4 Ways to Give Back This Holiday Season

Have any of you seen Mariah Carey’s video where she falls asleep in her Halloween Costume at 11:59 on Halloween, and then she wakes up decked out in Christmas pajamas with “All I Want For Christmas is You” playing at 12 am on November 1st?

I know it’s only November 3rd, but these last two months of the year are going to fly by! So, here are some ideas for you to think about for giving back this holiday season:

1) Volunteer

Think Outside the Box

I know that so many people use this time of the year to volunteer at soup kitchens to serve holiday meals to people. Any type of volunteer work is amazing, and it is that busy time of year so it can be really challenging to work it into your schedule. In this case, I suggest you get creative!

Get a Group Together

Consider going through your church or work to find opportunities. It is a good way to get familiar with the organization you are volunteering for when you go with others who have done it before and are a part of your community. Plus, if you are looking for a volunteer opportunity without a commitment, it is likely a community you belong to will have a residual group volunteer commitment where they can swap out group members.

Do Your Research

I don’t know how common knowledge this is, but most volunteering requires a certain time commitment, so it is good to know as much as you can about the organization you are volunteering for. You want to know exactly what you will be doing and what hours you are needed so you know that you will be able to see it through. Ask questions to employees, go to an orientation, and ask other volunteers what their experience is. This will ensure that you find a good fit before you make a commitment.

2) Winter Cleaning and Donating

Extras

Do you buy a new jacket every year? Or every other year? Do you have extra hats, gloves, or scarves laying around? What about blankets? Or bedding?

If the answer is yes, I would encourage you to donate your used items to a local shelter! These places will ensure that your items are GIVEN to someone in need rather than sold. Every year since I did a blanket drive in high school, either my friends or my mom would go with me to Denver Rescue Mission to donate blankets and cold weather gear that we had collected.

Your Pile of Blankets Could Have a Function

Living in Colorado, it gets so cold during the winter every night. We might get 60+ degree weather in the middle of winter midday, but the temperatures drop drastically at night which is dangerous to the well-being of the homeless population. Because of this, many homeless stock up on donated blankets and will carry them on them at all times in the winter.

My Testimony

Usually, when we go to the Denver Rescue Mission, there is already a line around the block for people needing to stay in the 18th Street Shelter. This actually gives us the opportunity to interact with others and give blankets directly to them. Just to see their appreciation for something that others once just had laying around the house is so inspiring.

I don’t know about you guys, but I always find myself with an excess of blankets. One time I even had 3 comforters in the trunk of my car and I couldn’t tell you why. Maybe it was a divine thing, because I went for dinner and a movie in Denver with my sisters one snowy night and found one man in need of warmth or shelter.

In hindsight, we could have been more safe about it, but it all worked out in the end. We walked over to my car and I opened up my trunk to then give this nice man those comforters. Just to have something that we could give was awesome.

I have seen other people who say to carry old purses with feminine products and other hygiene products to give to homeless women in need. I think that is a great idea, as well!

The point is, something that you no longer need could be something that is detrimental to someone else. PLUS, if you get rid of these things now, you will get a head start on your spring cleaning!

3) Gifting to Families in Your Community

Adopt-A-Family

Many communities will do an outreach program where you and your family, or group, can sponsor another family. In this program, you basically buy gifts for children who may not be getting any presents in their home.

Parker Task Force

In my community, the Parker Task Force has a program called Adopt-A-Family. I remember signing up with the French Honors Society in high school and it was a great experience. What happens is they provide you with a list of likes and interests and the age of each child along with gift ideas. It is then in your hands to purchase the gifts and wrap them. It does get kind of expensive buying for multiple kids, so I suggest signing up with a group of friends, family members, or coworkers. This is just a great way to provide a family with a nice holiday.

4) Spare Change Donations

Grocery Store Give-backs

Growing up, my mom always gave us a dollar or some change to put in the Salvation Army bucket each time we passed the nice, bell-ringing volunteers at the grocery store entryway. This was really instilled in me as a good way to give back during the holiday season, and it is something I still do to this day.

It is the same thing with food drives. There are constantly people collecting donations of nonperishable items outside of the grocery store. This is awesome, too, because all of those items are extremely cost effective and are needed by food banks and task forces all of the time. This holiday season, grab a list and try buying at least one item. It might cost you less than a dollar!

Round-Ups and Extra $$

As I entered adulthood, the round-up donations became huge among retailers and gas stations. It kind of registers as an “unnoticeable” amount, because there are so many times people throw their coins in their purse and just forget about it. That small amount does add up, though! When this became widely practiced, I decided that I would donate anytime I was asked. This isn’t exclusive to the holiday season, either–just more common during this time of year.

I, honestly, just figure this as a part of the cost of going in to the store or part of my purchase, and it still makes a difference!

I hope you find these tips helpful to you as you make your plans to give back this holiday season!

What I am Grateful For Today

My dad teaching Lady how to do “Yoda Ears.” They are both so goofy together.

I lost a dear friend and regular customer of mine on October 23rd, and his funeral was yesterday. Spending that time with his family and close friends really made me appreciate everything in my life and everything that I have learned from him.

With this weighing heavy on my heart, today I am grateful for:

  1. Healthy family members
  2. Quality time with friends
  3. Random late night conversations
  4. Sincere people
  5. Acts of service of others
  6. Faith
  7. Old country music
  8. Dancing with friends
  9. Hymns
  10. Generosity of others
  11. Learning from my peers
  12. Living in and working in a family-like community
  13. My job
  14. Lady–my puppy
  15. The thoughtfulness of my brothers girlfriend
  16. Mercy
  17. Teamwork
  18. Opportunities to learn
  19. Charities and community outreach programs
  20. Inspiring testimonies of others
  21. My mom
  22. How much my little brother loves my puppy
  23. My reliable vehicle
  24. My goofy dad
  25. Sunday mornings with my family
  26. Inspiring entrepreneurs
  27. People who will always strive to help others
  28. Meeting new people everyday
  29. Comforting Scripture
  30. My last conversation with Matt before he passed when he told me how proud he was of me and how I am living my life
This is the back of the program for Matt’s service. It is just one of many beautiful verses that were shared yesterday.

