Stick to your New Year’s Resolutions: 5 ways to start

New Year’s Resolutions basically never work. But when they do, it’s because we actually took real steps to change our mindsets. And the hardest part is figuring out how to take those steps. How will we work out more? How will we actually follow through with our grand plan to learn how to play the guitar?

In my experience, I’ve figured out that I need to set goals that are measurable and concrete. This goes for anything, from writing a paper for school or doing a project at work. I hate the term “SMART goals,” which appears in all my business management classes, but the management experts have a point: SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely, which make them a hell of a lot easier to take on. Which is what needs to happen with New Year’s Resolution goals. For instance: Instead of “I need to work out more,” start with, “I will go to the gym four times a week for at least 30 minutes at a time.” Get it?

Using the logic of SMART goals and general human nature, I figured out how we can actually follow through with the resolutions we make. This post will tackle the most common New Year’s Resolutions, one by one.

Time to get resolving!

The resolution: Be more organized.

The strategy: “Be more organized” isn’t a very clear goal, so let’s tweak it: “Make 5 changes that take real action toward better organization habits.” Or whatever it is you want to do. These changes can be blocking out time each day for cleaning your workspace, or meal prepping before the week starts.

Blocking out time for cleaning was a good example. I’ll start with that.

I hate cleaning. I do. I feel like it’s a waste of my time when I could be doing something useful and creative like doing research for my thesis, or blogging. Like right now. I’m literally writing this post right now because I don’t want to put my laundry in the closet.

But decluttering IRL needs to happen if you want to declutter your mind and your work. You might not think you’re doing it, but you’re worrying about the clutter. In the back of your brain, in your subconscious, you are bothered by the papers piling up on your desk or the dishes piling up in the sink. So do yourself a favor and dedicate time, even just ten minutes, each day for decluttering.

Invest in the perfect planner. Not a good-enough planner, THE PERFECT planner.

Find a daily planner that works well for you. I cannot stress this enough. I found myself making disorganized lists for different things, from planning my groceries to figuring out my long-term project deadlines, and it’s easy to lose track and drop the ball on at least one of those lists. I created the below customizable planner to put everything I needed in one place:

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Download this printable for free here!

Of course, you can always just go with a planner you buy at the store. And don’t skimp: This is something you will use every day, and it should have everything you want. Like a good boyfriend.

The resolution: Work out more.

The strategy: Invest both time and money in the gym and start in baby steps. Again, you’ll want to clearly define the goal: Is it to spend 30 minutes at the gym, four times a week? Is it to attend pilates class twice a week and turbo kickboxing three times? Depending on what kind of workouts you need amd enjoy, set a goal that seems both doable and challenging, with workouts that fit what you’ll realistically follow through with.

Remember that planner we talked about in the first resolution? Use it to schedule your workouts, and defend those workouts that same way you defend your time for work meetings. That way you won’t be tempted to cancel for things that come up.

Finally, put some money into it. Buy a membership. Get some fun new workout clothes, water bottles, and a gym bag. If you paid for the Zumba classes, you’ll feel more obligated to show up.

Be social. Once you keep showing up, you’ll make friends and want to show up! See if you can find a workout buddy, like a friend who already works out and could convince you to get your butt out of bed.

And once you become a regular, you might even be that workout buddy for someone else!

The resolution: Learn a new skill

The strategy: Like I said in my previous post about productive things to do over the holidays, the holiday season is a good time to start a new skill or hobby that you’ve been wanting to pick up. But we pick it up, and then we go back to our real life, and we drop it. Because when our working lives take over, hobbies suddenly seem a lot less important.

The key here is to treat it like it’s as important as working out or getting food. Because it is. You’re not a robot programmed to spend every waking hour on work or food (unless food is your hobby and you’re trying to figure out how to cook like the Pioneer Woman. In that case, I applaud you). You should be dedicating time to your own interests, and take them seriously– don’t just shrug off your desire to learn knitting or baking or yoga or coding as some stupid thing. Be nice to it. Respect it. Give it time. Let it become a part of your routine. Block off time and defend it, and you’ll find yourself practicing your new skill so much that it will naturally become a part of your life.

