married (almost) two years.

Hi, friends!

I feel like I’ve been a little absent from this special place lately and I want to say a big “I’M SORRY!” for that. Between some unexpected travel over the last few weeks and lots of preparation for next week’s podcast launch (on top of my standard workload), I’ve had to let certain things fall off of my always growing to-do list… and sadly, new blog posts have often been the things to fall. I’m savoring the opportunity to touch base with all of you whenever I have it : )

The big news in our house right now is that Matt and my second wedding anniversary is coming up this weekend.

Two years? I really can’t believe it.

This second year somehow went even faster than the first (which itself went by in the blink of an eye, to use a crazy cliché), and with just a few days to go before we celebrate our anniversary, I couldn’t miss the chance to do a little reflecting on what I’ve learned about marriage over the last 365 days. We’re marking the occasion with a long weekend trip to Mexico (!!!!), which is another reason why I’m coming to you early.

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Before we were married, a lot of people told Matt and me that the first year of marriage was bound to be the most difficult. As of our wedding day, we’d already been together for seven years and had been living together for a few months, so I was admittedly skeptical of this advice. (Also, I’m not a big fan of marriage advice that’s basically just a warning. Can we stop handing out “wisdom” like this at bridal showers, please?) I was happy to find that I was right. Relationship-wise, Year One didn’t prove a major challenge. I was going through tons of personal change — most significantly, a serious career shift and transition to working from home and for myself — and investing tons of work in being successful there, and Matt and I kind of chugged along in our new chapter, still loving the newlywed phase and doing things mostly the same way we always had.

Matt and I agree that Year Two has been a little harder.

We’ve both stepped up in terms of our professional ambitions, and we’ve had to learn to better reconcile our individual goals with doing what’s best for the home team.

We’re continuing to grow together, but we’re also getting more set in our ways in certain aspects… and since the Kosik household is a stubborn one to begin with (fully admitting to it!), we’ve had to continue to figure out how to best communicate with each other.

We’ve had to confront the realities that come with time passing, which has set tough conversations — the kind of tough conversations that seem to need attention every day for months at a time — in motion. Enter more lessons in communication.

As hard as some of these growing pains have been, I see now that they’ve made us so much stronger as a couple, and that they’ve helped me grow into a better version of myself, too. People say that marriage will do that to you, and I guess I’ll happily accept — and agree with — that advice. I am so genuinely excited to celebrate all of the learning experiences and amazing times of the last year in Mexico this weekend. If I do say so myself, we deserve it, and I know we’re going to have the best time. (P.S. if you want to read the recap of our first anniversary weekend, you can check it out here!)

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My engaged friends have asked me on more than one occasion if it really feels different to be married than it does to be in a serious, long-term relationship, and while it’s hard for me to put that difference in words sometimes, I usually say a little something like this:

“When things are easy, it feels the same. You mostly feel different when there’s conflict or when you’re facing something challenging together.”

I was pretty much in it for the long haul with Matt within less than a year of our first date (even though I was a sophomore in college and had no idea what I was doing), and I rarely approached fights or conflict with a mindset of “I could get out of this,” but marriage has taught me even more about how to come to the other side of a tough conversation or situation with someone. As hard as it is sometimes to get up every day and try to work through a fundamental difference, you do work through it! And you realize that it’s not impossible if you can show up consistently to figure out where you and your partner can find common ground. In my opinion, that common ground is what helps you fall even more love. (Cheesy, I know — but it is my anniversary week, so cut me some slack!)

For nine years, I’ve known that there’s no one I’d rather laugh with or watch movies with or go to dinner with or even fight with than Matt. But this year has taught me that there’s no one else I would choose to figure out basically all the things with, either. He continues to be my favorite person and I love him infinitely more even than the day we got married two years ago. That was a hard thing to imagine back in June 2016, but it’s proven absolutely true.

Matt, you are the very, very best. Can’t wait to see what Year Three brings! 

 

 

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my early writing memories.

A lot of my free time recently has been dedicated to reading books from my childhood. (If you’re not sure why, you can read more over on the newly-launched SSR Podcast page!). While I’ve definitely experienced these stories differently the second time around, the simple act of cracking the binding has given me my fair share of flashbacks, too.

Reading one book brought back intense memories of sitting in a navy blue lounge chair near the pool at my grandmother’s old house while I was visiting her for summer vacation. I’m pretty sure we were snacking on cantaloupe.

Another book reminded me of a plane ride to Orlando.

