Perfect for the start of a new year – start where you are.
Goal: the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result.
Resolution: a firm decision to do or not do something.
Some people set goals, some people set resolutions for the new year, and some people do both. For me, the connotation of “resolution” is different from goal – or at least it can be. For me a resolution is a “New Year’s Resolution,” something set for what you want to do in the new year (or even stop doing in the new year). A goal, on the other hand, can be a longer-range activity. Perhaps there is no real difference or my interpretation is wrong. At any rate, I have personally found it more helpful to set goals rather than resolutions.
To set my goals (long term and short term), I consider different areas of my life:
- Soul or Spirituality
I also consider both long-term and short-term goals. I don’t like to look too far ahead so I might set five-year goals, three-year goals, and one-year goals. Those can all typically be broken down into smaller goals, which will be easier to work into monthly goal lists, as well as weekly goal lists.
Once goals are broken down like that, it is easy (or easier) to see what steps can be taken daily to move closer to achieving goals.
Things to remember when setting goals:
- Make sure you have goals that will make you stretch. If they are all immediately do-able, you won’t feel you’ve really achieved anything once you’re done.
- Make sure that you are fairly reasonable. For example, if you are 40 and out of shape, the goal “Become an NFL running back” isn’t really something you can expect to accomplish.
- Keep your goals where you can see them regularly. It can help keep you motivated.
- Review weekly or at least monthly to see any progress you’ve made, and also to determine where you need to refocus.
- Reward yourself for achievements, even if it is a small reward.
- Set goals that motivate you – if you aren’t motivated by them, you won’t work hard to achieve them or even follow through on them.
- Have someone hold you accountable – basically, TELL someone what your goals are and have them check with you periodically.
- Keep your goals written down. Just the act of writing them down reinforces your goals.
Just for kicks and giggles, I decided to see how many different types of journals I could come up with that a person could keep. There is a lot of benefit to be had from keeping a journal – the regular type. I’d imagine that you could get a lot of benefit from many of these. This is my complete list. Do you have any additions? If so, feel free to add them in the comments.
- Time capsule
- Dream journal
- Exercise journal
- Response to specific event (i.e., birth, marriage, disaster)
- Meditation or spiritual
- Thematic (i.e., on a theme such as values, topics you’re studying, et cetera)
- Set goals, not resolutions – or at the very least, combine the two. It is great to resolve to lose weight, but in order to actually accomplish that, you need GOALS.
- Make self-care a big part of your life. It is important enough to SCHEDULE it.
- Be present. Don’t wish away your time. Focus on where you are, WHEN you are.
- Be grateful. Look around you and appreciate what you DO have. Say thank you to people who help you or show appreciation.
- Resolve personal issues as soon as you can. Give yourself a fresh start for the new year.
- Is there something that you are passionate about? Get involved! Find your cause and take part in whatever way suits you – letter writing, taking part in a walk, etc.
- Keep your promises both to yourself and others.
- Don’t compare yourself, your life, your possessions, or anything else to others. You will be much happier, and you don’t gain anything from the comparisons.
- Replace a bad habit with a good habit.
- Take action. Do something today to move yourself closer to your goals. Take another action tomorrow…and the day after that. Make it a habit to take small steps toward your goals daily.
- Do 30-day challenges. Set a challenge once a month – 30 days of gratitude, 30 days of exercise, 30 days of frugality, 30 days of self-care…and see what a difference each makes in your life.
- Spend time alone to focus on your goals, your dreams, and what you REALLY want. Keep a notebook of ideas, goals, etc.
- Develop a theme for the new year. I used “Soar like an eagle” for 2014 and used it to motivate me to try harder and to stretch myself.
- Let go of things or people that drain you. If it isn’t helping you, it is probably hindering. Look at the people around you – are they supportive or are they negative?
- If you feel overwhelmed, take a step back, say no to new obligations, and take care of yourself. You will feel better after a rest and be more productive.
- Plan date nights – with your significant other or even yourself. Try something new and different that you both have an interest in, or something that you’ve always wanted to do. Do this at least once a month.
