Tag Archives: intentional

How to Have Joy in 30 Days Experiment

Originally published December 2013

dec11_2016

Point to Ponder:
Do you struggle with experiencing regular joy?

Dave Sunde

by Dave Sunde

I used to imagine that I was my own person; that, somehow, I didn’t care what people thought of me.

Then I graduated from junior high.

And then my idealism was trumped by reality. The reality is that the most influential component of our lives – for better and worse – is the people around us. I’d like to think my skin is thick enough to absorb let down, disappointment and rudeness. But, if I’m honest, they often have a way of shaping my attitude. I’d also like to think I’m responsive enough to be improved by another’s optimism, joy or encouragement. Sometimes, I’m able to rise above and not give in to ugly. Other times, I let myself be lifted by the infectious joy or optimism that feels temporarily foreign to me.

I want to introduce you to an experiment just in time for Christmas. It’s an experiment with ‘How to Have Joy in 30 Days’. The goal is to be intentional about recording the most uplifting, encouraging, satisfying, or life-giving encounters of each day through the Holidays. Let’s just be honest, the Holidays can bring out the best & worst. With the added cost, travel, hospitality, and seasonal extra-curriculars, we can be so easily robbed of Joy, a spirit of giving, and the celebration of what it sacred during this time of year. They don’t have to be laugh-out-loud funny moments. It could be something as simple as delayed gratification like putting off a purchase to avoid debt, having a hard conversation that deepens a relationship, anonymous gifts or favors, acts of kindness, or volunteering. They might include savored moments with children or a cherished moment with a spouse.

What I find is that my mind doesn’t naturally readily store joyful encounters for very long, so a little note-taking goes a long way. Keep a record on your phone, in a journal, or by your nightstand. Each day, take a few seconds to keep a ‘joy journal.’ As you do, watch how your awareness of joy can grow.

You can even make this a part of your dinner conversations each night with your family (I’ve even started asking my kids), asking “what was the best part of your day today?”

Gratitude can feel like a discipline, but it also keeps joy within reach. Tis’ the Season.


Action Item:
Be intentional about recording the most uplifting, encouraging, satisfying, or life-giving encounters of each day through the Holidays.


Dave Sunde is the Pastor of Mission Hills Church in Austin. A native Californian, Dave has been involved in professional non-profit and spiritual leadership for over 20 years. Dave’s passion for loving people and eloquent ability to share his love for others and life is refreshing, uplifting and inspiring. Dave has spoken at previous iGnite Retreats.


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Operation Spread Hope, Love & Joy

makesomeoneslifebetter 2

Point to Ponder:
Where does spreading hope, love and joy fall into your Christmas festivities?

iGnite Neissa

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Each year and upon entering the Christmas season I always set out to be more intentional and purposeful than in the previous years. Inevitably, my goals are always the same: don’t overspend, stick to the Christmas list, avoid perfection, resist shopping for myself while I am shopping for others (how does that always happen?!), and most importantly to live outside of myself by giving and sharing the spirit and meaning of Christmas: to spread hope, love and joy.

I cringe to think how extra self-centered my holidays would be without my attempted annual goals. Frustratingly, I always spend more money that desired, I get caught up in materialism and commercialism, and I exhaust myself by trying to make everything perfect which in turn stresses me out! Shamefully, beyond my immediate family members, friends and neighbors there is very little thinking outside of myself, no extra sharing of love, hope and joy and therefore no additional lives impacted. Really, it’s nauseating that I live in this perpetual state of insanity (setting the same goal and taking no additional action yet expecting a different result), therefore to end this ridiculousness and attempt to really spread hope, love and joy and make a difference in at least one life during the Christmas season, I’ve come up with a plan of action entitled “Operation Spread Hope, Love and Joy”, and I hope you will join me!

The goal of Operation Spread Hope, Love and Joy is exactly as it sounds: to spread hope, love and joy by putting a smile on someone’s face, being a source of encouragement and light and continuing to express gratitude which will in turn positively impact lives.