Still another took me back to sitting on the front porch of our rented beach house at the Jersey shore. Back then, it felt like the biggest treat to be able to stay up as late as I wanted, alone with my book and the sound of other beachgoers walking back to their houses as the sky got darker. (For the record, the mark of a good beach trip for me these days is a 10 PM bedtime. Getting older is weird.)

And, yes, I obviously have the clearest memories of vacation reading. 

But how cool is that? The fact that a single chapter or passage in a book I’ve barely thought of over the past 15 years can make me so clearly sense what it was like to read that book the first time — where I was, what I was smelling, how the air felt — is pretty darn cool.

All of these reading throwbacks have gotten my wheels turning on a few writing memories, too.

Writing was a “thing” for me by the time I was eight years old, largely because I was lucky enough to wind up in an elementary school chock full of teachers who embraced more than just a required reading list. They wanted us to learn to tell our own stories, as well, and it quite literally shaped and changed my life. I didn’t know back then exactly what kind of writer I would be when I grew up, but I did understand that the practice of writing would play a major role in whatever happened to me in the future.

Here are some of my earliest writing memories…

… for years, I only took baths — never showers. I used to rest my notebooks on the edge of the tub so I could work on my stories while sitting in the cooling water.

… my first grade teacher had this spiral-bound reference book that was part baby name book, part thesaurus, part dictionary. The idea was to use it to make your writing more creative and to shake up the kinds of nouns and verbs you were using in your work. I pored over this thing so much that my parents ended up asking my teacher where we could order one of our own, and I carried it with me everywhere.

… my classmates and I were introduced to SSR (Silent Sustained Reading — the inspiration for my podcast!) in first grade, but in second grade we learned about SSW — Silent Sustained Writing. A few times a week, we got to sit at our desks and write whatever we wanted. It was the best.

… another staple of my elementary school experience was the “Read In,” a day near the end of the school year when we all got to wear pajamas to school and build makeshift campsites in the classroom where we got to sit and read all day. At some point, we got to have a “Write In.” I’m pretty sure I brought three empty notebooks to school that day, convinced I would be able to fill them with that time.

… my fourth grade teacher had a filing cabinet where we all got to keep our creative writing projects, and instead of working on a bunch of short stories, I asked if I would be allowed to try to write a book. She said yes. My first attempt at a book — which spent that year getting increasingly crammed into my folder in that cabinet — was called Carrie’s Ride Home, and it was about a girl who figured out how to teach her blind little sister how to ride horses. (I was super into horses at the time, too.)

… I always traveled with plenty of blank paper. I remember sitting on the deck of my grandfather’s house in Florida with a princess hat on, fervently scratching away at one of my beloved notebooks. I refused any notebooks that weren’t five-subject, with skinny lines.

… one of my favorite things was to read my work out loud to my mom, which is weird, since I now pretty much refuse to share any of my creative writing with anyone. It was always a “stop everything!” kind of moment, where I required her full attention.

… as a third grader, I decided that I wanted to start a class newspaper. I tried assigning out stories to my classmates and set up a little desk in the back of the classroom (with my teacher’s permission). I remember getting really frustrated because the other kids weren’t as excited about it as I was.

… luckily for me, most of my friends were as interested in writing as I was, and we experimented with lots of writing projects together — plays we would perform in my basement, “books” in alternating viewpoints, and stories we would simply work on together painstakingly, line-by-line.

Ah, these were so fun to revisit!

What are some of your favorite, most random childhood memories? 

 

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a weekend down the shore.

If you’re worrying about the grammatical correct-ness of the title of this post, don’t. “Down the shore” is Pennsylvania/New Jersey/(probably some other places, too)-speak for basically any part of the Jersey shore. You don’t go “to the shore.” You go “down the shore.” Don’t ask me why. 

Growing up in Pennsylvania, most of the kids I knew spent some time at the beach every summer. Most people went somewhere in New Jersey, though there was a small group that frequented Delaware. There are tons of beach towns to choose from, and every family seemed to have their allegiance to one. For us, it was Ocean City, NJ, a place I’ve been visiting (literally) every summer since I was born.

There are few places that stick with me the way Ocean City does. I know my way around there better than I do here in Broolyn, and maybe even better than in my hometown. I can navigate by car, on foot, or by bike. It’s probably the only place in the world where I can point you north, south, east, and west without thinking about it for too long. As I’ve grown up, Ocean City only feels more and more important to me.

My family does our big trip there every August, and one of the bummers of getting older is that I’m no longer able to stay with them for the full two-week duration of the vacation. (Responsibilities, ugh.) We try to get down for shorter visits as often as we can at other times of the year, and Matt and I managed to sneak a quick trip down this past weekend. We’ve both been working our booties off the last few weeks (you can read more about my recent case of overwhelm here), and even though we have a big anniversary weekend trip planned at the end of the month, it seemed absolutely necessary that we escape for a little down time ASAP.

