warm morning

As we are on the cusp of everyone rolling out their grand plans and words of the year (my favorite!) and goals and schemes of To Do and Not To Do lists (including myself) I’m reminded of the quiet and sometimes forgotten small goals and little wins.

A few years ago I read Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project, where she told about realizing that she was often cold in her own home, not warm. I realized right then and there, at that very moment that I, too, was cold in my house! And I had been for a long time. I never wanted to turn the heat up too much, especially on winter mornings (which accounts for a good percentage of my life), so I would function in my house while being cold and didn’t even realize it.

Being perpetually cold made me grumpy, it caused me to rush through tasks so I could sit down and snuggle up, and my family had to bear the consequences of a cold, grumpy, hurried mom.

I decided to make it a priority for me to be warm in our home so I made a few tiny changes.

  • I figured out if I made it a point to close the door to my office every evening, it would be warm and toasty when I woke up in the morning.
  • I bought some cute and pretty sweat shirts, you know, with lace and stuff, not an old team sweatshirt with holes in it. My sister now says that “decorative sweatshirts” are my trademark. I hate to look frumpy all the time but I was SO COLD! Decorative sweatshirts for the win!
  • I bought some warm socks. And wore them!
  • I let myself turn up the heat. Did you know that ONE measly degree can make the difference between cold and warm hands when computer writing is your job?

Figuring out I was cold and making a few changes to be warm was such a victory for me. I know it sounds crazy but it’s made such an impact on how I feel about even getting out of bed. And guess what. Right now? I’m warm!

The Impact of Little Wins

For years I had a bigger goal of wanting to get up earlier so I could have some alone time to read and write while my family was in bed. It wasn’t until I allowed myself a little extra comfort in my house that I realized it was easier to get out of bed when I knew I wasn’t going to be freezing all morning.

Here are some other things besides being warm that I’ve realized become stepping stones to me being able to meet my bigger goal to get out of bed earlier:

  • having good coffee in the house
  • using a milk frother
  • prepping for a good breakfast (why does a good breakfast make me feel all pampered? my new favorite, Shauna’s Breakfast Quinoa found in her book Bread and Wine–you can make most of it ahead of time–I’m currently eating it while I’m writing this and it took less than 5 minutes to prepare).

and any one or two of these things really help make getting up early enjoyable and doable.

Pay attention.

Recently I’ve noticed another tweak I need to make so I can better meet my goal of having time to read and write in the morning.

I love a cleared off table and even though we’ve lived in this house for four months, I don’t have a true place for my morning companions. I often hurriedly put away my pens, highlighter, journal, Bible and whatever books I’m currently reading all in different places–in one drawer here, this one doesn’t fit in that drawer so I need to put it back in the bedroom, my favorite pen rolls under the sofa so I tell myself I’ll get it later only to forget about it for three weeks. You get the idea.

I’m making life difficult for myself.

I’ve noticed that every morning I have to hunt and gather before I can simply settle and be prepared to read. It’s a self-inflicted deterrent to reaching my goal. I’m now working through different ideas to see what works best to keep all my morning stuff together. I’ve moved an extra little side table in the room so I can keep my morning stuff on it without cluttering the coffee table and I may try to put my morning companions in a woven decorative bag to house my little routine in one pretty and easy to find place.

Sometimes the little wins lead to bigger wins.

Instead of focusing on huge daunting tasks, sometimes I just like to be aware of how I’m making life more difficult for myself and making tweaks on the ground level. It’s surprising how those little things can often lead to bigger things.

Do you ever make life difficult for yourself? What little things could make a difference for you?

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  1. 1

    I love this! “Small steps” was one of my goals for last year, and it is amazing to me now how much progress I made on things that were important to me by focusing on tiny things that make an outsized impact on my happiness every day.

    One of the best little things that I did to make life easier for myself was spend real money to buy a planner that is a perfect fit for my life right now, so that I can keep and track all the information I need in one place. It’s more than I would usually let myself spend, but it has been worth every penny in the amount of time and frustration I’ve saved!

    • 2

      that’s a good one! Money is always something I see value in to spend on other people, but when it comes to something that would help myself I usually try to figure out a shortcut and have to learn the hard way that some things work out better if I just do it ‘right’ from the beginning. A planner is SO one of those things–happy for you!

