Ready to sweeten life? Throw out a sour mindset?

As the author of a mystery series–a relatively solitary occupation–I can’t afford to let my inspiration  ebb away. I’m constantly looking for new sources of motivation, the confidence to tackle new projects, an trying to keep negative thoughts (I’ll never sell a book again) at bay.

Here are a couple of ideas to keep the inspiration flowing and the motivation high. Go get a couple of empty jars, some paper to cut into slips, and a pen. Now.  Really.

The Small Victories Jar

This is a variation on one of the rituals I wrote about in a New Year’s blog post. Keep a jar somewhere you’ll see it every day before you go to bed, along with some slips of paper and a pen. Before you go to bed write down at least one small achievement for that day. Maybe you resisted temptation and didn’t buy a latte. Maybe you didn’t make a cutting remark to that co-worker. Maybe you got that report done on time.

When you are feeling blue, read the slips of paper that have accumulated. You will realize that you have more strength than you thought.

The Memory Jar

This suggestion for a jar comes from (She’s nice. Read her blog.) Her suggestion is to write down good things that happen and put them in a jar. Date the slips of paper and write a short description of the event. To take it a step further, have everyone in the family contribute. Pull the papers out and read them on special occasions or anytime you are feeling nostalgic.

The Pay It Forward Jar

The December edition of InStyle magazine had this tip in its Entertaining section. When you are hosting a party, fill a jar with notes that contain a suggestion for random acts of kindness. As your guests depart, let them each pull out a suggestion they could do the next day, such as “Let someone else go first in line” or Compliment a stranger.”

Take this one step further by pulling out a suggestion yourself once a week or so. See if what they say about acts of kindness rebounding on the giver comes true.

The Purposeful Tip Jar

When I was young, my family held formal meetings where we made group decisions about things like buying a new television. We took turns recording the minutes (years later my mother and I found my sister’s entries in the meeting notebook and laughed until we cried) and all contributed to the fund for big purchases. The lesson about incremental saving was a powerful one.

Start saving change with a specific goal in mind. It is amazing how much change we all have lying around. Gather it up, put a label on a jar and give it a purpose. Not only will it ensure that pennies don’t get sucked up by the vacuum cleaner but when you have saved enough for the item, you can put a new entry into the Small Victories jar!

Do you have a suggestion for creating inspiration? I’d love to hear it!


  1. Loida

    Three years late. I just saw that you mentioned me on your blog. Thanks!

    • Carmen

      So glad you checked in! I think I sent you a tweet when it first went live 🙂

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sweeten life


Mystery and thriller author. Retired Central Intelligence Agency intel officer. Dog mom to Hazel and Dutch. Recovering Italian handbag addict.


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