Stung by the Busy Bee – Managing Priorities

Busy Bee

Our lives are a world of chaos with family, work and everything else in between.  Being busy does not always mean you are accomplishing or progressing to complete a goal.  Maybe you feel like you are sacrificing your priorities and goals for others.  While is certainly normal for expectations and plans to be disrupted, having a plan instead of simply reacting to things will help you regain your focus.

By tossing all your priorities and tasks up into the air, you are imposing stress on yourself.  By juggling the stress each day, you hope to finally make progress.  Unfortunately, hoping without a having a plan will keep you going in circles.

Here are two easy ways that together will help you to avoid “squirrel syndrome” and to work toward the possibility of accomplishing your goals and priorities:

Give all of your priorities a deadline date.  Sure, this date can be adjusted, but only when it is absolutely necessary.  A date scheduled next to a priority keeps it in front of other tasks that are not currently a priority.

Schedule time to complete your daily priorities.  When is your day less hectic?  Can you find time and a place where you can focus and make progress toward your goals?  To keep from feeling overwhelmed, schedule in small increments of time, such as for 30 minutes at a time.  Remove the distractions long enough to make a fully focused effort toward progress or completion of your goal.

If you keep moving or putting off a priority, you should reassess that priority.  How important is it?  Do you want to achieve the priority, or are you just avoiding it?

The reality of Life has us going in many directions.  We are making thousands of decisions each day.  Some are automatic and routine, while other decisions can be impulsive or need time to ruminate.

If, at the end of the day, your goals and priorities were, once again, put off and not accomplished, I recommend that you create a plan; one you will promise yourself to keep.  I promise that getting into the habit of scheduling and achieving your plan will help you make progress toward your goals, and you can avoid being stung by the busy bee.

Out of Balance

stretchedDear Coach Chris,

I can’t say no.  I am fairly new to the community and wanted to make friends as quickly as possible.  So, I volunteered to support several non-profits and joined two community boards.  I have been embraced and accepted by all the very friendly people in this small town.  I know I am making an impact helping all the different non-profit groups.  They are always telling me how much they appreciate my support. There is always a fundraising event or an ongoing project to help the community.  My problem is I can’t say no.  My schedule is overbooked because I agree to everything.  I am married and have two children who are (or should be) my priority.  BUT it seems now I have scheduled myself into a corner.  I don’t want to let down my family and continue to make them second.  I feel guilty and sad.  I have missed school events my children have participated in.  I have missed family dinners when we used to talk about our day. At the same time, I also do not want to disappoint all of people I promised to support. I try to spend time with my family but now my outside obligations are starting to conflict with family priorities.  My partner tries to support the best they can and has expressed they miss our family time. My schedule is out of control and I have been stretched to my limit.  I do not want to break any promises and disappoint the non-profits and community boards.  At the same time I also miss family.  Where and how do I find balance?


Stretched Thin

Dear Stretched Thin,

I would first like to thank you for your service as a volunteer.  I know your community does appreciate all of your support.  BUT at what sacrifice?  It is easy for a caring person like you to want to help everyone.  You mentioned family should be your priority.  I agree.

So, where do you start to reorganize your time and your life?  As much as volunteers are needed, it is up to you who you volunteer for and how much time you choose to dedicate. I recommend you sit down with your family and create a weekly or monthly schedule.  Within that schedule, you can identify all of your family priorities. Is it possible to include your family in some of the non-profit events?  You will also see how and where you can fit your volunteer time into the family schedule.  Your family will see you have their best interests first.  I know non-profits are very grateful for any volunteer who chooses to help.  I am sure they will also understand your family needs are your priority.  Once again I want to thank you for being you.  The best Parent, Spouse and Volunteer.

