What is YOUR theme for 2013?

New Year’s Resolutions are simply SMART goals which haven’t been made into DUMB goals. For me, 2013 is the year of Renewal. What is your theme for 2013?

Why have a theme?

Themes Provide Focus

It’s the nature of life to be scatterbrained. We’re faced with information overload on a daily basis – information that may or may not be related to the last bit of information which we received. Look at Facebook, for example – when you’re looking at your friend’s list, they are talking about everything under the sun. Having a theme for the year provides a focus – a tree for you to hang everything on.

Themes Are Mantras

Mantra, according to Wikipedia, is a sound, syllable, or group of words capable of creating transformation. I consider the theme of the year to be a neat package representing all of the goals, thoughts, and ideas that I have for the coming year. Renewal is an abbreviation for the year long task.

Themes Are Meaningful

One might say that creating a theme for the year is like adding your own personal interpretation to the language. You know how there are some words which are more charged than others? Creating a theme out of it is personally charging and transforming a word into (sometimes) something greater than it entails.

Themes Are Easily Remembered

Remember that lack of focus? I figure, though, that I can remember a single word. I can remember a single word which has been infused with all types of ideas, and through the remembrance of that word and those ideas, the whole thing will be reinforced. Life is a journey and there are several things which I wish to accomplish. I can remember the word ‘renewal’ when it may not be so easy to remember to do all of the DUMB goals surrounding it.

Examples of Themes

Renewal

To me, renewal means focusing on things which were dormant or in hibernation. I have many friends and acquaintances that I haven’t talked to in a while – whether it be through Facebook, the MUCKs, or in other places.

I am looking at my businesses, as well. You see, I am an idea person. I come up with ideas all the time, and don’t seem to have time to follow through on them. Just because I had the ideas in the past does not mean that the ideas aren’t valid. This means that instead of coming up with new business models and ideas, I will stick with the old ones and see them through.

When it comes to my love relationship, there were certain aspects of my personality that he fell in love with. I smiled a lot more when our relationship first began. I was a lot more content with the world. It was another time with different circumstances, but I want to renew that joie de vivre that I once had.

Redemption

We’ve all made mistakes in life. There are some who have made more mistakes than others over the years and they have cultivated a bad reputation, bad karma, and have generally worked themselves into a bad situation. The redemption theme would focus on making it right, correcting all of those past mistakes and doing your best not to make those mistakes again. This coming year provides a chance to prove to yourself that you can do it and that you can make it happen the way that it *should* be.

Wealth

Your activities for this year will be focused on wealth and wealth creation. You might have had troubles with your money situation or it may be a case of your not having enough. This is going to be the year that you correct that, the year that you become financially stable and you plan to sieze the day when it comes to wealth generation opportunities. All of your goals for this year center around that.

Health

You have seen that you’re not as healthy as you used to be, and you need to change that. You might have noticed that you can’t see as well, or that you’re getting a bit larger around the tummy or that you’re getting weaker. Health is often more important than wealth, because while you can live without money, the quality of your life really sucks without having health. Your goals for this year might center around that.

Love

Perhaps you haven’t had the love that you want to have in life. This is the year that you look outward and make those social connections and find that person who makes your world soar. Maybe, you want to learn to love yourself a little bit more. It could be something broader a love of the world or the people around you.

Selflessness

You love the surge that you get from giving, the feeling of helping other people out in their time of need. You might not have capitalized on all of the opportunities to help people, and you might want to give more of you to the rest of the world. Selflessness is an admirable trait, one which few people have and espouse. These goals would revolve around charity, giving, and other thoughts.

Your theme might be different. You might have something on your list that I haven’t thought of, and that’s fine. You can achieve anything that you wish to achieve if you put your mind to it.

I’d love to hear about your goals and your theme for 2013.

What Matters in Life

When we become adults, we are charged with figuring out what the heck to do with our time. Up until then, we are saddled with obligations that others have placed upon us, and we’re not given the full keys to the castle. I know that I spent my first few adult years hiding under the warm, welcoming eaves of college. I didn’t start to live until I’d gotten out of college and started to figure things out on my own.

