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New Month’s Resolutions: Better One Month at a Time

Thanks to Minute Maid® Pure Squeezed for sponsoring this post. Click here to see more of the discussion.

New Year’s resolutions sound terribly daunting don’t they? I haven’t participated in them for years and for good reason, I’m TERRIBLE at them. However I like the idea of self improvement and setting goals, so this year I fell into a completely different pattern of goal setting and improving myself. Here’s the truth: there are a lot of things I will never be really, really good at. Either I don’t have the time, the natural ability or the money to dedicate to such endeavors.

Self Improvement: One Month at a Time

I would love to be really good at skydiving, but my life insurance policy and pocketbook have other plans. I really want to be good at sewing, but I’m learning that’s going to take a lot longer to learn with a toddler and busy house to run. Cooking? I’m already pretty good at cooking, but I could manage to do it more often. A lot of women think they have to be good, or at least decent, at everything. I on the other hand realize there are some things that are never, ever going to be my thing and that’s okay. It’s not worth stressing myself out over trying to make myself good at something I’m not.

Take singing for example. I don’t have a musical bone in my body and I’m quite sure I’ve never hit a proper note in my life. Singing and performing music is not my thing, at all. But I will happily support and encourage others if this is their talent or desire. Crafting? I’m guilty at looking at spectacular handmade things all the time and thinking “Gosh, I could make that” and yet I never do. I’m at a place in my life where I would much rather pay someone else for their hard work and passion when it comes to handmade goods than invest the time and frustration in doing it all myself.

The one area where I’m deviating from my usual “I tried it, I’m no good at it, I won’t stress myself out about it” mantra this year is gardening. I have an army of women around me with green thumbs who have sworn to help me with growing a few things in my yard. Am I expecting to fail? Absolutely. But I’m also expecting to learn a lot through my failure. Two years ago I planted my first flower pots. Most of the flowers died by the middle of summer but I paid attention to which ones survived. Last year I planted my pots with the descendents of the flowers that survived the year before. Had there not been an awful drought last summer I’m fairly certain I would have been successful at growing flower pots, here’s to hoping the third year is the charm. I also planted bulbs for the first time last fall, fingers crossed that I have a few tulips and daffodils to brag about come spring.

In January I worked really hard at de-cluttering my home. Two carloads to Goodwill and dozens of garbage bags and boxes to recycling later, my home is feeling lighter and more manageable. When I asked my readers for help they had lots of fantastic ideas that helped motivate and inspire me, while I would only consider myself 65% done with the de-cluttering process, it’s become much easier to throw things out or donate them as well as keep them organized. A place for everything and everything in its place!

I decided that February would be all about learning how to put on makeup. I’ve never taken the time to learn despite having an awful lot of really good makeup. Using online tutorials, YouTube videos, and the helpful people behind cosmetic counters, I feel like I’m starting to hit my stride with painting my face. I certainly don’t want to wear more makeup more often, but I do want to know how to apply it right and well when I do.

self taught makeup

I haven’t decided what March holds for my quest to self improvement, maybe reading more books or stocking my freezer with meals. Apparently what I’m doing (decluttering and self-improving) is something Gretchen Rubin talks about a lot in her ‘Happiness Project’ series. Clearly if there are books already written about what I’m doing I must be on the right path towards something. More importantly I’ve learned not to beat myself up when I fall down or screw up. Sure! I’d love to feed my family super healthy from scratch meals 7 nights a week but right now I’ll happily settle for 5 nights and make sure we’re all gathered around the table together the other 2 no matter what we’re eating.

Perhaps you’re not a fan of New Year’s resolutions either, if so, *high five.* But what about New Month’s attempts? Meaning each month we attempt something new to see if it sticks or if it’s something we can live without knowing we gave it our best effort? Think of all the tiny little areas you want to improve, dedicating to them for just a month is a lot less intimidating than an entire year and at the end you’ll know if it’s for you or not.

Here’s a few ideas I’ve had bouncing around my head for the remaining 10 months of 2013:

  • Running – Dude. I hate running. But I’m willing to give it a solid effort for one month. If the end of the month comes and I still hate running? I’ll proudly proclaim I gave it my best shot and go back to Zumba. If I end up loving running? Maybe I’ll start training for something that involves a lot of running.
  • Green Smoothies – I’ve had a few here and there. I’ve even mixed some strange and exotic things into mine. But what about a month straight of green smoothies for breakfast? Do you think you’d notice a difference or come up with some really tasty recipe combinations? With all the cheap kale and vegetables that will be available at the farmer’s market maybe it’s worth a try?
  • Stretching – I’m getting old. I need to stretch but stretching takes a really long time. Maybe I dedicate 20 minutes a day to stretching in front of my SAD lamp (or my favorite episode of Project Runway) and see how I feel at the end of the month.
  • Growing Succulents – This one will happen in my house. I love succulents and I love that they’re a whole lot harder to kill than the other plants who have passed through my doors. I figure if I’ve managed to keep three orchids happy and alive for the last three weeks there’s hope for my black thumbs to fade into green after all.
  • Don’t Use Paper Towels or Napkins – One of the things I’ve been furiously sewing is cloth napkins in two different sizes, little flannel ones for the girls to use at each meal (and to wipe their faces with afterwards) as well as bigger adult napkins to replace the paper ones we use at dinner. Do you think you could go a month without using a paper product in your own home? See how many paper towels you save and perhaps you’ll be convinced to make a switch. Even if it’s not a 100% switch, every little bit makes a difference.

I MADE NAPKINS

  • Make Your Bed Every Morning – Then you can pretend to have turn down service every night.
  • Cut Out Violent Media – Skip the news, skip CSI, skip American Horror Story and Law and Order. I realize some of these shows may be serious business to a lot of you, but I can attest that taking them out can make an enormous difference in your spirit, attitude and demeanor. If you don’t notice a difference after a month? Hop online and catch up where you left off.

How about you? What changes would you be willing to make for one month at a time? I’d love to hear your suggestions or what you’ve been successful with  since 10 months is a lot of months to fill with self improvement. If you do decide to follow through on any of these, remember not to beat yourself up if everything doesn’t go perfectly, especially if you’re attempting something completely out of your comfort zone. Just start fresh tomorrow and know you can do anything for 30 days.

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