29 Things That Will Make Your Life Happier

29 Things That Will Make Your Life Happier

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29 Things That Will Make Your Life Happier

Sometimes life just gets in the way.

And today I had a real wake-up call.  I was reading Amy Gutman’s article, “5 things I learned when The Organizer paid a visit,” in her blog PlanBNation, about bringing in an organizer to create some order in her surroundings.

It’s part of a “Life Experiment” she’s programming for herself each month in 2012.  In her case, as she says, “Each month, I’ll embark on a new experiment—a concrete set of activities tied to a particular time frame. At the end of the month, I’ll reflect on how my life has shifted as a result of taking these actions.”

For Amy, this month it’s about getting organized.

For me, it’s about taking back control over my environment.

What does that mean?

It means looking at that huge virtual “To Do” list in my head and selecting 29 daily activities, one per day (yes, February has 29 days), that are visible and that are bugging me.

Unless you’ve just moved into a brand-new house or apartment, I’m sure you can relate to the things that bug me.

I rebuilt my home from dirt to roof in 2002.  It took me about a year.  So I’ve been living in what started as perfection for nine glorious (and totally distracted) years.

I travel a lot.  And for years every time I came home, I’d exclaim, “Oh, it feels SO good to be home.”  But more recently I’ve been saying, “Hmmm, the key’s getting harder to turn in the lock; I have to remember to spray some WD-40 into it to clean it out.  Or someday it won’t unlock.”

What else?

Well, I noticed the toilet in the guest bathroom seemed to be filling all the time.  I found a crack in the uptake tube inside the tank, so I bought the full “toilet innards” at Home Depot, set them beside the toilet and shut off the water.  How long ago was that?

When I wasn’t watching, the small trees in my garden became big trees, and started blocking the much-needed sunlight from the smaller plants.  Today the garden is very different from the one I designed and planted almost a decade ago.  My computer’s screen saver throws up photos of that long-ago happy little garden and reminds me of how much sadder it looks today.  It needs a facelift.

What else has snuck up on me?  My accumulation of paper is bordering on overflow.  My constant book purchases mean my bookcases are no longer orderly.  (I still like the feel of paper too much … and that of my pen making enthusiastic or critical comments in the margins.)

Recently I remarked that the paint color I so painstakingly selected for the room where I work – the precise color of linen to contrast with white trim – is looking a little shabby.

And then the garbage disposal gave up the ghost a few months ago.  Did I replace it?  No, I just shifted over to the second sink and convinced myself that was better for the environment anyway.

In short – and in truth – as I let my work and passions and distractions take over more and more of my consciousness, I allowed my surroundings to degrade.  And each time I noticed something, I excused it or invented a justification I thought I could live with.  What I now realize is how much energy is consumed each time I see whatever it is … and say, “Someday I need to take care of that.”

Today is that “someday.”  Today Amy Gutman’s own challenge has led me to mine.  About a year ago, someone recommended making a list of everything we were “putting up with.”  I had very few things on that list.  Today I have far too many.  I need to squirt WD-40, call a plumber, sort books, replace light bulbs, repaint the front door and so on.

So what have you allowed to slip … as you juggle life?  As you build your business?  As you meet the needs and wants of others?

Be honest.  What are you putting up with?  (It can be large or small.)  What are the things you’re overlooking that bother you, maybe quietly, maybe loudly.  Isn’t it time to get them out of your life?

What if we challenge one another?  If you’re game, make a list of 29 things you’ve been meaning to get done that will make life more pleasant if you do.  Even if it’s just to get them out of your sight.  Most shouldn’t take more that 10-15 minutes to achieve.  (Don’t list huge projects or you won’t fit them into your day.)  Some may cost very little or nothing.  Just be sure to pick those that don’t put new stress on your finances.  Throw in some real easy ones so you can catch up on the first few days of the month that we’ve already missed.

For example, here are the first six I’ve done this weekend to play catch-up:
•    WD-40 the front door lock.
•    Change how and where I store all my passwords.
•    Clear off the kitchen island.
•    Sort through two bookcases and box up books to donate to local library.
•    Scrub the front door.
•    Clean out the water feature in my garden and get it working again.

So let’s each set about picking whatever one we feel like doing each day, and then cross it off … until we all move into the next month as much happier versions of ourselves.

Let me know down below if you’re game …

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Bio: Sharon O’Day lost everything at age 53: her home, her business, everything. But how could that be? She’s an expert in global finance and marketing with an MBA from the Wharton School. She has worked with governments, corporations, and individuals … yes, she was the secret “weapon,” if you will, behind many individuals in high places. Yet she did! Since then, with her finances completely turned around, Sharon has gone on to interview countless women. She’s done extensive research to understand how that could have happened, especially with her strong knowledge of numbers and finance.

The surprising answers will be shared in her upcoming book “Money After Menopause.” Today her mission is to show as many women as possible how to become financially free for the long term, through her “Over Fifty and Financially Free” coaching programs. She has developed a step-by-step plan to get past all the obstacles that keep women broke and scared … and from reaching the financial peace of mind they so deserve … if they’re willing to do what it takes!

  • Imagine my surprise when the first thing I opened today was this article…you see my husband and I went over our list of “nagging projects” just this past weekend. I am blessed to be married to a man who can fix just about anything. Problem being to find the time and make those things priority! You are absolutely right Sharon…make a list and just do it!! Even if only one thing a day the feeling of accomplishment and relief takes the dreaded monkey of the back and motivates to do the next thing on the list! Thanks for sharing this!

