Are You a Finisher or a Perfectionist? You Don’t Get to be Both.

Eight Steps to help you finish your goals.

Here’s a recipe for a stressful workplace:  pair a Perfectionist and a Finisher up daily, and then just sit back and watch the tension build.  This was my life for three years.

The Finisher is prone to try and simplify tasks to complete the essence of the project, while the Perfectionist is all about adding levels of complexity to make things the very best they can be.  I’m sure that the Perfectionist thinks their way is best, and the Finisher obviously thinks their way is best.  Jon Acuff’s book, Finish, will tell you that you can’t be both.  I was listening to this book on Audible as I was finishing my second children’s book, My Mom is the Worst.

author, finish, my mom is the worst book
Post Workout and 34 wks. pregnant.  Clearly I’m not going for Instagram perfection here.

Turns out I am a Finisher (which I could have already told you).  I am not perfect, but my strength is that I am going to pick out the most critical parts of a project (those that will have the biggest impact), focus on that, and let the other pieces go, if needed.

In the last year I started (brainstormed, wrote, edited, hired illustrators, provided creative briefs, designed layouts) and finished (published and continue to promote) two children’s books.  If I were a perfectionist there is no way I could have done that.  The ideas would likely still be in my notebook, on draft 342.

Or if I were a highly motivated perfectionist, I may have made it though the initial draft, but be too scared to publish the work until I had a few more sets of eyes on it.

Here’s the funny thing.  Let’s say that the book (or any project) technically makes it to perfect status in the creator’s mind.  Guess what?  Once it’s out there for the world to see, everyone is not going to agree that it is the cutest, most perfect, little baby they ever saw. **Except mine.  I make pretty cute babies (and books).**

So if perfect is what you are going for, that feeling is going to be very short lived.  Once other people start getting their hands on it, the (positive and negative) feedback will begin.

Don’t let perfectionism hold you back.  Produce, adapt, and continue to create.

Speaking of feedback, since I already lean toward a Finisher mindset, every strategy in Jon’s book was not something mind-blowing and new.  However, there were many points that I did connect with.

Finish, My mom is the worst, beautiful monster books v2

Here are my Top Eight Ways to Help You Get to Finished: 

  1.  Studies prove: the less you aim for perfection, the more productive you are.
  2. Perfection or finished, those are your two choices.  Not perfection or failure.
  3. Say no to shame. Decide what you will bomb in advance.  Then become confident in your decision.
  4. Winners quit stupid stuff all the time.  Don’t continue something stupid out of a need for being perfect.
  5. What are your secret rules that hold you back?  Define them so that you can work on them.
    • For transparency and growth purposes, here are two of mine:  1. A fear of spending money on my business goals.  I have seen friends and family members spend a lot of money on their businesses and still fail.  How do I know if I am throwing money at something, or spending money wisely, to advance my business goals?  Especially when it comes at a cost to my family.  2.  How do I know which opportunities to turn down so that I spend my time most efficiently; holding out for the opportunities that will have the biggest impact?
  6.  Borrow someone else’s diploma.  Meaning borrow knowledge from others.  You don’t have to know it all.
  7. You need to track data points to understand your progress.  Benchmarks are important to understand if you are moving in the right direction to eventually reach your goals.
  8. We don’t ever age out of needing someone to believe in us.

Number eight is a favorite, and why I published my first book.  I had written the book but didn’t intend to do anything significant with it (full story here).  With just a bit of encouragement from my husband, I decided to take the next step in learning how to publish it.  The actual action plan, and work involved, were on me.  But because someone else believed in me, I believed in myself enough to start and finish.

I believe in you and your goals one hundred percent.  Don’t let perfectionism kill you.  Focus on the details that will get you to your goal, and let the rest go.  You are going to crush it in 2018…or 2020…or 2030…whenever you are reading this.  Wise advice never expires.

