goal setting

monthly goals recap -> august + september.

At the top of each monthly tending list in my PowerSheets, I’m prompted to fill a blank space with some encouraging or motivating words for the month. Typically, I spend an almost embarrassing amount of time after I put together my goals scouring the Internet for a quote or song lyric that captures everything I’m trying to accomplish for that month, then use that to fill the space. This month, it looks a little different. For September, my encouraging words are…

Chill out and enjoy.

When I started thinking about what September’s words of motivation should be, these were the first ones that came to mind. For a few minutes, I considered looking for something a little deeper, a little more creative or intellectual. But I decided to go with my gut. One of my general hopes for the month ahead is that I can destress in certain areas of my life, and taking away the unnecessary expectations I had on myself about coming up with the perfect quote to write in my planner seemed like a good place to start.

I think that sets the stage for this goals recap pretty well, no?

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I can’t wait to talk more about all the chilling out and enjoying that I hope to do in the weeks ahead, but in the meantime, let me share a little more about how things panned out in August.

  • Finish two chapters of book. I finished about a chapter and a half. It’s not quite as much quantity-wise as I would have hoped, but I feel really good about the quality of the work, so I’m not going to stress about it too much.
  • Land one new outlet. YES! I actually landed two new outlets. I picked up an assignment for a new print outlet (more to come on that in a few months!), as well as more copywriting and blogging work for another small business.
  • Maintain SSR workflow. YES! I have a really good system down after two full months with the podcast.
  • Submit four (great) pitches to target outlets. I submitted three — not four — big pitches.
  • Investigate podcast ad networks and growth opportunities. YES! After researching some options in August, I haven’t actually taken action on anything yet, but it feels good to have started the process. There are other ideas that I’ve been brainstorming over the last few days that I’m even more excited about, and I can’t wait to explore those further in September.
  • Network for podcast guests and pitch SSR for publicity every week. YES! 
  • Treadmill three times per week. In the final week of the month, I only ran twice. Between move prep and an insane workload, I was just finding rest and other kinds of exercise better for my stress levels! As much as I love to push myself at the gym five to six days a week, I’m trying to get better at listening to my body. I did, however, stick to my treadmill goal three weeks out of the month.
  • Stick to weekly SSR social media calendar. YES! I’m having so much fun with all of the SSR social media. It’s been a really great creative outlet! My personal social media feeds have definitely suffered as a result of all the time I’ve spent coming up with fun ideas for SSR, but I’m hoping to figure out a better balance moving forward.
  • Prioritize a date night every week. With the move on the horizon, Matt and I have been finding date nights more important than ever these days. We missed one week of date night, but with all of the craziness in our lives lately, I still feel pretty good about how much we’ve been able to prioritize each other.
  • Read target outlets more regularly. I’m still struggling to find time for this, but I think being aware of that has been a good first step.
  • Practice focus. YES! As you might remember if you read my last goals recap, I had a lot of trouble with time management in July after I made some big changes to my schedule and workload. I found myself getting even more overwhelmed with projects than was necessary because I couldn’t focus on any one thing for a long period of time. That got a lot better in August, and it allowed me to be really productive and creative.
  • Prepare well for our move! YES! We’re just a few days away from moving into our new apartment, and given all the time we’ve spent traveling over the last few weeks, I think we’ve done about as much as we can to be proactive about the process. The real test will come in September, when we actually have to do the move and transition into our new space and routine!

August was a really great month for me both professionally and personally, and it feels good to have that momentum coming into a new season. (And a new year… September is my birthday month!) Still, setting goals for next month was tricky. I wrote about this quite a bit in my last post about change, but there are so many transitions ahead for us in September — new apartment! new puppy! — that I’m not quite sure what my time’s going to look like or what kind of bandwidth I’m going to be working with. As of now, my plan is to do lots of good work with my current clients and projects (and the podcast, of course), but to lower the pressure I put on myself to constantly be in hustle mode with developing new business. It’s been a crazy summer for me with work, and even if we weren’t going to need a few days to settle into our new apartment or if I didn’t have a new furry, un-trained friend coming to live with me five days later, it would probably be time for me to cut myself some slack.

Anyway, I have no idea how September is really going to shake out. And I’m trying not to have as many expectations of myself. 

Here is my list of goals for the month, which you’ll definitely notice is much shorter than usual.

