18 Rules to Live By for 2018


I am not much of a resolutions person, per se, but I do love how the start of a new year invites reflection on what has worked and what has not.  This year, I thought it would be fun to do 18 for 2018.   If I had to name a theme for my list, it would be "Actually do what you know works."  This year I want to be less about discovery and adventure than about honing in and improving.  Some items on the list will be easy; others require more effort.  These are my rules to live by for 2018--and hopefully beyond.




1.  Nab the early appointments. 

I mean to do this more often, and this year, I am going to be intentional about it.  Whenever possible, book the first appointment of the day.  It reduces wait time, since there has not been time to get behind yet, and your service providers are fresh, not tired from a long day's work.


2.  Start my morning well before the kids wake up. 

Fortunately, I have an early morning group exercise gig to help me out with this one, and I intend to stick to the same schedule the mornings that I am not teaching.  I prefer to begin my day well before most of the world.  It launches me into proactive mode rather than reactive mode.  Emails, phone calls, and requests to take care of other people's agendas do not roll in until 9 or 10 a.m., so I have found if you are up by 5 or 6, even accounting for getting the rest of the household ready to get out the door, you have a good two hours of uninterrupted time.


3.  Natural beauty and personal care products are worth it.

I have been slowly switching over to more natural products over the past few years, but I want to commit to a full overhaul this year.  I also want to find "good enough" products instead of continuing the quest for that perfect mascara or concealer or (fill in the blank here).


4.  Quality beats novelty. 

You know those people who give the same pecans each year for Christmas, and you look forward to receiving them every time?  Or the people who have a signature dinner or potluck dish?  I want to find my signature homemade gift and dish and take some of the decision making stress out of gifting and socializing.  The key is that I need to be entirely happy and confident with what I land on, so this could take some time and experimentation.


5.  Less is more.

This applies to a lot, but here I am specifically talking about stuff.  We are by no means minimalists, but we have been paring down and want to continue that trend.  Less stuff means less to clean, less to lose, less to move.  I am also learning that variety and choices are overrated.  One Christmas bowl is plenty--I don't need five.


6.  Connect with God intentionally and differently.

This year, I am trying a devotional (it's here if you want to check it out).  Devotionals usually aren't my style, but it is based on the lectionary, so it fits my tradition nicely.  I think we can get in ruts with our spiritual practices, so it can be good to shake things up.


7.  Take regular inventories.

Of the fridge, freezer, pantry, office supply closet, kids' clothes, and so on.  Make peace with sunk costs, and admit when something isn't working or won't get used.  Clean regularly.  Assess what we have, what we need, and what we don't need.


8.  Stop apologizing (or be more intentional with my language).

Of course there are times I need to say "I'm sorry."  Many times.  Yet have you ever had someone bump into you because he or she wasn't paying attention and you have been the one to apologize?  These are the times I have in mind.  What am I saying and why?  How could I say it better?


9.  Foam roll.

My muscles need it, and life in general just goes better when I do.


10.  Make a to do list for the day and for the week.

I am infinitely more productive when I write down a list of tasks.  Not only am I happier, but I also better give myself permission to take breaks without guilt when I can see my progress in concrete terms.


11.  Choose reading for free time.

I read my fair share of articles on the internet and listen to more podcasts than I can count, but I am restored by actual books.  This year I would like to make a point to spend more leisure time reading and listening to well-developed books rather than short, one-off pieces.


12.  Write more notes.

Handwriting is a dying art form, but I want to keep the skill and not only pull it out on birthdays and Christmases when I need to write thank you notes.  The southern girl in me relishes a handwritten note on beautiful stationery, and I bet most of us think that they are fun to receive.


13.  Get outside everyday.

Fortunately, our dog holds us accountable, but on the days my husband walks her, and when it is below freezing, I am tempted to hole up inside all day.  I  hate the cold and rain, but my mood and productivity benefit when I get fresh air, even for only ten minutes.


14.  Do not hit the snooze button.

It never leaves me refreshed.


15.  Tracking offers freedom.

Dan and I have tracked our expenses on Mint for years, but we have finally switched over to a new budgeting software to meet all of our needs (for a free service, though, Mint is great!).  We are cracking down even more this year when it comes to understanding exactly where all of our money is going.  The tracking and categorizing appeals to our organizing sensibilities and reminds us of the freedom that comes from being in control of our finances.


16.  Take the few minutes to do hair and makeup.

I am not someone who enjoys getting ready.  For me, it is a necessary evil.  Yet I notice how much better I feel about myself if I take the five or ten minutes to do my hair and makeup rather than try to skate by with the bare minimum.  The getting ready time feels like time wasted in the moment, but the rest of the day it pays off in confidence and attitude gained.


17.  Wear the right pajamas.

It sounds silly, but hear me out: If your pajamas are too hot, you cannot sleep.  If they are too frumpy, you feel unattractive.  If they are uncomfortable, you cannot relax.  I have finally embraced the fact that my pajama style is a loose, flowy sleepshirt, and I have vowed not to buy anything else any more.  Good sleep starts with the right sleepwear, and no matter how cute a set of pjs may be, they are not worth it if I cannot snooze.


18.  Take more deep breaths.


Happy 2018!