Realistic New Year’s Resolutions I’ll Be Making This Year

Adjusting My Expectations Based On My Overly Optimistic Resolutions in 2021

I love New Year’s resolutions. I love how, as a society, we’ve embraced the concept of reinventing yourself on what is essentially an arbitrary day of the year, allowing for you to be your ideal version of self for exactly one week… until you remember why you didn’t do any of the things you set out to do in the first place.

Before New Year’s, you’ve most likely spent the last weeks enjoying the holidays, eating, drinking, and lounging as much as you like. Because we live in a late-stage-capitalist dystopia where you’re nothing unless you’re productive, you’ve also most likely felt guilty about doing nothing. But no fear, the promise of the new year as a blank slate makes it all acceptable since you no longer have to be that person…as of next year, of course.

Having achieved none of my 2021 resolutions, I’ve decided to take a more realistic approach for 2022. This year, I’ve reworked all my failed resolutions of yore into something more achievable.

Instead of…

…shopping less, I will be buying more storage to neatly fit all the stuff I’ve accumulated in the last year, so that it at least looks like I didn’t buy as much as I did.

Last year, I made the resolution to go on a no-buy for the entire year. After 4 months, I caved after I realized none of my jeans fit me anymore and my options were to either fight with my jeans (and vanity) every morning, or swallow my pride and get a size that fits. I could have only bought the jeans, but once the no-buy was broken, the itch to shop came back worse than ever before.

Now, I am left with too much shit in the house. To combat this, I’ll be focusing on now buying all the storage accoutrements needed to make it look like I didn’t raid a tasteful flea market. This way, I can make my shopping feel useful and hide away the evidence of my failure in one go.

…trying out new healthy recipes, I will be making a Pinterest board of all the recipes I want to cook this year and proceed to forget about it.

They say being well-prepared is the key to success. What they don’t say is that the amount of time spent preparing can be as tiring as the actual doing. There should be a formula that calculates when you’ve gone too far in researching and planning, and are actually wasting time and energy instead of saving it. Proactive, hustling business students of the world, I’m leaving this in your hands.

By making a Pinterest board of all the healthy recipes I want to try this year, I can hide under the illusion of productivity instead of admitting I’m procrastinating. And because that took too much mental effort and I deserve a reward, I’ll just order some pizza instead.

…waking up at 6AM every day, I will be setting my first alarm for 6AM and subsequent alarms at every 10-minute interval until 8:00AM

2022 will be the year I stop snoozing. Instead, I am coming to terms with my inability to get up early in the morning on my own and relying on the power of peer pressure. I’m taking advantage of the fact that I share the bed with my partner and that eventually, I’ll either start getting up in time, or he’ll dump me for putting him through this. There are three ways I foresee this going:

Option A: the guilt of having to put my partner through an endless onslaught of alarms every morning will eat me alive and I will get up on the first alarm.

Option B: the fear that my partner will eventually leave me for someone less annoying in the morning will motivate me to jump out of bed from the get-go.

Option C: I end up single.

…no longer sleeping in on the weekends, I will be online shopping every Friday and Saturday – ordering stuff with next-day delivery only.

I’m taking the hotel wake-up call and bringing it home by unwittingly involving the Dutch postal service in this resolution.

Since we’re the first stop of the day, the delivery man will be my wake-up call between 7 and 8:30AM. Not only does the heart-attack-inducing buzz of the doorbell wake me up better than any alarm, but the sleep-fueled stumble to the front door to croak out a mumbled “I’ll buzz you in, please leave it downstairs” forces me to get out of bed.

Add on to that the panic-dressing to run quickly downstairs to get the package, before any of the neighbors kick it down the hallway, and there’s no way I can sleep in after that.

…no longer using my phone in the evenings, I will be only using my phone to message other people about how I really (but really) should stop using my phone in the evenings.

Misery loves company, and if I lack the self-control to get off my phone in the evenings, then I’m bringing everyone else down with me. There are few bonding experiences that can beat out that of sharing your failures with another human being who is failing at the same thing. And I’ll know they’re failing at the same thing the moment they text back.

In an effort to make sure I follow through with this resolution, I have prepared a list of riveting conversation starters:

  • “Ugh, I really need to stop being on my phone so late. I should be reading or something, lol”.
  • “Do you ever have it where you’re just scrolling through Instagram for hours and are like, what am I even doing on here, your lives aren’t even that interesting? Because that’s me rn”.
  • “Man, I’ve been trying the whole “no phone at night thing”, but am failing SO HARD lmao”.
And if all else fails, I’ve even prepared a relatable, outdated meme for good measure

…exercising more, I will finally give in to the trend of athleisure and start wearing my exercise clothes in public to deceive people into thinking I’ve been working out.