  • Successfully transition into our new apartment. Moves are always stressful! We’ve front-loaded a lot of the hard work necessary for ours, and now that the actual move date is in sight, I’m ready to channel all of that work into the actual experience of settling into our new space!
  • Finish two or three chapters of my book. As always, keep on truckin’.
  • Continue to research growth opportunities for the podcast. Yes, I love doing the podcast as a passion project, but I am starting to think about ways to make it bigger and maybe even to monetize it. As I mentioned above, I came up with some really fun ideas over the last few days, and I’m going to spend some time in September trying to figure out what’s actually going to be doable and most true to my mission with the show.
  • Secure one new outlet or project. I know I said I was going to pull back on the hustle, but I’d like to lock down onnnnne new opportunity in the next few weeks.
  • Read seven books. I have a lot of podcast recordings on the books in the months ahead, which means I have lots of YA and middle grade books to read! Since we’ll be spending a lot of time at the apartment with the puppy, I think this will also be a good time to knock some other “grown-up” books off my TBR list.
  • Focus on hospitality and celebrations! One of the things I’m most looking forward to with our new apartment is that its larger size will make it a lot easier for us to welcome people into our home. I’ve always loved hosting people, and with so much to celebrate in September, I can’t wait to really embrace that hospitality.
  • Establish good puppy habits! I’m under no delusions that getting a 10-week-old puppy is going to be easy. The first few weeks will be key to ensuring that we can get him trained and keep him feeling safe and happy. That’s a huge priority for me!
  • Read target outlets. There’s still a lot of room for me to establish consistency with this in my daily routine. I’m hoping that pulling back on some of my hustle mentality will give me the headspace I need to make this happen.

Oh – and chill out and enjoy. Because, duh.

Given all of the big changes coming up over here, I think next month’s goals recap is going to be quite interesting… and I’m excited to keep you all in the loop about each milestone in the meantime!

What are you hoping to accomplish in September? Tell me more in the comments below! 

 

 

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monthly goals recap -> july + august.

Happy Friday!

Today is my last day at the Jersey shore with my family, and I am feeling sufficiently sunburned and caught up on reading. It’s always a bummer to leave a vacation, but it’s been a great trip, and I’m so grateful to have the chance to return to this meaningful place every summer.

I have some work to do before I can head down to the beach to enjoy a final few hours, so let’s jump right into the July and August goals recap, shall we? (Check out last month’s recap here for a refresher.) This past month was a good one!

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You may not know my whole system, but trust me when I tell you that all of those check marks and filled in bars are a really good thing!

As I fully eased into my streamlined and reprioritized schedule in July, I was really able to focus on the things that mattered most and to make a lot of progress on my goals. Here’s a recap:

  • Pitch to two target outlets. √ YES! I was pitching a lot at the beginning of the month and opened up some great conversations with editors about potential assignments that I’m hoping come to fruition in the next few weeks. After so many months of having limited time to pitch and develop new business opportunities, it felt good to get back in the game.
  • Figure out weekly workflow for podcast production. √ YES! The biggest challenge with podcasting is that having a show of your own requires you to constantly be working on two levels — promoting existing episodes and producing future episodes… and if you really want to be successful, you can’t afford to be inconsistent with either! Establishing a social media calendar at the beginning of every week has been helpful (more on that later), and I’ve also found a good rhythm of editing episodes for the following week on Mondays and Tuesdays, recording their intros on Wednesdays, finalizing the audio file on Thursdays, and doing a final listen and working on the show notes on Fridays.
  • Read five six books.√ YES! Outside of the reading I did for SSR this month, I read An American Marriage (totally appreciated its impact, but still wasn’t crazy about it), Girl, Wash Your Face (a really fun memoir with strains of self-help that I tore through in a single day), The Kiss Quotient (the steamiest book I’ve ever read, but generally didn’t meet the hype for me), and 90s Bitch (some of the most fascinating, compelling non-fiction I’ve read).
  • Network for podcast guests and pitch SSR for publicity on a weekly basis.√ YES! Actively making a point to do both of these things every week has been really helpful. Sometimes, it can feel overwhelming to think about the long game for the podcast — especially on top of all of my other work — but chipping away at growing it little by little makes it more manageable.
  • Start book outlining process.√ YES! AND I’VE STARTED WRITING AGAIN!
  • Treadmill three times per week.√ YES! Making a goal of this has given me a new structure to my workouts, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Going to the gym is such a, well, routine part of my routine, that I can easily get kind of lazy with what I actually do when I get there. Challenging myself to get back into running shape has been good for me.
  • Develop and stick to SSR social media calendar every week.√ YES! I mentioned this briefly above, and if you follow SSR on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, you know that I’ve definitely been doing it : )
  • Read target outlets more regularly.√ YES! I could definitely do a better job with this, but I did make more of a habit of it in July.