What are you grateful for today? Let me know in the comments!

XO,

Sonja Hoff

Start Today!

I have always read books about self improvement, and I think that this year I have truly made a shift in my mentality by actually internalizing each thing I have learned and applied it to my life. The most common thing and biggest change in my mind that is always reiterated in these books is to take action.

I figured I would take this time to tell you about how taking action has transformed my life over this past year. Here it goes…

No Goal has Been Accomplished Without Action

I know that visualization is important, and I think it is great to actually visualize yourself as the person who has achieved all of your goals and imagine what that life is like. That being said, you need to make the first move. Sitting and hoping to have that big break isn’t benefiting you in the greatest possible way.

I do believe in the law of attraction, but what do you do while you are waiting for your wildest dreams to come true? If it isn’t practicing harder, working out more often, going on more interviews, or whatever variation of MORE that your goal entails, you need to take action.

I used to always say things like, “I want to lose weight,” “I want to travel more,” “I want the perfect relationship,” and “I want to work in my dream career.” It’s great to have the desire, but what did I actually do to reach these goals? The answer used to be nothing.

Once I kind of internalized that I need to actually do something to reach these goals, my whole life changed. I say “internalized”‘because it is common knowledge: goals require effort. Duh! Knew that… Well, as I sat there just waiting for my wildest dreams come true while I made absolutely no changes, I knew that something had to be done.

“I’ll Start Tomorrow”

Okay… BS. Tomorrow is too late to start. Five years of tomorrow’s goes by in the blink of an eye! Believe me, because that is what I said to myself every day for FIVE WHOLE YEARS. I could go on with a bunch of cliches about how the only thing that is guaranteed is this moment and carpe diem and yatta yatta… But, I won’t! You already know that, so take it from someone who put off living my best life for years: it is not worth it!

Sick days, they’ll happen. Too much work or travel plans, that’ll happen, too. It’s okay to miss a day or give yourself a day off or day of rest. What isn’t okay is to think that all of your problems can wait until tomorrow. Stop lying to yourself about starting tomorrow, and just start now! I know I wish I did.

Actually Making the First Move

That decision to change did not come easily. I was being pulled out of bed at early morning hours by my new puppy, Lady, and taking her for walks just to get her to go back to sleep so I could, too. Then, I was sitting outside with her while she entertained herself for hours; however she wouldn’t go outside without me. So, the one thing I would do was read. I bought this book called Unfu*k Yourself by Gary John Bishop and, man, did that light a fire under me.

I started running with my dog every morning once she got big enough, and I stayed awake afterward to start writing. Soon, I started going to the gym before Lady even woke up and would come home to take her for a run every morning. My relationship improved and I was making more money at work and working a better schedule. One little change totally rerouted my whole life. And to think that this all happened because of one simple change that wasn’t deliberate!

I do have that personality type where the busier I am, the more productive I am: my house is cleaner, I write faster and with more purpose, and errands are always done. Time management is something that I excel at when I have a lot going on and it affords me some wonderful free time.

Overall, I have seen so much improvement in the quality of life that I have been living!

Nearly a Year Later

I mad a goal poster/vision board with my mom and some of her friends at the beginning of the year. I was very proud of it at first, but it soon was just tucked away. I walk past it every day without pulling it out to look at it, and most of the time don’t even realize it’s there.

Well, I decided to pull it out the other day, and here it is:

My goal poster created in January 2019.

Things I have done this year include living a healthier lifestyle, traveling to places I have never been, improving relationships with family members and friends, hiking in the mountains, growing in my faith, healing from past traumas, planning for my future, and creating the life I want to live. Look at the board. I didn’t think one thing of that poster since I had made it really… And nearly every item has been accomplished.

Could you imagine that feeling if I had never started making changes? That poster would still be a goal poster rather than a symbol of my achievements this year. From disappointed to accomplished. And all it took was one little change to make everything else fall into place!

That One Thing

My life will never be the same. These changes that I have made to work towards a goal have become major lifestyle changes for me. I’ll always be a morning person, I’ll always fit a workout into my day, and I’ll develop better relationships with what I have learned.

The only thing I could say I regret in this journey is that I didn’t start sooner!

Today I am so grateful for the lifestyle changes that I have made!

What are you grateful for today? Let me know in the comments!

XO,

Sonja Hoff

5 Ways to Show Your Gratitude

Happy November, everyone!

As we enter the Holiday season, you’ll get bombarded with ads of the coolest and newest toys, electronics, jewelry, and cars. I know I don’t need to remind you to take a personal inventory for what you already have and be grateful for that first, but I do want to urge you all to find ways to show it.

Here are 5 ways I show my gratitude:

1) Write it Down

Most people in the blogging-verse keep journals. Am I right? It is a very personal experience, and everyone does it their own way. Not many people journal in a “Dear Diary” format, rather a list or brainstorm format.

For me, I write down things I am grateful for now and in the future. It goes on kind of like a list and for pages at a time. In doing so, I really challenge myself to look at all that I have, and it makes me realize that I have all that I need no matter what my circumstances are.

It helps to do this every morning in order to begin the day with a grateful attitude. When I get in my car, I am grateful that I have a reliable vehicle. When I get out on the roads, I am grateful that the plows were out before me and did a great job. When I get to the gym, I am grateful that there is a staff of people willing to wake up and get to work before I get there! So on and so on.

Starting your day with itemizing things you are grateful for shifts your mindset for the day and makes you more appreciative for things we all take advantage of daily.

2) Verbalize It

Journaling is great, and I definitely recommend it because it helps us realize what we take for granted and really appreciate it when we see it on paper.

Think of what you would write down… Do you ever think to tell the subject itself that you are grateful for it? I am not talking about telling your house that you appreciate it, but what about the accountant who does your taxes? The barista who makes your coffee a couple of times a week? The person who let you go ahead of them in a line that was already taking forever?