Since I don’t trust working out around other sweaty, possibly contagious human beings anytime soon and most at-home workouts make me paranoid that my downstairs neighbor will get closer to plotting my murder with each lunge jump, I’m giving up on physically exerting myself. In an effort to not let the workout outfits that have been gathering dust underneath my bed go to waste, I’ll be wearing them out in public.

Up until now, athleisure never interested me. Something about it screams “I think I’m better than you because I not only work out, but I’m so active that I make sure my attire shows you that I could sprint off into the sunset at any given moment”. Although I might be projecting, the air of superiority and put-togetherness of regular exercising is the only thing that attracts me to it. So, this year I will only be embracing the clothing while avoiding the hard work.

…learning the guitar, I will be shifting my daydreaming from being scouted, published, and unxpectedly becoming the author of a bestseller, to winning my first Grammy.

Is it just me, or has it felt like manifesting has been everywhere last year? Maybe the combination of the weight of 2020 with the brief moment of light in the middle of 2021 made everyone latch onto a concept that’s all about thinking things into being better. Well, an important step in manifestation is visualizing, and I’m hopping onto the trend by daydreaming visualizing myself being such a talented guitar player that I win a Grammy for my gnarly guitar-playing skills.

This will be disregarding the fact that I’m better at collecting dust on my guitar than picking it up, better at complaining after 10 minutes of practice because my fingers hurt too much, and better at not understanding chords, even if the concept has been explained to me by multiple people on separate occasions.

Nope, I’m ignoring all that and I’m relying on the power of manifestation to magically motivate me to become a God at guitar.

…keeping up with world news , I will be doubling down on my time ignoring as much of the world news as possible, instead focusing exclusively on the happenings of cute animals.

In 2021, we saw a glimmer of hope with the roll-out of the vaccine and the global lifting of COVID restrictions. For a moment, this year did not seem to be turning into the dumpster fire of the last, and all was good. Unfortunately, we’re ending it on full lockdowns in parts of Europe, increased travel restrictions, and a hyper-contagious variant that sounds vaguely like a Transformer (side note: can we start naming variants after Transformers instead of Greek letters? It might make this whole situation at least 21.7% more amusing).

Based on this, I’ve come to the conclusion that hoping has become tiresome and escapism is the way to go. In 2022, it’s all cute animal videos, all the time. Unless your news article involves a pair of unlikely furry friends, I do not want it.

New Year’s Day is the Monday of the year – magnified. You know how every weekend, particularly those filled with laziness and debauchery, you tell yourself that Monday you’ll be better? “I’ll start exercising…Monday”. “I’ll journal every day… from Monday”. “I’m eating healthier… as of Monday”. Monday is a magical place of promise, where you’ll become the best version of yourself. The self-disciplined, well-rounded version of you. Not the hungover you, who just ordered McDonald’s, and will stay up until 3 in the morning watching Emily in Paris.

Even if I never stick to my resolutions, I can’t stop making a new list of goals each new year. Prone to sentimentality, I’ll jump at any chance for a symbolic empty slate and a fresh start.

If you’re also a sucker for new years resolutions, let me know what overly-optimistic, unrealistic goals you’ve set out for yourself this year, and how you plan on reworking them for peak realism.

Like what you see? I post a new blog every beginning of the week (except for the holiday season it seems – usually I’m pretty good with keeping up with it, I swear) where I talk about… whatever THOUGHT interests me that week. Expect a bit of books, travel, beauty, life lessons, and taking pop culture way too seriously.

How I Beat Impostor Syndrome: Lessons Learned From Running Events Across Europe

Some jobs aren’t there to teach you anything about your career but are there to teach you some hard-earned life lessons instead. My first job out of college was one of them.

I’ll paint it by numbers. I spent close to 3 years running corporate events for a tech company all across Europe, of which 8 months in the year I was away from home. In total, I went to 15 countries, over 40 cities, and had close to 12,000 visitors of all types to the all-glass, clinical mobile exhibition space we just called “the truck”. Lots of different people, lots of different places, and lots of stressed-out assholes with a god complex to deal with.

The tour turned out to be a crash course in how to go from chronically anxious people-pleaser with impostor syndrome to confident professional with relatively healthy boundaries. Here’s what worked for me.

Note: I take no blame if any of these backfire, because these are definitely thinly-veiled roundabout coping mechanisms disguised as advice.

Dress for the job you… nevermind

At the beginning of the tour, my suitcase looked like I’d stolen the wardrobe from a budget-conscious extra in Suits. By the end, it was closer to that of a 90s sitcom mom. Because sometimes, in a stiff corporate environment, not following the dress code will work to your advantage.