- Simplify. Clean out a drawer, a closet, a room once a month or so. If you haven’t touched something in six months, ask yourself if you really need it or if you can find another if you DO need it later.
- Take care of the world around you as well. Recycle. Reuse, where possible. Donate gently used clothing. Use lightbulbs that are longer lasting. Use green cleaning materials to clean your house.
- Get up earlier. Even if it is just 15-20 minutes, it should give you a little time to sit and enjoy your coffee, read an article, or write in your journal.
- Take a walk in the rain. It can be very invigorating, romantic, and sensual.
- Enjoy a three course meal. Do this by finding three friends, or couples, and having each bring a course. Ok, yes, you should count yourself, so either have two friends or have a four course meal…LOL. There you go – a large, extravagant meal without you having to do ALL of the cooking! Fancy!
- Be a Bookcrosser (check out Bookcrossing.com). Register one of your favorite books with Bookcrossing, write its number in the cover, then leave it in the wild for someone to find.
- Celebrate your accomplishments! When you achieve a goal, CELEBRATE! Make a big deal. There is nothing like positive reinforcement 😀
- Forgive. Forgive those who hurt you – but remember enough not to let it happen again. I am not saying to forget what was done to you, but forgive for your own mental and emotional health.
- Stop being excessively nice. When someone hurts your feelings, say so. Mind you, you can do so nicely, but stand up for yourself.
- Ignore the Joneses. Focusing on what others have does nothing to make our lives better. In fact, it can dull the shine on our own lives. Appreciate what you have and ignore the Jones’; what they have isn’t your concern.
- Visit one new place a month! Expand your horizons! Look around the area in which you live; you might be surprised at how much there is to do.
- Try a new cuisine. Talk to friends and get recommendations. Read the restaurant reviews in your local paper.
- Join a book club. Talk to friends about what you are reading, and ask about things they like to read.
- Learn a new hobby.
- Develop a meditation and breathing routine.
- Make a list of activities that you enjoy and do one per month – or more, if money and time permit!
- Keep a gratitude journal. List 5 things every day.
- Keep a journal – even if just a line or two whenever you feel like it. Explore different kinds of journals – one line a day, work, travel, reading…there are a ton of ways to keep a journal.
- Plant something. Work in the dirt – it is a great way to relieve stress and ground yourself.
- Cut back on communications. You don’t really, REALLY need to be texting in the bathroom, the car, while in the checkout line at the grocery store. Try checking your email once a day, not as soon as you get a notification.
- Purge your stuff. Donate, throw away, clean out things that you no longer use, haven’t touched in six months or more, or can no longer use.
- Take a deep breathe, leave yourself more time to get to work, and drive slower. Racing through traffic can be stressful. Make sure you don’t need to and you may actually enjoy your day more.
- Cut activities that no longer serve a purpose, or that complicate your life unnecessarily. Free that time up to use doing things you truly enjoy, or to spend with family and friends.
- Get your finances in order.
- Accept your current circumstances, limitations, strengths, and weaknesses. Acceptance will help ease stress and anxiety and allow you to move forward and make changes to improve things where improvements need to be made. Accept that you will be making changes to your life gradually; much like losing weight, making changes gradually will make them more likely to stick.
- Get out into nature. Literally stop and smell the roses. Look at local natural wonders – waterfalls, beaches, mountains, streams, deserts all have their beauty.
- Pay attention to why you back away from something that originally really excited you. Frequently it is fear. Facing that fear and dealing with it may help you move forward with things that will change your life.
- If something isn’t working in your life, don’t wait for someone to come along and fix it. Make a change yourself. Give up complaining – and take action.
- Learn a new language. The process of learning a new language and becoming familiar with a different culture can change you and your outlook.
- Start a life handbook. My concept of this is that it contains tips on self-improvement, quotes that mean something to me, life lessons, and ideas. It could even include dreams, goals, and more.
- Learn something new every day – a word, a fact, how to do something. Look for lessons everywhere.
