Fall asleep faster — no sheep required.

It’s that time of night: you’ve counted all the sheep. All that’s left are the lambs that won’t stop crying.

You’ve tossed.

You’ve turned.

You’ve fluffed and flipped, but you haven’t dozed.

Once is bad enough. But night after night? Soon you’ll really know why the lambs are crying.

Sleep shouldn’t be the most stressful time of your day — and it doesn’t have to be.

Check out these 13 recommendations to start getting sleep when you’re in a pattern of not getting sleep.

1. Go yellow.

It’s a very modern problem: today’s technology is all about the blue light. It’ll keep you up like the green light kept up Gatsby.

Blue light is high-energy light, and it’s amazing and serves wonderful purposes, such as increasing alertness, memory, and cognitive function.

As you know, though, those are some of the last effects you want when you can’t fall asleep.

About two hours before bedtime, shift your digital devices to yellow. Windows has the Night Light. Mac has its Night Shift. For phones and tablets, there are f.lux and Iris. These will help your brain calm down with lower energy light — and you can start getting sleep.

2. Go dark.

In our caveman days, the light went out automatically out for us.

Over millennia, humans were conditioned to grow more tired as the sun went lower. Then Edison put a wrench our natural sleep cycle. With modern technology and Netflix’s string of hits, it’s impossible to get to bed some nights.

Let nature work in your favor, sending your brain signals that it’s time to wind down. When the yellow filters start to show on your digital devices, start to turn down and then turn off your lights and television.

As your body adjusts to these signals, you’ll start getting sleep more easily.

3. Get regular.

Yes, that’s important, too. But, for our purposes today, we’re talking about creating a regular pattern of habits before going to bed each night. The right pattern will condition your brain to learn that bedtime is coming.

Here are some of the bedtime habits you can foster to help provide the right cues for your body:

  • Turn off your technology.
  • Start turning down the lights.
  • Brush your teeth.
  • Wash your face (or, if you shower at night, take your shower).
  • Drink a warm liquid.
  • Do a little light reading.
  • Stretch.

Figure out a bedtime routine that works for you, and try to stick to a schedule when possible. You might not always get to bed at 10:30 p.m. exactly, but when you time things, you can perhaps get to bed at a range from 10:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., and that consistency can help you.

4. Calm yourself.

It’s hard shifting from our fast-paced, constantly connected culture to lights-out.

With all the messages we must process and all the decisions we must make, these can all come flooding back as soon as we put our heads on the pillow.

Any type of meditation that helps you calm down and clear your mind is perfect.

However, Qi Gong meditation is specially designed to help alleviate stresses of all kinds. It’s the perfect meditation to help you forget that important email you read just before leaving work or that minor altercation you had on the highway.

After turning off all distractions, find a quiet, comfortable place to sit. Sit however is most comfortable for you. Then, close your eyes and simply pay attention to your natural breaths. If a thought crosses your mind, no worries. Just push it away.

Or, if you prefer, get comfortable on your bed and meditate yourself to sleep.

5. Write.

The act of putting pencil to paper is calming for two main reasons:

  • First, it’s an organic experience that’s naturally calming.
  • Second, journaling is a reflective process. This means it’s an exercise in self-awareness. You can examine your experiences of the day and put them behind you.

If there’s something important to remember or a problem to solve, writing these down is great for clearing the mind. Once you’ve written down what you must remember, you can forget about it. When you’ve worked out your problem, you can move onto the next task — start getting sleep.

6. Read.

I love to fall asleep while reading in bed.

Don’t get in the habit of staying up long nights in bed reading books from cover to cover like a college student. Instead, crawl under the sheets, put your head on the pillow and read few pages.

Studies show that reading in bed reduces stress levels and beat many other recommendations for falling asleep fast. An entertaining book is a good way to get distracted from what’s keeping you up at night. It’s also a good primer for what dreams may come.

If you can read more than a few pages before falling asleep, your book is either too entertaining or you need to complement your reading with other tips on this list.

7. Talk it out.

Remember how hard it was staying awake in that English Lit class? The professor droned on endlessly like Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Yeah, that’s what we mean by getting talkative.

The key with this tip is to finding calming, soothing voices. So, maybe that political radio show isn’t your best choice.

If AM and FM can’t help you, download stories on Audible. If you’re like me, listening to anyone talking when the lights are out is enough to help me fall asleep.

If you can’t find the right story or voice, download the Sleep with Me app. It has over 600 hour-long sessions with people talking about nothing important. Its sole purpose is to bore you to sleep.

Is the Sleep with Me app is more likely to bore you to death than to bore you to sleep? Try the Classic Tales app to have some of history’s best tales read to you to help you fall asleep.

You can even use guided meditations to help in your efforts to start getting sleep.

8. Go white.

If you can’t fall asleep because you hear every bump in the night, go white.

White noise is to sound what white light is to color. White noise is the combination of all the sound frequencies brought together. That means it’s great to use to mask other sounds, like the neighbor’s barking dog or the guy upstairs who won’t stop pacing.

Amazon is replete with white noise machines, many of which are reasonably priced. You can save yourself some money, though, by bringing your old fan down from the attic. A simple desktop fan can have the same effect as any fancy white noise machine. That is, of course, if the fan works properly.