The resolution: Do more for charity.

The strategy: Of all the common resolutions, this one is my favorite, and also the one that gets dropped the most. When people are in the holiday spirit, they feel inspired to give, and then the inspiration fades when the Christmas lights come down. If you genuinely want to make a resolution to contribute more, here is what you need to do:

  • Pick a cause that you can relate with, whether it be the arts, the food bank, homeless shelters, a health-related nonprofit like the local Alzheimer’s Association office, a domestic violence shelter, a church, whatever you feel most connected with. If you choose a cause you care about, it will be rewarding and you’ll be more likely to dedicate your efforts.
  • Make a SMART goal related to that cause: “I will spend two hours every Sunday volunteering at the food bank.” “I will dedicate a half hour a week toward mentoring young women in a mentorship program.” “I will donate X amount of dollars each month from my paycheck toward the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.”
  • Do some research and find local organizations/branches supporting that cause, and see what ways there are to contribute that use your unique skills and passions. I do PR, so I look out for pro bono PR opportunities– for example, when I was an active member of my sorority, I used my social media skills to help my chapter fundraise for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. If you enjoy leadership, maybe there are leadership opportunities in your area. See what I’m getting at?

In my opinion, sticking with this one won’t be hard if you start connecting with the cause and regularly contributing. Volunteer work gives you a sense of purpose that work/school can’t always give you, and for those of you thinking about this resolution, I hope I’ve made a good case!


What New Year’s Resolutions are you making this year? Are they any of the popular ones above? Or are they more personalized? Sound off in the comments if you have any of your own advice or questions on being resolute!

XO,

CC

10 Productive but Fun Things To Do During Holiday Breaks (+Freebie!)

Okay, so a break is a break…but at some point you can’t help but open up your laptop again. Resist the urge to do actual work!! Instead, take the time to learn a new skill or develop your side passion. Sometimes, the best recharge comes from personal development. That sounded super lame, but whatever. It’s straight truth.

Here are some ideas to get you started!

1. Sign up for new blogs, newsletters, and podcasts.

It’s important to stay updated on industry trends, current events, expert advice, and inspirational stories. I subscribe to about ten different newsletters, which are a combination of daily news updates, inspiration, career advice, and creative boosts.

A few places to start:

From there, you can find more outlets specific to your industry! I follow PR Couture, a fashion PR blog, for updates on best practices and industry trends that are specific to my own career.

2. Learn basic coding.

I was always iffy on learning how to code, but then I was like, wait, it would be so badass if I knew how to write HTML and CSS and JavaScript and actually understand what the difference between each of those things is. I could be one of the #GirlsWhoCode!

Enter General Assembly Dash. This website offers free basic coding lessons, with fun projects that you’ll actually want to use, like a blog theme and a website. If it sounds intimidating, it’s because it is– coding was a scary, scary concept to me– but the website makes it super approachable and easy to follow.

3. Read a classic novel you’ve been meaning to read.

Ever tell yourself you’re really going to try knitting a scarf in time for Christmas, or that you’re definitely going to read The Great Gatsby instead of just watching the movie and pretending you’ve read it? And then you just never get around to it? Understandable during the busy work weeks. But no excuses now- you’ve got nothing but time, especially with all the plane flights and car rides of holiday travel. Do yourself a solid and read up!

4. Try a DIY project, be it a recipe, beauty hack or fashion trend.

All those projects you’ve been wanting to try but never had the time for? Now’s the time. Distress some jeans. Make your own homemade body scrub (like this coffee scrub that I recently tried!). Attempt one of those recipes you’ve seen on a Facebook video loop. Craft a letter board from a Pinterest tutorial.

5. Work on building your personal brand: Your website, portfolio, LinkedIn, blog, social media, any and all of the above.

