What’s Stopping You?

This morning I was listening to a podcast whose host was talking to a woman about what was holding her back from pursuing her dreams. The woman's dream? To write. She said she has wanted to write since she was a kid and she was afraid it might never happen. (Or something like that.)

And what I thought, as I listened, was, “What's stopping you?”write!

Anybody can write. If your dream is to write, then write. All you need is a piece of paper and something to write with, and you can write, write, write, write, write. Nobody can stop you.

Nobody should ever have an unfulfilled dream to write, because you can write any time you want to. So if you are (I am) saying that you/I have an unfulfilled dream of writing, then what you are (I am) really saying is, “I want to be published.” Which is a different thing entirely.

If your dream is to write, then get at it, my dear. Pick up your pen, boot up your MacBook, and get to writing.

Dream fulfilled.




Dallas, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . .
Podcast: The Productive Woman
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom
Email me

Three Words for a New Year

Do you make new year's resolutions? Or set ambitious goals at the beginning of the year?

I'm one who finds myself drawn to milestone days–the first of the year, the first of a month, a birthday, an anniversary. I use those milestone days as reminders to look back, and look forward, to take stock, re-evaluate the path I'm on, and make adjustments. In past years I've used the last week or so of the year to make lists of resolutions, some of which I've kept and others of which have faded before the calendar turned to February. The past couple of years I've found meaning in the “One Word” trend, with my words being grace one year, gratitude another.

This year I've modified that approach a bit. Inspired by some articles written by writer/thinker/business coach Chris Brogan, I've instead settled on three words that will serve as guides and touchstones for 2015. I encourage you to click on Chris's name (or here) for his post explaining the concept behind this approach. The gist of it is that the three words create focus for the goals I set, the choices I make, and the projects I undertake for this year.

Fog on the Alps

I spent much of December 2014 thinking and praying about this new year, and seeking guidance for what my three words should be.

The three words that I chose are: Connect. Build. Simplify.

Each of these words has many meanings and applications for me. Some are deeply personal and won't be shared with anybody. But as examples of how they are shaping my thinking, here are some of the ways I see these words being applied in my life in 2015:


  1. Connect with Mike – communicate better, travel together, be more intentional about making time for each other
  2. Connect with God – more time reading the Bible, praying, listening
  3. Connect with clients – better and more focused service, more thoughtfully targeted business development activities
  4. Connect with the TPW (The Productive Woman) community (listeners, prospective guests, other podcasters)
  5. Connect with friends – travel to visit? more intentional and consistent communications
  6. Connect with myself – my passions (what do I really want?), my fears (what am I really afraid of and trying to avoid facing?)
  7. Connect with the present – be in the moment more, celebrating and enjoying my life and experiences as I'm in the middle of them, instead of always looking for something different or looking to the future)
  8. Connect with family


  1. Build my faith
  2. Build my character – do the right things more consistently, exercise self-control
  3. Build my relationships
  4. Build my health
  5. Build a sustainable life (by being more realistic and disciplined in spending time and money)
  6. Build a business
  7. Build a writing career


  1. Possessions
  2. Needs
  3. Workflows
  4. Start weeding out stuff
  5. Focus on the people and things that really matter
  6. Identify what matters, and pursue that, letting everything else drop away
  7. By connecting with my true passions and fears (see above), I can quit filling up my life and mind and time with things that (inadequately) compensate for not pursuing my passions and that (ineffectively) distract from the things I'm afraid of

The lists above are not my goals. They are my thoughts on how each of the words can be applied in my life. These are the source–as I said above, the touchstones–to which I will return regularly as I formulate and evaluate my goals for this year.

I've written these words on sticky notes and put them in various places to remind me of my focus. I've written them at the top of the big year-at-a-glance calendar posted on the wall near my computer. I will be thinking about them often, journaling about them as I draw out exactly what each means for me, this year.

What about you?

Do you make new year's resolutions? Choose a word? Some other approach to starting the new year off right? If you want to, share in the comments so we can encourage each other. Or send me an email.

I look forward to hearing from you, and to sharing the adventure of life with you in 2015.

Happy new year!

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Dallas, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . .
Podcast: The Productive Woman
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom
Email me

The Productive Woman 015 – Dealing With Discouragement [podcast]


We'll pick up in a future episode on our mini-series on decluttering, but this week I thought I'd share a little of my heart on something I've been dealing with lately–discouragement. It can interfere with our productivity and our quality of life in general, but there are some things we can do to disable its power over us.

Tool of the Week:

The Ben Franklin Day Planner Template for Moleskine; created by Bob Stanke based on the day planner method reportedly used by Benjamin Franklin. Check out the YouTube video explaining what it is and how you can use it. You can buy the template for $1.99 at Bob Stanke's website.


Topic of the Week: Dealing With Discouragement


Why do we get discouraged?

An article by Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in California (see the reference below), suggests:

  • Fatigue
  • Frustration
  • Failure
  • Fear

And I toss in another one: hormones.

