My 2014 Resolution Challenge Part One


I’ve been poking around on the internets for ideas on how exactly to best come up with resolutions AND keep them in 2014.  I found a lot of challenges I’m interested in – reading challenges, fitness challenges, etc. but I want to have well-rounded resolutions that provide me with a balanced life and gives me some things that I’ve been wanting in my life.  So, I’ve thought about having a monthly challenge.  But, I tried that back in 2011 and it failed miserably.  So, then I thought maybe I should do a 52 week challenge.  But, I was a little intimidated with coming up with 52 things to do by January 1 and I want to have something well-planned when the year begins.  So, I’ve decided to have “focus areas” and each week, I will dedicate at least three hours (I admit the three hours is a totally random amount of time – but, it seemed doable – 180 minutes a week, divided up however it works out) to EACH of the focus areas.  That way, I have balance on a weekly basis.  So, you’re probably wondering what my focus areas are going to be.  I am too!  🙂  I am actually going back to an exercise we did in one of my leadership workshops this semester.  The leader of the workshop is a counselor in the student counseling center (not academic counselor, but psychiatric counselor) and her presentation was on prioritization and making good, healthy choices during a busy time (aimed at students, but us fellows were probably equally in need of the message).  She gave us a stack of cards, a little smaller than playing cards, kind of the size of business cards.  On each card was a word with a short description when necessary.  So, here are some examples:

And so it goes.  There are 20 cards.  She first had us go through and “discard” anything that wasn’t in our top concerns.  Then she had us repeat that – obviously, taking into consideration that at first we though all of the things left were “top” concerns.  We did it three or four times until we got down to five or six cards.  So, I’m feeling good about getting down to seven.  And those seven can become my “focus areas”.

If you would like a list of all 20, email me and I will send them to you with the short descriptions.  It is a fantastic exercise to do with family, friends and even workmates to see where different people’s priorities lie.  It also is good for decision-making since you can easily identify your top concerns and make your prioritized to-dos based on that knowledge.

So, tonight I will identify my seven areas and then I hope to continue this post in Part Two by identifying some specific action ideas/steps I can identify for each of those areas.  So, there is a priority and a to-do list based on that priority.  Some, I am sure, I will have many to-dos based on, others I may only have a few that will be repeated over and over again.  I’m kind of looking forward to this as it will help me to really be specific about my resolutions!   See you in Part Two!

Simplicity Sunday

Simplicity Sunday #7 – Gift Giving Edition

Christmas 2012
Christmas 2012

The past two years we have been at my in-laws for Christmas.  My MIL, who I love dearly, goes a bit overboard on the presents for my daughter.  Although, I must admit that the ball pit pictured above was from my husband’s cousin and she did love it, but we left it at Gigi and Papa’s due to room in our car and I don’t think she has been in it since.  That, my friends, is indicative of a typical Christmas present pattern.  She always gets something that she absolutely wants and loves (e.g. an ambulance with a full cast of driver, accident victim, gurney, etc.), but she also gets a bunch of stuff that she is excited about when she gets it and then hardly glances at after-the-fact.  In fact, last year, we had so much stuff to take home that we left the ball pit there, we told Gigi to “take back and save” one of her presents (an actual guitar, which I don’t think she was ready for mentally or physically – she got a fun little pre-school dog guitar that she loves) and we still were filled to the gills.  Then, she has a birthday in February, so in less than two months, she gets another on-slot of presents.  It is just crazy.  And we live in a relatively small place and it isn’t like me and my husband are hoarders, but we aren’t exactly living minimalists either.  So, we have a lot of STUFF.

So, as I mentioned yesterday, I have adopted the Four Gift approach this year.  I don’t know where the idea came from originally.  I read about it on a blog post last year and thought it was perfect.  Four gifts for each person on your list – something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read.  Simple, covers the bases and doesn’t end up producing a million toys that one child could never possibly find the time to play with during the year, even without the prospect of accumulating yet more at a later date.  My daughter will also get a few things from Santa Claus – her big gift will come from Santa – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Lego set.  It is a little above her age and the prospect of 480 parts really disturbs me, but she has been asking for that and not much else for the past month, so I feel like it is THE gift for her this year.  My sister got her a bunch of little things that are TMNT as well.  I would also like to get her a little bike with training wheels.  Right now she has a Big Wheel type ride with a handle for pushing and she has definitely advanced beyond that.  She also has a second-hand scooter that someone DIY fixed with a bolt that was too long as an axle and it threatens to take out her ankle every time she uses it, so I may get her a scooter instead.  I thought with the bike that maybe my husband and I could get bikes in the new year and make that our family thing since we have a bike trail about 1/4 mile away from our house, but I think that may be a little optimistic on my part.  We’ll see.  So, tomorrow I will be shopping for six or seven gifts for her – four from us in the categories I named and two or three from Santa, most of which will be small and cheap.

I decided a while ago that her reaction to dollar store items is often as or more excited as when we spend $30 on an item.  So, why be searching for something that costs a lot instead of searching for something that will make her happy.  If the TMNT Legos were something I could get secondhand, I would.  They are expensive.  I realize she will lose a lot of the pieces during the course of using them (it is inevitable).  I also realize that she may get them and decide she doesn’t really like them much (always a chance of that).  I am ready for all scenarios.  But, beyond that, she doesn’t need a ton of money spent on her.  She loves the little things.  She gets a lot of stuff all the time, so it isn’t like she is in need of much or hurting for items.  I am undecided on what I will get her in each category.  I am thinking of doing the same for some of my family members.  It makes it simple and doable and it has a theme, which I love.

So, that is what I will be doing tomorrow.  We have the sitter coming at 11:30 a.m. and we’ll head out, hoping most people are working and there won’t be impossible crowds to deal with.  I’m hoping I can get all the shopping done tomorrow, but we shall see.  I have also RAOKed a family that someone posted on our local freecycle list about – struggling financially, not having a Christmas, so I’m going to make all four of their kids stockings.  No big items there, but the dollar store will provide a lot for $15 or so on each kid and it makes me feel good to be giving someone something who needs it.  I got my husband a subscription to Beer Connoisseur magazine, so that takes care of his something to read.  I kind of hate shopping this last minute, but it will get done, so I’m not going to stress about it.

What about you?  Do you celebrate Christmas?  Do you have all your shopping done?  Do you limit gifts to your kids?  Do you spend a ton on Christmas?  I would love to hear about other’s Christmas gift giving plans!