Your personal brand is always a work in progress, but it won’t develop unless you put some thought into it. It’s easy to let your LinkedIn profile take the back burner when you’re not actively searching for a new job, but you never know when you will be, or when someone might approach you first!

Freebie alert:

I created a personal branding checklist that you can print out, to help you stay focused and get that shiz done.

Download the checklist here!

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6. Write letters. Not emails.

I love a good old-fashioned handwritten note, and these days, there’s nothing like getting an actual card and not an e-card. Plus it’s fun buying pretty paper from a pretty paper store. Don’t judge me. Just get yourself some nice stationery like the grown person you are, and write letters to people that you care about. It will make their week.

Pro tip: If you don’t already write handwritten thank-you notes after job interviews, you’re doing it wrong. Send the email only as a backup for the real deal!

7. Get the ball rolling on a new sport or hobby.

Always wanted to try kickboxing or knitting? Now your whole schedule is open. Once you get in the habit of a new sport or hobby, it will be something you can continue even when you get back to the regular routine. I started boxing over Thanksgiving break, and kept it up in classes twice a week at my campus rec center when I returned to school. Pro tip: Don’t let going back to work give you an excuse for stopping a hobby. It’s not hard to block off a couple hours a week for something that energizes you!

8. Go to the museum or zoo for some cultural experience.

The whole family can even come along: Go visit the new polar bear or the Monet exhibit. Museums and other cultural destinations are some of the best places to clear your head and feel inspired. Many creative and business-minded people get their best ideas from wandering around an art gallery or a theme park. It takes you out of your usual mindset, and gives you new ways of looking at the world. Plus it’s entertaining and just plain fun.

9. Clean out your closet.

Once winter rolls around, you start to figure out which sweaters you actually wear and which ones you can chuck. I like to sell my clothes at local vintage stores, and use the money to update my wardrobe for the spring. When I can’t sell, I donate. It’s great for your closet and for the environment, and possibly great for your wallet. Everyone wins.

10. Do some soul-searching.

Take yoga classes, start journaling, watch some TED talks. This is a good time to get to know yourself better, when you’re not distracted by the chaos of everyday life. It’s a lot easier to focus on mindfulness when you’re not busy answering emails or thinking about work projects. Once you focus on yourself, you’ll be able to better focus on others. Maybe you’ll find that you want to dedicate more time to volunteering this spring, or maybe you’ve realized you want to make a change in your career. Self-discovery sounds all New Agey, but it’s a real thing and it’s just as important as your “real” work.


I hope you feel more inspired to pursue different things this winter, and enjoy being semi-productive this season!

XO,

CC

Holiday Gift Guide 2017

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It’s time for that post-Thanksgiving panic: Holiday gift shopping!

Just in time for Cyber Monday and the chaos that ensues in the weeks leading up to Christmas, I’ve created the Caffeinated Holiday Gift Guide. The categories are based on Caffeinated Californian personality traits: Traveler, Girlboss, Creative, Intellectual, Trendsetter, and Caffeine Addict, with curated gift ideas in each.

Warning: Lots of pink. This was not intentional.

ALSO NOTE: None of these are sponsored! All opinions and ideas are 100% my own.


The Traveler


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I’m Outta Here Luggage Tag, $10

There’s also a matching passport holder if you really want to feel coordinated.

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Carry On Cocktail Kit, $24

These come in different drinks, so choose your friend’s favorite! Just add booze. If you bring your own airplane-sized bottle, don’t show the flight attendant or tell them you got the idea from this blog.

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Scratch-Off Map, $26

These maps are gorgeous, inexpensive, and perfect for anyone who seeks out new destinations all the time. I actually have one of these in my room, and I’ve taken it with me everywhere I’ve moved because it’s so fun scratching off all the places I go!

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Pink Polaroid Camera, $69.95 (Cyber Monday special: $59.99)

The instant classic.