- Spend quality time with loved ones and friends. Sounds so simple, but when you are with them really focus on them. Interestingly enough, what you give, you will get back. If you truly pay attention to others, more than likely they will respond.
- Give up gossip. It is negative and will bring you down. Focus on the positives instead. Your outlook will think you for it!
- Remember that change can be good. It can be scary but some changes are good. Write down positive changes and focus on those when you are worried about upcoming changes.
- Try yoga. Good for mind and body!
- Clean your desk and room – and keep them that way. This will help you focus and will also reduce stress; clutter is, believe it or not, a source of stress.
And that is my list of 52 steps. I hope it helps, and I hope that you enjoyed it! If you have additions for a future list, please feel free to comment!
Life is stressful and complicated – I am fairly certain that we can all agree on that. Many families either have two parents working or are single-parent homes. Add to that schedules for children that require families to be in multiple places at the same time and you find stress – how to feed the family, be involved with both children, work, get laundry done, and so on. Other stresses for people with or without children include travel for work, long work hours, having to work holidays, not being able to make ends meet, committing to too many things, not having enough time, eating poorly, inability to accept things as they are, and failure to take time to relax. Of course, those just scratch the surface. I am a mother of two, one of whom has a chronic illness that she will never grow out of, a lifelong situation that has changed her life and those of me and the rest of the family. We face the stresses of changes in her condition, hospital stays, lots and lots of doctor visits of various types, and the fact that even simple things like having her teeth examined by a dentist are complicated. That doesn’t even begin to describe the stress of trying to make sure that our son, who doesn’t have health issues, doesn’t feel neglected. Stressors abound.
In view of all this, I have been trying to find ways to de-stress, lessen my anxiety, and take care of myself. I want to be a better worker (I work part time), better spouse, and better mother. I have found that to be impossible as long as I am stressed to the max, anxious alm0st all time time, and beginning to see physical side effects of stress. Here are a list of things that I have tried and found help me. Some or all of them may appeal to you. I hope that at least some of them will help you as well.
- Soak your feet in hot water and Epsom salts. I use about one cup of Epsom salts in a dishpan that I use specifically for soaking my feet (purchased on Amazon, but can probably be found at Wal-Mart or Target). I make the water fairly hot and soak for 10 minutes or so. Then put moisturizer on your feet and cover with stocks. I highly recommend this an hour or so before bed – it even helps me sleep.
- Solitude. Sometimes you just need a brief break – some quiet to either contemplate the situation or to not think about it at all. As I mentioned earlier, I have two delightful, wonderful children – one of whom is very chatty. Sometimes I just need a few minutes of quiet to gather my thoughts. In my experience, I have less stressful days when I can have 15-20 minutes of time to myself.
- Fifteen minutes to yourself when you get home. I highly recommend taking fifteen minutes or so when you get home to sit in a quiet place and unwind. Ask your children to give you a few minutes before asking you anything – or go in your room and shut the door. Let them know it will just be a short time. Read for a few minutes, rock in a rocking chair, crochet, write, or whatever else helps you relax. If just sitting helps, by all means sit and be still.
- Keep a journal. Write out the good things, as well as the bad. You can look back at the good memories on days you need something to perk you up. Also, seeing what you’ve overcome can help as well. In addition, sometimes writing out a problem can help you see things more clearly. Remember, there is no rule that says you have to keep any or all of your journal. If you feel better burning, shredding, or otherwise disposing of what you’ve written, then do so.
- Be sure to get enough sleep. At least once a week, go to bed at earlier than normal to make sure you get a good night’s sleep. If you have trouble sleeping, try getting more exercise. If that doesn’t work, talk to a doctor or look into other methods of getting help with sleep problems.
- Clear some clutter. Believe it or not, by organizing, you will make yourself feel better. Clutter is a source of stress. When you cannot find something, you get frustrated and worried, especially if it is something like car keys or cell phones. It results in time spent looking for things rather than being productive.
