Tag Archives: systems

Your 7 Step Guide to Planning Content for an Entire Year (and Writing Your Blog with Ease)

Photo by Your Best Digs on Flickr

December is for Decisions.

White lights or color?
Real tree or synthetic?
Rudolph or Charlie Brown?

And if you own a business, those December decisions are critical.

This is when you decide what you want to accomplish, and what you want your business to do in the coming year.

Is it time to raise your prices? Hire new team members? Create a new program? Maybe just get more rest and have more fun? (Yes, those are business goals, too!)

Whatever your goals, careful, in-depth, advance planning is the key to making sure you reach them.

And one place this will absolutely save your sanity is in planning your blog.

Writing fresh articles and creating new content week after week can be a daunting task. So I developed a process that enables me to not only be strategic and deliberate about the content I write, but makes the actual task of writing easier.

When I sit down to write to you each week, I already know what I want to cover, and how that topic fits into my messaging as a whole – week by week, month by month, all year long.

The key is taking the time to do the work to get clear up front.

And no, that isn’t easy.

But if you’ll follow my lead, set aside a few hours and work your way through the process I outline for you here, you’ll thank me all the way through next year. :)

Continue reading

Keeping Out the Chaos: Using Systems to Manage Events

Photo Credit: Mike Mozart on Flickr

It felt a little weird, I’ll admit.

I recently attended the annual East Tennessee Women’s Leadership Summit. This event, an all day conference created to inspire, encourage and educate women leaders, has been a huge part of my life since I first started it twelve years ago.

Usually, I spend every waking moment in the final days preparing for that event. Even with systems in place, there was always a lot to do – working with volunteers, managing last minute problems, packing up a zillion supplies and preparing to host 200 women for the day.

But this year, I’ve passed the leadership on to others. For the first time ever, I got to just enjoy the program – and I actually got to eat lunch! :)

Events take a lot of work – whether they involve hundreds of people, or a single client.

And systems are your key to doing events right.

From a planning perspective, systems help prevent wasting money, time, resources and your own precious energy.

From a customer’s perspective, systems help ensure that you provide a top notch experience for them that goes smoothly all the way through.

Think of your event as having three phases: planning and preparation (before),  implementation and delivery (during), and follow-up (after).

What do you need to attend to with each phase? Where would a system make things easier? The answer to those questions varies widely depending on whether your event is live or virtual, large or small.

But let’s take a look at those phases for each key area. Continue reading

So How Do I Know If I Should Go?

 Quebec City - Metal Roofs

Here we go!

It’s August, and time to get started on our second season of super surprises

I’ve been planning some TERRIFIC trips, and I’ve got some Big News to share soon.

Photo Credit: By David Paul Ohmer on Flikr


What are we gonna do, Wendy?

I’ve got so many treats in store for you this year I can barely stand it.

We’ll visit funky places that will AMAZE and amuse you.

We’ll explore beautiful sites that really ARE off the beaten path.

We’ll sample new skills and EXPERIENCES that women rarely if EVER have a chance to try.

Some trips will be outdoors, some won’t.

Some trips will be physical, some won’t.

We’ll spend everything from a few hours to a few days together, finding our strengths and claiming our courage.

Sometimes we’ll just hang out and enjoy each others’ (courageous) company.

Of course, for the most part, I can’t tell you EXACTLY what we’ll be doing. Yet. (Because it is, after all, a secret.)  But I can tell you:

…it’s ALL good. :)

But How Do I Know if I Should Go?

First, a word of encouragement.

Sisters, I am a life-long traveler and a radical encourager. I have NEVER been an athlete. We’re NOT going to be climbing cliffs or doing things that would be better suited for a marathon runner.

My goal is NOT to prove anything about anyone’s physical prowess, because I’d lose that battle right off the bat!!!

My goal is simply to help you transform Courage to Confidence, by trying things you just never thought you’d do. No one said those things had to be exhausting.

Well, we did work up a sweat when we danced. :)

But I digress.