I wrote about this a little more in last week’s post about streamlining, but my hope moving into August is that I’ll learn to make even better use of some of the time and mental bandwidth that’s opened up since I made the very tough call to transition out of regular work for one of my clients. Now that I’m getting more comfortable with all of the work that goes into producing and promoting the podcast, some of that margin actually exists — yay! — and I’m trying to figure out where I want to focus so I can use it accordingly.

Here’s how some of those August goals break down:

  • Finish two chapters of book. Now that I have an outline — and a few pages — in place, I want to keep building on that momentum!
  • Land one new outlet. If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you know that this used to be on my list of goals for every month. I’m bringing it back for August! As I work on revisiting my priorities, I think this is a really great marker for progress. And good news! I already have some prospects lining up.
  • Maintain SSR workflow. That podcast production schedule I described up top? Gotta keep it going!
  • Submit four (great) pitches to target outlets. You know the drill.
  • Investigate podcast ad networks and growth opportunities. Don’t get me wrong — the podcast is great as a passion project, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t interested in finding ways to monetize it down the road. I know it’s still early, but I want to start learning more about advertising opportunities and the like now so that I can figure out the best way to take advantage of them when the time is right.
  • Network for podcast guests and pitch SSR for publicity every week. That goal was so helpful in July that I’m keeping it around for August!
  • Treadmill three times per week. Same as above.
  • Stick to weekly SSR social media calendar. Anddddddd same as above.
  • Prioritize a date night every week. Matt and I both have a lot going on right now — both individually and as a couple — and I think it’s more important than ever that we make a point to set aside one night each week to spend time together.
  • Read target outlets more regularly. I tried to make this a more regular priority last month, but I need to do better. In order to help me be more consistent, I may start building in a time buffer every morning during which I can focus on doing nothing but reading stories from the websites and magazines that I’d like to contribute to! After all, things are much more likely to get accomplished when they happen before I even look at my inbox.
  • Practice focusI found myself getting more distracted than usual at the end of July, and I want to reel that in ASAP.

There’s been another major development in our personal life over here, which brings me to one more (extremely important) goal for the coming weeks…

  • Prepare well for our move! It’s official — Matt and I are officially staying in New York for at least another year. We signed a lease on a great new apartment last week and are moving in early September. August is a crazy month for us (we have two weddings and then one weekend where Matt is away for a bachelor party and I’m away for a bachelorette party!), so we have limited time to get everything organized. Natural planner that I am, I’m already making lists and calls, trying to do as much as I can now so the final weeks feel a little less crazy. Still, moving out of our tiny apartment is going to be tricky, since there aren’t a lot of places to actually put stuff once it’s been packed. Yikes!

How is your August looking? What are you hoping to accomplish? Tell me more in the comments below! 

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monthly goals recap -> june + july.

Happy Fourth of July, everyone!

The holiday falls in such a weird way this year and I’m not quite sure what our day is going to look like around here, but it’s definitely a treat to get an extra weekday off with Matt! Before we officially kick off our holiday (as I try my hardest to stay away from work entirely), I thought I’d update you on my goals from last month and the weeks ahead. I won’t bore you with any more introductory details, because I want you to get out there and start BBQ-ing and watching fireworks as much as possible!

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All of those completed progress bars in my June Power Sheets feel good

Somehow, with everything that was on my list for June (here is last month’s recap if you need a reminder!), I managed to make it a pretty darn productive one. Here’s how last month’s goals played out:

  • Launch the SSR Podcast. √ YES! SSR went live last week with its first two full episodes, and just yesterday, the third one released on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play. This is a living, breathing thing now, and I’m so proud to have made it happen. I’m not even going to try to play down my excitement by calling it a “humble brag.’
  • Push the SSR Podcast Web site, Facebook group, and Twitter live. √ YES! Check it out here, here, and here.
  • Rally the SSR Podcast Launch Team! √ YES! Seriously, thanks to everyone who was part of this. If you still want some bookmarks, let me know. Happy to send some your way!
  • Update list of target outlets. √ YES! Early this year, I made a list of dream-level Web sites and magazines where I would love to see my work appear someday. Physically creating this list was a really powerful experience, because it made these scary-seeming goals feel somehow more within my control. Halfway through the year, I’ve made some progress on this list, but I knew that it was important to revisit it so that it would still be a useful resource in the second half of 2018. I removed several outlets from the list, which didn’t feel great, but then I reminded myself of all of the unexpected things that I’ve accomplished so far this year… things I never could have planned for when I made the list initially! I also added a few prospects that have hit my radar more recently.
  • Read five books. √ YES! I finished a whopping seven books in June, thanks to our long weekend in Mexico and a mad dash to read a bunch of middle grade and young adult books in preparation for podcast recordings. You’ll hear all about the books I read for SSR on the show, but in terms of adult books, I finished The Female Persuasion (a really interesting commentary on modern feminism with great description and character development), You’ll Grow Out Of It (a laugh-out-loud collection of essays about lady things), The Ensemble (a novel about a group of classical musicians that I honestly didn’t love as much as I thought I would), and Hey Ladies! (a book you NEED to read if you’ve ever been on an email thread with a big group of women — I laughed until I cried!).
  • Get headshots. √ YES! My younger sister is an amazing photographer, and I asked her to help me out with these photos. I’m still a little shy about sharing them, but she did an amazing job!
  • Start book outline. Did LOTS of writing, but no outlining. Next month!
  • Refocus on phone boundariestried to do this successfully in June, but I definitely could have done better. I would give myself a very average score.

In my last goals post, I also talked more generally about how I knew that it was time for me to start streamlining my work. My freelance writing workload has grown substantially over the last few months, and adding my new podcasting responsibilities to the mix has definitely required me to take a step back and figure out how to more effectively manage all of the things that I have on my plate. It’s not anyone else’s job to do that for me!

Without getting too specific, I’m happy to report that I made some big strides toward streamlining in June. In the last week of the month, I made a major change to my schedule that will afford me some extra time and flexibility to get #allthethings done. If I’m being honest, it’s a little overwhelming to suddenly reset my routine and figure out how to handle that additional flexibility — but if I make that happen successfully, I know these decisions will have been the best I’ve made in a while.

With that in mind, here’s what I’m hoping and planning to accomplish in July:

  • Pitch to two target outlets. With my revamped target outlet list and the podcast launched, I feel like I’m once again in a good place to pursue some new opportunities with my freelancing hustle! I’m keeping my goals realistic this month and hoping to pitch larger-scale stories to at least two of these platforms. I already have some ideas brewing that I’m excited about!
  • Figure out weekly workflow for podcast production. Now that I’ve done some streamlining to my schedule, I want to be sure that I’m making the best possible use of my time by creating a consistent routine for all SSR-related tasks throughout the week. It’s going to take some time to figure out the best days to edit new episodes, write and record intros, reach out to potentials guests, and the like, but by the end of the month, I’d like to have a workflow like this in place.
  • Read five six books. Another SSR recording was scheduled this morning, so I increased my goal mid-post.
  • Network for podcast guests and pitch SSR for publicity on a weekly basis. Just because SSR has launched doesn’t mean that all of the hard work is behind me. In fact, the challenge is — in some ways, at least — really just beginning, because now I need to maintain momentum with booking guests and attracting new listeners to the show.
  • Start book outlining process. : )
  • Treadmill three times per week. I have an annual habit of more or less giving up running (almost) entirely for a few months after I finish the Brooklyn Half in May, opting for other kinds of exercise instead. After all of that training, it seems like a waste to lose those running legs! Going on regular runs is such a boost to my confidence and makes me feel great physically, so I’m planning to hit the treadmill at least three times a week in July.
  • Develop and stick to SSR social media calendar every week. One of my overall goals this year is to cultivate a community around the SSR Podcast, and social media is a huge part of that.
  • Read target outlets more regularly. I’m not as consistent about reading my target outlets on a regular basis as I should be, and I’d like to focus on changing that moving forward. They say that to be a good writer, you first need to be a good reader… so if I want to be a good writer for certain outlets, I need to be an especially good reader of those outlets, too!

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

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monthly goals recap -> may + june.

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

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

“Why?” you ask.

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

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

I need to streamline.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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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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