I don’t have that much to say about it except that I’m really glad we went.

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I’m not someone who spends a lot of time thinking about the weather forecast, so (naturally) I discovered just two days before we planned to go that it was probably going to rain all weekend. By that time, Matt and I were both so committed to the idea of the trip that we probably would have gone even if they were predicting an early June snowstorm. As my dad always says, “A rainy day at the beach is better than a sunny day at home.” So true, Dad, so true.

We ended up with better weather than expected — so much that we actually spent most of Saturday on the beach reading. It was a little too chilly for full-on sunbathing, so we left our bathing suits behind and wore t-shirts and sweats instead. Somehow, even while bundled up, we still managed to get sunburned! Go figure. I was just so grateful to be outside with my book and my husband and the smell of the water that I didn’t even consider that there could be so much sun coming through all the hazy clouds.

We weren’t quite as lucky with the weather on Sunday, but we kept the relaxation going with more reading (duh), marathons of The Office, and visits to some new (to us) restaurants in the area. Start to finish, our whole trip was only about 17 waking hours or so, but it felt way longer than that, which I’ll take as a sign that we really needed the down time… and totally got it, too.

What are your most relaxing places? Tell me more in the comments below! 

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monthly goals recap -> may + june.

Does something seem a little weird to you about this post?

Well, it should. It’s the first time I’ve ever shared a new blog post over a weekend.

“Why?” you ask.

Funny story: I was fully planning to tell you all about my May and June monthly goals yesterday. I even had it on my calendar. You can check! And then this week kicked my butt. I guess that’s pretty much the end of the story.

I tell you this not only to awkwardly draw attention to the weird break from routine that absolutely breaks my little Type A heart, but also to illustrate an overarching theme for my June goals, which you’ll read more about below.

I need to streamline.

I started to unload all of these thoughts on Brittney yesterday after we recorded her interview for my podcast (get more details here and follow along on Instagram if you want!), and — as always — she gave me some great advice. “You can’t keep adding and adding and adding,” she said. “At a certain point, you need to subtract a few things. It sounds like you’re scared to do that.” And she’s right. I am! It took me so long to establish myself as a writer and to get my income up to a place where it rivals what I was making in my corporate job that I can’t help but feel some innate sense of failure at the mere thought of unloading any one of my gigs… even if doing so will make room for bigger and better opportunities. These are some seriously tough calls, friends.

The last few weeks have been a wake-up call, though. I experienced some amazing mindset shifts in May. I stopped fixating on the possibility that we might leave New York and started focusing on making cool things happen for myself in the here and now. I became a member at The Wing. I started sleeping again (Matt says I shouldn’t say this so explicitly because I might jinx it, but, whatever). I made huge strides in getting ready to launch my podcast on June 26 and finally got to share it with other people. So many things fell into place and I felt so much better about so many things, which made it even easier to notice what isn’t working.

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With all that in mind, let’s jump into a recap of my May goals. Otherwise, I could ramble on forever : ) Check out last month’s goal post here if you need a refresher.

    • Start recording podcast episodes. √ YES! I recorded interviews for a whopping five episodes of the SSR Podcast in May, with three more scheduled in the next few weeks. This has been a lot of work upfront, but it will allow me to have most of my content for the whole summer wrapped up before I even launch, which will take a tiny bit of pressure off as I focus on getting the word out.
    • Make a plan for podcast launch team. √ YES! If you’re still interested in getting involved, please say so in a comment below, or send me an email at hellossrpod@gmail.com You’ll get some free bookmarks in the mail, as well as some super cool social media graphics to share during launch week. I’d love to have you be a part of it!
    • Feel healthy and strong during the Brooklyn Half Marathon. √ YES! I somehow managed to run my best time ever… in the pouring rain. Who knew?
    • Refocus on book outline and process. As I’d hoped at the beginning of this month, I spent more time in May simply writing and less time worrying about how it might translate into a book. I wish I’d made more progress on converting everything I wrote into a more cohesive outline, but the month ended up being so busy that I just couldn’t make it all happen.
    • Read five books. √ YES! Now that you know the concept of my podcast, it should make total sense that I increased my monthly reading goal in May! I read five young adult/middle grade books in preparation for interview recordings. I’ll reveal the lineup of podcast episodes soon and you’ll know the titles! I’m squeezing in an adult book right now as I have a bit of a breather before my next recording, and I have to admit that it’s pretty refreshing.
    • Make plans for our second anniversary. √ YES! In a very un-Kosik-like move, Matt and I spontaneously booked a trip to Mexico last week. We found an amazing flight/resort bundle on Expedia and decided that it would be silly not to go!
    • Pitch to 1-2 target outlets. √ YES! I pitched to one very big dream outlet early in the month. It could take a few more weeks for me to hear back, but I’d love if you could cross your fingers for me! I wished I’d gotten a few more pitches out to target outlets in May, but you can’t win ’em all.
    • Get a strong start with new clients. √ YES! In my opinion, new projects always seem scarier before you start them. Once you’re in the groove, you realize just how much you’re in control.
    • Keep a positive attitude about plans for our future move. √ YES! I talked about this a little bit before, but I’m feeling like I’m in a really great headspace and I couldn’t be happier about it.

