January Resolution: Care

I’m tackling a new resolution each month this year. For January, my action word is ‘care.’ This can take on many different meanings: to care for family and friends; to care for strangers; to care for myself.

I’m going to encompass all three into January, which will focus on random acts of kindness. While I already consider myself a caring person, I’d like to become more actively involved and step out of my comfort zone. My goal is to carry this type of behavior throughout the rest of the year and beyond.

By the time January 31 rolls around, I will have accomplished the following:

  1. Donate used books to a local library
  2. Hold the door open for others whenever the occasion arises
  3. Pay the Starbucks’ tab for the person behind me in the drive-thru
  4. Send birthday cards to family/friends
  5. Donate blood
  6. Comment on three blogs/week
  7. Be polite on the road
  8. Leave five recommendations on LinkedIn
  9. Bring coworkers a special treat
  10. Send flowers to a local nursing home

While I feel like most of these are common sense, they’re often put on the back burner. Not anymore! I can’t wait to report back at the end of the month… where I’ll hopefully be able to check off a few other items as well!

New Year, New Resolutions

DontGiveUpNYResolution

With Jan. 1 only 12 days away, I decided it’s time to arm myself with a plan for my 2013 resolutions.

People often set long-term goals but fail to find a way to execute them. For example: “I’m going to lose 20 pounds in the next year.” That sounds like a great idea- but if you don’t outline how you’ll achieve it, you’ll more than likely fail.

Provide yourself with the means to get there!

A better way to achieve your New Year’s resolution is to say: “I want to lose 20 pounds by December 31, 2013. To get there, I’ll eat healthier by incorporating more fruits and vegetables into my diet and exercising four days per week. I’ll aim to lose half-a-pound each week. I’ll buy a fun cookbook and commit to finding healthy recipes, in addition to calorie-counting and meal planning. I’ll also create and stick to a workout schedule so I won’t make excuses as to why I don’t have the time.”

That 20-pound weightloss just became a LOT more realistic.

My overall goal in 2013 is to keep improving in different ways. So instead of focusing on one major goal, I’m going to focus on one thing each month:

  • January: Care
  • February: Nourish
  • March: Engage
  • April: Move
  • May: Pray
  • June: Save
  • July: Educate
  • August: Relax
  • September: Discover
  • October: Experience
  • November: Travel
  • December: Organize

As each new month approaches, I’ll share what I have in store for myself! Be on the lookout for my January plan… coming next week! Feel free to share your resolutions below. I’d love to hear them.

How to Help Sandy Hook

While I don’t believe there is a way to truly comfort the victims of this tragedy, the Connecticut Parent-Teacher-Student Association (PTSA) is offering advice on how to help. From the website:

“Connecticut PTSA is deeply saddened by the tragedy that has struck our Newtown community. We have met with the PTA and community leaders in Newtown and Sandy Hook Elementary to offer our assistance at this very difficult time.  They have asked us to spearhead the following efforts on their behalf:

Snowflakes for Sandy Hook
Please help the students of Sandy Hook have a winter wonderland at their new school! Get creative!  No two snowflakes are alike. Make and send snowflakes by Jan. 12 to:

Connecticut PTSA
60 Connolly Parkway, Building 12, Suite 103
Hamden, CT  06514

Coins for Sandy Hook
Students can collect spare change to support their peers at Sandy Hook.  Other fundraising ideas include Walk- A -Thons, Spirit Days, Pajama Days, etc.

Please send contributions to “Connecticut PTSA Sandy Hook Fund” by Feb. 14.

Ongoing Fundraising Efforts
Donations are being accepted indefinitely to the: “Connecticut PTSA Sandy Hook Fund” to support the ongoing needs of the Sandy Hook Community. Send checks to:

Connecticut PTSA
60 Connolly Parkway, Building 12, Suite 103
Hamden, CT  06514

For questions or to reach anyone at Sandy Hook PTA, email sandyhook@ctpta.org. The Newtown community has requested monetary contributions, but we do know there may be service and product donations that will be offered. For service or product inquiries, contact newtownboe@gmail.com.”

The Short Guide to Finding Your Passion

“The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play.” – Arnold Toynbee

I came across the above quote while reading a blog post by Leo Babauta, journalist and author. I’ve taken his list and added some of my own commentary.

I’m on a mission to be a better, happier and healthier person. I’m dedicated to finding and doing what I’m passionate about every single day. My goal for the next year is to literally leap out of bed every morning because I’m so excited about the life I’m living.

Of course, I’ll need to break that down into smaller chunks… but I think I’m off to a strong start!

The Short Guide to Finding Your Passion

1. What are you good at?
Sometimes the most obvious isn’t always the answer. As years pass, it can be easy to forget what you were good at 5, or even 10 years ago. Was it writing? Drawing? Organizing? Dancing? Teaching? Spend at least 30 minutes thinking back on old jobs and hobbies. Create a list of possibilities.

