goal setting

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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monthly goals recap -> april + may.

I’m not sure how we’re already FOUR days into a new month, but here we are… which means that I’m already a day or two later than I’d like to be on my newest monthly goals post. Yeesh. It’s been a crazy few days winding down from the Ignite Your Soul Summit and throwing myself back into work, and last night I drove back to my parents’ house in Pennsylvania so I can be here to celebrate my youngest sister’s first prom later today! It’s days like this that I feel so grateful to have so much control of my schedule.

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Visual progress from my April PowerSheets

I can’t quite put my finger on why, but this last month felt like a big one for me. There were some healthy shifts in mindset and lots of exciting momentum on projects that have been bopping around in my head for a long time. It feels amazing. Even though I didn’t actually get everything on my April list finished (check out my last monthly goals post here for all those original details), I’m excited to share some updates with you. Here we go!

  • Start scheduling podcast recordings.  YES! I have recordings scheduled for the first seven episodes of my podcast. Friends, getting this project up and running brought so much excitement and creative energy into my life this past month. Every time I start talking about it, I get giddy. I’m still not sure when I’m going to start sharing details about the show in advance of the late June launch, but I can’t wait to tell you more.
  • Restore a positive attitude about writing the book!  YES! Instead of pushing myself to write a certain number of pages a week based on a certain outline, in April, I (literally) took a page out of the book Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. I went back to basics and spent a lot of time simply writing down by hand things I’ve known and experienced. This process has reminded me how much inspiration I already have to draw from and has given me confidence in my ability to develop a novel.
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Brittney and I at the Summit!
  • Plan travel to Ignite Your Soul Summit.  YES! I successfully got myself to the Summit (in spite of some of the anxieties I was feeling before the event) in Portsmouth, NH. A week later, I’m still processing the experience of being there, and I’m still deciding if I’m going to share what I learned in any kind of dedicated way here on the blog — but I can say that it was an incredibly positive and inspiring weekend, and I’m so glad I went.
  • Read three books.  YES! I read Bird by Bird (a must-read for all the writers out there), Educated (an incredibly intense memoir that fed my fascination with fringe communities), and Text Me When You Get Home (a non-fiction book that gave me all the feels about my awesome girlfriends). I read a fourth book, but it relates to the podcast, so I’m not ready to name it quite yet : )
  • Pitch to 1-2 target outlets. I did pitch to two target outlets, but neither of them were technically new for me. On an unexpected note, Ranker approached me and asked me to start writing for them, and I gladly accepted! You can check out my first piece here.
  • Create social media for the podcast. √ YES! More on this to come if you’re interested in following.
  • Finalize reunion details. √ YES! We have a location and contract nailed down for our ten-year high school reunion in November. We have plenty of other things to do, but it feels good to have some major decisions already made.
  • Take a GarageBand editing tutorial.√ YES! I told you — I can’t get enough of this podcast project. For those interested, I used the William Boyd tutorial, and it was really user-friendly.
  • Have one phone-free night per week. I think that I was only able to put my phone away for the entire night once or twice over the course of April, but I did find myself making greater efforts to charge my phone in another room for at least a few hours a few nights per week. I’m going to give myself partial credit.
  • TAKE A DAY OFF! √ YES! All the praise hand and confetti emojis for this one. I shared all the details of my first real day off in months here.

For the month ahead, I’ve tried to leave myself more margin than usual in terms of time, largely because a lot of my focus outside of my standard writing clients (side note: I took on two more in the last week) will be on ramping up for the launch of the podcast. This is a massive undertaking, and I want to grant myself the time and space to do that well instead of lining up a huge list of other new goals. With the podcast alone, there will be no shortage of lessons learned and challenges conquered in May!

  • Start recording podcast episodes. I’m planning to bank a few weeks worth of episodes before I launch, and I have five recordings scheduled for this month alone. Each of those recordings requires a lot of time and prep. Moving forward, I doubt I’ll have this many recordings lined up in such a short period of time, and I know it will take some time to adjust to the new workflow, but I’d lying if I said I wasn’t a little anxious about all of this.
  • Make a plan for podcast launch team. I want to get a small group together to help spread the word about the show in the weeks before the episodes go live! If this sounds interesting to you, let me know with a comment below and I’ll include you on the email list for a more official invite when I have more details. Don’t worry — you’re not making an official commitment yet!
  • Feel healthy and strong during the Brooklyn Half Marathon. I run my fifth Brooklyn Half on May 19. I don’t have a specific time in mind. I just want to feel good while I’m doing it.
  • Refocus on book outline and process. Now that I’m in a better rhythm with the journaling process inspired by Anne Lamott, I have to figure out how to translate that to an actual outline. I bought a big stack of index cards last week, and I’m thinking about using them to physically map out different ideas.
  • Read five books. Yes, I usually plan for three each month, but I have reading to do as part of podcast prep. Am I piquing your interest yet?

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  • Make plans for our second anniversary. It’s hard to believe, but Matt and I will be celebrating our second wedding anniversary next month. We’ve both had our head down with work recently, and I want to make sure we prioritize this time together and make it really special. (Check out a recap of our first anniversary trip to Maine here.)
  • Pitch to 1-2 target outlets. You know how it goes.
  • Get a strong start with new clients. Like I mentioned above, I’ve recently committed to working with two new outlets. I want to make sure I prioritize those gigs in the new month so that I can get comfortable with them as part of my routine.
  • Keep a positive attitude about plans for our future move. I don’t have any specific news to report about the move that Matt and I have been working toward, because at this point, there are a lot of things that are out of our control. With that in mind, I’m planning to check in with myself at the end of every week to make sure that I’m keeping my cool and speaking kindly to others about this looming potential life change. I’ll be honest — being in limbo is really hard. I’m learning, though, that only I can be responsible for my own happiness. This also means that I need to be accountable for my attitude.

What are your goals for May? Fill me in with a comment!

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monthly goals recap -> march + april.

I’m not quite sure how we’re already halfway through the first week of April, but here we are, I guess… and it’s time to talk goals. March was an interesting one around here, with big progress in some areas and next to none in others (trust me — I do not enjoy admitting that). I’m here with all the updates good and bad, plus a plan to make April even stronger.

Here’s a glimpse at the progress on my March Powersheets. In the middle section, the check marks mean “success!” and the dots mean “well, not quite so successful.” Oops.

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Let’s tackle my March goals one by one, shall we? In case you missed it, you can read the post where I set all these goals right here.

