When we get right down to it, relationships are everything. They fuel all aspects of our life — and without that fuel, the days can feel pretty empty. But no need to go there. Here are seven low-impact ways you can build bonds.
1. Accompany a friend visiting someone who is sick.
2. Have high tea with the older generation of women in your family.
3. Smile more often.
4. Have a tech-free night spent playing cards or board games.
5. Offer to babysit for a friend in need of a break.
6. Leave a note in your partner’s briefcase or your kid’s backpack.
7. Host a potluck meal and invite everyone over.
Thanks to Karen Amster-Young and Pam Godwin for this list. You can find hundreds more ideas in their bookThe 52 Weeks: Two Women and Their Quest to Get Unstuck, with Stories and Ideas to Jumpstart Your Year of Discovery.
When it comes to food, the choice is yours. Rather than setting excessive limits and rude restrictions (no cake? How rude!), simply decide what’s in and what’s out of your eating regime. Chips with your sandwich? Maybe with every other one. A glass of wine with your meal is cool; a glass of wine at every meal, not so much. When you determine your eating limits, you’ll eat more moderately and enjoy your food. After all, it’s no fun to be skinny if you’re hungry.
Thanks to REFIT® for this tip. REFIT is a community-centered fitness program that engages the heart as a muscle and a soul. Learn more about this revolutionary fitness community at www.REFITREV.com
Stuck moment: You love when things run smoothly — some say you’re a master at it — and right now it’s the opposite of that. As far as you can tell, nothing has changed. Still, you’ve started over…several times. Checked and rechecked. Even referred to the manual. Why. Won’t. This. Work!
Such is the frustration of Perplexed Planners. So full of determination to make it work that they can only see what is, not what could be. And that’s a major handicap when it comes to solving a problem.
We’ve all been there from time to time, but not always in the same way. There are at least three shades of Perplexed Planners. To find out your tendency, take our mini-quiz below. We’ll follow up next week with tips for each type of Planner.
Think of a time when a tactic that’s always served you well stopped working. It might be how you communicate with someone. How you complete a work project. Maybe it’s your method for tracking your budget. What did you Feel, Think, and Do at that time? Pick one answer from each group. This works best when you answer quickly, following your gut instinct.
What did you Feel when you were perplexed?
B. Like a failure.
C. Afraid you’d be found out.
What did you Think when you were perplexed?
A. I wish this came with instructions.
B. Ugh. Do I have to learn something new now?
C. This will take me forever to fix.
What did you Do when you were perplexed?
A. Declared it broken and stop trying.
B. Nothing. I didn’t want to mess things up more.
C. Stayed quiet about it as long as I could.
If you chose mostly A answers, read about By-the-Book Planners, below. Mostly B’s, you’re likely a Perfect Planner. C’s are Peerless Planners. If you had a mix of letters, you’re a hybrid, which means you’ll find parts of yourself in all three types.
A. By-the-Book Planner. There’s a reason rules are made, and the primary one is to be followed. There’s comfort in knowing what to do and what to expect — because it usually works for you. Why reinvent every time when you can sail smoothly ahead instead? But when the waters get choppy, you may find you’re not equipped to improvise.
You need to believe in your creative abilities. Perplexed Planners get stuck by the clutter, and in your case, it’s the rules that are clogging up your brain. It’s hard to think creatively when you’re clinging to one right way. Embrace the idea that there’s more than one answer to any given problem.
B. Perfect Planner. Details are your friend. You coax and cajole them into shape like few can — and that’s impressive. Whether it’s an annual report or a dinner for 12, everyone knows you’ll make it just so. That’s why a change of plans can be so disruptive. You’re not sure how to adapt and still keep the system in shape.
You need to believe in the possibilities of failure. When plans go askew, your mind heads to that scary place where everything goes wrong. Your thoughts swim with possible errors and the unknown. And you don’t want to take a chance on making any of it come true. But if you don’t try, things aren’t going to get better.
C. Peerless Planner. You’re known for being head and shoulders above the crowd. It’s a point of pride, and you’ve definitely earned it. But this can make the words, “I don’t know,” difficult to utter. You might lose your status as the person with all the answers. And that leaves you stuck pretending.
You need to believe that everyone needs help. Whether or not you feel the confidence of a virtuoso, it’s important that others see you as one. Faced with a kink in the system, your certainty may plummet. And the worst part is imagining what others may think of you. Instead, consider this: The mark of a true expert is knowing that you don’t know everything.
PRINTABLE TIP CARD #22: What kind of Perplexed Planner are you?
Next week: 4 ways to clear the clutter that’s keeping you stuck
Last week: Unstuck Hero: How a grilled cheese sandwich saved the day
For the organized among us, this question is a nonstarter. For the rest, we bet lots of reasons come to mind, like: I don’t want to stifle creativity. It will make an easy project harder. Nobody pays attention to the plan anyway. Underneath those reasons lurk the real reasons: What if my plan doesn’t work? I don’t think that way. Planning is hard.
To those real reasons we say: A plan helps you stay on track, and helps you know when you’re not. It doesn’t have to be complicated or follow someone else’s overthought format. And it should never be carved in stone.
You can make a real plan, with dates and everything, in about five minutes using Unstuck’s “Get Your Game On” tool. If you’re on your iPad, click to go directly to the tool. Or download the free Unstuck iPad app here.
Getting stuck is part of being human. It’s what we do in response that makes the difference.
