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a streamlining check-in.

Earlier this summer, I committed to streamlining.

To give you some context, here’s a little #flashbackfriday action from my May/June monthly goals post

… 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.

In the weeks and months since I shared that, I’ve been making those tough calls. I stopped writing on a weekly basis for one outlet, in particular — an outlet that had given me great, consistent work and had afforded me the opportunity to rack up lots of fun bylines, but that demanded a more structured system based on hours instead of stories. The system had put on a strain on my freelancing flow from the beginning, but I went with it, anyway… until I realized that I was no longer feeling challenged by the work. By the time I made that realization, I had brought on some other clients that helped beef up my regular monthly income and had made plans for the podcast — a project l knew would only take up more of my time going forward. I had also more or less stopped working on my book entirely, and had barely been pitching to new editors and outlets because the schedule was so restrictive and I had to spend so much time scrambling to meet my existing commitments.

When I read all of this back, I realize just how right I was in making the decision to stop writing regularly for this outlet when I did (even though the team was awesome and I miss them!).

Still, I’m not a quitter, and it was hard for me not to think of streamlining as simply giving up.

It’s been a few weeks since I made this major change to my schedule, and I thought I’d share a bit more about how the transition has been going. If you’re like me and have trouble saying “no” to things or offloading commitments, here’s what you can expect…

First, I felt overwhelmed by, well, change. Change isn’t always the easiest thing for me to deal with, and any time I have to make a major adjustment to my schedule, it shakes me up a little. I launched The SSR Podcast the week after I quit working for the outlet I mentioned above, so all at once, I had a lot of newly free hours on my hands and was also trying to figure out how the heck to simultaneously produce and promote a show of my own! After spending so many months as a new freelancer trying to fill those hours productively, it was unsettling to feel like I was back at square one again… even though I knew wasn’t really.

Still, I knew it had been the right decision. If it hadn’t been for the looming podcast launch, I probably wouldn’t have chosen to streamline, even though I knew I would eventually need to make some major changes to my workload so I could free up time to challenge myself with new writing opportunities. Since I had a new project to throw myself into at that moment, I didn’t have to stress as much about whether or not it was the “right time” for me to pivot. The podcast was taking up so much of my time (especially in those early weeks, when I had almost no idea what I was doing!), that I couldn’t even imagine juggling it with all the work I’d been doing for the outlet I’d quit. It was satisfying to realize that trusting my instincts had been the right call.

I realized that I could be proud of myself… for a few reasons. First of all, when I stepped back from the self-imposed guilt I was feeling about “giving up” any part of my writing workload, I saw that it was actually pretty cool that I’d reached a point in my freelancing career where I had the ability — financially, primarily — to make some decisions. When I first started in this world, I was hungry for work and didn’t have the luxury to discriminate or turn down opportunities. I hope that I maintain some of that hunger always (I definitely still feel it!), but when I figured out that the choice to streamline was something I’d earned, I allowed myself a quick pat on the back. I was also proud that I’d finally said “no” to something, because it’s not something I do often in my work!

I worked my butt off. I had no problem filling in those extra hours. For a few weeks in the middle of this summer, I was working 12- and 13-hour days every day. At that point, it was genuinely unclear how I’d had anything else on my plate previously.

Now, I’m giving myself some space to figure out what happens next. I’m now a month beyond the launch of the podcast, and the tasks that were taking me so long to complete early on are starting to become more routine. I’ve figured out a workflow and rhythm for the SSR-related work, as well as how to slot it in around my freelancing jobs. Now, I’m seeing some of that time free up again, and I’m trying to be patient with myself as I figure out how to spend it. I’m already back in a better pattern of working on my book and pitching new projects, so what happens next? Do I focus on up-leveling the podcast? Do I put my head down and try to churn out the first draft of my novel (finally)? Do I get even more relentless about seeking new writing opportunities? Honestly, I’m not quite sure yet how it’s all going to work, and while I’ve had moments over the last week or so when that’s felt weird, I’m trying to remind myself that it doesn’t need to get figured out all at once. I’m still busy, I’m still earning a steady income, and it’s summer! Which means most other people out there aren’t making big decisions, either : )

I’m heading to the beach with family for a few days this weekend, but I’ll be right back here Monday to announce the winner of the July giveaway! The prize is a $25 gift card to BaubleBar! All you have to do to enter to win is comment on my last post here. There are just a few days left, so don’t miss out.