There are some people who are blessed with the knowledge of their internal direction. They simply wake up one morning and KNOW what they’re going to do for the rest of their lives, hunker down, and just do it. Those people don’t have to turn to sites like mine because they have a plan for what they’re doing with their money, their careers, and their lives.

Now, don’t get me wrong. These people have trials and challenges just like the rest of us. The have to figure out what they’re going to be doing on any given day toward their goal. When you don’t have goals or ideals that really fit what you’re doing, it can get awfully confusing. Most of the things that I’ve doen until now have been to discover what I don’t want to do, rather than what I should be doing.

Doers do. Dreamers dream about it.

Image matters

This is one that I wrestled with a long time. I tried to distance myself from those who were trying to enhance their image and the image of their company. I wanted to push myself away from the ‘look’ of a salesperson or a ‘writer’ or whatever, because I just wanted to be myself. Images, however, serve the purpose of being easily identifiable buckets of traits.

Money matters

No matter what we do to deny it, the amount of money that’s in the bank account has an emotional effect. There were some great times and some sad times while I was just getting started, and a lot of those times had to do with money. I was able to afford to go to X or Y, or I was able to pay rent – this directly revolves around money.

Character matters

Honestly, this one took a long time to be able to put into words. The character that you have contributes to how people will react to you. If you are able to create a reasonable image and back that up with positive character traits, whether in person or through writing, you will go further than just the image alone. It’s essentially walking the walk along with talking the talk.

Hope matters

Hope represents that which we want to have in the future. It’s a goal or an idea, and what we strive for is absolutely paramount to determining who we are within this great big world. If we can take those hopes and dreams and coordinate them into action, we succeed more than those who are rolling naround in circles, reinventing the wheel.

Motivation matters

Just because we have the hope does not mean that it is automatically pushed forward every day. If we do nothing to press forward, if we do nothing to strive for those hopes and dreams in small actionable steps, we are still no closer to achieving them. Motivation requires that you wake up in the morning and push for those goals more often than not.

You can dream all day about being something that you’re not right now. If you put no emphasis toward that dream, you are taking the infinite monkeys approach. Yes, an infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of typewriters could potentially write Shakespeare, but the time it would take to do so is extravagantly long – taking an infinite amount of time.

That’s where it comes back to being a doer. Doers do. Dreamers dream about it. If you do something toward your goal every single day, you will get there faster than if you did nothing. If you do something, project the right image, possess character and hope, as well as motivation, you will get there even faster. You are in charge of crafting your own life. It is your responsibility.

I have DUMB goals

I am officially declaring 2013 to be the year of renewal for the Fat Lady Household.  This will be the year where I gather all of the dharmic post-it notes together and apply the information toward myself and those around me.  Resolutions be damned, I’m going to pay attention to what matters – DOING instead of writing about my plans. Actually, let’s trade out some words here.  Instead of resolutions, I’m going to call them ‘goals’ because that is what they are.  The term ‘resolution’ is used in legal terms and at the beginning of the New Year.  Goals can be pursued and gain merit at any time of the year. 
You’ve most likely heard about SMART goals.  You might have even used SMART goals in the past, hopefully accomplishing them in the process.  Let’s take a closer look at SMART goals.

SMART goals are:
Specific – Goals that answer who, what, when, where, and why
Measurable – Goals which create specific criteria for success or failure
Attainable – Goals which are important, that you’re passionate about.
Realistic – Goals which you’re ready, willing, and able to complete.
Timely – Goals which are centered on a specific time frame.
These types of goals are extremely good with painting the larger picture.  They help you establish strategies and general direction.  Where these goals failed for me was in the small details. 
For instance, a SMART goal is, “I will weigh 150 pounds by December 31, 2013. I will do this by eating two servings of vegetables a day, exercising twice a week, and avoiding all refined sugars.  I want to complete this goal because I am tired of the way that my body feels, and I wish to change that.” 
SMART goals place arbitrary pressure on a person to complete that goal.  Making your strategy bound by time has never been effective for me, because it makes me realize that I have time and it gives me the opportunity to slack off on the overall direction because I think, “I have 100 days.  I can afford to eat this giant pizza and still make my goal.”  Conversely, that time constraint devalues the objective – if you become a Nobel Prize winner in 2014 instead of 2013, does that make the Nobel Prize any less valuable?
I’m tired of being smart. Instead of SMART goals, I’m looking at DUMB goals.

