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!

shoutout to my passion planner.

Dear Passion Planner,

Thank you for helping me get through this week. It was full of all kinds of ups and downs — some I expected, others I didn’t. 

You helped me stay focused and motivated in my new daily routine, despite the fact that I’ve really struggled to keep my head together and be creative in my work amid all the ugliness of our world these past few days. 

For the last eight months, you’ve indulged my crazy obsessive behavior, provided me with plenty of space to doodle and draw, and given me an excuse to invest in lots of colored pens. When I look through all of your pages, I see a full record of my first full year working out on my own, and that’s pretty cool. On the days when I wonder if I’m actually getting anything accomplished, you remind me that I’ve already made so much progress. 

Basically, Passion Planner, you are one of the better decisions I’ve made in the process of revamping my work and life over the past year, and you can consider me a true lifelong fan. 

Thanks! (No, seriously, thanks so much.)

Alli 

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Working on putting together my schedule for next week. 

For the record, this is not a sponsored post, and I am not a Passion Planner affiliate. I just really love this product, and I want to give it the credit it deserves. 

People often ask me what’s helped me be successful working from home, and my Passion Planner is easily one of my best secret weapons. But why should I keep it a secret? You can get your hands on one, too, and I totally think you should.

I’ve tried so many different planners and planning systems over the years, so why do I love this one so much? It gives me so much space. I use the classic size (instead of the compact), and it allows me to break down my day into hourly chunks. Since I make my own schedule, I find this really useful. I also love being able to get creative with all the white space! I keep a set of colored pens (I like Paper Mate Flair felt tips!) with me at all times, and noting my appointments, deadlines, and to-do lists in such a fun and colorful way makes the chaos seem a lot more approachable. If you’re someone who likes journaling and periodic goal-setting, the Passion Planner is especially perfect for you, because it prompts you to reflect on the progress you’re making both personally and professionally at the end of every month.

I wanted to let you all know that Passion Planner is currently running a Kickstarter for pre-orders on 2018 planners. There are tons of product options (including a new eco-friendly line), and for every planner sold during the campaign, Passion Planner will also plant a tree. What’s not to love about that? Inventory is often backordered later in the year, so if you’re interested in getting your hands on a Passion Planner for 2018, this is the right time to do it. I, for one, pre-ordered my Rose Gold Blossom planner earlier this week, and I can’t wait to get my paws on it in a few weeks when the Kickstarter is finished.

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Feel free to reach out to me with any questions you have about how I use my Passion Planner. If you haven’t figured it out by now, I seriously love talking about it.

Are you pre-ordering your 2018 planner? I’d love to hear which one you picked in the comments below!

Have a great weekend, everyone! I’ll see you back here next week for the AUGUST GIVEAWAY!!!!!!

monthly goals recap -> july + august.

Our trip down to D.C. this past weekend was the perfect way to wrap up July. We kicked off the month in a brand new place — Turks + Caicos (you can read more here) — and ended it in a place that holds so many old memories for us. We had a whirlwind two days exploring Arlington and Alexandria, capped off with an afternoon back on the GW campus. I haven’t visited since I graduated in May of 2012.

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My friends and I had so much fun being on campus. Somehow, even though it’s only been five years, it seems like everything’s different there! New buildings, new restaurants, new green spaces where there used to be empty pits (we noticed this because we used to be able to see said empty pit from the roof of our sorority house)… we were a little disoriented! Even though I felt a little turned around, it was really good to be back — better than I expected. It was fun to share it with close friends (and Matt, of course) so we could remind each other of the funny things that happened in this place or the weird tradition we had in that place. There’s more history there for me than I realized, and it was nice to soak it in with people I love.

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A highlight of the trip back to GW was a visit to our sorority house! We hung around long enough to find someone to swipe us in, and naturally, we convinced someone else to let us into our old common room (mostly by saying, “See? That’s us on the composite!” which was far from impressive to anyone), where we uncovered a few sets of letters for an ridiculous impromptu photo shoot. This is probably so frowned upon by nationals and all other powers that be, but whatever. We had the most fun.

