Long Term Goal Setting 101: How to make goals manageable and keep momentum all year long

Hi all my Courageous followers! 🙂 In an effort to create content that has meaning I’ve set my sights on organizational to-dos, goal setting tips, and all around motivation. Giving my life structure and focus after I graduated college (*gulp* 8 years ago) was one of the hardest things for me to overcome. It took years for me to figure out how to successfully goal set and stay motivated, especially as I have had countless side hustles along with a full-time job.

A pain point for me was all of the nonsense I found online. I’m not here to bash anyone, that’s not my style, but I couldn’t get over how much of the focus on organization was pretty planners with straight up ART in them. I aspired to be so organized that I would spend my Sundays with rolls of washi tape and stickers and creating beautiful, mystical maps of my life I could follow each week. To anyone that has that kind of skills, by all means, get creative, but for me and I imagine a huge chunk of folks, it’s just not what I was looking for.

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I wanted to make my life easier, not harder. I wanted the time I took to organize myself to be valuable for organizing. I wanted to save artistic expression for other areas. But it was truly hard to find information and support for “simple” and “basic” life organization. If it wasn’t gorgeous planners, it was goal setting that required me to get less sleep. And I love my sleep! At peak insanity I was trying to write a TV Show, write poetry, post blogs everyday, create a social presence, retrain my dog, get abs, learn French, and cook Pinterest meals every night. I was LITERALLY losing my mind and constantly stressed. I don’t remember actually pausing to enjoy my life or to notice it had gone off the rails.

I’m here to say that goal setting and organization does not have to be nuts! You do not have to tackle all of life’s goals this year. You do not need to HAVE IT ALL. As long as you have a system that works for you (and I will reiterate this until I go blue in the face) it doesn’t matter what it looks like to someone else. It’s your private system built to make life easy for you, not harder.

I recently asked my Instagram followers to chime in with what they wanted to learn about organization and planners. I got a handful of answers but I thought the one pertaining to long term goals would be the best place to start.

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How do I set a long term personal goal and stick to it?

Ah the beginning of January… there’s hope. We can start afresh, become new people, achieve all our greatest dreams.

Nah.

In reality you’re still the same person. BUT you can put processes in place to become the version of yourself you’ve always imagined. (Notice how I didn’t say BETTER.) I am not here to sling cheap motivational quotes about hard work. We all know dreams take work, it’s that we don’t always know how to start or how to move forward from each step. Hopefully I can make this easier to understand and help you set a long term goal.

I live and swear by REVERSE ENGINEERING. There are a million and one articles about reverse engineering out there. I read multiple ones a few years ago because they can differ, but here is a pretty good general post on it. To Reverse Engineer you need to do the following steps:

  1. Determine your goal (Try using the SMART method)
  2. Be realistic about where you are starting from (No shame!)
  3. Work backwards from the goal, breaking down into smaller more manageable goals
  4. START with Basic Goal #1

Determine Your Goal

I don’t always use the SMART method when I goal set (and honestly I really should) but if you’re just starting out this is a great way to stay focused and come up with something tangible and achievable.

SMART stands for: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time Bound

To be Specific think of why you want this goal, what/who you will need to achieve it (certifications? a co-owner?). A Measurable goal is that one that has an “end’. Is your goal to open a bakery or is it to open a bakery that hits the black after year one? Notice how Measurable and Specific are intertwined? Achievable goals are ones you’re being realistic about. Could you really go to space this year? Or is a better goal going back to school for Physics? A Relevant goal is one that means something to YOU and no one else. I once thought that to be a writer I had to be a journalist but then I quickly learned I don’t want that and there are other ways to be a writer. Time Bound goals have due dates. To be an astronaut one day isn’t going to cut it, but be an astronaut by 2020, does.

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Be Realistic About Your Starting Point

This takes less words to understand. If you’re goal is to run a marathon by next year, but you’ve never run before, don’t start a training plan for runners who have already completed a 10K. You’ll hurt yourself AND get discouraged.