2. What excites you?
This can be anything. A small part of your job, something you do on the side. Do you volunteer and enjoy spending your time there? Do you like cooking for your family or thinking of fun activities for your friends? Again, this could be something you haven’t done in awhile so THINK! Don’t shortchange yourself. Keep adding to your list…

3. What do you read about?
If you spend time reading it, chances are it interests you. What do you read online? What’s the first website you visit? What blogs do you follow? What types of books do you read? Again- add them to your list!

4. What have you secretly dreamed of?
I know there are several ridiculous dream jobs I’ve always imagined myself doing. Think of a job you’ve always wanted but thought impossible. A novelist, an artist, a designer, an architect? For me, it was usually fear and self-doubt holding me back, causing me to dismiss the idea. Even if it’s unrealistic, continue with the list.

5. Learn, ask, take notes
Look over your list and choose what excites you the most. Read about it and contact those who have been successful in the field. Most likely someone has found a way to capitalize on it. Connect with them through their blog or send them a quick email. Make a list of notes of things you need to learn and improve on to take the next step.

6. Experiment, try
Here’s where the learning really takes place. Start to do the thing you’ve chosen. JUST DO IT. Make it public however you can. This motivates you to improve and gets you feedback. As you continue on this path, your reputation will improve. Blog about the experience. Pay attention to how you feel doing it and ask yourself if it’s something you look forward to and want to share.

7. Narrow things down
Pick three things from your list and do steps 5 and 6 with them. Which one gets you the most excited and produces something people will pay for and get excited about with you? Which one can you see yourself doing for years? Don’t necessarily go with the most traditional career path. Make it into a career if possible. If that doesn’t work out, try the next thing on your list. Failure teaches valuable lessons that will drive your success in the next attempt.

8. Banish your fears
This is definitely my biggest problem: getting rid of self-doubt and fear of failure. It helps to acknowledge it rather than ignore or deny it. Feel it and be okay with it. Even if the worst possible scenario happens, know that it won’t be the end of the world. Prepare yourself and then do it. And my favorite part: celebrate your successes, no matter how small!

9. Find the time
If you think you don’t have time, you’re wrong. Make the time, darn it! If it’s a priority, you’ll rearrange your life until you do. This might mean waking up earlier, canceling commitments, simplifying your work routine or doing a lot of work in advance. Whatever it takes, do it.

10. How to make a living doing it
This doesn’t happen overnight. It requires doing something, succeeding at it and being passionate about it. Having fun with it is the most important part. It’s at this point where you are so invested and so great at what you’re doing that others are willing to pay you for it.

It won’t necessarily be easy. It will require a lot of reflection and soul-searching. And after, that a lot of courage, learning and experimentation. Lastly, but most importantly, it will take a lot of commitment.

But it’s all worth it. Every second, every ounce of courage and every bit effort. In the end, you’ll have something that will transform your life, giving you that reason to jump out of bed. 

Life is Like Riding a Bicycle

Balance

Life is busy. Duh. Whether it’s calling/visiting friends and family, volunteering for a cause, getting your workout in, nurturing your relationship… it’s a lot to think about.

But life is all about balance and that’s the tricky part. When does it become too much? When are the meetings, the workouts, the volunteering commitments too much? And how do you keep it from snowballing into one big mess?

For me, I thrive when I have things to do and a set schedule. I love working to fit everything in. If I have nothing planned out in advance, I’m more likely to spend the night sitting on the couch, thinking I have all the time in the world. Then it’s 11 p.m. and nothing has been accomplished.

The scale differs and my healthy balance isn’t going to be the same as the next person’s. A few general tips helped me find mine and showed me the areas of my life that I should focus on. Hopefully they’ll do the same for you:

  1. Track your schedule for one week. Compare how you’re spending your time against your top priorities (friendships, family, etc…)
  2. Cut out dysfunctional or draining relationships. Life can hit you hard and you need to save up your resources for things and people that really matter.
  3. Make a list of the things you want to accomplish in the next year, 5 years and 10 years. When you see them on paper it will help you map out how to reach them.
  4. Have open conversations with loved ones when you’re struggling. This will not only relieve stress, but offer insight into ways to overcome your rough patch.
  5. Learn to say no. If it’s not a productive use of your time, don’t do it.

I haven’t figured out the exact formula yet and I’m the first to admit sometimes I overdo it. But I discovered what it feels like when I’m about to hit a wall. I know when I need a Saturday night at home on the couch because it’s been a tough week and that sometimes letting loose is scheduling the “me time” I rarely get.

My point is this: Life is busy. It will never calm down and you will always have commitments. That’s a great thing! You have to keep moving through the hustle and bustle and come up with a way to deal with it that is uniquely you.