You might tell your spouse or significant other that you love and appreciate them every day, but how about the custodian at work? Or the concierge at your apartment building? Going out of your way to say thank you can make a huge difference. It can make someone who feels unappreciated feel like they are getting credited for their hard work. It can make someone who is unmotivated or who has lost their drive feel that acknowledgment for their efforts.

Say something! It can make all the difference!

3) Care For Your Things

One way to show your gratitude for material things is to take care of them! There is a fine line here because there are two extremes that people can go to. For example, say you just got your dream car. You might be overly obsessive and not want to drive it too much to put too many miles on it, or you might want to take it everywhere and let all of your friends joy-ride in it with you.

The perfect middle ground might look something like driving it economically and rotating the tires, changing the oil, and washing it regularly. You don’t want to diminish the value all too quickly, but you want to get use out of your big purchase. This is how we show our material things how grateful we are for them: by giving them a little TLC.

4) Nourish Your Relationships

Just like your material things, your relationships deserve some TLC as well. You can show your gratitude for your friends, family, and/or significant other in so many ways other than just saying it. Think about a daily chore you could take off their shoulders, a small gift they would love, an activity that is something they like to do to enjoy with them.

In small ways we can show the people we love that we appreciate them. All it takes is doing something to make their day more enjoyable and at no large cost. Consider learning their love language and aiming towards that. Sometimes you can show your appreciation for someone by, simply, sitting on the couch and watching a game or their favorite tv show with them. Learn more about the love languages in the book attached below.

5) Pay it Forward

Everyday, I write and think about how much I appreciate the generosity of others. After all, my livelihood depends on it. Sometimes I am truly amazed at the way that people give to others. Have you ever watched those viral videos where someone randomly gives out hundreds of dollars? Or any of the Ellen Shows? It just blows me away–talk about life goals!

The only way I could think of showing my gratitude in this aspect is to pay it forward and spread the generosity. Have you ever been on the receiving end of this? Think of a time when someones random act of kindness totally re-routed the way your day was going. You can be that person, too. All you have to do is, simply, pay it forward.

By paying it forward, you are spreading that generosity bug and creating that continuum of people giving to others. It creates a whole chain reaction creating endless amounts of gratitude in others. Learn more about Paying it Forward and what it means to me by clicking here.

What did I do today to show my gratitude?

I was sincerely thinking about all of this today during my workout. I thought, I need to be better about showing people I love how much they mean to me. As a part of my Friday morning ritual, I stop at Starbucks and treat myself to a non-fat, no-water, Chai with 2 shots of espresso. It is my way of rewarding myself for a week well-lived.

The line for the drive-thru was so long, but this kind gentleman let me in before him. While I was in the line, I was really thinking about how much I missed my sister and how hard she has been working with her promotion. I decided it would be a great idea to buy her a nice lunch, so I went on Venmo and sent her some money with a little message telling her that I was grateful for her and how hard of a worker she is.

And in that happy place of gratitude, I decided to buy the order for that kind gentleman behind me and the car behind him. It is so awesome to think that while this guy was (likely) on his way to work, he let me go in front of him in line… and (again, likely) before his morning coffee! I think that courteously letting someone in line before you during a busy morning rush creates that generosity chain reaction. What he gave was his time, and that is more valuable than money or material things.

What I am grateful for today:

Today I am grateful for my family and the strong bonds we all share.

Me and my (not so) little brother!

What are you grateful for today? How will you show it? Let me know in the comments!

XO,

Sonja Hoff

7 Necessities for Flying

I am usually not one to be overly prepared for travel with packing in advance or having a checklist, but I always have what I need to get me through the flight! Here are my travel necessities:

1) Filtered Water Bottle

No, you can’t take water through airport security… You, also, don’t want to spend $6 on a water bottle at stores by your gate. But, you definitely need to ensure you stay hydrated while you spend your day traveling.

I bring an empty filtered water bottle with me to the airport and fill it up at water fountains after I am through security. This way, I save money and I don’t have to wait on someone to wait on me at a restaurant or on the plane to get good, filtered water.

It is so worth the investment, and it is useful in your daily life. I bring my water bottle with me to the gym, in the car while running errands, to work, and to my room when I am sleeping. This way, I have access to filtered water always, and I make sure that I am drinking enough water.

2) Your Favorite Devices and Headphones

I am not the kind of person to be irritated by every little thing that happens on a flight. Yes, there is a simple etiquette people should follow while traveling, but I will never be the person to be angry about crying babies on a plane. That is because I will always have headphones on me with a full charge and a back up plan. I am obsessed with my AirPods, but I always bring a backup pair of headphones just in case.

Also, I bring my iPad with movies already downloaded onto it, and my phone with music that I want to listen to already downloaded. This way, I prevent having to pay for WiFi or downloading entertainment while up in the air.

Make sure to have a full charge on your devices before leaving the house so that you don’t have to worry about your phone, tablet, laptop, or headphones die. If they do…

3) Portable Battery & Chargers

The most annoying thing on a flight while you are watching your favorite movie or playing a game on your tablet is to have your device’s battery die. Also, having to wait to charge your device once you land is the most inconvenient thing, but it must be done. If you get a portable battery pack and bring your USB charging cords, you’ll be prepared to charge multiple devices or one device multiple times!

Again, the portable battery is good to have for so many other things than just flying. Think about how many activities you do where you don’t have access to an outlet… Yeah, this is definitely worth buying. You can get these for $10 at Walmart if you are in a rush, but I shared a higher quality charger that lasts a lot longer. This is one of those things where you get what you pay for–if you want a portable battery that will last longer and charge faster, you might have to pay a higher price.

4) Comfort Items

I know there are some of you who absolutely cannot sleep on a flight, so this may not apply to you specifically. I have my cute, leopard-print neck pillow that I love, but it is so not convenient to pack into a carry-on or personal item. The item featured above is so much more convenient to pack, and it is comfortable. You just wrap it around your neck, secure it with the Velcro tab, and relax or rest your head against it. Simple enough, right?