Work Backwards

Once you set your SMART goal, work backwards from it and start to break it down into smaller goals and different milestone dates. If you want to save $30k for the down payment of a house by 2020, calculate how much you will need to save each month, and then from there, what you can cut down on each month to help get you there. Or if you want to lose 50 pounds. Start with doing push-ups at home, advance to running, advance to attending classes. Same with cooking, aim to cook one night a week at home, then two, then three. Don’t EVER start all out, you’ll drive yourself crazy!

Start

This might be the hardest part. The small basic goals can seem minuscule and not worth celebrating. When I started my book last year, it felt hard to celebrate 5 pages. Really. But if you change your mindset to “that’s 5 more pages than yesterday” you’ll find yourself in a steady work state, getting a little more done each day.

Be Okay With Failure

Listen, you may reverse engineer incorrectly. You may think you can get to 12,000 words a month but maybe you overestimated the time you had free that month. Or maybe you thought running would be a breeze but you discover you have asthma or an injury. Setbacks WILL happen. It’s not an IF. Be okay with going back and adjusting your goals or your timeline. You aren’t losing if you’re paying attention and adjusting. It is when you give up, or refuse to give yourself a break that you’ll get stuck. I know this from experience. I spent YEARS doing this to myself. Don’t. Do. It. Keep moving, always!

Let me know what you think of this post. It’s much LONGER and more formal than my usual stuff so the feedback is most appreciated! Did you learn anything? Was it total garbage? Let me know so I can adjust my goals. 😉

 

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Las Vegas Travel Recap: Where to buy cold medicine and watch men dance

It’s been a bit since I’ve done any pieces about travel, which is weird considering I travel every month, but let’s not talk about the past. Let’s talk about VEGAS, BABY. Vegas has been on my list for a number of years but it seemed like a place that I needed a really good reason to visit. And finally my boyfriend, Frank, gifted me (and 10 of our friends) with that reason: his 30th birthday. So we all got on like 5 different flights (even though we were all coming from NYC) and descended on Vegas for a weekend of gambling, dancing, and drinking.

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At the airport w/ hot water and lemon

Now, I already did a podcast episode on this trip which you can listen to here, but that’s not so much a travel guide as it is a reflection of our time. Including, how sick I was. I want to steer away from that just a bit because I’ve a) already covered it and b) talking about my insane head cold is really no fun at all. I did however love everything about my CVS experience so I am totally going to highlight that. You can judge me but that’s why you come to me and not other bloggers right? I’m giving you the real deal here.

Also, this is a quick and dirty rundown, I know you’re busy. 🙂

THE RESORT

We stayed at the Wynn, because I had always heard vaguely good things about it and I found an amazing deal on Expedia. Done and done. It is toward the end of the strip, so if you’re looking to be in the thick of it, I wouldn’t stay here. But truthfully, you are going to end up taking a car to EVERYTHING. There’s a bus route that you can take, but once you put on your four inch heels, the bus just doesn’t feel right. More details on transportation later, but if you think you want to be on the center of the strip for walking purposes, I am not sure it’s worth it.

The Wynn has a casino, which means the casino floor has smoking. The rooms we had were non-smoking and you couldn’t even tell we were in a casino with that much smoke. Our room was gigantic. The bathroom was the most impressive part, it was probably the size of my first studio apartment and had a bathtub built for two, a separate shower, two sinks, a vanity area and a TV.

Since I was super sick day one there was literally nothing better than watching Friends in the tub and then ordering room service. I also won $100 that night on roulette!

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The service was great and I felt very much at home. Especially since I wound up spending so much time there. It has an incredible amount of outlets (F&B, shows, clubs etc.) and super luxe stores. I cried walking by the Alexander McQueen store everyday hoping I hit it big on the tables so I could buy a beautiful bag.