Today we launch Unstuck Heroes, a new series of stories about regular people hitting a wall and then finding ways to push through and improve both their lives and the lives of others. These folks serve as examples of how creativity, commitment, and belief can — bit by bit — change the status quo and send positive ripples through the system.
Our first Hero is Kristin Walter, co-founder and executive director of FeelGood, pictured above (left) with co-founder Talis Apud-Hendricks.
What do I want to be when I grow up?
In the fall of 2004, Kristin Walter was a senior at the University of Texas, working toward a double-degree in pre-med and business. Her life was comfortable. She’d grown up in a small tight-knit community, with parents who had deep faith in her abilities, and always encouraged her dreams and ambitions.
“Opportunity, love, everything was at my fingertips,” she says. “I’d had a sense of my privilege growing up but, as I got older and went to college, I began to comprehend the gravity of it.”
The realization that she’d been given so much while poverty and hunger were still a day-to-day reality for so many others made her heartsick. But it also motivated her. She decided that her life had to be about giving back, that there was nothing else worth doing. In trying to figure out the right way to do that, she first considered some of the usual pathways.
Plan #1 was to be a doctor. Compelled by issues of gender inequality, Kristin dreamed of one day starting a hospital for women and children.
“For three years, I was dedicated to this idea of a holistic non-profit hospital,” she says. “But, as I started to understand the systems of the world, I developed different interests.”
The more she learned about poverty and injustice as products of global systems of inequality, the more gaps she saw in her own experience. How could she fight forces that she didn’t truly understand? Her passion to understand — on a gut level — what it means to be poor, hungry, and on the brunt end of injustice illuminated another pathway.
Plan #2: to join the Peace Corps and work on the frontlines of countries with chronic hunger.
Then two things coincided. First, she discovered the work of The Hunger Project, which gave her a framework to better understand global inequality — including its connection to structures of patriarchy — and the role she might play to erase it. Second, her boyfriend came to town.
“He wanted me to stay in the States, of course,” she says. “So he said, ‘Why don’t you make grilled cheese sandwiches and sell them on the lawn for donations?’”
Like many great ideas, this one was simple. And affordable. And easy to do. Why not? she thought. Selling grilled cheese would be like selling instant comfort. And they could donate the proceeds to an organization like The Hunger Project, which had programs to fight poverty and hunger in 11 countries across the world.
So Kristin, her boyfriend, and her brother got some bread and cheese, and booked a table on campus. Within one week, they’d raised $160. Fellow students followed their noses to the “irresistible grilled cheese” and donated whatever “felt good” to them.
“After the first week, it just clicked,” Kristin says. “We were doing things that the world needed. We were raising money and having a lot of fun — and simultaneously engaging people in a conversation about hunger. It was clear that this was a model for inviting participation in an issue that was easy to be cynical about, and therefore to disengage.”
And for Kristin, this was a moment when her personal sense of purpose found the right opportunity to express itself. There wasn’t one “right” way, after all. This was a way that matched well for her. And she didn’t have to leave Texas to find it.
“Joining the Peace Corps, going over to countries with extreme poverty and chronic hunger — that wasn’t the answer,” she says. “It was about having that conversation, raising money to invest in an organization, and creating changemakers.”
She was amazed that effective changemaking could be so humble in its efforts. Whether by grilling, donating, or just talking about hunger with customers, each grilled cheese maker and eater was contributing to the world in a meaningful way.
More grilled cheese, please
Before long, the grilled cheese team of three played with different ideas to expand the project — including putting together backpack kits that students at other colleges could use to make their own sandwiches. They wanted to stay true to the simplicity of the idea, but to scale it, and to have a global impact.
Kristin partnered with her best friend, fellow UT student and cross-country running mate, Talis Apud-Hendricks, who brought experience from previous for-profit and non-profit ventures. Together, they created a business plan for the initiative they would call FeelGood.
FeelGood’s innovative approach to ending world hunger works on two levels. The organization equips college students with the resources and leadership skills to make grilled cheese sandwiches on a local level, while partnering with The Hunger Project and CHOICE Humanitarian on a global one. No less than 100% of the revenue goes to THP and CHOICE programs.
In its first six months of operation, FeelGood raised $10,000. Nine years later, that number has reached $1.57 million, with a total of 160,519 sandwiches sold. Nationally, FeelGood operates 23 college chapters. Through strategically designed training programs and annual events like the weeklong Big Cheese Summit, FeelGood students learn leadership and entrepreneurial skills. And like Kristin, they become ignited by the belief that each of us can play a role in pushing the status quo.
That is the essence of FeelGood — that small acts done with great commitment can make a big impact. That anyone of us can do it. That interconnected humanity can solve hunger. That we can value everyone as a full citizen of the world. It’s a story of partnership and belief melting together in the warmth of grilled cheese goodness.
“It’s all about trying things,” Kristin says. “You just start! And reflect. You can’t do something in a vacuum, and be naïve about the complexity of the world. But you don’t need to be paralyzed by that complexity.”
And to do that, you have to find your own pathway. Or create it.
“I’m not unique in that way,” she says. “I’m just lucky to be born in a place where I was given the tools and resources to start early.”
FeelGood has been Kristin’s full-time occupation since graduating from the University of Texas at Austin in 2005. Under her leadership, FeelGood has grown from a single-campus initiative into a vibrant national movement, impacting the lives of thousands and raising significant funds to end hunger. She lives in San Francisco with her husband — whose simple grilled cheese idea started it all — and their new daughter.