9. Go smooth.

Not unlike white noise, smooth, chill meditation music can put you in the mood to start getting sleep.

If you already have a meditation app on your phone or you have a favorite meditation station on Spotify or iTunes, use it to fall asleep at night.

Meditation music and noises, along with journaling and reading, reduce stress. Likewise, repetitive music helps dozers forget about what’s keeping them up. Music with about 60 beats per minute helps lower a sleeper’s heart rate and can, consequently, help you fall asleep faster.

10. Get sexy.

If getting smooth isn’t doing it for you, get sexy. Just before, during, and after an orgasm, the body releases prolactin, oxytocin, and melatonin. These hormones are a perfect cocktail for fast sleep.

But, sorry ladies! Your bodies don’t release as much prolactin as men’s bodies do, and prolactin helps suppress dopamine, the stimulating hormone. So, this may not be your solution, but it’s fun nonetheless.

And maybe it will help you get just tired enough to drop off to sleep when you’re done.

11. Get warm.

It’s traditional to give their children a glass of warm milk to help them fall asleep.

That’s because milk has the amino acid L-tryptophan, which we associate with the annual sleep-inducing Thanksgiving dinner. But it can help you, too. A warm drink can help you drift off faster.

If you’re lactose intolerant or avoid dairy, try chamomile tea. Chamomile has flavonoids with sedative effects that will help you sleep. It’s commonly advised to drink warm chamomile tea about 90 minutes before bedtime.

Avoid alcohol and caffeine before bed. Contrary to popular belief, alcohol won’t help you start getting sleep. You may fall asleep, but the quality is probably going to be poor if it’s alcohol-induced. Stick with the milk or the tea.

12. Get fit.

Many studies show that regular exercise, over time, can improve one’s ability to have a good night sleep.

Exercise, too, reduces stress, which is a major deterrent to good sleep. It’s also been shown to improve circadian rhythms by making exercisers more alert during the day and then letting them get deeper sleep at night.

So, go for a walk or a bike ride. Hit the gym. Develop a healthy exercise habit, and it could be your ticket to start getting sleep.

13. Get dry.

Constantly going to the bathroom at night keeps some people from ever falling asleep, especially from into a deep sleep. If this is you, then drinking too many liquids at night is not recommended.

Drink enough liquids throughout the day to get your daily dose but slow your drinking after dinner. If you must, limit your liquids after dinner to a single cup of warm milk or tea. Beyond that, you’re asking for frequent interruptions that’ll keep you from getting a good night’s sleep.

Mix and match to find your combo to start getting sleep.

One of these tips probably isn’t going to solve all of your sleep problems. Instead, try different combinations of these tips to help you fall asleep on time and more deeply.

As you improve your practice, you’ll get better sleep — and you can stop worrying about those damn sheep.

Like what you’ve read?

Join other #adults who receive free weekly updates.

For a limited time you’ll receive our new book, The Best Bank Accounts for Adults, when you sign up!

Good news: you can be happy and productive without getting up at an unholy hour. Read More...

I’ve seen a lot about the “miracle morning” recently. It seems to be everywhere.

Basically, the idea is that you wake up an hour earlier than normal. You spend that time journaling, meditating, and exercising. The miracle morning is a pretty cool concept. I like it in theory:

  • Get up
  • Set your intention for the day
  • Exercise to take care of your body and mind
  • Eat breakfast
  • Start your workday energetic and focused

The result, of course, is supposed to be getting more done overall. Increased productivity through a better start to your morning — all by getting up an hour earlier.

But what if it doesn’t work?

I tried the miracle morning — and failed.

In an effort to wrest control of my life back from my schedule, I thought I’d give the miracle morning a try. After all, it’s supposed to transform your life.

An hour a day to change everything?

Sign me up!

However, it didn’t go as I expected. First of all, getting out of bed an hour earlier proved almost impossible. I tried going to bed earlier, to no avail.

My son’s activities and the realities of having a teenager didn’t mesh with going to bed as early as I needed to in order to get up at a miracle morning time.

On top of that, when I did succeed in getting up an hour earlier, it didn’t actually help me with my productivity. I often wake up ready to work. It was hard for me to spend an hour journaling and meditating. Plus, about the time I finished with my miracle morning regimen, it was time to get breakfast and eat with my son.

By the time my son was off to school, my day was taken over by meetings and phone calls and unexpected little issues drawing off my attention. I felt just as harried as ever.

So I decided it was time for a new approach. Rather than focusing on my morning routine, I decided to look at the way my internal clock functions. I know you can shift your clock over time to become a morning person, but I was tired of trying to fight it. So, I didn’t.

Check in throughout the day.

First, I started by paying attention to how I felt at various points during the day. I noticed that I often woke ready to get something done. On top of that, my afternoon slump effectively made me useless for work.

As part of this exercise, I factored in time with my son before he left for school, as well as our afternoon and dinner commitments and obligations.

I kept notes about how I felt throughout the day, and when my work flagged. Additionally, I paid attention to when I had standing meetings and when others were most likely to interrupt me. With this information, I was able to identify patterns.