Another thing that you should always bring on a flight for comfort is layers. No one wants to lug around a big blanket or jacket in the airport. For me, the less I have to carry, the better! Pretty much, if it won’t fit in my back pack, I won’t bring it with. I just bring a nice, over-sized sweater or jacket that I can wear if I get cold, or I can squeeze it easily into my backpack. Which brings me to the next necessity:

5) A Small Backpack with Organizational Compartments

A good backpack that keeps all of your things organized can help take away the stress of traveling. When you go through security, you can remove your devices easier if they have their own space. Also, when you have your backpack shoved under the seat in front of you, you don’t want to be digging through your bag forever trying to find something. If you have a high quality backpack with a laptop or tablet compartment, you’ll be able to access those devices with ease.

6) A Good Book

This is the book I just read, the book I am reading right now, and the book I am reading next. The first two are fast reads that could be finished within a plane ride or two. I don’t even know what book I’ll be reading while I am flying to Nashville next month, but I think it is always a good idea to bring a book with you because you never know when that could be your only form of entertainment!

Click here for more great books!

7) Protein Bars

Yes, you can actually bring snacks through airport security. That being said, you’ll want to bring something with high protein and enough sugar to get you through your travel day. I always keep a few with me when traveling because there isn’t always time to get food, or there isn’t always something that you’ll want by your gate.

Aside from that, it is way cheaper to bring your own food than to buy meals at an airport. Also, protein bars are easily packed away and are a good source of energy. Of course, these may pale in comparison to a good meal, but protein bars do provide you with a good source of energy!

I hope you find these products to be helpful for your next trip!

What else is a necessity for your travels? Let me know in the comments!

XO,

Sonja Hoff

25 Things Before 25: Week 4 Update

10/18/19-10/24/19

I am so excited to announce that this is my 50th blog post on Simply Sonja! I am 4 months back in the blogging world, and I am loving every minute of it!

Aside from reaching this milestone, this was such a great week of work! Sometimes, I get sucked into working longer hours or more days, but it really does pay off!

The Service Industry

So one thing that comes along with being a server/bartender is the unreliable income. Yes, we do get an hourly wage, but most of our income is based on tips. That being said, you want it to be busy because you literally work for the money you make. The more people that come through and the higher sales you have, the more money you make. Well, this week was a busy one and I appreciated every minute of it!

You do have to take the busy days as a make up for the slower days, though. There is actually a busy season, too. Winter weather and holidays have a huge effect on those in the service industry because, like I said, we are dependent on people coming in. Bad weather and road conditions keeps people at home, and the lull after the holidays where people are living their New Years Resolutions keeps people from going out.

Planning

It is so important to plan for the slower season and just save in general. So–one thing I didn’t mention–I have been saving separately from my usual savings plan. I thought it would be fun to add a savings challenge to my 25 Things Before 25 adventure. In an effort to start something new, I researched some other savings/investment opportunities and came across this app called Acorn.

I had actually heard about this app on the Ellen Show when Ashton Kutcher mentioned it. I just never looked into until it kind of fell into my lap and I knew I wanted to start an account right away. Well, like I said, I had a busy work week which provided me with the extra cash to begin an investment account with Acorn. I am just a happy customer now as my investments have already grown and they give you wonderful opportunities to have other companies invest in your accounts when you spend money on their products. I just think it is so awesome that they can make investing and saving money so easy and rewarding!

**I am not affiliated with this app in any way, I am just a very happy customer**

I do have other investment accounts that I have contributed to for years, I am just so pleased at everything you can get through this app! I truly believe that this will help me with my savings goals because it provides so many opportunities to earn what they call “Found Money.” I definitely recommend researching this app, and I will have a blog about this app and the importance of investing coming up this week!

What I Have Accomplished

Okay, so I have finally decided to give myself a break and just be proud of what I am able to accomplish each week, especially when I am working so much. This week I am celebrating accomplishing 12 tasks which brings my running total to 42 completed tasks. I spent a lot of time with my family, I worked so hard in the gym, I made time to get to the nail salon, and I found a great way to make my money grow! I think that is a lot to squeeze into a week with over 60 hours of work added into the mix. Here is what I accomplished this week:

  1. Wore a brand new outfit picked out by my mom (Number 5)
  2. Completed 8 of my routine workouts (Number 8)
  3. Got a new set of nails (Number 9)
  4. Had 2 firsts–created an Acorns investment account and signed up for the 60-Day Challenge at the gym (Number 16)

My Progress in Perspective

As I mentioned, I have a running total of 42 tasks completed in 4 weeks. According to my break down, I am 26 to 30 tasks behind. However, I am picking up the pace again! I am feeling so good about what I have accomplished and planned for myself this week.

I booked two round-trip flights to go to two different states that I have never been to before, and I planned another concert to attend. I, also, have done a bunch of research on things coming up that I really want to go to or participate in! Plus, there will be so many museums, concerts, and things that will be a part of this challenge that will be packed into my two trips!

Also, I can’t even begin to tell you how awesome it went being styled by my mom for the first time as an adult! Of course, we have had times shopping together where she’ll have a great find and it’ll be a great outfit, or she’ll gift me some clothes for Christmas that are always fashionable. But, head to toe, I have never let my mom pick out a whole outfit for me since I can remember. And, guys… she nailed it! I may not have had the confidence to choose this outfit on my own, but in the effort of sticking to the rules, I tried it on and it just worked. I did add in the camo fleece, but here is her pick (left) versus my added flare (right).

I loved it both ways, and we had such a wonderful mother-daughter-bonding date doing this. I wore this outfit to work, and I heard multiple compliments on my style from friends and strangers. I gave this one a 5 star rating! Good job, mom! Plus, these black booties are the greatest fall must-have!

