goal setting

monthly goals recap -> november + december.

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

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

Anyway, here’s how I did in November:

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

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

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

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

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

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monthly goals recap -> october + november.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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And here are a few of my priorities for November…

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

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

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monthly goals recap -> september + october.

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

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

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

Here are the details on my September goals:

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

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

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

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

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

 

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monthly goals recap -> august + september.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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!!!!!!

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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!

 

 

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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!

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