‘Compass Goals’

by Risley

Here’s an article from Tiny Buddha on setting “compass goals” instead of typical New Year’s resolutions. Have you made resolutions for 2017? If so, would converting them to “compass goals” be beneficial to you, or do you prefer the traditional type? Also, did you make resolutions for 2016, and if so, how did you do?

And related: do you subscribe to any daily e-mail services like Tiny Buddha, to receive articles on life improvement or other topics? Which ones do you find helpful and which do you usually delete without reading?

How to Set New Year’s Goals You’ll Actually Enjoy Pursuing

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Podcasts

by Risley

After being advised by my son for several months that I simply must listen to the SERIAL podcast (masterminds behind This American Life and available for free on iTunes), I finally downloaded the first season a week or so ago, and listened to the first few episodes on a drive to the other side of the state. Oh my — HOOKED!

For those who haven’t heard of it, season 1 is about a 15-year-old murder case (a HS senior was murdered and her HS senior boyfriend was tried, convicted and is serving time for the crime. He is now 32). The host, Sarah Koenig, interviews various witnesses and experts, as well as the defendant, and reviews all the evidence, presenting a case that (this far into my listening, at least) seems very far from cut and dried. Did he or didn’t he? I have reasonable doubts, to be sure.

I’m up to episode 8 now and am already mourning the impending ending of season 1. I’m so glad there are 2 more seasons left. (I assume each season presents a different case, but I’m afraid to look at the website in case there are spoilers. I was on there earlier, looking for Sarah’s Twitter handle, and already learned info about Season 1 that I didn’t want to know now). I didn’t watch Making a Murderer on Netflix, but I imagine fans of that show would love Serial.

Also at my son’s insistence, I started listening to Revisionist History, Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast. It’s interesting, but not nearly as riveting (to me) as Serial. DS and I recently flew together, and we spent the flight sharing headphones and listening to Revisionist History shows stored on his phone.

In addition to these new (to me) shows, I have always loved This American Life, The Moth, and a few shows on CBC Radio. And I’m sure DS will keep me apprised of any he gloms onto in the future.

I actually don’t make time in my week for podcasts. I don’t have much of a commute anyway, and on the 2 days I go to the office, I listen to Morning Edition en route there, and Fresh Air en route home (or I call friends/relatives to chat). On the other days, I don’t really have any spot in my schedule for podcasts. If I happen to catch these shows when I’m on long drives, I cheer and listen raptly; otherwise, I miss them.

Or at least, that’s how it was *before* Serial. Not anymore! Now that my son has gotten me hooked on this show, I’ll be finding pockets of podcast time in as many days as I can. Maybe while I walk the dogs, or while I do my 15 minutes/day of gait therapy on the treadmill? I can’t see listening to podcasts during more vigorous exercise, like spinning. But maybe as an alternative to reading, especially on nights when my brain’s fried from work? I don’t have a gadget to attach my phone to my pants, but maybe I’ll get one, and listen while I clean the kitchen? I’d listen to/from the cottage, which is my only regular drive over 20 minutes, but it’s rarely only me in the car then, and unless DH and the kids are at the same spot in the show that I’m at, it would be no fun for them to play it then.

What about you? What podcasts are you hooked on? When do you listen to them? Do you have a system for keeping your phone/iPod storage files cleared of old ones, so you can make room for the new? Are there any your entire family listens to together, or you and your partner? Are there any that you actually pay for?

Procrastination

by Risley

Which Of These Five Types Of Procrastinator Are You?

I found this article on procrastination in my Twitter feed, and thought this group might want to discuss it. For me, the first 2 categories do not apply, but the last 3 do, and sometimes all 3 at the same time. I find that keeping my work space tidy all of the time (so I don’t need to waste a 2-hour chunk of any day cleaning up), making daily to-do lists (to keep me on task and to allow me to break up huge projects) and creating, and then being strict about, self-imposed deadlines are the most effective ways of keeping myself from putting things off (for too long). What kind of procrastinator are you, and how have you overcome it?

Habits

by Risley

I just saw this Lifehack article about good and bad habits and thought of this group. It’s not real science, but I love these kinds of “small steps toward self-improvement” articles, and we’ve talked about this sort of thing here before.

The Benefits and Dangers of Habits

Totebaggers, what bad habits would you like to get rid of, and what good habits would you like to replace them with? And more than HABITS, are there MINDSETS you would like to delete and replace?

I’ll start: I would like to delete my HABIT of collapsing into my favorite armchair after a day of work and zoning out in front of Bravo! TV. This comes from a MINDSET of believing I am so mentally fried after a day of lawyering or writing that I can’t possibly focus on anything that requires real brain power.

I might not care about this so much if I could suck in 20 min of silly reality TV and then jump up, energized, and attack the evening (or even simply pick up a book). But for me, one of those shows often leads to many more, while on the flip side, doing one productive thing usually leads to an entire evening of productivity.*** I suffer greatly from inertia, and benefit greatly from momentum.