After about two weeks, I had a pretty good idea of when I was likely to work most effectively — and when it was better for me to just stop trying to force it. I was also able to figure out which times were likely to be good times for things like exercise and self-improvement.

I was ready to take a new approach to my days.

Starting work first thing.

My first main change was that, instead of trying to exercise or meditate first thing in the morning, I would just get to work on the most challenging item on my to-do list.

Because my son changed his school schedule recently, there are now three days a week when I basically have two hours in the morning before I needed to start breakfast. The other two mornings, I have about an hour.

My new morning routine looks like this:

  • Wake up
  • Sit up and stretch in bed
  • Drink some water
  • Use the restroom
  • Take three to five minutes to do a little “wake up” yoga
  • Immediately start work

My whole get up and get started takes less than 10 minutes.

And I get to work immediately on the most challenging thing I have to work on that day. Essentially, I follow the advice in the book Eat That Frog! However, while the book assumes you’ll be at work after a morning routine, I’m actually getting my biggest “frog” out of the way before I really start my day.

After getting some work done, I then turn my attention to breakfast and seeing my son off to school. I get dressed, and then start in on the rest of my day.

Now, though, meetings and phone calls aren’t pulling me away from the big thing on my plate. It’s already done by the time all these other things start demanding my attention.

Scheduling exercise in the afternoon.

After getting my new morning squared away, I decided to schedule exercise in the middle of the day. It’s true. I head to the gym between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.

Before, this was time spent in a stupor as I either tried to power through the afternoon brain fog or gave up and took a nap. Of course, the nap usually ended up being longer than it should have been and resulted in sleep inertia — making me feel worse.

Now, though, I have my exercise scheduled on my calendar. It’s an item I’m reminded of and that is blocked off so that appointments can’t be made during that time.

Instead of trying to make myself be productive during a time when I’m not really wired for productivity, I use the time to reinvigorate myself with exercise. Usually, when I’m done, I’ve received enough of a boost from the activity that I’m ready to tackle items that require a bit of thought (although they aren’t as energy-consuming as what I work on in the morning).

At times I feel a little tired and sleepy after my workout. On those days, I meditate in the afternoon. In fact, I find that meditation helps me most just after lunch, or soon after a workout. I still meditate most days, just not in the morning.

Creating my “excellent evening.”

Rather than a miracle morning, I’m working on creating an excellent evening. While my son is getting ready for bed, I answer a few final emails and finish up some of my loose ends.

Once he is in bed, it’s time for my own wind-down routine. I put the phone and laptop away, done with them for the day. If there are things still bothering me about the day, I write them down. I also take this time to identify my first move in the morning. It’s a great time to decide what my first focus should be. I tidy my work area and get things set up for the next morning.

With everything resolved on and ready for the coming day, I engage in 15 to 20 minutes of gentle stretching yoga. Then I take my shower and go through my bedtime routine. Often, I read a book for pleasure during this time. It’s a great way to relax and unwind and get my mind ready for sleep.

Finally, I can just go to bed. Sometimes, if I’m struggling a bit to fall asleep, I use a guided meditation designed to help.

Do what works for you.

Maybe the miracle morning works well for you. I know a lot of people really like it. Getting up early and centering themselves ahead of the day is perfect for them. I even know folks that get up at 4:30 a.m., do the whole miracle morning routine, and then get started on work sometime around 6:00 a.m.

And that’s fine.

But that’s just not going to cut it for me. I’ve tried.

Instead, it works better for me to get up around 6:30 a.m. and immediately get into my work. I suppose I could get up at 5:00 or 5:30 and still accomplish much the same thing. But until I’m able to go to bed much earlier, that’s not practical in terms of making sure I get enough healthy sleep each night.

Rather than getting hung up on what everyone else is doing with their morning routines, think about what makes your day better. Consider a schedule that makes sense for you. Maybe it’s more work at night, or perhaps it’s exercising after dinner (like my parents do).

The important thing is to pay attention to your own internal clock and the realities of your situation so that you can create a schedule that works around your various commitments, your family, and helps you start working toward your goals.

What helps you in the morning? Or the evening? Have you tried arranging your schedule around your internal clock? Let us know in the #Adulting community on Facebook.

Like what you’ve read?

Join other #adults who receive free weekly updates.

For a limited time you’ll receive our new book, The Best Bank Accounts for Adults, when you sign up!

Get out of town. Have a great time. And do it without breaking the bank. Read More...

Once in a while, we present Adulting.tv LIVE! Subscribe on YouTube to hear about future events, and share your questions about or suggestions for our next discussions!

Show Notes

You know you want to travel. But you also need to be on a budget. Today, we talk to Whitney Hansen about how she does the travel while budgeting thing. We look at tips you can use to save money on travel. We even take a look at how you can do it with kids.

Just because you don’t have a ton of money doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy seeing new things. Here’s how to get out of town no matter how much (or little) you have.



Watch the video above or listen to the audio podcast below.

Hosted byHarlan L. Landes and Miranda Marquit
Produced byadulting.tv
Edited and mixed bySteve Stewart
Music bybensound.com

Like what you’ve heard?

Join other #adults who receive free weekly updates.

For a limited time you’ll receive our new book, The Best Bank Accounts for Adults, when you sign up!

