Wednesday, December 31, 2014

What New Year's Resolutions Boil Down to (and how I plan to keep mine in 2015)

We're all guilty of making New Year's Resolutions and pretty much giving them up by January 31st (if not January 3rd!). It's not an easy task to make and keep a resolution, especially for an entire year. I mean, trying to immediately adopt a habit that you plan to keep for at least the next 365 days when you haven't even managed to do it for five consecutive days before that moment is a bit unrealistic.

It doesn't matter if it is finances, health, volunteering, family, career, alcohol, spiritual habits, creative pursuits, or home organization -- we all make goals right before January 1st roles around and then we rarely follow through.

New Year's Resolutions seem to boil down to three categories:
1. Things we do that we shouldn't do
2. Things we don't do that we should do
3. Things we wish we had more time to do but it does not have a huge negative effect if we don't do them

Some resolutions are one-time projects (like cleaning out the linen closet or setting up an IRA) or they could be daily goals (like reading each morning or quitting a smoking habit). One day or 100 days, each resolution can seem daunting if that particular project or goal has been haunting us for a while.

This year, I'm going to try a different approach to accomplishing goals. I'm going to work on making changes, but I'm going to focus on one thing at a time. Each month, I will take on a new challenge. Depending on the challenge, it could take me a day or take every day that month to complete. My hope is that by breaking my goals down into one month challenges, I might actually keep some of the goals at least some of the time. And the new habits I adopt for a month might stick with me to the next month, and the month after that, etc.

I won't bore you with each and every goal I have for each month. But, the ones that might seem interesting or challenging to others I will write and post about. All posts in this category will be tagged as "2015 monthly challenge".

By breaking up my goals into months, I won't be so overwhelmed tomorrow with the new year and feeling like I have to start and complete all of my goals immediately.Trying to start a dozen new habits all in one day will likely result in not doing any of them. Here's to hoping some of my 2015 resolutions are completed/become daily habits (whichever applies).

Are you setting 2015 resolutions? 
How do you plan to go about tackling these resolutions?

Saturday, December 27, 2014

9 Reasons My Relationship Status Stays off Facebook

Having lots of Facebook "friends" means getting to witness all the mushy relationship stuff that people you barely know or people you've known for years display as they move through the phases of their relationship.

I haven't dated much. My list of boyfriends is short and can be completed with exactly two names. But I never made these relationships "Facebook official" and plan to never post my relationship status on FB until I am at least engaged if not already married.

I have a few reasons for keeping my status private.

1. If the relationship is short-lived, none of my online friends have to know.
It's kinda embarrassing when you make a big announcement like that online, break up a few weeks later, and then people are still asking about "your new boyfriend" for the next six months because they didn't see that your status got changed back to single.

2. No drama if I break up.
Breaking up can be hard. Feeling the need to log on to the internet and update your singleness can just make you feel worse.

3. People don't seem to know the difference between 'in a relationship' and 'engaged'.
Let's take some of the comments from three of my FB friend's recent relationship status updates. One friend got in a relationship, one got engaged, and one got married.

Friend #1:

  • "Yayyy!!!"
  • "Congratulations!"
  • "FINALLY!"

Friend #2:

  • "Congratulations!"
  • "May God bless the two of you!"

Friend #3:

  • "Ahhhhh!"
  • "Congrats"
  • "How exciting!" 
Which friend got in a relationship? Engaged? Married? It's kind of hard to tell. I don't like it when people just get into a relationship and the comments feel like you're engaged or even married. It makes the relationship feel a little more serious than perhaps it actually is and who wants that pressure (especially if the relationship is new)? 

4. I am not dating for my friends. 
In high school, I wanted to change my relationship status on FB so bad! But then when I finally did have a boyfriend, it seemed like the silliest thing to do. Why make it so public? I'm not dating for my FB friends, I'm dating for me.

5. I trust my boyfriend.
Maybe making the relationship "Facebook official" will encourage your boyfriend or girlfriend to remain faithful to you. Well, if that's what is holding the two of you together, there might be bigger problems heading your way. 

6. It's more fun.
I love people not knowing I have a boyfriend or just not knowing for sure who that guy is in my pictures. I don't usually bring my boyfriend up in conversation with people who don't know I'm in a relationship. There's no need for people to know all my business. Besides, I'm still me and I want people to treat me as an individual.  

7. It's less annoying for single people.
I hate being single and seeing a bunch of my FB friends getting into relationships. I don't want to do the same thing to the single people I know whenever I have a boyfriend. 

8. Surprise!
When I finally do change my relationship status to engaged, some people will be downright shocked because they won't even know I have a boyfriend. Won't that be fun?

9. These aren't my friends anyway.
I don't know how most people utilize Facebook, but a lot of my so-called "friends" are really just acquaintances or people I used to know and see more often. I'm also connected with relatives I rarely see or even people I haven't met in person at all. Except for my close family and friends who will know my business anyway, my FB "friends" don't need to know who I'm dating at the moment. 

What about you? Do you change your relationships status or do you prefer to keep it off-line?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Just begin

It's hard to start stuff. I mean, really. Who wants to actually "get the ball rolling" or "start the engine"? It's hard to get up out of the comfort zone and actually do something that might improve our lives or the lives of others.

The temptation to become a "fixin' to" type of person is strong and I fall into that trap often. I get lazy and distracted or I make excuses.

