Thursday, January 1, 2009

Tips for Having a Halfway Decent January

It’s the month when we’re all ashamed of ourselves. It’s the month when we make promises to ourselves. And then promptly break them. It’s the month when the bills come due, in more ways than one, for the excesses of the previous month.

Did you step on the scale and run shrieking from the bathroom? Did you add up the total of the bills soon to arrive, and want to run shrieking from being the adult in charge of your financial life? Did you look around at all the junk you have accumulated in the past month, or the past year, and wonder what kind of drugs you’ve been doing?

Here’s the way to start undoing the glum mood threatening you on January 1st. Begin with something really small and simple:

1. Pretend you have guests coming over, and do a hasty pickup of your living space. No, do not promise yourself to vacuum the whole place and get down on your hands and knees and wash those kitchen baseboards with a toothbrush. It’s the wrong tool and that’s far too extravagant a goal for the beginning of January. Just take 15 minutes and neaten up your space, so you can bear to live in it.

2. Pretend it’ll be tax time soon (it will), and get all your financial documents in one spot, and then make a grand gesture and organize them. Don’t write them all down or tediously enter them into some stupid computer program. Just organize them. For most of us, that means tossing them in the correct file.

3. Look around at any unfinished projects that have been hanging over you and making you gloomy. Mentally calculate how much time each will take. Do not write them down; that would depress you. Instead, pick the one that will take the least time, and do it. Sew on a button, re-string a blind cord, varnish the rake handle.

4. Take down the Christmas lights. Sure, it’s cold outside. But unless you’re a believer in celebrating the entire twelve nights, it’s about time to kiss that extra strain on your power bill goodbye for another year. Declare to the rest of the world that you can handle your life. Front.

5. Return something to a store next week. Not this week; are you crazy? But next week. There is probably at least one item that you bought foolishly that you regret. Put it in a bag by the door. If you’re too macho to return it, then give it to someone immediately. Get the bad karma out of your house. You don’t want to spend the rest of the year staring at your mistake.

6. Apply for that television converter box coupon, even if you don’t need it yourself. You know you have at least one friend or relative lame enough not to get around to it. You’ll be doing them a favor and building up your good karma.

7. Create some kind of piggy bank and put a dollar in it. You’re not broke if you have savings.

Feel a little better? These are things that won’t take you much time, don’t cost you money, and are not fattening. As the man on the TV commercial says, “Guys, you can do this.”

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