How to Create Long Term Goals

If you’ve been reading this blog for a few months, you know that when my life slows down, my writing slows down, too. Summer break and winter break are the hardest times for me to write… because I’m not busy enough, if that makes any sense. Around the beginning of the new year, I decided to dedicate the first 6 weeks of 2015 focusing on my career (aka finding a new teaching job in a new city). And I planned on writing about cover letters and resumes and what to wear to interviews, etc. I did a ton of research. I pinned a bunch of articles (you can find them all here).

I read them all. I took notes. And then I realized “there’s no need for me to say any of this. I’d just be repeating everything that’s already been said in these articles”. So, I didn’t write a post about the perfect interview or resume or whatever. HOWEVER, I did spend quite a lot of time doing something that wasn’t in ANY of these posts! So, that’s what I’m going to write about today:

TAKE SOME TIME TO THINK ABOUT WHERE YOU WANT YOUR CAREER TO GO.

I recently started this new “track” on Happify called Find Your Calling and the very first exercise in it was one where you write about your perfect daily routine. NOT your perfect job. But your perfect routine. Like, what do you see your days looking like in the future? The craziest thing about this activity was that it was SO easy! Even though you may not be completely sure about what you WANT to do… you probably have a pretty good idea of what you want your days to look like. Doing this activity motivated me to keep going on my quest of finding my perfect career!

1. Spend 20 minutes writing your 20-year goals

This past weekend, I set a timer for 20 minutes and wrote down what I want my career to look like 20 years from now. I just typed it into a Word documents. I wrote it quickly and messy. I didn’t care about grammar or punctuation or even if I sounded like a normal person. So, if you’re feeling stressed out and overwhelmed about the future, just take 20 minutes and write down anything and everything that you can. Once I finished writing what I wanted to be doing 20 years from now, I reset the timer for 10 minutes and wrote about what I want to be doing in 10 years. Go big here, btw!

“Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life, because you become what you believe.” -Oprah Winfrey



2. Cut that time in half and do it again… and again… and again…

Because I am slightly more obsessive than most people, I continued this at every halfway mark (including 15 months and 7 1/2 months). You could just go with something traditional like “1 year” and “6 months”. Another thing I did that was helpful was to begin every new time period by writing “In ___ years, it will be the year ___ and I will be ___ years old”. Another thing I did that was super helpful was to find someone I admired who was already that age. Sometimes age seems pretty vague and it’s difficult to know what to expect, so seeing it in someone else’s life makes it easier.

3. Read through and pull out your concrete goals

Once I had all of my things written in a Word document, I went back and pulled out the phrases and keywords that I could actually turn into goals. For example, “involve parents in classroom activities through class website, newsletter, and volunteer opportunities”. Those are all pretty concrete things that I can really make happen in my classroom. Or “certified professional organizer”, well… that’s pretty clear. I pulled out the things that were super specific like that and actually wrote them down on a piece of paper. I continued to do this at every checkpoint until I eventually got down to “today”.

4. Do 4 things today that will move you towards your goals

At the “today” space, I just made a square space big enough for a Post-It. Each day, I write down 4 tasks that will help me reach the goals. NOT big tasks at all, either! Sending 1 e-mail to someone or printing off 1 document counts. Literally, 4 small and doable tasks every day. It doesn’t feel or sounds like much which is why below it I wrote this quote:

“Great things are done by a series of small things coming together.” -Vincent Van Gogh

The future is a scary and magnificent thing! It’s easy to let it come and go and dream about the things that we could have done OR we can decide today to attack it head on and spend each day purposefully making it the best we can! Which brings me to another quote I love:

“Put on lipstick and attack!” -Coco Chanel 

How to Actually Accomplish Your Goals

HAPPY NEW YEAR, everyone! I am so super excited about this year. I don’t know what it is but for some reason, I just love odd-numbered years (weeeirdo). So, of course, I pretty much live for the beginning of January. It’s the time of year when everyone gets really into setting new goals and organizing everything! The stores are absolutely FILLED with organizational bins and containers (and I break out into my Happy Feet dance whenever I reach the “seasonal” section of Target)!
 

 

This is also the time when EVERYONE is interested in setting goals and doing things better in the new year! Last January, I wrote a 31-day series (yes, I actually finished that one) about goal setting. I found a ton of great resources (they’re listed at the bottom of each post). Today I’m just going to do an abridged, skimming-over version of that series. using some of America’s most common resolutions.

