I am working right along through the Toolbox Steps from “The Change Your Life Challenge” book that I have been reading and blogging about. If you need to catch up just a little bit, you can read last week’s post where I explain Toolbox Steps 5-9 here. If you are not sure exactly what the Challenge is, I explain it here.

Toolbox Step #10: Self-Sabotage and Self-Belief

“Courage does not always roar. Sometimes, it is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’”

— Mary Anne Radmacher

This chapter in Brook Noel’s book starts off like this, “Ask one hundred people to define self-esteem and you are likely to hear one hundred different answers. The dictionary offers this definition: a realistic respect for or favorable impression of oneself; self-respect.

I define self-esteem as a sense of self-trust, self-respect, and self-kindness that allows us to move forward confidently with a realistic, positive outlook in order to live our best lives. This definition summarizes a belief in one’s self and a sense of inherent self-worth. Self-care is present, treating one’s self as kindly and supportively as one would treat loved ones and friends.”

Wow! That is pretty profound, well, to me at least. I have always had issues with my self-esteem (or lack of, actually).

This chapter goes on to talk about the paradox of being able to motivate and support those around us who are important to us but yet lack the ability to move forward in these areas.

A friendship chart (below) is included to show us the differences in different relationship categories. What kind of people would you like to be around and have in your life?


I was then asked in the reading to check in the next chart (below) how I typically treat me. You can see below that it’s not very good.


Brook says, “Many women attempt to make positive changes again and again without reconciling the tendency to be their own worst enemy. Contentment, balance, esteem, stability, and consistency require a kindness and attentiveness to one’s self.”

Creating An S.O.S List (Save Our Selves)

The solution in the book for combating the average to negative self-esteem that I have based on my answers (luckily there is a solution) is to look at all of my responses in columns B and C. I am then supposed to brainstorm in my journal one possible “theme” that I can apply to change. I was surprised by how much the journaling ended up helping.

Toolbox Step #11: Avoiding Burnout and Overcommitment

”If I was in charge of the dictionary, I would change the definition of the word should to Should — A way of saying your heart is somewhere else.” — Brook Noel

Our burnout and overcommitment come from a lack of clear personal boundaries. We say “yes” when we should be saying “no” and over time we end up sacrificing our goals in order to help others with theirs.

In the book, there is a chart of why we say “yes” and when we need to say “no”. This chart had some very obvious reasons for why we say “yes”, but I did end up finding the column for when to say “no” enlightening. I also learned how to say “no” in a better way.

Listed in the book is also “Rules for saying ‘Yes’”. There are four rules that are suggested in order to say yes to someone or to commit to something.

Creating A Personal Quota

This paragraph states, “I use a quote system for deciding how much time I have per week for carpooling, volunteering, etc. If I have extra time I say ‘yes’; if I don’t I say ‘no’. This allows me to retain balance without the guilt of saying ‘no’.

To set my own personal quota, I am supposed to choose an amount of time that I am comfortable setting aside for these kinds of commitments. I am of course supposed to use my planner/calendar to figure this number out.

Then, when I am asked to do something for someone or volunteer for something, I can check to see if I have any quota time available and then go through my four “rules” to get to a “yes” answer.

Toolbox Step #12: Your Personal Power Hour

“A man who dares to waste one hour of life has not discovered the value of life.” — Charles Darwin

The Power Hour is a time that you set aside to process everything on your to-do list. You stop all incoming tasks and information for this set period of time so that you can really tackle and mark off items from your list without it further growing.

You choose to have one power hour a week or one power hour a day. It is whatever works for you. You can also make it a half-hour if need be.


There are three rules or guidelines to a Power Hour:

  • Do not look at your email. If an email needs to be dealt with as part of your power hour, then ignore the incoming messages.
  • Do not answer your phone. In fact, you should probably put it on silent or turn it off altogether.
  • Close yourself in a room if you can. You can even hang up a do-not-disturb sign. My family is already familiar with this since I have one for when I am watching “Downton Abby”.