Now, I know that, just as much as there are weeks where I have had less than 17 to 18 tasks completed, there will be weeks where I have many more than that! I just need to give myself some grace and trust that I can accomplish all of my goals. I know that I will get there, I am just working on getting into the groove.

Goals for October

Although I did not meet my 17 to 18 completed tasks, I did work my way towards my monthly goals this week! My October Goals are:

  1. Have at least one thing in each category completed by the end of the month.
  2. Post 2 or more blogs per week describing these adventures.
  3. Add videos of my experiences to Instagram!

This week I added to another category, posted 2 blogs, and added videos to my Instagram story! If you haven’t checked out my stories, you are missing out on some pretty funny anecdotes and outtakes of this journey.

I can truly say that I am having the time of my life with this journey. I know I can sound a little down-trodden at times, but the reason I started this whole challenge was to work on self-improvement in an adventurous way. A personal goal of my own is to be able to hold myself accountable without being too hard on myself.

Because of the challenges I faced soon after I got home from my birthday trip with my stingray sting and my virus, I had a little bit of a rocky start with 25 Things Before 25. Realistically, I don’t think I will have one thing in each category completed by the end of the month, but I will absolutely do the most I can.

The open categories I have after this week include States (Number 1), Mountains (Number 3), Donate (Number 6), Hairstyles (Number 10), Languages (Number 13), Shop Local (Number 14), Museums (Number 15), Pay it Forward (Number 19), Recipes (Number 21), Local Events (Number 23), 25 Blogs in One Month (Number 24), and Volunteer (Number 25). That is 12 categories that I haven’t touched… But who knows what this last week of October will bring!

We are down to the wire, and up for some amazing fun! I am not going to take it too hard if I do not complete one thing in each category because I have had to face adversities that kept me from doing a few things. I know there is plenty of time and many opportunities to complete the 900–now 858–tasks in the remaining 338 days of being 24!

I am slightly a numbers person if you couldn’t tell!

Can’t wait to see what Week 5/the last week of October holds!

Would you ever let your mom style you? Let me know in the comments!

XO,

Sonja Hoff

5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Busy Day

Ever wake up in a panic just knowing you have so much to accomplish in one day?

Does it ever seem overwhelming or impossible?

Well, worry not! Because, I got you!

Here is what I do to make my day the most productive:

1) Execute Your Morning Routine

We all have our morning routines… I suggest Hal Elrod’s SAVERS: silence, affirmations, visualization, exercise, read, and scribe. Whatever yours is, you need to stick to it even on busy days. Don’t let that anticipation interrupt your morning tranquility. It is so important to start your day on a high note!

If you start your day off rushing through your routine, that sets the tone for your day. Just take a breath, and go through each thing step by step.

When I skip out on one of my morning routine items, I have this feeling that the whole world is happening and I am 5 minutes behind. That is not a good way to feel for a whole day, so I might as well just start the day off right! Plus, I am so much more productive when I stick to my morning routine.

As my mom would say, when you start your day off productive like this, “the rest of the day is gravy.”

2) Get Ready Before Attempting the To-Do List

Aside from executing your perfected morning routine, you need to just make sure you get ready. No time for lounging around in your pajamas all morning–you are just procrastinating! Get in the shower, wash your face, put on fresh clothes, and feel good.

For me, this makes all of the difference! Usually I wake up and almost immediately go work out. When I get home from the gym, I find myself trying to dive right in to my to-do list because there is so much on it and so little time. As much as I need to get things done, at some point in the day I will need to be presentable. SO, might as well get that one out of the way at the beginning of the day, right?

Aside from just feeling good and refreshed, it starts your day off with a win! You didn’t procrastinate, and it’s one less thing to do! How many of you actually write down “get ready” on your to-do list? Or write in “shower” for its own time slot in your day planner? …*crickets* NONE of you? Am I right?

It is because you don’t think of this as a task you need to do, you might put this off until the last possible minute before you have to interact with people. This jeopardizes your timeliness, adds to your stress (because who likes to feel rushed when getting ready?), and is 100% preventable.

Get ready before you pursue you laundry-list of house chores, work tasks, and social interactions. Trust me, it makes the day flow with ease and minimizes stress.

3) Itemize and Prioritize

Think of all of the things you need to get done and write them down. I am talking pen and paper–not the Notes app on your iPhone. There is just something about writing something down on paper that gives you more perspective. This is where you can prioritize.

If you rank your to-do’s by priority from things that absolutely need to be done to things that could wait until tomorrow, you might realize that you don’t actually have that much that NEEDS to be done today. This is, also, helpful to ensure that you are getting the most important things done first.

Say one thing on your to-do list is to pay a credit card bill–or any bill, reallly–that is something that needs to be done in a time-sensitive manor. If this is prioritized on your to-do list, you’ll make sure that those bills are paid on time before you get wrapped up in another activity. Of course, now we can pay those bills at the click of the button, but getting these things done first ensures that you DO get them done.

As long as all of your high priority tasks are completed, the rest can wait until another available time slot.

4) Give Each To-Do Your Full Attention

I have mentioned that multitasking is not conducive to productivity. And I am a hardcore multitasking individual. Yet, I am completely aware of its destruction.

By attempting one activity at a time, you are able to give each task your full attention. For example, had I sat in my room to read today instead of watching/listening to the Broncos game while reading, I could have probably been half way done with my book. That is because multitasking decreases the amount of focus we are able to give each individual task.

I may have only spent 30 minutes actually reading, but a good play or the inflections in the announcers voices may have pulled my attention away for a total of 60 minutes. That makes it seem like it took an hour and a half to read a few chapters when it was a total of 30 productive minutes. Wouldn’t you want to get something done in 30 minutes rather than 90?

You may think that you are getting more done with doing two things at once, but you are actually taking more time to do less effective work.

That being said, I am all about watching a show while folding laundry, reading a magazine with music on in the background, or reading while walking/running on the treadmill. These and a handful of other tasks almost require multitasking, so there are exceptions.

