New Year’s Resolutions When You Don’t Feel in Control

It’s never too late to have resolutions. Yes, we’re ¾s done with February, but better late than never! I try to follow the saying, “today is the first day of the rest of your life” (sometimes easier said than done), and so it’s absolutely fine to come up with resolutions a little after the first of the year (hey, at least we’re still in the 1st quarter). Resolutions (or goals as I tend to think of them) don’t have to be very lofty or much of a stretch. Really, the main things are that you want to accomplish them and they’re somewhat specific (so you know whether or not you achieved them). And of course, you have to write them down.

As promised, I’m sharing my 2019 resolutions with you this week. Over the past couple of weeks, I spent some time (mainly daydreaming while driving or during meetings) and came up with 14 resolutions/goals for this year. There’s nothing special about 14 – that’s just the number of resolutions I came up with. There’s also nothing special about these resolutions; they’re just things that I want to accomplish this year. Several are carryovers from previous years, but I am making a more conscious effort to have specific goals for the year instead of generic or abstract goals.

At the end of 2018, some health stuff came up and it felt really hard to come up with resolutions because a lot of stuff feels really outside of my control. I am used to being extremely active, having enough energy to do what I want, and being in control of my body. Then, over the holidays and for all of January, my job became really, really busy and I felt like I had no time. Looking forward for this year, my job doesn’t seem like it will slow down for months, maybe years. My health stuff will thankfully get a little better, but it will have lasting consequences. Can you sympathize? Do you feel like work or school or just life is taking it out of you and you don’t have control?

In writing down my goals for 2019, I realized that there really is a lot that I can control. And if you feel the same way that I did, know that you too can actually control quite a bit. For example, I realized that I could make 15 minutes to be somewhat active twice a day…by walking Way Pup. Ain’t nobody got time to workout…but I do have time to maybe give Way Pup an extra 5 minutes twice a day…and I can put on my tennis shoes for our walk instead of my boots so we can jog a little bit. Bam! There’s my activity for the day! (Even if I feel tired, at least he and I get outside for 10 minutes twice a day.) And, because Way Pup doesn’t care about the weekend, he needs this attention 365 days. I can also spend 5 minutes cleaning up my kitchen every night. And, while I’m zoning out during incredibly boring stuff, I can think about what I want to eat for lunch and buy those ingredients at the store. Those are 3 things I can control in my life.

Despite my advocacy for specific goals, there are a few abstract/nonspecific resolutions for this year. The first one is that I want to enjoy this year as much as possible. Life, in general, is hard to enjoy unless you make a conscious attempt and I have a big year of changes ahead of me. It would be so, so easy for me to put my head down and get through this year without pausing to enjoy any of it. But if I did that, then I would look up at the end of 2019 and wonder where it went. So, I want to enjoy this year and make a conscious attempt to find joy. Second, I want to be patient with myself with my health stuff. There’s nothing particularly measurable about this, but it’s something I need to be reminded of – and I will because I have my resolutions written on an oversized post-it note right under my computer screens on my desk at work!

My 2019 Resolutions are posted where I will see them all day 5 days a week

With all that said, here are my 2019 resolutions:

  1. Exercise/move 4x week (includes a good walk for Way Pup)
  2. Personal
  3. Enjoy this year as much as possible
  4. Pack healthy lunches for work
  5. Work as long as possible and work on delegating
  6. Take my full vacation/leave available from work
  7. Save $X dollars by August (goal agreed to with Way)
  8. Have Christmas Cards ready by Black Friday
  9. Take monthly photos
  10. Celebrate Way’s birthday
  11. Be patient with myself
  12. Clean the house 1x week
  13. Turn thesis into journal article by June
  14. Run 2 5k’s (1 in April, 1 in ?)

Let’s see how I do this year! I’ll do what I can to update you as the year progresses. Now it’s your turn! What are your resolutions? Did you have any that you created back in January and let slip? Now’s that chance to get back on. Are you like me and just now coming up with yours? Have you had any years when you’ve felt completely out of control? Do you still feel that way or have you managed to get a bit of control back? If you have some abstract/nonspecific resolutions, go ahead and add them – it’s totally okay to have a blend of specific goals and nonspecific resolutions. This is your list! Let me know! I’d love to get some comments!