Some of my friends thought it might help if I gave you a code of sorts to measure our trips by. So, let’s try that. I’ll LABEL each trip as a Level 1, 2 or 3 Adventure, and you can use that as a starting place when trying to decide whether to jump in. Each Secret Adventure for Courgeous Women will have this listed in its description.

And here’s what that will mean. More or less. ;)


These trips will be suitable for almost anyone, regardless of age or ability. If you have serious health or mobility problems, or just do better with shorter, lighter experiences, these are for you. The Chamber Orchestra Concert or the Mother-Daughter Tea Party we did in our first season were both examples of a Level One Adventure: sweet but simple fun. I’ll try to do one of these every few months.


These trips will suitable for most, and will usually involve at least moderate physical activity. To be comfortable on a Level Two Adventure, you need to be able to get up and down without assistance, to walk without difficulty at a moderate pace, possibly on uneven ground, and for at least a mile or so. You should probably be able to handle a few flights of stairs, or be able to bend, squat or sit on the ground. And you should be able to tolerate moderate aerobic activity. The moonlight hike or the flat water kayaking we did last season are both examples of a Level Two Adventure. MOST of our trips will be on this level.


There won’t be many of these (did I mention that I am not and have NEVER been an athlete?), but every now and then I’ll toss in a Level Three Adventure. These WILL be more physically challenging. To enjoy these, you should probably have the stamina to tolerate a good workout at the gym, or at least a good, fast walk around the block. You should be comfortable with using your muscles, bending and flexing, or getting your heart rate up for a while. One example of a Level Three trip was the contra-dancing that we did last year. It wasn’t hard to do technically, but it was a GREAT work out.

(Well, some might disagree with me about the technical part – but you get the idea. Whitewater rafting would be another example of a Level Three trip.)

Keep in mind, I’m ONLY using levels to describe the PHYSICAL aspect of our travels. Levels have nothing to do with how much fun they’ll be, or how comfortable you might — or might not — be with whatever we’re up to. :)


Fishing was easy in some ways, hard in others.

Dancing was hard in some ways, easy in others.

Make sense?


So – whatever you do, don’t skip a trip on that basis alone. CALL me if you have questions about whether any particular trip is right for you. I can help you figure that out.

And anyone who’s done that will tell you – if I don’t think a particular trip is right for you, I’ll SAY SO. Guaranteed.

So what do you think. Will that help?

Anything else I can do to make this easier (just not too easy) for you?

Click HERE and let me know. I’d love to hear from you!



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Photo Credit: By David Paul Ohmer on Flikr


The Key to Making Family Changes Stick





Have you ever played with one of these?

If you’ve ever spent any time in a baby’s room, you may have seen one of these on their crib.

Mobiles really hold a newborn’s attention as they turn and dance. The slightest touch will throw the whole thing off balance and into bouncing, captivating movement, and then – almost magically – it rights itself, returning back to the status quo, back to ‘normal’.

Babies love to watch that dance.


And families are like that. As a delicately balanced, but powerful system, external factors or internal changes will sometimes bump them into what feels like chaotic movement. But just like that mobile, in time, they too will return to the status quo.

And like the mobile, those temporary factors may be equally captivating. Take, for example, a family vacation where all the usual rules (like eating healthy or going to bed on time) are thrown right out the window for few days. Fun, temporary, chaos.

And sometimes, those temporary factors can feel a little crazy.

We had a time like that, for instance, when our children were really small (6 months and 3 years). We went through a period with three hospitalizations in two weeks, involving both kids, one surgery, and a bad bout of rotavirus that ran through the family. It was pretty rough as we fought to keep going to work while making sure one of us stayed with whichever child was in the hospital at the moment and the other was with the child at home.

Then my parents, who are angels in their own right, drove all the way from Texas to Tennessee to save us. After about two weeks, the illness ran its course. They went home. Everyone was okay. The mobile that is our family finally stopped bouncing.

And life got back to normal (whatever that is!).

Now think about this. What would happen if you took, say, a penny, and taped it to one of the arms on that mobile? It would tilt a little differently, wouldn’t it? It would probably look very different, and this time, it would STAY that way. The whole thing would shift into a new “normal”, a new status quo.