  • Successfully launch next collaboration with Brittney Lynn.√ YES! You’ve been seeing me share all about our free Partnering for Press webinar series here on the blog and across social media, and I’m happy to say that we’ve had a great response so far! Thanks to all of you who have tuned in! The last of the three-part series is actually going to take place tomorrow night (Thursday 4/5) at 8:00 pm EST, and it would be so fun to have my Finding Plan A family join us to wrap things up. Grab yourself a glass of wine and some snacks, because it’s totally low-pressure! Check out the details and register right here. See you then!

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  • Start buying podcasting equipment.√ YES! I have a microphone (for my fellow podcasters and aspiring podcasters, I went with this one) and a set of big fancy headphones that can’t wait to be used.
  • Finalize podcast title and start working on art/logo.√ YES! I met with my fabulous designer friend in mid-March to talk all things podcast branding. It was the first time that I really got to talk specifics with someone about this project, and I loved every minute of it. The title is locked down and I’ll get to take a peek at the first pass of the logo in the next week or two. I. can. not. wait.
  • Share draft pages. Things with my book took an interesting turn in March. I had some good work sessions in the first week or two of the month, but I found myself having a bit of a creative crisis after that. I’m finding myself wondering if I’m writing the “right” book… or if the doubts I’m having are just a normal part of the challenging process of becoming an author. I’ll share more about what I’m doing to manage all of this in my April goals, so keep reading!
  • Refocus on Pinterest. √ YES! I shut down my old Pinterest account and started totally fresh. Check it out here.
  • Pitch to at least one of the outlets on my target list for 2018. √ YES!
  • Read three books.√ YES! I read Manhattan Beach (a great piece of historical fiction that I honestly thought may have been just a little too long), Bachelor Nation (the perfect palette cleanser after said historical fiction that I would totally recommend to my fellow reality TV fans!), and FeastYou can learn more about Feast in my March giveaway post (unfortunately, the contest is now closed!), but the short version? I loved it.
  • Take a day off. I’m not proud to say that I didn’t make this one happen in March — and considering I’m inching closer and closer to total burnout every day, I think it might be a non-negotiable for April.
  • Taxes.√ YES Matt was a total champ and braved our complicated freelance tax process all on his own. We’re so relieved to have this behind us!
  • Work on the book three days a week, every week. Like I said above about sharing (or not sharing) draft pages, my book-writing process got turned upside down over the last few weeks. All I can do is try to move forward!
  • Save Fridays for big pitches and passion projects. √ YES I’ve spoken to a few fellow writers who are planning to implement this kind of routine into their own weekly schedule. You may not see it written into every one of my monthly goal posts — I don’t want to bore you! — but you can bet that this one is part of my new normal.
  • Find time once a week to write just for meI pulled this off about half as often as I would have liked to in March. Womp womp. The mental blocks I found myself hitting with working on the book toward the middle of the month kind of freaked me out, and as lame as it sounds, it turned me off of creative writing altogether. Like I said, I have a plan for how to turn things around moving forward!

Let me be totally honest — mentally and creatively, March was a tough one for me. I felt more exhausted and less confident than I have in a long, long time. My workload seemed bigger and more nonstop than ever, and while I made good progress on passion projects like Partnering for Press and the podcast, I can’t help but feel a little guilty for being so stalled on my book. No matter how much momentum I maintain with my existing clients and editors, I’m disappointed in myself when I struggle to move the needle on other things — and, in the case of writing my book, the things that matter most to me.

With the imminent end to winter weather (that has to happen soon, right?) and some new ideas about how to get inspired and stay focused, I have high hopes for April. Here’s what I’m working toward:

  • Start scheduling podcast recordings. This sounds a little boring and logistical, but it’s going to bring me a lot closer to hitting that June launch date for the show : )
  • Restore a positive attitude about writing the book! I’m reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott (if you’re a writer, you need to get your hands on this one ASAP!) and it really has my wheels turning about how to get back on my creative writing game. She offers some great assignments that I think will help me figure out if it’s time to redirect the subject matter entirely or simply dive back into what I’ve already started. I’m going to stop putting pressure on myself to work on drafting the book for a certain number of days per week and instead take that time to work on these assignments and get my confidence back.

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  • Plan travel to Ignite Your Soul Summit. At the end of the month, Brittney and I are finally going to meet in person (!!!!!!) at Amber Lilyestrom’s Ignite Your Soul Summit in New Hampshire. Before that magic can happen, I need to finalize my travel logistics.
  • Read three books. As always! This month, I have a feeling I might actually get to four.
  • Pitch to 1-2 target outlets. Again… as always!
  • Create social media for the podcast. I can’t wait to build a community for podcast listeners… and to have you all be part of it! This month, I’ll be setting up Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts so that when the time comes, you can join.
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A very blurry photo of me at my high school graduation TEN years ago. TEN!
  • Finalize reunion details. I can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that it’s been ten years since I graduated from high school, but that decade milestone seems to have really snuck up on me, because planning for the reunion has officially begun! I’m working with an awesome team of former classmates, and I think we’re going to have some of the logistics ironed out by the end of April.
  • Take a GarageBand editing tutorial. For the time being, I’m going to be editing the podcast myself, and while I have some basic editing experience, I need to brush up. I’ve been jokingly calling Matt my producer, but a girl’s gotta be able to rely on herself!
  • Have one phone-free night per week. I’ve been thinking a lot about phone boundaries in 2018, and while I think I’ve already made good progress, I want to challenge myself even further. A lot of people are big believers in social media-free weekends. I can’t say I’m quite there yet, but I do like the idea of putting my phone in the bedroom as I’m finishing up work one night per week so that I can be fully present with Matt for the few hours we have between dinner and bedtime.
  • TAKE A DAY OFF! We’ve gone all caps, people. This needs to happen. Do any of my fellow freelancers or solopreneurs have specific suggestions for how to plan a random day off? I’m very, very open to your ideas.

What are your goals for April? Fill me in with a comment!

 

 

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monthly goals recap -> february + march.

Another month down, and another list of goals (mostly) tackled! There’s a lot to dig into here, so I’m just going to jump in with the briefest of shoutouts to my Passion Planner and Powersheets, which are continuing to keep me on track in 2018.

January was pretty much a home run in terms of checking off monthly goals (read more about that here!), and I can’t quite say the same for February. As frustrating as it was at times, I kept reminding myself that it was a short month — those three days we lost are the equivalent of 10 percent of any other month! — and that I deserved a little slack over the days when I was sick and traveling.

