Jul 112012

[Expired] Get a Life! 8 Steps to Create Your Own Life List by Stephanie Bond is free right now on Amazon, and it’s rated 5 stars.  It’s an Amazon Kindle ebook, but even if you don’t own a Kindle you can still enjoy it by downloading it for free to your computer (PC or Mac), iPhone, or iPad. The instructions for doing so are included under the “Buy Now With 1 Click” button. PLEASE BE AWARE that the price is currently $0.00 but that could change at any time, so always check the price before clicking Buy Now.

Let me know what you thought of this book!

May 072012

By Anne, from ModernMrsDarcy:

A few months ago I got sick, and I stopped working out… When I stopped working out, I stopped paying attention to what I ate. And I started staying up late, eating junk and not checking my tickler file.  When I lost my self-discipline in one area of my life, it flooded into other areas.

The accomplished woman knows how to establish good habits, and to re-establish them when needed. It’s okay to take a break, but you need to know how to bounce back to avoid an ugly downward spiral.

Do you need to bounce back?  Click here to read her 5 tips

Anne is devoted to educating and inspiring women to live life on their own terms. She is seeking to create a meaningful life and blogging about the journey at ModernMrsDarcy.

May 042012

Tired of rushing about in the mornings, trying to get yourself presentable and your kids to school on time?  A morning routine is helpful, but I’ve found that the real secret to a stress-free morning if found in what you do the night before- a good evening routine sets you up for success the next day.  Imagine it:

  • Instead of shoveling down your oatmeal so that you have time to make your kids’ lunches, the lunch is already prepared, waiting in the fridge for your child to grab it off the shelf and stick it in their lunch bag. 
  • Instead of tearing through your closet trying to find the right clothes for your meeting at work, your outfit is already picked out, just hanging there waiting to be put on.
  • Instead of arguing with your kids about what they’re going to wear to school, they put on what they already picked out the night before.
  • Instead of forgetting to load the extra car seat that was supposed to be dropped off at school so that the babysitter could pick your kid up, the car seat is already loaded into your car.

You may have already implemented some of these strategies from time-to-time, but if you found that they just didn’t stick- that too many tasks are still being left to the morning- then a checklist is critical to getting your household running smoothly.  A “routine” is a concept, but a “checklist” is the way to put the routine into action.  When my husband and I were both working full-time, and our daughter was in day care full-time, I created an evening routine checklist for us to follow and it really helped make our weekday mornings less hectic. I’m providing it here, for free- download and print the checklist out, and put it on the kitchen counter for everyone to refer to after dinner.  You could laminate it so that everyone can check off their tasks each night, or you could print out a new one each night.  (If find that you only need to do the actual “checking off” for about 3 days- after that, people can just look at the checklist for reminders.)

Using a checklist results in fewer forgotten items, less hurrying, and more time to interact in a positive way with each other.  Not only does it help your household run smoothly, it’s a great way to model efficiency for your children.

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Apr 282012

Sometimes our goals are so distant that they seem unattainable, and it can feel like the little steps we’re taking towards them are meaningless.  I recently calculated that at the rate we’re saving to buy a new [used] car for me, it will take us 9 years to reach our savings goal.  9 years! I think, “Why even transfer money into the auto fund this month?  I’ll still have 8 years and 11 months to go!”  But I recently watched a documentary, Waste Land, that inspired me to think differently.  In his film on the garbage pickers of Rio de Janeiro’s largest landfill, Vik Muniz profiled many unforgettable people, including a grizzled older man who had spent over 30 years wading through garbage in order to find recyclable materials.  This man defended the dignity and importance of his job, pointing out that even one aluminum can saved from the landfill makes a difference to the environment.  He said that he is often challenged, with people saying, “How can one can make a difference when there are so many cans to be picked up?”  His reply:“Because 99 is not 100.”

Those words echo in my mind.  99 is not 100.  The principle applies to anything- one good deed is not the same as no good deeds, one habit change is not the same as no habit changes, one step towards a goal is not the same as no steps towards a goal.  And so, I am forced to admit to myself that 8 years and 11 months really is different than 9 years.  It is only by making those small, monthly deposits that I will one day happily reach the goal of buying a new [used] car.  And I’ll buy it happily, because we’ll be paying in cash, without taking out a car loan, knowing that our little steps paid off.