In this Power Hour, all communications should be OUTGOING. You and I are to focus on doing whatever it takes to complete tasks on our to-do lists and get them crossed off.

Here is a list of examples from the book of tasks:

  • reading/responding to emails
  • returning phone calls
  • making weekend plans
  • phone calls to friends/family
  • making appointments for yourself or family members
  • calling in prescriptions
  • paying a bill
  • finding the file someone requested
  • ordering something online
  • making a grocery list
  • sending a thank-you note
  • setting up auto-pay for a bill

My plan is to fit in Power Hours whenever I can. Sometimes that will be One a day, but if I can only fit in one a week, I will not stress about it. At least I am getting somewhere.

Toolbox Step #13: Have an Ugly Day

”Do something every day that you don’t want to do; this is the golden rule for acquiring the habit of doing your duty without pain.” — Mark Twain

An “Ugly Day” is basically a day set aside to focus on all of the tasks that you dread doing. You know what tasks I am talking about, those things that you skip over on your to-do list because you just dread doing them. They are way beyond “no fun”, may put you in a bad mood, or worse just plain give you a bad day.

Brook Noel’s theory here is that if you have to get these tasks done anyway (and if they are on your to-do list, then you do) and you know that you might end up having a bad day from them, then why not plan a bad day, or an “Ugly Day” and just focus on these tasks so that they can get marked off your list and then you can be done with them.

You might end up with a fairly ugly day, but I am pretty sure that the next day will feel pretty good once you see them all crossed off of your list.

Toolbox Step #14: Giving Up the Cape

”I find it interesting that the very cape I tried to use to fly became so heavy it kept me on the ground.” — Brook Noel

The “Cape” this book is referring to is our “Super Mom” cape. I am pretty sure that you have one because I know that I do. It’s the cape we wear when we think that we can do it all.

toolboxI put it on when I am walking out the door with my children so that I can pick up our neighbor (my daughter’s best friend) from school. We then proceed to the dance studio where I work. I jump in with my opening duties list while our neighbor gets changed for her dance class. My daughter, who is already dressed starts her private lesson.

Then it is the neighbor’s class and I proceed to get more office work done. My daughter’s ballet class is next, but before it starts, I have to leave to take my son to Taekwondo, I get back about ten to fifteen minutes later, My daughter is in her class, but the neighbor girl needs help with homework and I have to feed her dinner.

My daughter’s ballet class ends and I help her get ready for her jazz class. More office work and then off to pick up my son. Back to the studio where we wait for jazz to be done before we can head home so that I can start dinner for my family.

Yes, that is a crazy couple of hours, but for me, it is pretty typical. Around here we call it “Tuesday”. I also know that I am not alone with my crazy schedule and running around. Many of you out there have “Tuesdays” as well.

No More Superwoman

Brook wrote about an extremely hectic day in which she was going every which way trying to do it all and get it all done. But once she realized what this was doing to her life, her family and herself, she realized a change was needed.

”I began to work on giving up my Superwoman cape. Instead of trying to accomplish everything and please everyone, I began to focus on what was important to me and my family. I accepted that I alone cannot do everything, nor will there be time for everything, so I need to do what matters. Instead of wearing a cape with ‘Have it all!’ As its slogan, I opted for wings with the slogan of ‘Make Today Matter.’”

I know that my life is hectic, crazy and that I am trying to do too much. Being aware of this has made me re-examine things and look for ways that I can make changes. In fact, one of the reasons Tuesday’s are so busy is because I have cut down my hours at the dance studio. I no longer go in on Monday nights and Thursday nights. Instead, those nights are for family and I can be present at my son’s Taekwondo lessons on Thursdays so that I can focus on him and his sport.

So, there are the Toolbox steps 10 through 14. I hope that you have gotten some insight from what I have learned. As always, please comment below with any questions, comments or even tips you might have for me and share this post with someone who might need to read it.