DUMB goals are:
Doable – The goal itself must not violate any laws of nature.  For instance, no matter how hard I work on it, I’m not able to levitate. 
Unique – The goal must be singular, or a unique instance.  This does not mean that you cannot have the same goal which someone else has, it just means that within your field of goals, this one is unique.  
Meaningful – The goal must be meaningful to you and you alone.  You have a lower likelihood of actually doing something if there’s no power and passion behind doing the activity.
Bite-Sized – You can accomplish the goal within 24 hours.
Why do this? It’s the difference between strategy and tactics. A strategy is the ultimate end which you wish to accomplish.  A tactic is the baby step along the way which is used to achieve the overall strategy.  For example, your strategy is to grow your client base by 4000%.  Your tactic would be to send a thank you note to every customer.
I’m suggesting that around a SMART goal, you should develop a lot of little DUMB goals.  The day-to-day tactics are what matter.  These are what will get you closer to the overall goal of weighing 150 pounds.  Successfully completing one of the DUMB goals will get you closer to the SMART goal.  DUMB goals pave the path for my general direction.  DUMB goals are actionable and immediate.  I need that.  I need to know what I can do right NOW, because having some pie-in-the-sky SMART goal doesn’t inspire me.
When you use the two together, you can achieve amazing things because you have both pieces of the puzzle in place.  You might wish to be SMART, but I’ll choose DUMB every time.  What do you think?
As a note, this post is crossposted over at Million Ways to Save

The Winning Roommate Experience

On Tuesday night, the youngest of the guys living in our household bailed to go live off on his own. This was a delightful moment, as it represented the fact that he had finally made it out on his own. He was free, and could officially put the crap that he’d been through behind him. He also represented a successful roommate experience.

I consider a successul roommate experience to be one where the roommate:

    Pays on time
    Keeps to themselves
    Cleans their area
    Doesn’t Break Stuff
    Causes No Drama

There are plenty of other qualifications for an awesome roomie experience, but I figure that if you’re living in my house that you shouldn’t put me through drama or make me have to jump through hoops to keep my life quiet. It’s one of those important things – like making sure that you eat your own food and such.

A roomie experience that has no casualties is one where we don’t have to do major cleanup, there’s no money owed at the end, and they’re not leaving us in a yelling or screaming fit. Preferably, they’re leaving because they’ve found love or that they can just move on with their lives.

    No money owed
    No serious cleanup
    No great secrets learned

This one was pretty good, and we’re thankful for the experience. We’ve all had roommates from hell, and there’s a likelihood that we’ve been a roomie from hell in the past, but ending on good notes where bridges are created is the best type of roomie situation.

Having a roommate saves money. You can easily split the rent that you’ve got to pay into halves or thirds, and that makes it a lot easier in the long run as well as making it easier to save some money for future things. We’ve had roommates here for a while just for that reason. We’ve both saved our asses from time to time, and it’s a delightful experience.

I’d love to hear about your roomie experiences. 🙂

Cheap Eats: The One Pot Meal Revisited

My mother recently gave us a crock pot. Occasionally, she hits it out of the park when it comes to stuff I need but won’t buy for myself. I’ve talked about one pot meals in the past, but this particular gift makes it so incredibly easy to cook them.

Crock pots are awesome for cooking soups, stews, and variations on chili. When I first got this gift, I used it for five days in a row, making all of those with varying ndegrees of success. The best recipes were the chili and the spanish bean soup, so I’m including the recipes here.

What I love is how easy the crock pot is to use. You literally throw all of the stuff into the pot before you go to sleep and wake up to whatever you’ve made, cooked and ready to go. This was a serious selling point for me – it’s incredibly simple to blow the diet first thing in the morning from the convenience of the ‘bad’ foods.

One Pot Meal: Chili

2 pounds hamburger – $6
1 medium sized onion – $.50
4 cans kidney beans – $2.40
1 can tomatoes, okra, corn mix – $1.00
1 can diced tomatoes – $1.20
2 small cans tomato sauce – $.75
Chili powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper – $.25 — Total: $12.10

It works better when you brown the hamburger with the onion before you toss it into the pot. That way, you can get some of the delicious flavors of the meat infused with the onion. You don’t necessarily have to play it this way, though, because my pot came out really really nice.