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Guys, there’s nothing like good friends. Seriously.

But now, it’s back to the workweek grind, and it’s August (huh?), which means it’s time for a recap of my monthly goals (you can check out last month’s here). I’m going to be honest with you — I didn’t make us much progress on my specific goals as I would have liked to in July. What you see here on the blog is only a handful of my objectives for each month, and generally speaking, I’m not totally thrilled with the number of check marks I see on the full list. Still, I know in my heart that July was a super productive month, and that even though I didn’t necessarily gain traction in the ways I wanted, I still got a lot of things accomplished. Here’s a peek at July:

  • Finish book outline and start first chapter of book.√ YES! My outline didn’t look quite how I thought it would, but it’s finished and workable, and I started on Chapter One last Friday. I’m literally two paragraphs in, but that’s something, right?
  • Research writing classes and possible graduate programs. This didn’t happen in July. The longer I wait to do this research, the more limited my options may be time-wise, which is definitely a concern.
  • Break into one new outlet. √ YES! I had my first post published on The Gottman Institute Relationship Blog a few weeks ago. Gottman is the authority on all things relationships, so it was an honor to be asked to contribute.
  • Get placement for a story that’s close to my heart. This particular story is, unfortunately, still looking for a home. I’m getting to the end of my list of potential outlets, and I may have to accept that it’s not the right time for this one.
  • Read three books. I had such high hopes this month! I tore through The Wangs vs. The World and Commonwealth (both were great) in Turks + Caicos, and started The Nix on our plane ride home. I’m loving The Nix, but it’s super long, and I haven’t finished it quite yet.
  • Plan fall vacation.√ YES! We have one hotel reservation and an Airbnb booked, and we’re now in the process of nailing down flights, a car rental, and one more hotel. I’m so excited!

Here’s what’s up for August:

  • Create master list of story-worthy female professionals. Every day, I get emails from publicists about amazing girl bosses with incredible stories of success and innovation. While it’s probably not feasible for me to place every one of these stories, I want to come up with a better way to organize them so I can more easily keep track and (hopefully) share!
  • Brainstorm new blog content. I’m still really energized about creating fun, fresh posts to share with all of you, and investing time in brainstorming is a big priority in August. I’d still love your thoughts and feedback.
  • Break into one new outlet. This is always a monthly goal, but I’m especially focused on it this month. I’d really like to sell a personal essay to a new outlet, since essays are my favorite.
  • Finish first chapter of book. Ideally, I’ll move into Chapter Two and beyond, but one chapter definitely feels like a reasonable starter goal.
  • Research writing classes and possible graduate programs. Moving this one over from July! As much as I’d like to do this, I also know that if I can’t even make time to gather the information, I may not be able to prioritize actually taking classes enough to make it a worthwhile investment. We’ll see!
  • Read three books. As always! I’m really excited about the titles I have on deck, which is an extra motivator.
  • Higher quality “me” time. I’m bringing this one back from my list of June goals, because I found that it was really helpful earlier in the summer. It’s easy (for me, at least) to default to binge watching and Instagram stalking whenever I have a spare moment, and I always feel better when I spend that time reading, getting out of the apartment, or doing something creative instead.

What are your August goals? I’d love to hear about them so we can help each other stay accountable! Here’s to making the most of the last full month of summer!

 

 

monthly goals recap -> june + july.

June 2017 is officially in the books, people! And what a month it was over here! We spent so much quality time with family, celebrating seriously exciting milestones and accomplishments, and it felt like the best possible way to kick off the summer. I really do feel like a totally new person — a better version of myself — in the summertime. Summer forever!

I finished up this month feeling better about work, life, and everything in between than I have in a while. Without realizing it, I think I was in a bit of a mental fog for a lot of the spring, and that totally lifted in June. While I didn’t check off every goal on my list for the month, I made a lot of progress in big picture ways: working out a good schedule, making more time to be creative, pitching more stories. I call that a major success.

