Tag Archives: Monthly goals

Life as I know it

The title may sound poetic but I promise you it’s not. Life has just been busy so I figure the best way to get everyone up to speed is to recap the last month and a half of my life in one full swoop.

Really exciting, I crossed two things off my 30 before 30 list:
1. Set up a retirement account. I feel very grown up having a financial advisor who does everything and anything I need him to. We’ve decided to be “aggressive” in the market and while he warned me I may not like him some months I warned him I would probably never even notice.
2. Be a vegetarian for 30 days. Surprisingly, going vegetarian was really easy. The only difficult aspect was having to plan my meals so far in advance and ensure there were vegetarian options available when I was on the road traveling for work. In fact, now that my 30 days are up I’ve actually decided to stick to the new diet. It’s now been six weeks, which is also the amount of time you need to build – or break – habits.

Going vegetarian has meant spending a lot of time in the kitchen trying out new recipes. I honestly can’t think of a meal I made and didn’t like these past six weeks but here are a few recipes I tried and absolutely loved:
1. Spring rolls – I didn’t follow this recipe at all but it was what I started with. I ended up using a basic cole slaw mix and instead of eating it raw with the rice paper, I sautéed the mixture in various seasonings. A very easy recipe albeit a bit time-consuming but they were oh so yummy!
2. Hummus spinach bake – I actually didn’t use a recipe for this. I happened to be using one of those input the ingredients you have into a computer generator and it lists different dishes you can make. Out of that came a plate of hummus and sautéed spinach topped with shredded cheese. I put it in the oven on 350 for about 15 minutes. It was nice and bubbly and paired well with the pita chips and carrots I already had on hand.
3. Zucchini pizza boats – They don’t make for great leftovers since zucchini contains so much extra water but they were fantastic straight out of the oven. Plus there are a ton of variations for toppings. Variety is nice!
4. Stuffed peppers – I love peppers and anything that goes in them. Quinoa is my new favorite super food and these are perfect for grilling out with friends. I have found that Mexican is the easiest vegetarian go-to dish for me.

I had a few other health related goals for the month. One goal was to complete all of my outstanding health exams and another was to beef up the exercise routine. A few things worth mentioning:
1. $500 later it turns out I am, in fact, still healthy. Go me!
2. I tried two new fitness classes: a hip hop dance class and Krav Maga. Not only can I booty bump with the best of em’ but I also found a socially acceptable way of releasing my inner rage. If Krav Maga didn’t cost $150/month I would definitely get a membership.

So you don’t think I’m two-dimensional talking about health and fitness, I did have a few fun things going on this past month and a half. At the top of my list:
1. A few friends and I spent a weekend in the Old Cabin at Blue Jay Farms, which we all know is my favorite Missouri get-away spot! Of course Miley dog joined us. I love make your stomach hurt bouts of laughing and I have plenty of those moments with my home girl Lizard. See below. We made an oriental themed dinner, played a new card game, swam, read, hiked to a waterfall, and picked blueberries. I love that place!

liz

2. I hadn’t seen my Mom since Christmas so I’ve been missing some quality mother-daughter time. Over the 4th of July weekend my parents decided to come down and visit for about a week. We spent time boating at the lake, visiting family and friends, watching movies, snuggling, and dancing/drinking our butts off at the winery. It was a fabulous time and I’m missing them already!

photo

3. Oh yeah, Dad finally sent me the pictures of our trip to El Salvador. I’ll aim to get those up at some point once I sift through the 2,000+ photos but here are a few teasers.

