New Year, New You

The start of any New Year is typically accompanied by a slew of resolutions. This year is no different, with WNBC/Marist reporting that 43% of Americans intend to make a New Year's resolution (down 1% from last year).

The most common:

  • lose weight (17%)
  • quit smoking (17%)
  • "be a better person" (14%)
  • spend less money (11%)

Interestingly, "eat healthier" and "exercise more" were only noted by 5% of the resolution-makers, so I don't know how many of those vowing to "lose weight" will be successful!

It's also interesting to note that the most frequently-cited resolutions are all rather self-serving; take a look at the less frequently noted ones:

  • increase family time (3%)
  • be kinder to others (2%)
  • get closer to God (1%)

While women are more likely to make resolutions (49% vs. 37% men), they are less likely to keep them (56% women vs. 63% men). If you're in the resolution camp and need some motivation, audio-based Newyears_resolution microblogging tool Utterz let's you record your resolution and get help from others in reaching your goals.

If you can't be bothered with making resolutions, it is also a good time to reflect on the good things in life, and start the year off on a positive note. This Economist article about the state of our nation will certainly get you thinking.

“The American, by nature, is optimistic,” JFK once said. “He is experimental, an inventor and a builder who builds best when called upon to build greatly.” Europeans ask, “Why?” Americans ask, “Why not?”

Happy New Year!

Time to be a kid again.

Some words of wisdom from my colleague, Doug:

Remember when you were actually thrilled when it snowed during the holidays?

Remember what it was like to be so excited about the next day that you couldn't get to sleep?

Remember when the little things truly did make you extremely happy?

This holiday, be a kid again. Run around in the snow. Build a snowman. Go ice skating. Go sledding. Forget everything you already know. Be a kid and the holidays will truly be HAPPY.

Happy Holidays!

Modite: Rebecca Thorman

Modite_2 I just came across a remarkable young woman in the blogosphere: Rebecca Thorman of From her MyBlogLog profile:

Modite is...

[Mod-ahyt] ~ Noun.

1) Modern. Urbanite.

2) Yuppie with a social conscience.

At 23 years old, Rebecca is the Executive Director of a young professional organization in Madison, WI, whose mission is to attract and retain young talent and leadership in order to contribute to the regions’ economic, civic, social, and public policy futures.

She also authors, a wonderful collection of thoughts, ideas, and experiences related to how Generations X and Y can be more successful in life, love, and work, as well as more valuable contributors to society overall.

Rebecca is a prolific writer, and displays wisdom beyond her years. I especially love these posts:

Listen up, Ladies Who Launch - if you haven't yet profiled Rebecca, she should be next on your list!

Celebrating Our Accomplishments

A colleague and I recently wrote down the goals for our department so that everyone on our team has a sense of what we are jointly working towards. One of the goals is to recognize and celebrate our accomplishments, because it is easy in the hustle and bustle of everyday life to move from one task to another without stopping and reflecting on what we've completed.

So I was pleased when I received this email from a friend yesterday:

Continue reading "Celebrating Our Accomplishments" »

Instant/Space: Mail Order Decorating

Paint_palette I got my home decorator fix this morning with the February issue of Domino magazine. I love flipping through their articles for inspiration and take Editor Deborah Needleman's philosophy to heart:

"[Homes are] the foundation of our lives - the better they look and function, the happier the lives we carry on inside them. Ideally, our homes are a souce of strength for dealing with the world outside, and a huge relief from it as well."

And here's good news for home owners/renters who'd like some professional decorator advice, but want to get it on a budget:

Designer Betsy Burnham has launched a program called Instant/Space, a mail-order home decorating service where you simply send in photographs of your room(s), along with some design direction (inspirational tear-sheets, favorite colors or periods, etc.) and in return she'll send a box containing a floor plan, furniture suggestions, fabric swatches, paint palettes, and a concept board showing how it might look. She also provides a list of actual items and places to shop, to help you pull it all together.

Burnham's design ideas take about 6 weeks to develop, and prices range from $750 to $1,250 per room; for more information see

Marley & Me

Marley_2Anyone who is a dog owner - or simply a dog lover - should read Marley & Me by John Grogan (and the companion web site). It's a heartwarming story about a man and his dog...or more accurately, a family that includes a dog whose personality and presence are larger than life.

Grogan astutely and comically captures moments that every dog owner will recognize, from shedding and slobbering to unbridled energy and unwavering love. Some of the phrases he used to describe his beloved Yellow Lab could have easily been written for my silly Lulu:

"desperately happy"

"seemingly warped behavior"

with "the attention span of algae and volitility of nitroglycerin"

"darting left-and-right, sniffing, panting, peeing - coughing like a chain smoker as he strained against the leash"

...and the inclination to "love life with a passion not often seen in this world."

As you can see from these excerpts, Grogan is a clever writer and he tells an engaging story about life with Marley; but more valuable than his walks down memory lane are the life lessons he learned from Marley which he shares with his readers:

Never slow down, never look back, live each day with adolescent verve and spunk and curiousity and playfulness. If you think you're still a young pup, then maybe you are, no matter what the calendar says.

