Inspired by this article by Benjamin Hardy, I picked up the beautiful journal my friend gave me as a birthday gift years ago, and packed it for an overnight away with my family.

I’m always suggesting that people step out of their comfort zones, and I’ve had to practice what I preach a few times in recent weeks.

Never a joiner, it was out of character for me to become a member of our local Women’s Leadership Network a few years ago. This was a different kind of organization; little obligation of time and money, and good benefits in available workshops and referrals; it was an easy baby step into joining something, and the financial investment didn’t feel like a big commitment.

After the successful annual conference of this group, I was impressed with the positive and encouraging energy of the women on the board and the members. So when the incoming President asked if I would consider serving as her Vice President, I didn’t immediately turn her down. I offered to think about it. When I brought it up with my husband, who usually knows just what to say, his response was: “Well, Sarah, you’re always telling people to take the leap and get out of their comfort zone. This seems like a good opportunity for you to do that.”

I did. I know, it’s only two weeks into my tenure, but so far I couldn’t be happier with my decision. And that’s really saying something because, in general, I’m terrified of commitment. That’s why I’ve never joined an organization or served on a board. This year will be full of activity with this board, and I’m committed to helping our organization serve the women in our community.

As I launched myself into 2017, I started to panic about the commitments I’ve already made in just the first few months. My anxiety would wake me from a deep sleep, perspiration soaking the sheets with revelations in dreams of spiders and filthy bathrooms. I realized I needed tools to deal with what I saw as too many commitments and not enough time for myself. After all, I still have two teenagers in the house, a full time job, a nearly full time side-hustle, I perform regularly with two or three bands, and now I’m serving on the board of WLN Helena.

The first thing I did was buy my annual desktop calendar. Yes, the old school giant box calendar that I write on — with a pen. It’s posted on the side of our refrigerator for all school programs, doctors appointments, and any other scheduled event that impacts our family. When I sat down at the table with my brand new 2017 calendar, I carefully wrote every date committed so far. It suddenly became much easier to handle.

Then I read the article I referenced above by Benjamin Hardy. When I was in 7th grade, my English teacher made her students keep a journal for a semester. I don’t remember enjoying it, but I can tell you that when I found it a few years ago, I was thrilled that I had completed that assignment. Hilarious. Dramatic, Boy crazy. Since then, the only journaling I’ve done, formally, was keeping a bit of a journal when I was pregnant the first time, and while I was studying abroad in Australia. I wasn’t consistent, to say the least, but when I was struggling with homesickness or a tough decision, it helped to write it down.

Journaling always seemed so rigid to me, like so much work. And goodness knows I have enough work to do without adding one. more. thing. That was until I read Benjamin’s article; I realized that I was already journaling in my own style, and it is anything but rigid. When I am in meetings, at conferences, and even watching TV, I will grab a scrap of paper to write a phrase or a few sentences, a “to do” list, or a reminder to tell someone something. That scrap of paper is usually put into a notebook, purse, or pocket, and never referred to again.

Instead of trying to deal with my scraps of paper for inspiration when writing, I’ve decided to again step out of my comfort zone and keep a journal with me everywhere I go. I’ve filled four pages in three days, and find myself thinking about what I’ll put into it next. I’m actually excited to try this out, to see if this tool will help make me more efficient and productive.

If you’ve ever considered journaling, don’t hesitate. Pick up a notebook and start doodling, writing phrases, and even penciling in your ‘to do’ list. Journaling doesn’t have to be rigid, there are no rules, and you never know when something you wrote down will inspire an important thought or discussion in the future. I’ll let you know how this goes. After all, I’m not really committed.

There are still spots available at the inaugural No Longer Virtual Conference February 23 & 24 in Atlanta. Here’s Cheryl Snapp Conner’s article in Forbes mentioning NLV as an event not to miss in 2017.

Sarah Elkins is a professional coach and consultant, helping people and businesses improve their communication through the art of storytelling. She’s also the President of Elkins Consulting, the company making a splash with small, face-to-face, affordable interactive conferences called No Longer Virtual.

Originally published at

Originally published at