Bounce back to your priorities,

Coach Chris

Need Directions

need directionDear Coach Chris,

I feel lost and stressed.  I am 21 and know I should be doing something with my life.  I graduated from high school with no plan because I was working at a restaurant and had money to spend. The restaurant was my first job and I worked there four years, it was fun and I learned a lot about the restaurant business.  I conveniently live with my parents.  I don’t have to pay for anything and I have saved most of my money.  Now the restaurant has closed and I am looking for another job.  I am depressed and don’t feel motivated.   All my friends from high school have joined the military, are married, moved out of town or going to college.  I basically have no friends to hang out with.  My parents have suggested many things but I just don’t know what to do.  When I worked at the restaurant life seemed easy and comfortable. I feel like I don’t know how to do anything else.  I don’t think I want to work in a restaurant again.   Now I have had a lot of time to really look at my life and it is time for me to grow-up. I want my own place and possibly a relationship, maybe even get married.  I want to make my parents proud of me but when I try to think of a plan I also create self-doubt.  I am afraid I will fail and I wouldn’t be smart enough anyway.  I feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start.  Can you help me?  I need some direction.

Lost and stressed,


Dear Directionless,

To start, you have your life ahead of you - a life with many options and choices.  It is awesome you are thinking about your future.

Even though you may not realize it, in the four years you worked at the restaurant you acquired many transferable skills.  First and foremost, you proved to be a reliable, responsible employee. It also appears you are responsible with your money because you chose to save even though you are living at home.  I recommend you review all of your responsibilities at the restaurant.  You might find your achievements will challenge your self-doubt and fear.  You have an opportunity now to research and apply for different types of jobs.

  1. What part of the job did you enjoy doing? What didn’t you like about the job?
  2. Make a two year plan.  What would you like to accomplish in the next two years? Freely brainstorm all of your thoughts.
  3. Look at the list and categorize or prioritize them by your current interests.
  4. Pick one and list what it would take to achieve that goal. None of this is in stone and can always be changed.  It will give you a visual place to see all your goals and interests.
  5. Take a course. Attend a workshop. Apply for that job. If it seems possible to achieve the goal in a time frame you set, take the first step.
  6. Join clubs and “meet up” groups who have similar goals and interests.

The point is just to start moving forward.  Your journey through life will expose many opportunities.   You are currently at a point in your life where you have an abundance of choices.  No final decisions are required.  So, start knocking on all the doors of opportunity.

Always look forward,

Coach Chris

Afraid of Success

cold feetDear Coach Chris,

I am a skilled craftsman.  I have built, remodeled, renovated houses and businesses for 16 years.  I want to start a legitimate, successful business where I have binding contracts, a dedicated, skilled crew and I want the role of project manager/owner, not the primary laborer.

I am a hands-on manager and end up doing a lot of the labor even when I have a small crew to help me.  I am always afraid the project won’t be completed to my standards and want to control the results.  Most of my projects are done through a “gentleman’s” agreement.  I have to admit the financial agreement sometimes becomes a problem but overall I have a manageable income. Through the years I have established a good reputation for my work.

I don’t have a BIG picture plan for my current business.  I basically try to estimate the projects and most of the time I do profit but there have been times I complete a project at a loss because of some poor estimates and unforeseen issues.  It has been a struggle attracting and keeping quality craftsman because I cannot promise future projects.  It is difficult to estimate future projects and also be on the job site.

I fear if I change anything my current success will end.  I fear I will not find a dedicated, qualified skilled crew.  I fear there is so much to learn about the taxes, insurance, employee benefits, and all of what goes into owning a legitimate, successful business.  The thoughts overwhelm me and keep me stuck.  I begin each year with a plan but never pursue the next steps.  How do I move past my fears?

Cold Feet,


Dear Cold Feet Craftsman,

Congratulations for the current success of your “by the seat of your pants” business and I do agree it may not be sustainable long term.  Through 16 years I know you have learned, overcome and experienced many business situations and issues.  You can now utilize these skills along with your craftsman skills to add to your “legitimate” business.

Owning a successful, “legitimate” business has its challenges but there are many resources you can tap into to learn how to legitimize your business.

  1. Talk to other similar business owners.  They can sometimes share the lessons learned and possibly refer other resources.
  2. Make the time to sign up for business workshops.  Most of the workshops will provide information on how to market your business, the types of insurance your business should carry, interviewing and hiring advice, tax information, how to manage and track your project money.
  3. Consider hiring a bookkeeper or administrative assistant if this is not your strong point.

There are many facets to a business. The first and probably the most difficult is establishing yourself as a reliable, quality, skilled craftsman. Guess what?  You have already successfully achieved your reputation.  Your successful past experiences have given you a solid foundation for the next business level.

