Resolved, 2017

Man, 2017. I’m glad to see you.

You’re a sandwich in the bathtub. You’re a warm cup of coffee and a wool blanket on the deck. You’re the empty chair off to the side, where I can sit and watch everyone dance. Let’s hold hands, and decide what to do with all this time.


Leave the country. The baby is old enough. It’s time for red wine on a 6-inch hotel balcony, and toilets that flush in unexpected ways. Time to let the boys stay up all night, playing under the cafe table with plastic breakables we bought from a street vendor. We need some $3 sun glasses with palm tree frames because we forgot our fancy sunglasses and the sun is prominent. Let’s make photo albums of us with sunburns, and gelato cones, and palm-tree sunglasses. Blow this joint, 2017.

Let good enough be good enough. Sometimes I run fifteen minutes late, I forget to pack the thing, something rots in the fridge while we’re away. A year from now, no one will remember any of this happened. Except me, over and over again, on a repeat loop that needlessly plays in my mind. What is that? I’m meditating that crap all the way out of my brain-place. The baby does not need to wear pants full time. This will work, 2017.

Spend more time in craft stores. They have cordless glue guns now. Did you know this? I know this only because my mother-in-law has one, as I have not been spending enough time in craft stores. Is there a more-sparklier glitter I don’t know about? Advanced styrofoam ball technologies? To start, I’m getting myself that cordless glue gun, and I’m going to glue everything together in artistic and irreversible ways. Affixed, 2017.

Be polite. Less “telling it like it is,” more “telling it as I would hope we can all agree it should be” in the civilization we’ve joined forces to create. I’m gonna call people what they want to be called, wave at people who let me in their lane, go mum on politics and religion while we’re breaking bread together, disagree in a polite manner when we’re not at the dinner table, catch up on my thank you notes, say please and thank you, teach my kids to say please and thank you, and refuse to reward people whose main tactic for getting what they want is escalation. Weaponized kindness, 2017.

Dance more. My ankles have mostly healed, and I miss dancing. This is the year to spin with strangers who know how to dip without dropping you, waltz awkwardly at someone’s wedding, start with a shot of tequila and wake up with a sore neck. Boogie oogie oogie, 2017.

Happy New Year, sweet people. Good things for everyone this year. Especially you.

Resolutions Past: Resolved, 2012, Resolved, 2013, Resolved, 2014, Resolved, 2016, My Life List on Go Mighty, One way to organize your thoughts around goal setting

Apps that Help Me with Habits and To Do Lists

My perfect daily schedule would be a glass of wine every night and an otherwise open calendar. But I’m pretty into my kids, and my husband, and my work, and my health too — and all of that requires some day-to-day maintenance.

I’m terrible at it.

One of my goals for this year was to get better at life maintenance by sticking to a routine 80 percent of the time. I’m already a list maker, but I finally figured out that I feel a greater sense of accomplishment, and am more willing to do repetitive tasks, if I break my lists up into categories. Otherwise my tasks never end, and neither does my work day.

For the last few months, I’ve tried dozens of habit and to-do apps, and hoooo-eee! Most of them are ugly and frustrating. Here are a handful I’ve found that are pretty and functional, and how I’m using them.



I start my day with my most crucial health habits, because those are the most likely to fall by the wayside. Streaks tracks how many days in a row you’ve done something, and how often you do it. It only lets you have six goals, and once you’ve checked all of them off for the day, the icons turn gold. So satisfying.



I’m ramping back up with work, so MinimaList is where I keep internal projects I want to check in with every day. It lets you schedule repeat tasks, and set a timer that blocks you from phone distractions while you’re working on one.



Teuxdeux is my priority list for non-habit tasks, stuff I need to finish in the next few days. I try to limit myself to five tasks here and work through them before I add more. I’ve been using Teux Deux for years, it’s a super simple, pretty to do list. I find it’s really flexible and can be hacked for whatever type of list I want to keep there.



I’ve mentioned Balanced before. This is where I put life-maintenance and repetitive tasks for personal goals, like learning French. You choose your icon and color, how often you’d like to complete a task, and list as many tasks as you like. It also tracks how often you complete things.

Productive looks and works exactly like Balanced, it’s pretty much a clone, but it lets me keep a second list that’s more oriented toward my life after work. This is where I put tasks that help me maintain relationships, like playing games with the boys, or making plans with friends, and reminders to do some of the things that make me happy, like reading or doing something on my Life List.



Things is a to do list based on the Getting Things Done methodology, which is a great organization system for all the ideas and work you want to record. You can use it on your phone or desktop, and it has all the list making functionality I’ve ever needed. It offers an Inbox for collecting tasks before you organize them, lists for Today, Next, Scheduled, and Someday, plus a Projects list that allows for sub-tasks that step you toward project completion.

