Four Reasons Your Meetings Suck

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I had a friend tell me the other day that “They would rather have a tooth pulled than sit through another meeting”.
I ask him why and with a huge laugh and shocked look on his face he said “Come on! You don’t feel that way?”
I told him no.
Meetings can be very boring and huge time wasters…when not ran properly. There is nothing worse than sitting in a meeting you were invited to and have no clue why you are there or how long it will last.
Do you hate going to meetings? Do your meetings suck?
Maybe they lack the four key ingredients to having great meetings: Direction, Clarity, Focus and Permission.
When your meetings have direction, clarity focus and permission, they become powerful tools to move any organization (and family) forward!
 Let’s look at the four components of successful meetings:
 1, Direction
Know why you are having the meeting. Sounds like a statement from Captain Obvious but I’ve been a part of meetings where the topics discussed could have been answered through email or a quick phone call. Instead, we spend three minutes on why the  person called the meeting and the rest wasting time.
In order to give a meeting clear direction we also have to know what type of meeting is it.
Yes, there are different types of meetings. I like to split them in to two categories:
  • Status update / Tactical Meeting
    • This meeting is specifically for immediate decisions that have to be made and the place for daily or weekly updates. Here you are asking for progress reports and ensuring that projects are moving forward as planned. These meetings should be accomplished in no more than one hour. If they take longer, they are not structured properly or the two types of meetings are being mixed together which causes confusion.
  • Brainstorming Meeting
    • This meeting is designed to think “Big Picture”. This is the place to dream about the next product launch, conference you want to develop or direction you are taking the organization.

2.  Clarity

  • Who needs to be at this meeting?  Make sure the right people are at the table.  There is nothing worse than having another meeting to discuss the meeting you just had in order to fill someone in about the meeting. ( I’m tired and annoyed just from tyoing that! )  If someone needed to hear what was discusses in the meeting, they probably should have been invited.  I understand that there are times you have to cascade a message to your staff about a key decision that was made during the meeting. What I am referring to is having all the key people at the table the first time to ensure everyone receives the same message and has the same discussion all at once.

 3. Focus

  • A meeting is a request for people to give up some of their time. This is why meetings should be:
    • Time bound
      • Clarify  expectations regarding how long the meeting will be before everyone arrives. I try to stick to one hour time blocks for statue update / tactical meetings. For brainstorming meetings, I recommend setting aside at least two hours to  just begin a brain storming process. Make sure this is uninterrupted time so you and your team have time to dream and talk through big picture ideas. I recommend scheduling quarterly off site brainstorming meetings to discuss the overall health of your organization.
      • Stick to your schedule
    • Clear talking points and very few of them
      • Don’t feel the need to solve all the worlds problems at one meeting. Keep the talking points to two or three of the most pressing issues that need discussed. This allows time for discussion and questions.

 4. Permission 

  • There is nothing worse than coming to a meeting where you feel people feel that are being talked at and have no freedom to truly share their opinion and contribute. If someone is invited people to a meeting, they are there for a reason. It should be because they are trusted and the team appreciates their feedback. A healthy meeting environment is on where people feel the freedom to openly share their ideas in order to come up with the best way to move a project or organization forward.
Your meetings don’t need to suck. You can have great, productive meetings that you actually enjoy by having these four components of successful meetings!
Question: What do you like or hate most about your meetings? Share your thoughts with me on Facebook or Twitter

Lose this and you’re sunk

Lose this
Every relationship is built upon credibility.
Credibility is the foundation of Trust.
 Are their people in your life that you don’t trust?
What caused you to stop trusting them or never trust them in the first place? They probably did something to lose credibility.
They didn’t do what they said they would do.
How do you know if someone is credible?
You hear people say things like: “They practice what they preach”, They walk the talk, or their actions are consistent with their words”.
We experienced this recently in the news with Brian Williams, nightly news anchor for NBC. Brian was viewed as one of the most trusted journalist in the business. When the scandal broke that he had lied about his experiences in a war zone, his credibility that he spent years building began to unravel. NBC had to move quickly and remove Brian from their network in order to keep their credibility they had with their viewers. In fact, the first evening Lester Holt took the place of Brian Williams, he spoke to the American people about credibility and trust.
The lies Brain Williams told will haunt him the rest of his career. Since he was a public figure known to almost everyone, it’s likely he will never gain back the credibility he lost. This story should be a word of caution. When we fabricate stories to get ahead or “climb the corporate” we run the risk of not only losing our credibility but our careers. Even if no one discovers that you lied, you’re not really a credible person because you being dishonest to yourself.
So what steps can we take to establish lasting credibility? It really comes down to one thing: 
  1. Be consistent in what you say, what you do, and what you say you will do, no matter where you are or who you are with.
When you are the same person with everyone ( even when no one is around ) you will have no trouble building credibility and lasting trust.
Questions: In what ways have you seen credibility lived out? 
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Give away this 1 thing and you will never be in need