- Five things to give up:
- People pleasing
- Negative self-talk
- The need to be right
- Running from things you fear
- Exercise a little every day. There are some creative ways to work exercise into your day; do some research on Google. Even 20 minutes a day is a big help, and may help you sleep better too!
- Make a humor file – collect articles from magazines or newspapers, comic strips, pictures, etc. – anything that makes you laugh or smile. Pull it out on tough days.
- Read, read, read. Sometimes curling up with a good book, whether it is fiction, nonfiction, science fiction, book, magazine, or whatever, is a great escape for a while – long enough to relax and unwind a bit.
- Practice gratitude. If you are feeling stressed or depressed, sit down and make a list of five things that you are grateful for; it doesn’t matter what it is. Start small: a flower, the breeze, waking up this morning, the tree outside your window, the sunset.
- Cut back on junk food, caffeine, and sugar. Don’t overuse alcohol.
- When stressed, focus on what you can control – and stop worrying about the things that you can’t. Keep telling yourself to do that until it gets to be a habit. Worrying about things you cannot change won’t change things, won’t make them better – but it can make your stress worse and make you sick.
- Replace negative self-talk with positive. This can be something along the lines of using positive affirmations. Reframe the negative things you tell yourself. For example, if you think something like, “I can’t do this,” rephrase it to: “I’m not sure how to do this yet, but I will learn.”
- Cut back on electronics and media. Keeping up with world happenings is a good thing overall, but it is negative in general. Bad news sells papers. Cut back on the amount of time you spend on computer, playing games, reading the news, following the news stories. Spend more time with family, reading, exercising, or doing a hobby.
- Take up a hobby – speaking of hobbies! Learn something new or pick up something you’ve been doing already. Crochetcan be very relaxing – and yes, men crochet or knit too…
- On Being a Man Who Knits
- No Yarn: Charity Does Good With Stitch In Time
- Meet the Soldier Who Learned to Crochet In Afghanistan
- Try meditation. Start small – mediate for five minutes. Keep practicing – it takes time to build up but any amount should help your stress levels.
- Take an online course and stretch yourself.
- Do something nice for someone.
- Stop trying to be someone else, for someone else – or trying to live your life to please someone else. Be yourself – live your values and your interests and follow your dreams. You’ll find that relieves a LOT of stress.
- Sit on the back porch and enjoy your favorite beverage as the sun rises or sets. Enjoy the sounds of nature.
- Practice healthy breathing – many people don’t breathe correctly and stress can affect breathing as well.
- Learn to acknowledge all of your feelings – including the negative ones, like anger and jealousy. Recognize when you are feeling them, explore why you are feeling them, and acknowledge them. Then let them go.
- Cry – let it all out. Sometimes you just need to vent and let out some of your internal pressure. It is a way of releasing pressure and stress.
- Make a list of activities that you enjoy doing – and do one.
- Say no to something that you really don’t want to do, or say no if you don’t have enough energy to commit to something else. Forget what other people say or think – this is for your own well-being.
- Stop watching TV and read instead.
- Set your own goals and get away from living by someone else’s rules and goals for you.
- Determine your core values and make sure your job and your lifestyle are aligned with them. When they aren’t in agreement, there is a disconnect and it can be very stressful.
- Develop coping strategies. Sources of help include:
- Common Coping Responses for Stress
- Stress Management
- 101 Ways to Cope With Stress
Sources of information:
Clear Clutter Out of Your Life
Why Mess Causes Stress
Recognizing a rut
What does a rut look like and feel like?
“Stuck in a rut” is an idiom that means being mired in routine. The figurative phrase calls to mind the image of a wagon wheel hopelessly trapped in a deep rut on an unpaved road. It feels like nothing is changing, that your life is the same all the time. Basically, it is a fixed, usually boring routine. You can be in a rut in relationships, at work, in exercise or diet. Ever had that feeling that you were going nowhere? Just spinning your wheels? That every day was the same? When you are out of inspiration and ideas, you are stuck in a rut. How can you get out of it ? How can you get back to being creative, energetic, enthusiastic?
