Another New Year, and still time for small dreams to come true. (unknown)
One of the seriously awesome thing about true friends is how they support you and your dreams.(Can I hear an ‘Amen!’?!) Those girlfriends who always see the beauty in you, believe in you, want the best for you – they’re worth their weight in homemade toffee.
As we get ready for the New Year, now is that special time of year to define our goals for the coming year.
We’re not talking New Year’s Resolutions, those are good for helping us work on habits – like exercising more, reading more, and spending more time with our girlfriends. But we’re talking BIG (Hairy Audacious) Goals. The kind of goals that you’re almost afraid to dream. The challenge to do something, as Oprah says in her new Weight Watchers ads: ‘If not now, when?’
So here’s our Girlfriend Advice on setting goals for the coming new year:
DREAM BIG – I don’t want to live a so-so life, and I don’t want my friends to either. We get one life and I want to live it (and want you to live it) BIG. When you’re awake at night and think about your dreams, what idea/business/challenge do you wish you could see happen? Run a marathon? Quit your job? Write a book? What’s your BIG DREAM? Let’s figure out how to make it happen – this year!
SET SMART GOALS – There’s a SMART system to setting goals. Follow these guidelines: SMART = Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-Bound. Here are some examples:
Specific: I want to write the outline and first three chapters of my book by March 1. (Exactly WHAT you’re going to do and by WHEN.)
Measurable: Earn 20% more on your blog than you did last year. Gives you something to track the numbers!
Attainable: Lose 10 pounds in two months. That’s attainable on a diet. (Losing 10 pounds in a week probably is not!)
Realistic: Setting a goal of getting paid $10,000 as a professional speaker, and never have spoken in public before just may not be realistic. In that case, maybe make a goal of joining a Toastmaster’s group and getting a speaking gig to move toward your professional speaking career.
Time-Bound: This may be the most important aspect of setting goals – having a deadline. To run a marathon by Labor Day, or start your Etsy story by March 1, or sign up for Spanish classes before your trip this summer. Give your goal a completion date and track your progress in making it happen.
SHARE WITH A FRIEND – But not just any friend. Dreams are very fragile and require special handling. BIG dreams are best to be shared with a girlfriend who believes in you even more than you believe in yourself. Ask her to help you stay on track and on schedule. Give her permission to keep you accountable. If she’s comfortable sharing too, ask her what her BIG dreams are for the coming new year and help her reach those goals.
Like LL Cool J says Stay focused, go after your dreams and keep moving toward your goals.
Let’s make this THE YEAR that we go after our Dreams. What are yours? Who are you going to share them with? Remember … if not now, when?! GO FOR IT!
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I know what I’m getting for Christmas from my girlfriend Terri.
I get it every year, and every year I love it! It’s a compilation CD of songs released from the radio station I listened to when I lived in Minnesota. (And that I still listen to online, because I like their music but more because I like feeling like I’m not that far away from my great MN friends.)
It’s our holiday girlfriend tradition – and I love that.
Often we have family traditions like going to the grandparent’s house or special meals together. We have worked parties and neighborhood open houses. They’re school concerts and church events. But do you have girlfriend holiday traditions?
The holidays, aka: hectic holidays, actually are the perfect time for girlfriend traditions. Sure, we’re all busy – we have girlfriend gifts to buy, wrap, give and more things on our To-Do list than we can check off – and that’s why it’s perfect to make time and make memories with your friends. We need that ‘excuse’ to stop and share time with a friend. It actually can de-stress us (as shared in this guest blog on saying no to holiday stress). And it makes the holidays much more enjoyable.
Here’re a few ideas for girlfriend holiday traditions. Please share yours!
1 – Girlfriend Get-together – Sure the calendar is full of parties, but wouldn’t you rather be with your girlfriends?! Plan a happy hour or dinner out with your friends. If you’re lucky enough to have a few gourmet girlfriends, bring appetizers and desserts to someone’s home. I guarantee that within 15 minutes all your holiday stress will have gone down like that first glass of wine! (-:
2 – Ornament Exchange – We just had our annual Book Club holiday party this week and I’d skip any party to attend it! We laughed until way too late on a ‘school night’ as we did our ‘ornament exchange.’ Each girlfriend brings a wrapped ornament and draws a number. #1 goes first and takes a gift and opens it. Then #2 can ‘steal’ her ornament or pick a gift to open. It continues around the room until we all have ornaments and have stolen quite a few from each other. It’s a scream – try it!