My job is centered around the ability to multitask, so I am all about being able to do a few things at the same time. Like I said, there are a few exceptions and certain jobs/tasks that practically require the ability to multitask; however, most things can be done quicker and more effectively if you are concentrated on one single task.

5) Simplify and De-stress

I’ll put this simply: delete all of the complications. What I mean by that is to get rid of the stress and emotions tied to each task. Ask yourself: “What needs to be done?” and “How do I get this done?”

The answers to these two questions become your task at hand and your way to accomplish it. You don’t need to add stress to each activity by adding the questions, “What will happen if I can’t get this done?” or “What if this takes me too long?” or “What if this can’t be done?”

There doesn’t need to be a story, a reason or an explanation for everything. Sometimes you just have to DO. The action itself will ensure that your task at hand will be completed. Once you start moving, you are immediately closer to completion than you were before you started.

Give yourself a break and just focus on what you need to do and how you are planning to do it–two simple ways to change the connotation of a busy day from stressful to productive! PLUS, you can be so much more productive when you minimize the stress or overwhelming feelings because you will allow yourself to be more focused.

Think of it like going for a run. If you want to run a mile, that is a specific distance. Imagine you have chosen to run one mile and you run half a mile out on a trail. If you become worried that you can’t finish or that you can’t do it, you are equidistant from the start to the finish regardless. The worry or stress won’t help you teleport home. In fact, it will delay you from completing your run. You are already guaranteed to have to finish that one mile, and nothing but moving and remaining focused will get you out of that task. Break away from the emotion and just start running. You’ll be finished quicker than if you had just walked back or sat there agonizing over having to do it.

By applying these 5 steps to your busy day, you will enable yourself to be more productive.

The goal is to answer the question “How was your day?” without a big sigh and story. Instead, your day was productive and you made the absolute most of it by maximizing your productivity.

What do you find essential for your busy days?

Let me know in the comments!

XO,

Sonja Hoff

Tried these tips? Let me know your results below!

25 Books On My Reading List

You all know that reading 25 books is Number 2 on my 25 Things Before 25 challenge. Well, I decided to come up with a reading list of 25 books that I want to read for this part of the challenge so that I have a plan in line. I have already read the first book, which means I have 49 weeks to finish 24 more. Here is what I will be reading this year:

1) Dodging Energy Vampires by Christiane Northrup, M.D.

2) Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo

3) Super Attractor: Methods for Manifesting a Life beyond Your Wildest Dreams by Gabrielle Bernstein

4) Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges by Amy Cuddy

5) Secrets of Six-Figure Women: Surprising Strategies to Up Your Earnings and Change Your Life by Barbara Stanny

6) The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss

7) The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

8) Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brené Brown

9) Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

10) The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari: A Fable About Fulfilling Your Dreams & Reaching Your Destiny  by Robin Sharma

11) Failing Forward by John C. Maxwell

12) The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen Covey

13) The Art of Less Doing: One Entrepreneur’s Formula for a Beautiful Life by Ari Meisel

14) Playing the Matrix: A Program for Living Deliberately and Creating Consciously by Mike Dooley

15) Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself by Lissa Rankin, M.D.

16) Judgment Detox: Release the Beliefs That Hold You Back from Living A Better Life by Gabrielle Bernstein

17) The Universe Has Your Back: Transform Fear to Faith by Gabrielle Bernstein

18) Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear

19) The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo

20) Ask and It Is Given: Learning to Manifest Your Desires by Esther and Jerry Hicks

21) Becoming Supernatural: How Common People Are Doing the Uncommon by Dr. Joe Dispenza

22) Wishes Fulfilled: Mastering the Art of Manifesting by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

24) The Energy Codes: The 7-Step System to Awaken Your Spirit, Heal Your Body, and Live Your Best Life by Dr. Sue Morter

24) Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

25) The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz

Have you read any of these books before? What other books are you reading and loving?!

Let me know in the comments!

XO,

Sonja Hoff

25 Things Before 25: Week 3 Update

10/11/19-10/17/19

What a week! I am so thankful that after a week of craziness, I am finally feeling better and I had so much fun!

Weekly Updates

As some of you may have noticed, the weekly updates I have been posting are for Friday through Thursday because my birthday was on a Friday. I thought that it would make more sense doing it that way since this challenge lasts for one year–from September 27, 2019 to September 27, 2020. The only funny thing will be Week 52 which will be September 18 to September 27. If I could go back and change it to a Sunday through Saturday week, I, honestly, think I would. Since I have started it this way, though, I will likely stick with it for consistency.

Work Work Work Work Work Work

I am having my last day at the golf course this week, which will hopefully give me two days off per week! For those of you who didn’t know, I took a job at a beautiful golf course for part of the summer. Two of my best friends work there. They told me they needed help for a specific tournament and I had some free time, so I ended up taking on extra hours on top of my full-time job.

In the golf world, most people get a different job in the winter because it is centrally a Summer sport. For me, that means I can basically be on “pick-up” status where I only work when they call and ask me to help out, or a big event is happening. While finding a balance hasn’t seemed to be too much of a challenge, I am excited to have that time opened up to focus more on my blog and my dog!

What I Have Accomplished

Just like last week, my illness and busy work schedule did get the best of me when it came to completing these tasks. When you’re sick, it is important to give your body a break, but I always think that I can make it to the gym if I am still going to work. I completed 8 tasks and really hit the gym hard once I was feeling better. Here is what I accomplished this week:

  1. Completed 5 of my routine workouts (Number 8)
  2. Went to a concert–Josh Abbott Band (Number 11)
  3. Had a first–went to a concert alone (Number 16)
  4. Saw a new movie–Hustlers (Number 22)

My Progress in Perspective

I have a running total of 30 tasks completed in 3 weeks since I have turned 24. In last weeks update, I told you all I needed to average between 17 and 18 tasks per week with 5 to 6 being my routine workouts. This week I did meet the average for my routine workouts, but did not meet the 12 to 13 that I needed outside of that.

