We make resolutions, fight the good fight for a while, and then lose track and lose heart.
This year, break the resolution-defeat-discouragement cycle before it gets going. Start some rituals instead. These 10 help me keep writing, hit deadlines, and generally stay sane.
1. Make a daily to-do list
Have at least 3 specific things on the list you want to get done that day. Nothing vague like lose weight. One should relate to a larger goal. The list needs to be written down—on your phone, on a sticky note. Don’t keep mental lists, they are easily misplaced and fatiguing.
2018 update: I’m giving Triple fold-out planning folios from Levenger’s a try. With the whole week on one expanding accordian card, I can easily carry over unfinished tasks from one day to the next.
2. Own a Calendar
Put it on the wall, on your phone, in a planner. Get into the habit of looking at the month view rather than just the day or week layout. A month gives you a larger perspective for planning purposes. Don’t just let the year happen.
3. Watch or Read Some International News
The world is a big place! Know what is going on beyond your own doorstep. It will stretch your brain, give you new perspectives and give you something interesting to say in an interview, cocktail party, or the first day in a new job. Try BBC News.
4. Keep a Small Victory List
Especially when things seem bad, you need to record the small victories. Got the child to stop crying, remembered to set up that automatic payment into your savings account, brought a mug to work to drink office coffee instead of buying a latte, etc. After a few weeks of keeping such a list, you’ll recognize talents you didn’t know you had.
5. Say Hello and Goodbye
We can enrich our relationships with just a hail and farewell. Greetings are such simple things but they provide acknowledgment and respect.
6. Thank the person who prepared or brought your meal
In our house, the dinner prayer always ends with a thank-you to whomever cooked. At a restaurant, we always thank the server. Gratitude for food sometimes gets lost in a fast food culture but it is basic good manners and always appreciated.
7. Eat at least 1 meal/day with an identifiable vegetable component
We can’t live by carbs and fried stuff alone. Eat something green, something fresh. Your colon and arteries will thank you.
8. Save Money
Put something in the bank every month or every payday. If you can set up an automatic deposit to a savings account, do it. Doesn’t have to be a lot. But the ritual of paying yourself first will pay dividends (pun intended) down the road.
9. Make a Schedule for Checking Your Finances
Every 2 weeks or so, check all your online banking accounts (write a reminder on the calendar!) Open up the statements that came in the mail and got dumped by the sofa. Have a folder for tax-related items and stick stuff in there. If you pay bills online, know when credit card bills are due and pay them ahead of time.
10. Stretch in the morning
Get out of the bed and stretch. Feel the spine crack. Do a few arm circles. Touch the old toes. Get the blood going. See, a small victory already!
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Mystery and thriller author. Retired Central Intelligence Agency intel officer. Dog mom to Hazel and Dutch. Recovering Italian handbag addict.