Families are like that too.

So let’s look at a different example.

Let’s say your crew eats dinner with the TV pretty much every night. And let’s say you’d like to have more meals at the table, so you can talk to each other instead.

Hey kids, heads up. I want us to start eating dinner at the table more often. So starting next week we’re only doing dinner in front of the TV on Tuesday and Friday nights, ok?”

Odds are good that you’ll get a few groans and some eye-rolling.

Then, when you actually move to implement it (“No TV tonight guys! Everyone come to the table!”), you may get outright resistance.

Awwww, man! Why can’t we watch our show?!”

Or you may get subtle sabotage.

Hey honey, I’m fine with that, but I really wanted to catch the news just tonight…”

This, then, is the key. You must hold the change, the new behavior, the new way of being with each other, new way of living or interacting, just long enough to make it permanent. And you must do so in the face of what can sometimes be tremendous pressure to give up and go back.

Well, there’s no TV during dinner…soooooo, we can either wait to eat after the news, or you can catch the news later tonight. Which would you prefer?”

In time, the system will adapt. The change will hold. And there will be a new normal.

Of course, some changes are considerably harder to hold than others. And that natural push to revert to the status quo can make things pretty rocky for awhile.

But if you hold it, the system, just like that mobile, will eventually re-organize itself around the changes you’ve brought in, and everyone will settle down. Life will move on, and the American family will be as strong as ever.

How about you? Have you shaken things up a bit lately?

How’s it going?

Let us know in the comments below!


Photo Credit: By ohsohappytogether on Flikr.com


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Are We Facing the End of the Family As We Know It?

a week of old photos at the table...

Have you been worried about the State of the American Family?

It’s not that unusual these days to hear one pundit or another decry the end of the American family. Even the Pew Research Center has been documenting our attitudes about the changing look of our families. The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

But anyone who thinks families are falling apart has never tried to change one.

In fact, rather than dying out, sometimes, it seems like families are made out of steel. Completely immovable. Rock solid and impervious to change. One big block of stubbornness that gives way for no one.

Think about it.

What happened the last time you tried to change something in your own family? Perhaps you wanted to swap out the ever-present almost-chicken nuggets for a healthier meal with actual vegetables. Or maybe you wanted to develop your children’s skill set by requiring that each of them start doing their own laundry. (!)

Or maybe you wanted to do something REALLY outlandish, like stay completely out of it when your sister and your mom started fighting again.

This is, in fact, one of the most common issues folks bring with them to my office – a desire to change something within their family, or maybe within themselves in relation to their family. But as any one of them will tell you: it ain’t easy.

Because families are TOUGH.

On the other hand, when things get hot enough, even steel can be reformed. :)

Last week I talked about the life-long pressures that come with being a Good Girl. And I promised you we’d have some fun along the way while we learn about the value of Healthy Rebellion. In the coming months, we’ll be coming back to this idea in a variety of ways.

But change, as they say, begins at home. And home can be hard. In my next post, I’ll share an idea with you that will help explain how families work, and the key to getting that change to stick.

But for now, let me hear from you. Pick out a family to think about. It could be the family you’ve created, the family you grew up in, or the family next door. You may even think about one of your friend’s families, or your friends who are like family.

One of my clients called those her “framily”. I love that. :)

What have you noticed about that family and how they work? You can send me an email, if you’d like, or post here. I’m interested in what YOU see happening in families around you.

Here’s a few questions to get you started.

  • What do you love about them, and what could be improved?

  • What patterns (positive or negative) have you noticed that they may not see?

  • Does everyone have a voice?

  • If not, whose voice is not being heard? Why not?

  • What strengths do you see in the way they get through the day?

Share your observations in the comments below, and let’s see how much we all have in common. I’ll bet it’s more than you think! :)


Photo Credit: by kate hisock, slightly everything


Can’t find the comment tool?

It’s a tiny box graphic at the top right corner of this post.

Until I can get some design help with this page,

You’ll have to REALLY want to Speak Up to find it.

And I hope you do, because I want to hear from you!