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Monthly, weekly, and daily progress bars from my February Powersheets.

Here’s how it panned out:

  • Dive into brainstorming and planning the podcast. √ YES! I’m pretty late to the party with organizational and work flow systems, but I spent a lot of time in February playing with Asana and using it to build a lot of potential content for the show. I’ve also mapped out a pre-launch schedule, narrowed down to a short list of titles, and put a tentative launch date on the calendar — June 26.
  • Successfully launch next collaboration with Brittney Lynn. Because of some scheduling issues, Brittney and I decided to push the launch of our next collaboration (remember our free webinar?) back by a few weeks. That being said, we made good progress in February, and I’m excited to share more with you soon!
  • Stop checking Instagram first thing in the morning. √ YES! I kept this up through February, and I’m so glad I did. You can read more about how I’ve been working on my phone boundaries here.
  • Pitch to at least one of the outlets on my target list for 2018. √ YES! I’ve used a lot of different metrics to measure my pitching success over the last year, and I think this is my favorite. Focusing on this goal from month to month is a great way to stay focused on the big picture so I’m not getting stuck in a writing rut.
  • Save Fridays for big pitches and passion projects. Thanks to some travel and weekend visitors we had in February (such fun things!), I didn’t get to be as disciplined about this in February as I was in January, but I did work exclusively on pitching and passion projects every Friday that I was in the office.
  • Read three books. √ YES! Last month, I read The Immortalists (one of my favorites of the year so far, and a perfect read for fans of The Interestings and Emma Straub), Tell Me More (a really interesting memoir/essays hybrid all about the things that are the hardest — and arguably most important — to say), and Sing, Unburied, Sing (which felt a little too literary for my personal taste, but was beautifully written and will definitely be a classic for decades to come).
  • “Feel-good food.” √ YES! There were a few weekend days when I felt like I didn’t make the best possible choices, but doesn’t that happen to all of us? Overall, I think I did a much better job of balancing healthy eating with sweet tooth indulgences in February.
  • Work on the book three to four days a week, every week. Honestly, I lost some momentum here last month. I hate to make excuses for it, so I’ll just admit that I’ve been feeling a little uninspired and also insanely busy with paid work and own the fact that I’ve gotta get back on that train!
  • Take a day off. I can’t give myself full credit here, because although I took one afternoon off for our trip to Charlotte and another to spend time with my best friend who was in New York for a weekend, I didn’t officially set aside a free day for myself to do nothing. Those afternoons off were super fun, but I think there needs to be some intentionality for something to count as the true day off that I need.

And now… on to March! In February, I found myself in a kind of survival mode with work. I was hyper-focusing on smaller assignments, which I think killed some of my creativity and brought down the energy level I had at the beginning of the year around bigger projects. Overall, I’m hoping to take a bigger picture look at things in March so that I can invest time and effort in a wider diversity of things without burning out.

Here are a few specifics:

  • Successfully launch next collaboration with Brittney Lynn. You’ll hear more about this very soon! I can’t wait to see our hard work come to fruition. (Also, I’m finally meeting Brittney in real life at a conference we signed up for in April, and I am borderline freaking out about the fact that we’re going to be in the same place for a whole weekend! She and I were totally meant to find each other in this crazy blogging and social media world.)
  • Start buying podcasting equipment. It’s really happening!
  • Finalize podcast title and start working on art/logo. Like I said… it’s really happening!
  • Share draft pages. This is a really scary one for me to put out in the world. One of my goals for this month is to actually let someone read the chapters of my book that I’ve already written. Friends, just typing that out makes me nervous! Even Matt hasn’t read any of my pages before! As stressful as it feels to open this kind of more personal work up to other people, I know that doing so is going to be a really important part of this process — and I’m hoping that it will really inspire me to pick back up on some of that writing momentum that I lost in February.

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  • Refocus on Pinterest. I’ve been reading a lot lately about how Pinterest can be a really important strategy for growing a business — and I also really miss pinning things for my personal life. I want to start using the platform again, and doing some research about how I can put it to use for the blog and podcast, too.
  • Pitch to at least one of the outlets on my target list for 2018. Like I said, I’m loving this as a monthly goal.
  • Read three books. : )
  • Take a day off. I’m moving this one over from February, and hoping I can be a little more intentional about it in March.
  • Taxes. Ugh. I know we’re all in the same boat on this one! Taxes will be interesting for us this year since it’s the first time we’ll be looking at a full year of freelance income from me. We are drowning in documents over here.
  • Work on the book three days a week, every week. Just because I lost a little momentum last month doesn’t mean I can’t pick it up again!
  • Save Fridays for big pitches and passion projects. Our March weekends are a little crazy, but I’m still hoping to make this part of my regular routine. With my focus on bigger, more diverse projects in the weeks ahead, I’m going to need that dedicated time.
  • Find time once a week to write just for meNot for the book and not for my clients — just for me! I think this is going to be really big in helping me stay inspired and creative in all the other work I’m doing.

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

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monthly goals recap -> january + february.

I drafted up my January and February goal recaps and realized that this is about to be a really longgggg post, so I’ll spare you too much of an intro — BUT, I do have to say that January was a really productive month from a goal perspective, and I can’t help but feel proud of it. At the risk of being too cliché about the power of New Year’s resolutions, it really was helpful for me to come back from spending time with family over the holidays and recalibrate my daily routine. I’m being a lot more intentional about my time, and I find myself wasting a lot less of it! Another helpful tool has been my Powersheets, which I’ve loved using to break things down and to track them on a monthly and weekly basis. I’m a really visual person, so having a place to actively mark off the steps I’m taking toward completing my goals is a great motivator.

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Monthly, weekly, and daily progress bars from my January Powersheets.