elsalv

elsalv2

And of course I wouldn’t be me if there wasn’t a little bit of self-introspection thrown in the mix. A few self-revelations:
1. Attitude up! I wish I could coin this phrase but I actually learned it at a sexual harassment training I went to for work. I say it all the time now. It serves as a good reminder that we all have the power to change our dispositions. When you’re stressed, feeling overwhelmed, and just consumed or surrounded by negativity it helps to keep things in perspective and to remember that you have the power to keep a positive attitude and mind. It’s sort of like Gretchen Rubin’s think happy, be happy motto.
2. How to live a life of well-being. Martin Seligman proposed a scientific model of happiness and well-being called PERMA. Essentially it states that in order for one to live a flourishing life, there are five basic motivations behind any decision or action made: positive emotion, engagement, relationship building, meaning, and achievement. People do their best work and are happiest when these five elements are being met. I could dedicate an entire blog post to this particular concept as I’ve become enthralled with the scientific model so much that I’ve begun incorporating it into my work culture and everyday life. My poor colleagues have been subjected to team building exercises this past week but I actually think they enjoyed them. If anything I can tell it brought us all closer together (R and M – meaningful relationships). Anyways, I’ll save you the rambling – go check it out!

While this post certainly doesn’t capture everything that went on the past month and a half, I feel a little less overwhelmed jumping back into the blogging world. I keep waiting for my time to free up and devote to writing again but the truth is I just need to make it a priority again (more on that later).

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March: well-being

After a tough February and what I know will be a trying March, I wanted to focus on my overall well-being this month – both emotionally and physically. Achieving overall well-being is an ongoing process (I mean, you are constantly at the whims of life) but I do know what good well-being feels like and I don’t feel like I’m entirely there right now. Knowing that though keeps me motivated to keep at the practice – which also happens to come at the start of a new month.

As you know, each month I set out actionable goals relative to my three intentions for the New Year. Below are the specific goals I’ve outlined for March and how they relate to each over-arching desire.

Find joy and fulfillment in creativity.

  • Read a new book. Every month I choose a new book to read. This month it’s Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs. I chose this particular book because it’s about the ultimate pursuit of health: a well-lived life. I found that fitting for my month of well-being and it comes highly recommended by Miss Liz.
  • Transform my bedroom into an inspirational haven. I carried this particular goal over from February as I still want to put my creative energy into creating a space that reflects the things I love, desire, and want in life. I want my room to be a source of inspiration to me so I’m hoping I can carve out more time to actually work on this project this month. And if I don’t – well, I’ll carry it over to the next month!

Give more love.

  • Write hand-written letters. I always enjoying getting mail and I know my friends do too. Considering I now have a pen pal and several other friends scattered across the states, I plan on sitting down and writing some old-fashioned hand-written letters. Not only does it get you back to basic communication, but hand-written notes seem more personal and heartfelt than a quick email to say hi so I’m really looking forward to writing these.
  • Host a holiday brunch. I usually aim to host a potluck dinner every month, but I want to switch it up this time and host a holiday brunch. In particular, St. Patrick’s Day is coming up and I’m dying to host a breakfast gathering where everything is GREEN. Not only is it cute, but it seems fun too. And I really love breakfast food.

Live a balanced life.

  • Meatless Mondays. I originally planned on doing a weekly health challenge but I really didn’t want to set myself up for failure considering everything I have going on this month. Instead, I opted to choose one aspect of the health challenge and incorporate that into my weekly health routine. Meatless Mondays sounded the most appealing not only because it means I get to try out new recipes in the kitchen but also for the many health benefits it brings. In particular, going meatless once a week can reduce your risk of cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity. Given my fear of cardiovascular disease and cancer, I’m game.
  • Use a quiet day. While at some point I would love to try a meditation retreat, I can’t quite carve out the time this month so instead I plan on using a quiet day. Similar to my technology-free day, I’m looking forward to the solitude and quality reading/journaling time I’ll get.

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Friendship success

Overall, it’s been a successful month for friendship. Oftentimes, the trap of setting monthly goals is that they become another item on an ever-growing to-do list rather than an opportunity to relish in personal growth and self-awareness. I myself have fallen into this trap many times. Knowing this, though, I went into the new year with the mindset of using my monthly goals as a means to furthering my three intentions for the year: find joy/fulfillment in creativity, live a balanced life, and give more love. By doing this, I’ve found that my focus is not so much on getting a gold star or putting an X in an excel document (yep, I have an intentions tracking log broken down by monthly goals – call me crazy) but on learning more about myself. There are days I didn’t accomplish each of the goals I set, but overall I made a lot of strides. As a result, I’ve found things I rather enjoy and also things I don’t particularly enjoy. I’m learning more about me and focusing less on the affirmation of a filled excel document (the equivalent of an “atta boy!”). I think that’s something to be celebrated and so rather than bore you with the details I decided to just share some of the highlights of my month of friendship:

  • One of my goals for the year is to read one new book a month. Perhaps it’s because I had more free time in my month and a half off school (which is why I will stick to the one new book a month rule) I actually ended up reading four additional books. Full disclosure is that two of them were audio books so maybe they don’t technically qualify, but I’m counting them anyways. I also discovered a website called Good Reads which lets you create your own list of books to read and rate the books you’ve read. AND, the website even gives you recommendations for books to read based on your ratings of others. I am enthralled with it, which probably speaks volumes about my nerdy-ness.
  • Each month I hope to add one new element to my daily health regimen. This month it was flossing and I am proud to say I went from absolutely never flossing to flossing at least once a day. Well, almost. I missed a few in there, but overall I was quite successful in the venture. I can’t wait to wow my dentist at my next cleaning.
  • As a not so crafty person I took on two challenges this month to find the joy and fulfillment in creativity: take one photo a week (I really dislike taking photos, but I love having them) and craft a photo album to put those photos in. I’ve accomplished both although I don’t know what it says about me that the majority of my photo-ops are of food.
  • My effort to spend more time with my friends has ultimately made me appreciate the presence and value they add to my life. I’ve always known friendships influence who you are and what you do but I think because I was so focused on the concept this month that I was more attune to the ways in which they actually do influence me. From my new-found appreciation for left overs to new cooking ventures or workout routines to embracing being set up on blind dates. I’ve realized just how much my friends inspire me – I am one lucky gal.

Like Liz, I’m ready for January to be over so I can set out on some new ventures and monthly goals. January was fun, but let’s bring on February!

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December goals

This week marks the end of my first semester of graduate school and I couldn’t be more elated, particularly because it means I have a lot more time on my hands to devote to setting up and accomplishing a few monthly goals. While I don’t particularly have a theme for this month (which technically really isn’t December, it’s more half-December, half-January) I think the crux of it all comes down to focusing on personal development activities.

1. Keep a daily one-sentence journal. I’ve been intrigued by this idea ever since I read Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project but what really inspired me to embark on the project was the death of a high school friend over the weekend. Her death, while tragic, served as a reminder to appreciate my life while it’s happening. In a time of rapid personal growth, I want to look back some day and know what it was like at this stage of my life – the good and the bad (although I do plan to focus on the good rather than the bad). My hope is that I’ll continue with this project long after the month is over – I can think of no greater way to add happiness to my life than to appreciate it while it unfolds.

2. Abstain from all forms of communication for one day. With school not in session for the next month, its ample opportunity to use time otherwise spent on social media, my phone, or watching TV for personal development activities. While it may sound like I’m trying to seclude myself from the outside world, that isn’t the intent. I’m taking this approach to promote more face-to-face interaction with family and friends and to make sure I’m taking the time to know what’s going on in their lives free from any outside distractions. Although to be honest, I do plan to take full advantage of this technology-free day and embark on a little “me time”.

3. Be crafty. I have never been a very crafty or artistic person, but in tune with expanding my horizons and setting out on new adventures I really want to give it a whirl.  Particularly since we’re in full swing for the holiday season, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to put my skills to the test. I’ve already finished my first craft of the month and while I’m dying to blog about it, I’ll have to let you see it after Christmas. I wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise for the lucky recipient! I have a few other craft projects up my sleeve that fall in line with some home improvement projects on my long list of things to do around the house, so I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how it all turns out.

4. Try one new thing a week. This always seems to be a constant when I set monthly goals but I don’t think it’s something I can ever exhaust. Whether it’s trying out a new recipe in the kitchen, hiking a new trail, or trying out a craft project I’m always up for new adventures. Plus, it gives me more content for the blog, which I can’t complain about.

So, there you have it. Cheers to a productive, yet merry holiday season!