Truth is, I do get a lot of stuff done. I'm proud of my productivity level. But, am I doing what I love? Am I improving my life and lives of others?

I feel like I waste just as much time as I spend being productive. Lots of projects I claim that I want to do I never get around to simply because starting is difficult. Truth is, if I really wanted to do them and if they were truly important to me, I would do it.

According to Zig Ziglar, lots of people who fail to begin get "cooked in the squat" and fail to rise. They fail to reach their full potential.

A few of my favorite quotes from this clip: 
  • "Do it now."
  • "You don't have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great". 
  • "The 'half-a-minders' and the 'gonna-doers' are the 'never-doers'".

Another quote, this one from Williams Wordsworth, might be helpful to anyone who feels like they are stuck in the squatting position:"To begin, begin."

We don't have to get it right the first time. Don't put the pressure of perfection on yourself. Just get going and figure it out as you go along. Doing something is usually better than not doing anything at all.

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Walking Dead: Forcing the Dodge Brothers to Live On

Oh, the advertisement industry. How I love to hate thee.

You may have already read my complaints about Nutella's deceptive advertisements which I wrote about earlier this year. You may even notice other misleading commercials that blare on our television screens. But a new campaign by Dodge might take the prize for Most Deceptive Advertisement (at least in the year 2014).

Have you seen it yet? It's all about the Dodge brothers.

Isn't this just adorable? It looks like a movie; it feels like a dream. Images of the Roaring 20's, of creative thinking, of brotherly love and arguing capture the viewer's attention. "They believed in more than the assembly line," the narrator tells us. "They believed driving was a holy endeavor". Even in death, their pallbearers were pulled right off the factory floor. Incredible. Apparently, the Dodge brothers were way ahead of their time.

Well, that all may have been well and true... at the time. The Dodge brothers did leave Ford and begin their own company. Whether or not they were all that inventive or successful in the beginning does not concern me. What I do know is that without government bailouts, the Dodge company probably would not exist anymore and that little commercial of theirs would not end so happily.

The government has bailed Dodge out of its own mismanagement more than once. In 1979, Chrysler (which owns Dodge) asked and received a federally backed loan which allowed them to make alterations to their inefficient vehicles and be able to appeal more to the public. Ahead of its time then? Surely not. 30 years later, the U.S. Government poured 80 billion dollars into Chrysler/Dodge and GM because both companies were undergoing bankruptcy. These companies have "recovered" since this bailout, but at the cost of the taxpayers.

Often people think that a failing business is a failure of the free market. If a business was not able to succeed, then that's not nice or fair and they must be rescued.

In reality, businesses closing down shop is the market's way of "cleaning house" and getting rid of industries that we do not need or companies that do not meet our expectations. Even if a company has good management, we might not need their goods and services. Even if a company has valuable goods and services, mismanagement could still be their demise. By the free market deciding who goes and who stays, we allow everyone to be in charge of allocating our scarce resources into the best businesses and industries who deserve them.

If the Dodge brothers instilled such an amazing spirit of ingenuity into their business, why have they needed saving... twice.

Maybe Dodge does produce high-quality cars (although that point is taken into question here, here, here, and many other places I'm sure), but their management stinks. So who is to blame? Still not the free market. Rather, the people in charge are not taking care of business and working to ensure Dodge success.

Consumers reward quality companies with profits and punish inefficient or unneeded companies with losses. If people don't want to buy Dodge anymore, let them. No need to prop up a business that consumers have voted off the island. If Dodge shuts down, that gives other car companies resources they need to expand or a new company or two to come in and start a business.

Do automakers have a right to exist simply because two brothers back in the early 1900's had a dream and worked hard? A lot of people might think so with their heart, but let's try to analyze this with our heads. If we allow Dodge to run its course free of government intervention and the company fails, then the free market has done its job. If we allow Dodge to run its course free of government intervention and the company succeeds, then the free market has done its job.

Let's let the free market work. Please. Just this once. We might be surprised by the outcome and we will surely have a more efficient and resourceful economy in the long-run if we do so. No company is too big to fail if consumers are indicating that they don't want them. Putting off the inevitable only makes our economy less efficient and worse off overall.

Let's stop forcing life into industries the consumers deem lifeless. The Dodge brothers may have contributed to the auto industry early on, put perhaps it is time to let them rest in peace, free from government intervention.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Silence is Not Always Golden

I'm self-conscious. Well, not so much in real life. But with this blog, I worry. What if I say something wrong? What if I say something stupid? What if someone doesn't like what I say? What is someone actually reads this blog? Oh, the horror.

I have countless drafts of unfinished or just unpublished blog posts waiting to be worked on. Some of them probably shouldn't see the light of day, but others? They're just waiting.

I have my excuses. Time is the biggest one -- it seems to be my excuse for most of what I put off. But often, I simply don't publish posts because I don't think they are perfect. I fear failure or looking dumb.

Something about posting words on the internet seems so permanent. People post silly words on their social media websites all the time and a blog post is not much more than a more organized or serious status update. Even so, I've been taught that once posted, even if deleted, nothing can be erased on the internet.

That's scary. I fear publishing and then regretting my words. What if I change my mind? What if I want to take my words back?

And then I realized something. I don't have to be perfect. I don't have to get it right the first time. I am allowed to make mistakes. I'm allowed to change my mind.

Speaking out may have consequences, but so does staying quiet. So today, I choose to hit 'publish'.