Inspired by stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Resolution
By Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, D’ette Corona and Barbara LoMonaco
Everyone makes resolutions: The new year motivates all of us to improve our habits, and holds the promise of a clean slate. But after January passes, many of us may beat ourselves up for letting resolutions fall by the wayside – which is why now is precisely the best time to renew commitments you’ve made to yourself. While most years, our resolutions are primarily about things like diets, being on time, becoming neater and similar issues, this year many resolutions have a different feeling. Set a household budget. Start recycling.
Save more. If these sound familiar to you it is because this year, more than most years, the resolutions are related in some way to the troubled economy.
Here are 9 Tips for 2009 for surviving and thriving in turbulent economic times:
Simplify. As Mary Davis writes in her story “Resolutions for Sale,” we all have items from previous resolutions that never panned out: Exercise equipment still in its original packaging, organizational gadgets collecting dust. So why not make a buck or two and have a “Resolution Sale?” Sell all of your unwanted and unused items, make some money, and simplify your life for the better.
Go green. When going green, little changes can make a big difference for the environment — and your wallet. Ashley Sanders writes in her story “I’m Not a Dirty Hippie” that her husband was apprehensive about going green at first, but got on-board once he saw the savings benefit. “After a lot of testing and trying, we began to find products that we could not only use, but that were more affordable than the products we previously used,” Sanders writes.
Count your blessings. List-obsessed Sarah Jo Smith shares in her story “A Daily Practice in Gratitude” how even the most sincere resolutions can turn sour. “I planned to write down three things a day that expressed my appreciation and love for the things and people around me..[But] what started as a positive exercise turned into a mental list of countless complaints and worries,” she writes. However, after an emotional encounter with a stranger, Sarah realized there was much more room in her life than she previously allowed for gratitude. In the face of financial worries and other daily stressors, remember your gifts – you’ll likely discover the strength you need in life’s intangibles.
Don’t exceed your needs: Try downsizing! Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Resolution story contributor Harriet Cooper had a size problem – with her home. Saddled with double the house space she needed, she realized there was a lot going to waste. Cooper was also unhappy with her home’s “double identity” – one side that guests saw, and one side that she actually lived in. In her story “One House, Two Faces,” she writes about selling the house and moving into a smaller one. With her savings, she bought herself two years of freedom to explore new job possibilities. What’s more? Now, her guests get to visit a relaxed hostess who is happy with her (smaller) home, just the way it is.
Put the unnecessary items back. Single mom Rebecca Jay tried to save money, but every month she was living paycheck to paycheck. So she invented a game that she and her son could play to save money at the grocery store. At the check-out lane, she and her son perform a “Cart Check,” pulling out items they really don’t need. When her son puts something back, Jay rewards him with the savings. In her story “Check the Cart,” she recalls how this game not only helped rein in impulse spending, it taught her son a valuable lesson on personal finances in the process. What a great legacy to pass on to a younger generation!
Find financial peace. Kristine Byron likes to look at what she spends, rather than what she saves. In her story “Spend, Spend, Spend,” Kristine resolves to save money by cutting out certain things, but recognizes all the ways she gets to “spend” time doing something else. “As I have pledged to save on lavish meals dining out, I have vowed to ‘spend’ more time entertaining at home,” she writes. When you make resolutions to save, you can also resolve to “spend” more time with your family and doing things that you love to do . for free!
Work with those you love. Working with someone you love might seem scary at first, as B.J. Taylor describes in her story “A Leap of Faith.” But when her husband needed her to work at his company because of financial setbacks, she stepped up. The two agreed to sit down and talk every six months about what’s working and what’s not. Though challenging at first, the couple has worked with each other now for 15 years. Could it be possible to go into business with your loved ones?
Give gifts of yourself. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on the people you love, just spend time doing things with them. In his story “A Commitment to Play Dolls,” Timothy Martin recalls his decision to play with his four-year-old daughter for an afternoon. “I still thinking playing with dolls is dumb,” writes Martin. “But my four-year-old daughter, Emily, loves them. She plays with her Barbie dolls every day. Since I want to be a good father, and because Emily and I don’t get to spend much time together, I resolved to learn.”
Celebrate the old. While everyone else may be resolving to try something new, don’t forget to remember your old treasures. Dayle Allen Shockley writes in “Let’s Celebrate the Old” about all the many items, principles, and people that she celebrates every new year. “I enjoy making new friends, but old friends who have shared my pain and sorrow, celebrated my joys, and remained steadfast when trouble came knocking; they are the ones I will celebrate most in the New Year,” she writes. In 2009, which old pleasures are you thankful for? Life can be improved just by recognizing the wonderful gifts we already have.
And remember, improving yourself is not exclusive to the month of January; it’s a year-round opportunity. Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Resolution (Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, D’ette Corona and Barbara LoMonaco) is published by Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC. For more information, please visit chickensoup.com.