RESTAURANTS

The weird thing about LV is that you don’t ever feel that guilty for never leaving your hotel/resort. Sure there is plenty to see and do, but realistically all of the casinos kind of look the same, so sometimes it feels easier to stay put. We ate a good amount of meals at the Wynn and had essentially no complaints.

The Buffet @ Wynn

The hype is very real. The buffet at the Wynn is as good as they say. Picture every food you’ve ever loved and then picture it all for the taking in a single room. We ate this probably 3 times which could be embarrassing if wasn’t so amazing. They even brought me hot water and lemon to clear my sinuses at every meal. Oysters, chicken and waffles, candy apples, chia seed pudding, prime rib, mac and cheese, lox, danishes, sundaes, congee, sushi… on and on it went. My stomach actually just made a sound thinking about it. Even if you don’t stay at the Wynn, it’s worth the trip. Pro-tip: Go before 9:30am to avoid the line.

If you’re asking yourself “how do I wake up at 9:30 in Vegas?” don’t forget it’s 3 hours behind the East Coast. You’ll be awake. If you’re from LA, sorry I can’t help you. 😉

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Not at the Wynn but I died laughing when I saw it.

Rose. Rabbit. Lie.

What an incredible experience this was. I found it difficult to find a restaurant on the Strip that wasn’t also a restaurant in New York City. A lot of them are repeats from NYC (or Miami) and for a group traveling from there, it seemed weird to go to a place we could go to any time. (Even though we don’t, ha!) So I came across Rose. Rabbit. Lie. I was intrigued by their “supper club” vibe but was immediately sold when I found the vegetarian and gluten-free menus they offer. The restaurant is in the beautiful Cosmopolitan hotel (my second choice for our trip!) and it is an actual supper club. We saw about 6 performances throughout our meal of talented dancers, singers, and musicians who danced all over the room and on top of tables. The food was excellent, the cocktails were strong and overall while it was one of our more expensive meals, it really didn’t break the bank. Highly, highly recommend.

Stripburger 

We went to this little outdoor burger place for lunch when people started to land from their flights and we weren’t a complete group yet. It’s in walking distance of the Wynn and was surprisingly good. They even made me a hot toddy! So expect a full bar, and a good meal. Also when I say outdoor, I mean outdoor. There is no interior, but they have heat lamps. It was a little chilly, but great atmosphere. Awesome waiter as well.

Pink Taco

Definitely not the highlight of our trip. The margaritas were good and the service was decent. But the tacos were really heavy and weirdly thick? I ordered them thinking they’d be light and they came out super heavy. The guac was ok, but pretty generic. I will say, we were able to get a table for TWELVE at the last minute so it’s good for that. Also it’s in the MGM, so it was in walking distance of our show at Magic Mike.

BARS, LOUNGES & CLUBS

Surprisingly, we didn’t do that much bar hopping. Like I said, it’s a bit challenging to get around as a large group. Also, they give you free drinks at the casino so…

Chandelier Bar

Inside the Cosmopolitan, we went here after our dinner at Rose. Rabbit. Lie. The setting is beautiful, it’s basically a two story lounge designed to look like you are inside of a chandelier. Other than that it’s your run of the mill lounge. My friend did get a pretty interesting drink that was Alice in Wonderland themed and turned different colors, but for those of us less adventurous. It was pretty basic.

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In the Chandelier

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Old Vegas & Freemont street were some of my favorite highlights from the trip. It felt just much more my speed. Picture an easier going Brooklyn with neon lighting and you’ve nailed it. We saw a bar advertising habanero pickle backs so we ducked in. What we found was an incredible little bar, designed to look like an old dive but definitely brand new, good picklebacks and awesome service. Also they had a selfie room that’s worth checking out.