Starting today and throughout the next four weeks leading up to Christmas I will announce the weekly action. For this week, the suggested action is to print the provided note card printable, cut out the individual notes and give to as many people as possible. If you are like me, you will experience some fear and hesitation when handing out the cards, especially to a total stranger. You may likely make an assumption that the potential recipient isn’t going through anything, doesn’t need a pick-me-up and/or will think you are weird. Repeat these words: Nonsense! Everyone is going through something, everyone can use a little light and iGnite in their lives and if spreading some hope, love and joy by means of positive note cards make us weird, I gladly welcome the label! After all, the worst thing that can happen is the card gets thrown in the trash, but what if it makes somebody else’s life better?

Finally, share how you are spreading your hope, love and joy note cards by posting pictures via your favoritie social media outlets, using the hashtag #spreadhopeloveandjoy and tagging iGnite. This is not at all to be braggadocious or draw attention to your or iGnite’s actions. Instead, it’s an opportunity to let social media do what I believe social media has the greatest potential in doing, which is to be a catalyst for uplifting messages, positive change and spreading good around the world.

Action Item:
Print the provided note card printable, cut out the individual notes and give to as many people as possible. If you are able, share how you are spreading your hope, love and joy note cards by posting pictures via your favorite social media outlets, using the hashtag #spreadhopeloveandjoy and tagging iGnite.

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Creating Your 61-Day Plan

iGnite - how do you spend your time

Point to Ponder:
How will you spend the last 61 days of 2015?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Whew, It’s November! And who doesn’t love November? Delicious temperatures, daylight savings (more sleep-YAY!), fall clothing, colorful foliage, and of course, time with family during the Thanksgiving holiday. While all of this makes my heart really happy, I get heart palpitations when I think about having only two months, i.e. sixty-one days left in the year, yet so much to do! How did that happen?!

I subscribe to several blogs and recently Austin-based Life Coach and Speaker, Renee Trudeau posted an excellent article on not only defining our life vision, but more realistically defining a vision for the next 90-days. In our case, that is the next sixty-one days, and because last week we determined what we’ve had enough of and will not include in our 2015 finale, the next step is to define and be intentional with how we spend our time throughout the next sixty-one days. Renee suggests these two questions for helping define your vision:

  1. What is uniquely mine to do? and
  2. What is the best use of my energy and talents in the next sixty-one days?

What I appreciate about Renee’s intentional strategy is the practicality of focusing on ninety or sixty days. It’s not overwhelming because I can actually see, feel and touch this time frame. In addition to answering those 2 questions and getting in the right frame of mind, Renee also recommends setting aside time in a distraction-free peaceful setting where you can create the following lists:

  • List all activities that fuel you (activities that give you energy, nourish you, and make you feel alive)
  • List all all activities that drain you (create physical tightness or discomfort in your back belly or neck every time they cross your consciousness). Often these “drains” are things like a financial issue that must be handled, a touchy conversation that you’ve been avoiding having, a disorganized office space at work or home, or a career issue that needs to be addressed

Address the ‘drains’ with an aggressive housecleaning mindset, giving yourself three options for handling each energy zapper:

1) “Just do it:” Set a deadline for when you can complete the project
2) Delegate It: Ask for help if needed, or outsource the task
3) Dump It: Walk away from the task or decide it isn’t going to happen (at least not in
the next sixty-one days)

Ultimately, the goal within the next sixty-one days is to not let life “just happen” or be filled with random action, enery-suckers and unfulfilling activities. Instead, let’s get the most out of it and make it great by striving to be prayerful and intentional about how we use our time, energy and talents. We can do this!