Maintain your sanity, even while people are partying it up in your house. Read More...

The best way to support Adulting.tv is to subscribe and leave us an honest review. Thank you!

Stress during the holidays is a real thing. Everything from holiday hosting to buying gifts for everyone can put a crimp in your season. Well, we can’t solve your gift-giving problems, but we can help you figure out what to do when you’re called upon to host a holiday party.

In this episode, we take a look at hacks you can use to make holiday hosting a little easier, keeping you sane while everyone has a good time.


  • Do you really have to host?
  • Reasons you might feel like holiday hosting is your job.
  • How to decide if you really should be in charge of a holiday party.
  • Tips for keeping it simple, yet fun.
  • Food ideas that are easy to prepare and eat.
  • Budgeting tips for keeping your party from breaking the bank.
  • Putting together a playlist of great music.
  • Ideas for foods you can prepare ahead of time.
  • Simple tricks for keeping the home neat and tidy ahead of your holiday hosting commitments.
  • How to bring the party to an end with grace.

Our DO NOWs revolve around making sure you plan ahead for your holiday hosting duties. Be ready for what’s next by making a list and budgeting so that you can keep from going crazy.

This week’s listener question is all about getting people out of your house after the event. We talk about simple ways to signal that the party’s over and you want your personal space.

Also, check out these recipes for great holiday drinks:

Champagne Punch

Slowcooker Apple Cider

Also, check out this handy rolling coatrack from Amazon.

Become a Friend of Adulting

To get Adulting delivered directly to your device, subscribe using Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play, or your app of choice.

Join the Friends of Adulting! Please leave an honest review on Apple Podcasts. We would really appreciate the feedback!


Like what you’ve heard?

Join other #adults who receive free weekly updates.

For a limited time you’ll receive our new book, The Best Bank Accounts for Adults, when you sign up!

Customer service people are people, too.

The best way to support Adulting.tv is to subscribe and leave us an honest review. Thank you!

It’s easy to think of customer service representatives as irrelevant. Other service workers often get very little of our attention — and civility.

But one of the best things you can do is recognize the humanity of other people. And that includes being your best self and treating everyone well, no matter how lowly their jobs.

Plus, when you’re decent to others, there’s a good chance you can get better customer service and more of what you want.


  • Ways customer service reps can actually help you.
  • The importance of service jobs like those done at the store or in the restaurant.
  • Tips for speaking with customer service reps and others so you are more likely to get what you want.
  • When to ask for a supervisor.
  • How to get a discount.
  • When and how to turn to social media to get what you want.
  • The importance of thanking others for their help.

This week’s DO NOWs are fairly straightforward and include thinking through your customer service call before you make it. It’s all about preparing ahead of time so you know what to say, and so that you say it with calm confidence.

One reader wonders about all the great deals others are always talking about. While other people tend to get amazing discounts, our reader struggles. We have suggestions on how to get what others receive.

Become a Friend of Adulting

To get Adulting delivered directly to your device, subscribe using Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play, or your app of choice.

Join the Friends of Adulting! Please leave an honest review on Apple Podcasts. We would really appreciate the feedback!

Like what you’ve heard?

Join other #adults who receive free weekly updates.

For a limited time you’ll receive our new book, The Best Bank Accounts for Adults, when you sign up!

Carpe diem. Or whatever. It sounds cheesy, but you really might be able to change things up when you decide to get up a little earlier. Read More...

The best way to support Adulting.tv is to subscribe and leave us an honest review. Thank you!

Could you change your life by becoming an early riser?

While getting up early isn’t for everyone, there’s certainly a lot written about why it’s a good idea. And if you think you could benefit from changing things up, it’s not a bad idea to try and shift your habits so you get up earlier.

This we talk about how being an early riser can benefit you — and how you can change your habits to make the most of your day.



  • What are some of the advantages of being an early riser?
  • How to take charge of your day by getting up earlier.
  • You don’t have to be an early riser to be successful.
  • A look at night owls and how they can make the best of it.
  • Tips for shifting to an earlier schedule.
  • The importance of good sleep hygiene and what you can do to get better sleep.
  • How to take advantage of your own traits to be more productive and successful.

In our DO NOWs include helping you decide if you want to become an early riser. Start by figuring out your chronotype. We also look at setting a target wake-up time and working backward so your bed time matches.

This week’s listener question is all about trying to avoid hitting the snooze button. We offer a few tried and true strategies for getting out of bed in the morning — even if you don’t want to.

Become a Friend of Adulting

To get Adulting delivered directly to your device, subscribe using Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play, or your app of choice.

Join the Friends of Adulting! Please leave an honest review on Apple Podcasts. We would really appreciate the feedback!


Things entrepreneurs do before 7 a.m.
Successful late risers

Like what you’ve heard?

Join other #adults who receive free weekly updates.

For a limited time you’ll receive our new book, The Best Bank Accounts for Adults, when you sign up!

Yeah, it’s crazy to get up at 4:35 am. But it can work. You might be surprised at how much you can get down with just a couple extra hours in the morning. Read More...