OK, let me tell you more about how it actually went down:

  • Create a list of target outlets for the year. √ YES! Friends, I’m learning that there is very real power in writing. things. down. Back in December, when I sat and thought about some of the bigger writing goals I had for 2018, imposter syndrome set in and I felt pretty intimidated. I couldn’t help but think that I — a relatively new freelancer who feels overextended 99% of the time — have no business trying to write for some of my dreamiest outlets. And you know what? There are a million reasons that those outlets might not end up being the right fit for me and my work. But I have absolutely nothing to lose by physically writing them down and hanging them in my office! Making that list was an entirely reasonable and actionable baby step that has already made me feel like some of those goals are within reach.
  • Work on the book three to four times a week, every week. √ YES! I had a slow start here as I got back into the post-holiday swing of things, but I stuck to it three out of the four full weeks of January. I call it success!
  • No sweets during the week. I’m not giving myself a check mark here because I only did it for the first three weeks, but there’s a good reason for that. First of all, I’m so glad I did this. It’s amazing how much better I feel when I eliminate the unnecessary, mindless, sweet tooth-motivated snacking from my day. My energy is up, my skin is clearer, and I feel generally better. All good, right? Yes! For me, things get a little challenging when I start patting myself on the back a little too much for doing something like this. By the third week of the month, I was positively thriving on that feeling of control, and that’s when I knew that I’d crossed into more negative territory (totally a personal preference!). I started working a small treat in at the end of the day (a spoonful of Nutella, a mug of hot chocolate) and felt like I had the right balance back in check. This goal helped me recalibrate my appetite a bit and purge my kitchen cabinets (and I needed to do both of those things!), but the restrictive element of it stopped serving me at a certain point.
  • Get back on track with weekly pitching.√ YES! Setting Fridays aside as my day to work on bigger pitches has been huge. It’s given me the time and space I need to come up with more creative ideas and to research new writing opportunities.
  • Eat better lunches.√ YES! Figuring out how to “do” lunch will always be tough for me, but I made progress this month. For the first half of the month, I threw a ton of veggies and ground turkey in the Crock Pot on Monday morning and portioned it out for the rest of the week, and in the second half of the month, I made big batches of salad with chicken and quinoa for extra protein. I’m not totally happy with how either of those attempts worked out, but at least I’m getting used to making lunch prep more of a priority.
  • Continue podcast research.√ YES! I bought myself a new notebook (which makes a new project officially official around here), and filled it with tons of notes about how all of this is going to work logistically.
  • Plan weekend trips with Matt. We’re halfway there. Matt and I planned a weekend in Charlotte for the end of February, and while we have an awesome Airbnb booked (seriously, how cute is this place?), we still need to lock down our flights.
  • Read 3-4 books.√ YES! In January, I finished Crazy Rich Asians (fun, frothy — can’t wait to see the movie!), Little Fires Everywhere (one of my favorites of the last few months), and A Wrinkle In Time (which I loved as a kid and was inspired to reread thanks to all of the awesome trailers for the upcoming movie).
  • Stop checking Instagram first thing in the morning.√ YES! YES! YES! YES! I can’t say enough about how great this has been. Life has just been a whole lot better since I stopped starting my day scrolling through my phone in bed.

February is a short month, and even though I’m really anxious to keep up the momentum I have coming out of January, I’m trying to leave a little margin and resist the urge to bite off more than I can chew. The list below looks long, but a lot of the things on it aren’t super labor intensive (well, hopefully).

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  • Dive into brainstorming and planning the podcast. The overall theme for the podcast is already locked down (that’s for me to know and you to find out!), but this month I need to start breaking it down into episodes and figuring out a few more details.
  • Successfully launch next collaboration with Brittney Lynn. Remember when Brittney and I did this free webinar at the end of last year???? Well, we have something else in the works! I’ll share more details soon, but I want to focus on hitting that out of the ballpark this month.
  • Stop checking Instagram first thing in the morning. This was so good for me in January, and while I think it’s almost become a habit, I want to make it an official goal for at least one more month. I’m trying to work on phone boundaries more generally, too, and I think this is a good place to start.
  • Pitch to at least one of the outlets on my target list for 2018. These are my dream sites and publications, so I want to aim to pitch to one or two of them every month.
  • Save Fridays for big pitches and passion projects. Like I mentioned above, I’ve started setting Fridays aside for more creative things, and it’s made all the difference. It’s a great way to ensure that I’m actively developing new outlets for my work and spending time writing more in-depth pieces.

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  • Read three books. I’m working toward reading 40 books in 2018!
  • “Feel-good food.” Instead of shooting for a specific eating plan like I did in January with my “no no sweets during the week” rule, I’m going to focus on balance and moderation. I know that the word “moderation” gets tossed around a lot, but I’d really just like to continue to curb my sweet tooth as much as possible (most of the time) and feel good about what I’ve eaten at the end of each day.
  • Work on the book three to four days a week, every week. I’ve realized that this is an achievable schedule for me, and one that also allows me to be pretty productive — I’m working on Chapter Six right now! — so I’m going to try to stick with it.
  • Take a day off. Like actually off. In my apartment. Relaxing. Doing nothing. Now that I’ve put it here, I have to do it, right? Please help hold me accountable!

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

 

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monthly goals recap -> december + january.

As I write this, there is a ton of snow falling from the sky (at crazy speeds — and in all directions!) thanks to this crazy “Bomb Cyclone” we’re experiencing here on the East Coast. Oh, I am so not cut out for winter. Nothing makes this whole “city living” thing feel or look less glamorous than a nasty snow storm. Grubby boots and grimy snow and subway rides that start off freezing and end up with you sweating like it’s the middle of the summer because you’re wearing so many layers… it’s just as fabulous as Carrie Bradshaw made it out to be, right? Check out my current view:

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Let’s just say I’m pretty happy on days like today that working from home is my default!

Following up on Wednesday’s Word Of the Year post, I’m here to recap December and January goals for you! I’m especially excited to share my goals this month, because it’s the first time I’ve been able to work on goals with my new Powersheets, which are (quite literally) a GOAL PLANNER. You know I love my Passion Planner (and I always will), but Powersheets have definitely added another layer to the way things are operating around here.

December was an interesting one for me.

Technically, it’s my second December as a freelancer, but in a lot of ways, it felt like the first. In December 2016, I was just starting out as my own boss, and my plate was a lot less full than I may have been letting on : ) At that time, I was doing a lot of outreach to editors and other potential clients, but I didn’t have many deadlines, and I was really able to enjoy the holiday stress-free. When I made my goals for December 2017 (you can read more about those here), I honestly didn’t know what it would be like to balance a fuller workload with the schedule changes and general shake-ups that are par for the course in the last month of the year. And it showed! I wasn’t as successful as I would have liked to be on my work goals for December, largely because I didn’t account for the fact that it would be harder to get in touch with people around the holidays… and to plan around my own holiday preparations! Next year, I’ll know better.