Blue elegant gift box

I have given away a bunch of my material possessions. ( I have a long way to go)

I have scaled back my wardrobe, cleaned out my closets and continue to give the hurts and wounds of my past over to God so I can not only declutter my home, but my head and heart also. I find that there is one thing I can never give away enough. The more I give this away, the fuller my life becomes.

This one thing is my life.

The more I give my life away in service and support to others, the more my life is filled with joy, happiness and fulfillment. The more I work to build others up and help them accomplish their goals, the more my life is filled with meaning. The more I give away my time, my talent, and my treasure the clearer and less cluttered my life becomes.

When our focus is on consumption, buying more stuff, taking in a relationship and rarely giving …these all lead to a life that is full and empty at the same time. Full of emotional, physical and spiritual clutter and empty of meaning and purpose.

The Holy Scriptures in Philippians 2:3 speak to this thought beautifully. It says:

” Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.”
When we think of others before ourselves, this is when we discover what it truly means to live.

I want to die empty and full at the same time. I want to have an empty wallet and an empty closet with a heart that is full of joy knowing that I gave my life away in service to others.

Are you searching for meaning in this life? Give your life away.

Question: In what ways can we “be humble, thinking of others as better than ourselves” ? Leave a comment below.

7 ways I create margin for sustainable living

 design of a bicycle, symbol of active and sustainable living

I enjoy doing all sorts of things.

I love helping people declutter their heads, homes and hearts. I love hiking, spending time with my family, blogging, writing, reading, running, working, planning and social media. I am constantly being asked to do more and more stuff that takes…time.

Do you feel there is never enough time to do everything you want to do? Have you ever committed to things you couldn’t keep up long term?

Me too. I have felt and done both.

When ever I have pursued something new with out creating the correct amount of margin in my life, other areas began to crumble.

This has happened many times in my life and will probably happen again. It is easy to fall in to a lifestyle that is unsustainable because we deceive ourselves in to believing that doing more good things is a good thing.

We forget that we need to create a healthy amount of margin to be able to take on more.

This is why I try to ask myself this question as new opportunities come my way: “Is this sustainable?”

The definition of sustainability is:  able to be used without being completely used up or destroyed,  able to last or continue for a long time.

When my schedule is unsustainible, I do feel like I’m being completely used up and could be destroyed!

Have you ever felt this way?

This is when I have to pull back, create margin in my life so I can life a life that is sustainable. A life that is able to be used and not destroyed. A life that will last and continue for a long time.

Here are seven ways I create margin for sustainable living: 

  1. Make a list of all my commitments
  2. Number them in their order of importance
  3. Decide what I can discard or delegate
  4. Follow through discarding and delegating
  5. Create a schedule around the top 5 items on my list (example: family, blogging, running, etc)
  6. Fill in everything else around those items so they remain my main focus
  7. Say no to everything else or ask: “Is this sustainable?”

This process helps me to sort through my life and delegate and discard everything that gets in the way of sustainable living.

Question: What do you do to create margin in your life? In what ways have you struggles with sustainability? 