I started noticing early on that each and every time, almost without exception, the most important visitors were also either the most eccentrically dressed or the most casual – government officials being the exception to the rule. You could always tell how important someone was considered depending on the size of their posse and the discrepancy between their outfit and everyone else’s. In would walk in some guy in an ironic t-shirt and jeans, orbited by fifteen people in suits, and I’d know immediately that that was the big boss in charge.

As long as what I was wearing was clean, inoffensive, and didn’t show much skin, people still treated me the same, and many times even better than when I was in full business attire. By showing agency with my clothing choices, I was somehow perceived as having more agency in my job, which led to being treated with more respect.

Although there is a line to toe, so if you’re going to try this out, start with some funky pants or fun earrings instead. Don’t go full Helena Bonham Carter in one go.

Fake it ’til people leave you alone

There is a special circle in hell reserved for people who relieve their stress by stressing other people out as much as possible. Because, as is common knowledge, you only do your best work when someone’s breathing down your neck, asking you “Is everything going good? How is everything going? When will everything be ready?” every two minutes.

Turns out, you can sometimes make these people go away by refusing to be stressed by them. Don’t just take your time to do your thing right, but make it clear that you’re sorting it out, and that you’ll have it done when it’s done. It may drive them nuts, but it will save you from getting to the point where you start debating if you should bill them for the therapy sessions you’ll clearly be needing if they keep this behavior up.

If this fails, there is an alternative way to fake it so that people treat you like you have authority. All you need are a pair of good stomping-around shoes and a well-practiced expression of determination, confidence, and thoughtfulness. For the latter, it helps to think about a fake argument in your head, where your efforts are concentrated on totally verbally destroying the other person. Just speak like you know what you’re talking about (even if your statements are pure guesses), walk around with purpose, and keep your brow furrowed.

People will be convinced you’re on your way to solve Very Important People problems with your Very Important Thoughts, steering clear from your path.

Know your audience

Here’s another tip to alleviate the pressure from the stress-inducing micromanagers of the world.

I am of the belief that looking busy is not the same as being busy and that approaching your work with the serenity and mindfulness of a Buddhist monk can make it easier to do your job well. But for some, this concept is difficult to understand. If they don’t see you running around like the whole place is on fire, they’re convinced that either you don’t care enough about your work or that they’re not giving you enough to do. Either way, your value has now been diminished and they will believe you’re overpaid, despite the reason that you’re able to be calm in the first place is that you did your job well and now you don’t have to worry about busywork.

To avoid this ticking away of dollar signs with every second they see you as idle, just exaggerate how busy you are. If something takes you fifteen minutes, tell them it’s at least double. If they’re asking you how your workload is, stress that you’re so so so busy and couldn’t handle another task. And if you need to get something done and want to keep that idle time, get out of their line of sight, get your work done, and enjoy the absence of their incessant nagging.

If you like to avoid headaches, it can be worth putting in the effort to look busy in front of customers who put too much value on it. But, only do this if you know it’s a temporary situation. Do it too often and the bar for ridiculous expectations of busyness will only be set higher. Find the balance and keep them on their toes.

Kindness, people, kindness

It shouldn’t have to be said but, because there are a select few who still need to hear it: be kind and respectful to everyone you meet, no matter who they are. Being nice and polite always pays off – as long as you’re not stupid about it.

Be it a colleague, client, or the person cleaning, being kind pays off. Even if you’re feeling grumpy, tired, hungry, and over-worked, being bitter will only sour everyone around you, worsening your initial mood. Kindness can be a catharsis. Most of the time, reminding yourself that you’re all trying to do your job the best way you can, helps gather that little bit of energy left that it takes to be nice.

Be grateful, too. If you’ve got an issue on-site, the security guard will be able to help you out way more than the CTO of whatever company, so be sure to show some gratitude and sneak an extra freebie their way before it’s time to go.

But, don’t let people abuse your kindness. I employ a two-strike system. The first time someone’s rude I try not to think the worst. But if you’re rude or hostile twice, I don’t care the reason anymore. All you’ll be getting out of me is malicious compliance from here until the sun swallows the Earth whole.

You’ll make your life easier (and much more pleasant) if you put your best foot forward and treat everyone with respect. Just be ruthless the moment someone tries to take advantage of you.

Sometimes not knowing is better

Knowledge is power, but they do say that ignorance is bliss and if I’m being totally honest, power can be intimidating.

I have the nerves of a distressed chihuahua anytime I become aware that the person I’m talking to has the same decision-making power as the ruler of a small country. To solve that, if I can avoid it, I now have the habit of first avoiding asking people their names or what they do. Turns out, asking people questions about themselves, unrelated to their title, is a great way to connect in a meaningful way.