On to June! As you read about these goals, keep in mind that there are likely some bigger picture decisions being considered and made in the background in the interest of the whole streamlining thing I talked about before.

  • Launch the SSR Podcast. Well, duh : )
  • Push the SSR Podcast Web site, Facebook group, and Twitter live. On a related note, I’ll be going live with a few more fun resources for the show in the coming weeks! Follow along here and on the SSR Instagram for all of those updates.
  • Rally the SSR Podcast Launch Team! As I mentioned, if you’re interested in learning more, let me know in the comments below.
  • Update list of target outlets. If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you might remember that I made a list of targets I hoped to write for in 2018 as part of my goal-setting process for the year (read more here!). In the interest of making sure that my goals are staying dynamic and reasonable given all of the other opportunities that have come up over the last few months, I’m going to take some time to revisit that list.
  • Read five books. At the moment, I have three books that I need to read for the podcast. I’ll add more to that list as further recordings are scheduled, and I also want to make sure that I am making time to read adult books whenever I can.
  • Get headshots. I’ve had this on my list for a few months now, and I’m putting it here for June because I keep pushing it off and I want to make myself accountable! My little sister is a great photographer, so I’m hoping we might be able to work together on this. I never thought I would be someone who needed headshots, but most of my writer and freelancer friends have them, so I think it’s about time I do, too.
  • Start book outline. Time to take this next step with all of the freeform creative writing I’ve been doing!
  • Refocus on phone boundariesI was doing so. well. with my phone boundaries earlier this year, and I totally fell off the wagon in June. I want to get back into the habit of implementing one phone-free night per week and limiting my mindless Instagram scrolling first thing in the morning and last thing before I go to bed.

In the meantime, though, Matt and I are spending the weekend relaxing at the Jersey shore. I can confidently say that we need it!

What are your goals for June? Tell me more in the comments below. 

 

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may giveaway winner announced!

It’s the most magical time of the month! (Except, in the case of this month, at least, Memorial Day weekend here in New York City, which was full of friends and fun and good food and golden retrievers. Crummy weather can’t stop us.)

The winner of this month’s giveaway — and a $30 gift card to Barnes & Noble — is…

Natalie!

Congratulations! I’ll send you your prize via email later today! Can’t wait to hear what book(s) you pick up : )

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Thanks so much to everyone who entered! I noticed a lot of new faces (well, new names that are associated with new faces) getting in on the giveaway action this month. It’s great to see this community growing! Be sure to come back on June 22 for our next giveaway. There’s something new and a little different in the works and I know you’re going to love it.

I’ll see you back here on Saturday (special weekend edition!) to talk May and June goals! You can check out last month’s goal post here to get a head start : )

 

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introducing… the SSR podcast!

*takes a deep breath, pushes her shoulders back, tries not to panic at the thought of putting this thing that she’s been working on for months out into the world*

**… but is mostly just so excited**

Friends, meet my podcast…

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(You have no idea how many times I’ve looked at this awesome logo — designed by the one and only Sophie Forman — thinking about how great it would be when I could finally share it. And now I can!)

Inspired by a little something called Silent Sustained Reading that was a staple of my elementary school days (you may have known it as “Sit Down, Shut Up, and Read!”), the show is called SSR: Literary Throwbacks Revisited. For an added punch, the show’s not-so-secret alternate title is Sh*t She Read, a nod to the fact that, each week, I’ll chat with a guest about a book that we millennials would have read in our tweens and teens. 

In the first few episodes, we’ll discuss Harriet the SpyThe Princess Diaries, and Matilda… and the list goes on and gets more awesome from there. I honestly can’t tell you how wonderful it’s been to revisit these books and to talk about them with each guest. These conversations have been so interesting and hilarious, and I am counting the minutes until June 26 when you can start listening to them.

