t forget to delegate.  While your worth is not defined on what you do or don’t accomplish on your to-do list, it is an effective tool to keep you on task, motivated and reaching toward those goals.  

If you are feeling like you don’t have enough time, check out my #1 productivity tip that will change your mindset when it comes to time.  Read more here.

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Until next time keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life!

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The secret to create effective to do lists

Simple Ways To Spend Less Time On Your Phone

Recently, my phone got some water damage and it had to be resuscitated at the local fix-it place.  I didn’t even have my phone at my house and I was grabbing for it for at least the first 24 hours it was gone.

I am addicted to my phone.

On average I spend 3 hours and 34 minutes on my phone a day and about 20 hours per week on social media.  The numbers don’t lie.  I am addicted to my phone.

I am not alone because at a stoplight the other day I looked over to see the person next to me looking at their phone.  The stories we could tell of where and when we see people using their phones could go on and on.  Reports show 12% adults check their phones in the shower and 26% car accidents are caused by phone use (source).

The average person picks up their phone 110 times a day (source) and mobile phone usage has “increased from 0.3 hours per day in 2008 to 3.3 hours a day in 2017″(source).  Phone addiction is an epidemic.

So, how do you learn to unplug from your phone and break your addiction?

Simple ways To Spend Less Time On Your Phone

Opt Out of all Push Notifications

Every app gives you the option for push notifications, you know those things that might ding or show up on your locked phone screen.  Just say no to all of them!

You can change your notification settings on your apple device by going to settings, then notifications, and choosing the apps you want to change (as seen above).

Use the Do Not Disturb Feature

I know this one is hard for us moms because what if the school calls?  You can program your phone to allow certain phone numbers to ring through even if you have it set to do not disturb.   Read more about how to set that up here.

Leave Your Phone Plugged in Out of Sight

If there is a particular time of day you really struggle to keep your hands off your phone or intentionally don’t want to?  Plug it in and leave it.  The old adage rings true, “out of sight, out of mind”.

Putting it out of sight helps me to avoid the temptation.  When you are in the car, leave it in your purse as you are driving, so you are less likely to pull it out at a stoplight or worse yet driving #donttextandrive.

Use a Phone Tracker

The latest update for iPhone’s now has a screen time application in settings.  I also use the moment app (free version).  Knowing your numbers will help you to make some goals when it comes to your phone.

Use the App Limit Feature

If you own an iPhone and have the latest update, you know have the app limit feature.  You can set limits for different apps as you are trying to break bad habits.

Delete Most Used Apps for a Period

Occasionally, if I really want to unplug I will delete my favorite apps on my phone.  It’s amazing how much less time I spend on my phone with social media apps deleted.

Pick Some Time to Go Phone Free

Whether’s it no social media Sunday, no phone Friday or a rule to not look at your phone while your kids are home in the evening.  Pick a time to put your phone away.  It’s a good habit to get into and it sets a good example for your kids too!  I heard a quote recently that said, “do something that makes you forget your phone.”  Sometimes, leaving your phone behind on purpose is the right choice.

Move All Apps off your Home-screen

You won’t be as tempted to hop on social media or that other favorite app if you don’t see it right away.

Charge Your Phone Away from Your Bedroom

Many of us check our phones right before bed and first thing in the morning.  To break this habit, charge your phone in adjacent room or on a charging station on the main floor.

Keep On Keeping on…

Technology can be so good, I mean hello I love connecting with all of you and use it to run Simple Purposeful Living.  I just want to make sure I am purposeful about cultivating healthy habits not only for myself but also to be a role model to my kids.  Technology is a fact of life these days but we can steward it for good and create a healthy relationship with it.

How are you intentional with your phone usage?  Share your tips in the comments below.


Until next time keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life!

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10 Frequently Asked Questions about Meal Planning

When I tell people I meal plan for our family, they always want to know how I do it.  I shared how I meal plan in this post, read here.  Then, after I explain how I do it they have lots of questions.  So, I thought I would answer a few of the most frequently asked questions I get pertaining to meal planning today!