I’ve seen enough employees tripping over their feet trying to get the attention of C-suites and high-level consultants and diplomats and the rest of the who’s-who. But in the end, people are more likely to remember the name of the person they had a heated discussion with about whether or not Golden Retrievers are the Pumpkin Spice Latte of dogs, than the one stumbling over their words just to get 2 seconds of flattery in.

If you’re prone to getting in your head and being nervous around anyone deemed important by the powers that be, start asking people for their names midway through a conversation. That way, you can always give yourself the chance to connect with them as human beings first.

Unless you’re trying to be strategic with your networking, in which case, why are you here? Who told you I was the person to go to for strategic career choices and why do they hate you?

Are these tips helpful for everyone? Definitely not. But they might be for other chronically anxious people-pleasers riddled with impostor syndrome who need to come up with different ways to trick their brains into thinking that they’ve more than got it.

At the end of the day, there’s nothing that helps getting rid of impostor syndrome like realizing that most people don’t actually know what they’re doing either, and that we’re all just winging it anyways.

Like what you see? I post a new blog every Sunday/Monday where I talk about… whatever THOUGHT interests me that week. Expect a bit of books, travel, beauty, and taking pop culture way too seriously.

How To Read 100 Books In A Year (From Someone Not Organized Or Good At Finishing Things)

If there’s something I hate, it’s book snobs.

You know the ones.

The ones who give you 75 quotes on why every successful person on the planet reads 5 books every day so you should be doing it too. The ones who put reading books on a pedestal of “the ultimate, bestest way to consume information and improve yourself/your life”.

I love books and reading is an important part in my life, but I feel like people forget that reading should be accessible and easy and fun.

While sure, reading can make you more productive or intelligent or more empathetic or a more interesting person, it doesn’t have to be the end goal. I read because it’s fun. And you should too.

Because I wanted to get back into enjoying reading as much as I did when I was a kid, I’ve been setting reading challenges for myself. After two successful reading challenges in the last couple years, I’m finally on track to conquering 100 books for this year.

There’s a lot of advice out there online, but most of it seems to be for the more organized, hustle-culture, productivity-booster type of individual. I do not count myself among those. I’m more of a loosey-goosey, absent-minded, eccentric-art-teacher, later-in-life-diagnosed-ADHD kind of type.

And here’s what worked for me.

Start small.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, you’ve heard it all before: don’t run until you can walk, don’t bite off more than you can chew, slow and steady wins the race, ad nauseam. It’s cliche, but in this case, it’s cliche for a reason. Of course it’s exciting to set your first reading target to be 100 in a year. It’s an impressive number, but it can be overwhelming if you’re not already in the habit of reading regularly.

If you’re starting off setting a reading challenge, have it be relative to your starting position. For me, I started with 25, then 52, and this year 100, because that’s what felt feasible.

Build up to it. As you see your want-to-read list grow, you’ll also be motivated to take on more next time.

Prioritize reading

There’s no getting around it, you have to make reading a priority. Expect to significantly cut down on watching shows, movies, or spending time on social media.

It’s necessary to be mindful of what you’re reading when building in the habit to go for a book instead of… anything else. If you use other forms of media to unwind, don’t try to immediately replace them with books on gender or quantum theory. Try to go for something that you could see as being equally as entertaining.

Basically: you’ll have to get off that darn phone, but feel free to replace mindless scrolling with mindless fluff books if that’s your jam. Just make it a switch you look forward to.

Read what you like (and what you think you might like)

Start off by reading what you like.  

If you’re not sure what you like because it’s been some time since you picked up a book or are deciding to start for the first time, this is where you brainstorm.

If you’re already a reader, go back to your old favorites and start there. If you’re not, there will be genres and topics you find interesting in other forms of media that you can carry over into the books you choose.

I love comedy, but never read funny books when I was younger. One of the first things I did when starting my first reading challenge was look up “funniest books” and tick off a bunch on that list. Even if your niche is “bleak Scandinavian detective shows”, there will usually be a literary equivalent.

Feel free to start exploring topics you’ve always wanted to know more about. I do enjoy non-fiction (despite what it may seem like from my tips), but only in very specific topics like illustration, gender theory, autobiographies, or marketing and communications – because I can apply the last one to my regular job.

If you suspect there might be a topic you could enjoy, add that to the list.

Do your research

What do I mean by the list?

The list will be the place where you put everything you want to read. This can include anything from:

  • Book recommendations from friends
  • Book recommendations from influential people you respect
  • Books you’ve been wanting to read for a while
  • Genres you want to explore
  • Specific authors you enjoy and want to know more on
  • People you find inspiring/interesting who you’d like to read about
  • Topics related to professional development (your job, industry, productivity tips)
  • Topics related to personal development (hobbies, self-actualization, philosophy)
  • Anything and everything you could think about that you’d like to spend time on.