You read that right. The launch is still a month away. So what can you do in the meantime? Well, in super fun news, the SSR Podcast social media starts to roll out today! Follow the show on Instagram here so you can take a peek at what this process has looked like so far and stay in the loop about new episodes come June. In the next few weeks, I’ll roll out our Twitter, as well as a Facebook group that will serve as a great place for book talk and (hopefully) a community for podcast fans. More on that to come!

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If you’re already feeling like you’re going to be an SSR Podcast superfan (because, duh), I’d love to have you join the launch team. I’ll send you a set of these crazy cute SSR bookmarks so you can start talking about the show to friends and family, and as we get closer to the launch date, I’ll provide you with plenty of social media graphics so you can help me get the word out within your own networks. If you’re interested in being part of this, please let me know with a comment below or send an email to hellossrpod@gmail.com.

It’s hard for me to put into words how much this project means to me and how excited I am to bring this podcast into existence.

As you probably know by now, books mean the world to me. They’re connected to so many of my own life experiences. In preparing to start SSR, I’ve found that even people who aren’t big readers as adults have intense memories associated with the stories they read during their childhood, and I can’t wait to create a platform where we can share those memories. And laugh. A lot.

Happy Memorial Day weekend, friends! Thanks for being part of this dream with me!

(… AND while we’re on the subject of books, don’t forget to enter to win this month’s giveaway! The prize is a $30 gift card to Barnes & Noble. Pick up the book that’s at the top of your summer reading list, or grab a copy of Harriet the Spy or The Princess Diaries so you’re up to speed for the podcast launch on June 26! All you have to do to enter to win is comment on my last post here. I’ll announce the winner right here on the blog next Wednesday 5/30. Good luck!)

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may giveaway.

The holiday weekend is (kind of) quickly approaching, which means that even though it’s only Wednesday morning, you’ve almost conquered the week. I’m not entirely sure how the math works out on that, but I’m pretty sure it does… and mostly I’m just trying to give us all (myself included!) a hump day boost.

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It’s been four days since I ran the Brooklyn Half over the weekend and I think I’ve finally defrosted. Given the cold and rainy weather, I honestly didn’t know when I woke up on Saturday morning whether or not I was going to run it, but I’m nothing if not stubborn. When I left the apartment and told Matt I was “just going to walk toward the start line and see what it’s like outside,” I kind of already knew I wasn’t coming back. Oops! It definitely wasn’t the most comfortable race I’ve ever run, but because of the circumstances, it may have been the most satisfying. The icing on the cake? I got my best time yet! A girl’s gotta get out of the cold ASAP, right?

It’s GIVEAWAY DAY, and to celebrate the fact that my half marathon is over and I mostly find myself wanting to curl up with a good book…

The May giveaway prize is a $30 gift card to Barnes & Noble!

With Memorial Day around the corner, we all have summer travel to look forward to, which — for me, at least — means summer reading (picture me dancing as I say this)! A $30 gift card should be enough to get you a hardcover or two paperbacks. I’m happy to pass on some recommendations to the lucky winner to make your beach and pool hangs as good as they can possibly be!

To enter, add a comment to this post below. It’s that simple! If you want to take one more step to brighten up Wednesday for someone else (and to help share the Finding Plan A love), please, please go ahead and send this link to a friend or post it to Facebook. If they win, maybe they can lend you the book they buy with their gift card!

I’ll draw the winner randomly one week from today, Wednesday 5/30. The winner will be announced right here on the blog! Good luck!

And don’t forget…

Friday is a big, big day! I’m FINALLY sharing all the details about my soon-to-be-launched podcast! You’ll be able to read more about the show right here on the blog, and I’ll also start releasing the social media handles you’ll need to be able to start following along behind the scenes so you don’t miss any news or episodes! Can’t wait to see you right back here for all that excitement before you leave for your Memorial Day adventures : )

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what i’m learning as i prepare to launch my podcast.

When I started freelancing, everything was a new project.

Basically, my whole life was a new project.

I had to figure out what time to get out of bed in the morning, how often to check my email, where in my apartment I could be most productive, how aggressive I could realistically be about approaching new editors and potential clients, and what times of day were best for me to get creative juices flowing.

I had to figure out how all the pieces of my new schedule and lifestyle were going to best fit together… and then I had to figure out how to implement that.

I’ve always been the kind of person who thrives on the idea of a good project, so — while all of this felt kind of overwhelming at times — it didn’t scare me. I liked the feeling of getting up every day (no later than 6:30, which was one of the things I figured out) ad consistently working toward the realization of something totally new and cool. Back then, that something was, well, my career. No biggie.

