A Sneak Peak: 12 Months of Meaningful Improvement

NYE-1 copyI’ve been working diligently over the past couple of weeks to build out my 2015 bucket list, and a lot of the ideas I’ve been stumbling upon have had a 30-day theme… 30 days of going the extra mile, or 30 days of self restraint. So I thought I’d make a year of it. In addition to my standard tasks and dreams, I’m going to spend the year making meaningful improvements.

When I first shared this list with AB, his response was “It sounds like you’re just trying to torture yourself,” so I wanted to explain some of the background and thought process behind each month. Some are or will be harder than others, but as a habit takes minimum 21 days to stick, the idea is that if it sticks, I can carry over good habits into the following months. So as a little sneak peak to my 2015 bucket list, I present 2015’s 12 Months of Meaningful Improvement:

January: Month of using zero disposable cups or bottles. This seems pretty straightforward, but I’m a big fan of being environmentally friendly. I also wanted to start with something doable but still impactful. I will be carrying with me my Klean Kanteen, so I can still make trips to Starbucks and grab some water, but will limit that impact.

February: Month of drinking nothing but water (and protein shakes). AB made the caveat about protein shakes, because I would otherwise be lacking in my post-workout protein intake. But this means no coffee, no alcohol, no high-calorie drinks, no afternoon diet Coke, etc. It’s something of a cleanse, and I’m also hoping it saves a little money, too. I’d really like to limit my alcohol intake in the coming year. I find that while I enjoy a little wine or whiskey at home, I’m really tired of going out.

March: Month of no television. I wholeheartedly acknowledge that this will be the most difficult month. I watch a few shows with AB and may or may not keep watching these (technically, they’re online). However, I want to eliminate my habit of turning on the TV and browsing the web, post-work. I will instead read, write, draw, cook, clean, or call loved ones.

April: Month of meatless Mondays. My food¬†philosophy tends to be “meat-on-the-side” anyway, but I want to make a conscious effort to limit my meat intake for a slew of reasons. Meat is expensive, detrimental to the environment, and can cause some serious health issues. Now, I don’t have a poor or meat-dense diet, so I’m not particularly invested in being veggie again, but I think that limiting my intake will help encourage me to be mindful of my consumption.

May: Month of twice-weekly blog posts. It’s pretty clear I’ve been struggling to post regular content here – really for about a year. I attended Alt Summit last year, which was super inspiring, but I don’t feel that I have a niche for MSW anymore. I want to actively combat that – to fake it ’til I make it by posting regular content.

June: Month of morning walks. I haven’t yet figured out how this will impact my morning workouts – it might be that my walk from the gym to the office counts, but really I just want to get out and spend some time in the daylight. Walking was always a good opportunity for me to reboot or foster creativity, and I’d love to challenge myself to get outside and enjoy a little fresh air. It might instead mean taking a walk at lunch… we’ll see.

July: Month supporting only small / local businesses. This will be hard for me, because it means to chains and no Amazon. I’ll still be buying groceries, as usual, but want to limit any discretionary spending, and force myself to be more conscious of how I spend my month.

August: Month without shopping. I know, I know. The blasphemy. Emergencies and food (from the grocery store) are allowed. Beyond that, I’m skimping.

September: Month without taking a cab. This is both to encourage myself to walk, and to save money. I spend a lot of money on cabs.

October: Month without gluten. Just shut up and do it. Ughhh. I know going gluten-free is super trendy right now, and for the past several years. I’m not in it to lose weight. Really, I think that gluten intake impacts my allergies. And I don’t want to be itchy all the time. I’ve tried out gluten-free and felt amazing but it’s an INCREDIBLY difficult diet to maintain. It takes a lot of planning.

November: Month of daily gratitudes. In brainstorming these months, I noticed a lot were about limiting myself. But during the month of Thanksgiving, I want to emphasize everything I’m grateful for – even the small things. This might mean journaling about my “gratitudes,” it might mean just saying a silent thank you at the end of the day, or it may mean doing “high-low” – a game of sorts where each person lists their high point and their low point of the day – over dinner

December: Month of random acts of kindness. And in the theme of the holidays, I want to extend my cheerfulness to others in the form of random acts of kindness. Everything counts – it doesn’t have to be a grandiose gesture. Donating when prompted at checkouts, holding the door for a stranger, surprising a coworker with coffee. Should be a wonderful year?