Download your free meal idea printable here.

1. How do you think of meals to make your family?

1. Ask your family for suggestions.

2. Create a list of your favorites.  Read this post for 25 go-to meals our family loves.  

3. Make a  board on Pinterest for main dish ideas, here is mine!

4. Go through the main food types – Italian, Mexican, all-American, soups, meat & side, within each of those categories you will come up with several ideas.  For example for Mexican cuisine, you can make fajitas, tacos, enchiladas, and quesadillas to start.

2. Do your kids eat everything you make?

No!  However, I only make one meal at dinner so the rule of thumb at our house is they have to eat the same number of bites as their age.  So, my 3-year-old has to eat 3 bites of each food item to be excused from the table.  I do ask my kids for any meal suggestions and they are always excited when their request is granted. #tacos #alwaystacos

3. How do you come up with new meal ideas and not get stuck in a rut?

I try to incorporate a new recipe one time every week or every other week, depending on our schedule.  New meals take more time to prep so I might save that recipe for the weekend.  Some new recipes are winners and some are losers.  With the Simple Purposeful Living Meal Planner, I will circle ones we like and cross out ones we don’t!

I also can flip back in the 52-week meal planner and see what foods we have been eating a lot and which ones we haven’t had in a while!

You can download my free meal idea printable full of more than 50 meal ideas to help you get started.  Sign up here to get your download.

4. What do you do for breakfast?

My family has a few basic choices and I make sure to check my pantry for what we need when I make my grocery list.  My husband loves cereal and orange juice so I just ask him what kind of cereal he wants next and order that for him.  The kids usually go between frozen pancakes & waffles, cereal, bagels, and toast.  I usually just do a Lara Bar with my coffee!

5. What do you do for lunch?

Once again, I just make sure my kids have items they like to take in their lunches.  They are creatures of habit so they like to take peanut butter sandwiches or meat and crackers with raw veggie, fruit and a small dessert.

My husband takes leftovers every day to work so I make sure to make more than I think we will eat of most meals.  Lucy and I either eat leftovers or she eats what the big kids pack in their lunches.  I sometimes like to eat those bagged salad mixes too!

Buy your meal planner here.

6. How often do you meal plan?

I like to meal plan once a week.  It works well for our family so that our meal plan matches our schedule.   If you are just starting out, I would suggest meal planning once a week so you don’t get overwhelmed.

7. Why do you meal plan?

I hate that feeling of not knowing what to make for dinner and then not having the right ingredients on hand to make something.  We don’t have the budget to eat out very often, so meal planning helps me to make simple meals that match our busy schedule without a headache.  A little planning ahead makes my world go round.

8. How often do you go to the store?

Once a week.  Once I meal plan, I order all my groceries online and pick them up usually on Mondays’ for the week.  Occasionally, I forget something or something comes up I didn’t account for and then either my husband or I will run to grab that item but that’s rare!

9. Do you use coupons or shop at different stores?

I don’t.  I online grocery shop.  Not being in the store, I am not as tempted by all those things not on my list.  I save a substantial amount of money and stay under our weekly grocery budget ($125) almost every week!

10.  What tools do you use to meal plan?

I use the Simple Purposeful Living 52-week meal planner.  You can create your meal plan and jot down your grocery list on the adjacent perforated grocery list.  When I get stuck on what to make, I can flip back and see what I have made in the past.  You can buy yours here.

You can download my free meal idea printable full of more than 50 meal ideas to help you get started.  Sign up here to get your download.

Need some more help?

I have you covered, check these resources out!

52 Week Meal Planner

7 Steps to Create a Weekly Meal Plan

10 Frequently Asked Questions about Meal Planning

25 Simple Meal Ideas + Free Meal Ideas Printable

How do you meal plan?  What questions do you still have about meal planning?  Make sure to leave them in the comments and I will answer them!  Don’t forget to head over to the Simple Purposeful Living shop and check out our new products!  They make perfect Christmas gifts.  Give the gift of simple and purposeful living this holiday season!


Until next time keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life!

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