Dear ‘The Early Bird Catches the Worm,’
The early worm gets eaten.
Sincerely, Sleeping In

My husband posted on Facebook the other day about some successes we’ve had recently. In posting his gratitude, he acknowledged that our rewards justified waking up at 4:35 a.m. most days of the week.

The point on which most people fixated was not the successes but his admission that we wake up so damn early.

You don’t need to wake up early to be successful. Legendary night owls include Leonardo Da Vinci and Bob Dylan.

For us, though, it works to wake up early. Someone asked why, on earth, we do this. So, here you go.

We’re in control of how our days start.

We began this hairy scary schedule when we were both employed by a W-2 and decided we wanted to start a business. Between the commute and the workday, we were always preoccupied from what we really wanted to do. The only way to squeeze more time into the day was to wake up early.

To be sure, we could’ve stayed up later, but by the time we were done with the bullshit of a day’s worth of work for someone else, we simply wanted a bottle of wine, dark chocolate, and Netflix. We don’t crave mimosas until 10 am, so even on weekends waking up at 4:35 gave us five and a half hours’ worth of work.

We’re in sync with New York City.

Both of our careers have been in financial service. We were both traders once and our personal business is personal finance. It’s not a big deal, but for us, we feel like we miss the day if we wake up two or three hours after the stock market does.

Plus, more than half the country is in the eastern time zone and it feels easier to sync up with them.

Idle hands and all.

Waking early means we have more work hours available to us because we have fewer play hours. Knowing that the alarm will go off early tomorrow ensures better decisions early tonight.

We typically eat less junk food and dessert at night. That way, we fall asleep more quickly and we won’t have a glass or two of wine.

On the flip side, we’re not above partying until the wee hours of the morning. When we did, though, we were less productive. Sticking with an early wake-up call helps us avoid the late-night bender.

We have time to take care of ourselves.

Now that our side gig became my main gig and my main man still works for The Man, we don’t wake up at 4:35 am anymore to work. We wake up at 4:30 am to workout.

Working out and staying in shape is important to us. Even just working one full-time job makes working out hard. Add to that more work and our brains can easily talk us out of hitting the gym.

Plus, see above our evening craving for wine, chocolate, and Netflix. Working out towards the end of the day would require a violation of physical law.

We have time to take care of our spirits.

We didn’t fully integrate this practice, too, until I quit my W-2 and we had more bandwidth. Until then, this was a weekend luxury. Now, this is a daily practice before the sun rises in most parts of the United States.

While we’re the most refreshed and rejuvenated, we do our morning ritual of meditation, journaling, and affirmations. Busting these out first thing in the morning ensures that we do them and we feel all the better for it. If we waited until later in the day, we’d skip them.

Now, when we wake up, they’re the very first things we do. So, even while we’re waking, we’re getting ready for our daily practice that keeps us centered and grounded throughout the day.

We avoid the crowds.

Especially when we were both working a W-2, being efficient with our time was a necessity. Only a few crazies are at the gym before 5:30 am. We happily admit we’re two of them.

We’re at the gym when fewer people are, and we bust out a duo superset of weights and cardio all within an hour. We leave before most people arrive. And, my husband still has time to get to work, which is the other benefit.

Rush hour traffic where we live anyway starts about 7 am. If the husband can get on the road by 6:45, he misses most or all the traffic to start his workday early and end his work day earlier.

Our best sleep is the sleep we get before midnight.

Studies show the sleep we get before midnight is more valuable than the sleep we get after midnight.

As we get older, this seems truer. Therefore, we strive to have “heads on pillows” by 9 pm. It doesn’t always happen and whether it does or it doesn’t we can tell the next day.

Everyone else is doing it.

Well, that’s not entirely true.

However, many successful people do it. An amazing boss of mine said to me once, “Find out what successful people do and do that.”

There are many people, such as the Da Vincis and Dylans of the world who rock it late at night. They seem to follow in the sleep cycle of the more creative types.

There’s certainly a strain of creativity in what we do for our side business, but there’s a lot of business, as well as critical and strategic thinking required. For this reason, we’ll follow in the footsteps of Mrs. Obama and Richard Branson.

For us for now, the early schedule works. Very soon the S.O. will quit his J.O.B. (just over broke). After that, we may wake up later, like 5:30 am.

Or, maybe not.

If it’s ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it.

Like what you’ve read?

Join other #adults who receive free weekly updates.

For a limited time you’ll receive our new book, The Best Bank Accounts for Adults, when you sign up!

Don’t just make a list of goals. Make resolutions that actually matter and will truly change your life. Read More...

Every year people set New Year’s resolutions.

Feeling that this year will be different, they choose a few goals, announce them on social media and get ready to feel accomplished.

Then, before Valentine’s Day hits, they’ve forgotten whatever it is they promised to do.

New Year’s resolutions are a good idea, only if you can make resolutions that matter and keep them. Here’s how to find and reach the goals that can truly change your life.

What do you get jealous of?

I’ve often found that the things I’m most envious of in other people are things I really want for myself.

For example, I’m not jealous of someone having a baby because I don’t really want kids. But I’m jealous of someone who’s making a living with their blog because that’s my biggest goal.

Think about when you’re jealous of other people. Is it when you see a friend who’s lost a lot of weight? Or is it someone who got back from a month-long trip around Asia?