According to us.gov, these are some of the most common New Year’s resolutions that we make year after year:

Common Resolution: Lose Weight
Turn it into something like this: I will lose 10 pounds by December 2014 by working out 30 minutes each day and doubling the amount of vegetables that I eat each day. 

(by the way, if this really IS your goal, check out: Tone It Up)



Common Resolution: Volunteer
Turn it into something like this: I will volunteer 72 hours by December by spending 6 hours a month working in the kitchen at the Mission

(by the way, if this really IS your goal, check out: Volunteer Match)



Common Resolution: Better Education/Grades
Turn it into something like this: I will submit my grad school application by January 15 by working on it for 4 hours next weekend. 

(by the way, if this really IS your goal, check out this list of resources for college students… aaand while you’re at it, you can just head over to the Organized Studying page!)



Common Resolution: Get a Better Job
Turn it into something like this: I will have a job (doing whatever you want to do) by August 1 by submitting a new resume packet to a different company every 2 weeks. 

(by the way, if this really IS your goal, check out: The Daily Muse)



Common Resolution: Save Money/Manage Debt
Turn it into something like this: I will save $1800 by December by putting $150 into my savings account every month. 

(by the way, if this really IS your goal, check out: Mint)



Common Resolution: Manage Stress
Turn it into something like this: I will become more relaxed and mindful by December by writing down 10 things I’m thankful for every morning, taking a 30-minute walk outside every day after work, and staying off screens (phone, iPad, computer, TV) between 10PM-6AM. 

(by the way, if this really IS your goal, check out: Happify and Zen Habits)



Common Resolution: Take a Trip
Turn it into something like this: I will take a trip to the Dominican Republic in May by putting $500 into a “vacation fund” every month. 

(by the way, if this IS your goal, check out this list of helpful travel-planning sites)



Common Resolution: Reduce Clutter/Get Organized
Turn it into something like this: I will reduce the amount of items in each closet by 30% by December by going through 1 closet each Saturday and removing 1 of every 3 items every month. 

(by the way, if this IS your goal, check out: Project Organize Your Entire Life and Unclutterer)



See how goals just sound more achievable when we make them super specific? Like, it’s no longer this broad ambiguous thing that you hope happens to you this year. Instead, it’s something that you’re taking control of and working for! When resolutions are super vague, they might as well be wishes. Accomplishing new goals takes a lot of planning (YAY!), discipline, sacrifice, effort, and doing a lot of things that look really boring when they’re written on a daily to-do list (read chapter 5, for example).

Just keep your big goal in mind while you’re working through those tedious to-do lists. And be prepared to work hard and to sacrifice things that would be fun right now and probably to be broke (if you’re saving up for a vacation or paying grad school tuition). So, here is my last little bit of advice before you begin your fresh, new year! Choose to focus on 1 goal at a time and reeeally work to make it a habit before throwing another goal into the mix.

Once you’re working out daily, or you’re in the habit of cooking a healthy dinner every night, then you can start on the resume sending-out, you know? Don’t try to start all of your goals at once or you’ll just set yourself up for the F word (which is “Failure“, obviously).

So, good luck and remember that it’s 2015 and everything is awesome! 🙂

What are your goals for 2015? Did you accomplish the ones that you set for yourself last year? Also, can you think of any resources that I should add for the topics above? I know there have got to be a ton of great apps/websites that I don’t know about! 

How to Get More Done Everyday

There are a lot of things to like about the month of December. Christmas, for example. And Christmas music. And Christmas lights… and stockings and… SANTA! But if I had to choose one December thing that I could do without, it would be the cold weather!

Cold weather and I do not get along. And neither do I and these ridiculously short days… I need sunlight! And warm weather! And to be able to walk outside without putting on every piece of clothing I own. *sigh*

Ever since the November weather took a turn for the freezing (literally, I’ve already seen ice), my productivity has taken a turn for the nonexistent. Well, that just isn’t going to work for me. I need a plan to get my life together, no matter what excuses I may make for myself (and believe me, I am never at a loss for a good excuse)! 

The Plan:

1. Write down everything that happens in your normal daily routine.

WHY: From the time you wake up, you have different little routines throughout the day. A morning routine, an after work routine, a dinner routine. And just because they are “routines” does not mean that they are GOOD ones! For example, I used to have a really *horrible* after work routine of putting my stuff down to “put away later” and spending about an hour on Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest. Once I wrote it down and realized how much time I was WASTING, I was able to clean that up real quick!

