How was 2008 for you?
For me, this year was good and bad, like most years, but mostly it’s been a year of limbo. We decided to sell the house we live in, but procrastinated about actually making it ready until rather late in the year. Not the best of timing considering what’s been going on in the general economy, though thankfully Switzerland doesn’t seem to be as hard hit as some other countries when it comes to the real estate market. Nevertheless, the house is not sold yet, while more than half my possessions are packed away in boxes, and I’ve felt just unsettled.
For this reason though, I’m really looking forward to next year, when I’ll be moving to a new place. I don’t even know where it will be yet, but it’s very exciting to contemplate.
An unexpected side-effect of the house selling decision: I took it as an opportunity to do a deep level de-cluttering. I threw away, gave away, or sold tons of stuff, still have a couple of boxes full of books and junk that I no longer want, and about 70% of the things I wanted to keep are packed away in boxes. And, although I have had to unpack a few things, like my winter coats, I’ve come to realize that I really don’t need a lot of things, and that having a relatively clutter free house, where I can find things without rooting through piles of things, feels so good. This includes quite a lot of kitchen equipment (e.g. the combo panini maker/waffle iron, the ultra-modern was-a-gift glass fruit bowl that is too small to hold more than a couple of apples, the 3 extra almost identical ladles…) that is packed away, but I probably can let go and do without. And cookbooks. I’ve only really missed a few of the couple of hundred cookbooks I have. I think I’ll do another round of culling on them.
And looking forward to 2009…the Wish List Notebook
So, as I’ve said, I’m really looking forward to 2009. One thing I am doing today, is to open up a brand new notebook and write down a Wish List. I read about this in a little Japanese book called How to make a ‘Wishing Notebook’ that draws luck and happiness (運と幸せがどんどん集まる「願いごと手帖」のつくり方). Rather a bold claim, but I do like what it says.
Basically, it’s about making a list of things that you want to happen, in positive/affirmative terms. It says that To-Do lists are rather negative, since they often just list things you think you ‘have’ to do. I’m the queen of to-do lists that often don’t get completed, so this rather struck home with me.
Here are the recommended points for making a Wish List, paraphrasing:
- Don’t make it a (must)-to-do list. Instead of “I have to do…” think in terms of “I want to do…”, “I want to be…” “I want to have…”. This way you can see what you really do want instead of what you think you want or ‘must’ do. The trick when making the Wish List is to pretend that these wishes will be granted just because you wish them, as if a fairy godmother was granting them for you. The very acts of writing down your wish list and reviewing it should make you feel happy, not stressed, and help you to define what you really want.
For example, instead of writing down “Join gym and get in shape”, you might write something like “I want to climb up that hill in my neighborhood effortlessly without huffing and puffing, and really enjoy the view”, or “I want to be able to play with my two-year old without becoming exhausted, so that we can really enjoy our time together”.
- Don’t limit yourself when writing down your wishes. Don’t negate your wishes just because they may seem farfetched right now, or you see too many obstacles. Reach high and don’t be afraid of failure. So what if you, say, dream of going to Paris but can’t see how you’ll get the money? Write it down anyway.
- Be as clear and specific as possible.Too many people write down things that are too vague, such as “Get organized” or “Lose weight” or “Become a better cook”. By being very specific you can really envision yourself in that situation, and once you actually achieve it you’ll feel a lot better too.
So for instance instead of “Get organized” you might write down “My desk is a pleasure to sit at. I can open a drawer and retrive things instantly. The surface is clear except for my computer and a few personal treasures, and a bud vase with a fresh flower placed it in every day.” Or instead of “Lose weight”: “I go to my favorite boutique and grab some pants in my size, but when I try them on in the dressing room they are too big for me now. I walk out with pants that are two sizes smaller.”
- Think about utilizing things you already have. Not all wishes have to be ones pie-in-the-sky remote ones that you have to work on from scratch. Everyone has already been working on something for awhile. See what you have achieved so far and how you could expand on something. For example, if you have a blog, you could think about ways to improve it in some way. Or if you consider yourself a pretty good dancer, what about taking lessons to become a really great dancer? And so on.
- Pair wishes that will require effort with fun things. Although it would be great to have a real fairy godmother that will grant your wishes without you even trying, that’s not possible with a lot of wishes. So, when you write down those harder wishes, try to combine them with a purely fun outcome.
Examples: “Get accepted by first choice university, and go to Disney World to celebrate!” Or “Get a promotion at work and a raise. Buy myself a brand new pair of shoes, because I can afford it!”
- Include some wishes for what you want from people in your life too. Again, be as specific as possible. Don’t just limit yourself to your close family and friends either - extend it to anyone in your life that you’re concerned about. The example given in the book is where one person who was concerned about the inappropriate way a co-worker dressed for work wrote down “[name of person] learns how to dress in work-appropriate clothes”. She claims that this worked. I’m just a bit skeptical, but hey, you never know.
- Stay away from negative words. Use positive words. Let’s say you hate your job and you want to get another one. Writing down “Quit my job” is negative, so instead write “Be in a workplace that is friendly where I feel a real sense of accomplishment”.
- Make sure the wishes you write down are yours. Somewhat related to no. 6. If you have an empathic nature, you may right down wishes that you think you want, but you really don’t - it’s the people around you that want it. For example, are you really sure you want to move to a different state/country, or is it your partner that really wants it? Are you sure that you want Brand X car, or is your spouse that wants it, and would you rather take a luxurious vacation in the tropics?
The book recommends writing down about 30 wishes to start, and to date each one. Then, put the notebook away in a safe place, and don’t look at it for a while. This differs a lot from every other book I’ve read about this kind of thing I think, which mostly urge you to review your lists monthly, weekly, daily, hourly. The author calls it “Banking your wishes”. After a while, take the notebook out and look through it. Maybe none of the wishes have come true yet, but don’t worry. You may have even forgotten about some that you wrote down. For wishes that have come true, write in the date when it happened, and perhaps a short memo about it.
It may sound a bit New-Agey-touchy-feely, which I’m not that into normally. But something about this makes sense to me. The “Banking Wishes” concept does call for physically writing down the list on paper, instead of on some web site or in some ‘personal productivity’ app, and I really like that too. Anyway, I’m going to give it a try and see how it goes. At the very least, I love the relaxed approach.
In any case, I’d like to wish all the wonderful Just Hungry and Just Bento readers a Happy New Year! I’ll see you on the other side in 2009.