  2. 3
    Rachel H says:

    Love this!! I’ve been doing a lot of re-evaluating and making little changes to make things less difficult on myself…almost without realizing I was doing it. Thank you for this post! It will help me be more intentional.
    And I have what my kids call my “old man sweater” and several pairs of thick socks that are my winter wardrobe around the house. :)

  3. 4

    I am very good at making things more complicated!! I loved this post and I went back and read your Little Wins post too– love the quote at the end. Like Jaime I bought a planner this year too! : ) It was a small investment to hopefully make things simpler this year. Both the simplist and the hardest thing to do to make life run more smoothly is to keep my attitude toward my situation in check. Grumpiness is such a deterrant towards motivation. Thanks for all your inspiring posts : ) I’m so thankful for this site and all you ladies who write here!

  4. 6

    Yep, this hits home! Just the encouragement I need to let the small changes pay big dividends.

  5. 7

    Oh how this spoke to me! Thank you.

  6. 8

    Thank you for this post. I often have to remind myself that it is in the small steps that my big goal is accomplished. I like the idea of making sure everything is ready at night so the much needed prayer/writing time is accomplished. I find that if my coffee pot is ready to go so all I have to do is push a button in the morning, I am much more willing (and happy) to accomplish any morning goals. Blessings!

  7. 10

    Ha! I’m right with ya on the not turning up the heat habit. At one point, I was actually wearing hats in the house. Crazy. :) But, like you, I’ve been learning to give myself permission to engage AND enjoy the little wins. Thanks for these practical ideas and a little nudge to remember the little wins as we enter this new season.

  8. 12
    Dollie Evans says:

    Thank you I often get overwhelmed by the big tasks and needed your reminder to focus small and stop making things difficult : hope you have a blessed new year

  9. 13

    Love this! It’s so simple but profound. I’ll definitely be thinking about this as I figure out my goals for the year : )

  10. 14

    I’m looking forward to a book by one of my favorite people dropping on my doorstep next month.

    She reminds me it is not perfection, but little wins that matter.

    Happy 2014!

    xo,
    Stacey

  11. 17

    I so agree with you on the temperature thing! Just a degree or two makes all the difference. And my writing office is over our garage and poorly insulated, and it’s freezing cold in the winter in the mornings. I keep the door closed so the cat won’t go in there and mess anything up. Your post just made me think maybe I need to de-catify that office so there won’t be anything he can chew! Then I could leave the door open, and it would be welcoming and toasty. :)
    Happy new year!

  12. 19

    A basket is perfect to put all that “stuff”in…I instant organized!

  13. 20

    I was going to suggest a book bag! It’s where I keep all my stuff (although I am missing my favorite pen right now!) I don’t have a place in my home or at work I can call my own, so I usually have to hunt down a quiet place to sit and have my quiet time. Grabbing my book bag with everything in it is so helpful for me. Cuz once I’m settled in my place and at home that’s under a warm blanket in my cold home :) I don’t want to move! It’s the little things that make a huge difference. Thank you for your inspiration!

    • 21

      I think you just inspired me to do two separate book bags/baskets, one for pleasure, one for work.

      • 22
        Kathie from CA says:

        I think it is a great idea to have 2 bags – Bible study and tasks, i.e. birthday cards with birthday calendar, note cards for shut ins, thank you and notes to grandchildren etc
        I am going to try for uping the temps to get up and going instead cuddling up in my favorite throw.

  14. 23

    Thanks for your encouragement on this cold winter’s day! I am glad to know I am not the only one freezing through winter. This is the first year that I have decided to set the temp up a few degrees. A few extra dollars are worth feeling better (I just have to convince my husband of this!).

  15. 24

    I just recently started following Flylady.net because she talks about getting organized, creating new habits and doing it all in “baby steps”. Though some of what she says just isnt for me, like getting dressed to shoes everyday, I do find her daily emails to be motivational and helpful as reminders in establishing a routine. I am a professional procrastinator and Flylady teaches that you can do anything for 15 minutes and that really has helped. I dont think I had any idea how much I could accomplish in 15 minutes before I set a timer! Your advice and your self recognition is great I hope that your new routines stick and that you find a way to be more efficient with the things you love and the things that bless you!

  16. 27

    Thank you for this post. I now have some new, doable ideas for this year.

  17. 28

    Oh how I make my life hard! How many times do I scurry around looking for my keys that are hanging on my wrist? My mind is thinking about all those dishes that need to be in the dishwasher, the laundry to be folded, posts to be written, the messy counters, and the errands I am about to do. I make my life hard. I think my new year’s mantra will be Keep It Simple. Instead of trying to think everything out and in what order, I just need to think about what is in front of me more. Whether it be who I am with or what I am doing at that moment. Just be there. Thank you for your thoughts.

