Last week, I discussed the Furman University Women in Leadership Institute in which I am participating this Winter/Spring. The moderators left us with a task before our next (February) meeting: figure out three things. Something to start, something to stop, and something to continue.

At first, this seemed pretty easy. Start eating healthier (I say as I enjoyed a burger from GB&D, complete with “extra burger sauce” for my fries. Thank God I inherited my mom’s metabolism . . . For now), stop buying shoes (Although Blossom Shoes & Such is exempt from this, naturally), and continue growing DFSCC into my vision: a place for women both young, young-ish, and young-at-heart to learn, thrive, and grow while conducting good work for the clients who put their faith within us.

After much thought, a glass of wine, and a little bit of sleep (let’s hear it for toddlers and sleep regression!), I’ve revised my three to reflect a bit more insightful and introspective thoughts. After all, this WIL Institute is supposed to change my life (so far it has), so we might as well continue with the trend.

START: Forget eating healthier. (Though I should be doing that anyway.) My start that I plan to report at our February meeting is that I plan to start only speaking and communicating in a purposeful way. Meaning: I tend to fill the space. If someone’s not talking, I feel like I need to make conversation. Witness my former publisher-boss, who would just sit there as I rambled on about everything from work to my dogs to the kitchen sink. Somewhat amused, but probably somewhat thinking “Will she ever stop?” I’ve realized the importance of not saying things just to say them. Rather, I plan to only say things that are relevant to my clients’ work, my family’s interests and lives, and my friends’ livelihoods. I want each word to be purposeful, thought through, and relevant. I plan to do a whole lot of listening, and a lot less talking. Someone (I was too busy talking, apparently, to remember who) said “You’ve got two ears, and one mouth. Use them in that order.” It might have been my dad. He was never one to wax poetic about things. Speak with a heart of purpose through your words, that’s what I’m going to start doing. (Somehow I can hear people who know me reading this and cheering out loud.)

STOP: Forget the cease-shopping stance on shoes. Ok, maybe I can dial it back a little bit. But what I truly plan on stopping is self-criticism. We’re our own worst critics (most of the time, anyway). It eats us alive, and sucks the joy out of life and our abilities to love the life we live. We only get one go-round at this life (or so my beliefs state), so might as well spend it NOT thinking about all of your imperfections, your weaknesses, and shortcomings. But rather, turn those observations into teachable moments.

CONTINUE: I do plan to continue growing DFSCC into my vision as a place for women to flourish in the marketing world (small, medium, or large as that world may be based on their desires). I’m going to keep my eye on the prize: mentoring women as best I can. Because while I might not know the answer, I certainly at the very least know what NOT to do (from personal experience!). I’m not perfect, but sometimes the best lessons are learned from those who aren’t, right?

I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes, written on a shoddy notecard with no attribution. (Sorry, Mrs. Burleigh and Mr. Blackwell, I know your skin is crawling about this.)

“This is the beginning of a new day. God has given me this day to use as I will. I can waste it or use it for good. What I do today is important, because I am exchanging a day of my life for it. When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever, leaving something I have traded for it. I want it to be a fain, not loss; good, not evil; success, not failure; in order that I shall not regret the price I paid for it.”

My closest friends joke that I always say “At the end of the day……” before I launch into my opinions. So, true to form…..

At the end of the day, it’s worth evaluating what took place and what was sacrificed for that day. You can begin a start/stop/continue each day, each week, or each month. Heck, I’m sure you can start one each hour if you’re that into it. But if there’s one thing I do know, it’s that as a mom (separate from small business owner), mine include: start the day with a snuggle, stop beating yourself up over sleep regressions / potty training / weird toddler food preferences / running the rat race, and continue loving my child.

What are your start/stop/continues?