Do you have anything fun planned for the weekend? Tell me all about it in the comments below!

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the SSR Podcast is live!

It’s a crazy experience to have your head down so intensely in a passion project for months on end, and then to release it out into the universe in a way that probably feels very loud (and maybe even a little annoying) to the outside world but somehow seems very quiet to you, at least relative to how much louder it actually sounds in your head. Basically, when I dispatched all the social media announcing that The SSR Podcast was a living, breathing thing at about 5 AM yesterday morning, it may have felt a little spammy from an Instagram perspective… but it seemed surprisingly quiet and private for me — and not because I’m not getting support (because I am, and it’s been amazing!), but because I’ve been so consumed with getting all of this up and running that it was hard to believe that tapping those little “post” buttons was really all it took to make it happen. After so many hours, hitting “post” was the last thing standing between me and the moment I’d been stressing about? It was a pretty crazy feeling.

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Believe me — I still have plenty of work to do in order to really get things moving and grooving the way I want to for the podcast. But to have met this one major milestone in what felt like such a quick, quiet way was an extremely weird feeling.

You may already be tuned in to SSR’s social media accounts — and if you are, thank you, seriously! — but I just wanted to take a quick moment to share some easy links for my followers here who may have yet to jump on the SSR train. If you’re feeling like I’m being a little spammy, bear with me for just a little longer here, please. Getting the podcast off the ground has been a huge part of my journey in 2018 so far, and it would be weird if I wasn’t getting the official launch news out with all my pals here on the blog! I’ll resume regularly scheduled programming shortly, I promise : )

In the meantime, here’s what you need to know about yesterday’s official launch of The SSR Podcast

You can listen (and subscribe and leave reviews!) here…

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  • iTunes — if you’re going to subscribe and leave a rating or review, this is a great place to do it!
  • Google Play
  • Stitcher
  • the SSR Podcast website “Listen” page (this is a great place to go for fun show notes and extra resources, even if you actually listen to episodes elsewhere)

You can be part of The SSR Podcast community here…

I can’t wait to get your feedback on the show, and if you enjoy it, I hope you’ll share it with your loved ones! This feels more personal than anything I’ve done before — more even than the blog, which is kind of crazy — and inviting people into it is scary, but I’m looking forward to seeing where it takes me : )

And while I’m talking about sharing with loved ones…

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Don’t forget to enter this month’s giveaway! TWO of you will be getting a goodie bag full of all-natural lip balms from Bushel & a Peck (a woman-owned business YAAAAS!). Comment on my last post here to enter! I’ll be randomly drawing the winners this coming Friday 6/29, so get those entries in ASAP. I’ll announce the winner here on the blog. Unfortunately, you’re not eligible to win this contest if you live outside of North America, due to shipping concerns. I’m sorry about that! Good luck!

Product photo credit: Gallivan Photo (via Bushel & a Peck) 

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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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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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imposter syndrome + the big picture.

Over the past few days, I’ve spent a lot of time talking with other writers — all kinds of writers: writers who haven’t been paid for their work yet but who know they have a passion for the practice and want to figure out how to make a living at it, writers who are in the freelance game like me, writers who have finished real books (insert so-impressed-jaw-is-dropped face here). I didn’t plan for all of these meetings to happen over the course of the same week, but they did, and in addition to filling my heart with all kinds of joy and appreciation for other people who do what I do (and leaving me with a bit of a scratchy throat), this coincidence of timing has gotten me thinking a lot about the journey that I’ve been on figuring out how this new career that I’ve made for myself is supposed to look. Lately, I’ve been working so fast and with my head so. down. that it’s been a while since I really thought about the big picture.

Let me tell you something that you might have already guessed…

When I first started this blog in September 2016, it was because I honestly had no idea what was about to happen with my life or how I was going to spend my time. 

I knew that I wanted to be a writer, and I had a vague picture in my head of what a writer’s day would look like. I pictured myself toting my laptop around Brooklyn, posting up at various coffee shops, always casually and comfortably hipster chic in a loose sundress — or a loose sundress with a chunky sweater and tights, for winter. I’d learn to enjoy the taste of coffee and drink three or four cups a day, mostly because the people who worked at said coffee shops would learn to know and love me so well that they would offer free refills without a second thought. I’d crank out content for magazines and Web sites and maybe a few corporate clients here and there, but being in the constant flow of writing would also make it suddenly easy for me to finish the novel I’ve dreamed of writing since I was seven years old.