The list will be essential in meeting your reading goals.

Now that you’ve given some thought into what you’d like to read, jot them down. Organize it however works best for you – through Excel or through an automated platform.

Sometimes one of the biggest problems with reading is wondering what you’re in the mood to read. Take the guess work and mental strain out of figuring that out and just use your list as your go-to.

Automate keeping track of what you’re reading

If you’re not on Goodreads already, get on it. And for those who don’t want to support Amazon (Goodreads is owned by Amazon, in case you didn’t already know), StoryGraph provides a great alternative that gives you even more data on your books, like mood, average length, and difficulty.

Either of these platforms will give you a great place to input what you’re reading, let you set a reading goal, tell you if you’re on track with it, and a place to dump your want-to-read list. Plus, you can categorize and rate each book, which will lead to more book recommendations.

If you’re looking to switch over to StoryGraph, you can even export your Goodreads data into StoryGraph so you don’t have to manually input everything.

Physical books, tablets, and e-readers, oh my!

You don’t have to stick to physical books during the entire challenge. If you want to save money and space, combine them with a tablet and/or e-reader.

Having several devices for reading is beneficial because each has their own benefit:

  • Physical books can be great to read at home, especially if you’re reading before bed.
  • Physical books are easier to read if you’re prone to getting distracted.
  • E-books are cheaper and take up less space than physical books.
  • E-book libraries are much more accessible than physical libraries since you don’t have to worry about physically returning anything.
  • If you’re traveling, an e-reader or tablet is more practical than carrying around books. Plus, if you get bored with your current read, you’ll have many more available.

Not limiting yourself to one medium means that you can read whenever works for you. Yes, this means you can still have screen time and read at night and sacrifice your sleep. We’re focusing on how to read more. If you’re already going to stay up late, you might as well replace your phone or TV time with a book.

VARIATION. IS. KEY.

Don’t stick to just one genre or author. Combine short books with long ones. Switch up difficulty levels: combine dense novels with easy breezy reads. Go for fiction and then non-fiction.

Read several books at the same time so you can hop between them in case you get stuck on one and don’t be scared to keep on turning to the list and mixing things up.

If you’re not easily bored, you can skip this one. But, if you’re like me, keeping things varied will make sure you don’t feel stagnant. Following up a marketing book with a graphic novel may seem odd to some, but it can help keep the challenge exciting.  

Variation keeps things fresh.

Keep a mini-library

Make sure you’ve got a pile of books ready to be picked up. This goes for both physical and digital copies.

It’s almost inevitable that you’ll reach point where you don’t know what to read and you want to make it as easy for yourself as possible. If you have pre-selected options to choose from based on the list you made, you’ll be more likely to keep going.

If you’re feeling stuck, going out to buy a new book could be an extra mental hurdle that leads to procrastination. If it’s already there, you’ll be less likely to resist the idea of starting a new book because it’s glaring back at you to read it.

So keep your e-reader stocked with options and stop vilifying the unread stack of books piling on dust in your house by using and replenishing it.

It’s more than fine if you fall behind

I’ve already professed how great I think Goodreads is, but I must admit that sometimes it’s a love-hate relationship. Goodreads will let you know if you’re on track for your reading challenge. And it feels great when you’re ahead.

But when it shows you that you’re four books behind (like I currently am at the moment of writing) it can be a teensy bit anxiety-inducing. I want to read and achieve the goal of 100 books, but I know if I panic, I’ll end up procrastinating.

Then I remind myself that I set this goal for myself and no one else and that the whole point is to have fun with it. And I also know this has happened before and I can catch up – I just have to prioritize reading a bit more for the next couple of weeks.

Remember: this is for you and it’s really all about reading more, not about hitting that magical number 100. Don’t stress if you’re behind. Enjoy the journey and read as much as you can.

Part of what led me to challenging myself to read more were some key encounters with old friends. Right when I’d resigned myself to reading less (the motivation wasn’t there anymore) quite a few people in my past started bringing up the fact that they became interested in reading because of how voraciously I read.

The reasons why? Up until then 1) they didn’t realize that reading being fun was an option and 2) they thought to be an avid reader you needed to be on some higher level of self-improvement, or some intellectual path.

That’s really what it took to get the fire going again. A reminder from some old friends of something I’d almost forgotten: reading should be fun and accessible.

If you want to know what didn’t work for my disorganized brain, head here.

Like what you see? I post a new blog every Sunday/Monday where I talk about… whatever THOUGHT interests me that week. Expect a bit of books, travel, beauty, and taking pop culture way too seriously.