 

4 questions to minimize your problems ( Guest Post)

 Typewriter ready for action

 4 questions to minimize your problems ( Guest post from @orgnzdcardigan  ) 

Hi everyone, my name is Sunray, I´m 35 and I live in Germany.
I love cardigans, when everything is in order (although I´m also good at spreading disorder ;) ) and a minimalist lifestyle.
On this blog I write about my personal interests in order to get connected with other people, to lose the fear of public writing and to improve my English skills.
I´m not an English native speaker, so please let me know if I can express myself better. Check out her blog HERE

“Solving a problem is the best way to get rid of it.” (Brendan Francis)

Everyday worries know at least almost all people. Unpleasant or difficult situations, which let us stay awake in bed for so many nights, pondering without having a solution the next morning.
To stop my thoughts circling around my problems and worries, I´m using for quite sometime a method I found in the book “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” by Dale Carnegie.
This more rational handling with problems helps me to get more distance from them and being able to look at the problems in a more objective and clearer way. That way offers me a quick solution and an end of my circling thoughts.

Four questions to analyze your problems and worries

In problem analysis, it is helpful to first collect all the facts about the problem, then analyze all these facts in order to make this the basis for your decision.
The following four questions provides direction:

1. What is the problem?

Often, our problems are initially rather vague, unpleasant feelings that we can not name or understand correctly. Therefore, it is helpful at the beginning, to describe the problem in all its details either to a trusted person or to write it down for ourselves.

2. What is the cause?

In the second step, gather all the causes of the problem in all its small components and analyze them. Sometimes we notice at this point, that we do not know everything we need to know about the causes of our problem. So, at this point it needs further research. And with “research” I do not mean another speculating, but the collection of rational informations about the cause of our problem.

3. What are possible solutions?

On the basis of our previously collected and analyzed facts about our problem, in the third step we collect all possible solutions to our problem, that come to our mind.
It could also be helpful to consider the following questions:

What could happen alternative and how likely would it be?

What’s the worst that could happen?
(This seems pessimistic, but: How should we solve a problem if we do not consider all the possible solutions? If we named the worst thing that could happen, it offers at least the possibility to deal with it.)

4. Which solution is best and when I put it into practice?

We compiled the facts and causes to our problem, we analyzed and researched missing informations and recorded all possible solutions (even those who are unpleasant, but necessary). Now it´s time for us to opt for one solution.
I think, we all agree that we can not look into the future. This means, that the solution we choose, is at this time, in this particular situation, the most possible and practicable solution for our decision.
If we have made this decision, we make an appointment with ourselves, when we put this solution into practice.

And then we stop further thinking and pondering about everything. Otherwise, all those steps and all the energy we used were all for nothing.

About the benefits of write down your thoughts, worries and problems, has already Chris at minimalistchris.com written and I agree with him. Write down everything helps you to get all your thoughts out of your head so it is quiet and we can use our nights again for which they were actually made: to sleep and rest for the next day.

Question: What methods do you use to stop pondering?

4 Fragen, mit denen du deine Probleme minimieren kannst

“Ein Problem zu lösen ist die beste Art es loszuwerden.” (Brendan Francis)

Alltägliche Sorgen kennen zumindest gelegentlich nahezu alle Menschen. Unangenehme oder schwierige Situationen, über die so manche Nacht wach im Bett gegrübelt wurde, ohne am nächsten Morgen eine Lösung zu haben.
Um unser Gedankenkarussell um die Probleme und Sorgen im Kopf zum Stehen zu bringen, wende ich seit einiger Zeit eine Methode an, die ich in dem Buch “Sorge dich nicht – lebe!” von Dale Carnegie gefunden habe.
Dieser eher rationale Umgang mit Problemen hilft mir, Abstand zu ihnen zu bekommen und die Probleme in einem objektiveren, klareren Zustand betrachten zu können und so schneller zu einer Lösung und dem Ende des Gedankenkreisens im Kopf zu kommen.

Vier Fragen, um deine Probleme und Sorgen zu analysieren

Bei der Problemanalyse ist es hilfreich, zuerst alle Fakten zum Problem zu sammeln, diese anschließend zu analysieren, um darauf basierend eine Entscheidung treffen zu können. Folgende vier Fragen bieten dafür eine gute Orientierung:

1. Was ist das Problem?

Oftmals sind unsere Probleme zunächst eher diffuse, unangenehme Gefühle, die wir nicht richtig benennen oder begreifen können. Daher ist es am Anfang hilfreich, entweder im Gespräch mit einer Vertrauensperson, oder schriftlich für uns selber, das Problem genau zu beschreiben.