Love is for Everyone, Not Just Couples

Happy Valentine’s Day! I Last week when I posted that I would share my New Year’s Resolutions with you this week, I completely forgot that today would be Valentine’s Day. I do have my resolutions written down and ready to go, but I’m going to save them for next week. Today, I am thinking about Valentine’s Day and love. No, not necessarily romantic love (even though that’s all very well and nice and I am hopelessly in love with my husband). I’m thinking about love in general. Love between a parent and a child. Love between friends. Love for your family. Love for your pets. Love for your job or school. Love for your hobby. Love for your neighbor. Love for other people. Self-love. There are so many ways to love and none of them should be excluded, particularly today.

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Realistic New Year’s Resolutions (yes, in February)

Hello! Yes, I’ve been MIA for a full month and I apologize for leaving you all hanging with absolutely no word. Towards the end of December, I received some pretty big news and it threw me off my game for all of January. Seriously, I basically went MIA from the internet, including my Facebook, my Instagram, and this blog. Plus, my work schedule has become extra busy as a big project has ramped up…a lot…with me taking on a really big role. You and this little blog have been on my mind every single week though.

Part of why I’ve been absent is because, thanks to the big news, I haven’t been able to think of some good New Year’s Resolutions because a lot of things are out of my control. Namely, the stuff I really care about. I wish there were some good resolutions that could eventually get me where I want to be and there are probably some good resolutions out there that haven’t come to mind yet. However, I promised you all some guidelines for setting New Year’s Resolutions…but I don’t have any of my own. It’s the first full week of February and for the first time since 2011, I haven’t set any resolutions.

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Don’t Drive Yourself Crazy Preparing for Next Year. Enjoy the End of This Year First

I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas (or non-Christmas if you don’t celebrate it) and are enjoying some quiet time before the new year kicks off next week. Just like every year, I can barely believe that the year is nearly over and that next year is about to start.

Speaking of next year, this past month has bombarded me with information about starting 2019 off right and needing to plan ahead so that I can hit the ground running for the Best.Year.Ever! I have also been told that I need a theme for 2019. My favorite is the idea that next year will be ruined if I don’t plan right now. What I hear is that, on top of being busy with last minute gifts, cooking for Christmas dinner, spending time with family, and still living my regular life (working full time, keeping the house clean, the dog fed and walked, and the chickens fed), I have to plan ahead with a theme and a 20 step action plan to make sure I accomplish all my goals for once? HA!

Right here, right now, I give us both permission to ignore that advice. If you have the energy and desire to plan ahead and think of what you want to accomplish next year, go for it! You do you! But if you’re like me, don’t worry about it. Coming up with some ideas on January 1 versus coming up with some ideas on January 7 won’t make a difference in your year. Think about it, having your list of goals and your theme and your action plan ready to go on day 1 versus day 7 out of 365 days total is nearly negligible. Heck, you don’t even need a list of goals or a theme or an action plan! There are plenty of people who don’t do New Year’s Resolutions. Personally, I go with some concrete goals that I want to accomplish, but I’ve never had a theme (I’ve never had a theme for anything – my wedding, the baby shower I hosted, my life).

The point is, enjoy the end of 2018. Recover from the holidays. 2019 will be here soon enough as it is and we can face it then. Right now, enjoy the quiet time between Christmas and the New Year. If you want to find me, Way Pup will be squishing me on the couch as we watch movies and eat popcorn.

It’s hard to see in this photo, but Way Pup is leaning into me with all his weight and squishing me on the couch so I am stuck and must pet him

Distracted By All Your Holiday To-Dos? Try My Favorite Technique to Get the Important Stuff Done

Merry Almost Christmas!