- Remember what you want. Do you want to participate in a marathon? Do you want THAT more than you want the doughnut at work? How about free time on the weekend? Do you want that enough to do laundry during the evening during the week?
- Listen to your gut, your instinct. I have found that when I feel a situation isn’t right for me, I should trust that feeling. If something comes up that is a little out of your comfort zone, but you are interested in it, take a chance and do it. You may find out something about yourself or your hidden abilities!
- Look at your to-do list and start on small tasks. Clearing off your list can help make room for new ideas, new projects, and new ideas. It can also give you energy, believe it or not. Sometimes simply getting moving in ANY direction can help you refocus.
- Work on a self-improvement project. No, I don’t mean a DIY house project or anything similar. I mean, improve YOURSELF. Read a book outside of your normal interests or even one on a subject you are interested in but don’t know much about. Write a letter to the editor. Take an online course; there are a lot of them available from mainstream universities online and FREE. Take a class at the community college. Go to a seminar.
- Talk to a friend or go out to dinner or a movie. Sometimes getting out and about and spending time with others can get your mind off of the rut and help you break out of it.
- Get some exercise. Not only may that spur new ideas and energy, it will improve your overall health and sleep.
- Break your pattern by doing something that you wouldn’t normally do. If someone asks you to go to an ethic restaraunt that you haven’t been to or t see a movie of a genre that you don’t usually choose, say YES instead of no.
- Amazingly enough, helping someone else can help you. If you simply cannot think of a way to get out of the rut, help out in a soup kitchen, clean out the closet and donate to a veterans’ group or local charity.
- Don’t worry so much about mistakes. If you try too hard to avoid failure, you will avoid success as well. Learn from your mistakes; that is how you grow and develop good ideas and stimulate creativity, rather than stifling it.
- Remember that “this too shall pass.” Everything passes, given enough time. If you are in a rut, remember that you will move through this; there will be brighter days ahead.
- Check your diet; sometimes eating too much junk, drinking too many things that are bad for you can make you feel stuck or uncomfortable. Check it out and try eating a little healthier, changing a little at a time.
- Try a change of scenery – something simple like a walk in a natural area or as involved as a vacation. Change your location and your surroundings. Sometimes that is all it takes to jolt you back to creativity. In addition, time away from the tasks at hand can give your mind the break it needs.
- Believe it or not, doodling helps. Draw simple drawings or repetitive designs on a notepad for a little while. Do it every day. Do it when you are listening to someone or while watching TV. You will be surprised at how well this works to jump-start creativity. Check out “zen doodling” or “zen doodles” or “doodle art” online – you will find a lot of ideas.
- Go for a long drive and listen to loud music.
- Listen to some TED talks.
- If your rut is diet, buy a new cook book. Try a new type of food. Try a new spice or ingredient. Go to a new restaurant or try a new dish at your favorite restaurant.
- When you are at the grocery store, pick up a vegetable or fruit that you’ve never tried before.
- To keep weight loss continuing or to get off a weight loss “plateau,” change up your exercise routine. Make sure you do different types of exercise: walking, basketball, racquet ball, aerobics, et cetera.
- Learn something new. Pick up a new hobby, take an online course, go to a seminar.
- Set some goals. Find something that you’ve always wanted to accomplish, set a goal and a time to accomplish it, and then break the goal down into smaller steps. The goals don’t have to be large to start with; accomplishing anything, even a small goal, will help.
- If you are in a relationship rut, do something with your partner that is out of the ordinary. If you don’t go to the theater, find something local and go. Try out the local symphony. Go to see a local sports team play. Buy a conversation starter pack (cards with conversation starters) and try that. Surprise your partner with a night out on the town – or even out of town!
- Attend a lecture with your partner – then go discuss it over coffee or dessert.
- Go out to dinner, try a new cuisine – and TURN OFF THE CELL PHONES! Talk to each other, hold hands, go for a walk.