Rekindling the Love of Reading: What Didn’t Work & What Did

My life has always been consistently inconsistent. Books, although, have always been one of the few constants in it. With a fervor for reading that made those around me say I ate books instead of reading them, I was known as the reader in whatever circle I was in.

And then from one day to the next, I lost interest in reading.

Not coincidentally, those years overlapped with a bout of depression, insecurity, and a general period of darkness.

Because I was scared of losing that part of me completely, I started actively challenging myself to read more. Over the past few years I’ve gone from 25 to 52 to now trying to hit 100 books this year.

Having to force myself to do something I once loved has made me have to start finding ways to start liking it and be relatively consistent with it. In order to prepare myself, I started reading many articles on this topic and noticed that a lot of it was geared towards people who want to read because of this hustle, millionaire-at-30, CEO-life mentality.

This was and is still not my goal.

I read because it’s fun, I’m curious about learning new things, and it makes me feel more fulfilled than other forms of entertainment. There’s no snobbery or higher goal I aspire to.

If your goal is just to read more and instill that habit into your life, especially if you’re not the most organized, type-A human being, then you’re in the right place.

Here are the tips I avoided like the plague and what worked instead.

You don’t have to schedule your reading to make it a habit

While I love scheduling, I am trash at sticking to plans.

Linking to pre-existing habits only works if you have pre-existing habits to link to. Which if you do, congrats! But if you don’t, it’ll feel like linking a stone in the ocean to a grain of sand, hoping it’ll stay in the same place wave after wave.

Instead, create a general guideline and figure out what works best for you as you progress through your books. For me, something like I have to read x amount of books in x amount of time tends to be good enough. I go for x amount a week, because it’s long enough that it doesn’t feel pressuring, but short enough that I remember to do it.

Plus, unless you’re already prone to being super organized, scheduling it can suck the joy out of any reading challenge and make it feel like… a challenge. Fitting it in wherever it works best for you, be it in 5 hour chunks at night, every other night, waking up ridiculously early, or split through the day will make you more likely to want to do it, instead of only making time for it.

It’s OK to stick through reading something you don’t LOVE

You’re not going to love every book you read.

Even if you do all the research and prep work in the world, there will be books that will feel like a chore to get through. Of course, you should choose books you think you’ll enjoy. But there’s no guarantee that every book, especially once you’re over the one-book-a-week threshold, will be to your taste.

This is especially relevant if you’re halfway through the book anyways – by that point you might as well finish it. The good thing about finishing a book that leaves you disappointed is that it’ll be a good indication of what to avoid in the future.

Instead: if you’re going to commit to a book that you’re not sure you’ll like, make sure it’s a short one. Also make sure you have another one simultaneously that you can pick up in case one of them is making your brain hurt.

Screens are not your enemy

A few facts people like to ignore when recommending people only stick to physical books to avoid distractions:

  • Books are expensive.
  • Books take up space.
  • Getting every book you want is not always possible, especially if you want a book that’s not in the native language of the country you’re in.
  • Not everyone wants to resort to Amazon to buy their books (for those yelling “why don’t you just buy them on Amazon?!)

You’re challenging yourself to read more, not collecting for your personal library or trying to get better sleep. Sure, it’s harder to read if you’re constantly distracted by notifications, but there’s a reason Do Not Disturb exists.

Use it.

Reading in bed is fiiiiiiine

Which leads me to the next piece of advice that seems inescapable: never read in bed.

The reasons why? Well, because it might make you sleepy and you won’t be able to focus. Oh wait, it makes you lose sleep. Oh wait, actually it’s because you need a division of reading and sleeping and it’ll confuse your brain.

While I agree you shouldn’t pick up the habit if you already have that clear division of sleep/play/work area and a consistent sleep schedule, let’s be honest for a second. Most of us scroll for hours on our phones, in bed, every night.

If you already do that, then feel free to read in bed.

Replace the phone for a book. Those arguing you won’t retain important information are assuming you’re reading books to be a smarter, more intellectual, more cultured person instead of just reading for the fun of it. If it’s interesting to you, you’ll remember it.

So maybe just don’t read boring books in bed.

Read at your own pace. Just be mindful of what that is

Real advice I’ve read: read faster. Just read faster? That’s the advice?

Most of us won’t take a speed reading course to prep for a reading challenge. And you shouldn’t.

The fact is, you’ll get through books faster the more you read. Don’t sweat it if you feel slow and clumsy at first. Just like anything else, reading is like a muscle – the more you do it, the more you’ll flex it, and the more dynamic you’ll get. Just keep your pace and focus on what you can read that would match whatever your pace already is.

It’s easier to adjust the book content and size you’re reading to match your speed than it is to learn to read faster.

Read what interests you, not what people tell you will interest you (like practical, non-fiction books)

If you just want to build in regularly reading, focus first on what you enjoy.

