Monthly Archives: June 2018

Monday Motivator: Make Solstice Goals

June is almost over, which means we are halfway through 2018. If you are the sort of person who makes New Year’s resolutions, this might be a good time to take out that list and see how you’re doing. You can then give yourself a high five or shake your head in dismay. (I’m doing the latter.)

But there’s good news. There’s nothing magical about the new year. For those of us who work in education, each semester is a chance to start anew. And since the summer solstice was only four days ago, why not make some solstice goals?

First, take a look at those New Year’s resolutions. Maybe some of them are irrelevant now. Maybe you made some because it sounded like the appropriate thing to do: lose weight, save money, or learn French. But maybe you’re actually not unhappy with your love handles. Yes, you need to save money, but this happened to be the year when your car, refrigerator, and air conditioner all chose to break down. And maybe you’ve had French on your resolution list for the past ten years because a college boyfriend once said it was a romantic language. You actually hate French.

Solstice goals don’t come with the pressure of January 1st. They can be much more realistic. Strike out the resolutions that don’t make sense. Take a long look at the ones you keep and revise to make them more realistic. Add a couple of new ones. (If there’s not one that’s just plain fun, add it as well!)

Then simply start again.


Monday Motivator: Value Your Time as Much as Your Money

Yesterday, I went on a fool’s errand. I had a coupon for $25 off at a certain store, and it was about to expire. Sadly, I knew I was being foolish before I got in my car:

  • This was a store where I rarely found anything that worked for me. It is geared towards people decades younger.
  • I had to spend at least $75 on one item to get the discount.
  • I had already searched the website and found nothing new.
  • I have enough clothes to get me through the summer.

Still the coupon weighed on me, and I drove over to the mall.  As is always the case, I couldn’t find a parking place near the store. So I drove around and parked in a garage by Dillard’s that always has spots since the current renovations have not yet connected this store to the rest of the mall. And as soon as I parked, a heavy pop-up thunderstorm erupted, which meant I couldn’t even get to my store.

By the time the storm subsided and I made it to the store (where there was, as I suspected, nothing for me to buy), the thirty minutes I planned for this errand had stretched into two hours. And a project I meant to start over the weekend went undone.

I was irritated that the idea of saving some money made me waste a much more valuable resource: my time. My mom always says, “A bargain is no bargain if you don’t need the item.” To that I would add, “Or it takes time away from something more important.”

Monday Motivator: Don’t Go Looking for Insults

Years ago, one colleague said about another: Unfortunately, she mines every comment for a criticism. And usually finds it.

I was reminded of that colleague as I stood behind a woman in a drug store on Saturday.  She had bought a couple of cards and refused a plastic bag to put them in.

“I’ll do my bit for the environment,” she said. (She was British, and her accent was what caught my attention in the first place.)

“Well, the trees have already died for these. You might as well take one,” answered the clerk, helpfully, if not factually.

The woman cheerfully declined. “We can at least protect a few dolphins. You know, in the UK, you have to pay if you want a store bag.” Then she cheerfully said goodbye and went on her way.

The clerk looked at me. “Well, I don’t live in the UK; I live in the USA. And I’ll give away my bags.” She wasn’t too happy with me when I too refused a bag and put the candy and lotion in my giant purse.

I have become accustomed to the overreactions on social media, where people, spoiling for a fight, can find fault in almost any statement. But I have to admit I was surprised about our different reactions to the British woman’s comments.  I took her statement as an interesting factoid about a difference between our two countries. The sales clerk seemed to feel that some sort of insult had been hurled at our nation’s love of trees. Or dolphins.  Or just the USA in general.

Of course, it could have been a bad day at the Walgreens, and, after hours of complaining customers, the poor woman was expecting everything else to be a complaint. Who knows?

But I do know that there are enough real fights out in the world on any given day without our taking on nonexistent ones.



Monday Motivator: Make Sincere Apologies

Last week, I went on a Facebook rant about insincere celebrity apologies. Unlike many of my rants, it received likes from friends all across the political spectrum. Perhaps we’re all tired of the “non-apology” apology, no matter who says it.

But, of course, celebrities are not the only guilty parties when it comes to bad apologies:

  • I have seen people in stores make a crazy fuss and then, when they get their way, say something like, “I’m sorry. I hope you know I’m not a bad person.”
  • A colleague readily admits something is his fault, but never changes the behavior.
  • Another apologizes by saying, “I’m sorry you got your feeling hurt.”

A friend commented that such apologies are not always fake. A person who yells at a shop clerk might want both her refund and to be considered a good person. The chronically late person might actually feel bad each time she keeps her friends waiting. And some people are indeed are hyper-sensitive to every slight.

Perhaps some of these apologies are simply ineffective, not fake. But they all have the same result: they bring solace to the apologizer, not the person hurt.

So when the time comes to make an apology, it might be a good idea to ask ourselves these two questions:

  • Am I taking responsibility for hurting someone?
  • Will I change my behavior?

If the answer to either question is no, then it might be best to hold off on that apology and reflect a while on our own behavior.