Planned Preoccupation Check In

Happy New Year!

The new year is always a time for reflection, so let’s have a check in. I started this blog in the summer of 2015 and have cultivated 6 new habits and achieved 2 specific goals.

Writing

I have not been as strict about daily writing as I was with my initial habit. There was a point where the weekly posts were starting to cause me some anxiety so I took a few breaks over the course of the year. I want my energy focused on the habits themselves, not on this blog which should support the habits.

Meditation

Even though I don’t sit and meditate intentionally everyday this habit has helped me to manage my stress more effectively. I often focus on my breathing and clear my mind before I go into a meeting, or respond to a contentious email.

I have also completed 2 Headspace packs since I started this habit, and have the Motivation pack teed up as we dive into 2017!

Smoothies

I’ve got a freezer full of smoothie packs. It’s difficult to start the morning with a frozen drink when it is below freezing outside, but it’s still our quickest breakfast option. I also learned that if I freeze my ingredients on a baking sheet before I put them in the freezer bags they don’t turn into a big hunk of ice and are much easier to blend. So I’ve got that going for me.

8WW Meals

I have not kept up with this habit very well at all. I am often reminded of the Sharma quote, “knowing what to do and not doing it is the same as not knowing what to do.” Here’s to better food choices in 2017!

Spanish

This was the only habit I failed at during the initial 66 days, but it is the one I have kept up with the best since then. My mom started using Duolingo to learn Italian, and it is fun to check in with each other on our progress. I also have so many friends who try to engage my new found Spanish skills that I feel compelled to keep going!

Random Acts of Kindness

A great thing that came from this habit was learning about the generosity of my friends and family. Once I started talking more about philanthropy more people started sharing their good deeds with me. It has been a wonderful learning experience.

The structure this blog provides also helped me to organize our move to Red Wing and to get my Project Management Professional certification. Action planning focused my efforts and I was able to achieve my goals.

The support, suggestions, and encouragement you have provided in the comments have been invaluable! I am excited to continue on this journey of personal development, and know that 2017 will bring great things.

Here is a sneak peak of my next habit…

guessagain

Care to hazard a guess?!

Good Will Wednesday – The End

I’ve made it through another 66 days. Here are the stats from my random acts of kindness habit.

Action Plan Progress:

  • DONE – Volunteered at the RW Food Shelf
  • DONE – 3 online volunteer opportunities found
  • DONE – 1/1 documentary watched on philanthropy
  • DONE – 3/3 TED Talks watched on philanthropy
  • DONE – 67/66 days of random acts of kindness
  • DONE – Read 2 books philanthropy
  • DONE – Volunteered at the pumpkin carving display set up by a Red Wing artist
  • DONE – Tracked my random acts of kindness on Twitter
  • DONE – Completed the Headspace Gratitude pack
  • Unable to find a volunteer opportunity with the Project Management Institute
  • Posted 7/10 weekly progress updates

Grade: B

Incentive: Clayton and I will attend the Warm Up in the Wild event at the MN Zoo.

Lessons Learned: My first philanthropy habit was a lot of fun. I found the random acts of kindness I performed for Clayton to be particularly enjoyable. It showed me that I should be sure to keep those closest to me in mind when I set out to change the world.

One change that needs to be made is planning my posts up front. Vacations and illness impacted my progress updates. It is hard to find motivation to write some days but if I outline my posts up front it would be easier to keep up.

I fully intend on keeping up with my random acts of kindness, but I don’t feel like this habit warrants a 6 month check in.

I’m wrapping up at the perfect time and I look forward to spreading the joy over the holiday season. Best wishes to you and your families!

Book Breakdown: More or Less

It isn’t easy to find quality books on generosity. A lot of the lists that I perused were overly religious, hokey, or geared towards children. When I read the synopsis for More or Less it seemed in line with what I am trying to accomplish.

This book is the practical application of generosity. It is told through a series of anecdotes about what has worked for Shinabarger and his family and friends. The “Enough Talk” sections help the reader to stop thinking about being generous and start being generous. There were a number of times that I put down the book, and did SOMETHING. It was fantastic!