You definitely don’t have to love everything you read, but you should at least like it. If practical, non-fiction books are your bread and butter, ignore this section. If you’re like me, a fan of stories more than how-to’s, then start with what you love.

My love of reading really came back in full force when I started reading more fantasy and graphic novels. I’d had a few false starts before where I’d been forcing myself to read classics, self-help non-fiction, and educational books.

While now I’ll gladly pick up one or two (or more) of these, when I was just starting, this made me automatically associate reading with it being another task, making me procrastinate.

Just read what you like and only then focus on all things practical and self-improvement. You’ll be much more willing to give it the time and energy needed for the more tedious books, once you’ve satisfied your taste for the stuff you actually want to read.

A book is a book is a book – you don’t need to break it down into pages

Math hurts my brain. This is why I chose to study social sciences and humanities. Turning something that feels like the opposite of math into something vaguely math-y just sucks the joy out of the experience.

When I started setting myself the goal of picking up more books, all I wanted to get out of reading more was finally getting to the ones I’d put off for so long.

Breaking it down into pages read and how much is the equivalent to one book average and yadayadayada may work for the more goal-oriented, one-track minded of the bunch, but for me, this is a hard pass.

A book is a book is a book. Whatever you consider a book and whatever you think you can manage, just stick to that. If you want to make it more structured for yourself, you are more than welcome to bring out your calculators and Excels.

But for me, keeping track of how many I’ve read and need to read is already a lot, so I keep it as simple as I can.

Basically, if you’re trying to make reading not feel like a chore, don’t make it a chore.

I don’t believe in a world where everyone enjoys reading books, or will fall in love with it if they find the perfect book, just because it’s something that I do. I myself don’t like podcasts or audiobooks because I don’t have the concentration for audio-only, yet know a lot of people who find them even easier and more productive than reading.

One way isn’t more valid than the other just because we’ve given this almost untouchable quality to books.

What I do know, is that you can make it easier for yourself to incorporate it into your daily life.

And if you’re one of the people who gets enjoyment out of it but seems to have this stack of unread books in the corner or their room that feels kind of daunting because everyone loves waxing poetic about how much better of a person they are because they read actual books and are educating themselves but this added pressure only makes you want to do it less so you’ve been ending up just scrolling through your phone all evening then, hey, I’m Nicole and you’re not alone in wanting to change that.

I might not be able to help make you a more productive reader, but I can do my best to give tips on how to make it fun again.

If you want to learn more about what actually did help me in getting back into reading and hitting my reading targets, I’ll be covering that in a few weeks time.

Like what you see? I post a new blog every Sunday/Monday where I talk about… whatever THOUGHT interests me that week. Expect a bit of books, travel, beauty, and taking pop culture way too seriously.

5 Lessons I’ve Learned From 26 Years Of Bad Hair Makeovers

I was not blessed with hair that naturally cascades and shines like that of a heroine in a cheap fantasy smut novel. If left unattended, my hair is somewhere between Hagrid, Hermione, a 1970s teenage skater boy, and Cousin Itt. There’s a lot of it, it’s thin, fragile, and has been described before as “very stubborn”. Pair that with the fact that I am extremely lazy when it comes to any sort of styling, and this has left me heavily reliant on a good hair stylist to make my coif suitable for the public eye.

This epiphany came courtesy of my last three haircuts, where saying “I really like it” at the end was no longer a bald-faced lie. I bit the bullet and paid for a salon-level haircut and have decided I am never looking back.

To avoid the same mistakes I’ve done, here’s a list of the things I’ve learned over the past 26(ish) years of bad haircuts. Avoid these if you can.

1. If you’re going through a major life change, bangs will not solve the problem

Ahhhhh bangs. It’s common knowledge at this point that if your friend abruptly decides to get bangs, the only kind thing to do is ask her over for a glass of wine to figure out what is going wrong with her life. Bangs are a simple way to change up your whole look that requires minimal commitment. Bangs also do not look good on everyone.

Instead of coming out a new person completely – be it quirky and cute like 2010s Zoey Deschanel or disheveled but sultry like 1960s Brigitte Bardot – you’ll end up with a high-maintenance style you’ll love for exactly the one day the salon styled it for you. You’ll then loathe them each morning when they decide to defy gravity. Somehow they’ll either be too poofy and thick or too greasy and you’ll have to deal with that awkward growing out phase, with the added bonus of acne now erupting on your forehead.

Plus, you’ve still have been ghosted by that douche who was definitely way below your standards already. Only now everyone knows it.