It is easy for me to say don’t let fear get in your way but consider this; Fear is usually based on stories we are telling ourselves and the more we become comfortable with our stories the harder it becomes to believe anything else.  We can falsely rationalize and bend the facts to fit our fear so we can validate what we believe.  So, revisit the story you are telling yourself and get down to business. You can design and build a house, you can design and build a successful business with the same attention to detail.

Happy Building,

Coach Chris

Hang on to your desk

managerDear Coach Chris,

I was recently promoted to supervisor, a position I worked hard to achieve.  The problem is now I am responsible for my "used to be" co-workers.  A couple of them are very good friends.  We would party every weekend, gossip about the people in the office and share just about everything.  I consider them great office buddies.

During the job offer conversation, my boss mentioned she was aware of the close friendships I had with my co-workers.  She said my role as a co-worker to supervisor can create problems.  I was now their boss and I needed to always be aware of how I am interacting with everyone.  The first sign of favoritism towards my friends would be the beginning of a breakdown of my authority as their supervisor.

I am now confused on what to do.  One of my goals was to be the supervisor.  I am aware of the increase of responsibilities and I am prepared and ready to take on the job.  At the same time, I know my role as "weekend friend" has to change.  My boss included examples: only going to lunch every day with only the select few would create perceived favoritism - something my friends and I always did; internal company conversations needed to be kept between leadership and supervisors; the possibility of having to discipline one of my friends.  The list of what not to do has me questioning so many things.

I don’t want to lose my friends and at the same time I worked for this promotion and don’t want to lose this opportunity.  Can I have both without jeopardizing friends and job?



Dear Sad Supervisor,

Congratulations on your promotion to supervisor.  I agree it is a challenge to draw the line between people who were your co-worker friends to now your staff.  Unfortunately, your new role will impact your relationships.  Included with the increased role as supervisor you are now responsible and liable for the performance outcomes of your staff.  This can sometimes get sticky if one of your “friends” needs to be counseled.  Your staff is always aware of what you say and how you handle every situation.  It is important you maintain your authority because your staff now represents you.

I recommend you have a heart-to-heart conversation with your weekend buddies.  Explain to them your concerns.  Collectively there may be an understanding and possible solution. They need to be aware of your new role and responsibilities. You will be required to make decisions they may not always agree with. I hope your boss will continue to mentor you through some of the trials and tribulations of being a new supervisor.

You obviously have what it takes to fulfill the role as supervisor.  It is a critical role in any organization, and you earned your place.  There will be times you are pulling your hair out and times you will be sharing accomplishments.  So, hang on to your desk because the ride as supervisor is challenging and rewarding.

Continued Success,

Coach Chris

First Date Catch

bad dateDear Coach Chris,

How do I get over my first date awkwardness?  I have had several first dates but never a second date.  I don’t know what I am doing wrong. I am usually very nervous and self-conscious.  I try to over prepare so I can be ready for anything. I know first impressions are important, so I always try to show my date I am a great catch. I always show-up cleaned-up, use my best cologne and arrive with flowers. I make reservations at the best restaurant in town. Most of the time I feel like the date was a good time but when I ask for a second date is ends up with a no.  I feel very rejected and defeated.  This has affected my confidence and I am now afraid to ask another person out for a date.  Should I just give up dating all together?  Help!!!



Dear Awkward Andy,

I understand the awkwardness of trying to impress a first date. When you place an uncontrollable expectation on a date, it will always create doubt and nervousness.  I believe first dates should be simple and easy. This may help with the nerves and confidence. When you go all out for the first date what is left for any future dates?  The first date should be about learning who the other person is.  You can also be the “great” catch by showing interest in your date through conversation.  Many people love talking about themselves.  Prepare some casual questions you want to know about your date and let them talk.  This usually can generate questions from your date, giving you the opportunity to reveal who you are. Avoid dominating the conversation.