Here’s a recap of my June goals:

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  • Celebrate an amazing first wedding anniversary! √√√√√ YES! That’s a quintuple check right there. I won’t bore you with all the details again (I feel like I’ve been a bit of a broken record since we got back from Maine), but if you want a recap of how Matt and I celebrated, you can check it out here.
  • Successfully finish my big copyediting project. √ YES! If you could see me right now, I’d be doing a happy dance. I learned a lot from this project and I’m hoping to do more like it in the future, but because of some ongoing changes with the timeline for the assignment, the workload felt a little out of control near the end there, so I’m happy it’s behind me. In the week since I finished, I’m feeling such a difference in my schedule and the time it allows me to invest in more creative pitching and better writing.
  • Break into a new outlet. Not this month! I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t disappointed, but I got back into a better rhythm with pitching in June (I’d admittedly lost some steam there in the spring), and I’m feeling really good about that.
  • Continue research for rebooted book project and/or start outlining. √ YES! Guys. I’m so excited about how this is taking shape. I’m eating up the research process for this in a way that I’ve never experienced before. I feel like I’m drowning in things to learn and read about as I put this plot together, and I’m loving it.
  • Research writing classes and possible graduate programs. Definitely need to address this in July.
  • Read three books. I hit a reading slump (one of my least favorite things) in June. I finished The Light We Lost and Hillbilly Elegy (both of which I thought were good, not great), and started The Wangs vs. The World on Wednesday night.
  • Decide where we’re going for our fall vacation. We still haven’t finalized our plans, but we do know what factors we’re still waiting on to make that decision, so we’re not totally off track.

And now my goals for July! Next month, I’m hoping to keep up the momentum I had in June with bigger-picture projects and my focus outlets (which I keep note of in my planner) — and to check off a few more specific items, since that’s where I fell short over these last few weeks.

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I’ve spent time working on research for the book every. day. this week. This may seem like a small thing, but not to me! Investing time in this project daily is what I’ve been hoping to do from the beginning.

  • Finish book outline and start first chapter of book. Now that the copyediting gig is finished, I’m putting a lot more time into working on my book, and I’m excited to keep up that pace going into July (and beyond!).
  • Research writing classes and possible graduate programs. Moving this one over from June! I’m learning to beat myself up a little less when things like this don’t happen in my original timeframe, but this item, in particular, might be time-sensitive, so I don’t want to miss out on any opportunities.
  • Break into one new outlet. I have some prospects, and would love to make progress with one of them.
  • Get placement for a story that’s close to my heart. Last fall, I was introduced to a story that I feel super passionate about, and ever since, I’ve been relentlessly seeking the right home for it. It’s top priority for me to get it to the right editor before the summer is over.
  • Read three books. Duh.
  • Plan fall vacation. Hopefully, we’ll have answers to our outstanding vacation-related questions by the end of this month! Honestly, with all of my crazy planning tendencies, organizing a big trip like this makes me feel totally intimidated, but I’m excited to take on the challenge (with help, of course).

I blogged about this a few weeks ago, but I also want to prioritize enjoying the summer as much as I can! The last few months have been so wild and I don’t want to lose sight of the fact that most workplaces cut their employees a little slack in the summer months. It’s OK to give myself a break every once in a while, too, as weird and difficult as it might feel sometimes.

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

monthly goals recap -> may + june.

YAY — it’s Friday! Does anyone else feel like it’s the technically short weeks that always feel the longest?

In a few hours, Matt and I are getting on the road to Connecticut to celebrate two of our favorite people getting MARRIED! I’m a bridesmaid (you may remember when I went to the bachelorette party in Savannah back in February), and I feel super lucky and honored to be part of this special day. There are few things I love more than celebrating love!

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Before the festivities can begin, though, it’s time for me to update you on how I did with my goals for May (and to look ahead to June, of course). While I was reviewing my list yesterday, I was honestly a little surprised at how many items I checked off! You may have sensed a little frustration from me over these last few months — and if you did, you were right, so I’m really proud of myself for getting focused and back on track in May.

