As I contemplated the approaching new year and the beginning of a new decade, thoughts of what goals I might attach to this significant moment bounced around in my mind. A few years ago I tried something new for 30 days throughout the year. The experience was entertaining and enlightening. But not wanting to repeat that scenario I toyed with the idea of twenty of something. Read twenty books (a pathetically wimpy goal, I admit). Or maybe go twenty new places, etc. Perhaps these goals would provide some structure and direction to my year but they seemed predictable and not especially inspiring.
As I mulled over these potential ambitions, the notion of choosing 20 verbs to guide, inspire, and mold this notable upcoming year took shape. As I considered which verbs I would designate as my verbs more and more possibilities popped up. I realized a single verb offered a number of possibilities:
reduce-my carbon footprint, my screen time, my waistline
try-bungee jumping (HIGHLY unlikely), a new food, to be on time
watch-a play, the sunrise, dogs playing in the yard
write-more blog posts, a letter, journal entries
The idea blossomed and I began talking to others about which verbs I could choose and how that would play out. I urged them to tell me what their verbs would be. My husband was initially a tad skeptical about yet another of my weird ideas. But he seemed to begin to warm up to the idea as we tossed out potential verbs and how we could add dimension to our year as we used them to inspire us.
I am viewing this scheme not as an edict that must be accomplished but rather as a framework to enliven the coming months and spark some inspiration.
My twenty verbs are written on twenty separate pages in this little notebook.
As the year unfolds I plan to enter notes to record what I’m anticipating will be 20 entries per verb. But checking off experiences or listing a litany of entries is truly not the focus of this adventure. If keeping these verbs in mind as the months go by helps me to add substance, adventure, and focus to my year I will absolutely consider this concept a success.
Here are the verbs I have chosen for 2020.
What verbs would you choose?
If you choose to give this a whirl I would love to hear about your experiences.
Happy New Year and best wishes for a year filled with contentment, adventure, and peace.
My year of trying something new for 30 days is coming to an end. Here is a recap of the final months.
I had designated August as the month when I would read for an hour a day. I love to read but I was seldom allowing myself the luxury of just sitting down with a good book. When I chose August for this goal I figured it would be a breeze because we were going on vacation.
We rented a house and spent a fabulous week with extended family on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. However, we filled the days with everything but reading. It was perfect…but I hadn’t read for an hour a day.
So September was designated as my reading month. But…this didn’t transpire either.
In October, Hannah had been reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo and suggested that I read it, too. Having just failed at two months’ attempts to read an hour a day, I opted for the audio version and was soon completely enthralled. I listened to it while driving, folding laundry, painting the garage, etc. Marie Kondo’s underlying philosophy is that if an item doesn’t “spark joy in your heart” you should not keep it. Of course, she goes into much more detail and has a systematic way of decluttering and organizing but this basic mantra has truly been life-changing for me.
As Kondo suggests, I started with my clothes. Using the gauge of touching each piece of clothing and asking if it “sparks joy in my heart”, I had quickly filled at least eleven bags of clothes to donate. Mike became a fan of this strategy, too. It made me laugh to hear him say, “This sweater isn’t sparking joy in my heart” as he added another item to our donation bags.
It felt liberating to have purged our closets and drawers of perfectly good but unwanted items. Dropping off our bags of clothes at our favorite local thrift shop was satisfying knowing that at the very least our donation would benefit a worthy cause and perhaps some of our items would spark joy in someone else’s heart.
Beyond the bonus of having significantly fewer items in our drawers, Kondo provides specific suggestions for how to store belongings in a manner that will make it easy to maintain a tidy environment. The simple change of folding and storing items vertically instead of in stacks in a drawer has been a completely unexpected bonus in keeping things organized. I can easily find what I’m looking for and it’s always easy to put things away. Maybe everyone else is already using this method but I am so pleased to have been enlightened.
The next task was organizing books. Kondo discusses a strategy for parting with books. We had been saving shelves of books that we decided we really didn’t need anymore. In one afternoon I had been able to part with a huge number of books.
here was room on our bookshelves and the books that were left were ones that we had specifically chosen to keep.
We were able to donate a shopping cart of books to a local grocery store that sells them and then donates the proceeds to a different charity each month. Once again, this felt like a win-win arrangement.