    • Anonymous

      Denny, that’s not the first time we’ve been in sync when it comes to topics!  (But, be careful, you’ll have people asking to borrow your skillful husband!)  I know I felt so much better just getting the first six off the list.  In the end, it doesn’t even matter how many you list and how many you do … as long as you get SOME of them out of your life!

  • Amyrgutman

    I love this Sharon! So glad to have been the inspiration–and as I said when I posted this on the Plan B Nation FB page–now you are inspiring me. I will definitely be making my list of 29 items. 🙂

    • Anonymous

      Ah, mutual muses!  Wonder if there’s a word for that …

  • Great article Sharon! I love that you have broken your projects down to 1 per day..that is what many don’t understand. If we start small our energy will take over and before we know it we’ve accomplished many…the point is to get started:) Now off to create my to-do list:) Have a great day!

    • Anonymous

      Daisy, I was surprised how good it felt just making the list!  (And that I had to struggle to get beyond 23!)  Gave me a strange feeling of control … probably from having defined the magnitude of the issue …

  • Ha…you are reading my mind! Thank God, we are just in the beginning of the month and still have time to gather all information for tax return. That’s in my to-do list for the week. 

    • Anonymous

      I have two types of lists, Claudia:  those things that need to be done because of my business or some outside forces (like the IRS) and those that don’t really have to be done but that drive me crazy.  It’s the last list that often doesn’t get made … 😉

  • Hi Sharon…interesting, out for an early morning run on Saturday…WD-40 it was when I got home… door not limbs …Thanks for sharing, Hughie 🙂

    • Anonymous

      Hughie, what would we do without WD-40, CLR and duct tape?  😉

  • Great suggestion, Sharon. In fact, you must have been the fly on the wall, as some close persons let me know that the place here is overflowing with “stuff”. So here are a few of my 29, that pop into my head without any prodding: fix the kitchen drawer that has been sitting in the center of the dining room table for 1.5 years, sort and throw out the boxes in that room that have accumulated for like 3 years, hang the pictures that have been sitting on chairs for like 2 years.. you get the idea? I haven’t seen my dining room cleared in ages. By February 29th, it’ll be done!

    • Anonymous

      I love watching a plan come together, Diane.  Chunk that room down into 29 different tasks, get a bit done daily … and have one helluva dinner party in the new dining room on Saturday, March 3rd.  Bravo, Diane!

  • Fantastic. I find that the black-and-white-ness of a list like this makes it all so manageable and takes it out of my brain and into reality where it will get done. Awesome!

  • Oh Sharon, you always know where I am in my life and tasks to do. I’m game and am working on my list of 29 things that will make my life happier. As you read today’s article to me my mind was making a mental list…now to transcribe it to paper and get busy. Thank you for leading the way to a happier life and thriving business.

    • Anonymous

      Always ready to give you the toehold … for you to take the next step on your climb to the top, Ms Carla!

  • I am game Sharon!  I wonder if the universe is trying to tell us all something.  As I moved into the New Year, this is what I felt needed to be done.  This kind of stuff was becoming so distracting and wasting so much time that sometimes it caused me to give up on something I was trying to do out of sheer and utter frustration.  It would take so long to find the file, or find the parts I bought six month ago to to fix something.  I went about it a little differently though.  I decided I wanted the entire house cleaned up, fixed up, and organized in one year (part of my five year plan).  So now I make sure I do SOMETHING each day to achieve that goal.  It may be just scanning and shredding one year for one client…just as long as I do something.  That way, as you said, you can pick easy things when you’re pressed for time, or a little harder ones when there’s more time and inclination.  I guess we are approaching the same problem from two different angles.  It would be cool if other visitors to your site would share their methods too.

    • Anonymous

      Robert, this article seems to have hit a chord with many people, so maybe you’re right in that it feels like a movement underfoot!  Or maybe the prolonged economic malaise is making us realize we’re not protected by clutter … but rather by having a clear working space, peace of mind and focus!

  • Great post Sharon!  These little things that Thomas Leonard called tolerations really do drain our energy.  I am game to take this challenge on!

    • Anonymous

      I look forward to hearing how you do, Stacey!  Hmmm, “tolerations.”  Like it!

  • Ah yes, we all need this list. I have a few to go write down myself…

    • Anonymous

      Yes we do, Lori.  Especially when we’re a Cook/Baker, Hiker, Camper, Reader … etc.!

  • Good information Sharon! I am making my list now.

    • Anonymous

      Be sure to let us know how you do with it over the next few weeks, Carol!

  • I keep a running list of everything that could possibly need doing around the house and in life, and every day, I choose just 1 or 2 of them to do in addition to the things I MUST get done that day. Seems to be working well for me so far… but I sure wish I had time to do 30 of them every day for a month and then everything would be done! (For approximately 10 minutes and then another hole will spring up in the dam. Haha!)

    • Anonymous

      It really is a never-ending process, McKenna.  But if we can get through a bunch of them during a short period of time, the more obvious ones should be gone …

  • Sharon,

    I can certainly relate to what it feels like to have various things degrade over time. I appreciate the simple idea of focusing on just one thing per day.

    • Anonymous

      Hope targeting one a day works for you, Rebecca.  For me it felt as if all of a sudden things started to fall apart around me … and it hit a critical point where it became too much of a distraction to be fully productive!

  • You’re exactly right, Sharon. It’s SO easy to let those things slip up on you! 
    For me, I started two days ago… repainting my kitchen cabinets! And, that’s gonna lead me into painting the whole kitchen next. 

    • SharonODay

      Can’t wait to hear how it looks when it’s done, Mari Ann!  I know when you do one thing, suddenly the one next to it looks sad … and calls to be done too.  Hello, fully painted kitchen!  And rehabbed floors!  😉