I knew that this wasn’t my reality in September 2016, and I knew it was going to take a lot of work to get there (which hopefully makes it sound a little less silly), but the best thing that I could think to do in the meantime was start a blog — and to use that blog to share with a few people the journey of actually achieving that writer lifestyle fantasy. I also knew that having a blog would give me an advantage when it came time to reach out to editors who would surely need to check out samples of my writing before they could agree to work with me. I didn’t set out to be a Blogger-with-a-capital-B, and it felt awkward when I started putting links to new posts on social media. There are still days when it feels awkward putting myself out there like that, but this blog has evolved with me over the last year and a half, and I’m so grateful for the community that’s built up here in that time.

In some ways, my life looks a little like the fantasy I had — but in a lot more ways, it doesn’t. I do occasionally tote my laptop to coffee shops in my neighborhood, but most of the time, I just feel anxious about whether or not I’ve spent enough on snacks and drinks to deserve a table.. and since I still don’t like coffee, my options are limited, anyway. I can rock the sundress or chunky sweater look after a meeting, but more often than not, I show up wearing gym clothes and sneakers. I most certainly crank out content for magazines and Web sites and the occasional corporate client, but being in the constant flow of writing sometimes makes me feel so creatively tapped out that I go for a few weeks at a time without even touching my novel.

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Positively cheesing with my first official byline last fall.

I say all of this not to somehow show that going this route has proven to be less glamorous than expected or to prove that working for yourself is harder than it looks. Even with the ups and downs — and the minimal glamour — I have a genuine appreciation for the way my days look now because it’s taken me a long time to get here. I feel pretty comfortable owning the fact that I’m a Writer-with-a-capital-W, even if some days I can’t help but wonder if real writers would wear the same sweatshirt for three days in a row.

But let me tell you about something else that has happened, something that I didn’t expect.

As I’ve grown into myself as a writer, I’ve also been so inspired by the social media and solopreneur communities that I’ve found myself trying to diversify my workload even further. I’m working toward launching a podcast this summer, I’m building an awesome PR/journalism education program with my friend Brittney, and I’m even feeling added pressure to turn myself into a Blogger-with-a-capital-B. It’s in these spaces that I find myself feeling insecure again. If I’ve already “found plan A,” should I keep showing up here? And if I’m “just” a writer (even one with a capital W), will people think I’m stepping out in a way that’s inappropriate or irrelevant when I put myself out there in new places with projects that have nothing to do — in an official capacity, at least — with my work?

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Things get real with a podcast when the microphone arrives.

I guess the answer is that I don’t know. And I’m sharing all of this with you not to imply that I’m right and other people are wrong or to make you feel sorry for me, but because I think it’s important to pull back the curtain a bit and show that imposter syndrome is still a thing over here, and that I’m still not quite sure where I’m going to land as the big picture keeps getting bigger and bigger. In that way, I guess I haven’t totally “found Plan A” yet, so I hope you’ll keep sticking with me while I do : )

In the meantime, I’m so excited to share one of my latest new ventures with you! (Cue imposter syndrome…. now.) I’ve been teasing to my new venture with Brittney Lynn for a few weeks now, and it’s finally time to reveal the details of Partnering for Press. We’re launching a series of three free Webinars all about the intersection of PR and journalism, so if you want to learn more about what I do or have a secret side hustle that you’re dying to get out in the world, I would love, love, love for you to tune into the first chapter, which will be live on Tuesday 3/20 at 8 pm EST. It’s free, so you have absolutely nothing to lose, and you may even decide to stick around for the rest of the series!

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You can register (for FREE!) right here. If you have aspiring writers or entrepreneurs in your life, I’d be so grateful if you could share the details with them, too!

 

 

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on saying yes.

On Wednesday, we had a girls’ night at one of my new favorite events here in New York City — Changemaker Chats. I learned about this awesome organization from a sorority sister a few months ago, and I’ve been lucky enough to attend a few of the Chats since then. The Changemakers are active in eight cities, and if you have a chapter where you live, I would definitely recommend checking it out. Once a month, they bring a butt-kicking female leader, influencer, or entrepreneur to speak casually about her experiences in work and life, and it’s just a really cool opportunity to listen to a successful person share their insights. I absolutely love these events, and it’s been fun sharing it with my friends, too. Even my mom has gotten in on the fun! She took the bus in for just a few hours on Wednesday so she could join us for the Chat. This month’s event was hosted at HBO HQ, so there were obviously photos involved.