I mostly love Things for the projects feature, but this app is where I do my thinking and planning, and how I save ideas for later. I don’t necessarily interact with it every day anymore.

If you use and love an app I didn’t mention, please let me know. I’m always tweaking, and I find that using a fresh app can keep me motivated to do things I was procrastinating over before.

Post to Mighty Girl. Check.

Resolved, 2016

Hello there, 2016. You’re a big empty room with tall windows and a view of the water.

Let’s get some chairs and settle in. Resolved:


Eat in the bath.
A slice of rosemary lemon cake, olive oil popcorn, a bowl of spaghetti — before you bathe, make yourself a little snack. Everything tastes better when you’re naked. Tub eats! 2016.


See more art.
Let’s go somewhere quiet to look at interesting things. Museums! 2016.

Write and write and write and write.
It’s like talking, as much as you want, about whatever you want, but no one has to listen to you! Clickityclack! 2016


Be an activist.
So much dramatically bad cruft has been happening. Bluuuuuh. Broken jerks keep killing their wives and girlfriends; racist police are shooting black children; assholes with guns take aim in our schools, and movie theaters, and churches. Last year left me feeling weak. But I’m not helpless. I am strong and able, and I have been sitting on my dead ass eating tortilla chips. What the hell, me? Put on some pants. Change! 2016.


Have some tiny adventures.
Instead of doing that same thing, let’s do a different thing. Let’s go bake some tiny cakes, have a winter picnic and drink soup out of thermoses, turn off all the lights and light candles instead. This year, we’re gonna make some plans together, and those plans will be fun. Adventure! 2016.

Happy New Year, friends. Here’s to 2016, may good things rain gently upon your heads.

Resolutions past:
Resolved, 2014
Resolved, 2013
Resolved, 2012

6 Tips for Editing Your Life List

Editing your Life List isn’t cheating, it’s growth. I know some people feel like their Life Lists are set in stone, and presumably those people are still saving for the tribal band tattoo they wanted when they were fifteen.

Every year or so, I go through my Life List and make sure it still makes sense for me. A few of the ways I approach the editing process:

1. Break goals down.
“Become conversational in seven languages” has been one of my favorite goals. So erudite! So chatty! But I’m stalled. I currently speak English and Spanish. I keep saying that “someday” I will tackle the rest. Someday what? Someday I’m going to sit down and learn five more languages in an evening? Maybe on a Tuesday in 2023?

So I changed the goal to, “Learn French.” I have, in fact, taken French classes. I have also been to France, and would like to return. Hence, I will learn more French until I can have a conversation. And once I do, we can talk about those other four languages. In French, si vous préférez.

2. Make symbolic goals more tangible.
“Buy stock on my own” was on my list, because to me it was a symbolic marker of someone who had their shit together financially. Turns out I don’t want to know how to buy stock. I do not care. I want to keep my checking account balanced, and know I’m on track for retirement. New goal? “Get my financial life in order.”

3. Consolidate.
“Get organized and own less crap” is the same as “Become a tidy person,” in my mind. But the latter is what I actually want.

I don’t want to clean out my apartment, I want to change my relationship to material things. So I kept “Become a tidy person,” and added organization and closet clearing to the sub-list.

4. Examine your motives.
I tried “Start a daily meditation practice” and it didn’t stick, but I don’t feel too worried about it. I deleted the goal because the whole point of meditating was to worry less anyway? So it worked. Everyone should try meditation.

I also had “Write 365 thank you notes” on my list, because I wanted to get back into the practice of writing them. Gratitude makes you happier, and more evolved, and increases muscle tone. Read the studies.

Anyway, I didn’t feel excited about it. Turns out I just like to think of friends finding real mail in their mailboxes. So I changed my goal to “Send 365 pieces of real mail.” And now I’m all set up for success. Stamps!

5. Speak for yourself.
Hank was really into robots for about three weeks, and we decided to make a robot zine together. I added it to my list, because awesome. Then when I sat us down to do it? He was into it for 10 minutes. So instead of forcing him to draw robots as some sort punitive exercise for being an indecisive six year old, I removed it from my list. Zen parenting, om.

6. Own up.
One of the questions I ask myself is, “Do I want to do this, or do I want to say I’ve done it?” Often it’s the latter. Case in point? Multi-day biking trip. Would I do it? Sure. If someone showed up at my door and said, “I have arranged an all-expenses-paid biking trip, Maggie Mason! Here is your bike. I have packed your bags and your food and lodging await.”

Rad. I shall pull on some spandex forthwith!

But. Assuming that doesn’t happen, do I want to go on a biking trip enough to plan it myself — or spend a year pitching it to potential backers? Do I want to spend a lot of money on an adequate bicycle, recruit friends, arrange for lodging and food, set aside vacation time, find child care?