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August goals

I got out of the habit of setting up monthly goals awhile back in part because I started to feel like my life was becoming a list of constant to-do items. I lost focus on the process of each new experience I embarked on and rather than relishing the journey, I only wanted to meet my mark. So while I still had overarching themes I wanted to accomplish each month, I didn’t outline specific goals I needed to accomplish each week to get me there. In recent weeks though, my attitude toward everything has been pretty lackadaisacal. For being an avid outdoors person, the 100+ degree weather and unbearable humidity has kept me inside limiting my activity to pressing the channel up button on the changer. I’m hungry for some energy and in need of an attitude adjustment so I’m back to setting some goals for August to get me in the groove again.

My overall goal for the month is to try something new. Whether it’s a zumba class, going on a Match.com date, or doing a craft project, I need to start doing something with my free time rather than sitting inside. The heat is no excuse. I’ve already got a few activities lined up and I’m hoping to do at least one new thing a week. Breaking my overall monthly goal down into more manageable pieces will keep me focused. Plus, it actually gives me something to look forward to each week which is energizing.

Additionally, I have a few other goals in mind for August which include…

Plan a traveling excursion. I love backpacking through Central America. I love the culture, the food, and the activities. I haven’t been on a backpacking trip since my two-week excursion through Belize and Guatemala in 2011 and I’m hardcore craving a little bit of adventure. Inspired by Liz’s sisters trip to London over Thanksgiving, I’ve decided to use some of my money leftover from my financial aid this semester to fund my next jet-setting experience. While I have an adventurous spirit, I’m also a pragmatist and a planner. I have a general idea of where I’d like to head but I’m hoping to iron out the details and book the ticket by the end of the month.

Blog three times a week. Due to my lackadaisacal attitude, I’ve been skimping on my blog posts the past couple weeks. I always feel accomplished and successful when I finish a blog post, even if the content is of no relative importance. I need to get back into the swing of things and since writing is a release for me, I think it will add to my overall happiness.

Set an allowance for social activities. In my quest to get a handle on my budget and spending habits, I’ve noticed I spend way too much on social activities, sometimes equaling over $150 a month for one person. Taking a suggestion from zero-based budgeting, I’ve decided to set up an allowance for myself. At the beginning of each month, I get $80 to fund social activities throughout the month which includes things like going out for dinner, drinks, movies, etc. While it’s a drastic cut from $150, I’m hoping it will inspire more quaint dinner parties at home where food costs are cut in half. Additionally, I think it’ll get me more involved in local activities, like community theatre and concerts in the park where ticket costs are more manageable. As a reward to myself, any extra money I have left over at the end of the month will go into my travel fund jar which I can use on my backpacking trip. Double bonus!

August will definitely be a busy month, especially since I start grad school mid-month but I’m excited to have some actionable goals in place. Plus, I’ll have more content for my blog which is always a good thing!

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iheartcolumbia

Time and budget strapped, I’ve decided to satiate my apetite for exploration by experiencing all that Columbia has to offer. For having grown up in this town, there are still a lot of things I haven’t done. I almost feel like I’m living a sheltered life here and that doesn’t jive with my free spirited-ness. It being summertime and all, it really is the perfect time to make it my personal mission to experience all this town has to offer.

Since I love, love, love listmaking, I started jotting down all the places I wanted to visit and activities I wanted to do in town this summer. My list is really long which I was 1) surprised to see but 2) very grateful for. It means I won’t have a boring summer! Since I’m all about shopping locally, I’m trying to keep my activities geared towards community-sponsored events and local business efforts.

For June, I feel like I’m missing out on half a month of exploration between the first week of June having already passed and my upcoming week of vacation at Blue Jay Farms. But that’s okay, I’m sure I will more than make up for it in July and August. That being said, I’m excited that some of the super awesome stuff I get to do this month includes farmers market excursions, 9th street summer fest music, heritage days festival, peach picking, star gazing, secret ice cream parlors, community theatre, and reading under the “Big Tree”.

I’m always looking for company so if you’re interested in joining, I created a calendar (I’m nerdy, I know) of everything I plan on doing this month and when. Please come hang out with me!

 

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