Thankfully, I figured out my career/life project within a year or so. While there are always new things to learn, I have the basics of my freelancing business more or less down to a science. There are schedules and workflows, more predictable rhythms to my weeks. And while the routine-loving part of my brain gets positively giddy thinking about this, I knew a few months ago that I was antsy for a new project.

I’ve been teasing a lot to my podcast over the last few weeks (check out my May goals post if you need proof!), so it should come as no surprise that it’s become my latest project. Starting from scratch on something new and different, learning about a brand new medium, and somehow figuring out how to adjust my schedule to accommodate all of the work that it requires — none of these processes have been simple, but I am getting so excited to share what I’ve been working on with the world (AKA you) very, very soon. In fact, I’ve decided that I’ll begin sharing pre-launch details of the podcast in just over a week, on Friday 5/25 (!!!!!!). I’m nervous and psyched and all of the other feelings you can imagine about putting all of this (and myself!) out there.

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With that in mind, I thought this might be a great opportunity to share some thoughts about what I’ve learned in the process of digging into this big, scary undertaking, in hopes it inspires you or gives you some perspective on any new projects you’ve been thinking of bringing to life!

  • I’ve learned that it’s important to enjoy the process of starting something new, even if it means that you need to build in extra time to make it all happen. I started actively working on the show in late February, and while I probably could have waited until April, giving myself extra time allowed me to feel more invested in every, single step. Plus, I didn’t have to rush as much.
  • I’ve learned that it’s important to share what you’re doing with the people in your life. While I haven’t released more details about the show here on the blog or on social media, a few family members and friends are in on it. It doesn’t always come naturally to me to talk about myself (I’m sure this is hard to believe coming from a blogger, but it’s true!), but bringing other people into the process has made it that much more exciting and made me all the more accountable.
  • I’ve learned that it’s OK to set other things aside temporarily so you can invest time and emotional energy into a passion project. I haven’t changed up my writing workload drastically, but I have had to give myself more grace than usual in terms of saying “no” to opportunities here and there and meeting deadlines instead of beating them.
  • I’ve learned that it’s a good sign when you can’t stop talking about a new venture. I’m so consumed with and excited about the podcast that I’ve had to apologize to Matt on more than one occasion for having so much to say about it, but he’s so happy to see me passionate about something that he doesn’t mind! When the people around you can sense that your time is being spent in the right place, you know you’re working in the right direction.
  • I’ve learned that it’s OK to invest in new projects — whether that be an investment of time, money, or energy. I talked a little bit about the mindset shifts I had about money recently in my last post, but those shifts happened long after I’d hit “buy” on my podcast microphone, headphones, and software. It was stressful to spend that money initially, but now that I’m in the thick of actually using all of those tools regularly and can see what they allow me to do, I have no regrets.
  • I’ve learned that even if you think you’ve overcome imposter syndromeit can creep back in any time you put yourself out there in a new way. And you know what? You just have to take a deep breath and get over it. (That’s what I’m trying to do, at least).

How do you approach new projects? What big ideas do you have brewing in your head that you want to bring to life? Tell me more in the comments below! 

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why i’m joining the wing.

In order to fill in the blanks in the title of this post, we need go back a few months — and we (well, just me, I guess) need to get pretty honest

I’ve never been that excited about leaving New York City. There, I said it.

I had moments when I first moved here right out of college when the city felt pretty miserable. I hated the subway and the crowds in midtown. I hated when people plowed me down, umbrella-first as they rushed along the sidewalk in the rain. I hated that it sometimes took me 30 minutes to travel less than a mile in a taxi late at night, a taxi that I knew I was only having to pay for because I had chosen to live in a place that I’d been made to believe was perpetually unsafe after 8 PM. I hated all of that.

When we moved to Brooklyn, I found my groove again. As a kid, I’d always dreamed of moving to New York, and finding our little niche here in Cobble Hill finally made me feel like I was the kind of city girl that I’d always wanted to be. Almost immediately, I felt more like myself, and even though I understood that there were realities of living in this city that would make it challenging to do it forever, I pretty much forgot about them.

Matt’s experience was the opposite of mine. He hadn’t grown up with aspirations of moving to a big city (he grew up in a neighborhood with woods and a stream and spent the vast majority of his free time on the soccer field or fly fishing), but when his job led him here, he embraced it pretty quickly. While I was sobbing over subway claustrophobia and stressing about my rent, he was living for New York. He loved the restaurants and the ability to walk everywhere, and since most of his friends moved here after graduation, he had a busy social life immediately. It’s only been in the last year that he’s expressed interest in leaving, and only in the last few months that it’s become a more serious conversation.