One of the best things about Changemaker Chats is that the conversations are off the record, which makes them all the more honest and comfortable. Because of this rule, I’m not going to share the details of Wednesday’s event (you’ll just have to come check out the next Chat to see what it’s about!), but the amazing speaker did get my wheels turning with one simple thing she said, and I wanted to tell you about it.

JUST SAY YES.

It’s a philosophy I’ve heard from several inspirational writers and speakers over the years (as a diehard Housewives and Bethenny Frankel fan, I devoured A Place of Yes when it came out a few years ago), and each time I’m reminded of it, I realize how important it is. It’s taken on a whole new meaning in the adventure I’ve been on this past year.

I’ve been pretty honest with you lately about the moments of doubt I’ve had, the growing pains I’ve been experiencing as a person working out on my own, and the many questions I’ve been asking myself about whether or not I’m using my time wisely and pursuing the right things. Last night’s words of wisdom felt like just the advice I needed, and I’m going to try to keep them front of mind as I move into my second year of writing.

Saying yes to opportunities that come my way instead of overthinking whether or not they’re the “right” opportunities. Saying yes to meeting new people and hearing what they have to say. Saying yes to sharing my story with people who are interested. Saying yes to jumping headfirst into whatever work is on my plate each day. Saying yes to meetings and coffee dates. Saying yes to new projects and opportunities, even if they feel overwhelming or out of my comfort zone. Saying yes, yes, YES. It’s an easy philosophy to remember, and one that I think is going to lead me in the right direction with my writing. And if it leads me to a wrong turn now and then, at least I’ll have tried a lot of things. Right?

JUST SAY YES.

It’s my new motto, an easy-to-remember little mantra.

Say YES to a great weekend, everyone. You all are awesome, and I can’t wait to see you back here next week : )

 

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eleven month recap.

This week, as I celebrate eleven months of writing and working for myself, I have to admit that my spirits are a little low — a serious contrast to how I was feeling last month. I think I speak for the vast majority of this country when I say that the events of these past few days have felt like nothing short of a punch to the stomach. I’ve been glued to the news since Saturday afternoon, and it all kind of seems like a bad dream in slow motion. It’s hard to believe that such hate is not only so deeply rooted in our society, but also that it continues to grow. I am disappointed — in people, in our leadership, in the fact that so many seem to have taken so few lessons from our history. If I’ve learned anything from the ways these events have unfolded, it’s that words matter. Hateful words matter and unsaid words matter. As humans, we have the right and the responsibility to communicate with one another, and when we don’t do that appropriately or respectfully, there are consequences — some serious. This week, let’s be intentional with our words and use our voices to be clear and kind. 

Jimmy Fallon can do no wrong in my eyes, but I especially appreciate what he had to say about what happened this weekend. Before I switch gears, I want to share this clip with you. If you haven’t watched it yet, I hope you take a minute to take it in now.

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Something I’ve been thinking about a lot this week as I try to focus on my to-do list in spite of the chaos around us is my work from home routine. It’s been a crazy summer for me personally, and as it winds down and I look ahead to calmer days, I’m excited to ease back into a more predictable, more consistent daily rhythm. As you know if you’ve been following the blog for a while, I’m constantly adjusting how I approach this whole work from home thing. It’s not a perfect science, and this lifestyle allows for so much flexibility that I feel it’s important to consistently look for opportunities to adapt my habits and optimize my time. Working from coffee shops was especially effective for me earlier in the summer, but it’s just not my preference right now. Spending the first hour of my day working from bed was a great way for me to build momentum a few months ago, but I’m trying to move away from that now.

When I think back on the things I’ve tried that are no longer working for me, I remind myself that making adjustments to the routine are not a sign of failure or of being “bad” at being my own boss! Part of working for myself is learning to motivate my team (ME… hah!) to do my best work. I’m learning new things about how to get the most out of this freelance lifestyle each and every day, and trust me — I am no closer to being an expert simply because I’ve been at it for eleven months now!

I was especially inspired this week by my friend Casey’s most recent post on The Intentionally Good Life (if you love images of beautiful food and amazing travel adventures, you should check out her Instagram feed, too!) Casey is a fellow freelancer and WFH-er, and in her latest blog, she shared some of her own notes on creating a work routine based on focus and intentionality. While some of her suggestions aren’t the perfect match for my personal situation, Casey has definitely motivated me to step back and reconsider my own habits, and I’m excited to move forward with a few changes inspired by her routine.

