There are not many things as rewarding as achieving something you have been working on very hard. Many articles by entrepreneurs I have recently read suggests “Celebrate the small wins”. I agree with this statement wholeheartedly. Instead of beating yourself up for not being able to complete a major task or project, break it down into smaller parts and celebrate each one individually as you tick them off your list.
Nothing adds as much colour to your daily life as something completely random or kind or useless. You know, like trying to flare your nostrils or lifting your eyebrows one at a time. A random useless fact: I can do both. As a child, I really worked hard to perfect these two essential (yet entirely useless) life skills.
So, here is my list of 21 easy things to achieve:
- Fill an empty dishwasher by cooking one single meal.
Hubby reckons I see an empty dishwasher as a challenge. I enjoy challenges, and once I accepted one, I go all the way. I can fill an empty dishwasher by cooking dinner – and it is never a multi-course meal!
- Brush your teeth the same number of strokes daily for a week.
I have to admit; this has been quite a challenge for me. I remembered the amount being a prime number, but I wasn’t always sure whether it was 13 or 17.
- Kick a small habit by using the number 21.
I eat as I cook. Often when I am busy making a salad or something I would get lazy or bored with the ingredient I am busy chopping and will eat the remainder, so I don’t need to cut what’s left. Fresh ingredients are not that bad, but when it comes to eating out of the bowl, I tend to get nervous about my appetite and unaccounted for kilojoules. The rule is simple: I am not allowed to eat anything out of the pot while cooking. I’m not allowed to cut off an additional piece of cheese or feta. (I’m terrible at this! We go through a 900g block of cheddar in a week and a half.) I am allowed to do it with fresh uncooked vegetables and fruit though. Every time I managed to obey my new rule, I count. I keep on doing this until I did it 21 times in a row. As soon as I cheat, I start at one again. It is believed that, when you successfully stopped doing something 21 times, the habit it kicked and you should be able to carry on with your life. I also now don’t switch on the bathroom light during daytime. Ok, this is not really that easy, but it is quite rewarding, I promise!
- Start a ritual and stick to it.
When our boy was born, I was so incredibly paranoid about waking up the next morning, and he does not. Every single night since his birth I have taken a moment when I put him to bed to appreciate the day that has been – I make an effort to think about moments that were special to me – and then I say thank you for the honour to have been his mom for another day. That’s it. It is an easy task, but very rewarding!
- Make a priority list at the end of the day.
When I am overwhelmed by my workload and feel like I am running around like a headless chicken, the last thing I do before I shut down my computer is write down everything I need to do. I go through my emails to see that I am on top of everything and to double check I have all the info I need for a specific project I am busy with. I take a good look at the list and their deadlines. I decide which is quicker to do and which is more important. Then I prioritise them from one to whichever number the list goes. And I stick to that! I shut down everything and go to bed early, knowing things are under control. When I start the next day, I don’t open my emails, and I don’t look at my phone before I completed at least the first two items on my list.
- Give someone a gap in the supermarket queue.
I often do this, because I know how frustrating it is when you only have two items and the person in front of you has an entire trolley of groceries. When you are standing in line, simply turn around and check if someone behind you has only a small number of items in their hands or basket. Then give them the gap. It’s not going to take up so much of your time, but it might change that person’s day.
- Collect something useless.
Anything. Bottle caps, wine corks, burnt matches, sea urchins, lost coins from the sidewalk. Anything. When you have enough (it is up to you to decide when this is), make something creative with it or chuck it in the bin.
- Spend less time on social media.
I deleted Facebook from my phone a couple of months ago. Best day of my life. One so often opens up an app out of habit. Kick it. It will change your life forever.
- Put your phone face down.
Another great achievement of mine. We all get distracted when the light of our mobile phones starts flickering. Or a message comes through. Or an email. Or a news update or friend request… The list goes on. Put your phone on silent and create the habit of putting it face down. You will become more social and probably have less neck pain too.