 

I’m Begging, Stop Stressing Over Your Toddler’s Christmas

Christmas with young kids really does provide an opportunity for a low-key, joy-filled time of year.  But as parents we make it complicated.

My daughter will be (almost) two this Christmas.  This is a magical time.

*The Elf on the Shelf does not exist yet, HOORAY!*

I’m still debating if I can bypass that all together.

*She does not care about the cost, or size, of presents.  Though, there are bonus points if the present comes with bubble wrap to pop.*

*And she is content to read the Christmas Story of Baby Jesus night after night.*

Christmas with young kids really does provide an opportunity for a low-key, joy-filled time of year.  But as parents we make it complicated.  We have this guilt if the holidays are too simple.  Like if it’s easy, we are some how letting our kids down.  We HAVE to be all stressed out like all the other parents, or we must be doing it wrong.

WRONG.  Stop it, just stop it.  It’s not true.

Let me expose my “low-bar” holiday excitement, in hopes that it will let other parents see that it’s ok to keep it simple.

—-

This here is the FREE Santa.

FreeSanta

Last year we took her to the mall for photos with Santa.  I was shocked to find out that they wouldn’t let you snap a few pics with your own camera.  The cheapest option was a $30 digital file of the photos they took.  Honestly, if it weren’t for my husband, we would have left with zero photos.  Thirty dollars?!  That’s a whole lot of Christmas cookies for Santa!

So this year I did a little research.  There was a free Santa at the local garden store.  You could take all your own pictures.  There was also a photographer there selling pictures, but it was optional.

Yes, they were still thirty dollars.  Apparently that is the going rate for Santa pics in Orange County.  But we were happy with the pictures we took on our own camera, and our daughter was delighted when Santa gave her a Christmas bell.  She has been playing with that free “magic reindeer bell” for days!

——

You know what I’m most excited to give my child this year?  Two white, ceramic bunnies.  I found them in the Target Dollar Spot.

targetdollarspotbunnies

They are essentially glorified yard ornaments, and I can’t wait to see my daughter’s face when she opens them and starts petting them, and talking to them, like they are her new BFF’s.  You see, every time we walk the neighborhood, she stops to talk to all of our neighbor’s yard trinkets…bunnies, snails, ducks, cats, gnomes.  *Spoiler*  That is how you know you don’t live in the young, hip ‘hood, when ALL your neighbors have yard ornaments.  But my daughter loves them!

InkedPop Pop—-

The other thing she is sure to go wild for is the popcorn in her stocking.  Pop Pop is her jam!

Sure, there are other things under the tree this year.  Honestly mostly from family.  We are grateful to have generous people in her life.  But on our end, we really did limit things to just a few gifts.  Three fun things, two needs things, and a book.

If you haven’t added a few books under the tree yet, check these out.

Young kids truly love simple pleasures.  I assume this period only lasts for so long, so I’m not going to feel any guilt about embracing it while I can.  Don’t burden yourself with other parents false expectations that the holidays must be stressful.  It’s ok to set that bar low.  Your child won’t notice what they didn’t get.  What they will enjoy is that you are more happy when you are spending time with them.

Inkedbunnies
Those are the bunnies.  Take a moment to admire my fancy wrap job.   Ok, now I just feel like you are laughing at me.

If you still need a good laugh to help alleviate the stress, try writing “From: Mom and Dad” on a gift without feeling old.  That one about blew my mind when I was wrapping presents.

OMG, we are THE Mom and Dad.  Um, When did that happen?  Did anyone approve this?

Germs! And Other Fun Stuff I’ll be Giving Away This Week

Part of me wanted to tell him that I’ve had this hack for weeks now and it wasn’t going anywhere, so stop giving yourself whiplash!  Another part of me was a bit more sympathetic. 

The guy in Starbucks turned and looked at me after EVERY SINGLE COUGH.  Unfortunately this was every couple minutes.  I could feel the heat of his stares.