Here are all the December details:

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  • Be more intentional about early morning work time. I don’t think I can fully give myself a checkmark on this one, but I did take some baby steps in the right direction. I didn’t set an early alarm as many days as I would have liked to (partially because I was sick for a few days mid-month), but I did get myself out of bed and working (without an alarm) more often than usual.
  • Start 2018 planning. √ YES! Now armed with two planners, you can bet that I spent A LOT of time on this last month. It was exciting — if a little scary — to get specific about the things I want to accomplish in 2018.
  • Work on the book three days a week, every week.  Between being sick and traveling for the holidays and (if I’m being honest) getting distracted with the end of the year, I definitely lost some momentum on the book in December. There’s always next month!
  • Read three books. √ YES! I finished Hillary Rodham Clinton’s What Happened (which I would recommend no matter how you feel about HRC), What We Lose (a quick and beautiful — but heartbreaking — read that I don’t think you should read until any winter blues you might be experiencing have passed), and Breaking Free (say what you will about this choice, but I finished it in less than two days).
  • Successfully pitch to editors at my focus outlets for the month. December was not a great pitching month. I sent pitches to some of my regular editors, but not for anything super exciting. My head just wasn’t in the game, and I didn’t want to send anything that felt half baked.
  • Avoid shopping for gifts last-minute. I was so close to succeeding at this one! For the first time ever, I did most of my shopping online — but I ended up experiencing some shipping issues with a few gifts that forced me into a last-minute scramble on December 22.

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  • Continue to cultivate holiday excitement. √ YES! I can confidently say that I succeeded at this one! Matt and I agree that this was one of our favorite holiday seasons to date.
I’m really excited about my January goals!

I think goal-setting is most fun at the beginning of the year, when you’re feeling really clear about your vision for the 12 months ahead and can be that much more intentional about making sure your short-term plans match up with the big picture. One of my favorite things about my new Powersheets is the way they’re encouraging me to look at goals in a different way — more specifically, to break them down into monthly, weekly, and daily chunks in a way that ensures I’m still keeping my eye on the prize.

I know I talk a lot about goals here, and maybe you’re asking yourself why it’s such a focus for me, or why I need all these tools to help me get it done. Totally fair questions!

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All of this work around goal-setting does for me as a freelancer what working with my managers and supervisors did for me when I was working my corporate job. People often ask me how I’m able to work for myself and work from my apartment full-time without getting distracted, and it’s this discipline of setting goals (and using multiple tools to do it!) that’s really been key for me. I don’t have anyone giving me performance reviews or sitting down to share feedback with me after a project’s complete anymore, and this is the next best thing! I’m always happy to answer questions about all of this, though, so feel free to ask in the comments below or to send me an email.

ANYWAY, here’s what’s up for January:

  • Create a list of target outlets for the year. So many exciting things happened in 2017, and I want to make sure I continue to create opportunities for myself and my writing in the new year. I’m going to spend time this month putting together a list of “dream” sites and outlets that I’d love to be published in by the end of 2018.
  • Work on the book three to four times a week, every week. The chaos of the holidays is behind me, and it’s time to re-focus on this very important passion project.
  • No sweets during the week. If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you know this isn’t the first time I’ve challenged myself this way. This kind of health goal works really well for me because I’m not trying to lose a lot of weight or revamp my workout schedule — I just know that my sweet tooth is probably my biggest downfall in this area, and by retraining my appetite for a while, I know I can get it back under control so that I don’t need to restrict myself anymore.
  • Get back on track with weekly pitching. Once again, I’m aiming to send one “big” pitch or pitch to a new editor every week. Something I’m planning to incorporate more in 2018 is batch working, which means that I’ll try to block out my time in such a way that I’m doing similar kinds of work all at once. At this point, I think that Fridays are going to be my pitch days. I’ll spend a few hours each Friday at a coffee shop (maybe eating a pastry) and putting together ideas for my editors. The biggest hurdle I find with pitching is that it’s easy to get distracted with other, more urgent work while I’m trying to do it, but by Fridays, I’ve usually met all of my deadlines for the week — and I think that getting a change of scenery will help, too!
  • Eat better lunches. I’m really bad at eating lunch. I either don’t eat enough or I go way over the top with something too involved and complicated. I really want to work on this in January!
  • Continue podcast research. Starting a podcast is one of my “big” goals for 2018, and while it feels like an extremely overwhelming project, the best way to start is, well, to start! I did a little research about the logistics of podcasting at the end of 2017, but I want to do more this month so that I’m ready to start brainstorming concepts for my show in February. (Ahh! So weird putting that out into the universe!)

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  • Plan weekend trips with Matt. Ugh… isn’t the post-holidays winter so depressing? Matt and I want to plan some little getaways for the first few months of the year, so we need to get on that.
  • Read 3-4 books. My goal for the year is to read 40 books, and I’m ready to get back into a good groove with reading now that life has settled down a bit.
  • Stop checking Instagram first thing in the morning. Four days into this one, and I can already tell you that it’s been worthwhile. I’ll report back with more when I recap January!

What are your goals for January? I’d love for you to share them in the comments below!

 

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monthly goals recap -> november + december.

Are you ready for the very last monthly goals recap of 2017?

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Now that we’re fully in the holiday spirit over here in the Kosik household (more on that later this week), it’s a little easier to believe that we’ve actually made it to December — but I still can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that these are the last goals I’ll be sharing before totally starting fresh in 2018.

Anyway, here’s how I did in November:

  • Land one new outlet.√ YES! Catch something exciting and fun live on a new site in mid-January. I’ll be sure to share it with you!
  • Work on my book at least three days of every week. √ YES! All the praise hand emojis for the fact that I’ve maintained momentum on the book into November. If you’ve been following this journey for a while, you know how major this is. I did make an exception for this the week of Thanksgiving with all the travel and general chaos, but I’m still going to give this one a big, fat check mark.
  • Pitch something new or “big” weekly. The plan here was to stay motivated about pitching to a new editor or sharing a big idea for a new story with an editor I’ve already worked with — and to do one of those things on a weekly basis. I didn’t do this every week of November, but I did it almost every week, and sometimes more than once. I call this goal a success because it definitely kept business development front of mind.
  • Research “low stakes” writing classes. √ YES! I got the chance to talk to a few of my friends about writing classes they’ve taken here in New York. Based on their feedback, I can’t say I’m itching to go sign up for any of those options, but it’s good to have the info as a starting point.
  • Circle back with a few of my favorite outlets. √ YES! I’m working on a few pieces for The Kitchn that should be live in January. I’ve really missed writing for them!
  • Research podcasts and other new projects. √ YES! I started investigating the basics of starting a podcast, and I’m thinking more and more that it might be something I’m interested in doing in 2018. Would you listen? Is there a type of podcast that you’re always looking for, but constantly struggle to find? I’d love your feedback in the comments below! Don’t forget to check out my guest spot on the Day in the Life podcast right here.
  • Read three books. My November weekends ended up being a bit busier than I expected, so I (sadly) didn’t get a ton of reading time. I finished Sourdough (really interesting, creative magical realism vibes with an awesome San Francisco setting that took me right back to our October trip to California). I’m also quite literally a few pages away from finishing Hillary Rodham Clinton’s What Happened, which has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster. It’s a pretty intense read — and a long one, which is part of why I didn’t make my three-book goal for the month.
  • Stick to our new monthly budget. √ YES! It feels good to be tracking our spending in a more specific way. I don’t know that I would recommend launching a new budget plan in November and December — basically the two most uniquely expensive months of the year — but I’m still glad we started taking steps in this direction. And, hey, at least I already know that our spending will go way down come the new year, right?
  • Work on self care with journaling and midday walks. I’ve been a bit inconsistent with journaling, but I’ve definitely worked more walks into my routine.
  • Cultivate the holiday season early and often. √ YES! We got an early start this year with some Hallmark holiday movies (sorry, Matt) and plans for lots of fun to come for the rest of the year.