What effect can discouragement have on us?
  • It can derail us from accomplishing the things we care about
  • It can isolate us
What are some steps we can take to overcome discouragement?
  • Rest
  • Reorganize our lives to get a better handle on the overload that's getting us down
  • Ask for help
  • Take some time to journal how we're feeling, what's causing it, what we might do to change those causes
  • Stop comparing ourselves to others!
  • Focus our thinking on positive, encouraging things – check out the quotes at the WomenWorking.com Facebook page
  • Cultivate a grateful heart – celebrate the small accomplishments
  • Turn your focus to someone else – find someone to help or encourage

Some great resources to look at:


Your turn: Do you feel discouraged sometimes? How do you deal with discouragement? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Subscribe to The Productive Woman in iTunes or subscribe in Stitcher, and join the conversation at The Productive Woman on Facebook. And don't forget to check out the other podcasts that make you think, laugh, and succeed at Noodle.mx!

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Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . .
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom
Email me

The Productive Woman 013 – Getting Ready to Finish Well [podcast]


As we enter the last quarter of the year, it seems like a good time to pause, consider what we've accomplished so far this year, re-evaluate what we want to do in the time that's left, and set ourselves up for success in the remaining months of this year. We can do that by spending a little time walking through these simple steps:

  1. Even if you've let yourself get off track in pursuing your goals, rest assured it's not too late to make this a great year. Lots of things can be accomplished in 3 months.
  2. What have you accomplished so far this year? Give yourself credit for the things you've done, and celebrate the successes–both large and small!
  3. Re-evaluate the goals you set earlier in the year. Are they still valid? Do they still call to your heart?
  4. What's left to be done in the fourth quarter?
  5. It there are things left unfinished (or even unpursued), what's stopping you? External hindrances? Internal resistance? Structural impediments? What can be done to overcome them? Check out some great insights in Time Management from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern.
  6. What will you commit yourself to pursuing as the year winds down?
  7. What do you need in order to wholeheartedly pursue those things for this 3-month period?
  8. How will you celebrate your success? Plan for it now–and remember that effort is a success!
  9. Get accountable.

Your turn: When will you take a few minutes to set yourself up to end the year on a high note? What one or two goals will you commit yourself to in this next three months? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Some great resources to look at:

Subscribe to The Productive Woman in iTunes or subscribe in Stitcher, and join the conversation at The Productive Woman on Facebook. And don't forget to check out the other podcasts that make you think, laugh, and succeed at Noodle.mx!

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Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . .
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom
Email me

The Productive Woman 008 – Saying No Gracefully [podcast]

_podcastTemplateDo you find it difficult to say no? I do. The desire to be liked or the sincere desire to help makes it easy to say yes, and sometimes we end up regretting it.

Listener Kelly Anne Liberto asked a question about this that got me to thinking, and in this episode I share some of what I learned in researching why we say yes, when it's okay to say no, and how we can say no without sacrificing relationships that matter to us.

Tip of the Week: Make good use of waiting time to tackle tiny tasks.

Tool of the Week: Bank apps for the smart phone! An amazing tool that lets you move money around, pay bills, and even deposit checks right on your phone. Most banks and credit unions have them these days, and I encourage you to give this tool a try if you're not already using it.

Topic of the Week: Saying No Gracefully

Why do we say yes?

  • We want to help
  • We want to be liked
  • To avoid conflict or confrontation
  • It feels good to be needed
  • FOMO (fear of missing out)
  • We have an unrealistic idea of what we can take on
  • Guilt – we feel like if we can, we should
  • It feels selfish to say no
  • We succumb to pressure

Good reasons to say yes?

  • Because we want to — we're truly enthusiastic about the opportunity
  • We've carefully evaluated it and it lines up with our values, objectives, and goals
  • To serve someone we care about

Why is it okay to say no?

  • It gives somebody else an opportunity to contribute
  • The ability to say a purposeful no is necessary for our yes to have any meaning

A ‘No’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘Yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.” ~ Gandhi

  • Sometimes saying yes would overtax your health, your time, your family
  • Saying no to some things (even good things) leaves room for better things
  • Your time is just as valuable as the time of the person who asks

Deciding whether to say yes or no

  • Don't give a reflex answer.
  • Weigh your options and limitations and get back to the asker.

We need to be okay with the fact that to some extent will cause some level of “pain” for the asker (but there are ways to minimize that)

Ways to minimize the damage of our no

  • Be certain of your answer
  • Be respectful of the person who asked
  • Show kindness and compassion
  • Give an explanation or reason if possible — but don't get drawn into a debate. You don't have to justify your no.
  • Make sure if you say you're going to call them later, you actually do it
  • If necessary, practice saying no in front of a mirror until you can do it in a way that's kind but firm


Saying No Gracefully,” by Isadora Alman, MFT, PsychologyToday.com, July 13, 2010.

How to Say ‘No' Gracefully,” by Beth Levine, WomansDay.com.

Saying No Gracefully,” by Lisa Kovalovich, Ladies Home Journal online.

How to Graciously Say ‘No',” EmilyPost.com.

Learn to Say No,” Oprah.com.

The Halfhearted Yes: Why We Don't Say No and How to Start,” by Sonya Derian on tinybudha.com.

Why So Many People Just Can't Say No,” by Hank Davis, Psychology Today online, March 10, 2014.

7 Simple Ways to Say No,” by Celestine Chua, Zen Habits, August 3, 2010.

When to Say Yes and When to Say No,” Jill Kemerer blog, August 11, 2014  — great insight for people of faith.


What about you? When is it hard for you to say no? Do you have a suggestion for a solution or approach that I missed? Please share your thoughts or suggestions in the comments.


Subscribe to The Productive Woman in iTunes or subscribe in Stitcher, and join the conversation at The Productive Woman on Facebook.

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Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . .
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom
Email me