Part of me wanted to tell him that I’ve had this hack for weeks now and it wasn’t going anywhere, so stop giving yourself whiplash!  Another part of me was a bit more sympathetic.  No one wants to be sick for the holidays.  I get it.  Yet we all seem to spread our germs the most this time of year between goodbye hugs, extra social events we don’t want to miss even though we aren’t feeling

holiday cookie tray
Busy Spreading Holiday Germs! Opps, no. Holiday Cheer!

our best, those shared plates of holiday treats that everyone in the office has touched with their germ hands. 

Sorry for ruining that last one for you.

So I wanted to share something with you virtually so you don’t have to be around me and my germy, germ, germs.   That way you can blame someone else for getting you sick!

free coffee tshirtHead on over to my Facebook page @StoriesbyJKCoy and you can enter the Five Days of Holiday Giveaways.  It’s easy – 1.  Like the Facebook page 2. Tag a Friend in the giveaway post for that day.  Today were starting with a fun, grey coffee t-shirt.

There will also be signed copies of my children’s books, Starbucks Gift Cards, a twenty minute phone consult about how to publish your dream idea, and even some surprises!

Spread love, not germs, this holiday season.
XOXO  – One Tired, Sicky Mama

 

 

 

If I Mention Another Craft, Please Intervene

we tell ourselves it’s cool because it’s handmade.  But the truth is, it’s only cool if it comes out looking like the Pottery Barn version of “handmade.”

Holiday crafting brings out the Grinch in me.  It’s like normal crafting but on crack. You need your craftiness to be on perfect point because it’s what you are giving someone as a gift, instead of paying full price for something else.  And we tell ourselves it’s cool because it’s handmade.  But the truth is, it’s only cool if it comes out looking like the Pottery Barn version of “handmade.”  Which is so not actually handmade.

In general I like to think that I have gotten better about knowing my limits and saying no to most crafts.  In my experience they tend to cost more time, energy, and frustration, then they make up for in cost savings.

In fact, just last week I was on Pinterest and saw instructions for a Felt Christmas Tree for toddlers to decorate.  It looked totally easy.  All I needed was a bunch of colored felt, scissors, and a totally free Saturday to design all the little ornaments.  I honestly considered it for like two hours.

Then I saw it on Amazon for twenty bucks with free shipping and I was quickly over crafting it.  (Find the tree here, along with my children’s book, to keep your toddler busy for at least forty five minutes;).

felt christmas tree for toddlersMy Mom is the Worst Book Cover

So this year I told myself I was saying No to Christmas crafts, and the stress that comes along with them.

But then I went down a rabbit hole.  I read a friend’s post called Thirty DIY Christmas Gifts, and fell in love with some adorable antique framed chalkboards.  But alas, I had promised myself I wasn’t going to stress over Christmas crafts!

Fast forward two days and I’m standing in the aisle of a discount store, eyes locked on the perfect antique mirrors for only five bucks!  All I needed was a little chalkboard paint (which I already had).  It was meant to be.  This was going to be SO EASY!  Right there I abandoned all my rational thoughts and gleefully loaded up my cart with four mirrors.

This proceeded to kick off an If You Give a Mouse a Cookie scenario.

Turns out I didn’t like the finish on the chalkboard paint I had.  Too glossy.  Back to the store.

Then I didn’t like the texture that my paint brush was creating in the paint.  What I obviously needed were those foam paint brushes.  Back to the store.

I went to peel the painters tape off the first mirror and huge chunks of chalkboard paint came off with it.  WTF.  Now I need to return the extra mirrors, the cute red pompom chalk board erasers, and the decorative chalk bags I found, because I was furious and decided to abandon this horrible craft idea.  Back to the store.

antique chalkboard sign fail

In the end I turned out ONE finished antique chalkboard.  It’s sitting at my house, where it will remain, because I am too embarrassed to give it away to anyone because of all its crafting imperfections.

antique chalkboard sign

If time is money, this damn chalkboard cost me way more than any Pottery Barn version!

