18 for ’18

Originally published as a TinyLetter
I love a fresh start. Even opening a fresh page in my notebook at work or closing the many tabs open in my browser is a hopeful act, a chance to do a little better than before.

Gretchen Rubin, happiness researcher and one of my greatest role models, calls this “the strategy of the clean slate“:

The slate may be wiped clean by a change in personal relationships: marriage, divorce, a new baby, a new puppy, a break-up, a new friend, a death. Or the slate may be wiped clean by a change in surroundings: a new apartment, a new city, even rearranged furniture. Or some major aspect of life may change: a new job, a new school, a new doctor.

The New Year is the Super Bowl of fresh starts. I like to do a Year in Review in my journal — even a few bullets about the progress I’ve made — and then an activity envisioning what I want for the new year. I’ve done vision collages, outlined resolutions in Google Docs, and chosen a one-word resolution for the year.

This year I tried “18 for ’18,”which Gretchen and her sister, Liz, have been talking about on the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast. You write down 18 things you want to do in 2018, big or small, fun or not so fun but good for your well-being.

Here are my 18 for ’18:

  1. Stay current on news, from local to international, to know the headlines-plus.
  2. Work a little exercise into each day, even dancing to one song.
  3. Hang the pictures.
  4. Buy black dress pants that fit.
  5. Go on a date night with Darren at least once a month.
  6. Arrive five minutes early.
  7. Publish the book.
  8. Launch the podcast.
  9. Write a TinyLetter biweekly.
  10. Get rid of clothes that I haven’t worn in a year.
  11. Clean out the kids’ toys.
  12. Reinstate weekly lunch at home with Darren to connect with each other, pay bills, etc.
  13. Make time for joy every day: play guitar, dance, or sing.
  14. Meditate or journal for five minutes at least 3x/week.
  15. Make an emergency kit.
  16. Write a will.
  17. Spend 20 focused minutes a day following the kids’ lead in play.
  18. Connect with my parents and sister at least once a week.

Shoot for the moon and land in the stars, right? Because visible is memorable, I’m going to print them out and post them on the fridge. Then I can give myself stickers (literal gold stars) when I stick to my goals. It’s silly, but it totally works for me.

What are your 18 for ’18? Hit reply and tell me.


what’s fueling me

 

When I found out that my dear friend Chris Balme was dating the sister of indie artist Kina Grannis, I couldn’t get over how cool that was. When he married her over the holidays, and Kina not only wrote a song about their love story but featured their wedding footage in her new video, I lost my fangirling mind. It makes me so happy that Chris has found a love for the ages. Watch the video for “I Found You.” You may need some Kleenex — you’ve been warned.

Darren and I have jumped aboard the Instant Pot bandwagon, and it’s fantastic. Granted, he’s the one who does 90 percent of the cooking, so I’ve only observed the magic so far, but it’s made tender collard greens and potatoes fit for mashing, red lentil stew with kale and sausage, and chili in no time. It’s true that it should be called the “Hands-Off Pot” because it takes a while to come up to pressure and back down again, but it’s much more efficient than the slow cooker we used to use every week.

The Actor’s Life: A Survival Guide by Jenna Fischer is both hilarious and creatively encouraging. I love her stories about eight years of struggle and rejection in Hollywood before landing the role of Pam on The Office, and her advice about getting good at your craft and not giving up. It’s inspiring not just for actors, but for writers and other artists, too.

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