Self care is great, but where are the instructions?

In Health and Beauty, Lauren Pennywell by Lola Magazine

Have you ever sat in front of a mountain of unfolded laundry and thought, where is my magic wand?

You know you are supposed to be leading this magical life but you’re barely sure what day it is. It’s Tuesday, right? How are we going to find our personal legend when we can barely keep up with our iPhone? 

Never have I felt more like I needed a wand or a fairy godmother or Oprah, than in 2016. That’s the year I became:

  • a single mom
  • a VP at a local oil company
  • an engineer who almost lost her marbles

Sis, it was a struggle. Just getting my precious boys ready and getting to work and getting the homework done was this whole thing! I’m not talking Pinterest-level birthday parties, I’m talking basic, head above water, mom stuff. If I hadn’t had my parents and my sister just down the street, I’m not sure I could have done it.

Do you ever feel like you deserve a round of applause when you walk in the office in the morning because anyone who’s put out as many fires as you have before 8 a.m. deserves some recognition!

Hello. My name is Lauren and I am a recovering perfectionist.

I’m also a proud member of the over-thinkers’ club, so I figured I could just use podcasts and self-help books to engineer my way back to “normal.” I noticed that most of these books (while helpful!) were pretty much saying the same thing, and they were all missing something: INSTRUCTIONS!

My background is engineering/corporate planning so my logical brain needed a PLAN to follow to start living a life aligned with my values. Because this “life aligned with your values” stuff is at the center of living a magical life where you are kinder to your friends and more patient with your children and you hardly ever lose your iPhone.

I couldn’t find a plan on how to live a life aligned with my values, so I made one. That’s when I realized that living a value-centered, cups-full life, is kind of like having a magic wand. Let me explain.

What we really want with most of our magic wand requests can be solved with either more time, or more money. Before you dismiss this as an impossibility, I challenge you to think about it. What is something you really want? If you had unlimited time and money, could you get the thing/take the trip/quit the job? I bet you could!

Now, think about all the times when you’ve been in a really good place in your life and the stars are aligned and you felt like anything was possible. How much can you get accomplished on those days? How much love do you have to give to the people you care about when you are in that space?

Conversely, think about the last time you were really sick or even just a day where you just felt “off.” When I feel like that, everything is a struggle and even simple tasks take me twice as long as they should. 

That’s how the PLAN can help you! It teaches you how to have more of those “stars-aligned days” and less of the “I don’t feel like myself today” days. 

Have you ever noticed that time expands and contracts based on how you’re feeling?

That’s the secret to the magic wand! You can get more done in less time and spend more time doing what you love if you start scheduling cup fillers in your life. So what’s the plan and what the heck is a cup-filler? I’m so glad you asked!

The Plan

Discover Your Core Values:  Some of my friends can look at a list of values and pick their top 3-4. If that’s you, ROCK ON! Write those values down and head to step 2. My fellow over-thinkers that cannot make anything that simple, I FEEL YOU! Look at the “Value Advice for Over-Thinkers” box.

Label Your Cups: Imagine you are holding one of those 4 drink coffee holders that you get at Starbucks with a big order. Now imagine that written on the side of each cup, in the spot where your ridiculously misspelled name normally lives, is each of your values. So now you have 4 cups filled with your favorite hot beverage of choice held in the imaginary coffee cup holder in your mind. Are you still with me?

Understand Your Cups: On those magical days when you are living in total alignment, all of these cups are totally full. On those crappy days where you don’t feel like yourself at all, someone or something has been poking holes in the bottom of your cups and draining out all the deliciousness that makes you YOU.

Notice, Adjust, Repeat: Once you understand that you have value cups, you will start to notice what fills them up and who’s poking holes in the bottom. Do more of what fills you up and avoid the drainers as much as possible. Give yourself a pat on the back every time you notice. The plan is SIMPLE, but changing decades of programmed behavior isn’t easy.

BEFORE YOU DECIDE THIS WILL NEVER WORK: Just try it! I bet you are already doing this and you don’t realize it.

Tips for Cups-Full Living:

  • Notice your tendency to scroll through Instagram or play a mindless game on your phone when you are feeling bored, stressed, or depleted. These might be cup fillers for you! The question is, can you find a better one?
  • Notice how certain songs, movies, friends, or favorite quotes will make you feel full of the things you value the most. How can you intentionally introduce more of those into your life when you’re feeling “off”?
  • Notice how certain people and situations (probably those things you avoid!) have you feel like you have less of the things you value the most. Are any of these things you can cut or minimize in your life? 
  • Before you default to the “but I don’t have enough time” excuse, remember that taking time to fill your cups means that you can be more productive doing the things in life you have to do. When your cups are full, you can get more done in less time. 
  • ABOVE ALL ELSE: DO NOT use this as another excuse to beat yourself up. You are still going to have days where you push yourself too far and all your cups are empty. Those are the days where you will snap at someone you love and then think about beating yourself up about it. Start apologizing to yourself with the same sincerity that you apologize to the people you love. 

Have questions? Want to share your cup-filling success stories or your epic fails? I am here for all of it and I would love to hear from you. 

Go design an abundant life aligned with your values, and be the most YOU possible!

Value Advice for Over-Thinkers:

Hello my fellow over-thinkers! Here is the information you need to get to your core values:

Answer these questions in your journal of choice:

What did you want to be when you were little and still believed anything was possible?

Who are your heroes? Favorite authors, actors, real-life humans, etc.

What are you crazy about? Songs, movies, anything that makes you crazy happy

Look at your answers and ask yourself what value each answer points to. Here is an example:

Brene Brown is one of my hero’s. I love her for her: authenticity, wisdom, courage. 

Notice which values are showing up in the most answers. These are your core values.

Want more help, download my “Love Your Crazy” workbook. It’s free!

Lauren Pennywell, owner of Pennywell Creative, lives in Shreveport, LA with her husband Tim Wakeman and her two boys (5 and 7). Lauren has degrees in Biology and Chemical Engineering from Louisiana Tech University and over 10 years of experience in engineering/corporate planning roles. 

Through Pennywell Creative, Lauren teaches classes and provides one-on-one coaching for anyone looking to clarify their values, understand their numbers, and grow their business or their life. She also creates super-cute spreadsheets. Seriously, you won’t even believe they are spreadsheets they’re so cute!