Hey Girl, welcome to 2014. I think this time of year is the most exciting, it rustles with the whispers of new promise and dreams to chase. While I love the potential a new year holds I don’t like resolutions because most of them set us up for failure. A couple years ago I decided to adjust my perspective, ditch resolutions, and start celebrating every small victory throughout the year. Instead of defaulting to the generic resolutions people try to stick to (you know these: eat better, lose weight, work out, drink less, stop calling/texting/Facebook stalking that one person you should have forgotten about months ago) I think smaller and more specific. I think about what is going to make me a more confident, grateful and loving human being…and then I go forth and conquer from there. So here are my 14 commitments to 2014:
1. Call People On the Phone: Texting has made us really lazy. The word “you’re” has somehow been converted to “Ur,” “OK” has become “K” (for the record this is never an acceptable response if you are over the age of 14) and we have lost all sense of what personally connecting as human beings means. If there is someone in your life that you really care about and respect, pick up the phone (or Skype, or Google Hangout, or FaceTime). Enjoy all of the benefits of having a real conversation that include, but are not limited to: laughing, inside jokes, seeing someone you care about smile, helping make outfit/hair/makeup choices, and being able to look someone in the eye when you tell them how much you love and appreciate their presence in your life.
2. Have a Reading List: This doesn’t mean you need to start a book club, and let’s be honest it almost always turns into wine club instead. Reading on a regular basis has all kinds of benefits from stress relief to slowing the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s, but reading also makes you a more interesting person. It gives you a pool of subjects to bring up in conversation and sounds so much better than leading with “ Did you see that video on Facebook….” Don’t think reading is your thing? You’re wrong. If you don’t want to commit to an entire novel read a book of short stories, subscribe to a magazine that has a range of content (some of my favorites are Fast Company, Vanity Fair, Esquire, LA Magazine and Mental Floss), or try reading something that will help you out professionally, just READ.
3. Compliment One Person a Day : This is pretty straightforward, you will totally makes someones day. When you make someones day they will probably give you a sincere thank you, smile, and remember that you made their day…this makes YOU feel good. A couple guidelines: your compliment should be authentic and not creepy. Once you start it just becomes habit and all of a sudden you cultivate this attitude of appreciation and positivity, that doesn’t suck does it?
4. Budget: Admittedly this is a skill I struggle with, I blame most of it on websites like Fab and Rue La La. It doesn’t matter how much money you have, you should know where you are spending it and have some sort of savings plan. This might also be a good time to do some bank comparing to make sure that you are getting the most out of your money, fees that seem small like “account maintenance” can add up over the course of a year. Don’t know where to start on a budgeting plan? Technology has you covered with a variety of free money management apps, so get on it because I really want you to take that European vacation too.
5. Cook From Scratch More: I know how delicious the blue box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese is, and the fact that it takes about 4 ingredients and 10 minutes to make is fantastic (and a little magical). I know that when you get home from work and it is dark and cold outside you just want to have a giant warm pizza delivered to your house and binge watch Real Housewives, I’m challenging you to resist. Cooking from scratch is actually cheaper per meal than ordering in and the meals you do prepare are usually healthier. Additional perks of cooking from scratch: you try new recipes/foods, there is almost always leftovers so your lunch for the next day is covered, enjoying a meal you prepared from scratch tastes like pride and accomplishment. Cooking from scratch doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does take a little bit of planning. You will likely need a grocery list and an idea of what you want to eat. Don’t tell me you don’t know any recipes because there is this thing called ‘Google’ where you literally can type in “butter, chicken, onion, pasta” and it will find a recipe. Allrecipes.com also has menu planner with a shopping list to get you started. Bon Appetit!
6. Give It Up More: No, not that. You should keep that to yourself until you meet someone you really connect with, have known for at least 3 months, and are in a monogamous relationship. What I do want you to give up more of is your time. Find an organization you believe in and give it up as much as you can. Besides the warm and fuzzy feeling you get when you give back to your community volunteering introduces you to new people, skills, activities, and experiences. So once a month or once a quarter it doesn’t matter, give it up. Not sure where to start? Volunteer Match brings “good people and good causes together.”
7. Hand Write Thank You Cards: This is sort of along the same lines as picking up the phone to call someone you care about. If you are genuinely appreciative for something someone did for you, a handwritten card is a very personal and thoughtful way to say thanks. It says, I took time out of my day to write a short note just for you because that thing you did was really awesome and I am so glad to have someone wonderful like you in my life. The best part about thank you cards is there really are no rules for when you should send them. There is the obvious reasons, but when was the last time you sent someone a “Thanks for being a kick ass friend” card? Or “Thanks for bringing me chicken broth when I was stuck on the couch with food poisoning” or “Thanks for listening to me go on and on about that person I just broke up with even though we both know he/she was never good enough for me in the first place” the possibilities are endless friends. The other great part about thank you cards is everyone loves getting surprise mail, it’s 100% fact.