What’s your biggest priority?

Some people treat new year’s resolutions with the same ferocity they approach an all-you-can-eat buffet. Then they wonder why they’re burnt out and exhausted after a few weeks.

Narrow your list of resolutions to what you really care about. Maybe you want to run a marathon and grow your side business. Trying to achieve both goals might drive you crazy to the point that you quit working on both.

Maybe you want to run a marathon and grow your side business. Trying to achieve both goals might drive you crazy to the point that you quit working on both.

Pick a goal that matters the most to you. It doesn’t mean you can’t work on the other, but choose one as your priority and give it your all.

If you’re not sure how to pick a goal here are some questions to ask:

  • What will have the biggest impact on my life
  • What will make me most fulfilled?
  • What have I always dreamed of doing?
  • What have I been too scared to try or afraid to fail?

Everyone’s resolutions are personal. What works for your best friends might not be good for you. Don’t feel pressured to choose a resolution because it’s what you think you should do.

How to keep those resolutions.

The hard part is keeping the resolutions you make. If you’re looking for a little help in that area, here are some of my favorite ways to stay on track:

Remember your why.

Every resolution comes from a starting point that many people seem to forget once January ends.

Keep a reminder of why you chose your resolution. For example, you can use a vision board, post-it note on your bathroom mirror, or a picture on your phone background to remind you of your reason.

For example, if you want to prepare for a hiking trip in September, an image of where you’re going might motivate you to hit the gym every week.

Set rewards.

Many resolutions have few rewards or incentives until you reach the end.

If you want to write a novel, you won’t feel truly satisfied until you finish it. That can slow you down and make you feel discouraged.

Allow yourself to celebrate the milestones you reach along the way. For example, for every 50 pages you write, treat yourself to a new book from your favorite writer or a night out at a beloved restaurant. Acknowledging how far you’ve come can keep you motivated when the end seems far away.

Find an accountability partner.

Studies show that people who exercised with a buddy had greater success than those who did their workouts alone.

No matter your resolution, an accountability partner can help you. You can ask a friend or find one online in a forum related to your goal. Schedule regular check-in sessions and set concrete goals with deadlines.

Choose SMART goals.

A resolution that’s more likely to succeed needs to be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. For example, wanting to lose weight is too vague. Here’s an example: I will lose 50 pounds by working out twice a week with a trainer at my local gym.

Keep your goal to yourself.

Research shows that people who share goals before reaching them feel the same sense of accomplishment we those who complete them. Why try to accomplish your goal if you’ve already gotten the emotional satisfaction? Also, if you reveal a personal goal and someone criticizes it, you might get disenchanted. work on your resolution privately. It’ll also teach you to not seek validation from others and instead find it in yourself.

Why try to accomplish your goal if you’ve already gotten the emotional satisfaction? Also, if you reveal a personal goal and someone criticizes it, you might get disenchanted.

Work on your resolution privately. It’ll also teach you to not seek validation from others and instead find it in yourself.

Keep a journal.

For goals that aren’t based on numbers or dollar figures, it can be harder to keep track of your progress. That’s why I recommend keeping a journal or blog where you write down how your resolution is going.

If you’re trying to be less judgmental, writing down your thoughts about being judgmental can help you gain more understanding on how to achieve that.

Anytime I journal regularly, I feel more connected to my feelings and thoughts.

Pay attention to what matters to you, and work to make and keep resolutions that will enhance your life.

What are your favorite resolutions? How do you plan to achieve them?

Like what you’ve read?

Join other #adults who receive free weekly updates.

For a limited time you’ll receive our new book, The Best Bank Accounts for Adults, when you sign up!

Regifting is a fine and noble art. Here’s how to do it the right way. Read More...

It’s bound to happen at some point: you receive a perfectly fine gift — that you hate.

As a society, we used to look down on regifting, but today it’s becoming increasingly common.

You don’t want to blatant or awful about your regifting, though. It’s important that you at least attempt to be classy about it.

If you want to get rid of something and you know just the person for it, regifting gives you the chance to make someone else happy and save a little bit of money in the bargain.

First of all: be gracious whenever you receive something.

Whenever you receive something, you should express gratitude. Even if you hate the item. “It’s the thought that counts” is a cliche, but it’s also true.

Someone gave you something. You can be nice and adult about it, even if secretly you plan to return it or regift it.

In some cases, you might just be stuck with the thing. I have some items that I’ve received that I know I have to keep. In those situations, I make sure I put it on display when I know the giver is coming. Or I wear it for them to see me using it.

No matter what, it’s vital to be a gracious gift recipient.

Don’t regift to the original giver.

If you’re going to be a regifting powerhouse, you need to get your shit organized. You can’t give an item to the original giver, so that means you have to know who gave it to you in the first place.

Keep track of who gives you what. List what you got, when you got it, and who gave it to you. This is important if you’re going to do this right.

It’s not just about avoiding a major faux pas by regifting to the person who gave it to you in the first place. You also have to avoid giving the gift to anyone in the same social circle.

If your sister gave you something you don’t like, you can’t turn around and give it to your mom two years later. Everyone will remember that it was a gift to you from your sister.

Family dinners just got even more awkward.