Makes (at least) 6 servings. Price per serving $2.02

One Pot Meal: Spanish Bean Soup

2 rolls chorizo (these looked like the smoked sausage packaging) – $4
4 cans chick peas – $2.40
1 medium onion – $.50
1/2 head cabbage – $.50
Water to cover everything
garlic powder, salt, pepper to taste – $.25 — Total: %7.65

The spices are all brought out in the chorizo, so you don’t really have to do anything other than let it cook. The nuttiness will come out in the chick peas (garbanzo beans) and infuse the whole dish. To me, this stuff replaces chicken soup as the elixir which cures all of your ailments.

Makes (at least) 6 servings. Price per serving $1.28

When you set the crock pot up, you’re not immediately committed to a meal the rest o your life like you are when you’re making a big pot of something. It’s only 5 quarts of stuff, so if you mess it up, you’re not out the entire budget. I have messed up on chicken soup (it just didn’t have enough depth) and some of the other dishes were just ‘meh.’

Crock pots are pretty cheap – I’ve always equated them with the price of a decent rice steamer. I’m sure, like everything, that there’s a huge gamut of quality out there. But seriously, under $5 a meal is the way to go, especially if you’re on a tight budget.

For more recipes and information about one-pot meals:

65 Cheap Healthy One Dish Meals at Cheap Healthy Good
One Pot Warm Orzo Salad with Brussels Sprouts and Golden Raisins at One Hungry Mama
Crocktober: All In One Crockpot Meals at A Cowboy’s Wife

Find Your Passion: Create a New Income Stream

The first time that I heard the phrase ‘income stream’ was when I was working at my ‘real job’ in a digital library. We had won the contract to operate a paper and digital plan room. We would be sent building plans through various sources, scan them, and keep them on file for contractors who walked in the door. We got paid for holding the plans on file. We got paid for scanning the plans. We got paid for administration of the plans. The powers-that-be were searching for more.

The Chief of Operations was a mellow sort of company man. He had a background at a much larger company, so he’d developed the ability to work with people and bring out the best in them. He asked me what other income streams could be developed within this plan room. I loved the phrase so much that I tucked it into the back of my mind for future reference.

My company didn’t pursue any of my ideas, but it was still enjoyable to come up with them. It was training for me to become more of a businessperson.

Income streams do not have to be wholly and completely separate from the other things you do. In other words, you do not have to run a laundromat, be a bookseller, consult about structural engineering, and be an administrative assistant. Creating income streams runs best when they are all part of the same river of thought.

If you’ve worked for any length of time, you’ve developed some expertise in your field. If you do something for thousands of hours, you eventually become an expert, right? But, that expertise doesn’t have to be used solely for that one business venture. Your attention can be split to generate new streams of income.

Repurpose

Generating an income stream does not necessarily mean that you have to create an entirely new product. For example, the company I used to work for warehoused rolls of paper for the machines that they sold. Roll paper is great to have on hand for ar as well as for those to-do listers who love to make charts. It’s excellent in many situations – not just for architectural and engineering purposes.

Think about the other markets who may wish to use your product.

Reinvent

We’ve all got different ideas about the products which we use. You have the whole world on your side when you decide to reinvent the product that you’re usiing. If you sell old hardware, for example, there are plenty of art themes that you can use with that, or you can use it as paperweights. Your creativity and your skills come inot play, but you’re up to the challenge.

Think about all of the different uses for your product, all of those uses which may be out of the box or outlandish. In there, you might have another income stream.

Repurposing is about using the product that you’ve got for the same purpose across different markets. Reinventing is about using the products for purposes that weren’t originally designed. Through these two methods, you can get a lot more products than the originals, without having to come up with a new product. Through this process, you can come up with many new income streams.

Great Posts for Inspiration

Make More Money with a Little Free Thinking at I’m Bleeding Money
Creating multiple streams of income at The Money Chat
10 Multiple Income Streams You Can Create at The Mogul Mom
Multiple Income Streams: 10 Ways to Earn Extra Income at DoughRoller
Ten Ways to Translate Your Passion Into Additional Income at The Simple Dollar