  18. 29
    Beth WIlliams says:

    I love the idea of “little wins”. I am always cold, so I use blankets, warms sweats, etc. and turn the heat up a notch to warm myself up.

    I try to do little things to make life easier & myself less grumpy. Getting ready the night before–packing lunches, getting clothes ready helps in the morning rush. Also I get up a little early to read the Bible, check e-mails, try to exercise. Next year I will try to make myself do at least 10 minutes of exercise in the morning. That helps me with my grumpiness and gets me feeling good about my day!

    Thanks for a great post!

    Have a blessed New Year’s Eve :)

  19. 30
    Sharon Penney-Morrison says:

    I could have written the post about being cold in your own home.

    When winter came this year, my house was cold. My face and nose would be very uncomfortable in the evening when I was sitting still. I would place a shawl around my neck, and bring it up over my nose. I was thinking about crocheting a nose warmer!
    I finally realized after suffering for a few weeks, that I had had enough. I was tired of being cold, and like you, looking forward to curling up with a blanket.

    I turned the heat up!! Now I am warm in every room. I think better, work better, and create better.

    Why do we suffer so…?

    Happy New Year!!
    P.S. My morning stuff is on the dinning room table, on a tray, silver at that!! We don’t eat in the dinning room except on holidays so I decided it was wasted space. Not any more!! My books, Bible, pens, highlighter, and journal fit very well on my tray. There are large windows where I can look out over the garden and watch the grass grow if I want.

  20. 31
    Babs C. says:

    Thank you, Nester, you’ve included a bunch of good tips interwoven in how you’ve make these small wins that have huge ripple effect positive impacts. I can relate to the too cold to work/focus thing. I’ve also suffered similarly in the summer months when I’ve been too hot and humidity weighs me down from energetic movements. In recent months, my life has been transitioning and I am now able to influence how the thermostat is set. It is truly amazing how 1-2 degrees change makes a world of difference in motivation, productivity and creativity.

    I’ve tried various things (baskets, bags, drawers, cups, etc.) for keeping what I need more organized. This year I bought two Dayspring gift sets that included the wonderful oil-cloth totes. I’m trying to use the “bless the lord” one for my personal bible study & chaplain resources and use the “dare to Dream” one for writing/work/career and things in development. Having these in tote form makes it easier for portability in house and to join a friend for the day or even a get-a-way weekend. I’m learning that when I find something that works, it is actually an effective budget choice to buy two – two of my favorite pens, two of fresh spiral journals, etc.

    Can’t leave without a shout out for the FlyLady!! Love her, and have been so empowered by her tips through the years. I’m a recovering child of a non-recovering pat-rat-parental duo. :) When I make strides in organization, I’m blazing new territory and often get flack from those in denial around me, at least at first. When others observe the freedom and how choosing simpler ways can be so much easier, it is awesome to get to encourage them on their own path to overcoming “stuff” that distracts us from our destinies. In my new home, I am slowly settling in and taking the time to ensure that for everything there is a place, and if there isn’t, I know a choice needs be made! What JOY in Simple Life Freedom.

  21. 32
    Jean W says:

    Such a good read this New Year! Now to begin those small steps! Thanks for all the comments. Read them all!

  22. 33
    Kathryn McCarthy says:

    After reading Heather M’s comment I was wondering if there is a separate post about ‘Little wins’ ? I have tried searching but can’t find it. Sounded interesting could someone please post a link if there is ? I loved this post and all the comments.

  23. 35

    Love this! I turned on a space heater in the garage yesterday so I wouldn’t be cold during the dreaded Christmas demolition.

  24. 36

    I couldn’t agree more. I had come to hate making supper (it’s just the two of us, until March :) ). I always enjoyed baking and cooking, so why did I loathe it so much recently? I came to realize it was because we had started leaving the dishes/pans for ‘another time’. Which turned into ‘I need that pot to make dinner tonight, but I don’t want to wash it only to dirty it again and need washing again.’ So I’ve decided to get back into the routine of washing dishes after supper each night. For those type A people, yes, there are those of us who can stand leaving the dishes untouched and go to bed :)

  25. 37
    Christie says:

    When my older kids were toddlers, I got so frustrated when I’d get up early to read my Bible and they woke up too early. Then I’d be so grumpy. That attitude has continued even though they are big, but my youngers are still kind of small. This new year, I decided I would read my Bible sitting in the room with them, even if cartoons are on, even if I’m interrupted and distracted, and I decided to be fine with it. Yesterday, we had an unusually warm day and I read my Bible outside while the little guy got a treat being in the front yard, happy that I watched him play.