Hakkasan 

The biggest joy of Hakkasan is that my friend new someone who could get us in for free and with free drinks and no line. I will say though, even if you do pay to go, it’s a beautiful space and vibe, while a definite Vegas nightclub, didn’t feel like too much. I usually feel overwhelmed or skeeved out, but it was a super nice place, plenty of room to move and dance, and I felt safe. We had fun dancing here even though the hip hop floor was closed and we were forced to dance to EDM.

SHOWS & MUSEUMS

Magic Mike

We went to one show and one show only. Magic Mike. I don’t want to spoil too much of it, because I think part of the joy of going is discovering it for yourself. (I didn’t take videos or pictures like some of the other women were, it felt super weird and also like it would take me out of what we were witnessing.) This show was 10x better than any of us could even believe. Seriously. We went in excited but left blown away. These guys are seriously talented, the host is hysterical, and the whole event was super fun, charming, and truly empowering. Pro Tip! Sit on the floor by the bar. They are cheaper than the bar seats and MUCH better. I promise you. They’re amazing. Message me if you want the exact seats. Best seats in the house BY FAR.

Neon Museum 

If you had told me I was going to go to a museum in Vegas I would have never believed you. But I did! And it was wonderful! We went to the Neon Museum. It was so fun to get outside on a nice day and to also learn about Vegas through some of its most iconic neon signs. The museum is beautifully curated (it’s not just a bunch of signs junked together) and the tour guides are knowledgeable and super kind. If you go during the day you can choose to talk to them or meander on your own. I highly recommend chatting, they know cool stuff! If you need a break from the booze and gambling, come here.

CASINOS

I really wasn’t much a gambler but I will say this. I loved the Wynn Casino. I won there (haha) and also everyone was pretty friendly. The Golden Nugget was terrible and I’d never go back. The El Cortez was fun in an old school way. It’s the oldest operating casino in Vegas. Go for the quarters, stay for the guy playing a piano.

BONUS: CVS

I am not crazy. This was the greatest CVS ever. Not only could you buy cold medicine here, but they sold HARD LIQUOR. Sure you can get wine and beer. But you can also get gin! Fireball! Anything! I was beyond. Also just outside the door is sports betting. We went here like four times and I don’t even feel ashamed.

Is she really going to end on CVS? (Yes, she is.)

It’s Not Overreacting if You’re in Pain

Hey, did you pass a girl on the street crying in SoHo last Friday? Not a big deal, but it was me! When I started this blog I promised I’d be honest about my life, even the embarrassing parts. Which is why I knew I had write about last week and the emotions that overcame me.

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I Judge Myself Too Hard

Here’s the set-up: I don’t like going to group fitness classes. They make me anxious, nervous, and extremely self-conscious. Group fitness classes take me back to middle school when I was uncoordinated, a little chubby, and not at all athletic. I remember one particular day when the PE teacher made us dribble a basketball from one side of the gym to the other in front of our classmates. It was torture. Basketball is my least favorite sport and DEFINITELY takes too much coordination. I felt awful, but like I always have, I played it off like I didn’t give a shit. When I was younger, I’d rather take some heat from my teacher for being disruptive, than look like a fool.

Now I am nearly 31 years old and I get the same anxiousness before a workout class. My stomach turns into knots, I often think I’m going to throw up and not make it in. My heart rate is already up before I enter and once I do, I am overwhelmed. Often, my hands shake so badly I can’t lock the locker properly for a few minutes. I glue my eyes to the floor. I do not meet new people. I hate the mirrors that reflect how terrible I am at every move, how stiff my hips always are, how my knees fold in. I am never good enough.

And that’s usually what my lack of comfort with working out in a class format comes from, I never feel good enough. And I am immediately sent back to me at 13 years old. It’s so strange to me because I have overcome almost every other aspect of my younger self that held me back. I was terribly shy in social settings, now I can walk into a bar and meet new people. I was afraid to share my thoughts and now I am at my new job making mistakes nearly every day but still coming in and being vocal and brave. I am trying to be sure of myself. And that’s relatively new for me. I post my poetry on the internet for all to see, instead of squirreling it away like I have for 20 years of my life. I have changed. But this one thing, these fitness classes, brings it all back.