Through the course of reading this book I made a clothing donation, meditated, and sent my gift cards to Gift Card Giver. It is amazing what can be accomplished in a short amount of time when you confront your excess.

With as much focus as there is on practical application, I was expecting more from the “Your Enough Experiment” section. It could have been more straight forward, but does seem to align with my habit building, so that’s a plus.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for inspiration during the giving season. It is also a great read for anyone else with a minimalist bent.

What books inspire your generosity? Please share your recommendations in the comments.

 

Good Will Wednesday – The Middle

The weeks have flown by since I started this habit! As always lets start with the stats.

Action Plan Progress:

  • DONE – Volunteered at the RW Food Shelf
  • DONE – 3 online volunteer opportunities found
  • DONE – 1/1 documentary watched on philanthropy
  • DONE – 3/3 TED Talks watched on philanthropy
  • 32/66 days of random acts of kindness
  • 0/2 books read on philanthropy
  • Find volunteer opportunities in the RW art community
  • Find a volunteer opportunity with the Project Management Institute
  • Complete the Headspace Gratitude pack
  • Tracking my random acts of kindness on Twitter
  • 5/10 weekly posts on my progress

Grade: A

Lessons Learned: I realized I was over complicating this habit. My friend reminded me that smiling at strangers is an act of kindness. Not everything needs to be a real production.

I look forward to spreading the joy. Please share your favorite random act of kindness in the comments!

TED Talks on Generosity

On Generosity is a curated TED playlist. These 7 talks provide 1.5 hours of content, and explore different aspects of philanthropy.

“…stop thinking about which product to buy for yourself and try giving some of it to other people

How to buy happiness – Michael Norton

In most of the world there is a positive correlation between donations and happiness. Norton demonstrates that even trivial donations improve our happiness levels.  In life, leisure, and the professional arena prosocial behavior provides positive returns.

He highlights the Donors Choose site as a place to focus your giving, and I am excited to donate in the future.

“…set a higher bar for how we help individual families improve their lives.”

Should you donate differently – Joy Sun

I found Sun’s talk particularly interesting because she confronts some long held assumptions about aide head on. Not all people in poverty are in that situation because of their poor choices and they don’t always need third party intervention to improve their lives. She discusses the idea of unconditional cash transfers as a model for delivering aid.

Sun sites studies that show across the board cash transfers are used to improve the the lives of people in the lowest levels of poverty. Give Directly allows you to provide cash transfers efficiently and free of corruption.

“Philanthropy is the market for love.”

The way we think about charity is dead wrong – Dan Pallotta

This is my favorite talk because it made me see the non-profit sector in new light. Why should we have a different play book for the profit sector when we can all agree that non-profit causes should also enjoy the benefits of scale.

Pallotta focuses on the limitations we put on compensation, marketing, risk tolerance, time, and funding in the non-profit sector. We are asking the wrong questions when it comes to the success of a non-profit and are conflating morality and frugality. The goal should be solving problems, not keeping overhead low.

I hope you will give these video a view, and please share your thoughts in the comments.

Movie Madness: Billions in Change

billions-in-change-official-film

This documentary focuses on how Manoj Bhargava, the creator of 5-hour Energy, is using 90% of his wealth to help change the world.

Billions in Change is a 40 minute movie that focuses on the work of Stage 2 Innovations. They are trying to dramatically improve the world’s access to sustainable energy, clean water, and health care. It is a fascinating overview of their most promising products and general ideas for implementation.

It’s short, sweet, and inspirational. Manoj sums it up nicely at the end, “if you’re given more, more is expected from you.” If only there were more people in the world concerned about lessening the suffering of other.

I would highly recommend this movie to anyone, especially since you can watch it for free online.

Please share any philanthropy movie recommendations you have in the comments below. I’d love to take in some more films.

Digital Deeds

It is hard to find time during the work week to volunteer, so I knew it would be important to identify ways to perform random acts of kindness online.

UN Volunteers

Finding volunteer opportunities that fully utilize your skill set can be difficult. This website matches organizations and volunteers based skill and interest. Once you create a profile you can apply for opportunities. The application process seems overly involved, but I’m sure it helps the organizations select the right people.