Not bad for November! After a sort of dismal goals review in October, it feels really good to be back on track this month. I’m hoping to keep it up in these final weeks of the year. Here are just a few of my goals for December:

  • Be more intentional about early morning work time. If I’m being totally honest, I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed by my workload over the last week or so. Having a big pile of work is actually a good problem to have — but getting through that pile and somehow managing to keep your cool while you’re at it is another story entirely. Since I’m hoping to be able to take a little down time at the end of this month, I’m forging ahead, and I’ve found that setting the alarm between 5 and 6 A.M. a few days out of the week has been really helpful in setting me up for success with my to-do list. It’s nice to have some quiet time early in the day (AKA before the emails start rolling in) to get things done. I love the way it feels to look at the clock, see it’s only 9 A.M., and realize that so much has already been accomplished.
  • Start 2018 planning. I have some big picture goals in mind for the year ahead, but I need to actually put pen to paper on them and to start breaking them down into smaller pieces. I’m hoping to spend a good chunk of time doing this (in my Passion Planner, duh) during the week between Christmas and New Year’s.
  • Work on the book three days a week, every week. This goal was a great way to stay focused on my creative writing last month, so I’m bringing it back for December.
  • Read three books. I have such a stack of reading material to get to!
  • Successfully pitch to editors at my focus outlets for the month. I’m going to keep the outlets I’m talking about on the DL, but I do have a short list of sites that I’m planning to focus on before the year is out. The plan is to effectively target those sites instead of obsessively emailing new editors all month, when people are in and out of the office, anyway.
  • Avoid shopping for gifts last-minute. I’m making this an official goal because I want to get it in writing so you can (hopefully) hold me accountable to it! Somehow, no matter how hard I try, Matt and I always end up running around Brooklyn one or two days before pretty much any gift-giving holiday, gathering presents for loved ones with just hours to spare before they need to be wrapped and packed up. We still always end up with thoughtful presents to share, but I know that’s not the best way to make it happen. I’m hoping to get an earlier start this year so we’re not rushing at the final hour!
  • Continue to cultivate holiday excitement. It was so nice to make this a priority in November, so I’m going to continue it!

How are you planning to kick butt in this final month of the year? Share your goals in the comments below!

And don’t forget to sign up for the FREE webinar I’m co-hosting with my boss lady friend Brittney Lynn tomorrow (Wednesday 12/6) at 8 EST. The webinar is called Better Together: How to Reach Out to Journalists and Get More Media Mentions, and it’s going to be a super fun and casual (but also extremely informative!) conversation about how small businesses and hustlers of all kinds can work more effectively with writers like me! Sign up to join right here, and feel free to let me know if you have any questions!

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monthly goals recap -> october + november.

We’re two days into November and I have so many feelings about it. I know I talk a lot about how much time flies, but I think it hits me extra hard at this time of the year. I love the fall, but it always seems to me that it’s this very short little window caught smack in the middle of two much-hyped seasons that we all try so hard to savor. One minute, we’re reminding ourselves to enjoy every last moment of the summertime, and then in what feels like the blink of an eye we’re mere weeks from Thanksgiving, steeling ourselves all over again to hyperconsciously appreciate every last second of the holiday season. There’s no time to catch your breath in between, and somehow, fall always gets lost in the shuffle. Does anyone else feel that way?

This fall — this past month, especially — went particularly quickly for us this year because we spent the first half of October in California (check out those trip recaps here and here). When we got back to New York mid-month, we had the usual rush-to-get-back-into-routine-and-get-lost-in-work thing happen… and now here we are. It’s another month altogether and I’m updating you again about my monthly goals.

Friends, I’ve gotta be honest — this was a tough one for me. As I was going through the progress I made on my October goals, I couldn’t help but feel more challenged than usual by the extent to which I’ve chosen to make all of this public. When I have a good month, it feels amazing to have so many eyes on what I’ve accomplished, but it’s not easy to admit that things haven’t gone the way I planned in a month that isn’t quite so good (Is “good” even the word to use? I’m not sure!). October was by no means an unproductive month, but a lot of the specific milestones I’d hoped to reach just didn’t happen. Schedules changed and life happened in between and I (again) went back to square one with the direction of my book (more on that later!). Sometimes, I feel like you’re coming back here to this goal-setting series month after month only to find that I’m constantly taking one step forward and two steps back. Is that annoying for you? I don’t know.

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What I’m really trying to say is that this is one of those moments where this whole blogging thing feels really vulnerable. And for you, I hope it’s one of those moments that proves that the all-positive vibes you get from social media aren’t always true, and that there’s a lot of self-doubt and spinning-of-wheels that happens behind the scenes.