2. If you’re going to go blonde, do it right or don’t do it at all.

Although we’d like to think we’re past the times where blondes were seen as the sexy, fun alternative to the dowdy, serious brunette, if you’re not already blonde, there will reach a point in your life where you will ask yourself “do blondes really have more fun?”. Once this starts, it’s over. Despite all the hair coloring apps and filters in the world showing you that you shouldn’t do it, you’ll still be wondering if you’re not reaching your full potential by being blonde.

But going blonde is a commitment. If you’re going blonde, there are a few things you’ll need to keep in mind – it’s one of those things that’s worth doing it right.

  • If you’re starting off really dark, do not do it all in one 6-hour session. Not spreading out the sessions will help you hair not only look like straw by the end of it, but feel like it too.
  • Be aware of upkeep and TONE IT so you don’t end up with piss yellow hair. No one has ever crooned over “your beautiful piss yellow hair”.
  • Be willing to pay up. Don’t try to skimp on this. If you’re taking up hours and hours of someone’s time and you want them to do it right, pay them for it.

Maybe the reason we revere peroxide blondes is the same reason heavily tattooed people can be so hot: nothing says mating potential like showing off you have large amounts of patience, pain tolerance, and disposable income.

3. Pitch black hair only looks good on a very very very select group of people

At the opposite end of the spectrum of going blonde, we have going pitch-black. Maybe not as popular a choice, but definitely one that will pop up if you’re light-skinned with light eyes, because somethingsomething high contrast. Pitch black hair has a few advantages over blonde. It’s easier and faster to DIY, it gives you that big makeover moment, and it can look striking.

What nobody tells you is that there is no way to dye it any other color afterward. Your hair might lighten a bit, but it will stay dark for a ridiculously long amount of time. Enough time that if you don’t like it, you’ll end up absolutely hating it. If you’re pale, it can wash you out and highlight every blemish and sign of hyperpigmentation under the sun. If your hair is prone to frizz, oh wow will it look fuzzy and fried. Because nothing says good hair like emulating a Brillo pad.

Try dark brown instead: it lightens up quicker if you don’t like it, while still giving a similar look. With the added bonus of not making you feel like either a Russian spy or Ebony Dark’ness Dementia Raven Way. Unless that’s the vibe you’re going for.

4. Dyeing your hair at home is actually fine (depending on your end goal)

Some people will tell you that you should never use box dye and that your hair will be irreparable if you do and to only let a professional dye it and yadayadayada. Do not listen to these people. Also stop hanging out with those people too, because they sound really boring.

One of the thrills in life is sitting on the bathroom floor with a glass of cheap wine, waiting for the dye you just haphazardly massaged onto your scalp to finally settle in. And if you can get a friend involved in the process? Boom, that friendship will last as long as those splotchy stains in your sink: forever.

Unfortunately, you need to be realistic. If you want to go from black to blonde with just a bottle of at-home peroxide, it’s not going to happen (see: blonde misadventures above). If you want highlights or to give yourself one of those multi-tiered bright color dyes, you’ll likely be highly disappointed.

But if all you’re looking for is to go slightly darker or a little more red or to dip dye your ends? Just do it. The worst that’ll happen is it’ll be a bit patchy and you can always buy more dye.

5. Don’t (!!!!!) go back to the same hairdresser who never fully gets your hair right

The reason I have trust issues can be directly traced back to the fact that my mother has always insisted that my aunt is a good hairdresser. Which is true if you’re not related to her, but when it comes to doing my family’s hair, it’s not exactly true either. She was my hairdresser growing up because she was cheap, easily available, and meant to understand my hair type. She was also a fan of experimenting without consulting us and prone to spacing out when dishing the dirt about the latest dramas.

Highlights of the capillary torture she’s put the family through include: misreading labels and dyeing half of her sister’s hair pitch black and the other bleach blonde because she was stressed gossiping about an affair. Giving my risk-averse oldest sister a mullet. Giving the entire family bangs and only realizing at the end that our hair type was very different from the model with thin, pin-straight hair. Dying my hair pitch black when I’d asked for dark brown because she thought it would “make my eyes look beautiful”… right after she’d had a lengthy conversation with my mother about not dyeing my hair pitch black.

While this wonderful woman would never do any of these things to her non-related clients, she kept on doing it to us and we kept on paying her for it. This leads me to my final recommendation: if your hairdresser just can’t get it right and won’t listen to you, go somewhere else. Even if she’s the cheapest. Even if she’s family. Even if you’ll have to make up a new excuse every time she asks to do your hair when she sees you.

Here’s the thing about hair: generally speaking, it grows back. Unless you’re suffering from a serious condition like male pattern baldness (my condolences), it will grow back.

So get bangs, dye it box blonde in your bathroom, or do any of the things I said you shouldn’t. Because everyone’s hair is different, so what works for me may not work for you.

Except for the bad stylist thing. Ditch them. You deserve better.