I kind of resigned myself to working out at home for the rest of my life. I take the occasional class, but it takes effort and an incredible amount of planning. For the class last Friday, I went and bought brand new $75 workout pants because I needed to feel prepared.  I signed up for an early morning class and was ready to go.

But then I left 10 minutes later than I should have and the subway took 20 minutes later than it should have. I arrived on the street of the class 1 minute after start time. Could I have gone in and tried to negotiate my way in? Maybe. But I couldn’t face the rejection, I was so afraid they’d tell me no. That I didn’t belong. I know it sounds totally mental, but this is how I was feeling. I had failed. And then almost seemingly out of nowhere, I started sobbing uncontrollably on the street. Because of a workout class. At first I wanted to suck it up and tell myself I was overreacting. (Omg you are so spoiled, you are crying over a workout class.) But I realized it was so much deeper than that. It was everything.

It was the feeling that I had gained weight over the past two months. It was the feeling that I hurt my back because I was afraid to go out and have my form corrected. It was the feeling that I had again wasted money. It was the feeling that I was again late to something. It was again that I am not good enough. It was again that I had failed at bettering myself.

That’s a fucking lot to take in, right?! It WAS a lot so the best thing I could have done for myself was tell myself that I wasn’t overreacting. I corrected that narrative. I was allowed to feel sad for all those things and it was a normal reaction. It eventually calmed me down but I felt terrible almost the entire day.

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I’m sharing this because I had forgotten. I had forgotten how much I carried around on a daily basis. I forgot how much YOU carry around on a daily basis. I forgot about all the negative things I say to myself every morning. I forgot about just how debilitating real anxiety can be. It reminded me to be gentle with my friends or family when they’re afraid to do something new or challenging. It was a wake up call for me in many ways.

So hey, if there’s something makes your chest heavy, your hands sweaty, your heart pound, reach out to me. I may not be able to fix it but maybe I can go with you or just talk to you. I’ve been there, and sometimes a gentle voice on the other end of the phone is all you need to take a step back. And remember, you aren’t overreacting if you’re in pain.

The Body as a Gift, not a Tool

I had a disappointing turn of events last Sunday. I was having a totally normal day, normal workout, normal life stuff, when out of nowhere my lower back seized up and really started to hurt. By Monday morning I was in excruciating pain and other than getting older I couldn’t pinpoint a culprit. Not immediately, anyway. It’s now Friday and I haven’t “worked out” aside from gentle yoga specifically to soothe my back. What I have worked out however is the culprit and it wasn’t one dumb thing I did or my age… it was a lot of dumb things.

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As I’ve expressed before, I tend to have tunnel vision. I get really focused, I love a good routine, and I kind of forget to step back and observe my progress or take a break. If something seems to be working I go full steam ahead. This can be great from a productivity standpoint but other times… it really isn’t so great. Like, I have a hard time hanging out if something from work is on my mind.

For months now I had finally gotten a new workout routine that I loved. I was working out 6 days a week, eating pretty well, and seeing some incredible results in my body. I also just felt stronger in general. But what was once a dope ass workout plan quickly became this rote practice. Sure, there were days I took off because I was tired, or I decided to do yoga instead of something intense. But for the most part I worked out everyday, in the same sort of style, because it was easier than assessing any sort of goal or next steps. And my body first got used to it and then got sick of it (stopped seeing results) and then finally gave me the big middle finger with an injury. It’s always an injury that is my wake up call.

I’m sharing this not as a pity party but to make a point to the people following along with me. Sometimes having a solid routine and insane dedication to it, isn’t always what we need. And the what we do need is to listen to that little, tiny, baby voice way back in our heads. It has great ideas. For instance… for a couple of months I considered taking classes again, having someone teach me proper from for a number of things. I thought about taking low impact classes like yoga or pilates but couldn’t find the time. I am also terrified of pilates. I thought about switching up the routine into longer workouts for less days. I thought of it all but I didn’t act on any of it because what I was doing was safe and I was being kind of lazy.