Alright, here we go [gulp]. Here’s what happened in October:

  • Complete a successful first month at Bustle. √ YES! This has been a really cool experience. I’m working two shifts for Bustle every week. Each of those shifts is basically a six-hour period of time where I’m communicating with my editor via gchat and working on whatever lifestyle stories she needs to assign out that day. You can check out what I’ve done so far here!
  • Research “low stakes” writing classes. This is one of those instances where I feel like I must be driving you crazy. I know, I know — this has been on my list for a few months now. Realistically, I’d like to start a writing class right after the new year, so it’s not really that big of a problem that I haven’t done this research yet — at least not outside of the fact that I said I would!
  • Break into new outlet (or two!). √ YES! My first essay on a big site that I’m super excited about should be going live this week! I can’t wait to share.
  • Pitch to a new editor every week. Nope. I was pretty overwhelmed with the projects and clients I already have on my plate this month, so it was harder for me to make this a priority.
  • Implement new schedule for working on my book. I was embarrassingly unproductive on the book while we were in California (like, I didn’t work on it at all), but when we got back, I started working on it more intensely than I ever have. Literally. I’m forcing myself to have a better schedule and I’m making lots of progress, and it’s all because I allowed myself to pivot on the premise when I realized that I’ve been stalled all this time for a reason.
  • Finish second chapter of book. No, BUT… I scrapped my original draft and started from scratch ten days ago, and (hilariously) I’m already a few pages into the second chapter of this revamped version. Those of you who have been following this journey for a while know that it took me a good six months or more to get that far on the last draft! Do you think I’m on to something? (Because I do.)
  • Stick to new blog calendar. √ YES!
  • Read four books. I underestimated how long the book I brought to California was — and more than that, I underestimated how active we’d be and how little time I would have to sit around and read! I did read The Best of Everything (an awesome classic about twentysomething women working at a publishing company in NYC in the fifties that was actually a reread for me) and Amanda Wakes Up (super fun commentary about working in broadcast news from one of my favorite CNN anchors Alisyn Camerota).
  • Stick to journaling habit. I didn’t journal every single day in October — but I did log a few entries, and I’ll call that success!
  • Celebrate Matt’s birthday well.√ YES! I guess you’d have to ask him to tell you himself, but I’m pretty sure my hubs had an awesome birthday : )

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And here are a few of my priorities for November…

  • Land one new outlet. Did you think this wouldn’t be on here?
  • Work on my book at least three days of every week. Now that I have some serious momentum going here, I’m going to do my goals based on writing time rather than how much I’ve actually written (i.e. how many chapters, how many pages, etc.). I can’t wait to share updates on the book with you next month!
  • Pitch something new or “big” weekly. Rather than committing to pitching to a new editor every week, I’m going to challenge myself to either pitch to a new editor or share a big idea for a new story with an editor I’ve already worked with.
  • Research “low stakes” writing classes. Don’t hate me.
  • Circle back with a few of my favorite outlets. With some of the new business development I’ve done over the last few months, there are a few outlets that I love but haven’t had a chance to work with recently. I’m hoping to change that come November!
  • Research podcasts and other new projects. I’m starting to think about other things I could do moving forward — passion projects, really — so I want to lay the groundwork and do some research on the possibilities before the end of the year.
  • Read three books. And if I read more than that, all the better!
  • Stick to our new monthly budget. Matt and I are generally pretty good with our money, but we’ve decided to revamp our whole budget and start tracking things a little bit more specifically each month. We’re getting started with that in November!
  • Work on self care with journaling and midday walks. In addition to journaling, I’m going to try to focus on my mental health a little extra in the month ahead by stepping out more often for some fresh air in the middle of the day. Most mornings, I’m at my computer by 7:30 a.m., so I think it would be good for me to make afternoon walks a priority when my schedule allows.
  • Cultivate the holiday season early and often. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and I’m really looking forward to the whole holiday season this year. I’m going to make it a priority to start getting in a festive frame of mind earlier than usual this month.

What are you working on in November? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

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monthly goals recap -> september + october.

Matt and I are a few days into our two-week California adventure, and I have to say that nothing is better for my soul than getting a change of scenery, some fresh air, and some serious quality time with my one and only. So far, we’ve been in San Francisco and Monterey. I’ll share more details of the trip in an official travel update later this week, but in the meantime, here are a few of my favorite photos from our drive around Pebble Beach’s famous 17-mile loop. It’s a few miles away from Monterey and looks exactly like the opening titles from Big Little Lies. No filters or editing on these babies!

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More pictures and stories from our travels to come! In the meantime, work is still in progress while we’re on the road (for me, at least), which means my monthly goals are definitely not taking two weeks off…

One of the biggest lessons I learned this past month was about adaptability. Even with the extra “margin” I allowed for myself in September (you can read more about that here, but it’s a concept I borrowed from the girls over at Cultivate What Matters), I didn’t accomplish a lot of the things I wanted to accomplish. Thanks to some changes in my schedule for September (namely, a regular contributor gig at Bustle that I’m really excited about), I had no choice but to revisit my priorities and find peace in not crossing things off the list. Plenty of items have been pushed off until October, and others? Others may just have to wait even longer.

Here are the details on my September goals:

  • Create master list of story-worthy female professionals.√ YES! This task had been on my radar for most of the summer, so I focused on working on it within the first few days of the month.
  • Research “low stakes” writing classes. I ended up with a lot less unstructured work time this month than I expected (don’t forget that I was hoping to give myself that extra margin!), so this just didn’t happen. I’ll be working on this in October (hopefully).
  • Successfully complete project for new outlet. √ YES! My editor signed off on a second draft of this story at the end of last week, so I’ll be able to share this with all of you soon. I’m really proud of this one, guys!
  • Finish second chapter of book. Let’s get real here, shall we? This month was downright dismal as far as working on my passion project. Between learning to balance hours for my new Bustle gig, finishing some more heavily reported pieces, keeping up with my typical workload, and managing some personal things that came up, I really struggled to find time for creative writing — and when I did find that time, it was hard for me to channel the creativity and emotional energy I needed. I have some specific ideas for getting back on track with this project that I’m hoping to put into place in October.
  • Break into one new outlet.√ YES! Bustle, baby!
  • Read four books. I got a little extra ambitious this month with my reading goal — which, of course, means that September was also the time I got in a reading rut. (Doesn’t it always happen that way?) I finished three books in September: Fitness Junkie (fun, frothy social commentary on our often-scary obsession with weight and the health industry), Small Admissions (the story of a mid-quarter life crisis twenty-something who gets back on her feet working in the admissions office of a fancy New York City private school), and Made for Love (quite possibly the weirdest book I’ve ever read, which I can only endorse to the extent that it was incredibly imaginative, inventive, and well-written).
  • Celebrate my one-year “anniversary” well.√ YES! I really savored this moment, and it felt great.

It’s also worth sharing that there are always a few monthly goals that I don’t post here on the blog, and in September, I barely accomplished any of the goals I kept private. The schedule changes I mentioned really threw me for a loop this month, but they were also a symptom of growth and new opportunities. I’m learning to accept that it’s OK to adjust the expectations I have for myself, especially if it means that I can say “YES!” to trying new things and taking on new challenges.