To be sure, this will be a long process as I continue to tackle all of the other areas she addresses. Because her method was developed for Japanese clients she doesn’t specifically talk about some of the more American areas that I will also be approaching such as our garage, cellar, attic and barn. But I am confident that I now have the skills to apply her strategies to all of these areas as I organize the items which “spark joy in my heart”.
Since learning about this method I’ve been pleasantly intrigued to find how pervasive this philosophy has become in my daily life. My November “Try Something New” was to complete my Christmas shopping by November 30th. In the past I have found myself easily whipped up into the madness of shopping. I was an easy target for stores’ attempts to lure shoppers into buying impulse items. But this year, I had a specific plan and time line. I’m happy to report that I did very well with this new experience.
The added bonus was that I was armed with my new, life-changing mantra. I easily resisted items that would have previously found their way into my shopping bag. I didn’t want to bring items into my home that weren’t truly going to “spark joy in my heart” and I certainly didn’t want to burden others with this type of item.
December’s “Try Something New for 30 Days” was inspired by a piece I heard on NPR. They reported on research that discovered that people with heart disease who wrote down what they were grateful for had tangible beneficial changes to their heart. Thankfully, I don’t have heart disease and I have a multitude of things for which I am grateful. But I began writing two or three things that I am grateful for in my journal each night.
Often during the day I’d make a mental note of something I’d want to add. To be honest, there were a few nights when my list had a bit of a snarky slant (e.g. “I’m grateful that I have finished my work -even though it’s midnight!”). But I found it comforting to frame it in a positive way and I now have a lovely record of what was making me feel grateful each day.
This year of “Trying Something New for 30 Days” has been exciting, fun, enlightening, inspirational, heartwarming, and satisfying. As 2016 begins, I look forward to another year of “Trying Something New for 30 Days”. Perhaps you’d like to give it a whirl, as well. I can guarantee that it will be a fabulous way to embrace this new year.
I was recently inspired by a TED talk by Matt Cutts who talks about doing something new for 30 days. Instead of making a traditional New Year’s resolution, I decided to embrace this idea for 2015.
My January activity was to cook something new every day. This has been a pretty easy task with which to start my endeavor. I love to cook and frequently try new recipes or create my own. One of my more memorable new recipes were these delectable Orange-Scented Cake Donuts with Milky Earl Grey Glaze.
This Honey Hefeweizen Boule from The Beeroness blog was wonderful. This blog is a treasure trove of amazing recipes that all include craft beer, which is a huge bonus in our family.
Amelia gave me the Seriously Delish cookbook by How Sweet It Is blogger Jessica Merchant for Christmas. It has been a bountiful source for yummy options including Thai chicken lettuce wraps, fig and prosciutto toasts, and a slightly altered version of shrimp and corn quesadillas.
Some days I’ve been inspired to create my own original recipes. I think my favorite was a turkey pot pie that included roasted cranberries, butternut squash, and carrots with sauteed mushrooms topped with cheddar, chive mashed potatoes. An arugula, pear, and pomegranate salad with fig dressing was also a success.
On occasion the day has come and almost gone without having cooked something new. So I’ve mixed up a new cocktail. I called this a “Citrus Surprise”. It had orange and grapefruit juice, and blood orange vodka….I think.
This “boozy milkshake with toasted marshmallows” as Hannah referred to it was inspired by a cocktail she’d had in Philly.
One day I really was pushing it and just made hot tea with steamed milk from the new espresso machine Amelia gave us for Christmas. It was surprisingly comforting and yummy.
The last dinner of January was orange-ginger salmon packets with kale, sweet potato, broccoli, and oranges with a teriyaki type sauce. They were beautiful and delicious.
I’ve loved this “something new for 30 days” idea this month. We’ve definitely had more variety than we might have during a regular January and I truly enjoyed incorporating a new recipe into each day.
This month I am aiming to go somewhere new everyday. This may be as exciting as going to Houston in a few weeks to run the Houston Rhythm and Blues Half Marathon with Mike and Amelia. However, some days my someplace new may simply involve popping into a new shop or driving down a different road as I make a small detour along my ordinary path. I’m excited to see where this plan will lead me.
What do you think about the “try something new for 30 days idea”? What would you like to try?