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But now that I’ve had the time off to consider all of this, I am re-dedicating myself to an actual healthy lifestyle. I will take the advice of the inner me; she really knew all along. I need to come up with some new goals, reassess my fitness style, find things that I love to do that push me in new ways, and let myself be led by others. It’s like, I know I have shit form for a lot of stuff, so I really need to get out there and learn from someone better. It’s embarrassing and super scary… but I really don’t want to get hurt again because I was being stubborn.

And stubborn I am. So, I want to know from all of you. What’s something in the back of your head that you know you could be doing better, but don’t? What’s that voice telling you? And I know this is hard because I would read stuff written by other people about this “voice” and I’d be like “I never ignore her!” But I secretly was. That’s how tricky this is!

I also wanted to make it a point to be open about this injury and the fact that I am not always right. I get a lot of messages on my IG stories about my dedication and how motivating it is but also how down people feel on themselves because they aren’t doing it the exact same way as me. Guess what, we’re all different and we all need to listen to what our bodies are telling us. They are gifts, not tools to a destination. What I need to remember is that there is no end to healthy living. It grows and changes with you. Better start adapting!

 

Why I Like Being “Simple”

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Photo by Khai Sze Ong on Unsplash

It’s been over a month since I’ve last written and I just want to thank you all for giving me that time! My last post went up three days before I started my new job and then it was a whirlwind of travel and learning and bonding and total, absolute exhaustion. But I am happy to report I feel like I am settling in nicely and I am so excited to be challenging myself in new and interesting ways.

A younger version of me would have pushed myself to maintain the blog, the poetry, the novel, the social media presence all at once, even while trying to learn a new job. This time around I said no to overwhelming myself. I said no to setting unrealistic expectations for myself. I said no to torturing myself about “not being enough”. I wrote when I could, I slept when I needed to, and I took a break from obsessing about every little thing. I focused on my new work, I got to know my team instead of hiding away in my room to write (they made that easy) and I am so happy I did.

Maybe it’s because I am older and I’m finally learning a thing or two about life, or maybe I’ve changed for another reason, but I can tell you this: allowing myself to be simple kept me happy, healthy and sane these past six weeks.

I’ve never wanted to be simple. Simple was a sin in my book. If I wasn’t multi-talented, multi-tasking, multi-stressed out, then I was failing. A typical day would have been an intense weight workout, a full day of work, writing all night, responding to piled up texts, walking the dog, cleaning the apartment and then passing out totally exhausted. I got sick a lot. I wasn’t productive. My writing was… well… shitty.

Simple felt wrong, simple felt too easy, simple felt like I wasn’t doing my best.

What I’ve found is that SIMPLE allows me to excel. What I’ve come to realize is that my other talents, my other interests, and loves? They’ll still be there. This blog is still here. My poetry is still waiting for me to edit it and share it with the world. I’ve found other simpler workouts that don’t require me to travel to the gym every day. It’s all there and I will get to it. (When I can!) When I focus my attention to one or two things, I kill it. I sleep. I am not sick all the time. When I am simple I am a better, calmer, version of myself. It took a million and one tries, but I finally saw the pattern.

Now that the travel is done for a bit, now that I am finding my rhythm at work… now is when I can pick up the pen again. Write this blog post for you. Take some new photos for the IG. Make special plans with my friends. And when I do all of these things I will be more engaged because I won’t be tired, or worried, or thinking about the next task. I can simply be present.

I know there will be days when I want to go back to the way I was. When I want to pressure myself and push myself and overwhelm myself. And maybe I’ll need the extra encouragement. But knowing that it’s ok to take a step back and breathe is going to make all the difference. I mean, how often do you let yourself be simple?