3 – Fireside Chat – For the past three or four years, my girlfriends Allison, Joan and I meet on a Friday afternoon around the holidays to catch up on our lives. We, unfortunately, don’t get to see each other very often so it’s our way of staying in touch and sharing our lives with each other. It’s just a casual conversation but we cover the past year and what we’re looking forward to in the year to come.
4 – Book Swap (or Gift Swap) – My friend Joan (yes, the Fireside Chat Joan) has an annual party early in January where she invites all her friends who love to read. We all bring the books we’ve read over the past year and swap them for new (to us) books. She serves coffee and pastries (or has it in a nearby neighborhood coffee shop) and we all spend a Saturday morning sharing books and fun conversations. You could also do this with your friends and exchange gifts you got but don’t really want! That’s much better than putting in the gift drawer and possibly re-gifting to the original gift giver!
5 – Cookie Exchange – Another friend invites her girlfriends who love to bake together for an annual cookie exchange. If there are eight girlfriends, each is told to bring eight dozen cookies (bagged by the dozen). Then everyone leaves with dozens of wonderful treats for family and holiday festivities. (They also share the recipes.)
6 – Concert or Event Tradition – This one is a wonderful ‘excuse’ to spend time together over the hectic holidays. What concert or event (or even getting together to watch a movie like Elf or Love Actually) can you and your friends do this year that you can continue in future years? Today, my girlfriends Anne and Jill (along with other friends/family) are going to our favorite holiday tradition/concert. (Over the Rhine is a local band, loved internationally, with the most beautiful music and concerts filled with kind conversations. They do a special ‘friends and family’ concert in an old, distressed, decommissioned Catholic church that is hauntingly beautiful with cherubs, peeling paint and fabulous stained-glass windows. While the music is generally secular, aside from a Christmas song or two, you leave the concert with the most peaceful, spiritual, wonderful holiday feeling. I love sharing this tradition with my friends!) What holiday event, concert or movie can you experience with your girlfriends this and in future years?
Happy Holidays Girlfriends! What are your girlfriend holiday traditions?
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Girlfriends have a wonderful way of bringing light and hope into our lives, right? Okay – well the GREAT Girlfriends do, but that’s our goal here at Girlfriendology, to be a GREAT Friend and that means we inspire our girlfriends to believe in themselves, feel beautiful and never let anyone steal their sparkle.
In the spirit of inspiring each other, here’re our 5 EASY ways YOU can inspire your Girlfriends …
1. Be POSITIVE. It’s easy to go negative but it’s inspiring NOT to. Be the friend who takes the supportive, affirmative, SPARKLY and helps her see the good over the bad. It may take a little effort to be positive when it would be so easy to go the opposite direction, but it’s kinda funny how being positive (even if you’re *kinda* just acting like it) can actually make you and her feel that way.
2. Be THOUGHTFUL and KIND. It just takes a moment to be thoughtful and kind. Be there for her on a bad day. Listen. Make her laugh. Inspire her by going a little further in your friendship – giving thoughtful girlfriend gifts, offering to run errands when you know she is completely overwhelmed, calling her when she needs to talk, asking about her day or performance review. It only takes a moment to be thoughtful – and I’m pretty sure you’ll inspire her to be there for you when you need her too!
3. Make it just about HER. My BFF Cath is doing amazing bike races this summer – like 100 miles in one day! Make your girlfriends feel special by showing up when they do something *crazy* like ride 100 miles! Or give her gifts that are personalized to her and her favorite things. Don’t make it about you and what’s going on in your life – make it about HER. What can you do/say/give her that makes the moment and memory special? Like how special her friendship is to you! Remind her that ‘life IS a beautiful ride’ with her as your friend!
4. Give her INSPIRING Gifts. I have a rule on holiday gifts for girlfriends. NEVER give them anything you’d give your mom, a random co-worker or the neighbor who you barely know. Gifts for girlfriends should be personal and meaningful, like a mug to express your friendship or a piece of art that shares your true sentiment.
5. Be GRATEFUL. And help remind her to be too. Show your gratitude for her friendship, for the good memories and happy times ahead, for the gift of health or even the gift of time together. Gratitude is contagious. On those days when she feels down, share your gratitude and faith that tomorrow will be a better day.
And – it is pretty EASY, right? The way to inspire your friends is to BE A BETTER FRIEND. You can do it!
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Don’t you love when your friends are there for you? When they cheer you up when you need it?
We all have great days when we want to shout happiness from a rooftop somewhere. We all have days that are neither wonderful nor terrible. Sometimes we have days that are Just Awful. As bad as it is when we have bad days, it is almost worse when a good friend has a bad day. We feel for them and want to help—but often we don’t know what to do or how to help her.