So, keeping it simple can open up the opportunity to see if you are compatible with your date.  I suggest a coffee shop, a drink in a quiet bar, or somewhere you can have a casual conversation.  Based on relationship data you will have instant attraction or no attraction in a matter of 15 minutes. Don’t try to force the attraction. A simple initial meeting for a drink will not only save you money but also time.  If you find the initial meeting evolves into wanting to spend more time together, you can suggest an activity - a walk, bowling or something of interest you both have agreed upon.  This can progress to dinner or making plans for another date.

Finding the right person to spend time with is a journey in itself.  Keep dating and meeting as many people as you can.  The "no" to a second date is usually a gift because in the long run it was not meant to be more.  The key is to get to know them before you jump in ready to give your money, time and all of you.

You got this!!!

Good Luck,

Coach Chris

p.s. maybe tone down the cologne?

A Loss for Words

third eyeDear Coach Chris,

My girlfriend and I have been together about a year and I feel like we can talk about almost everything.  I truly care about her and want to possibly have a life-long relationship.  We have a lot in common and get along great MOST of the time except when the word LOVE comes up.  When she first said the words, I love you, I felt a weird, sinking feeling inside.  I couldn’t respond with the same, I love you.  I smiled, kissed her and said thank you. I care deeply for her and feel guilty about the struggle I have saying the words “I love you” back.  She has asked me if I love her, and I just respond with a yes.

I know once I say those words the meaning comes packed with promises and commitments.  Which I think I am ready to accept. Unfortunately, I am still carrying the damage of my past relationship where I was the first one who said the words.  My belief when I said “I love you” to my ex, I had an expectation she was ready to make a long-term commitment to the relationship.  The pain of that break-up still haunts me.

What if once I say the words “I love you” back to my girlfriend and the relationship falls apart? I'm afraid of being devastated again.  If I tell my girlfriend about my struggle it might create doubt about our relationship. What should I do?  I am at a loss for words.


Lost for Words

Dear Lost for Words,

What if she doesn’t commit to a long-term relationship?

What if she DOES keep her promises and commitments?

What if she turns purple and grows a third eye?

You can’t live on the "what ifs" because "what ifs" are infinite.

So, you said you and your girlfriend can talk about almost everything.  I suggest having a conversation about the “I love you” words with her.  You may find the result may create more of a connection between you and your girlfriend. The conversation may help you move forward.  You will both learn what "I love you" means to each other.

I agree when the special words “I love you” are said in a relationship they should be real and used with care from the heart because the impact can be interpreted many different ways.  Your interpretation is a good one, to keep promises and commitments.  I hope you are currently showing your girlfriend this is who you are and not letting the past hold the good person in you back.

Communication is always key,

Coach Chris

She washed me out of her hair

shampooDear Coach Chris,

We have been dating for about 6 months and I spend a lot of nights at her place.  I usually shower there before I go to work.  I noticed there were two kinds of shampoo bottles, one had my name written with waterproof magic marker.  I thought this was weird. Because shampoo is just shampoo, right? Why did she have to designate a specific one just for me.  I asked her and she said her shampoo is special and asked me not to use her shampoo.  I wasn’t satisfied with her explanation and didn’t want to start an argument about shampoo is just shampoo.  I did a little research on the internet and discovered she paid $50 for her special shampoo.  I was shocked.  I decided to help her save some money and show her shampoo is just shampoo.  I bought a much cheaper brand that was the same color and poured out her $50 shampoo and replaced it with the cheaper brand.

A few days later I complimented how pretty her hair looked and she replied the special shampoo was working.  I couldn’t help myself but had to tell her she had been using the cheaper shampoo and got the same results.  I also told her she would be saving $45 by using the cheaper shampoo.

She was outraged and stopped talking to me.  I have not been invited to stay overnight for weeks and she does not answer my calls or texts.  After being persistent she finally returned my calls.  She simply stated our relationship would not work.  She felt she could not trust what I might do next and was offended because I was trying to make her appear stupid for buying a shampoo she chose.

Really!!!  Was I wrong trying to show her she could save money?  Shampoo is just shampoo. Right?



Dear Sham-pooed,

I believe trying to prove your point this way was sneaky and offensive.  Your intention may have been good but the way you chose to prove your point was not a good.  I assume your ex-girlfriend purchased the shampoo with her own money and probably did her research on why she felt the $50 shampoo would help her.   I recommend the next time ask questions before you think you are doing a good deed based on your assumptions.  Also, research on more than just the price of shampoo you might find there is a big difference in quality.  Looks like the $5 shampoo didn’t deliver the happy, bouncy results you were looking for.

