hello may

When I sat down yesterday to review my April goals and start planning for May, I did a lot of reflecting — more reflecting, I think, than I’ve done since I started this monthly goals process back in January. I wasn’t expecting for it to happen… it just kind of happened, but after the crazy ups and downs of April, it felt really good.

Last month started on a really calm note. The warmer spring weather gave me this unbelievable sense of freedom, and I’ll never forget the first afternoon I spent working on a rooftop overlooking the Manhattan skyline. That moment felt like a new chapter of this working-for-myself journey. After a long winter in my home office, I felt totally unleashed, like I was finally going to start living all of the luxuries that people associate with being self-employed. In the second half of the month, though, all of those feelings just sort of got lost in the mix of a heavy workload and a lot of weekend commitments. I became a total workaholic. I reflected on all of this — and how I can handle it better going forward — while working on my goals for this month.

With that in mind, here’s how I did with my plans for April:

  • Finish first draft of three chapters of the book. So. Something kind of crazy happened. I was deep into the second chapter of my book over the weekend when I decided that I’m scrapping the project and starting over. (hah!) I’ve had a nagging feeling in my stomach for the past few months that I need to go back to the drawing board, and I’m finally going to listen to my gut. The fact that I’ve been working on this at such a slow pace is a sign to me that this isn’t the exact book I’m supposed to write, and I don’t want to waste any more time.
  • Successfully pitch another article to the New York Post. √ YES! Stay tuned! I’m really excited to share this one with you.
  • Read at least 3 books. I’m halfway into my third book for the month, so I didn’t quite get there. I finished The Rules Do Not Apply and What Remains and am now working my way through The Animators, which I’m loving.
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Sneak peek of one of my favorite spreads of the finished album!
  • Finish our wedding album! √ YES! Matt took a last look at the pages this weekend and gave his final OK. Yay! I’m so excited to order the album. I fully expect to pore over it every day for at least a month.
  • Move ahead with new project/outlet leads. √ YES! I worked really hard in April to keep the momentum going around new projects and to maintain relationships with new contacts, and I think I did a pretty good job. It got a little overwhelming to keep track of everything about halfway through the month, but I bought a big whiteboard for the office and came up with a new system to organize it all, which has been helping a lot.
  • Meet half of my fundraising goal for the Brooklyn Half. I made it to about 35% of my goal, which is nothing to sneeze at! There’s still plenty of time to donate, though! Check out this link if you’d like to show your support for Alex’s Lemonade Stand.
  • Work on a new creative/craft project. √ YES! A few weeks ago, I walked up and down the aisles at Michael’s trying to figure out what project I wanted to work on, and left after about an hour, feeling totally uninspired by everything. Later that night, I found an old crossword puzzle book, and it turns out that it was exactly what I needed! Crosswords weren’t what came to mind when I first set this goal for myself, but it turns out that creative thinking was really the outlet I needed (at least for now).

And now, it’s time for May! I made one change to the way I do my monthly goals this time around. If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you probably know that I usually make goals around successfully pitching stories to particular outlets every month. Going forward, I’ll be making a list of “focus outlets” each month instead. I’ve learned that a lot of the pitching process is out of my control, but I can focus on a handful of sites and publications by researching them, reading their content, and pitching ideas when it makes sense. In some ways, I think I was setting myself up for failure before, and I like this method a lot better. For May, I’m going to be keeping my list of focus outlets to myself (because the list is on the long side), but I’ll be excited to share where that goes in the future! Here are my other goals for the coming month:

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There are few things that make me happier than a new notebook. Seriously.
  • Reboot the book project and start a fresh outline. I can’t believe I’m going back to the start of the outline, but I know it’s the right next step. This weekend, I bought a fresh notebook, which has always been a symbol for me of something new and exciting!
  • Break into a new outlet or start working with a new client. I have some new sites on my radar and I’m in talks with a few companies about corporate blogging, etc.
It was so fun cheering on my friends at their half marathon this weekend in Central Park. They totally inspired me for my race in a few weeks!
  • Break two hours in the Brooklyn Half. My training has been super up and down this year, so I don’t know if I’ll set a personal record, but I’d like to finish at a time comparable to the last two years I’ve raced.
  • Change up my work environment. In April, I was totally in “keep your head down and work” mode, and while it’s great to be focused, I feel like this attitude meant that I was going through the motions every day — and that’s not very inspiring, is it? My goal for May is to try to switch up my surroundings at least once a week (and to find outdoor work spaces as much as possible!).
  • Invest fresh energy in the blog. I’m excited about some of the things I have coming up here on Finding Plan A!
  • Book a vacation with Matt. We’ve started planning two getaways — one long weekend for our anniversary in June and one “bigger” trip for later this year. I’m hoping to get one officially on the books in the next few weeks.
  • Read three books. I love having this goal on the list every month!
  • Higher quality “me time.” In the craziness of April, I defaulted a little too much to binge watching on Hulu every time I had a spare moment — and I don’t think that refreshed me in the way I needed it to. This month, I am going to be more intentional about taking time for myself a few times a week. I’m learning that being alone while I’m working from home is definitely not the same as real “alone time”… and this introvert needs some of that!

What are your goals for May? Tell me in the comments below!