I have always loved “getting down to business” scenes in movies. A group of friends banding together to tidy/build/improve the appearance of something (I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the real-people version of Pippi Longstocking, but the “cleaning day” bit is so satisfying); a scrappy sports team finally taking practice seriously (any ’90s sports movie starring Rick Moranis, really) — those roll-up-your sleeves montages that inspire tiny, feel-good fires inside.
One of my all-time favorites is Cher’s emotional makeover in Clueless. She puts on a pair of unflattering 501s, buttons up a sensible cardigan, then clips the front of her silky locks back so that she’s not tempted to run her fingers through her hair, triggering a mall craving. From there, she transitions into better-Cher mode. She donates canned goods, volunteers, cools it with the superficial hooey and becomes a part-time paralegal. In other words, she gets her life together!
That’s me right now. I am in down-to-business mode. D2B. Just me and my cardigan with my rolled-up sleeves and my bangs clipped back and my sensible jeans, ready to be a better version of myself.
As a non-Beverly Hills socialite, here’s what that means: identify all sore spots, come up with goals and solutions, give myself deadlines and take action. I have made a calendar and everything to hold me accountable. It’s boring and way less fun than Pretty Winter, but also satisfying. Here’s my April through May list:
1. Problem: I spend too much money on unnecessary things, like cabs and expensive salads that I hate anyway.
Goal: Stop doing that.
Solution: Start “small and reasonable.” This means eliminating cabs and cooling it with the gold-flecked lunches. Once I’m in a groove, I’ll find something else to downsize.
Deadline: Two weeks to implement a walking commute and a make-food-at-home strategy (that I will actually stick to).
2. Problem: I am always late.
Goal: Be early.
Solution: Stop dicking around. But also, commit to one less thing a day. Over and over again, I overestimate how much I can get done, leaving me constantly behind. Being behind freezes me in anxiety, so then, instead of doing anything, I sit on the corner of my bed for 20 minutes and stare out the window while panicking. Also, give myself more time to get places and lace-up my sneakers on the daily to walk everywhere so that A) I can listen to more podcasts and B) I don’t get stuck in traffic or on the subway.
Deadline: Two weeks to break the bad habit with passes on rain days. Gotta be realistic.
3. Problem: I’m working out but not taking it seriously. I lost track in March, which bled a bit into April, and now I’m like, “Meh, do I have to?”
Goal: Work out four times a week, not including yoga (plus, lift my butt up an inch). WHY NOT, OKAY?
Solution: Put workouts at the top of my social to-do list four times a week. Workouts rank above everything else. If friends want to join, great. Getting people to work out with me rather than drink with me back in February annoyed everyone but kept me way healthier.
Deadline: The four-times-a-week commitment has already begun.
4. Problem: I don’t have enough time in the day.
Goal: To not feel like I am constantly running from thing to thing.
Solution: This ties into the lateness plan and committing to less. But also, go to bed earlier, make morning workouts earlier, which — though brutal to wake up for — means I have less reason to cancel, less stress surrounding the emails I’m not answering and more time to breathe a bit before the work day begins.
Deadline: I’ve actually successfully done this for a week. By waking up earlier, I have about 45 extra minutes to do me.
5. Problem: My friendship to-do list from January keeps growing.
Goal: Cross off all wedding and baby gifts that I need to buy and mail. Write all December thank-you cards.
Solution: Buy three gifts per paycheck and mail them right away since, hopefully, I’ll have a little extra money from not taking cabs. Block off two hours this weekend to do the thank-yous and other etiquette housekeeping.
Deadline: Must be completed by Memorial Day weekend.
Wish me luck, but also, I need company and solidarity. Who’s with me for a pre-summer down-to-business session? And what’s on your list?
Collage by Maria Jia Ling Pitt; images via Getty images, GIF via Giphy.