I will admit that I did have one craft success.  It involved buying something that was wooden christmas sign craftalready adorable and finished, and then personalizing it with a gold paint pen.  Turns out, that I can handle.

Now excuse me while I head back to the store to find the actual gifts I will be giving this year.

 

 

If You Want to Comment on A Baby Bump, Here are the Rules

Thanks for commenting on my body’s beach ball similarity, said no pregnant woman ever. I just left shaking my head.

FullSizeRender (1)
Photo Cred:  @hegehost1

 

 

Sure, I’m emotional.  I’m 33 weeks pregnant with baby two.  I’m at the point where my tears have few limits while scrolling through social media.  Puppies – blub.  Babies – Blub. Blub.  Inspirational stories – Blub, blub, blub.

So it’s no surprise I was extra annoyed by the Ralphs cashier yesterday.  But some people really are so clueless when it comes to how to talk to a pregnant woman.  That, or they like to compare everything about their birth experience to the experience you must be having, because you know, every pregnancy is the same.

As the cashier was ringing up my bounty, she asked, “So when are you due?”

I smiled and replied, “January.”

“Oh wow, you look like you are ready to go now.  That’s what I looked like when I gave birth!”

Seriously –  Are some people just unaware of the  vomit they are about to spew when they open their mouth?!  I’ve gained a total of 22 lbs., which mind you is already more than I gained in total with my first pregnancy (so I’m a bit self concise), but honestly, I didn’t think it was totally out of control…until now.

The grocery store train wreck didn’t end there.  She declared, “Early January, I hope!”

“Actually January 23rd,” I mumbled.

She didn’t even pause, as if she had noticed how awkward the conversation had become.   Biggest eye roll ever.

Thanks for commenting on my body’s beach ball similarity, said no pregnant woman ever.  I just left shaking my head.

I’m not suggesting you walk on pins and needles around every obviously pregnant woman.  Just please stop to think of something positive and uplifting to say before you open your mouth.

Pregnant mamas have a lot on their mind.  They probably haven’t had comfortable sleep in awhile, they may feel like they are running out of acceptable clothes that fit, and they’re probably starting to think about this gigantic watermelon that soon has to exit their perfect peach.

After two pregnancies, the grocery store conversation was obviously not the only clueless run in I had.  Here are a few things I’ve heard that I wouldn’t recommend using as your one liner:

“Is it really safe to be running while you are pregnant?”

“You wanted that decaf right?”

A coworker who said, “Your pregnancy has been way to easy, something bad has got to happen.”

A cousin who said, “Why would you want a natural birth?  You wouldn’t get your tooth removed without pain meds.  Why would you do it with a baby?”

“You look like you’re ready to Pop!”

Obviously none of these made me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Thankfully, I’ve had some positive interactions that have taught me what can really make a pregnant woman’s day.  Here are a few:

“Wow, that’s awesome that you are still working out!”

“From behind you don’t even look pregnant.”

A coworker that wished me a quick and easy delivery.

An aunt who said, “I honestly believe you are strong enough to achieve a natural birth.”

A guy who simply clapped for me when I ran by him on the trail.

Strangers that held the door open, or offered to carry things for me.

Pregnancy and childbirth can be a real mind f*ck for a woman.  Please don’t traumatize her with negativity.  Heed the old advice:  If you can’t say something nice, please don’t say anything at all.  We really don’t want to hear it.

I Don’t Do It All: Exclusive Interview

Single Moms Planet Exclusive Interview with Author J.K. Coy

I already know the number of daily faults and failures I make as a parent, and I don’t even have to do it all myself.  I have a very supportive and involved, other half, which I am grateful for.

But I was thrilled when Single Moms Planet Author and Book BiggestFamilyShower2017asked me to sit down with them for an exclusive interview,  because these ladies are my heros.  Their motto is Helping Single Moms, Help Themselves.  Now these are some strong and powerful women.