***By “productivity,” I’m talking about very easy evening activities like reading, not cleaning out the garage or alphabetizing the spices. For me, anything other than melting my brain w/ TV counts as “productive” in this context.

In terms of pure HABIT, I’ve had some success in making myself do productive things rather than collapsing in my chair and clicking on the Real Housewives of Wherever. But that’s surface-level behavior (which is what a habit is), and it feels very forced. I WANT to be collapsing in my chair; I’m simply not allowing myself to do it. A daily struggle like that doesn’t seem like a recipe for longterm happiness. By this point in my life, I’ve engaged in plenty of delayed gratification, self denial, rule setting, etc. I’m not sure I want/need/should engage in more of this.

So for me, real success would be replacing the “I’m so fried” MINDSET with an “I have a second wind!” one. I want to WANT to be productive in the evenings. (Jennifer Aniston would totally get this: “I want you to WANT to do the dishes”).

I don’t know what the secret is to replacing an entire mindset. Self talk? Years and years of forced habits until repeated action slowly brings about a new mindset?

Anyone have success with this? And what about the simpler question of HABITS? Any luck deleting bad ones, adding good ones?

Healthier habits

by Risley

Here’s an article about the recent announcement re: the carcinogenic properties of red meat and processed red meat. The article dispels the “red meat causes cancer” scare by explaining something many of us in this group have said many times: all things in moderation. A bit of red meat, like a bit of sun or a bit of alcohol, has benefits. A ton of red meat, like a ton of sun or a ton of alcohol — not a good plan.

Red Meat for Health: A Recent WHO/IARC Ruling

What health scare information — real or imagined or later debunked — has changed the way you approach your health? Here are some of the changes we’ve made in our house, some based on actual science (though I’ve already forgotten the details) and some based on overreaction or instinct:

Limited microwave use. Not so recent, actually–we’ve been doing this for many years. As I write this, though, I can’t recall reading a single thing that says microwaves are a health risk. I don’t recall if we read something about this once and I’ve simply forgotten it, or if we came up with this ourselves. It makes sense to me instinctively though, so I avoid them. (Meanwhile, I go through the x-ray scanner at airports quite happily. This is not a post about consistency, evidently!)

Limited processed soy. I read that processed soy is a potential issue, particularly for young girls. Something about hormones in the processed soy, maybe? No memory of it, but I have three young women in the house, two of whom eat a lot of tofu at their mother’s, so I figure our house should be pretty much soy free, to be safe. (I understand certain tofu–extra soft, maybe?–is okay but other kinds aren’t Obviously, I’m not good at remembering details, so I just avoid it all, for the most part).

No more plastic unless it’s BPA-free. Again because of reproductive health, and all the girls running around this house. We do have some of those little IKEA dishes (plastic). I’ve told the kids not to eat hot things in those and not to put them in the microwave. I really should just dump them all, I suppose. Again, I’m not scoring consistency points.

Limited/no lunch meat. Again, the processed meat thing. And a nitrate thing I vaguely recall reading. We used to use those little squares of ham in fried rice, but now we sub in shrimp. Of course, now the go-to sandwich choice around here for kids is PB + Nutella, so I’m not sure this was a true health move.

Michael Pollan’s rules. I still try to keep us following these. Things like, “Don’t eat something with more than 10 ingredients/with ingredients you don’t know/that your grandmother wouldn’t recognize/that comes from the aisles of the grocer rather than the perimeter” etc. One thing I love about The Lady is that her ingredient lists are 90% or more from the perimeter, so I don’t have to think about it much. No idea if they’ve debunked these guidelines but I can’t see how we can go wrong eating mostly produce and avoiding processed food with a ton of chemicals, so I’m sticking with Mike. We’ve taken this to another level over the past half year or so, meaning that we no longer cheat as much. I’d say we cheat 0-5% on groceries and a little more when out. Those numbers used to be far, far higher. I swear I have more energy, particularly in the afternoons. It could be because of something else, but I’ve decided it’s from cutting out sugar and processed food.

Probiotics. One every morning for gut health. Maybe it’s these little guys, or maybe it’s that DH and I have stepped up our workouts quite a bit over the last several months, but he and I have reached a whole new level of lean lately. We had already been following the Pollan guidelines more strictly, so it seems like the final step of adding a probiotic was the game changer.

No more than one drink/day for women. Breast cancer risk if you drink more than one. No idea if this has been debunked or not, but I can think of various other good reasons to stick to one/day, so I’m sticking to it and have warned the girls a trazillion times that they should do the same.

What about you? Have you taken things too far for reasons you can no longer recall, or for reasons that may never have existed in the first place, except in your gut? Or do you figure that all these rules/discoveries/warnings change all the time anyway, so there’s no sense getting too fired up about them, and just stay the course instead, eat/drink what you’ve always consumed, whether in moderation or not, and assume it’ll all be fine?