Last year, I tried to brainstorm gift ideas for father’s day. My husband is NOT easy to buy for and I figured others are probably in the same boat. That list and my list of gifts on a budget are two of my more popular posts, so I thought I would try this again last year (also, I had a request from a reader 🙂 . Here are some updated ideas.
- A Father’s Day Weekend: Take over the responsibilities around the house – for entire weekend. For example, my husband let me sleep in both Saturday and Sunday on Mother’s Day weekend; normally, I sleep in Saturdays and he sleeps in Sundays. If your husband normally takes out the trash, then take that over for the weekend. If you are doing this for your father, then do things to make his life a little easier – take the car and put gas in it. Cut the grass.
- Handmade “certificates”: good for “one day out without complaint,” “one day without taking out the trash,” “one day child-free,” “one day out with the guys – with no complaints,” and anything else you might think he’d enjoy. Children could also make something along these lines – with coupons for “one bedroom cleaning without complaint” and so forth.
- For the reader: handmade bookmarks, preferably by your child(ren). Audiobooks are good for fathers that have a commute – even books for Kindles if they commute by train/light rail/bus or if they simply like to have things to read wherever they are! Other ideas: a container with his favorite beverage, a snack, and a book (or gift certificate to a book store.)
- Dinner: with your little (or not so little) helpers, make his favorite dinner and have all of the family eat together. Two years ago, I took my oldest with me and let him pick out things to make for dinner for Daddy; he did a very good job of picking out things that Daddy really enjoyed and I think it was good experience in thinking about others.
- Little every-day gifts: Really listen when he talks. If he has a bad day, step in without complaint and do the day-to-day things around the house that he normally takes care of and do it without complaint and without being asked. Encourage him to spend some time with his friends. Take pictures of him with the kids – frame his favorites. Push him and the kids out the door with balls, rackets, etc. so they can play together.
- Touching: Write him a letter about how much you appreciate what he does as a father. Have your kids write one too.
- Nuts: If he likes nuts, buy a big container of them and attach a handmade decoration that says “We’re Nuts About Daddy.” Another idea: take a peanut M&M bag (not the big bag) and put a string or rubber band around the middle to make it look like a bow-tie. Then attach a note that says “To the best Daddy, from your little Peanut” (or peanuts…LOL).
- For a wife to give: go with him to do something that you don’t normally: monster truck rally, sports event, paintball, fishing, or learn to do something that he enjoys (like his hobby).
- Cute: A bottle of soda with a tie and a note: For the Best Pop Ever, a container of Reese’s Pieces with a note -“We love you to pieces”.
- A Man’s Bouquet: attach candy to his favorite pens/pencils and put in a cup of his favorite sports team or TV show.
- Make homemade ice cream cookies – using homemade cookies (his favorite of course), scoop out ice cream on to one and press the other on top. Smooth over the sides and it is finished!
- Craft stores frequently have coffee mugs that children can put a drawing in; have the kids finish that and then fill with samples of coffee or his favorite candy.
- For the reader (2): have the kids make book marks, then laminate them (or use the laminating sheets you can get at an office supply store). Another great idea: scan your child’s artwork, shrink several down, and print out several in a row to create a memorable bookmark to laminate. You can also use the scanned artwork to print miniatures out, put
- Picture: Frame his favorite picture of the family in a beautiful frame – or have it professionally framed. You could also put a favorite quote about fathers or fatherhood in a frame – print it out yourself in a nice font.
- Super simple but from the heart: write your father a letter and tell him what you love most, your favorite memories, and so on. Have your children do this for your husband.
- Candy bars: there are a lot of really cute printables out there that you can wrap around his favorite candy bar (“Million Dollar Dad”, “We’re Nuts over You” – over a Payday Bar, and more).
- Miscellaneous: digital photo key chain (sometimes are found at drugstores relatively inexpensively), cheese/sausage/cracker tray, his favorite beer, have a lawn service cut the grass for June.
- Shocking thought: ask him what he would like MOST for father’s day…
If you have any suggestions, please feel free to leave them in the comments. I’m looking for more ideas too!
Filed under Family, Gifts, Lists