Holiday Gift Guide: For Work, Life, and Fun

I know, I know, it’s not even Thanksgiving yet! And I am staunchly not listening to Christmas music or decorating. I am firmly in the “celebrate Thanksgiving first” camp. However…I don’t love waiting too long to buy gifts. And my parents starting asking me for what’s on my list in October. So I figured I’d get a jump start on my list making before I head home to visit family for Thanksgiving. So what are some ideas to add to holiday gift lists?

Gifts for Work
1. Card Holder | 2. Planner | 3. Desk Organizer Set | 4. Set of Trays

First off, we have gifts for your work life. The great thing about this set is that although these are great options to add to your own Christmas list if you’re trying to spruce up your work environment, they also work well for your office Secret Santa/White Elephant parties! They’re work-related, gender neutral, and professionally appropriate.

  1. Everyone needs a good card holder. I used to have my business cards stuffed in a drawer, which didn’t look great when I had people visit my office. This business card holder makes you look much more put together.
  2. For those of you trying to organize, track, and plan your time, I could not recommend this planner more. I’m very picky about my planners. They have to have the exact right components, and I’m not always a fan of ones that have spots to be “mindful” or “things I was thankful for today.” Thinking about those things is great! But just not something I want to write in my professional work planner. This one has monthly, weekly, and daily views, and a place to list daily priorities Every evening before I leave work, I write down my top 3-4 priorities for the next day. Then, when I get in the next morning, I’m able to just jump right in and make progress without even thinking about it.
  3.  and 4. Finally, you want your desk to be organized and clutter-free. There’s not much worse than when your boss comes in your offices and sees papers strewn everywhere. And I swear, I know exactly where each paper is! But to everyone else, it’s not a great look. Dress for the job you want, and have the desk of the person you aspire to be. The desk organizer set is stylish and can corral your pens and notebooks easily. Have others items that look messy? Just put everything else on a tray. Even if your tray has a few napkins, a stapler, tape, and a highlighter, having it contained in one area already makes your desk look better.
Personal Life Gifts
1. Mattress Topper | 2. Matt & Nat Purse | 3. Coffee Table Tray | 4. Skincare Routine (Double Cleanser, Snail Repair Ampoule, Toner, and Vitamin C Serum)

These gifts are perfect to give a little pep to your personal life.

  1. First, we have this cooling mattress topper. I know, it’s not usually something you’d find on a holiday wish list! But if you’re not completely happy with how you’re sleeping, this could change your life. (It did mine!) I’m a very hot sleeper, and was always wary of getting foam toppers because I heard they ran hot. This one is specifically designed to stay cool, and honestly it’s like lying on a cloud every night. The only problem is it makes it harder to accomplish my goals of getting up earlier in the mornings! It’s so hard to drag myself out of bed.
  2. This purse is actually on my wish list for this holiday season. I need a bag that’s appropriate for work and play, as well as has a zippered top. This one fits the bill! It also comes in a number of colors.
  3. Looking to spruce up your home decor? Get a coffee table tray! Fill it with candles, a vase with flowers, coasters, or anything else that adds a little color and interest to your living room. (And yes, I have a thing for trays.)
  4. Finally, the new year is a great time to try a new skincare routine. So why not add some items to your list! This double cleanser (foaming and oil-based) make my skin feel the cleanest it’s ever been. Toner is a must-have, and then try some serums to round it out.
Gifts for Fun
1. Moto Jacket | 2. Whiskey Stones Set | 3. Super NES Classic | 4. The Checklist Manifesto

Now, how about some items for fun? These are great to ask for yourself or give to others.

  1. How cute is this moto jacket form Old Navy? This is the perfect casual jacket to pair with jeans, a cute dress, or even over a cocktail dress (for a sort of modern look) for a holiday party.
  2. Know a whiskey connoisseur? This box set of whiskey glasses and whiskey stones is a cool gift that will round out any home bar.
  3. So I know the Super NES Classic came out a while ago, but I wasn’t able to snag one in the initial release! Now that stores are restocked, this is a fun, nostalgia-driven gift for yourself, or maybe a younger sibling.
  4. Books are always a great gift. I’m currently reading The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande (a big name in the medical field right now), about how a simple tool like the checklist revamped the way things are done in professionals from the medical field to disaster recovery.

So there are some ideas to get you started for this holiday season! What’s currently on your list?

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Motivation Monday: A Week of Almosts

white cup filled by coffee

During week one, my goal was to get up by 6:30 AM every day. How’d I do?

  • Monday: 7:00 AM
  • Tuesday: 7:00 AM
  • Wednesday: 6:30 AM
  • Thursday: 7:15 AM
  • Friday: 8:00 AM
  • Saturday: 6:30 AM
  • Sunday: 6:30 AM

So I was…kind of successful. Considering I had been getting up at 8:00 AM or later, it was definitely an improvement! I only met my true goal 43% of the time though. And it was always tough. Except, surprisingly, Wednesday morning. I stayed up until about 2:00 AM watching election returns, went to sleep for about four hours, and then was wide awake between 6:00 and 6:30. That’s election night adrenalin for ya! (But believe me, I was dragging by that afternoon.)

Of course Saturday and Sunday I was at a conference, so the getting up early wasn’t so much optional. But I’m still counting it!