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  • I’m going to get more consistent with my wake-up time. While I’ve always been up and working by about 8:30 AM, my specific wake-up time has varied over the last few months — and since I’m usually awake by 6 with Matt, this inconsistency seems a little silly! Moving forward, I’ll be getting out of bed at 6:30 when Matt leaves for the office every day so I can get to work.
  • I’m going to put on my gym clothes as soon as I get out of bed. There are a lot of schools of thought across the working from home community about whether or not you should work in your pajamas. To be honest, I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with doing this for a few hours in the morning (especially if it gets you working earlier!), and it’s been perfectly OK for me for the last few months. That being said, I’m going to reclaim one of the “rules” I set for myself when I first started freelancing and put on some “real clothes” right after I get up each morning.
  • I’m going to change up my morning work spot. love my home office, but I find that starting my day there often makes me feel isolated and un-focused. It’s a small room tucked in the back of our small apartment, and there’s just something about the energy of the space that doesn’t feel suited to the start of the day. Instead, I’ll be kicking off my workday with my materials spread out on the kitchen table, next to a big window that looks out onto the street.
  • I’m going to try to make my break times more consistent. I take one break from work every day to go to the gym (which is part of why I get started so early!), but for the last few months, the time at which I’ve done that has been really inconsistent. Assuming I don’t have calls or meetings, I’m now going to try going to the gym at roughly the same time daily.
  • I’m going to force myself to focus on one thing for certain increments of time. This is one of my favorite of Casey’s suggestions. In her blog post, she references listening to a podcast featuring a blogger/writer who said that he sets a 30-minute timer for himself when he’s feeling especially fidgety. For those 30 minutes, he’s only allowed to work on a single task — or, if he’s still struggling to focus, to think about that task. If I’m having trouble working on a particular assignment, I’ll typically just move on to something else. I can see how blocking out my time more intentionally will improve the quality of what I do, so I’m going to give that a try.

So excited to put these new habits to work in my own routine! Thanks so much for the inspiration, Casey!

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for all my ladies.

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Yesterday was a pretty incredible day to be a woman. Every time I checked my social media feeds, it seemed there were a hundred more amazing testaments to International Women’s Day — tributes to family members, inspirational quotes, photos of powerful female friendships, and articles (by women and men!) featuring amazing stories and reflections about ladies in our society. In the midst of so much political disagreement and tension, it was pretty amazing to see people in my life from all opinions and backgrounds agreeing on one fact: women are worth celebrating.

It was also a relief to see that the fundamental message of International Women’s Day wasn’t overshadowed by the controversy about this year’s Day Without A Woman protest, because I think if it had, the tone of the whole day may have turned more fundamentally negative. I run with a pretty outspoken crew of liberal lady bosses, and still, almost everyone I knew went about their usual business and went to work like it was any other Wednesday. It made me fall in love with these women all over again to see them making a statement with their presence instead of their absence. We all have so much to contribute to our workplaces and communities, and while I respect anyone who took part in the protest, it was inspiring the way so many people took the opportunity to lean in (cliche, I know).

I’ve been thinking a lot about all of the wonderful things I saw and read yesterday, and it fills me with so much hope in these weird times. I love seeing people come together for something positive — to celebrate all that’s already good and to speak constructively about how we can keep moving forward. I have my own serious concerns about how our current political administration is (or, really, isn’t) going to support women. It was hard to watch the first potential female presidency slip away, and it’s been even harder for many of us to wrestle with what comes next. But on days like yesterday, I remember that it doesn’t have to be so uncertain. When I see the grace, confidence, creativity, and intelligence that the women who surround me possess, I actually feel pretty certain that politics isn’t what’s important. We are what’s important.

I’m grateful for the confidence that’s been instilled in me by the incredible women in my family. A girl couldn’t ask for a stronger female tribe — my mom, stepmom, and grandmothers, in particular, push me to always do my best and (even more) to be myself. My four younger sisters inspire me every day — to set a good example, and also to be imperfect. And when it comes to friendship? I hit the jackpot. I wouldn’t want to figure out this life with anyone other than my incredible girlfriends.

My hope for all of you as we wind down from the excitement of International Women’s Day is that you can find grounding in your own support systems. When we have each other, we have it all, and we can do amazing things. Let’s get ’em, ladies!

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