The idea of moving away started to get real back in October, when we spent two weeks traveling around northern California. Picking up and moving our lives across the country never seemed like a real option for us since so much of our community is here on the east coast, but our vacation definitely opened our eyes to the possibilities that could await us in other places. I could feel the difference in terms of quality life between New York and the Bay Area, and I found myself growing more receptive to Matt’s comments about life beyond Brooklyn.

Matt didn’t want to start seriously thinking about the move until March, so we kind of sat in that maybe-we-will-maybe-we-won’t mindset for a few months. I’m not great at being in limbo, so this was hard for me… but life basically resumed as normal. Fast forward to March of this year, when things became more challenging.

**Insert movie-style fast forward music here…**

Before I go any further, I want to make it very clear that Matt isn’t asking me to do anything I don’t want to do with this move. Ultimately, if I was fully committed to staying, we wouldn’t be leaving. I have a lot of mixed feelings about moving on from this amazing chapter of our lives, but I also understand that long-term, it’s going to be nearly impossible for us to live the kind of life we want to live here in New York City. It’s a hard reality to accept, but it’s reality. Honestly, I would rather choose to leave now, on our own terms, then a few years down the line when we realize too late that we’ve become uncomfortable in our own lives.

Here’s where it gets tricky: Because Matt’s job is more place-bound than mine, it’s naturally fallen to him to set the pace of this move, so there were days early on when it felt to me like he had all of the control and I had none. Honestly, there are days when I still feel like this, but I’ve learned that all of this is a lot easier to swallow when I realize that my husband is almost as powerless. The mindset needs to be that it’s us against the world — not Alli against Matt. I can express that clearly now, but it was pretty much an emotional roller coaster getting there. Just ask my girlfriends.

I’ve said since October that I was going to continue to live my life in New York as normally as possible, and that I wasn’t going to get too mentally tied up on when we’d pick up and move. For the most part, I think I did this successfully. I planned for the holidays and saw friends and continued to clean my apartment within an inch of its life. It felt like business as usual.

Where I struggled most to keep on keeping on was in my work. While I will be able to continue with most of my existing freelance work in a new city, there are some changes I’ve been wanting to make to my workload that I’m not comfortable making until we move. I’m excited about the chance to do a little professional pivoting and explore new opportunities, but I’m hesitant to do that now. I’d rather make all the transitions at one time. I started to feel really uncomfortable with my lack of control in a situation that was really affecting my work, and there were days that it made me resentful. Sometimes, it felt like I was just kind of standing still, like the only thing that was actually changing for me was that I was burying myself under more and more work.

One of my best friends started working for The Wing a few months ago, and from the beginning, I was fascinated by it. To quote the Web site, The Wing is a “co-working and community designed for women.” It now has three locations here in New York City and is already growing to other cities. Girl power, people. I went to a few events with friends there, but never really considered becoming a member myself, because I was so aware that my time in NYC was ticking. I borrowed some photos of the Brooklyn location from this article in Artnet News so you can see how lovely and inspiring it is.

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When I got back from the Ignite Your Soul Summit a few weeks ago, I was feeling ready to invest back into myself and my work, and I wasn’t quite sure where to start. I’ve always had a bit of a scarcity mentality around money, and I’ve been nervous to spend since I started freelancing, even though I’m now earning as much (sometimes more) as I was in my corporate job. Chris Harder, who spoke at the Summit, really inspired me to think about money in a different way, and to allow myself to celebrate my work by putting the resources I’ve earned back into the “system” so it can ultimately come back to me and empower me to do great things.

I happened to be meeting my friend for breakfast at The Wing the morning after I got back from the Summit, and as I was walking to the Brooklyn location, it hit me:

This is the thing I need to do.

It hit me again when I was sitting in the beautiful waterfront workspace, surrounded by brilliant, independent women doing interesting work and moving forward with their passion projects. It hit me again when the woman at the next table came over and asked me about my planner (you know how I feel about my planner). It hit me again when I couldn’t stop thinking about it when I returned to my home office later that day.

I talked it over with Matt and submitted my membership application the next morning. A few hours later, I learned that I’d been accepted. When we want to, we can work really fast over here.

To be totally fair, I wouldn’t have made the financial commitment to The Wing if they weren’t expanding, and if I didn’t think there might be a chance that I could transition my membership to another location when we do leave New York City. I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t a consideration. I’m happy to be investing in myself, but I’ve hardly thrown all caution to the wind.