2. Was ist die Ursache?

Im zweiten Schritt werden die Ursachen des Problems in all ihren kleinen Bestandteilen zusammen getragen und analysiert. Oftmals merken wir an dieser Stelle auch, dass wir nicht alles über die Ursachen unseres Problem wissen und es weiterer Recherchen dazu benötigt. Und mit “Recherchen” meine ich nicht weiteres Grübeln, sondern das Sammeln von tatsächlichen Fakten und rationalen Informationen zur Ursache unseres Problems.

3. Welche Lösungen sind möglich?

Auf Grundlage der zuvor zusammengetragenen und analysierten Fakten zu unserem Problem sammeln wir im dritten Schritt zunächst alle möglichen Lösungen, die es uns einfallen. Hier kann es hilfreich sein, auch über diese Fragen nachzudenken:

Was könnte alternativ passieren und wie wahrscheinlich wäre das?

Was ist das Schlimmste, was passieren kann?
(Dies erscheint zunächst pessimistisch. Aber: Wie sollen wir ein Problem lösen, wenn wir nicht alle möglichen Lösungen zunächst in Betracht ziehen? Außerdem: Wenn wir erst einmal das Schlimmste, was passieren kann, benannt haben, bietet das wenigstens die Möglichkeit, damit umzugehen.)

4. Welche Lösung ist die beste und wann setze ich sie in die Tat um?

Wir haben die Fakten und Ursachen zu unserem Problem zusammengetragen, analysiert, fehlende Informationen recherchiert und sämtliche Lösungsmöglichkeiten aufgeschrieben (auch die, die uns evtl. unangenehm, aber unumgänglich sind).
Nun ist es an der Zeit, uns für eine Lösung zu entscheiden.
Ich glaube, wir sind uns alle darüber einig, dass wir nicht in die Zukunft schauen können. Das bedeutet, die Lösung, für die wir uns entscheiden, stellt zu diesem Zeitpunkt, in dieser speziellen Situation, die für uns bestmögliche und machbare Entscheidung dar.
Wenn wir diese Entscheidung nun getroffen haben, vereinbaren wir mit uns selber den Termin, wann wir diese Lösung in die Tat umsetzen.

Und dann hören wir auf, weiter über alles nachzudenken und weiter zu grübeln. Ansonsten hätten wir uns nämlich den Weg und die Energie bis zu diesem Punkt sparen können.

Über die Vorteile, seine Gedanken, Sorgen und Probleme aufzuschreiben, hat bereits Chris auf minimalistchris.com geschrieben und ich kann ihm nur zustimmen: Ich kann generell auch immer nur empfehlen, die Antworten zur Problemlösung schriftlich festzuhalten. So sind die Gedanken aus dem Kopf, er kann Ruhe geben und wir unsere Nächte wieder dafür nutzen, wozu sie eigentlich gemacht wurden: Zum Schlafen und Erholung schöpfen für den nächsten Tag.

Frage: Welche Methoden nutzt ihr, um mit Grübeleien aufzuhören?

7 steps to creating a minimalist health and fitness culture

Fitness young woman doing push ups on beach

I can’t imagine how many bundles of P90X or T25 have been sold to men and women while they were sitting on the couch eating ice cream.

I CAN imagine those same bundles of P90X and T25 now collecting dust next to the treadmill that has now become a “clothes hanger”. If this is you, you’re not alone! I own both DVD sets and I do not use either one. Yep, I fell for it too. I believed the lie that I need to spend a bunch of money on fitness gear and DVD’s to get in shape. Here’s one thing that I have learned over time though: If you want to get fit and healthy, you have to create a culture of health and fitness in your life that is simple, practical, and attainable.  A health and fitness culture is a lifestyle, not something you jump into taking on an exercise routines we are not in shape for. It happens gradually, over time in small, bite size increments.

As you implement small changes, it becomes a way of life.

We are a culture of instant results. We hate waiting. We want instant gratification. If you were honest with yourself, you would admit that the shape you are in today did not happen instantaneously. It happened gradually, over time with each individual daily choice.

The good news is, today is a new day! You can begin again right now.

We need a minimalist approach to health and fitness culture that focuses only on what is essential to create the culture you are looking for.

