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  • New Year, New You?

    As soon as Christmas had passed, stores started rolling out their sales on weight-loss related items: diet plans, exercise gear, workout attire, etc. I’m all for a new start, resolutions, and setting yourself up for success. But I’m approaching 2013 a little differently than I have in the past.

    For one thing, I set resolutions every January, but 2012 might have been my biggest failure yet – and I only set two resolutions!

    The problem with my 2012 resolutions was that they weren’t specific enough – one was to master a new habit each month, and one was to do 52 weekly projects. I didn’t have 12 habits laid out at the beginning of the year, nor did I have 52 projects. I think it was just too vague and too much. Plus, my overall goal of exercising more petered out when my plantar fasciitis kicked in again.

    Another thing that’s different: usually by the end of December, I’ve put a lot of thought into the coming year and what I want from it. But I haven’t done that yet this year. Instead, I’ve been reading some books that ask some thought-provoking questions. One is Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy. I’ve been reading it on and off for months now, and find that it’s a great at making consider my own productivity. Chapter 8 asks the reader to identify the three most important goals in each area of your life and recommends focusing on those for maximum results.

    One epiphany I had in my first attempt at this exercise was that I say my health is extremely important to me, but it didn’t make it into my top three most important life goals. I sometimes feel full of frustration and even disdain for myself at my lack of success in losing weight and improving my health, but now I know that I don’t make my health a priority because it isn’t a true priority for me. That can’t continue, because if I’m in poor health, I won’t be able to take care of my true priorities – which, in a nutshell come down to the well-being of my family.

    Another book I just started reading is Simple Living – 30 days to less stuff and more life by Lorilee Lippincott (the Kindle version is FREE right now!). Her book starts by asking a series of questions, like What you want your house/schedule/health to look like? and How would you define success? These are questions I used to consider each December, but this year in particular, I haven’t had much quiet time to myself and haven’t sat down to think about my priorities. These are questions I really would like to answer, though, so I’m pondering them – I would very much like to have a clear picture in my head of what I want my life to look like.

    Despite the lack of time for introspection, I feel I’ve done really well this holiday season managing stress and everything that goes with the holidays. The house was decorated and felt festive, and it wasn’t a huge production getting everything up. The house was “clean enough” for guests, and I feel I’m making progress in establishing a regular routine to keep it clean (and get it deep clean too). And in other areas of my life, I feel pretty good.

    In my early twenties, I read almost every single one of Madeleine L’Engle‘s books – she’s best known as the author of the Newberry Award winner A Wrinkle in Time, but she wrote a lot of nonfiction about faith, love and living. One of the things I learned from her is that one cannot remain stagnant – if you’re not moving forward, then you’re moving backward. So although I don’t want a new me in 2013, I am striving to be a better me. Now I just have to figure out exactly what that means.

    Do you set New Year’s resolutions? If so, how can I help you achieve them here at CFO?

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    2012 Resolutions in Review: February

    I set what I thought were some very doable goals for 2012, but I was feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of things on my to-do list last month.

    I think things are now getting back on track with my new time-management strategy.

    In the meantime, progress on my 2012 goals stalled in February. Here are the two resolutions I set at the beginning of the year:

    1. I’m going to master a new healthy habit each month.

    2. I’m going to tackle 52 projects during the year – one each week.

    My monthly healthy habit for February was to exercise and stretch every day. The stretching fell by the wayside pretty quickly, and even the exercise stopped when my plantar fasciitis was compounded by pain in the ball of my foot. I’ve decided to forego the cardio for a while and focus just on the stretching. So my healthy habit for March is to stretch and do some yoga every day.

    While I was trying to figure out my new time-management strategy, my weekly projects also fell by the wayside. I still really like the idea though, so I’m picking back up with those. My project for the first week of March will be to get the tax documents to our accountant!

    Week in Review: 2012 Week 5

    Here’s an update on how things went with my resolutions last week:

    In a word, blah.

    I did okay with some stuff, not so much with others. Part of it is that these types of things are cyclical, especially the motivation. As long as I don’t deviate too far from the trail I want to be on, I feel okay about things.

