I'm trying the whole "setting intentions" thing this year, rather than making formal resolutions - which I love to make and make rigorously and regularly and almost never follow, but will rather sort of take them as inspiration for general goals. After some unexpected and challenging conversations in the last few days with this guy and this guy and these guys, I'm entering 2018 in the mood to stop making life so difficult on myself and start playing more. Deciding to "do what makes me happy" is a simplistic mantra, but one that takes some daily practice, as well as an adult understanding that happiness might not correlate to "easy" or "comfortable" or "all those delicious cookies in my mouth right now" because happiness can require anything from just waking up and doing the writing to realizing that I'm much happier when I'm exercising every day even if my body says it wants to continue sitting on the couch at this exact moment. So, in pursuit of some better daily habits and more intentions to make the choice for greater happiness, here are some tools I'm using and recommending.
Maybe it seems like a new coffee maker for Christmas is a strange way to reduce anxiety (by way of caffeine reduction!) but let me tell you - I've been on a slow roll downgrade of my caffeine habit for awhile now and the device in which I brew my coffee relates directly to how much I am tempted to consume. I have been using this pour over method for a few days now, including weighing the grinds and water for a brew to my own strength preferences, and I am enjoying brewing 1-2 perfect cups rather than the 4 cups I was previously making in a French press (or the 12 cups I was making in a drip brewer before that...). The small size limits how much I can drink and - for me at least - it is highly unlikely I ever go back to brew a second batch. Yes, you can also do this by brewing less in your preferred method of coffee-making, but I always found myself incrementally increasing how much I was drinking over a few days and then needing to start over. Plus, pour over is certainly the most aesthetically pleasing way to make coffee, no? So far we've been enjoying it with our gifted coffee from Rival Brothers, based in Philadelphia.
I picked this Productivity Planner up last year and it is by far the best productivity aid I've found - I have trouble prioritizing things that matter over things that don't matter such that I can get 20 small tasks done in a day but make no progress on actual goals and then hate myself by the end of the night. This planner forces you to lay out your very top priorities - the ones that will give your day value - and let's you log how much time you spent on each task, so that you can feel the progress even if its going to take a long time to get them to completion. It helps provide focus while giving you the pleasure of "crossing off" items that might actually take months to complete. Plus, it includes weekly goal planning pages, a way to analyze productivity by day and inspirational quotes. I live in fear of when this notebook stops being produced.
These things are everywhere now and you probably already have one - we have the house decked out in some great tea light holders we received as wedding gifts from Nacho, but I got a lamp from my sister and right now it is sitting on my writing desk so that when I get out of bed at 6:30 AM in the dark to get some thoughts on paper, I can do it while basking in a beautiful pink glow. It's taken me until the ages of 36 to admit that aesthetic beauty makes me happy and doesn't need further justification, so I say make the work space (and the sleep space and all the spaces) beautiful. A little lighting upgrade is about the biggest, fastest impact you can have on a room. Next up, we may even try to get some things on our walls!
Almost all of us come into a new year with some fitness and weight management goals. Our bathroom scale was becoming unreliable the last few weeks of the year, so I sprung for a new one for Christmas that bluetooth links all sorts of body measurements to an app on your smart phone, including BMI and Body Fat Percentage, for more data than is usually provided by a regular weight scale. Will be interesting for us to see, for example, if our body fat percentages decline with increased exercise even if our weights don't move much. So far the device is reading five pounds higher than our last scale, which has been a bit of a bummer, but in the data-is-power camp, this is sure to be a motivator.
Another wedding gift, this time from Zache, I have yet to cure this steel wok but I'm hoping to do so tonight and to put it in rotation this week. I have loose thoughts on eating vegan two days per week this year - dipping a toe in, as it were - and I have a soft spot for stir-frying, something my Dad did when I was a child that I never learned to do properly myself. I've got tofu and noodles and bell peppers and snap peas on deck already, so I'm looking forward to challenging myself to put this baby into action.
So - simplify, focus, enjoy, eat well, exercise, and stop hopping myself up on stimulants. What are your plans for 2018?