8. Take Advantage of Professional Training Opportunities: I feel like this should be kind of a no brainier. Most companies offer some sort of continued training/educational opportunities, you should take as many of these as possible. Besides making yourself more valuable as an employee it shows your supervisor that you have initiative and a desire to grow. If your company doesn’t offer continued training talk to your boss about other learning opportunities or join a professional association for your field of work. Whatever you do as a career, strive to be the best at it because 6 months, 1 year or 5 years is going to pass anyway why not come out of it with a few additional skills?
9. Increase Your Water to Other Beverage Ratio: I’m looking in the mirror when I say this too because I can drink coffee until noon, then drink a delicious Virgil’s Root Beer at lunch, and then drink wine at dinner. Water makes up more than half of your body composition, so it is kind of important. I have a hard time remembering to drink water so what I usually do is drink an entire glass of water immediately after I wake up in the morning, carry around a water bottle that I try to drain 3 times a day and drink at least 2 glasses with dinner. Don’t like the way water tastes? throw some citrus in it or try sparkling water (like the champagne of H2O!)
10. Accept That You are Not Special: I know this sounds harsh, but stick with me. So many of us fall into what I call “The Worst Day of My Life” syndrome. You know these people, their status updates look like this: “uggghhhhh I hate my commute #trafficsucks” or “I can’t believe my boss is making me work late today #hatemyjob” or “Didn’t get any sleep, today is going to be the longest day ever.” It is like any small life annoyance has suddenly turned your day into the worst day of your life, and then inevitably people pile on the negativity and say things like “yeah I know that sucks so bad I hate (insert annoying life thing) too!” You know what? Your problems are not special, at some point ALL of us have the same frustrations with sleep, jobs, money, traffic, bosses, kids, partners, etc. I get that you are annoyed but instead assuming that the rest of the world cares that the line at the cafe was too long for you to wait in before work, stop and take some deep breaths. Use it as a reflection time, is it really that big of a deal? Hint: the answer is almost always no. Is there a way for you to take this annoying experience and walk away with a positive outlook? “I’m grateful I have a job to drive to that allows me to afford life conveniences like buying coffee at my favorite cafe” and then post that. How much better would the world be if we shared experiences that we are grateful for or have learned from instead of just word vomiting how annoying life can be?
11. Keep A ‘To Do’ List: I love lists, there is nothing more rewarding than checking boxes and crossing things off. To Do lists keep you focused and away from the black hole of internet sites like BuzzFeed (seriously, don’t go there unless you are prepared to give up an hour of your life). Crossing items off your list is empowering and boosts your self confidence. The best advice I received regarding to do lists was “do the task you are least looking forward to first” just check it off first thing and move on with your day. This is so true, then you don’t have something you are dreading hanging over your head all day. Does the idea of a list staring you in the face every day terrify you? Try using the “chunking” technique to tackle everything you need to accomplish.
12. Get Comfortable With Spending Time Alone: I started working full time from home a couple years ago, and this was a huge adjustment for me initially. I like being around people, some might describe me as chatty or ridiculously hilarious (mom opinions totally count). I highly value alone time now though, and you should too. Let me be very clear in the fact that “Alone Time” means no screens (laptops, cell phones, tablets, Mp3 players, etc) and no messaging, texting, phone calls, or other communication from other human beings. Does the thought of that kind of freak you out? Good, being uncomfortable means you are growing. Spending time alone gives you the opportunity to refocus your energy, increase creative thinking, reduce stress, and just disconnect. The best part is it’s so easy to do! Take a walk by yourself, pack a sack lunch and eat by yourself, get up early before you need to start your day and spend a few minutes stretching or just taking some deep breaths, make a mid morning coffee run and spend 5 minutes enjoying the alone time. I mean, you are an incredible person why wouldn’t you want to spend time with yourself?
13. Have a Hobby: If you had a completely free Sunday afternoon what would your dream day be? Something outdoorsy like hiking/biking/running? Something artsy like painting/pottery/crafting? Or something culinary inspired like baking/cooking/hosting a dinner party? Whatever it is you should chase that passion. Your hobby preferably would get you away from the electronic world and into an activity that makes you happy, engrosses your attention, and is something you look forward to doing to unwind. You know I am a fan of crafting but I am also a fan of puzzles, hiking, writing, biking, attempting yoga, and for 2014 attempting sewing. Get into something, you more than likely will connect with new fun people who are also into your hobby.
14. Stop The Self Doubt: I saved this one for last because I think it is the most important, and honestly the one thing I am constantly working at. For 2014 let’s stop holding ourselves back and being afraid to dream bigger. There are lofty goals in life that can be terrifying like going back to school, changing careers, moving cities, planning an expensive vacation, asking for a raise, or even just asking for what you want from your relationship partner. None of these things are unachievable, a little scary yes, but not unachievable. Stop finding reasons to talk yourself out of being the most successful version of you, instead be honest and say “this really scares the crap out of me but I am just going to go for it.” Always be your biggest fan (I will be your 2nd) and open yourself up to a world where your future success is dictated by you. We have it in us, all of us, we just need to learn to squash the voice of self doubt, which sometimes feels like the loudest voice in your head. Faith, inspiration, and confidence are whispers…train your brain to listen for them instead.
How will 2014 be your year?