Thrive Global: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed? Do you have a time saving trick for the morning?

Virginia Williams: Make my coffee.  I have a smoothie for breakfast most mornings, and I’ve learned I can save a lot of time if I pre-measure everything I need and put the ingredients in individual Ziplock bags in the freezer.  I usually make each bag to hold two servings worth, so I can drink one and save the other serving for the next day.  Then I can grab-and-go on day two and only have to wash the blender once.  

TG: What gives you energy?

VW: I recently cut out wheat altogether as an experiment, and my energy level has drastically improved.  I was tested by an allergist, and I’m not allergic to wheat, but it turns out I’m really sensitive to it.  I’m thinking I may be a gluten- free gal now.  I LOVE bread, but I’m just so sick and tired of feeling so sick and tired.  

TG: What’s your secret life hack?

VW: Not sure if it’s a secret, but practicing gratitude. I try to wake up each morning and say a thank you prayer for the things I’m grateful for (it usually starts with kissing on my 3 and 4 year old boys who hop in bed with us every morning), and I end my day thanking God for the blessings of the day.  I practice it with my children too.  We do our bedtime prayers and end them with, “and what’s one extra special thing you want to thank God for today?” 

TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?

VW: Yes, because it also functions as my alarm clock and I listen to a meditation app before bed. 

TG: How do you deal with email?

VW: Honestly, that’s an area where I could really improve.  I rely on the “flag” tab a lot in terms of getting back to things later, and it can give me a false sense of productivity when in actuality it often is simply a function of procrastination. 

TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why?

VW: Right now.  I didn’t practice my “go to bed by 10:30” rule last night.

TG: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it? 

VW: This morning.  I yelled at my kids in the car when they were fighting.  I really try to model what I tell them I expect of them, so I took a deep breath and apologized for yelling.  I told them how I felt – that I was angry and tired and I lost my temper, and then I asked if they’d forgive me.  I think a lot of parents forget to ask their children for forgiveness when they mess up, but how else are kids going to learn how to be responsible for their actions if we don’t take responsibility for ours?

TG: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.
VW: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God that passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

TG: How do you prioritize when you have an overwhelming amount to do

VW: I make a list! The old-fashioned kind with a pen and paper that I have to write with my own hands, and I put a star by the most important items.  Once the stars are completed, then I can tackle the other stuff.

TG: What advice would you give your younger self about reducing stress?
VW: You don’t have to do everything yourself.  Figure out what you can delegate.  I’m still trying to learn this one.  

TG: Do you have any role models for living a thriving life?

VW: I’m in a women’s philanthropic goal group called The New Hollywood.  It was based on the foundation of women supporting women in the entertainment industry and has grown from there.  We help each other with our goals and offer accountability.  All of these women are awesome, largely because they’re constantly checking themselves, evolving, and recognizing that career success does not equal a “thriving life” but balance does.  So, we make sure to set goals in all areas of life and not let one category get too weighty.

TG: What’s your personal warning sign that you’re depleted?

VW: When I’m really short- tempered.

TG: With so many distractions and interruptions coming at us throughout the day, what are your tips to stay focused?

VW: When I try to be too much to too many people all at the same time, I disappoint everyone, including myself.  So, if I need to work, I figure out childcare, leave the house (even if it’s working in my car – I’m serious) and focus on work.  And when it’s mommy time, I try to leave my phone in another room and focus on time with my kids.  

TG: When you notice you’re getting too stressed, what do you do to course correct?

VW: Set an appointment with my therapist. Talk. It. Out. 

TG: What’s a surprising way you practice mindfulness?

VW: I’m laughing as I write this, but I love watching Daniel Tiger episodes with my little boys.  He’s really very wise.

TG: How do you reframe negative thinking?

VW: I think “why did this happen for me” instead of “why did this happen to me.”

TG: What brings you optimism?
My faith.

TG: Tell us about a small change you have made in your life to improve your sleep. What did you do, how long did it take until it became effective, and how you sustain this habit?

VW: If I commit to getting in my bed by 10:30, I will usually get 7-8 hours of sleep.  That’s usually only a hard thing to do if my husband and I are binge-watching some show we love, so I have to tell myself before we even start that I’m only going to watch one or two episodes depending on what time we start and commit to it.

TG: Tell us about a small change you have made in your life to improve the way you connect with others. What did you do, how long did it take until it became effective, and how you sustain this habit?

VW: The closeness of your friendships will only be as deep as the level of vulnerability you are willing to share.  I didn’t really get this until I was well into my 20’s. Appearing “perfectly put together” doesn’t serve anyone.  When I started letting my guard down and trusting again after being burned in college, I started to gain real, solid friendships.  It became effective immediately, and I sustain the habit by surrounding myself in my inner circle with people who also model this behavior.  We learn from each other.  

TG: Tell us about a small change you have made in your life to improve your focus. What did you do, how long did it take until it became effective, and how you sustain this habit?

VW: If I’m working on anything that doesn’t require my phone, I put it in another room on silent.  My phone is definitely my biggest focus zapper.  

TG: What was the biggest turning point in your life?

VW: I’m not sure because I think I may be going through it right now.  Just recently, it’s like I figured out that I’m a grown-up who doesn’t need anyone else’s approval- only God’s.  

TG:  What’s your evening routine that helps you unwind and go to sleep? 

VW: There’s a meditation app I just love called Abide.  When I play one of the “sleep” entries and choose “rolling waves” as the background sound, I’m usually out within 5 minutes.