Catchafire

Similar to the UN website, Catchafire utilizes the volunteer’s unique skill set. They seem to have a different scope for their opportunities, and it could be a great way to build your resume since it has more of a business focus. I haven’t found an opportunity I want to apply for yet, but I am keeping a close eye on the site.

unite4:good

I have been posting my random acts of kindness on Twitter, and unite4:good tweeted at me about likes4:good. It’s a great source of inspiration. I cannot wait to post about some of my good deeds, and support worthy needs.

This list is a great starting point as I build this philanthropy habit. It will be fun getting involved in these online communities.

If you have some spare time tonight, check out my all time favorite feel good website, Free Rice!

Good Will Wednesday – The Start

I have yet to build a habit related to giving generously. It has been difficult for me to reconcile the idea of coming off as a braggart versus using this blog as a way to focus my efforts when developing better habits. Ultimately, this blog is for personal development, and I know my intentions are pure.

Habit: Perform a Random Act of Kindness every day for 66 days

Start Date: Sunday, 10/16/2016

Projected End Date: Wednesday, 12/21/2016

Action Plan:

  • Volunteer at the RW Food Shelf
  • Read 2 books about philanthropy
  • Watch 3 TED Talks about philanthropy
  • Watch a documentary about philanthropy
  • Find online volunteer opportunities
  • Find volunteer opportunities in the RW art community
  • Find a volunteer opportunity with the Project Management Institute
  • Complete the Headspace Gratitude pack
  • Track my random acts of kindness on Twitter
  • Post weekly on Wednesdays about my progress

Incentive: If I complete a random act of kindness everyday for 66 days, I will celebrate by participating in a fun charity event.

Lofty Goal: Give generously

I’ll be building this habit throughout the holiday season. Focusing on acts of kindness and becoming more active in my community should only increase my holiday spirit!

Do you have a favorite volunteer activity? Please share in the comments below!

Tidy Travels – The End

Clayton and I moved into our new house and have diligently worked to get unpacked before vacation.

Action Plan Progress:

  • DONE – 6 weekly posts shared
  • DONE – Completed discarding and packing by Thursday, 12/10/2015
  • DONE – Posted about storing techniques
  • DONE – Kept a photo journal

Grade: A

Incentive: I’ve already found a new cleaning service in Red Wing and hopefully we can get them started in January!

Lessons Learned:

One idea I tried to keep in mind while unpacking and storing was that everything should have a place. I left nothing unpacked, and it feels good to be surrounded by the things that spark joy.

Below are pictures that highlight the techniques suggested by Marie Kondo.

BathroomAfter
Bathroom storage – I used storage bins, shoe boxes, and have kept all the same items stored together.
BookshelfAfter
Bookshelves storage – they include the two accordion folders that now house the only paper in our place!
ClosetAfter
Closet storage – Our new closet is laid out differently, but we got almost everything stored there. I still have another chest of drawers in the bedroom, but it wouldn’t fit through the closet opening.

There was no part of this process that was simple. I think the fact that we were moving made it easier to keep moving forward. My favorite part was rediscovering things that do spark joy that have been stuck in boxes!

6 Month Goals:

My only goal is to ensure I ask myself if something sparks joy before purchasing it.

Please share your KonMari success stories in the comments!

Discarding Drill: Mementos

MomentosBefore1

The last category in the discarding process is mementos. It was difficult to determine what was included in this category as it is basically everything else. I had the following major categories:

  1. Cards
  2. Snow globes
  3. Stuffed animals
  4. Pictures
  5. Random stuff

It was pretty easy for me to part with the cards. I enjoyed receiving the cards, but the book resonated with me about not holding onto gifts out of guilt.MomentosAfter1 The rest of the sub categories were difficult to get through. Clayton seemed especially resistant to this part of the process and assured me everything sparked joy.

As you can see from the after picture we parted with very little. I admit that I did not get rid of any pictures. It was a lot of effort to put my photo albums together, and I do take the time to look at them regularly and enjoy them.

We have done a great job of getting through the discarding process, and I want to make sure that everything we have determined sparks joy is on display in our home. My new policy is to not have anything packed away where we cannot enjoy it.

Have you successfully sorted through and discarded mementos? Please share any tips in the comments.