2018 is the year of the Mini Habit

(Note:  This post contains affiliate links.  That means that if you buy a product through one of these links I will receive a little bit of money in return, at no extra cost to you.  However, I was not paid to advertise any of the products featured here, and all opinions are my own).

The start of the new year is a great time to turn over a new leaf and push on to bigger and better things, as a result, many people start the year off with a New Year's Resolution.  The problem is that New Year's resolutions have an abysmal success rate.  By the end of January, most people have already given up on their resolution.  We have these huge goals and start off the year with lots of motivation and hit them hard, doing things like going to the gym 2 hours a day every day.  That kind of motivation is hard to keep up though, especially if you don't see the kind of results you would like immediately.  Before long you are discouraged, skip a day, then two days, feel like a failure, and give up.

What if instead, you had a teeny tiny behavior that you had to do every day that supported your bigger overall goal, one that required you to do so little that you could do it easily every day, without fail?  Then every day you would make incremental progress toward your bigger goal, and since you were meeting your daily requirements every day you would feel like a success.  You would be encouraged rather than discouraged, and you would keep at it, right?

For a while now, I have been trying to figure out ways to create daily habits that would support my overall goals - getting fitter, writing for the blog more often, and doing research for the podcast every day.  I have tried Habit Stacking, and habits based on a cue, and habits based on a time of day, one habit at a time, multiple habits at one time, and every other derivation you can probably think of.  I always failed.  I didn't have enough motivation, or enough time, or enough energy.  Life consistently got in the way of hour-long workout sessions, and marathon research.  I tried to make myself do too much, and I just couldn't keep up - at least not with enough consistency to actually form a habit.

Then, after what seemed like ages of searching I found Mini Habits, by Stephen Guise.  The idea behind Mini Habits is that the thing you are striving to do every day is so minimal an obligation, so simple, and so easy that you could still do it on your very worst day.  That way you never fail, you stay encouraged, and keep working toward your goal.  You can always do more than what your mini habit requires, but you never HAVE to.  Even if you only do the minimum you have still succeeded, and if you exceed the minimum, well that feels even better.

So how small are mini habits?  As the author of the book likes to put it, stupid small.  Currently, the mini habits I am working on are;

  1. Preform one push-up or sit-up per day  
  2. Write 50 words per day
  3. Read the equivalent of one page in a book per day

I can complete all 3 of these in 5 minutes or less and I have every day since I started Mini Habits.  I have also exceeded my minimum in most areas on most days so far.  The thing that makes this so much easier than all of the other habit programs I have tried is that I have to do so little that I can always do it.  I don't have to get up the motivation to do one push-up, it is so easy that I just do it.  And usually, once I am down there doing the push-up, it is easy to do a couple more, and maybe a few stretches, and then why don't I turn on that yoga routine that looked pretty good - after all, I don't have to finish it since I have already met my goal for the day.  In the same vein one page usually turns into 10 or even 20, and 50 words (which is not much more than a tweet) often turns into 200 or more.  Once I start it is easy to keep going, but if I knew beforehand I HAD to sit down to write 200 words or read 20 pages I would never start, it would just take more motivation than I could generally muster on a daily basis.  I have a full-time job outside the blog and podcast, 2 kids, and a list of things that need to be done at home longer than my arm - doing more just seemed like too much, that is until the requirement became so small that it seemed easy.  Now, I may not be making leaps and bounds toward my goals, but I am making steady progress, and that feels really great.

If you are looking for a way to reach your goals in 2018 and have had trouble sticking with it in the past, I would like to encourage you to give Mini Habits a try.  The worst that can happen is that you spend a few bucks and discover it isnt for you, the best that can happen is that you finally meet your goals and live your dream.  For me, that is a risk worth taking.

 

 

 

Ikea's New 2017 PS Collection

For the first time since 2014 there is a new Ikea PS Collection.  21 designers collaborated with Ikea to make 60 new products, ranging from furniture to drink mixes.

This collection targets Millennials, and other people that move a lot or live in transient or shared living situations.  The furniture tends to be small, light weight, portable and durable.  As a result, a lot of it looks a bit unconventional, and may not appeal to people living in more traditional circumstances.  However, I do think that for the most part, it does represent good design for the target audience.  For example:

 2-seat Sofa with 36 cushions - $598

2-seat Sofa with 36 cushions - $598

This 2 seat sofa with 36 cushions looks a bit like lawn furniture covered in pointy clouds to me.  However the metal frame looks light weight and durable, and it separates into two pieces that make it easier to fit through small doors, carry up narrow stairways, and wedge into the corners of microscopic flats.  In other words - it is ideal for the intended audience.