Inspired to try some meaningful months yourself, or write an annual bucket list? Share it with me or in the comments – I’m always looking for new ideas.

2011 Bucket List

Remember that first post in July? This may look familiar…

Jumping right in, I’m not a believer in New Year’s resolutions. I just think they tend to revolve too much around losing weight and looking better and petty bullpucky that sparks a temporary spike in gym and diet industry revenues and doesn’t budge the scale a notch. Plus, I’m don’t have enough will power to diet, so I take a different approach to the New Year.

If you haven’t noticed already, I’m kind of a freak about lists. I read once that writing lists is the best way to naturally combat ADHD… maybe I’m undiagnosed? whatever. Anyway, I write lists all the time because it makes the brain clutter (which sounds something like “BZZZZZZZZIHAVETODOALLTHISCRAPANDICAN’TSORTTHROUGHMYTHOUGHTSENOUGHTOCOHESIVELYFIGUREOUTEXACTLYWHATI

NEEDTODOBZZZZZZZZZ”) and it makes it all pretty too. When I write lists, I’m more proactive. Case in point? Lists=shit gets done.

Anywayyyy, for this year’s bucket list, I compiled 80 things I wanted to do and am already working on many. Given my new address, there’s much to explore. I’m determined to fall in love with this city, even if I have to trip myself to get to that point. Bygones.

2011 BUCKET LIST

  1. Move to New York.
  2. Do something crazy.
  3. Visit the South.
  4. Dance on a table.
  5. Host a dinner party.
  6. Write a letter to a political figure.
  7. Raise $500 for a charity.
  8. Sing karaoke.
  9. Send poetry in to get published.
  10. Find the best coffee house in the city.
  11. See a show.
  12. Try speed dating.
  13. Learn to photograph.
  14. Buy myself a Michael Kors watch.
  15. Spend a weekend in D.C.
  16. Take a roadtrip.
  17. Find an excuse to wear a tiara.
  18. Read 5 books on my list.
  19. Design an outfit.
  20. Make business cards.
  21. Volunteer a week in Costa Rica.
  22. See Austin.
  23. Have a shower beer.
  24. Perfect my dougie.
  25. Have frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity III.
  26. Go to a concert.
  27. Skinny dip.
  28. Spend a Sunday volunteering with The Breakfast Club.
  29. Picnic in Central Park.
  30. Toast our Sep. apartment with champagne.
  31. Skateboard to class.
  32. Get a Boston Athenaeum membership.
  33. Go to a BRUINS game.
  34. Go to the top of the Empire State Building.
  35. Slow dance.
  36. Visit every Manhattan bridge.
  37. Learn something new.
  38. Have lunch on the Staten Island Ferry.
  39. Wear fake eyelashes.
  40. Waitress.
  41. Have three differently themed dinner parties.
  42. Buy myself some letters.
  43. Visit Canada.
  44. Get better at French.
  45. Send Amanda a care package.
  46. Take a dance class.
  47. Spend a day on the beach.
  48. Watch all the epic movies that I never did.
  49. Plant an herb garden.
  50. Write my number on a bathroom stall.
  51. Help make Thanksgiving dinner.
  52. Send in a Postsecret.
  53. Write a note and leave it in a book.
  54. Learn to master a stick shift.
  55. Do a cartwheel.
  56. Kiss someone under the mistletoe.
  57. Pay for the person behind me in a drive thru.
  58. Sneak someone into the Webster.
  59. Get a massage.
  60. Bartend.
  61. Create a poster memorializing random quotes.
  62. Take a CPR course.
  63. Take a ride in a town car.
  64. Make something for the apartment.
  65. Start a journal (again).
  66. Create a drink.
  67. Give someone a piggy back ride.
  68. Shake hands with the Editor in Chief.
  69. Take myself on a date.
  70. Talk someone into going to school.
  71. Buy myself a dress without a reason to wear it.
  72. Find a place to wear said dress.
  73. Dress like Jackie O.
  74. Play an intramural sport.
  75. Try a new Ben N Jerrys flavor.
  76. Blog once per week.
  77. Get to know someone in every Greek organization.
  78. Force a guy to come over and put up shelves (ha).
  79. Start a tradition.
  80. Read every night M-Th.

Here’s to an awesome year!! Happy New Year!