So here are 7 steps to creating a health and fitness culture:

1. Have a bigger reason to create a fitness culture than just getting fit.
Your goals to create a health and fitness culture need to be about something bigger than yourself. Why do you want to creature that culture? Is it because your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit? Is it because you want to live a long healthy life with your family and be able to play with your grand kids someday? Have a vision that gives you a bigger reason each and every day to stick to the plan.

2. Set up a meal schedule
Have a list of three possible healthy selections or categories that you can eat at breakfast, lunch and dinner. For example, I know that I can choose to eat eggs, oatmeal or an extremely low sugar content cereal for breakfast. Having three categories gives me variety and a healthy choice.

3. Keep healthy snacks (that you actually enjoy the taste of) with you at ALL times.
One of the quickest ways to destroy your fitness culture is to not have healthy snacks with in-between meals.

4. Cook at home as much as possible
Cooking at home not only helps you to control what you eat, it also creates great connecting points with those in your home.

5. If you need to eat out, have a plan before you get to the restaurant.
Knowing what you can eat at your favorite restaurant puts you in the drivers seat when it comes times to eat.

6. Be accountable
Recruit those that are close to you and love you to hold you accountable to your new fitness culture. Fill them in on everything you are doing and want to accomplish.

7. Begin taking small steps to exercise
Take a walk or a short jog around the block and then do it again the next day, and the next, and the next until you are walking a few miles or running a few miles.

Creating a minimalist health and fitness culture is about small consistent choices each day that compounds to create a lifestyle that lasts.

Questions:  What steps have you taken to create a health and fitness culture in  your life? 

How I brought greater clarity & focus to my life by defining three things

through camera lens

My life used to be pretty chaotic.

I would over commit and underestimate what I could actually accomplish leaving me feeling unclear as to what was most important. I was a habitual overcommitter (That’s a new word I just made up! Well, after a Google search it is in the urban dictionary.) I would say yes to serving on boards, yes to every counseling session, yes to taking on that extra project, yes to the dinner appointments, yes, yes , yes. I wanted to help people so I always said yes. It was easy to justify my yes answer under the guise of “helping” people. As I said yes to helping others, I was causing areas of breakdown in my own life.

Today, I still love helping people but am very focused and clear about what I commit to. Over the last four years I have learned the difference between being busy and living focused.

Focused living is saying no to everything that is not essential to your core purpose.

Here is a great definition of core purpose from Jim Collins:

Core Purpose: A persons fundamental reason for existence – a perpetual guiding star on the horizon, not to be confused with specific goals or strategies.”

My core purpose is: “To help people declutter their head, home and heart so they can find true meaning and fulfillment in life.”

So how can you know what fits in your core purpose and what does not?

I use the following core guiding principles to direct how I accomplish my core purpose:

  1. I will live out my core purpose by prioritizing my schedule around my family before everything else.
  2. I will live out my core purpose by teaching, equipping and participating in community with our element Church family.
  3. I will live out my core purpose through the Everyday minimalism blog, and coaching.

Everything I say yes to has to fit in to my core guiding principles and my commitment schedule.

My commitment schedule looks life this:

  1. I commit to one coaching / mentoring session on Sunday. All coaching / mentoring sessions  have to be done by 2pm.
  2. I commit to early morning breakfast appointments and short lunch appointments two times a week.
  3. I commit to one extra evening appointment twice a month.
  4. I commit to attending a small group one evening a week at my church

If you are unclear as to where to commit your time and energy, take time to define the following three things for your life:

  1. Your Core Purpose
  2. Your Core Guiding Principles
  3. Your Commitment Schedule.

When you have these three things defined, will gain the clarity and focused needed to move your priorities and schedule from breakdown to breakthrough!

Question: What areas of your life are you looking for greater clarity? Leave a comment below.

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7 practical tips to minimalism

practicalminimalism

7 practical tips to minimalism ( Guest post from Chris at minimalistchris.com )

You hear people talk about it and you read all the blogs. The idea of having less clutter in your life sounds great, but how can you embrace this thing called minimalism?

Getting started with intentional living can be an overwhelming task. It’s always easier to daydream about how nice it would be to get rid of old junk than actually going through the process yourself.

Minimalism is like a gateway drug that will open doors to things like better time management, better finances and self-development.

Starting is half the battle, and for a lot of people the sheer thought of decluttering can be beginning of an unhealthy relationship with procrastination.