It’s the Thursday before Christmas! If you’re like me, your brain is probably full of stocking stuffer to-dos and Christmas menu recipes and last minute shopping items. At the same time, you probably still need to be productive – whether you are taking/administering finals, have a full-time job, stay home with kids, or a combination of any of those – when all you want to do is wrap those last gifts, bake those last minute tasty treats, watch yet another video of how to make a beautiful Beef Wellington for your Christmas dinner, or go shopping for a new holiday outfit. Basically, anything but focus at work. Unfortunately for us, we still need to be productive. So what are we to do?!

Write All The Things And Then Prioritize

I really really really wish that I had some great, time-tested advice that works every time to stay focused. Instead, I have one main technique that I use and several backups.

The main thing I do to help me stay focused at work is to prioritize what MUST get done.

First, make a to-do list. If you need to, separate them into work to-dos and home to-dos. Get it all out on paper (but don’t freak out if it gets long…that’s okay). This first step is just about identifying everything that’s up in your head (well, everything related to what needs to be accomplished).

Second, prioritize what needs to get done. If you’re at work, decide what absolutely MUST get done first, then second, then third. Or, decide what absolutely MUST get done today/this week/this month. Is it getting that report out? Is it studying for your last final? Is it turning in grades? Is it analyzing that design and providing feedback? Is it responding to your client or your sub? For home, decide what is your top priority. Maybe it’s doing laundry so you have clean underwear tomorrow, or it’s finding a recipe for an easy Christmas dessert or finding a recipe for a showstopping main meal. Your priorities could change from one day to the next. Today, you might have to go to the end-of-year HOA meeting and tomorrow you might have a fun activity planned with a friend, while knowing that this weekend you need to go grocery shopping for your Christmas dinner. In between you also know you need to walk the dog, feed the chickens, and oh yeah, feed yourself.

Third, start with the highest priority thing on your list. Wherever you are, start with that list. If you’re at work, start with that list because that’s what you’re getting paid to do. If you’re at home, start with that list.

my to-do list this week
Way Pup helped with cleaning up the yard after some branches fell down (which got marked off on my to-do list above)

That’s the main thing I do! It sounds simple because…it is. You don’t need a complex system to get stuff done. You just need a system. If you worry that you’re wasting time by writing everything down, you’re probably wasting even more time by not focusing. If you take 10 minutes to write everything out and another 5 to prioritize, that’s better than spending 30 minutes spinning your wheels. Just sayin’.

Also just sayin’, go ahead and add stuff to your to-do list so you can cross it off.

Backups

If this doesn’t work, there are other things you can try, such as:

  • Clean. This isn’t glamorous, but picking up your space (especially if you have lots of paper and dirty dishes lying around) can really help you. Chances are, you probably already know this technique and use it, but a reminder is always good. I’d say that over half the women I talk to clean when they have other important stuff to do. So, if you need to clean, then pick up your space and then get right to work.
  • Go for a 10-15 minute walk. This might help some people, but for me it’s just more time to think about what I need to to. I take walks to get fresh air, not to refocus.
  • Use a timer. I’ve tried timers with limited success, but they really do work for some people. The most common timer method is the Pomodoro principle – work for 20 minutes, take a break for 5, work for 20 minutes, break for 5, repeat until you’re done. Another way is how someone at work uses a time – he has a timer set every 30 minutes to remind him to stand up and stretch, stop goofing off, or change tasks, which works really well for him.
  • Change location. If you usually work in one spot, changing locations can sometimes be a huge difference. In college, I spent the semesters studying in my dorm room, but then would always move to a favorite coffee shop to study for finals. When I was tied to my desk, I would try to change which part of my desk where I worked (it’s an L-shaped desk). Now, my office has a lounge where we can take our laptops if we want to get out of our offices. So, if it’s an option for you, try changing it up.

Whether or not you celebrate Christmas, we all have times when we need to focus at work but it’s the last thing we want to do. Hopefully the advice above will help you out and help you focus when you least want to, year round.

And finally, Merry Christmas! Whether or not you celebrate, I wish you a joyful holiday season and best wishes for the last few days of 2018.