Again, I am being hard on myself as I am just getting started. I think when I began, I thought that I would be on it every week, but some weeks you do more than others. For instance, I recently booked a few trips that I am planning on having coffee dates with people I love, seeing out of state family members, going to museums, having a lot of “firsts,” and so much more. Plus, I love to read on airplanes or in the car or any ride-along form of transportation, so I know that I will be able to knock out 24 more books easily.

This week has been so full of fun and friends with many hours of work sprinkled into the mix, so I can’t be downtrodden about that. PLUS, I am feeling so much better, and I am so grateful! Outside of my challenge, I got to spend time with my niece and her mom and we did a fun fall photo session at a bridge near my house and had a nice lunch date. It was so great to have some family time with them!

I told you all that while 25 Things Before 25 will be a big part of my life this year, I am not going to let it take over my life. I want to incorporate my family into as many of my new adventures as possible, but that won’t always work out.

Goals for October

As I previously mentioned, I am not ecstatic about my progress this week, but I did make progress towards my October Goals this week. My October Goals are:

  1. Have at least one thing in each category completed by the end of the month, since I had 14 categories with nothing in them after the first week.
  2. Post 2 or more blogs per week describing these adventures.
  3. Add videos of my experiences to Instagram!

I did add to 1 new category (Number 11) by going to a concert! I have been thinking about how plausible it is to reach the goal of completing one thing from each category before the end of the month, and I just don’t know if I can do it.I am not doubting my capability, I am just thinking of how it may not really be an option to climb a mountain this month because it has been so cold.

Also, for Number 24, I could complete 25 blogs in one month this month because I am absolutely on track for that; however, I want to stick to my rules and have the blogs not be in the 25 Things Before 25 category. Including this blogging challenge may be what keeps me from completing at least one task in each category before October ends because it is 25 blogs to count towards completion. We’ll see how it goes!

I did post 3 blogs this week so I exceeded the second goal for this week! These blogs are Going to a Concert Solo, Do the Shuffle–How I got Stung by a Stingray in Clearwater Beach, and How I Turn Around My “Off” Days. For me, blogging comes easier when I feel as though I have a story to tell in which I learned a lesson. Each of these blogs featured an anecdotal story that I sincerely learned from. And I had so much fun writing those blogs!

Finally, I definitely went full force with the third goal. For those of you who watched my Instagram or Facebook stories while I was on my way to the concert, you know that I thoroughly embraced this goal. Whenever I have some potentially stressful situation occur, I find it best to make myself or others laugh. Well, that evening I was definitely laughing at myself, and I hope you were, too!

I can’t wait to see what the rest of this month has in store for me and to share it all with you! Thanks for following along!

XO,

Sonja Hoff

Click here to read more about 25 Things Before 25!

Find products that I find essential to my daily workouts by clicking on the pictures below!

Going to a Concert Solo

I am a huge fan of Texas country music! Some of my favorite artists and bands are Cody Jinks, Casey Donahew Band, Cody Johnson, Stoney LaRue, TurnpikeTroubadours, and Josh Abbott Band.

Tradition

My sister, Monikka, and I have actually been following Josh Abbott Band for about 7 years! They have some widely known songs like “She’s Like Texas” and “Oh, Tonight” featuring Kacey Musgraves. Almost every time the come to Denver and play at the Grizzly Rose, my sister and I have tried to make it to the concert. We would make a whole sisters date night out of it: getting dolled up, going to dinner, and enjoying the concert.

Why alone?

As most of you know, Monikka recently moved to Florida, so I didn’t have my built-in concert buddy to accompany me when Josh Abbott Band came to town this month. I asked a few friends, but it was late notice and so many people already had plans set. In reality, I wasn’t sure if I was up to going because I had been so sick all week. I had actually made alternative plans that didn’t end up working out. As I sat at home pondering how I would spend my last Friday night free before work really kicks into high-gear, my mom said, “Why don’t you just go by yourself?” And, you know, I couldn’t really think of a good excuse. I changed my clothes, made my brother take a few pictures of me, and went on my merry way.

The Drive

I think that the reason most people in my area don’t go to the Grizzly Rose is because it is further than you think. When you live in a suburb like Parker, you can get to DTC (Denver Tech Center) in less than 20 minutes, Downtown in 30-35 minutes, and the Grizzly Rose in about 45-60 minutes. So when you say “Denver,” it could mean a variety of things. From my house, the Rose is about 25 miles, but anyone who knows Denver knows that traffic always plays into a commute like that.

I was about 30 minutes into the drive when I noticed a large accident on Southbound I-25–approximately 7 miles from my destination. I heard a strange noise and immediately knew that I had a flat tire. Like a courteous driver, I turned on my cautions and tried to pull over to the right as other cars in traffic would allow. This was around 8:15 pm and, yes, there was still traffic.

When I finally got into the lane furthest to the right, there were so many other cars pulled into the shoulder so I couldn’t pull off the road. I was coming up on the exit to 6th which is a smaller highway with narrow shoulders on the side of the road, so I figured I better take my chance and pull off into the small shoulder area I had left on I-25 before entering that exit lane.

Flat Tire

When I pulled to a stop, I actually had to crawl over to the passenger side to get out of my car. I went to the rear passenger tire to confirm that I did indeed have a flat. Of course the second thing I did was call my mom. Luckily my dad has owned an auto body shop for over 30 years and used to race stock cars and late models, so I have someone pretty much around the clock to help me with anything car related.

In moments like these, you really realize how prepared (or unprepared) you actually are for this type of emergency. I realized a few things while pulling out my spare tire that I never have checked in the 5 months I have owned this car: (1) I have a full sized spare tire, (2) my jack is extremely hard to get out of trunk, and (3) I don’t have a tire iron. I am so thankful my dad was willing to come help me, although I am absolutely capable of changing a tire myself with the proper tools.