On deck for October is a mix of totally new goals, some specific habits that I think will help refine how I approach more familiar goals, and (of course) a few old standbys.

  • Complete a successful first month at Bustle. I’m just two weeks into being a regular contributor for this awesome site (you can check out what I’ve written so far here), and I hope to continue proving myself in October.
  • Research “low stakes” writing classes. Moving this one over from September.
  • Break into new outlet (or two!). This one should come as no surprise to you. I’m happy to report, though, that I’ve already gotten some good news from a new editor in the first few days of this month about a story I pitched in September, so I’m setting my sights on growing even more in October.
  • Pitch to a new editor every week. This is a more specific goal that should help get me closer to breaking into more new outlets.
  • Implement new schedule for working on my book. As I mentioned, September was not a great month for working on my novel, so it’s time to whip myself into shape. I’m playing with the idea of building some regular time for this project into my schedule every. single. Monday, which I think will allow for more momentum throughout the week.
  • Finish second chapter of book. (see above!)
  • Stick to new blog calendar. I’m changing up the way I organize things behind the scenes here on the site, so I’m excited to see how that plays out in October.
  • Read four books. With our time in California in the first half of this month, it should be a lot easier for me to reach a four-book goal. I’m a major travel reader. I’m planning to include one “self improvement” kind of title (either personal or professional) in that list. Any suggestions would be welcome in the comments below!
  • Stick to journaling habit. I always just feel better when I make time to journal every few days. I started doing this more consistently in September, and I want to keep it up moving forward.
  • Celebrate Matt’s birthday well. Because I have the world’s best husband and he deserves some serious celebrations : )

What are you hoping to achieve in October? Let me know in the comments below!

 

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monthly goals recap -> august + september.

Happy (long weekend) Friday, beautiful people — and happy September, too! September is my birthday month (woo!), and it also kicks off an especially magical time in this city of mine. It’s cliché, I know, but there’s really nothing like fall in New York City. I already feel things shifting as my fellow New Yorkers wind down their summer travels and start reconnecting with their favorite friends and neighborhood spots. The city will probably empty out for the long weekend (which means we can go to great restaurants without having to wait for seats!), and then everyone will settle in to wait for the leaves to change and the pumpkin spice-flavored everything to become available.

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As I always do at the end of the month, I sat down yesterday with my Passion Planner (and my friend’s pup Sherman, who spent the day at my apartment instead of doggie day care) to recap August and make a list of goals for September.

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One of my favorite things about these calendar pages is the spot where you can fill in a more general personal and work focus for the month. In September, I’m prioritizing journaling on the personal side of things. For the last two weeks, before I even get out of bed, I’ve been setting a timer for ten minutes and using that time for writing in my journal. It’s never been easy for me to establish a regular journaling practice, but doing it every day before I do anything else has really helped me get into a rhythm with it, and I want to keep that up! I know meditation is supposed to be where it’s at, but I prefer this kind of mindfulness. It helps me keep my cool! I also snuck a little (27) in under my monthly personal focus, because I want to enjoy my birthday : ) Work-wise, my focus is simply new opportunities: pursuing them, embracing them, and rising to the occasion to do my best for them when I have the chance to do so.

Time to get more specific, though. Here’s how I did in August:

  • Create master list of story-worthy female professionals. I didn’t make this happen in August, but the good news is that there was no real deadline here. Since this master list is going to need to be updated on a rolling basis, anyway, I’m trying to grant myself a little extra grace. Moving it right over to the September list!
  • Brainstorm new blog content.√ YES! Stay tuned! There are lots of fun things to come as we approach year two (WHAT?) of Finding Plan A.  
  • Break into one new outlet.√ YES! I’m working on a really fun project for a new Web site. I’m excited to share it with you when it’s finished.
  • Finish first chapter of book.√ YES! Finished the first chapter and started the second.
  • Research writing classes and possible graduate programs. This task fell to the wayside this month, and instead of feeling guilty about it, I’m going to take it as a sign that this is probably not the right time for me to be applying to any kind of higher stakes graduate program. I’m going to shift my focus to writing classes that are slightly lower pressure so I can test out being a student again, and if I’m still itching to go back for a more structured grad program in a few months, I can pull my application together for next year’s deadline instead of this year’s.
  • Read three books.√ YES! Between a week at the beach and Matt’s study schedule, I really turned up my reading game this month. In August, I finished The Nix, Hunger, Lilac Girls, Startup: A Novel, and The Glass Castle. I would especially recommend Lilac Girls and The Glass Castle.
  • Higher quality “me” time. This is a tougher one to quantify, but I would say yes! I’ve definitely cut back on my binge watching time, and it’s made me a lot more creative and productive, while also giving me a chance to read and wind down in a more meaningful way.

Looking ahead to September, I’ve been taking a cue from the girls over at Cultivate What Matters (an awesome community of women focused on making meaningful things happen and supporting progress on each other’s goals) and thinking about the idea of margin. In the world of goal setting and planners, this idea of margin is all about knowing when it’s OK to leave yourself a little more physical white space as you organize your monthly outlook or to-do list. Creating this margin doesn’t mean that you’re not working toward a productive month or chasing big goals — it just means that you’re looking at a more focused set of items and being realistic about what’s achievable, which frees up your mental energy to actually achieve it, because you’re not worrying as much about whether or not you have enough time! I’m excited to see if playing with this margin helps me stay even more motivated next month. Here’s what I’m targeting for September:

  • Create master list of story worthy female professionals. Moving this from August!
  • Research “low stakes” writing classes. As I mentioned in my recap of last month, I’m going to shift my focus from full-on grad programs to online classes or local workshops.
  • Successfully complete project for new outlet. The story I’m working on for the new Web site is a pretty heavily reported piece, and I really want to impress this new editor!
  • Finish second chapter of book. Onward and upward!
  • Break into one new outlet. You know the drill, people. I have pitches in with a lot of new contacts and plan to keep up that momentum going forward.
  • Read four books. With Matt’s new study schedule (I wrote about that here), I have a lot more down time at night. I’m hoping to put it to work doing even more reading than usual.
  • Celebrate my one-year “anniversary” well. September 15 marks one year since I left my corporate job to start this journey. I’m planning to take the day off from work and really soak in all that these last 365 days has meant.

What are you hoping to achieve in September? Feel free to share in the comments!

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