No. I will never do that. Delete.

Have you edited your list recently, or did you have it tattooed on your person? If so, pics please. And if you don’t have a Life List yet, you should make one on Go Mighty, which is our community site. Come hang out.

Resolved, 2014

The New Year. She is upon us.

Twenty fourteen, we meet you with glasses raised, and shoulders squared. Resolved:

Eat more snacks.
You want to have 15 meals a day, but still support your weight on your own feeble ankles? Snacks! You want to consume something that has a jingle you can hum while you eat it? Snacks! You want food that can be lifted to your mouth using only your tongue? Snacks!

This year, I shall eat tiny things by the thousands using only my fingers. Fun size, 2014.

Make cool stuff.
A little while ago, this thing didn’t exist, but then you made it. So now it does. Because you are a sorcerer, and triumph is your currency.

This year, I will start dozens of things, and then I will finish them. Projects, 2014.

Art by Jorge Aijon.

Mess around.
Man. Making out, right? Someone should tell the youth. Kissy face, 2014.

Dress real cute.
Sometimes you’re having a crap day. You wake up feeling akimbo, and you spill something, right before you break something, and over breakfast you ponder whether you are an imposter in your own life. But then! You put on a tweed skirt, and you are quite careful with your lipstick, and you lace up some charming ankle boots, tie the bows just so, and everything is a little easier.

Cute clothes make me feel cozy, and tidy, and fit for bookstore browsing. Dress for the job you want. Girl armor, 2014.

That’s how my year is shaping up. Do you have any fun resolutions? Tell.

If you liked this post, you might also like:

Resolved, 2012
Resolved, 2013
My Life List over at Go Mighty
An Easy System for Organizing Goals

Using Calendars to Track New Goals and Habits

Desktop Perpetual Calendar

I sometimes make paper charts for my goals, so I can check things off as I go. This year, I’m using calendars to help implement some new habits.

Red Star Ink Simple Wall Calendar

I tend to like plain ones, so I can add my own imagery and color around a goal.

Stitch the Stars Calendar Kit

But I also love this celestial one because you can whisper reach for the stars!, and then look around to make sure no one heard you while you check off your goals with little gold stars.

Karolin Schnoor Wall Calendar

On this one you can mark each day with a colorful icon, and at the end the tattooed lady is a bright tapestry of accomplishment. You go getter.

I did a Plain and Simple, 2014 Calendar Roundup on Pinterest with all my favorites, so go have a look if you also like to mark your progress with gold old pen and ink. Or if you just need a calendar.

And while you’re here, how do you track progress with new habits?

If you liked this post, you might also like:
An Easy System for Organizing Goals
Goal Setting Made Gorgeous
Birthday Goals and Serendipity

100 Skills Everyone Should Master

In 2008, Esquire published 75 Skills Every Man Should Master and Popular Mechanics published a list of 100 Skills Every Man Should Know. My list was inspired by those, but it was Jason who mentioned that someone should do a list of gender neutral skills; I’ve been working on this on and off since then.


A few of the items could read as attributes, but I think they’re all acquirable skill sets. Some have links to tips and articles attached — eventually all the items will link out, but I’d like all the links to be valuable. I figured you guys would be a better resource than a search engine. If you’ve read anything recently that you think could be helpful in acquiring one of these skills, please leave the link in comments. I’ll update with links as we go, and suggestions for skills are also welcome.

Without further ado, here are my 100 Skills Everyone Should Master:

1. Set goals
2. Keep a plant alive
3. Care for a baby:
How to Hold a Newborn Baby
The Five Ss from The Happiest Baby on the Block will soothe most fussy babies
4. CPR
5. Feel confident naked
6. Interview for a job
7. Bake a birthday cake
8. Use a fire extinguisher
9. Use a compass
10. Express condolences
11. Tell a joke
12. Remember names
13. Sharpen a knife
14. Dump a poisonous friend
15. Check your oil and tires
16. Relax/Meditate
17. Apologize
18. Be polite
19. Get a good night’s sleep
20. Dress appropriately for the situation
21. Type
22. Fight fair
23. Read
24. Ask for exactly what you want
25. Trap a rat or mouse
26. Basic stretches and/or yoga poses
Yoga Sequence for the Novice (Thanks, Kelli)
27. Heimlich
28. Please a partner sexually
29. Tell your partner what you want in bed
30. Shine your shoes
31. Make your case in writing
32. Tie a scarf or tie (bowtie too):
Scarf Tying Guide (Thanks, Louise)
33. Jump a car
34. Mix a signature drink
35. Delegate
36. Make a simple meal for company
37. Give a neckrub
38. Drive a stick
39. Ride a bike
40. Swim
41. Use chopsticks
Chopstick Etiquette (Thanks, Mindy)
42. Make a new friend
43. Build something simple (ie: shelf, desk, treehouse)
44. Change a tire and put on snow chains (thanks, Toni)
45. Give a toast
46. Make a perfect egg
The Great Fried Egg Tutorial (Thanks, Tara)
47. Speak in public:
Public Speaking Made Easy
48. Improve your mood
49. Simple mending (Thanks, Maureen)
50. Travel light:
Rick Steve’s Packing Light Tips (Thanks, Sandy)
51. Steam vegetables
52. Negotiate
53. Be a good listener
54. Be alone comfortably
55. Select good produce:
List of seasonal produce generated by state and month
Locavore App for iPhone (Thanks, Samantha)
56. Maintain your weight:
The Steve Ward Diet
57. Build savings:
The Wealthy Barber isan accessible book that teaches the basics of personal finance
58. Say no/disappoint someone
59. Use a drill
60. Flexibility/equanimity in the face of the unexpected
61. Make small talk
The Rich Resonance of Small Talk by Roxanne Roberts (Thanks, Pamela)
62. Skip a rock
63. Set personal boundaries:
The Relationship Two-Step by Martha Beck
64. Organize your home
65. Deliver a eulogy:
How to Give a Eulogy
by Tom Chiarella
66. Shuffle a deck of cards
67. Dance socially
68. Know a second language
69. Win the affection of a dog or cat
70. Write a quality love letter
71. Play one card game well
72. Eat healthfully
73. Create a budget
74. Take a decent photo
75. Order the wine
76. Know what makes you happy
77. Flirt
78. Make a good first impression
79. Write a thank you note:
How to Write a Thank You Note by Leslie Harpold
80. Find a perfect gift
81. Assertiveness
82. Arriving on time
83. Make a little kid laugh
84. Kiss well
85. Make a good mix tape
86. Tie basic knots:
87. Dress to flatter your shape
88. Build a campfire
89. Change the subject
90. Acquire or shed a habit
91. Treat a hangover:
Hangover Cures by The Morning News
92. Be a good judge of character
93. Season a cast-iron skillet
94. Give a compliment
95. Accept a compliment
96. Contribute in group situations
97. Judge yourself by your own yardstick
98. Calculate the tip:
Michelle said this in comments, and it’s what I do too: Simple trick to calculating a tip. Move the decimal over one place and double that total. So, if your bill is $100.00, it would be $10.00 x2 = $20. Or if your bill is $5.23, your tip should be .52 x2= $1.04
99. Ask for a raise (Thanks, Amber.)
100. Build a shelter

Good reader suggestions:

-Do a load of laundry
-Keep your living space clean (Thanks, Megan)
-Write legibly (Thanks, Robin)
-Choose a good mate (Thanks, Pamela)
-Ask for help (Thanks, Mavis)

Big Plans

Things I feel I should be doing more actively after reading this month’s O Magazine.

  • Figuring out what I’d do if I only had five years to live.
  • Doing what comes naturally, reflexively, effortlessly
  • Switching to Yves meatless taco stuffers
  • Figuring out what I’d do if money weren’t an obstacle.
  • Pretending that I am smart enough not to be distracted by the Grecian tragedy unfolding for the Spears family.
  • Figuring out what my regrets would be if I died tomorrow.
  • Measuring out five ounces of liquid to see how many servings of wine our enormous wine glasses actually hold.
  • Designing my life to bring me joy.
  • Meditating on compassion.
  • Relaxing.

Steal This Idea: Customized Goal Charts

I want customized goal charts that someone else designs and prints for me.

I want to go to a site where I fill in the title for my chart, then choose a chart template:


Choose how I want to measure my progress:

-bar chart
-pie chart
-check boxes

Choose from a selection of letter-press like images as decoration, and then choose the format I want:

-Email me a PDF so I can print it
-Print this and mail it to me so I can hang it on the wall
-Make this an interactive web page I can use to chart my progress

I would choose to have them printed about the size of a collectible rock-show poster, and then I’d hang them on the wall behind my desk. You could fill in the charts with a pen, or use pretty stickers to check off your boxes. In my dream, the design would look something like the posters from Lizard Press or Really Good Things, Etc.

How about it, programmers/designers? If you can just get it to the point where you can email me the PDF, I’d pay about $20 a PDF and take it to a print shop myself.

Now, in the meantime, you Etsy letterpress folks or those with sik screening capacity should consider making up a set of small posters that allow people to write in their very important goal lists. Offer about ten variations that all look good together, so you could hang a grouping of goals and it wouldn’t look dumb.

Do this! Do this, my friends! It is a good idea.