Wishing you a happy, healthy future,

Coach Chris


Dear Coach Chris,
My partner had a painful in-grown toenail.  After some internet research it recommended to soak the foot in warm water to soften the nail then cut as much of the toenail as possible.  When I came home from work my partners foot was leisurely soaking in my favorite crockpot.  I went crazy.  My best crockpot has been contaminated and useless.  My partner told me my rage was not justified and I could easily clean the crock pot with soap and water.  I think the only solution is to throw the crockpot in the garbage.  I know every time I want to use the crockpot I will see a foot with an in-grown toenail soaking with my pot roast.  Am I justified in my craziness? Now I am having mixed feelings about throwing my favorite crockpot in the garbage.



Dear Grossed-out,
It appears your imagination has over-ridden any level-headed reason.  The crockpot is an innocent bystander and doesn't deserve to be thrown away.  A simple solution is a good scrubbing with any disinfectant you choose (soap and water will also work).  This should sanitize the crockpot.  Maybe next time when you provide a solution for another in-grown toenail for your partner also provide a foot soaker tub and label it with your partners name.  Eliminating any confusion in the future.

Happy Crockpot Cooking,

Coach Chris

How do you love me?

How do you love me?  Let me count the ways…

For many of us part of our journey through life is finding THAT person.  Sometimes we make a list of qualities both physical and character.  The physical attraction is usually the first test.  Maybe it is a smile, a certain look, the list can be exhaustive.  The visual appearance can sometimes tell us a story, mostly one we are creating, not necessarily the whole truth about the person.

The character is more challenging.  We first judge the other persons character based on our values.  So sometimes this can create acceptance, non-acceptance or intrigue.  Knowing who we are should really be the basis of who we choose to be in our life.  I recommend starting with a self-analysis before you make a permanent or temporary decision of who your partner should be.

One of the suggested places to start is taking the 5 love languages quiz (  The quiz can reveal what language you need and want in your relationships.  We all have specific needs that help us feel content and fulfilled in our relationships.

The book “The 5 love languages,” written by Dr Gary Chapman, lists the 5 languages most of us need to add to a successful relationship.

They are: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Physical Touch, Acts of Service and Receiving Gifts.

One of these normally resonates for each of us.  For me it is acts of service.  I love it when someone does something for me without me asking.  The gratitude and appreciation within me creates a feeling of being special to that person.

Dr. Chapman emphasizes the critical importance that you should know what your love language is as well as your partners.  He correlates the process of providing the important love language for your partner to adding money into a bank account.  When you are not providing your partner with their love language the bank account can be operating in a deficit which can create discord and discontent.

A true partnership has to include open transparent communication.  You should want to know what makes your partner feel loved by you, and of course your partner should want to know what you need to make you feel loved by them.

Words of Affirmation Expressing affection with a compliment, empathy, encouragement, or appreciation. Write your partner a love letter, tell them you love them and appreciate them, text an encouraging message, accept responsibility and tell your partner you are sorry when you make a mistake

Quality Time  Expressing affection with undivided undistracted attention. Our lives can be very busy and we do get caught-up with the hustle of work and life balance.  Your partner wants to feel they are also a priority in your life.  Creating time in your busy schedule is critical to show your partner they are important to you.  Possibly a board game or some playing cards, date night, take a walk together or go to bed at the same time.

Physical Touch  Expressing love through physical touch. A meaningful hug, cuddling, a kiss goodbye or hello, holding your partners hand are easy ways to let your partner feel they are loved and wanted.

Acts of Service  Action rather than words are used to show and receive love. Doing something to “help out”, usually makes life a little easier for your partner. Be it a routine task or something extra makes your partner feel seen and less overwhelmed.

Receiving Gifts  The act of giving a gift. Giving a thoughtful gift is symbolic of love and affection. The gift can be as simple as giving them their favorite treat.

Communicate how you want to feel loved.  And ask your partner how they want to feel loved. If you are both adding to each other’s love language bank account, your relationship can be fulfilling and successful.