The same goes for friend circles and coworkers. Keep track of where your gifts come from so your regifting is to people who aren’t going to recognize the item.

Make sure the item is in tip-top shape.

Let’s keep it classy, people. It should go without saying that you only regift items that are in their original packaging, or that look brand new and unused.

If the item has been opened or used, that’s a no-no. Only used a tiny bit of that lotion? It’s off the menu for regifting.

While you’re at it, check the expiration date on packaged treats before you regift. I don’t like those big holiday-themed tins of popcorn, either, and I’m happy to pass them on. But before I do, I double-check the expiration date. You want your food gifts to be well within date.

Also, avoid regifting anything that has been on prominent display in your home. Because it’s obviously been used, and someone’s probably seen it.

Make sure the gift matches the new recipient.

The point of any gift is to make sure that it matches the person receiving it. Regifting is no good if you don’t put thought into it. I’ve opened things, expressed my gratitude, and then thought, “Actually, this would be perfect for…”

I make a note of it (an actual, written note, so I don’t forget) and then regift, after removing all the evidence. The idea is to make sure the gift is personal in some way. You have to at least put some thought into it.

If you think you will regift something (and even if you don’t know that you will), it makes sense to remove all indications that it was originally a gift to you. Search for notes and tags, and remove them.

Also, for good measure, use completely different wrapping paper. If the gift came in a bag, don’t use the same bag. The least you can do is spend a buck for a fresh bag and new tissue paper to spruce it up. There’s no reason to regift the wrapper on top of the gift.

Consider using it for a white elephant exchange.

Maybe you aren’t sure who to regift to, but you know that a white elephant is coming up. When you head to an office party or some other event, chances are a silly gift exchange will be involved. Regifting on one of these occasions can make a lot of sense — and save you the trouble of figuring out something to bring.

However, you still have to be careful and follow good regifting practice. This means you don’t bring the thing if someone at the exchange gave it to you. The same rules about social circles and regifting to the giver apply when you head to a white elephant exchange.

This is why I can’t emphasize enough the importance of keeping a list of who, when, and where as it relates to regifting. You can’t be a baller regifter — even for a white elephant exchange — if you aren’t organized about it.

Items made for regifting.

There are some things that are perfect for regifting. They are the sort of all-purpose gifts that people love to see, and that are easy to personalize in some way — even if it’s with nothing more than a fancy bow in the new recipient’s favorite color.

If you get the following items, consider them prime candidates for serving double-duty down the road:

  • Gift cards: Don’t shop at that store? No problem. Just find a new gift card holder and pass it along to someone who will use it. Double-check to ensure it isn’t personalized and make sure of the balance.
  • Lotions and soaps: As long as you haven’t opened these items, they are perfect. They are personal. They are pretty. Most of us love to get them. It’s easy to repackage these items attractively and send them on to new owners.
  • Alcohol: Not really a whiskey fan? No problem! Tie a bow around that bottle’s neck and regift to someone who is. Bottles of wine, six-packs of craft beer, and other items are perfect for regifting as long as they are still sealed.
  • Candles: Scented candles are great for regifting. As long as they are still wrapped and sealed, and haven’t been used even once, they are great as gifts. That goes for anything that involves scents, like warmers, fancy diffusers (with oil), and similar items.
  • Certain types of clothing: If you haven’t worn it and the tags are still on, and you are sure about the size of the next recipient, it’s ok to pass things on. Scarves, cute socks, slippers, gloves, and fashionable hats are all perfect items for regifting. Don’t regift clothing items that are extremely unique, or that you aren’t sure about sizes.
  • Gift baskets: Make sure nothing in the gift basket is expired and then pass it along. Another pro tip? If you have multiple gift baskets, and they have some things you like, you can mix and match. Open the baskets, take what you will eat, and then create a new basket with the rest of the items. Use one of the baskets you already have, and get new cellophane and ribbon to pretty up the package.
  • Perfumes and colognes: As long as you haven’t opened the bottle and it’s in the original packaging, these can be great gifts. Watch out, though: once you unwrap the plastic, it’s considered used. You may never use it, but with the plastic broken, it’s unregiftable. But aftershave, eau de toilette, perfume, and cologne all make great regifts.
  • Small appliances and gadgets: Toaster ovens, blenders, handheld mini-games, and other small appliances and gadgets are great for regifting. As always, make sure the items are in their original packaging and remain unused.
  • Toys, games, and puzzles: These types of gifts are perfect for passing along to someone who wants to use them, as long as you haven’t opened the packaging and tried them out.
  • Novelties: As long as it’s an appropriate circumstance, novelty items like cans of unicorn meat make great items for regifting. Just make sure you give them in the correct context so you don’t end up offending someone.

These are the items you should not regift.

