Solving Your Life One Thing at a Time
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I can get so fired up over the simplest thing. My latest “thing” is a quote I read, which turns out to be attributed to an author named Rainbow Rowell. It goes:
“So, what if, instead of thinking about solving your whole life, you just think about adding additional good things. One at a time. Just let your pile of good things grow … “
I’ve always been a glass-half-full gal (that is, after all, how you pour a proper glass of wine). Still, it’s easy enough to get caught up in the things I didn’t get done, the calls I didn’t get made, the laundry I didn’t do, or the closet I didn’t clean.
This quote made me look at what I am doing. Turns out I’ve added half a dozen “good things” so far this year, and I’m just getting started. And I’ll bet you are too.
Sometimes adding good things to your life is more a struggle of inspiration than of dedication, so I’ve put together a list of ideas to help you (and me) get the juices flowing for a whole year of awesome.
Implement a daily schedule
People who do the same things in the same way day to day or week to week tend to get more done. A daily routine provides structure in your life, and bonus, with the priorities out of the way you’ll have more time for “extras”.
Use an Excel spreadsheet or a piece of paper or chalkboard – whatever works for you. Block out time for the things you want or need to get done – work hours, house chores, exercise, watering plants, working on projects, whatever you need to stay on track – and get them done. Maybe you need to shift things around sometime – that’s okay, it’s your schedule. But now you’ve got a framework and, more often than not, you’ll stick to it.
Up your skin game
If you’re doing the same thing you did in your teens or 20’s or even a couple of years ago, or if you never had much of a routine to begin with, it’s time to give some real thought to this – Are there problems you want to address? Problems you want to avoid?
Minimally you should be cleansing, toning, exfoliating and hydrating. There are fantastic serums, masks and potions at every price point to address your problem and improve your skin.
I wrote this blog after my last spa trip which lists out some of the amazing products I’m using and loving now. Some of them are a bit pricey, I know, but I’ve been using them consistently for about 6 or 7 months and honestly my skin has never looked better.
Another line which is very effective, organic and cruelty free at a great price point is Skin Nation Beauty. I especially love the cleanser and toner which completely removes my makeup without leaving my skin feeling dry.
It’s never too early or too late to start taking great care of your skin, ask any French mama.
We live in challenging times, and there’s a lot of people who could use some help, whether it’s reading to seniors, tutoring children, feeding the homeless or cleaning up a neighborhood.
If there’s a cause that’s near and dear to your heart, get involved even if only for a few hours a month. If you don’t know what to get involved with, Google up some volunteer activities in your area, pick one or two, and give them a try until you find what you love. You’ll help people and it puts your own problems in perspective.
While you’re at it, double the good by taking some pictures to post on your social media and inspire others.
If there’s literally not a moment in your month to spare, consider setting up a regular donation to a good cause. This could be the crowning jewel on your pile of good things.
Get your daily dose of H2O
Being properly hydrated helps your heart, digestion, energy level, skin, and a squillion other things – even weight loss.
Grab a glass of water every time you pass through the kitchen, or look like a yoga chic and carry around one of those flashy water bottles to sip it throughout the day. Give yourself a high-five every time you get in your water quota.
Move it … more
Getting in shape continues to be a top New Year’s resolution, but that’s a little vague to be much of a plan.
It doesn’t have to be a hard-core routine but you’ve got to do something to keep the body working. Just choose any activity you enjoy and can do regularly, and get jiggy.
If you need some ideas to start, check out my Pinterest Fitness board. Most of the things I’ve pinned there require little to no equipment, and can easily be done in the comfort of your home (or in the great outdoors).
Take advantage of extra opportunities too, such as taking the stairs, parking a distance from your destination, gardening or house cleaning, or maybe some of those volunteer activities.
Commit to a good, consistent routine for 3 or 4 weeks. After that, it will become a habit, you’ll see a change, and that will give you the motivation to keep going.
Trends change, faces change, but has your makeup products and methods? The way you did your makeup 10 years ago just may not be the most flattering to you now.
Pinterest and Youtube are great sources for finding ways to update you look based on your age and lifestyle. Develop a routine that makes you feel good about you.
Here’s a great video I found to demonstrate the ginormous difference the right makeup for your age can make, plus I thought it was really fun since it’s a mother and daughter. It’s a little long, so grab a glass of wine and enjoy.
Do you have cabinets or closets that jump out at you when you open them? If you’re not hearing harps play and angels sing when you open the door, it could be time for a little re-organization.
Tackling everything in the house all at once can be a bit daunting. Instead, pick one room, one cabinet, one closet, or one pile and go for it.
Use baskets, bins and decorative containers to corral clutter. Get rid of stuff you never use/don’t need/has exceeded its expiration date.
Here’s an organization blog I wrote that might give you a few ideas and help get you started.
Once you’re organized, or as you’re getting there, add a few minutes to your day each day – maybe first thing in the morning or last thing at night – to tidy up, so you don’t backslide.
My girlfriend and I were discussing why is it that, years ago, we had time to get together and hang out, and now it seems like there’s never any time. I thought about it more, and I think what it comes down to is that there weren’t any other options. Social media, email and texting didn’t exist, and Face Time was actual face time. if you wanted to talk to someone, you had to, um, talk to them.
It doesn’t have to take a huge time commitment to connect with friends face to face. It can be a simple meet-up for coffee or happy hour, with no agenda except to connect. Nobody has to clean or cook and you can catch up without hijacking your whole day.
Fix that “thing” you wanted to fix
Have you been wanting to get contacts or laser eye surgery, or maybe a laser facial, or something else just for you? Maybe you’ve been putting it off, maybe you’ve even decided “why bother?”