In the meantime, I have a sneaky suspicion that making this decision for myself is going to be one of the best things I’ve done in the last year or so. Realizing that this kind of community is available for me — down the street, essentially — was a big wake-up call in a time when I’ve felt largely out of control. It’s empowered me to reengage with parts of my life that I’ve kept at arm’s length ever since we started talking about moving away. It’s reminded me that I have a lot to accomplish and create in this transition period, and that I have every right to accomplish it outside of the confines of the home office that I’m now realizing I outgrew a few months ago.

My first day as an official member is Tuesday, and I am literally counting the days until I can spend my time in the beautiful work space in the company of so many incredible women. Making this choice has totally changed my perspective on things, and I can’t wait to see how it serves me as I continue navigating big changes in work and life.

Basically, Wing, I’m really happy you exist. 

Happy weekend-ing, friends. More Wing cheerleading to come, I’m sure.

How do you cope when you’re feeling like you’re in a rut? Tell me in the comments below!

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6 thoughts on setting structured goals (even if you don’t have a planner like mine!).

love when bloggers write posts about the goals they’re setting and how they’re doing with achieving them. It’s some of my favorite blog content to read.

So I was pretty excited when I found out that people were excited about reading my goal posts : )

When I write my goal posts (check out the last two here and here) at the end of every month, my favorite planners — Passion Planner and PowerSheets — figure heavily into things, but the truth is that you don’t need to be a total stationery maniac like me to get in on the action. Since I’ve been getting so much good feedback about my goal posts recently, I thought I’d put together some more general thoughts on the process of setting regular goals like this that you can use whether you invest in structured planners like me or just want to start thinking about your approach to goals a little differently. Being deliberate about setting goals like this has been huge for me ever since I started working for myself, but I think everyone can benefit from being a little more intentional about breaking down their New Year’s resolutions or to-do lists so that things actually get done. Here are some thoughts that will hopefully get you inspired…

  • Write things down. I’m a big believer in the power of writing things down, so find a place that works for you — a sticky note on your bathroom mirror, a list on your phone, etc. — and just do it. I promise it will immediately make you feel more accountable. I wasn’t always totally addicted to planner systems like I am now. About four years ago, when I was still working in my corporate job, I got in the habit of writing out some goals for the year on a piece of printer paper and hanging it in my cubicle. The goals didn’t necessarily all have to do with work, but I knew that hanging them near my desk at the office would force me to keep them top of mind every day. I even found the Instagram evidence way back in my feed!
  • Pick a deadline. You see me posting about the goals I’m setting to achieve within a week, a year, or a month, but I put more specific deadlines on goals sometimes, too. In 2016, when I knew I needed to make a transition in my career, I decided that I needed to do it by my birthday. I drew a big star on the calendar on September 20 and worked backward so I had a plan to make that happen. Choose a significant date or an arbitrary one and write. it. down. Until a goal has a deadline or a schedule attached, it’s more like an idea. I love ideas, but they’re not always actionable.
  • Tell people about your goals. It doesn’t need to be a big, formal conversation, but letting the people in your life in on what you’re hoping to achieve is an added measure of accountability that will make it more difficult for you to make excuses. If your friends know that you have a certain goal in mind, they’ll be more likely to casually ask you about it at your next happy hour, which will motivate you to take baby steps toward achieving it. If you want to make yourself extra accountable, share some of your goals with your social media followers.

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  • Be realistic when planning over time. This is one I really struggle with, since I set specific monthly goals. As you’ve probably noticed if you follow my goal posts closely, I tend to create a pretty long list for myself every month… but since my schedule and responsibilities are different every month, that doesn’t always make a lot of sense. Give yourself “margin” (one of my favorite concepts from the Cultivate What Matters team) on your goals during more hectic periods. Just because you set (and achieved!) ten goals for yourself last month doesn’t mean you need to set ten — or eleven — goals for yourself next month. I’m going to try to follow my own advice here, too : )
  • Your goals don’t need to be super serious. I think that people get spooked at the idea of setting structured goals because they associate it with quotas at work, meeting financial milestones, and the like. These things are important, but not always “fun,” right? When I’m setting up my goals for the month, I include things like weekly date nights, places I want to check out in my neighborhood, friends I want to see, and days off. This makes the process more fun and ensures that I’m achieving a little more balance.
  • Don’t fear the rollover! When I don’t achieve a goal I’ve set within the original timeframe I determined for myself, I swallow my pride and simply move it over to the next timeframe. This can be especially hard when you’ve started sharing your goals with other people (no one likes to feel like they’re failing or behind schedule!), but it’s way more important for you to make them happen eventually than it is to be sneaky just so you can impress your family and friends. Just roll those goals over, friends.

Do you set structured goals? If so, I’d love to see your suggestions in the comments below! 

 

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