There are all different kinds of days we’d rather not repeat. Bad days range from the bad-hair-nail-chipped-spilled-the-coffee days to days when we get profoundly bad, unchangeable news. How you help your BFF is going depend on the kind of “bad” day she’s having and on her personality (and yours). Here are Seven Ways for cheering up a girlfriend on a bad day.
Pick up the phone
Sometimes the simplest things can be the hardest. There are days when the phone feels like it weighs a thousand pounds. Usually, it’s because we just don’t know what to say in the face of our friends troubles. Remember—this isn’t a stranger, this is your friend. Pick up the phone and call. I often find it useful to check with my friend to see what role she needs from me—is my job to help solve problems, to distract her and cheer her up, or just to listen.
Or, rather than just send a message, why not send a link to a song? Choose a song that brings back happy memories for the two of you. Or send a song that makes people happy. (I have a friend who says it’s impossible to be sad when you listen to a Sousa march.)
Drop by to visit
Seeing a friendly face can sometimes make all the difference. Stop by to show your friend that there are still smiles in the world. Even if you only have five minutes (perhaps especially if you only have five minutes), that extra effort of showing up in person can make a huge impact. Be the supportive friend she really needs.
Help her take action
Sometimes we are so stuck on a bad day that even breathing seems practically impossible. Often the best role you can play is to help your friend find a way to move through the rest of the day by taking action. Small steps lead to big results. So if your friend is overwhelmed by the idea of cleaning her entire home by the weekend, try to focus her on at least getting one room finished by the end of the day.
Take some of her burdens away
Lending a hand is a wonderful gift of friendship. Is your friend freaking out about picking up food and flowers on opposite sides of town at the same time? Why not offer to pick up the flowers for her. If she’s stressed about making and wrapping cookies for an event, why not spend some time in her kitchen helping and visiting.
Crank up the tunes, grab your friend and start dancing. It’s amazing how your mood can improve when you move. So ‘dance it out’ just like the gals on Grey’s Anatomy.
Often the best thing we can do for a friend is simply to be there to listen. Listen while she shares her day, listen as she works through her struggles, listen as she laments the twists and turns she’s facing. Leave the judgment, leave the solutions, and just listen with empathy and friendship.
How do YOU help friends who are having a tough day, girlfriend?
[TWEET “7 Ways to Cheer Up a Girlfriend & Be a Better Friend”] Judi is our Girlfriendology Chief of Brilliant Ideas, blogger at DearKidLoveMom.com and fab mom to Rachel who helped her come up with these great ways to cheer up a friend.
More Girlfriend Inspiration on How to Be a Better Friend:
Keep Hangin’ In There Care Package – Filled with indulgent treats, two plush monkey friends, and a puzzle book for pleasant distraction, this gift box is sure to make your friend grin as she squishes the smile right off the happy stress ball’s face:)
And, eCards full of encouragement and support! Like these …
A Free Resource Library of Great Girlfriend Advice?!
We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.~Thornton Wilder
Overbooked with a huge shopping list, cooking special Thanksgiving recipes and coordinating multiple family events a friend complained that Thanksgiving was her least favorite holiday. She may have been just saying that, but between the focus on ‘Pinterest-worthy’ recipes and Facebook photograph-able home decorating, along with the shopping frenzy of Black Friday, it does seem that no one talks about the sentiment of the day set aside for giving thanks.
H.U. Westermayer wrote: “The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.“
That’s a powerful reminder that we as a rich nation and a blessed generation. Even with terrorist attacks, fear, politics and poverty, the mass population will gather around a Thanksgiving turkey (or whatever they enjoy) with friends and family. We’ll watch parades, dogs and football. We’ll consume too many calories and may even set our alarms for an ungodly hour to go on a Black Friday shopping spree.
It’s easy to get lost in the hectic holidays. But, let’s focus on the real meaning of Thanksgiving – to GIVE THANKS. The real Thanksgiving Recipe for Friendship is:
A Generous Cup of Blessings
A Tablespoon of Reflection
A Handful of Memories Together
A Good Helping of Hugs and Laughter
A Pint of Time with Friends and Family
Mix with Love and Forgiveness.
More girlfriend inspiration on Thanksgiving: (check these out for great Thanksgiving quotes and videos to share!)
Lastly, this was a hilarious reminder to avoid some conversations to have a more peaceful, happy (and musical) Thanksgiving. Thanks Saturday Night Live for showing us how to get along with family who may say inappropriate or sensitive things:
Happy Thanksgiving Girlfriends!
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A Free Resource Library of Great Girlfriend Advice?!