HOW: I don’t know anyone who feels like they “have enough time”… you know what I mean? Like, everyone feels overwhelmed by the amount of things to do in the amount of time they “have”. However, actually writing down your daily routines can really help you find out just why it is that you never have enough time. In this really amazing article by Personal Organizing Expert, Elizabeth Larkin, she discusses how she discovered imbalances in her own time management and the steps she took to fix them!

2. Highlight the unnecessary/useless activities. 


WHY: So, in the above example, my unnecessary activities were obviously all of the time I was spending on social media. And I love social media. But it is the ultimate time waster! Because I feel the need to schedule everything in my life, I created a sort of social media schedule for myself where I don’t get on it between certain hours. This has really been super helpful for breaking my bad routine! Set some rules for yourself to break your own bad habits. After all, no one knows you better than you do!

HOW: You know that saying that hindsight is 20/20 (or 50/50 in Cam Newton’s case)? Well, when you look back at how you spent your day, that hindsight really kicks in. “WHAT? How could I have possibly spent 30 minutes staring blankly into my closet before deciding to wear?” And don’t even get me started on Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest/Tumblr./Twitter… holy cow! Mark up that paper where you wrote your daily routine as if you’re grading the worst paper ever written. Be harsh on yourself. This is how you’re gonna get some of your time back!

(here’s an awesome post on 15 sneaky time-wasters we all deal with!)

3. Create a list of things you would have liked to get done or would like to add. 

WHY: Oh, you’re not done with that hindsight yet! Now make a little list of things that you wish you had gotten done! By the way, this is a big part of procrastination, too! Yep, we put off things that would be pretty simple to complete just because we don’t want to. A perfect example from my life is calling the dentist. Y’all. I recently put off scheduling a dentist appoint for 2 months. I mean, I just put off making the call to schedule the appointment. Do you have something like that that just gets moved from list to list? Tell yourself tomorrow is the day you call the dentist (or whatever).

HOW: So, once you are aware of where your time is being wasted, go ahead and make a little list of PRODUCTIVE things that you would like to use that newly found time for! You could probably get 3 days’ worth of to-do’s done in 1 day, if you really tried! Think about your long-term to-do’s. Do you need to e-mail your advisor about something? Send a resume out somewhere? Sign up for yoga classes again? Or get your oil changed? …or call the dentist? Look at that list of tedious, totally procrastination-worthy tasks and get ready to kick its butt!

(you know I love tips on how to make a great to-do list and this post from LifeHacker is perrrrfect!)

4. Tomorrow, try to replace one useless activity with one useful one. 

WHY: Baby steps. I am a big, big fan of baby steps, aren’t you? Like, maybe if I just skip the 3 minutes that I would spend taking one of those ridiculous Facebook quizzes that I love so much (according to said Facebook quiz results: the city I “belong” in is San Francisco… the state I “belong” in is Virginia… the country I “belong” in is Italy, by the way. However, that geography has been a little hindering, so I’m still here in Memphis). Anyway, taking baby steps like replacing one activity with another is simple and it will help us slowly build better habits for the future!

HOW: Beginning tomorrow, just replace one of those ineffective activities with something useful and productive! This way it’s not completely impossible feeling… it’s just one little thing! Most people perform cognitive tasks best between the hours of 9 and 11 AM. That’s the optimal time for “working”, so tell yourself this: Absolutely NO social media (or whatever your vice is) between those hours. Use them solely for producing the thing that you are supposed to produce! Not even a little tweet. That newsfeed will be there after you complete your to-do list! <– my daily mantra.

(Tiny Buddah has a great post on taking baby steps to achieve your goals, here!)

5. Keep sneaking the productive activities in (one a day) until they become habits!

WHY: This is effective because it allows you to build your confidence in your productivity and keep setting goals to get better. We all fall into bad habits… even the most organized, productive person you can think of is at risk for a bad habit or two. So, we just have to keep working hard to get better and better each day!

HOW: As you move through the days, try to keep replacing that useless time with something productive! Not only will you accomplish more each day, but you’ll feel less rushed while doing it! It’s a total win-win! What if you just look at the weather and pick out an outfit the night before? Would that save some valuable time in the morning? Or even planning out meals so that you aren’t spending 30 minutes binge eating on everything in sight the moment you get home from work? (totally not an example from my real life at all…)



Hopefully, this will {at least} get us moving in the right direction for some MORE PRODUCTIVE HOLIDAYS!!! YAY! 🙂

What are some tips for productivity that you have? Or something that you would like to start doing? And how do you deal with the loss of our dear Daylight Savings Time?