This collection has several pieces like this sofa, that are great designs but don't fit my lifestyle, some designs that are right up my alley, and a few that just don't make any sense to me at all.  In my review of the new collection, I am going to break it up into these groups.


Good Designs that Don't Fit my Lifestyle

 Valet Stand - $39

Valet Stand - $39

Valet stands are a great place to stage tomorrow's outfit.  This one is a great size for small spaces, and the wheels make it easy to move out of the way if it needs to share space with important things like doors; however, it's design is a bit too stark for me.  

 Storage Unit - $129

Storage Unit - $129

This Ikea storage unit is fairly light weight, and the metal construction is durable, which makes it great for frequent movers.  It is also lockable, which is good for a shared housing situation (when roommates are not entirely trustworthy).  However, it feels a bit like garage storage to me.

 Side Table on Castors - $139

Side Table on Castors - $139

This is just good design.  It is small enough to be a side table, portable enough to be used as a cart.  It can serve multiple functions which is key in a small space.  It's form just doesn't quite fit my taste.

 Rocking Chair - $299

Rocking Chair - $299

This rocking chair will not find a place in my home, because it doesn't match ANY of my other decor, but I actually really love it.  It is such an unusual and inventive shape.  I feel like it would be a conversation starting piece.


Right Up my Alley

 Throw - $34.95

Throw - $34.95

Who doesn't love a good throw?  This one is a beautiful emerald color with an interesting texture.

 Vase, Set of 3 - $34.95

Vase, Set of 3 - $34.95

I am always on the look out for interesting containers that can be used in multiple ways and these fit the bill.  They are large enough to hold things like fruit, and pretty enough to hold flowers, or to be displayed on their own.  They also come in nearly opaque white.

 Mug with Lid - $8.95

Mug with Lid - $8.95

I don't know why I like this mug so much.  I have plenty of mugs.  I don't need another mug, but I want this one.  I think it is again the shape that I find so appealing - I have never seen a mug this shape ever before.

 Armchair - $299

Armchair - $299

This arm chair is one of the first things that caught my eye in this collection.  I love the sleek simple lines combined with the unusual mesh fabric.  Ikea seems to be envisioning these in a living room type of setting, but to me they look like an office guest chair that your guests might actually want to sit in.  It would also make a really good occasional chair in my home; however, I would have wanted it to be stackable for that use so I could fit multiples in a small space and drag them out as needed.  The only real problem I see with this chair is the price tag.  It is in the same price range as most of Ikea's large upholstered arm chairs, and it just doesn't look like it is in the same league as something like the Strandmon Wing Chair.  However, if it is as comfortable as one of the big arm chairs, then it would be a good choice for a living room that was very short on space.

 3-piece self-watering plant pot set - $39.95

3-piece self-watering plant pot set - $39.95

This plant pot is my favorite piece in this collection hands down.  It is beautiful, and functional, and I need like 5 in my house right now.  I think the price is a little bit high when compared to Ikea's other pots and plant stands, but not excessively so.  Of all of the pieces in this collection, this is the one that I can say I will absolutely be putting in my home.  


What were they thinking?

 Seat/Floor pad - $59

Seat/Floor pad - $59

This is a seat/floor pad, but why you would want it I don't know.  Ikea's picture of it has it on the floor like a yoga mat, but the surface is plush fabric, so you couldn't actually use it as a yoga mat, and it looks much too thin to sleep on.  Based on the velcro closures on the top it might work as a car seat cover, but it wouldn't fit well.  To top it all off it is $59.  Just think, all of this uselessness for less than $60.

 Coffee Table - $59

Coffee Table - $59

This coffee table is less than 2 feet by 2 feet, and looks like a short TV tray table.  It is at best a side table, and not a particularly good looking one at that.

 LED multi-use lighting - $34.95

LED multi-use lighting - $34.95

This is a flashlight that has to be plugged in and lives in a cage.  Someone please enlighten me on why anyone would want this.  Why wouldn't you just use a flashlight?  Half of the purpose of a flashlight is that it is portable, and this isn't.  To top it off it is $34.95.  I could get a flashlight and some good rechargeable batteries for much less than this.  I just don't get it.

 Throw with zipper - $49.95

Throw with zipper - $49.95

This one was so incomprehensible to me I had to include two pictures.  It is called a throw, but looks like a quilted vest.  Without the person in it it looks like a normal size vest, with the person in it, it looks like a vest that was made for a giant.

I guess it is supposed to be like a snuggie, but somehow it is even less attractive than a snuggle (and I didn't think that was possible). Then there is the price - $50 - for this.... this.... thing. 