  • Reboot the book project and start a fresh outline. √ YES! I didn’t get as far into the outline and the specifics this month as I would have liked, but I have a main character in mind, and I’m starting to build the story around her. I feel so much more inspired by this new direction! It’s a topic that requires some research, and it feels great to really have something to sink my teeth into.
  • Break into a new outlet or start working with a new client. √ YES! It’s nothing that I’ve been able to share with you yet, but I submitted work to a new client mid-month.

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  • Break two hours in the Brooklyn Half. Yes and no. Officially, I finished just a few minutes over the two hour-mark… but, Matt has developed a “five minute rule” over his years of being a spectator of this particular race. Because there are so. many. people. running it (this year, there were about 30,000 participants!), he typically subtracts five minutes from my finish time to account for all of the extra seconds it takes me to wind my way through the crowds. By that logic, I met my goal — but either way, I’m happy with my race. I was much faster than last year, and had a great team here cheering me on!
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My favorite working spot is One Girl Cookies. It’s right around the corner from my apartment, and they have this awesome garage door-style thing going on that makes it really easy to enjoy the good weather.

  • Change up my work environment.√ YES! This might have been my favorite goal of the month! It’s been really good to get out of the home office more often. Even a few hours at a coffee shop one day a week does wonders.
  • Invest fresh energy in the blog.√ YES! 
  • Book a vacation with Matt.√ YES! We have a long weekend trip planned for our first wedding anniversary (which is just three weeks away!), and we started talking to my friend who works in the travel industry about a bigger vacation in the fall.
  • Read three books. √ YES! I read The Animators, Beyond the Bright Sea, and Tuesday Nights in 1980. I would really recommend The Animators and Tuesday Nights, especially.
  • Higher quality “me time.” I need to continue working on this, but I did make some progress this month. In May, I was a lot less likely to spend whatever free time I could grab in front of Hulu (although I’ll admit I did watch my fair share of the Kardashians). I’ve been trying to block off time to read while I eat lunch, or to take myself for little walks (even if it’s just to run errands, I make the walk feel more like down time by zoning out to a cool podcast and not making any phone calls).

And here are my goals for June! Just like last month, I have a few focus outlets and projects that I’m keeping to myself, too : )

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Getting our wedding album in the mail yesterday (finally!) was a great way to kick off our anniversary month. 

  • Celebrate an amazing first wedding anniversary! As I mentioned above, we have a long weekend trip on the calendar, and we’re planning on eating our cake (I’m a sucker for tradition!) and getting our vows printed and framed to hang in our apartment. I also want to come up with the most perfect, meaningful gift for Matt, preferably one that will be a total surprise. Generally speaking, I’m just really excited to go big with celebrations for this first year of marriage, and to set the tone for the way we approach our anniversaries in the future.
  • Successfully finish my big copyediting project. If you follow my Instagram stories, you may already know that I am copyediting a biology textbook. Who knew I would be learning so much about the skeletal and excretory systems (yup, excretory system) as a full-time writer? My deadline to finish the project is June 22, and I’m looking forward to finishing it strong.
  • Break into a new outlet. I’ve pitched to some new editors recently, and I have my fingers crossed that I’ll get good news back soon!
  • Continue research for rebooted book project and/or start outlining. I’ve always told myself that I need to set aside time to work on my book every single day. I wish I could make that happen, but honestly, I think the whole idea has felt overwhelming — and maybe even a little discouraging. This month, I’m going to try to block off time three days a week, instead. That seems more manageable, and I’m hoping it will help me pick up more momentum!
  • Research writing classes and possible graduate programs. In order for me to really get where I want to be with my creative writing (most importantly, of course, with writing my book), I think it’s time I start taking some classes. I haven’t decided yet if that looks like a full-blown degree (if anyone out there has experience with MFA programs, especially, I’d love to hear from you!) or just a few workshops here and there. In June, I want to spend some time looking into my options and weighing which one is best for me. More to come!
  • Read three books. I know this one is probably kind of boring by now, but I like having the chance to share with you what I’ve read at the end of each month (it’s the old publishing pro in me, I guess!).
  • Decide where we’re going for our fall vacation. As a couple, Matt and I are not always that quick to actually commit to the plans we’re talking about — and I want to make sure we don’t miss out on an amazing trip by waiting too long!