Action Item:
Create your 61-day plan by completing the activities suggested by Renee Trudeau:
1. Answer her 2 questions for defining your vision
2. Create your “fueling” and “draining” activities lists
3. Assign your “draining” activities one of the 3 categories above

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‘Enough is Enough!’

iGnite - remove the unnecessary

Photo from this summer’s iGnite Escape in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

Point to Ponder:
What have you had “enough” of? What are you wasting your time and life on?
What keeps you running on the treadmill to nowhere and is keeping you from living your life, being fully present and feeling great?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Recently I ran across a motivating radio show series called “Enough is Enough,” and as I listened, I became more inspired to also declare what I had had enough of in my life.

In last week’s journal I shared my realization that my current purpose/mission changed from what I originally thought it would be at this time. Prior to this, I was running myself ragged and trying to live up to the ridiculous expectations I placed on myself, which led me to declaring that ‘enough was enough!’ of letting my ego be my north star. ‘Enough was enough!’ of giving into the lie that my controlling ways were better than turning everything over to God in prayer. ‘Enough was enough!” of screaming at my kids and not being a present mom because I was stressed out of my mind due to believing that I needed to do more and was not enough unless I was multi-tasking and focused on accomplishing a million things.

So, what have you had “enough” of? What types of things are consuming your time and energy? What keeps you running on a treadmill to nowhere and is keeping you from living your best life, being fully present and feeling great? Because women share similar heartbeats and the human experience is not unique, here are some ‘enoughs’ that instantly came to my mind and might resonate with you too:

Do you struggle with living up to the expectations of others and are too hard on yourself? Are the people you are spending the majority of your time with life-suckers rather than life-givers? Do you live on an emotional roller-coaster because you are too involved in your children’s lives, care too much about the opinions of others, make too many assumptions and take everything personally? Have you neglected your needs and are not getting enough sleep, healthy food, adequate hydration and exercise? Have you busied yourself, are completely stressed-out and therefore your words, interactions and body language are negative, cold and argumentative? Do you no longer attend church or have a day off for faith, family and rest because your children’s extra-curricular activities have taken over or you’ve replaced it with more work? Do you wrestle with control and worry too much? Is your financial situation and spending out of balance? Have you placed a higher value on work and outside commitments and as a result neglected the needs of your spouse or the people you love? Have you bought into the lie that God didn’t create you “enough,” and therefore you have low confidence? Do the destructive emotions of shame, fear and doubt control your life? Do you reject the love of others or can’t trust others because someone didn’t love you back or violated your trust? Do you procrastinate or keep putting off what is necessary and important in your life?

With only a little over two months left in 2015 (EEK!), I want us to be intentional with the way we spend the remainder of our year by declaring and writing down the “enoughs” in our lives on this printable worksheet. By doing this, your spirit will give you valuable knowledge and information about what you are willing to accept in your life. This level of awareness and information will minimize the chances of transferring negative actions and emotional garbage into 2016 and will promote healthy progress by adding what’s necessary, rich and wonderful into your new year and life!

Action Item:
Be intentional with the way you spend the remainder of your year by declaring and writing down the ‘enoughs’ in your life on this printable worksheet.

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It’s Your Season, It’s Your Purpose

iGnite - living with purpose

Point to Ponder:
Do you struggle with defining or finding your purpose, feel confused about your life, or feel fearful that there isn’t enough time left to do what you want to do?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Since moving to San Diego, my life has drastically changed and taken a 180 degree turn. I do not yet have any friends here, and except for taking Durant and Malaine to school on Tuesdays and Thursdays and tending to my iGnite responsibilities and duties from afar, I don’t have any commitments either. I won’t lie, when talking to the iGnite leaders, family, and friends and occasionally peeking at Facebook and Instagram, I experience bittersweet emotions. It stinks to be on the outside looking in, missing out and not able to take part in what I’ve created in iGnite in Austin. I have also experienced extreme withdrawals from my addictions: the “being busy addiction,” “having places to go addiction,” and the “feeling needed and wanted” addiction. There are times when my ego screams so loud that I find myself taken over with feelings of inadequacy and the desire to busy myself just so I can feel important and accomplished again. Then, finally, it dawned on me that not only was my evil ego in my way, but what I was really struggling with the most was my purpose.