- Read a children’s book.
Whether you have children or not, read a children’s book. Not only is it a quick read, but also something innocent and maybe nostalgic to get your mind off other things. I usually turn to Roald Dahl’s Matilda, Winnie the Witch by Korky Paul and Valerie Thomas, The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming by Lemony Snicket or an Awesome Book by Dallas Clayton. A friend recently introduced me to The Little Prince, and I am now in love.
- Create a new playlist at least once a month.
This is not only easy, but I truly believe it is very important too. Make an effort to add songs from your oldest albums, a song by one of your favourite artists that you do not know off by heart. Add as many genres as possible and try to freshen up the list as far as possible. I know we all have those songs that are always playing but try to add something else you haven’t listened to in quite some time.
- Phone a friend.
You don’t really have to phone them, just make an effort to send someone you haven’t heard from in quite some time a message to let them know you are thinking of them.
- Delete old messages.
I am a message hoarder. Sometimes we just need to let go. I had a message from my friend who passed away a couple of years ago on my phone for more than a year. One day her profile picture changed and I nearly had a fit! I had to let go of the message. “Ditto,” it said in response to my “I am missing you today.” It was probably one of the hardest messages to delete, but I had to do it.
- Buy the shoes.
I don’t buy shoes. Well, I used to, but I am over that now. I buy a cheap pair of pumps in the colour I need and wear them until they die. I am hard on shoes, so they only last two to three months. What I mean when I say buy the shoes, is spend money on yourself. No need to go overboard or out of your budget, but buy a book or click a link on Instagram and buy yourself something small from a place you’ve never heard of. For you.
- Tell someone they are doing a great job.
I am a HUGE One Day Only fan. Not so much for the products they offer (ok, I have to admit they got some really cool stuff!), but their copywriter is a genius. A couple of months ago I took five minutes of my time to find their contact email and popped them a simple message telling them that they don’t pay their copywriter enough. That was it. A quick note of appreciation might just change someone’s day (or hopefully their increase!)
We recently put up a tire swing in our backyard. I know Kimya Dawson’s Giant Tire Swing song off by heart and sang it to Rudi when we were swinging on it for the first time. I am going to make an effort to do this more often…especially since he has a bubble machine called Prozak, The Bubble Fish.
- Start journaling.
For as long as I (and people who know me really well) can remember, I used to journal. I own more journals, empty and full, than I probably ever did own pairs of jeans. I was frowned upon often when, in the middle of a conversation, I got my journal out of my bag and started writing. Sometimes for three minutes just making notes or jotting down an observation, sometimes for longer. Friends and family never questioned it and they never asked me what I was writing about. When and if I was ready, I would read it to them in any way. They did not need to ask. New people did not get it though. Sadly so, life started happening and I stopped journaling. I attempted Nanowrimo a couple of times but just could not get myself back into the swing of things. I recently came across a blog which I thoroughly enjoy reading. The writer, Rachel, has a journaling workshop which I watched and decided to give this journaling thing another go. I will keep you posted on how it is going, but for now, the decision to start is a significant achievement.
- How many cheese curls fit into your mouth?
??. Try and beat that 😉
- Find a new word and use it.
I remember Cher teaching Tai this. I have a Pinterest Board that might give you an idea or two.
Once a week for a couple of minutes. Be silly! No need to try and create a masterpiece, just doodle to give your hand a break from mouse-clutching a bit.
- Start a gratitude list.
Before you go to sleep at night, write down five simple things that happened today that you are grateful for. The lady behind the counter who smiled at you. The pretty butterfly that greeted you. A compliment or thank-you note from your boss or a million-rand lottery you just won. Five new things every day which you are not allowed to repeat during the course of the week. On Sunday evening when the blues kick in, read the 35 things that you were grateful for and know that life is not really that bad and say to yourself, Ok, Monday, I’ve got this.
Please let me know which (small) achievements you celebrate!
PSD Mockup Courtesy of Free Mockup World