If you would like to learn more about Ikea, check out this week's episode of Hang Your Hat,  How is the Kullen Coming Along.  I go into the history of Ikea, including some troubling past events that I am sure Ikea would rather keep buried, as well as how they are working toward sustainability and social justice now.

New Ikea Favorites

The new 2017 Ikea catalog is out and as always there are a few gems hidden among the plastic bins (who am I kidding - I love Ikea).  Here is a sample of a few of my new Ikea favorites.  Bonus:  They are all under $30.

 Enighet Candlestick - $12.99

Enighet Candlestick - $12.99

The Enighet Candlestick is beautiful, simple, and classic.  It would look great on a table by itself, but also lends itself to decoration.  The bottom tray would be a great place to arrange a few holiday decorations.

 Harliga Glass Dome with base - $9.99 (Multiple Sizes Available)

Harliga Glass Dome with base - $9.99 (Multiple Sizes Available)

We are planning a Harry Potter themed party for the Girl's birthday this year.  The Harliga Glass dome would be perfect for a spooky specimen in a potions display, and at $9.99 a piece, I might actually be able to afford presents after paying for the decor.

 Viktigt Carafe with glass - $14.99

Viktigt Carafe with glass - $14.99

When I saw the Viktigt Carafe I immediately thought "nightstand water dispenser".  I think it would be especially nice in a guest bedroom.

 Gladom Tray Table - $29.99

Gladom Tray Table - $29.99

It is a table, it is a tray, it is perfect for the small seating arrangement on my front porch.  I love that it is not only a great size for a side table, it can also be used to easily bring stuff into and out of the house like snacks or drinks.  Also, I am a sucker for multiple purpose furniture.

Have you spotted a new favorite in the Ikea catalog?  Let me know about it in the comments.

 

Listen while you work

I like to listen to podcasts when I am working on a project, or driving, or brushing my teeth, or awake.  I listen to a lot of them, but sometimes have a hard time finding new ones to listen to that I enjoy.  In an effort to spread the word about great podcasts, here are a few of my current favorites;

 

The Allusionist

http://www.theallusionist.org/

The Allusionist is a unexpectedly funny podcast about language and etymology by Helen Zaltzman.  My favorite Episode is #2 Bosom Holder, which is about the language surrounding undergarments. 

 

 

Lore

http://www.lorepodcast.com/

Lore is a podcast about folklore and real life scary stories by Aaron Mahnke.  Lore walks the line between fantasy and reality, and makes you feel as though for some scary stories,  maybe there really is more than meets the eye. My Current favorite is Episode #31, Lost and Found, which is about finding dead bodies.

 

 

Surprisingly Awesome

https://gimletmedia.com/show/surprisingly-awesome/

Surprisingly Awesome is about things that seem boring, but are actually really cool if you know more about them.  It is hosted by Adam Davidson, from NPR’s Planet Money and Adam McKay, former head Saturday Night Live writer.   My current favorite is Episode #3, Concrete, and it’s surprisingly important contribution to modern civilization. 

 

 

The Black Tapes

http://theblacktapespodcast.com/

The Black Tapes is a docudrama about finding the truth behind a collection of unsolved paranormal mysteries.  It is hosted by  Alex Reagan, but has a full cast of interesting characters.  Since this is a serialized drama, I recommend that you start at the beginning of this series so that you get the whole story.  

Do you love a great podcast that is languishing in anonymity that the world needs to know about?  Tell my readers about it in the comments – spread the word.

Top 3 Crafty Podcasts

As national craft month comes quickly to a close, I thought it would be a good time to share some of my favorite crafty podcasts. DIY

3) Destination DIY Destination DIY is a independently produced radio show from Oregon, US that is also released as a podcast. It tackles a variety of crafty topics, from maker fair to crafting disasters. The professional quality of this podcast makes it a joy to listen to. Unfortunately it is not produced very often.

imake

2) iMake iMake is a multi-craft podcast from Guernsey, an island dependency of the UK. It usually consists of a craft segment, and a segment about Guernsey itself. My favorite thing about this podcast is the range of crafts it covers, some of which I had not heard previous to this podcast.

Electric Sheep

1) Electric Sheep Electric Sheep is a knitting podcast, featuring pattern reviews, knitting essays, a ninja sheep, Molotov chickens, and beards. This smart and funny podcast from London, England, is the only crafty podcast that Fire Beard has ever willingly listened to, even the kids like the yearly audio panto at Christmas Time.

In celebration of national craft month check out some of these entertaining crafty podcasts!