I waited and made a few phone calls and posted some funny blurbs about my night on Instagram as cars flew past me. Both of my parents showed up and my dad got to work right away–he brought his floor jack and a tire iron. I waited in my moms car and chatted with her for a little while my dad did all of the work. He actually had to put a lot of effort into getting my flat tire off, but still changed my tire in record time right on the side of the highway. I went back to my car, gave my dad a big hug, and headed for the concert.

There was actually a cut on the side of the tire we noticed once we got the tire off!

I Made It!

I showed up to the concert late, but I didn’t have to wait in line to get in! I figured I would know a ton of people there, but I really didn’t. So I had to put on my friendly smile and make some new friends, although I spent most of my time just listening to the music and dancing! Eventually, I saw one of my good friends I hadn’t seen in years and joined his group. I was so grateful to have made it there at all because I love this band and I love live music!

The Music

I seriously love this band, but I hadn’t really listened to any of their newer songs before the drive on the way to the concert. I am a sucker for their first album, She’s Like Texas, which includes the songs “She’s Like Texas” and “Oh, Tonight” which they played at the concert. However, Josh Abbott Band recently put out a new EP this year and played those 4 songs at the concert: “Little More You,” “Surprise Surprise,” “Oughta Get Drunk,” and “Catching Fire.” They mixed in songs from each of their albums and delivered an amazing set followed by an even better encore.

One thing I love about their music is their way of telling a story while keeping a more traditional format. The songs “Little More You” and “Surprise Surprise” were both written in this style and gave you that good ol’ country way of telling a story and including dialogue–not to mention, these songs are so catchy! The other two songs from the EP are more of anthem-type songs and are, also, very catchy. Overall, the new songs are nothing less than I would expect from such a great Texas country band.

After all of the craziness to get to the concert, I had to have the best night to make it all worth it. It’s kind of funny how it happens when you have just a colossal fail of a time, and then it turns into a funny story and great time after all. I am so happy I stepped out of my comfort zone and went to the concert by myself. SO WORTH IT!

I would definitely recommend to any live music enthusiast to go to the concert of the bands you love even if it is at last minute, and even if you have to go alone.

What is something you have done outside of your comfort zone that you never thought you would do?

Let me know in the comments!

XO,

Sonja Hoff

Going to a Concert Solo

25 Things Before 25: Week 2 Update

10/4/19-10/10/19

It sure was a stressful week this week with being sick and having issues with my foot from being stung by a stingray while I was in Florida. Here’s what happened:

Back Into Work Full Swing

I just got back from Florida at the beginning of the week, so this update comes to you post-vacation and adjusting from beach life to work life. At my job, you have to sometimes pull a 10 to 11 hour shift on Friday and Saturday nights. While I didn’t have to pull that shift on Friday, I did on Saturday. Everything was going well–it was a steady night, which is good in my world. As soon as it slowed down, I immediately felt a fever coming on and dizziness along with a head ache. I thought I was just tired from burning the candle at both ends with working two jobs and keeping up on social appearances. I was in for a little more of a trip when I thought to check my foot–it was pretty bruised all week from being stung in between the toes.

Remember My Fun Trip to Florida?

So a week prior, I had been stung by a stingray in Clearwater Beach. I wasn’t in any pain after initially being stung and treated at the local fire station. The firefighters did say to watch for infection and I suddenly had thought of this at work when I began feeling sick. I took off my boot and sock to notice that my foot went from a decent sized bruise to extremely inflamed and a large red area around the wound–you can read more about the experience by clicking here.

Once I got into a doctor Sunday, they told me to take it easy and prescribed me antibiotics to treat the infection. I am not one to ever take it easy, but I have been good about taking my antibiotics. All in all, I am feeling better aside from this awful cold I have been fighting at the same time! This week was a bit of a rough one for me, so I didn’t accomplish as much of my 25 Things Before 25 tasks as I was hoping.

What I Have Accomplished

I wrote last week that I didn’t complete as many of my 25 Things Before 25 tasks as I had hope in Week 1… Well, the universe was listening and gave me a little reminder to not be so tough on myself. This week I accomplished 8 tasks and had a tough time doing so! Honestly, I am going to just be proud of myself for getting anything done at all with being so sick and working so much. Also, beyond just working away at each individual task, I worked towards my October goals and got a lot of writing done! This week, my focus and ability to participate in activities was compromised, but here is what I did accomplish:

  1. Completed 4 of my routine workouts (Number 8)
  2. Got a new set of nails (Number 9)
  3. Memorized a bible verse (Number 12)
  4. Tried a new product (Number 18)
  5. Saw a new movie (Number 22)

My Progress in Perspective

As I mentioned, being sick and having my foot injury definitely got the best of me this week. I took the time to crunch the numbers, and while they aren’t looking wonderful, I am still on track to meet my goals. I am trying not to be too hard on myself because we all need a break now and again; getting sick is kind of a good reminder to slow down sometimes. At the end of Week 2, I have completed 8 new tasks and 22 tasks total of 900. I should be averaging 17-18 a week with 5 to 6 being my routine workouts. As you can see, I have not participated in all of my workouts due to being sick. No one wants to be in the gym next to someone coughing and sneezing everywhere, right? I only went on the days I woke up feeling good enough. I don’t think I have been sick all year, so this is really a shock to me.

Goals for October

Although I have spent the week either in bed or at work, I did make progress towards my October goals that I shared with you all last week. My October goals are:

  1. Have at least one thing in each category completed by the end of the month, since I have 14 categories with nothing in them after the first week.
  2. Post 2 or more blogs per week describing these adventures.
  3. Add videos of my experiences to Instagram!

I did add to 2 more categories, so that leaves only 12 categories with nothing in them after Week 2! I began writing 2 blog posts (they weren’t actually published until Week 3). I also, added videos to my Instagram story which brought a lot of feedback! All in all, I am glad I chipped away at each of these goals so that in the next 21 days I will likely have completed each goal!

Thanks for tuning in to see how Week 2 has gone! Check back for the Week 3 Update next Monday!

I’m off to watch my Packers play Monday Night Football!

XO,

Sonja Hoff

Click here to learn more about 25 Things Before 25!

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