Here’s the thing, you can’t do anything any younger than you are right now.
One of my good things this year is that I’m finally straightening my bottom teeth with SmileDirectClub. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but yes, I kept putting it off until finally I figured, at my age, why bother. On a whim I checked it out and guess what? It wasn’t that dang expensive and the whole process doesn’t take very long (average time is about 6 months). I did one (free) appointment for a scan, everything arrived in the mail, and boom – just like that I’m on my way to a perfectly straight smile.
If there’s something you want, at least make a step in that direction. It may be easier than you think.
Didn’t watching The Big Chill make you want to get together with a bunch of close friends? Or the Julia Child Valentine party scene from Julie and Julia make you want to throw a cheesy Valentine party?
Opening your home to friends is intimate. It creates a sense of community. And it makes lasting memories.
Get out the good dishes, light some candles, put on some nice music, invite some friends, and voila, it’s a party. From there, it really doesn’t matter if you cook a meal or order pizza.
One other great addition to your party is a cell phone basket at the front door.
Eat your veggies
Don’t you think it’s way more fun to focus on what you should eat instead of what you shouldn’t?
If you’re eating a lot of foods from cans, bags, boxes or take-out containers, you may not be getting much in the way of fruits and veggies (it may have been a veggie once, but its nutrients, like Elvis, have left the building).
You probably already know this, but that rainbow of colors that veggies and fruits come in all represent different nutrients which are essential to good health. Making a point to add these, in all different colors, adds goodness to your health and well-being.
Make soup or salad, or throw some spinach and fresh fruit in a smoothie.
Learn something new
Learning breeds curiosity, expands your world and your abilities, and keeps your mind young and active. There is so much stuff to know!
Listen, you’ve got to check out Masterclass. It has something for everyone (including stuff you didn’t even know you wanted to know). There’s classes in everything from writing to film making to cooking, even wine tasting, all taught by the top pros in their fields. And a one-year all access pass costs less than a weekly Starbucks.
Want to learn to speak French? Babbel is a great way to learn. It teaches you to learn visually, speaking and listening, all at a gradient you can do. Ok, they do teach other languages too.
By the end of the year, you could be an expert in practically everything!
Remember to add your learning time to your daily or weekly schedule to help you stay consistent.
Overhaul your look
Do you have a style? Do you need a style overhaul? Here’s a blog I wrote about discovering your style, if you’re not quite sure where to start.
Once you’ve decided on the style that you love and is flattering to you, make a list of the wardrobe pieces you need to add to make that your new look. Why make a list? Because it will keep you focused, and help deter you from buying random things that don’t match up with your style.
Another easy way to step your game is the third-piece rule – adding a jacket or scarf or something of interest to the simple “top and bottom” and making it an “outfit”.
Go shopping – at home
Do you have a closet full of clothes but keep grabbing the same “go-to” jeans and sweater? (Or is that just me?)
Most of us wear 20% (or less) of our wardrobe 80% (or more) of the time. Make a concerted effort to go past that first pair of jeans in pursuit of the slacks you bought and haven’t worn, or even a casual dress.
Give yourself a nice pat on the back every time you put together a new outfit from your closet. It’s almost like finding a department store in your home.
Get rid of stuff
While we’re on the subject of exploring “new” clothes from our own closets, go ahead and yank out those things that you can’t, don’t or won’t wear.
You can do it gradually while searching for new outfits in your closet, or just attack it all at once. Either way, separate the rejects out between designer pieces you may want to send to a consignment shop (check out The Real Real, and maybe pick up some replacements while you’re there), what you want to donate to a charity, and what should just be disposed of.
Start working toward a financial goal
I’m no financial advisor, but I do know that whether it’s bills to pay or accumulating a nest egg, the best way to start working toward a financial goal is to start.
If you want to pay off credit card debt, here are a couple of strategies I learned:
- Your monthly minimum payment is calculated as a percentage (typically 1%) of your account balance. Instead of paying the minimum payment, which goes down every month as your balance decreases, set your monthly payment at a fixed dollar amount. Just start with what you’re paying right now (or a little more if you can), and fix your payment there. That way, you’re paying a little bit more toward the principal each month, without increasing your out-go.
- Make a “snowball”. List out the cards/loans you owe balances on, and start paying extra (whatever you can afford) toward the one with the lowest balance. When that one is paid, take the monthly amount you were paying on that debt and add it to the payment for the next smallest debt. Continue to let this snowball roll until the debts are all paid. You’ll see faster and faster progress as the snowball grows.
If you want to start saving for the future, just start now with whatever you can, no matter how small. Set up an automatic transfer to your savings account, or wherever you want to accumulate the family fortune. Be consistent and the good will grow.
Deliberately do nice things
Even more basic than “random acts of kindness”, this could be as simple as acknowledging someone with a kind word, or paying a sincere compliment.
It’s a little thing, but it could make a big difference for someone.
Maintain an attitude of gratitude
There’s always things around you that are outside of your control, but where you direct your attention is entirely up to you.
I’m not suggesting that you stick your head in the sand and pretend all is just peachy, but make a point of appreciating the good things around you – family and friends, a roof over your head and clean water coming out of the tap. And don’t forget to add yourself to this list.
Keep track of the good
Start a journal, or just keep a list, of the good things you’ve added to your life. Take an inventory every now and then, and celebrate!
So this should get you started – it has me. And please be sure to let me know what good things you’re piling up!
Bonjour! Je suis Kelley
Hi, I’m Kelley – thrower of parties, drinker of wine, and lover of all things French. I hope you enjoy my Lessons in Becoming French!