But the benefits of a minimalist lifestyle are huge, it’s like a gateway drug that will open doors to things like better time management, better finances and self-development.

So where to start?

7 practical tips to getting started

It’s important to remember to take baby steps, even the tallest buildings in the world started with a single brick being laid down. I hope some of these practical tips will be able to help you out on your own journey to a better and more intentional way of life.

  • Declutter your mind first
    As with all the big things in life, you should start with yourself. Grab a pen and write down what your motivation behind getting started with intentional living is. It’s important for you to understand why you want to do this, as it will be a great reminder for when you feel like giving up.
  • Learn to say no
    Saying no can be hard. Often we feel the need to make up excuses as to why we can’t say yes, but this just gives people an excuse to ask again or come up with a compromise. Saying no is crucial to freeing up time for yourself and decluttering your schedule. There are some things in life you can never have back, like your time.
  • Everything should serve a purpose
    By definition junk is something useless or of little value. If you make sure that everything in your life serves a purpose, you’ll automatically remove all the clutter. We’re not only talking about getting rid of the collection of DVD’s you never watch, but also the unnecessary tasks in your calendar and the people that don’t add anything of value to your life.
  • Get rid of one thing a day
    If you have a lot of things to declutter, this is a great way to start. By the end of a month you’ll be free of 30 things, that’s more than some people are able to get rid of in half a year!
  • Borrow, don’t buy
    When you buy something, you’re stuck with it until you make an effort to get rid of it. I’ve seen some minimalist challenges that involve not buying anything for a whole year.

There are so many benefits to this, since it will bring less permanent clutter into your life and at the same time save you money!

  • Go digital
    With things like smartphones and tablets being able to replace whole collections worth of movies, music or even magazines, the only reason to hold on to your sunday morning paper is if you love the smell of freshly printed ink in the morning.
  • Take pictures
    Emotional attachment to things is one of the biggest showstoppers when it comes to decluttering. Diplomas or toys from when you were a kid can often be hard to get rid of. The feeling of nostalgia is often triggered just by looking at something, so taking pictures of these things can help if it’s able to bring out the same memories and feelings as the real deal. There’s no need to hold on to an object if a picture can do the same job.

Rome wasn’t built in a day

Keep in mind that minimalism is about becoming more intentional with how you spend your limited time on this earth.

Don’t try to declutter your life in weeks or months. Give it time, enjoy the journey and remind yourself that it’s ok to take breaks.

Get involved in the community to share your thoughts with like-minded people. It’s not about doing something the right way, it’s about doing it the way that’s right for you.

Question: What would you add to the list? Leave a comment below. 

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Beware of the Urge!

nervous woman with glasses biting her fingernails

Nothing can derail a budget faster than the urge.

The urge is that feeling that comes over us to BUY NOW and BUY FAST. Temptation to give in to the urge is everywhere and it’s easy. From “one touch click” on Amazon, the ITunes $1.29 button, and in- app purchases, the urge is constantly bombarding us with the pressure to give in and spend money.

So how do we combat the urge?

  1. Recognize the feeling of the urge
    1. The urge is a good feeling that feels better after you have moved forward with the purchase, it then quickly dissolves and goes away. Recognize that the urge is fleeting. We do have things we NEED to buy, but most of the time the urge shows up with impulse buys, with items we do not need.
  2. Prepare in advance
    Make a plan in advance to not spend money that is not in your budget. I have an in-app game I enjoy playing on my phone. It’s always trying to get me to spend money on things and the opportunity always comes up when you need something to help you advance. The urge is great in that moment. This is the power of marketing  Have a plan before you enter in to a situation where the urge will be high.
  3. Don’t beat yourself up when you do give in the urge.
    1. I give in to the urge. It happens to everyone, even those with the best strategy to resist. The key is to learn from the experience and recognize the triggers and environments that cause you to give in to the urge the most. For me, it’s in the evening after a long day when I am relaxing on my computer or phone. This is weakest moment for me to give in to the urge. Knowing this, I enter in to my time relaxing with caution and wisdom.

Beware of the urge! Just because the urge is everywhere, doesn’t mean we have to give in.

Question: How have you seen the urge creep in in your life? Leave a comment below.