It's such a great quote, and with it all the other qualities dogs possess that we humans so often lose sight of: living in the moment, following your heart, finding joy in the simple things, loyalty and devotion.

Here's to the dogs!

Getting Off the Hedonic Treadmill

ChristmasThe chaos in the weeks leading up to Christmas never ceases to amaze me. Step into any mall, grocery or retail store in those last days and it's absolute bedlam: people running around in a panic trying to find something - anything - for those last few recipients on their gift lists. What should be thoughtful purchases for loved ones and friends become just another "to-do" on an already long-list of tasks in a stressful season.

As Brian Kramer writes in the winter edition of  Bargain Style, "...the months of November and December have become a 60-day obstacle course. Like a reality-show contestant subjected to ridiculous physical chalenges, I must run a gauntlet of parties and dinners, deadlines and obligations. Armed only with debit and credit cards, I charge my way to the finish line."

Similarly, Jan Masters notes in the December issue of Red Magazine, "extravagant present-buying has become (literally) part and parcel of the buy is to care, which is why so many of us feel panicky until we've splurged."

When did it get like this? When did the time and energy spent buying overshadow the duration and quality of time spent with the gift recipients themselves?

Masters keenly notes that modern shopping has become therapy for some. Buying things for yourself or others can provide a sense of control, empowerment, and happiness - if only for a fleeting moment. And therein lies the problem: we acquire and/or gift things in order to feel status, happiness or love; inevitably these "things" lose their luster; and we run off to replace them with new things. It becomes an endless cycle, which psychologists refer to as the "hedonic treadmill" - or the notion that money can buy happiness.

Masters also highlights recent study findings by Psychologist Dr. Aric Sigman who believes that "this relentless urge to buy is, in part, born of our insecurities, which drive a desire to create identities through possessions." We've all been there...filling up our homes and our lives with more products than we truly need, but ones that make us feel good at a certain point in time.

So how do you get off this treadmill? Peter Whybrow, author of American Mania: When More is not Enough, states that "we need to strike a balance between seeking personal reward and maintaining meaningful relationships, and to realize that it's belonging, not belongings, that make the difference."

Kramer suggests that the trick is to act like a kid again - kids don't "lie awake in bed and fret about whether (they) purchased the right brand of blender, spent enough on a Secret Santa present, or could count four small items as the gift-giving equivalent of one supersized present." Kids don't worry about whether a gift is expensive or special enough - they rely on creativity and sincerity.

Incidentally, research indicates that physical health is the best single predictor of happiness, so maybe it's time to trade in that hedonic treadmill for another kind.

This Week's Flo Moment

I subscribe to an email newsletter called Ladies Who Launch which is dedicated to profiling entrepreneurial women and their success stories. Each week, the newsletter highlights one woman's story - from where the idea for her business came from, to how she went about pursuing it, and the lessons she's learned along the way. It's an inspiring publication, especially for people like me who dream of doing something more creative, but are not quite certain a living can be made outside of the typical 9-5.

While the stories are often interesting and encouraging, my favorite part of the newsletter is a one liner in the footer - a link to Flo Moment. These delightful little reads, co-written by LWL Partner Beth Schoenfeldt and Amy Swift, remind us of being in the flow of life and living out our creative dreams. From this week's Flo Moment:

Sending off 2005 with a Kiss
by Beth Schoenfeldt and Amy Swift
December 20, 2005

The List. Here it is. The Dalai Lama has one, Deepak Chopra has one, Oprah has one....and naturally, we do too! The end of the year is upon us, and as with every ending, it’s comforting to punctuate it with reflection on what has transpired and how it has affected us. We at the FLO MOMENT know one thing for sure; hard work is so much more fun with some hard play follow-up. So consider this our 2005 swan song...we need a couple weeks to eat bon bon’s, drink eggnog, catch up on old holiday movies and toast in the New Year with our friends and family.

Here are some suggestions for reflecting on 2005:

1. Focus on the Good. It’s so easy to focus on what went wrong, what coulda, shoulda, woulda happened. However, by noticing what great things have rocked your life this year, you automatically make room for more positive energies to come your way.

2. Find The Sweet Spot. Was there a highlight this year? Was there a time you had the most fun, the best weekend, the most interesting conversation? Do more of that this year. Did you meet someone fascinating? Call them, email them, but reach out in some way. Did you go somewhere heavenly? Make a plan, do it again, or find another paradise nearby.

3. Give Thanks. You didn’t get all this way by your lonesome this year. You have people around you and in your life who have made connections, done you favors, gone out of their way and been by your side. A ‘thank you’ goes a long way toward letting them know how important they are and to making way for more great movement in the future.

4. Close Chapters. Is there some unfinished business in your life? An open-ended relationship or situation that needs closure? Allow your mind or heart to forgive, offer an apology or just gently close the door on a situation that isn’t positive. Move into the New Year without that extra baggage and you’ll be amazed at how high you’ll fly.

5. Break a bad pattern. Everyone has one. Maybe it's gossiping, biting your nails, interrupting people or creating the same situation over and over with relationships. Living in a pattern is like watching the same movie over and over, make this the year you change the script!

Have a great holiday...we’ll catch you with more MOMENTS in the New Year!

Amy and Beth