We discussed how to do it all as a parent (or NOT), how to write your first book, and what #girlpower lessons I want my own little chica to learn.

You can read the full interview HERE.

 

 

10 Best Books for Toddlers (That They Don’t Already Have)

We’ve tested them all, night after night, just to make sure they really are fun reads for both the parent and their little tykes to enjoy together. No gift receipt needed!

Toddler Book ShelfReading books to a toddler can create a magical time of routine and connection, but most children have the classics.  They really only need one copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, though it’s a great read.

For a new title that they don’t already have on their bookshelf, try adding one of the following books to their collection.  We’ve tested them all, night after night, just to make sure they really are fun reads for both the parent and their little tykes to enjoy together.  No gift receipt needed!

All are available online, so you can finish that to-do task right now.

Here are The Top Ten Toddler Books (They Don’t Already Have), plus a bonus #11, just because we can!

  1. The Watermelon Seed: A short and funny read about an Alligator that is obsessed with watermelon. His obsession takes him to a point of trouble…but it’s hard to stay away from the things we love most!
  2. My Mom is the Worst: A story (from a toddler’s perspective) about how parents often try to ruin their kids fun. Parents make them wear clothes, clean up messes, learn and try new things! They really are the worst sometimes. FrontCoverJKCEditedFontThere’s also a hidden story, within the story, for parents to enjoy along the way.
  3. Don’t Push the Button: Larry is a Monster with just one rule for your toddler,]: don’t push the button. Alas, someone does, and silly antics ensue. Children love playing along with the instructions in the book: press the button, shake the book, tickle the belly. Sometimes it’s funny when things don’t go as expected.
  4. I Love You, Stinky Face: A mother’s job is to make their child feel loved, even when others might shy away. The mama is this story is top notch. She finds ways to love on her little one even if they were a one-eyed monster or a stinky skunk. A mother’s love really has no limits.
  5. Moo, Baa, La La La: A quick bedtime read that children can easily start to memorize and read along.   All of the animals enjoy making their classic sounds, except the three silly pigs!  JK Coy
  6. Love You to Pieces, Beautiful Monster:   Who is more emotional, the mama or the monster? This baby monster is amazing at driving her mama bonkers. But at the end of the day, snuggles heal all. A fun and honest read for an exhausted parent that can’t help but love their little monster to pieces.
  7. Hello – Highlights Magazine : These mini books are full of short songs, rhymes, and stories for little hands. Enjoy a year subscription of coated, mini magazines from Highlights (bendable and easy to wipe down). They’ve been teaching and entertaining children for years, and they have it down! Bonus, the Hello magazines are light-weight and compact which makes them easy to throw in the car or a diaper bag.
  8. Dragons Love Tacos: Did you know that Dragons can’t stand spicy salsa?! This may be the longest book on the list, but it’s also one of the most hilarious for kids and adults to enjoy together. Even from a young age, children can enjoy the humor and creative illustrations. It’s one that will be in their collection long after their toddler years.
  9. Everything is Mama: Most toddlers hit the “Mama” stage at some point. While it can drive a parent absolutely mad that their child can now only accept a banana from their Mama and no one else, it helps (a little) to find humor in it. This is Jimmy Fallon’s second book, and is the follow-up to: Your Baby’s First Word Will be DADA. Now, if only parents had that kind of power!kids read
  10. Potty: Poo-Poo, tinkle, and toot – whatever you call bathroom business in your house, toddlers can’t help but giggle. A simple read about the art of going potty, perfect for those that will begin potty training soon. It’s never too early to get them excited about UNDIES!
  11. BONUS BOOK: Bathtime for Little Rabbit: This cuddly bunny needs a bath, but he’s not very excited to play along. The author makes this an interactive bathtime for readers by having them scrub, blow-dry, and lotion bunny. This tale will prep the little ones to play along with their own bathtime routine.