With the help of Martha Lynn Mangum, iGnite member and business coach, reminding me that our society inundates women with the destructive message that if we aren’t working 60 hours a week, involved in a million organizations, committed to regularly volunteering, acting as the home-room mom, and only taking two-weeks of maternity leave, or just tending to our own or our family’s and community’s needs, that we aren’t enough. Pu-lease! Don’t get me wrong, I believe in having a passion and purpose outside of our family, but not at the expense of jeopardizing our marriages, not being a present mom to our children and neglecting our relationships. Looking back, while living in Austin I definitely tip-toed into those zones and was drinking the toxic Kool-Aid. This is my destructive tendency, and I have to consistently check myself to make sure I am being counter-culture.

It has been a very long time since I have wondered about my purpose. While living in Austin, my family, friends and iGnite were absolutely my purpose and they kept my heart pumping fast and hard. Originally, I thought starting iGnite in San Diego would be my first purpose-filled project, but now I’m not so sure about that. For now, I’m declaring that I am on a prayerful, peaceful, intentional purpose-finding mission project. I’ve narrowed my purpose down to:

  1. Learning how to become a fully-attentive, loving and supportive wife to Russell (which is hard to admit because of my strong will, pride and independence)
  2. Appreciating this colorful and unique time I have with our preschool-age children and being a fully attentive and fun mother.
  3. Remotely supporting and leading the iGnite team, the iGnite members and our efforts to iGnite Austin and impact, inspire and empower every woman to live a healthy and purpose-filled life.
  4. Taking the time to get on my knees everyday and pray for myself, my family, my friends, iGnite and anyone I know who is in need of prayers or who I told I would pray for them. While I am a faithful person, embarrassingly my prayer life has been pathetic, and I’m tired of being lip-service only. Please let me know if and how I can pray for you. Seriously!
  5. Becoming involved with our church, The Rock, and serving the San Diego community.

I must confess that while I’m feeling content with my new purpose in San Diego, there is sooooo much I want to do in my life! For example, I want to write a book, I want to be on the speaking circuit and I want to grow iGnite so that women all over the world can iGnite in a positive and inspiring community. I wanna, wanna, wanna! And with that said, I get nervous and afraid that I am going to miss my opportunity, run out of time and miss out. But, thankfully, for the first time in my life, I found a Bible translation that I can actually understand called The Voice, and it’s teaching me about patience. Even though Adam, Pharrell, Gwen and Blake aren’t quoted in it, I have learned so much! One of the things that has been glaring is how late in life God uses people. Of course he uses children, like when He used David to defeat Goliath when David was only a teenager, but for example, Noah, Abraham, Sarai (Abraham’s wife) were waaaay past their “prime,” or what we today consider our “prime.” Granted, people back then lived longer, but by human standards, they were still considered old, and they fulfilled God’s purpose for them much later in life.

I recently watched a special on television called Try, Try Again where John Stossell chronicled the lives of great inventors and authors who not only failed before having success, but were also “past their prime” before having any success and fulfilling their purpose. Just to name a couple: Julia Child was 50 before writing her first cookbook, and Harland Sanders (a.k.a Colonel Sanders) franchised his first Kentucky Fried Chicken at age 62.

All in all, I write this journal not to go off about my personal purpose journey, but rather to encourage anyone who is struggling with defining or finding their purpose, feeling confused about their life, or fearful that there isn’t enough time. For sure we all sometimes feel a sense of urgency because we aren’t guaranteed tomorrow, but fear cannot be the reason why we do or don’t take action. Instead, remember that there is a season in life for everything and that our purpose can evolve, morph and even change. Sometimes we’re in a season of action, and other times we’re in a season of self-reflection, contemplation and quiet. Regardless of the season you find yourself in now, when you weave in prayer and intention, you will without a doubt be led down the right path and your fruit will be ripe.