Just as some gifts are made for regifting, others items should never be passed along to someone else. Here are things you need to either return to the store, or just suck it up and keep:

  • Anything personalized: If it’s personalized to your name, don’t regift it. You’d think it goes without saying, but, alas, somewhere some idiot is giving someone named Sharon something personalized for “Samantha.” The only time you want to do something like this is if you’re hoping that someone will break up with you.
  • Old technology: New gadgets are fun. Weird nostalgia items are fun. Old technology, like a car GPS unit or handheld PDA, are lame. Do not regift the old tech you have sitting around the house. Just don’t.
  • Jewelry: Sure it’s shiny and comes in a lovely presentation box. But whoever gave it to you probably wants you to wear it. Yeah, that costume jewelry my son bought me for my birthday is hideous. But I wear it anyway. The same goes for that clunky brooch from your mom. You just suck it up and wear. No getting rid of it until the relationship is over.
  • Artwork: The first thing my brother looks for when he walks in my house is a piece of traditional Mexican artwork he gifted me after returning from two years living abroad. Luckily, it’s a cool piece and I love it, so it’s prominently displayed in my front room. Sadly, not all artwork is so nice. But you have to keep it anyway. Whoever gave it to you probably picked it out special, and probably spent a pretty big chunk of change. You need to keep it and at least try to bring it out when they are around.
  • Opened anything: Whether you’ve used it or not, if the seal is broken, it’s off limits. No regifting anything, from Blu-rays to perfume to food, that has been opened and looked at. No matter how good or new it looks, if it’s been opened, and was originally in a package, it shouldn’t be regifted.
  • Distinctive, unique items: Try to avoid regifting items that are distinct and unique. That really, um, interesting sweater? Nope. Regifting is about the non-descript, especially when it comes to clothing.
  • Something universally hated: Unless you’re headed to a white elephant party and you’re expected to bring something hated and awful, don’t regift. If it’s just a horrible present all around, smile, thank the giver, and never speak of it again.

 You can always return it to the store.

If there is no way to regift the thing, consider taking it back to the store. Even if you don’t have a gift receipt, you might at least be able to get some sort of store credit so you can buy something you actually want.

When you can’t get a refund or store credit, consider donating the item. You get karma points for doing good, plus you might get a tax deduction if you itemize. No shame in that game.

Regifting is an art. It needs to be done with care and attention. Otherwise, it shouldn’t be done at all.

Like what you’ve read?

Join other #adults who receive free weekly updates.

For a limited time you’ll receive our new book, The Best Bank Accounts for Adults, when you sign up!

Don’t let your hatred of exercise get in the way of your health. Read More...

I hate exercise for the sake of exercise.

However, I know physical activity is an essential part of healthy living. So I suck it up and exercise anyway. But that doesn’t mean I always follow a prescribed method of exercise that involves going to the gym or moving to a workout video.

Do something fun.

The fact that I don’t like exercise doesn’t mean that I refuse physical activity. Quite the opposite. I love being active. I enjoy riding my bike and hiking. I prefer walking to driving. I love swimming and playing tennis. I recently started fencing with my son and learning how to use a punching bag.

Your exercise time doesn’t have to include a boring routine that you hate. It doesn’t feel like exercise when I’m in the pool or sparring with my son. It’s exhilarating and enjoyable. I get a workout, and it doesn’t feel like a chore.

Find something active that you enjoy and use that as your primary method of exercise. It’s easier to stay motivated when it’s something you like, and you’re more likely to stick with it.

Break it up.

Sometimes you need to work on different aspects of your physical fitness. Most of my preferred activities involve cardio, and not much in the way of strength training. This means I need to devote some of my exercise time to strength training, even though it’s not my favorite.

I find yoga soothing, so I usually start with that. Many of the poses promote strength training using your body weight. If I start the day with five to 10 minutes of yoga, I feel good mentally and it is good for my body.

Throughout the day, though, I look for other ways to boost my strength training. Maybe it’s a few reps with the hand weights or a set of squats. Because I belong to a gym for the pool access, there are days I just suck it up and work out with the weight machines for strength training. But I do it in broken up doses so I don’t end up stuck doing something I hate for what feels like FOREVER.

You can do the same. Break your exercise into 10-minute chunks. Even if you are doing something you hate, you are more likely to stick with a regimen if you don’t have to block it all out and devote a whole half hour at a time to it.

Do something else at the same time.

Distract your mind by engaging in another activity at the same time you exercise. After I broke my wrist, I couldn’t engage in many of my preferred activities. Instead, I had to walk on the treadmill for most of my cardio. I hate that.

To take my mind off that fact, I listened to podcasts or brought my Kindle so I could read. Having my mind engaged allowed me to exercise without really registering how much I hated it. Some days I even answered email while on the treadmill.

I have friends who use a stationary bike while watching TV. They are distracted by the TV, but still get the exercise in. Use this technique to trick yourself into moving forward with exercise — even if you don’t normally like exercise.

Find a buddy.

Working out with a friend can feel like fun, instead of a chore. I don’t usually workout with someone, but there was a time when I had a walking buddy. He and I had similar fitness goals and we met twice a week to walk the track at the university.

Your workout buddy can also help you turn exercise into a game. Look for ways to reward yourselves for improved performance. You can even compete with each other, as long as you keep it friendly.

Don’t let your hatred of exercise keep you from developing a healthy habit. Trick yourself into exercise and you might be surprised at how much you can accomplish — and how much better you feel.

Like what you’ve read?

Join other #adults who receive free weekly updates.

For a limited time you’ll receive our new book, The Best Bank Accounts for Adults, when you sign up!