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Herbivore Rose Hibiscus Coconut Water Face Mist, $32

After all the plane flights I’ve taken, I can say with full confidence that any frequent flier would kill for this face mist. I haven’t quite mastered the art of glamorous travel, but this mist is a step in the right direction, and perfect for your travel buddy.

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Parks Project Apparel, range of prices

Every purchase helps support a project in a national park, making this gift probably the coolest one on the list.


The Girlboss


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I Am Very Busy Pencil Case, $12

I saw a girl at work with this case and I have envied her ever since.

Bonus: Fill it with the Like a Boss Pencil Set, $10!

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Personalized Stationery, $14

I should probably get this for myself, actually.

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Day Designer Planner, $59

Ughhhhh WANT. Want want want.

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Boss Lady Coffee Mug, $20

For some glam on the go. I need to stop making this gift guide or I’ll start buying everything for myself.

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Adorn Bath Bomb, $8

Help the woman relax, for goodness’ sake. Buy some bath bombs.


The Trendsetter


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Personalized Eye Mask, $11

Insert their celebrity dreamboat here.

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Kate Spade New York: All In Good Taste, $21.61

Coffee table books are the ultimate gift, because no one goes and buys them on their own, but everyone wants them. They’re chic, Instagrammable, and super fun to read. Here are more ideas for coffee table books on Refinery29.

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Faux Fur Slides, $29

Slippers are the most diva thing I can think of. You can’t go wrong.

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Sonia Kashuk Brush Set, $24.99

Speaking of gifts you can’t go wrong with: You can never have enough makeup brushes. Never ever.

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Yoga Mat, $32

Also has a matching gym bag and water bottle! Yay yoga! Yay for excuses to buy cute yoga accessories!

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Victoria’s Secret Tease Rollerball, $18 (on sale for $6 as of post date)

My absolute favorite thing to stash in my purse. This one is great for a stocking stuffer.


The Creative


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Urban Decay Naked Smoky Palette, $54 (on sale right now for $27!)

If you want to be the best friend ever, and I mean THE BEST friend ever, this is the palette. Creative types love their dramatic eyeshadow. I should know.

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Lists Make Me Happy Notebook, $12

For the thinking woman with a love for lists. All the lists.

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Gallery Wall Art, range of prices

Collect art prints to get your creative friend started on decorating some inspiring walls.

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Pantone Watch, $119

Anyone obsessed with design and color is probably obsessed with Pantone. Trust me on this one.

Split Decision Throw Pillow, $24

For the indecisive overthinker! This pillow flips, so one side says Make It Happen, while the other says Sleep On It.

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Letter Board, $50

For whenever they need to make a statement or feel inspired. Could also work for the Caffeine Addict, which leads us into our last category…


The Caffeine Addict


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I Want My Coffee Black Print, $5.99

Enough said.

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The Original Coffee Scrub, $13.56 (or DIY it!)

Beauty and coffee in one. There’s a reason this scrub took off on Instagram.

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Kate Spade Sugar and Creamer Set, $29

I wish I were fancy enough to actually have a place to put sugar and creamer.

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Eileen 8-Cup French Press, $50

For the coffee lover who spends too much money on store-bought coffee.

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Starbucks Gift Card, range of prices

For the coffee lover who spends too much money on store-bought coffee, and you want to enable them.


Whew, that was a lot to get through! I hope this list took away at least some of that post-Thanksgiving stress. Happy holiday shopping!

XO,

CC

Everyday Inspiration: 100 places to get ideas

Whenever someone asks me, “What inspires you?” I tell them literally everything. Which isn’t super helpful, I realize, but here’s the trick: I look for inspiration in the daily, everyday moments that would normally go unnoticed.

Of course, it’s obviously important to seek out new experiences. I love a good Lollapalooza weekend, or a hike in the Grand Canyon. But you don’t always need a life-changing adventure. Sometimes, nothing sparks the mind like a five-minute walk. Or an ice cream flavor. Or the country music coming from the bar next door. The packaging of a makeup product. The mall. The gym. The bubbles in your bath…or your champagne! When you keep your eyes open to the ordinary, the ordinary suddenly becomes the extraordinary. And there’s your inspiration.