Apr 102012

As we work towards our goals, we are bound to make mistakes that set us back. Learning how to move past those mistakes and continue working towards are goals is what really matters, which is why I’ve compiled this list of 5 Steps to Overcoming Your Mistakes.  It’s easier said than done, though- I often find that my mistakes aggravate me and temporarily derail my motivation.   Financial mistakes are especially like that for me-  I just can’t stand the idea that my mistake caused me to throw money away.  Last week a mistake cost me $25- tiny, in the big scheme of things, but *frustrating* nonetheless.  It went down like this- we recently subscribed to a CSA (“Community Supported Agriculture”) weekly box of fresh vegetables.  It’s a little bit of a splurge for us, as I could get the vegetables cheaper at the grocery store, but it seemed like the right thing to do, both for our health (the vegetables are organic) and to support local farmers.  The weekly box has to be picked up from the delivery site during a specified time- and you guessed it, I was a no-show last week.  I had it on my calendar, to no avail- I didn’t look at my calendar that afternoon, and I just completely forgot about the pick-up until it was too late.  Here are 5 steps I used to get myself back on track:

5 Steps to Overcoming Mistakes

  1. Forgive Yourself.  Remind yourself that mistakes happen- in fact, you should EXPECT mistakes to happen.  A mistake is not a reflection of your worth as a person- it is only a reflection that you are not perfect (nobody is) and that there are things you could improve about your habits, routines, and ways of interacting with people.

  2. Find the Most Recent Cause Attributable to YOU.  This is important- there are likely a variety of factors that lead to the mistake happening, but you need to find the one that was closest to the event, and that was your fault.  It might seem strange for me to tell you to blame yourself, after I just said that you should forgive yourself, but this is not really about blame, and it’s definitely not about berating yourself- it’s about taking responsibility in a matter-of-a-fact, non-judgmental way.  To do that, work backwards from the time of the mistake, look at the chain of events that caused the mistake and stop at the first one that was solely your responsibility.  For the farm box, the most recent cause of me not picking up the box was not having the pick-up on my to-do list.  You see, I double-check my list every evening before bed, so if I had it on there, I would have seen it and still had enough time to pick up the box.  Now, I could look to blame someone else- I could blame my husband (because after all, he knew the pick-up was on Thursdays and should have noticed the absence of a giant bag of vegetables in our kitchen), but then I would be turning myself into the victim (“I’m so mad that he didn’t remind me”) instead the person who as the power to make changes in their life. I could also blame an earlier event- (“I should never have signed up for that farm box in the first place”)- but that’s not usually productive because then I’d be making a big change than I really want to.
  3. Make a Plan. Once you’ve looked over the chain of events and found the most recent cause, figure out what change you could make to ensure that things turn out differently next time.  If the mistake was the result of forgetting something, could you write the event on your calendar next time?  Put it on your to-do list? Set an alarm to remind you? Tell other people about your event so that they can help remind you (not always reliable, but can be a last-resort)?
  4. Make the Change. Put your plan into action right away.  In my case the change was to add the box pick-up to my to-do list.
  5. Apologize as Appropriate.  If you made a mistake, chances are you’ve inconvenienced or hurt someone.  In this case, I wasted an (albeit small) amount of money that my husband worked hard to earn- so I gave him a (small) apology for that.

How do YOU overcome your mistakes?

Apr 092012

[Expired] Yen Path: Taking Steps Towards What You Want in Life by Jenny Gallagher is free right now on Amazon.  I haven’t read it myself but it’s rated 4.5 stars.  It’s an Amazon Kindle ebook, but even if you don’t own a Kindle you can still enjoy it by downloading it for free to your computer (PC or Mac), iPhone, or iPad. The instructions for doing so are included under the “Buy Now With 1 Click” button. PLEASE BE AWARE that the price is currently $0.00 but that could change at any time, so always check the price before clicking Buy Now.