  26. 38

    Love this post. Wish I’d written it myself–I’ve been focussing my efforts this week on “small wins.” My word for this week is “prepare” and that’s just what I want to do–prepare to make it easy to have those wins–large and small. You know, I have a commitment to exercising every day–this morning I really didn’t think I had time, but I did my stretches–and here I am with ten minutes to spare! One for the win!

  27. 39

    You are so right. I’ve read many New Year’s posts – and even written one-ish myself – but this THIS is the one I will remember. So many, many times life’s not so much about the big issues, but the little ones. And I yet I very often make little things into big problems in my mind. Simple. Small. All win. Thanks very much for this post.

  28. 40

    I love this! SO true to start SMALL!

    You mentioned warm socks, but not sure which ones. If you haven’t tried wool socks, you will LOVE…they aren’t itchy and they will warm you toe-to-head! RedHead is the fancy brand, but Mast General has their knock-offs of RedHead for about $8. My husband and I both can’t WAIT to get them on morning and night…They are life changing!!! :)

  29. 41

    We keep our house cold at night…nothing feels better than getting up, cranking up the heater and sitting down with hot coffee…thanks for sharing…you always have awesome thoughts and ideas.

  30. 42
    Nicole W. says:

    Something in the way you wrote this piece cracked me open like an egg going into an omelet. Thank you!

  31. 43

    Years ago, my husband was talking to someone at work who said, “I work too hard to be cold in my own home.” And we made a decision that day that of all the things we would skimp on, we would be comfortable in our home — the place we spent most of our time. It’s snowing today and it was such a good feeling knowing that coming into the house after playing with the kids, we would be nicely defrosted and warrrrrm!

  32. 44
    FancyNancy says:

    Insightful and brilliant!

  33. 45

    My in-laws were over to watch a game a few years ago. All of a sudden, they both remarked how cozy and comfortable our home was. They realized that they weren’t cold! They freeze in their own home! They went home and turned up the heat!! :)

  34. 47

    I heart this big time. Thanks for the simple reminder of what distractions can really do to the mind and ideas of how to fix it!

    Blessings in the new year. I love following along.

    ~Amber

  35. 48

    cold, in my own house? unheard of. I had no idea people punished themselves this way. I am cold everywhere else in the world though.

  36. 50

    Getting up and taking a shower right away!! My morning always seems more productive when I do that. Unfortunately, it only happens about once a week. And good coffee for sure!! I just bought a coffee grinder and my morning cup has been taken to a whole new level. Yummy!!

  37. 51
    Billie says:

    What a great article! It made me think about things like a PRETTY sweatshirt versus the overlarge really think flannel shirt cast-off of my son, which is way too big for me, and makes me feel frumpy – time for a change. I also decided one day amongst having to move from the den to the living room to accommodate painting, that I didn’t have my usual access to the drawer that held my often-used items, like scissors, stapler, letter opener, nail file, etc. I thought about that for a bit, then decided to take a pretty box from one of our guest rooms that had an attached lid with a flap closure that stayed shut by a magnet, and put my often-used stuff in it so I could move it around with me easily. It is just big enough that my scissors/letter opener fit in it diagonally, so it is small enough that I can pick it up with one hand and move it. While reading about your larger items to move around, I thought about a magazine holder with a handle – that would make it easy to move around to where-ever you are or want to be, yet make moving your larger things around with you easier also, yet while they ‘sit’, they are together in a decorative type holder. Blessings to you and all the other writers for the wonderful ideas and thoughts that make us think out of our own mental boxes. =D

  38. 52

    ohmygosh! I have that book on my nightstand waiting to be read. it is the little things. i got a keurig for christmas and love getting up to make coffee in the morning now. i hated it before because i would always have to clean out the filter and wash the pot in the morning…because i was too lazy to do it the night before. i hated making the thing i loved most. it’s wonderful now.

  39. 54

    Loved your post!!! Can you tell us where you get decorative sweatshirts? This MN girl is freezing!!! Thank you!!!

  40. 55
    Loan N. says:

    I first thought that your blankie was a big ginger cat trying to hide behind the pillow! Looks very cozy.

    What a moment of clarity… I do the same thing – go a little too far beyond frugal & into the realm of detrimental deprivation. I’m going to turn up my thermostat a degree or two!

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