When you keep your eyes open to the ordinary, the ordinary suddenly becomes the extraordinary. And there’s your inspiration.

To get you started on finding your extraordinary in the ordinary, I’ve listed a whopping 100 sources of inspiration you can probably find across the street or even your own room. Now you have no excuses. Deep breath, here we go:

100 Places to Find Everyday Inspo

  1. The shower

  2. Live music

  3. A new neighborhood

  4. Tequila

  5. Magazines

  6. Museums

  7. Dreams (day or night)

  8. Art galleries victor-lozano-227612

  9. Documentaries

  10. Horror movies

  11. Rom coms (with life lessons of course)

  12. Comedy clubs

  13. The library

  14. The gym

  15. Plane flights

  16. Road trips

  17. Full Kanye West albums

  18. Full Beatles albums

  19. Full Pink Floyd albums

  20. Full Daft Punk albums

  21. Chinatown mariano-rossi-330641

  22. The mall

  23. The toilet

  24. The elevator

  25. The laundromat

  26. Yoga class

  27. Beauty products freestocks-org-209882.jpg

  28. The weird part of YouTube

  29. Reading the entire Harry Potter series from the beginning as an adult

  30. TED talks

  31. Listening to a new music genre

  32. Farmer’s markets

  33. Flowers ornella-binni-106373

  34. Architecture

  35. A walk around the block

  36. The Food Network

  37. The fancy stationery store

  38. The zoo katie-treadway-253591

  39. Bath and Body Works

  40. Free People catalogues

  41. Netflix musicals (try Chicago, personal fave)

  42. Community theater musicals

  43. Broadway musicals

  44. High School Musical

  45. Spotify

  46. The ocean anastasia-taioglou-244880

  47. The lake

  48. The pool

  49. The bathtub…anywhere with water is good

  50. Champagne

  51. Champagne. IN the bathtub. Double whammy. You’ll be writing novels in no time.

  52. A frat party

  53. Pizza. Pizza is always inspirational.

  54. Donuts. See above rationale for pizza. bethany-newman-61417

  55. Starbucks, obviously

  56. A blank canvas

  57. Whatever new Urban Decay Naked palette is out

  58. Gossip Girl

  59. A globe andrew-neel-182861

  60. Pottery Barn catalogues

  61. The park

  62. Football games

  63. Disney movies

  64. Fashion shows

  65. Windows jonatan-pie-235783

  66. New restaurants

  67. A blank notebook

  68. Canned soup (hey, it worked for Warhol)

  69. Pinterest quotes

  70. Dance class

  71. A new shade of lipstick ian-dooley-298769

  72. Lightning bolts (the inspo for my logo)!

  73. Pilates

  74. Old cookbooks

  75. Old books in general (Tip: Visit one of those tiny bookstores with vintage books.)

  76. Mexican restaurants

  77. Antique stores

  78. Flea markets

  79. Candy stores delfi-de-la-rua-133880.jpg

  80. Little Italy

  81. Walmart

  82. Reddit

  83. The self-help section of Barnes and Noble

  84. The classics section, if feeling ambitious john-mark-kuznietsov-266552

  85. The aquarium

  86. Bike rides

  87. Driving along the coast

  88. Driving through cornfields, if in Midwest and cannot access coast

  89. Corn mazes!

  90. Carnivals hannah-morgan-95342

  91. Haunted houses

  92. Roller coasters

  93. Horse races

  94. Casinos

  95. Your closet

  96. 24 hour diners dani-king-261235

  97. Trains

  98. Candles

  99. Cameras

  100. Coffee shops…naturally…

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Whew! So much inspiration, so little time…better get cracking and start appreciating your Walmart!

XO,

CC