Action Item:
Remember there is a season in life for everything and that your purpose can evolve, morph and change over time. Approach your season of life with prayer and intention.

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Arm Yourself with the Best

iGnite team

The iGnite team during our 2015 summer boat outing

Point to Ponder:
Are the five people you spend the most time with causing you to give up on your dreams, or do they nurture your dreams and your life?

“If we surround ourselves with people who are successful, who are forward-moving, who are positive, who are focused on producing results, who will support us, it will challenge us to be more, do more and share more. If you surround yourself with people who will never let you settle for less than you can be, you have the greatest gift that anyone can hope for.”
– Anthony Robbins

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

It was just over nine years ago that my short, yet colorful life journey began making sense. All of the “who, why, and what for” puzzle pieces created a vivid and crystal clear picture of my purpose, which is when I created iGnite. The process wasn’t sophisticated nor predictable. Rather, it consisted of a few meetings with a dear friend and mentor at Starbucks where I revealed my heart’s desire and vision, coupled with challenging questions and critical thinking. Within a few weeks I answered his tough questions, though my business brainchild remained nameless. We both recognized that the name had to be something I loved, and that conveyed an inspirational, energetic and timeless message. As we tossed around different ideas he said, “it sounds like you want to ignite their lives!” “YES!”, I shouted. He smiled, I wrote it down, and the rest is history.

I love to share and reminisce about that story simply because of its spontaneous nature. There are also many more stories like this, all of which have provided me with unforeseeable lessons and growth opportunities over the past nine years. One of the most important pieces of advice that has provided me with the most personal and professional value, is “Be intentional with whom you surround yourself with, and arm yourself with the best.”

iGnite began the first Monday in October of 2006, and by February I had hired a professional business coach, Michelle Ewalt, who I worked with for three years. She was aware of all of my thoughts, plans, and ideas for iGnite, which for a one-woman show was a giant feat. She also knew that Russell and I wanted to have children one day, so during a meeting she suggested I spend my time determining the five, non-negotiable characteristics I wanted in an iGnite leader. I explained that I wasn’t interested in sharing this business with anyone else, simply because I couldn’t imagine another person loving and caring for our members and aligning with the vision as I did. But what she knew that I didn’t know at the time was this; “no branch can bear fruit by itself, it must remain on the vine.” (John 15:4). I realize this verse has much greater meaning beyond my situation, but Michelle knew that on my own, the mission would not be fruitful. She also knew that if I wanted to see my personal goals come true, like having a family, forming a team was essential. And so, that exact day I identified and wrote down the five, non-negotiable characteristics of an iGnite team member. Within one year, the inspiring and wonderful women began appearing, and continue to, which currently make up what I think is the most beautiful, talented and special team in all of Austin and beyond. As a result, our membership is a mirror-image of our team, making up a spectacular community of love, health and kindness. The fruit is rich and we are blessed!

One of the unforeseeable lessons I learned is that in order for me to give my gift, which is the ability to personally and professionally give and be the best Neissa and pursue my dreams and passions, it can’t happen alone, and I must arm myself with the best. Per the words of the late world class track athlete Steve Prefontaine, “to give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” I’ve decided that I don’t want to sacrifice my gift, and so with intention I not only arm myself with those who are the best at what they do (both personally and professionally), but I also arm myself with people who are better than me (personally and professionally) so I can up my game, grow, and become my best. As the late Jim Rohn says, “we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.”

This week I invite you to be intentional with me and arm yourself with the best so you don’t sacrifice your gift. And, so we can be our best, we must constantly be evaluating and asking ourselves the following questions from Jim Rohn: “Who am I around? What are they doing to me? What have they got me reading? What have they got me saying? Where do they have me going? What do they have me thinking? And most important, what do they have me becoming? Then ask yourself the big question. Is that okay? Life does not get better by chance. It gets better by change.”

Action Item:
Make a short list of the five characteristics of the people you want and need in your life that can help you become your best.

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