Spreadsheets, Lists, and a Heart of Wisdom

Heart of Wisdom

Note: I wrote this post a full week ago, and then ran into some serious technical problems (server, hosting, etc). My blog was out of commission for a full week! Oops. Because of that, I’m extending the special discount code listed below through Friday, January 8th. 

I love the first full week after New Years. It’s not usually that productive of a week for me (let’s be honest— is it supposed to be?? #reentry), but it is full of joy, comfort, contemplation, and anticipation. There are few things I love more than newness. Oddly enough, change makes me all kinds of crazy, but I love fresh, new beginnings. A new journal. Starting a new book. A new planner. A fresh calendar page. Birthdays. A New Year. It’s all so full of possibility and hope.

Early this morning I curled up with my new favorite throw (a faux fur electric blanket. my mother-in-law is the best) and a cup of black coffee, and thought back over this last year. There will be time for deeper introspection over the next couple of weeks as I really delve into on 2016 planning, but little trips down memory lane (like this one of Gus’ puppyhood) was good for my soul. I’ve found it’s always helpful to look back, with both gratitude and a critical eye, before looking forward. One of my favorite bits of poetry in the Bible shares wisdom about this:

So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

I spent some time last week studying these words. To “number our days” means to weigh out our life and the process of time, and to count our past, while at the same time preparing for the future— the days, the significant events (birthdays, anniversaries, life changes), in the upcoming year and beyond, all while considering what troubles may come. To “gain a heart of wisdom” means to employ this information to arm our inner thoughts, our courage, and our subconscious to live faithfully and with joy, having considered both past and future.

That’s why I spend a considerable amount of time around the end of every year and beginning of the new to evaluate my financial spreadsheets from the previous year, start my financial forecast for the upcoming year, and deal with those pesky end-of-year tax questions. That’s why I take the time to craft a goals list every year, revisit it every month, and make to-do-list at the beginning of every week, along with my day-to-day lists— all while reevaluating my Core Beliefs. Yes, I have lists for my lists… but it’s because I want to live faithfully and with joy.

I love that a “heart of wisdom” means that I’ve trained my subconscious to make smart choices for me. That’s part of the thought behind having a Core Brand: “the heart and soul of the business, the way it operates, convictions that influence business methods, ideals and aspirations, etc.” Once that Core Brand is in place, it’s a fairly simple and natural step to move into developing a Visual Brand that matches. It can take a lot of “tending” to keep the Core Brand on-brand and focused, but it’s far easier than trying to present a cohesive front without any foundational core in place.

In the same way, once those days are numbered and the heart of wisdom is in place, it’s fairly easy to do planning and forecasting and budgeting and scheduling and all of the other things we talk about this time of year. As with the Core Brand, it can take a lot of tending and “heart-monitoring” to keep that foundation in place, but if we feed our subconscious good things that equip our minds and hearts to live faithfully and with joy, the activities (tasks, mentalities, to-do lists, budgets, etc) aren’t nearly as difficult to guide into place.

Humans, by nature, are activity-driven. We want to know the punchline, the action point, the takeaway. “Just the facts, ma’am,” and “tell me what to do,” and “what’s next.” We naturally want to craft a to-do list more than we want to take time to build wisdom. But even the best to-do list can’t guarantee a successful 2016. We need a fixed core, a firm foundation to build upon.

So this January, this fresh year, focus on the core. Take time to slow down. Give attention to the heart, not only to the productivity. Focus less on “more,” and more on “better.” Work hard to gain that “heart of wisdom.” Redefine success for yourself. And then tell me how it went!

If you enjoyed this post, you may like…


If you want help with this process (finding your Core Brand, intentionality, setting yourself up for success in 2016, etc) check out The Intentional Photographer Workshop. I believe so much in this topic that I’m extending a special discount through Friday, January 8th. I want to make this as accessible to as many people as possible… because I believe in it, and because it is what makes my business successful.

Dates: January 24-25th, 2016  |  Location: The Inn at Poplar Springs in Warrenton, VA  |  Cost: $799


For more information, visit To register, click below!


comments +

  1. Laura Sue Brod

    January 6th, 2016 at 7:09 pm

    Great encouragement!! Focus less on more and more on better… right on! I pray for a heart of wisdom, as well. <3

  2. Jill McPartlin Reiter

    January 6th, 2016 at 7:20 pm

    I’m not a photographer (I’m a postpartum doula) but I still found your post helpful! I love creating and working toward my goals. I also LOVE the duck photo! 🙂

  3. Kate Ann Morris

    January 6th, 2016 at 8:15 pm

    I love the reminder to redefine success for yourself! Thank you for these words of wisdom!

  4. Danielle Ruppert

    January 6th, 2016 at 9:45 pm

    Awesome post!!! I espeically love your process of crafting a goals list every year and revisiting it each month!

  5. Kristen Browning

    January 7th, 2016 at 2:42 am

    Soulful words, I love it! I cannot wait to learn from you at your workshop this month!

  6. Lauretta Mia

    January 7th, 2016 at 10:42 pm

    Really needed to read this today! Love that scripture and will also be meditating on it. Thank you! 🙂

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Hello, I'm Sarah Bradshaw! Classic-obsessed, coffee-loving D.C. wedding photographer. I’ photograph because I believe that all of life is beautiful and every person has a story worth telling. I'd love to tell yours.

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