So where do I go from here? Well, I’ve got to keep trying. So I’m continuing my goal this week to get up at 6:30 AM. This week, my plan is at least to beat 43%. Hey, if I increase the number of days I get up early by one per week, I’ll be at my goal in a month!

So what is the new goal I’m adding this week? It’s a crazy week for me; I’m still at my conference today and Tuesday, and then Thursday and Friday I’m in Chicago for another meeting. This is a tough time of year to start making changes to my routine! Of course, if I wait for the right time, it’ll never happen. So I need to aim for something additional this week.

Week Two Goal: Workout 3x for at least 20 minutes.

That shouldn’t be too hard, right? I’m not too worried about the intensity or calorie burn; all I’m worried about right now is habit-building. It would be great if by the start of 2019, I had a lot of really great habits in place that I could really buckle down and build upon. Plus, January – May is my busy time at work, so the sooner I get these things down the better!

What about you? Do you try to make changes this late in the year, or are you waiting for New Years resolution time?

Motivation Monday

accurate alarm alarm clock analogue

Mondays. The day everyone dreads the night before. The morning it’s hardest to pull yourself out of bed. After a fun or relaxing weekend (or just two days you didn’t have to think about work), it can be jarring to step over the threshold into a new week.

Even though I love my job, Mondays can still feel like this for me. But what if I started trying to be excited about Mondays? What if I focused more on what I could achieve during the week, and Mondays meant I was one week closer to completing my goals?

So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to look at Mondays as an opportunity from now on. The beginning of a new week is the perfect time to evaluate what you want to accomplish during the next seven days.

And boy, do I have a lot I want to accomplish. As you might have read in my previous post, my fitness and financial goals are going to take a lot of work. And while I’ll continually be working on those every day, I think it’s best to focus on one measurable weekly goal to improve your life. One goal that you go all in on, that if everything else fails, you’ll still have attained real change. By building on those goals each week, I’ll hopefully start to create a life full of habits that help instead of hinder my ultimate objectives.

Week One Goal: To wake up at or before 6:30 AM every morning.

My first goal is one that plenty of people already have a handle on, whether through discipline or necessity. Those people probably look at this and think “6:30 would be sleeping in every day for me!” And to those people – you are who I aspire to be. But I’m not there yet. My current mornings are not even filled with luxurious sleep; they’re basically filled with the sound of my alarm going off every nine minutes for an hour or so as I keep pressing snooze. I finally drag myself out of bed, likely more tired than if I had just gotten up in the first place. This routine gets me off on a bad foot every morning. I don’t have time to work out, I’m rushing to get ready, I stand over the sink to quickly eat breakfast, and then by that point I have to call an Uber or Lyft to get myself to work at a reasonable time (creating a hit to my wallet as well as the number of steps I could rack up if I took the bus or Metro). It makes me start my mornings feeling like I’m someone who just doesn’t have things together.

So this is the first step I’m going to tackle. Just getting up early. I’m not worried about actually working out during the mornings this week, or changing my routine otherwise. I’m allowed to of course – but the only thing I’ll be measuring myself on is creating the habit of getting up on time. Check back next Monday to see how successful I was!

What about you – what habit change do you think would really make a difference in your life?

What Does “Having it All Together” Mean?

img_2186.jpgWhat do you picture when you hear the phrase “they really have it together?”

For me, it’s someone who didn’t oversleep in the morning. Who works out first thing without hitting the snooze button. Who actually has time after all that to sit down and enjoy a nice cup of coffee and healthy breakfast. Who isn’t running so late that they have to take an Uber to work instead of the bus or Metro.

It’s someone who has clothes they love hanging in their closet, all tailored to fit them, and not in piles on the floor. They work diligently through their to-do list at work, and arrive at meetings looking like they could take on the world. They project an air of confidence and expertise.

After work, they might meet friends for drinks or attend a networking event. They arrive home to an always-clean apartment and actually make dinner, rather than throwing something in the microwave. They get to bed on time so they’re ready to get up and do it all again the next day.

They have their finances in order, don’t have credit card debt, and have healthy savings.

And they don’t undo everything they’ve accomplished on the weekend.

At this stage in my life, an early 30-something single lobbyist living in DC, this is who I want to be. Right now, I’m not. Working late hours and losing good eating and workout habits have made my weight an issue. None of my cute clothes fit anymore. I’m a non-profit lobbyist working on public health issues in DC (see: not great pay in an expensive city) who hasn’t managed to pay off the credit card balance I started building up when I first moved to the city and was slightly less responsible (and poorer).  Not to mention the student loans I’m still paying off.

So what’s the plan? I’m ramping up the focus on these areas of my life to get my house in order.

  • Health Goal: to lose 40 lbs. On a 5’0″ frame, it’s a lot.
  • Financial Goal: to pay off my credit card and student loans, build up my savings, and faithfully keep to a budget.
  • Fashion Goal: Somewhat tied to my health and financial goals, but to be able to fit into nice clothes again and have a wardrobe that fits both my professional and social life.

I love other aspirational blogs that show you what people who have their life in order do. But I always wish there were blogs to show you how to get there. Where are the people who are working their way to that aspirational lifestyle? What does the journey look like?

That’s where I come in. I’ll be writing about my progress on these goals here, as well as throwing in some posts about my job and life in DC. Join me as I work to revamp my life and really get my life in order.

What about you – what does “having it all together” mean to you?