    But after straying off a little bit, it’s important to get back on track.

    My healthy habit for February is to continue January’s habit and add 10 minutes of stretching each day. It sounds simple but I’ve already missed three days’ worth of stretching. I’ll get back to that this week. At least I kept up with my extra daily mile from January.

    My weekly project for last week was to clean the stove, which didn’t get done. However, I did declutter two boxes of stuff, so I’m counting that a success since both boxes were going to be part of a future weekly project. However, it goes without saying that my stove didn’t magically clean itself so that’s my project for this week.

    Finally, the housecleaning is going okay but not great. Again, this is about making housecleaning a habit, and something I am going to keep working on this year. I feel like I have some catching up to do now, and that’s something I want to get out of the habit of.

    Here’s to a productive week for all of us!

    2012 Resolutions in Review: January

    I set some very doable goals for 2012, and I’m finding it immensely helpful to go over my progress each week. I hope that as I learn to be more productive, I can share some tips with you along the way.

    January was a very interesting month, because I’ve always set goals and worked to achieve them, but I’m learning more about what really works for me. I bought the Kindle edition of Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time when it was just $0.99 a few weeks ago, and I’m finding it immensely helpful in keeping me focused and on track. The two biggest keys I picked up and have tried to keep at the forefront of my mind in the last month are having a clear vision of my final goal, and doing the tasks with the greatest impact first.

    One of my resolutions this year is to develop a new healthy habit each month. In January, I achieved my goal of adding a mile to every day to develop the healthy habit of exercise. I learned that it doesn’t take a lot of time (less than 20 minutes!), and I can make the time if it’s a priority. I don’t feel like it’s an ingrained habit, though, so I’m continuing it into this month.

    But I’m also adding a new healthy habit in February, which is a mere 10 minutes of stretching each day. It’s good for my foot, as I’m still struggling with plantar fasciitis (it’s been over a year and a half and my doctor, who’s had it himself, wasn’t surprised). I’m also feeling tension in my shoulders and back, so stretching should make me feel better overall.

    Another resolution in 2012 is to do one project per week. My weekly projects are going well – last week, I sorted and organized a couple of small areas that I hadn’t gone through in a while. My project for this week is to clean my stove, since it really needs it. But I’ve also done and will do a few other smaller projects around the house as well.

    Finally, it’s not exactly a resolution, but I implemented a new housecleaning plan this year by doing one cleaning task each day. It’s a habit I’m still developing, and I get my daily task done most days. I’m quite satisfied with how things are going in that area.

    I’m looking forward to achieving more in February, but I think I need a much clearer picture of exactly where I want to be at the end of year, so I can get the most out of the months to come.

    Week in Review: 2012 Week 3

    Here’s an update on how things went with my resolutions last week:

    My healthy habit to master this month is exercise – and to make it a habit, I’m adding a mile to each day by using my rowing machine or treadmill. So far, it’s going great, though admittedly I haven’t been pushing myself (that’s the habit I will build next month). Mentally, exercise is becoming much less of an obstacle, so I think focusing on building one healthy habit at a time is really working for me.

    My weekly projects last week were tackling the box of papers that needed to be shredded, and filing the stack of papers on my desk. I was able to shred the box of papers in just one afternoon, thanks to my new Fellowes shredder. I can shred so many more papers at once and the machine is much faster, so what used to be a multi-day project now only takes a little over an hour. Yay! (And that just goes to show the value of having the right tools for a job.)

    I did the filing yesterday evening, and I doubt I would have gotten to it if it hadn’t been one of my projects this past week. So this weekly projects thing is working well for me too.

    The housecleaning is also turning into a habit, which is fabulous. My Weekly Home Blessing Hour, which I do on Fridays, ensures the house looks great at least once during the week. And doing one small cleaning task each day, like cleaning one bathroom, is really making maintenance manageable. In fact, I hosted a playdate last week and all I had to do was get the toys off the floor. The cleaning was otherwise done. This is just something I have to keep up and really make a habit of.

    For the coming week, my weekly project is going to be decluttering some bags and boxes I have sitting around. It feels really good to get rid of stuff we don’t need!