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

monthly goals recap -> april + may.

hello may

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

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

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

  • Finish first draft of three chapters of the book. So. Something kind of crazy happened. I was deep into the second chapter of my book over the weekend when I decided that I’m scrapping the project and starting over. (hah!) I’ve had a nagging feeling in my stomach for the past few months that I need to go back to the drawing board, and I’m finally going to listen to my gut. The fact that I’ve been working on this at such a slow pace is a sign to me that this isn’t the exact book I’m supposed to write, and I don’t want to waste any more time.
  • Successfully pitch another article to the New York Post. √ YES! Stay tuned! I’m really excited to share this one with you.
  • Read at least 3 books. I’m halfway into my third book for the month, so I didn’t quite get there. I finished The Rules Do Not Apply and What Remains and am now working my way through The Animators, which I’m loving.
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Sneak peek of one of my favorite spreads of the finished album!

  • Finish our wedding album! √ YES! Matt took a last look at the pages this weekend and gave his final OK. Yay! I’m so excited to order the album. I fully expect to pore over it every day for at least a month.
  • Move ahead with new project/outlet leads. √ YES! I worked really hard in April to keep the momentum going around new projects and to maintain relationships with new contacts, and I think I did a pretty good job. It got a little overwhelming to keep track of everything about halfway through the month, but I bought a big whiteboard for the office and came up with a new system to organize it all, which has been helping a lot.
  • Meet half of my fundraising goal for the Brooklyn Half. I made it to about 35% of my goal, which is nothing to sneeze at! There’s still plenty of time to donate, though! Check out this link if you’d like to show your support for Alex’s Lemonade Stand.
  • Work on a new creative/craft project. √ YES! A few weeks ago, I walked up and down the aisles at Michael’s trying to figure out what project I wanted to work on, and left after about an hour, feeling totally uninspired by everything. Later that night, I found an old crossword puzzle book, and it turns out that it was exactly what I needed! Crosswords weren’t what came to mind when I first set this goal for myself, but it turns out that creative thinking was really the outlet I needed (at least for now).

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

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There are few things that make me happier than a new notebook. Seriously.

  • Reboot the book project and start a fresh outline. I can’t believe I’m going back to the start of the outline, but I know it’s the right next step. This weekend, I bought a fresh notebook, which has always been a symbol for me of something new and exciting!
  • Break into a new outlet or start working with a new client. I have some new sites on my radar and I’m in talks with a few companies about corporate blogging, etc.
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It was so fun cheering on my friends at their half marathon this weekend in Central Park. They totally inspired me for my race in a few weeks!

  • Break two hours in the Brooklyn Half. My training has been super up and down this year, so I don’t know if I’ll set a personal record, but I’d like to finish at a time comparable to the last two years I’ve raced.
  • Change up my work environment. In April, I was totally in “keep your head down and work” mode, and while it’s great to be focused, I feel like this attitude meant that I was going through the motions every day — and that’s not very inspiring, is it? My goal for May is to try to switch up my surroundings at least once a week (and to find outdoor work spaces as much as possible!).
  • Invest fresh energy in the blog. I’m excited about some of the things I have coming up here on Finding Plan A!
  • Book a vacation with Matt. We’ve started planning two getaways — one long weekend for our anniversary in June and one “bigger” trip for later this year. I’m hoping to get one officially on the books in the next few weeks.
  • Read three books. I love having this goal on the list every month!
  • Higher quality “me time.” In the craziness of April, I defaulted a little too much to binge watching on Hulu every time I had a spare moment — and I don’t think that refreshed me in the way I needed it to. This month, I am going to be more intentional about taking time for myself a few times a week. I’m learning that being alone while I’m working from home is definitely not the same as real “alone time”… and this introvert needs some of that!

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