Prepare for the return of aggressive loan repayments in the end of January by implementing the following goals:
Spend less than $30 in fun money on myself
Spend less than $100 in dining out
No traveling to save money
Spend less than $250 for groceries
Declutter digital photos on camera and hard-drive
See family every week
I know this seems over-whelming, but I possess a deep determination to not waste the negative space that 2020 offered me. I can’t wait to see how much I accomplish by February.
Also, since I took a month off in December to focus on family, friends, and the self, there will be no recap of December Blog Income (because there was none!). Stay tuned for January’s Recap a month from now.
Slightly delayed publishing of this month’s goals is due to the fact that I am trying my best to live it. I spent the rest of the year outlining tens of habits and success markers to measure my months by, but December is a bit special in that I only have a few.
Live every day in the present moment.
Practice gratitude for all that I have.
Be as intentional as possible for every waking decision I make.
These are my December goals. Nothing like my previous ones in that there are no markers of achievement. If you think that this list is a lame one, it’s not. It was actually made with utmost consideration. But first, a story.
When I was searching for a wedding photographer in 2015, I came across a man whose style I liked and went to his website to book a consultation only to feel my heart sink as I pulled up his calendar. All of December 2016 was booked one year ahead! I was highly confused and could not believe my eyes, until a small asterix at the bottom of the calendar caught my eye.
It said: “My family and I will be taking all of December off to focus on what’s important in life.”
I remember excitedly showing Mike the note right when he got home from work. I remember being so awed by the idea that someone could have a job that allowed him freedom to dictate how and when work influenced his life. I wanted so badly to live a life around this idea of complete freedom from the need to work. So it only made sense that financial independence found me in 2017.
Now that I’ve quit a job I disliked, I have had the space to think about why I started to dislike my work and how I could create a new work lifestyle that would give me deep joy. I have spent the last two weeks brainstorming, hemming and hawing my neurons for all the thoughts, emotions, and ideas tied to creating an intentional work lifestyle. I think I am almost there.
One of my firmest beliefs, however, is to set aside the necessary space for life itself. I fell in love with the idea of making the holiday season a time for rest and rejuvenation, as well as family and friends, ever since I laid eyes on that photographer’s calendar.
It is with this intention that I decided to make December’s goals the way it is.
If you are a person who looks forward to monthly goal ideas, I am sorry to disappoint you but I do have one suggestion.
Slow life down.
2021 is fast approaching and will come soon enough. Let’s linger here a bit in the year that helped us realize how little we needed and what we wanted.
This month’s goals come at a very interesting time for me personally.
The reason being, I have decided to quit my dentistry job.
I have decided to quit dentistry for many reasons.
I have lost meaning in my daily work.
I felt under-appreciated by a changing health-care system that prioritizes customer service over health itself.
I felt that I could not balance the expectations of my patients, the expectations of my workplace, and my own personal expectations.
My values are not aligned with where I am currently working.
I wanted to spend the holiday season with family and focus on the people that matter to me.
I was feeling burnt out and knew that if I did not give myself a break, I would grow to resent what I do for a living.
I want to live an intentional life, which means curating out the things that do not bring me joy.
We have made the lifestyle choices (invest money, spend less, own less, avoid having kids, avoid a large mortgage) necessary to avoid job dependency.
We have created the boundaries necessary to ignore social expectations and pressures, thus giving us freedom to live how we want.
Despite this freedom, I still have goals. But without the job identity, the goals have shifted slightly.
I think that quitting was very cathartic for me. I admit feeling stressed the last few months, mostly because I was holding on desperately to something I should have let go many months ago. I was fighting an internal battle, one between the past self and future possibility. Finally turning in an official resignation letter did just the trick.
It wasn’t very easy. I felt depressed for a few days, afraid of what I had done, anxious about the future. It’s like any ole break-up. It feels easier to run back to what is familiar and feels safe, even after you’ve outgrown the past. It takes a lot of reserve to not turn back. Luckily, the sadness and fear did not last long. After I sat through my emotions, I started to really notice a shift in my personality.
I sang songs randomly, after years of refusing to listen to music in case it over-whelmed my mind.
I smiled more frequently, and was more open to socializing. I connected with a high school friend, decided to make time for my grandma’s birthday party, and even drove to East LA on a Friday evening after work to grab tacos with my mother-in-law at a stand that she used to eat tacos at when she was my age.
I picked up old habits, like learning about photography, doing art, and playing guitar.
I connected with my husband more, rekindling our dumb banter from the college days.
For November’s monthly goals, I am sharing with you a TIME OFF BUCKET LIST. Even though my time off doesn’t start until November 19, I have decided not to wait until my last day of work to start living life to the fullest. This bucket list contains a number of goals I have always wanted to accomplish but have put on pause in order to partake in an American Dream.
As some people already know from my Instagram, we are taking a few long trips over the course of three weeks from November to December. I have lived in California since 1998 and I have yet to actually see it. I find that a shame.
It’s got me thinking, how much of our life are we actually wasting away doing things that don’t really matter in exchange for stuff that don’t really make us happy?
Not that I have the answers.
Just that I am trying to figure it out.
TheDebtist’s TIME OFF BUCKET LIST
Create Spotify playlists for different occasions and moods
Improve Photography Skills
Improve Guitar Skills
Explore California National Parks
Visit old friends
Write a book – and self-publish it
Create more courses
Get into artwork again
Visit a Japanese spa (because we can’t go to Japan)
Go to a butterfly sanctuary
Go birdwatching in the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary
Explore tide pools for hours
“Live” on a farm – milk a cow or extract honey from a beehive
Learn recipes of my homeland from my mom
Hug a Redwood tree
Tour a lighthouse
Learn to make alfajores
Bake someone’s wedding cake
Do a cold bath dunk
Bake the following from the Tartine Book: Gingerbread Cookies, Spiked Cocktail Nuts, Brownies, Chocolate Pots de Crème, Devil’s Food Layer Cake, Lemon Meringue Cake, Pastel de Tres Leches
Eat Pho for the first time (yes!)
Learn how to make ramen from Mike
Master a few advanced level yoga poses
Learn how to sit on my hands
I add the last one, because just like anything, I always dive headfirst into something new, including this “mini-retirement”. Supposedly it’s a chance for me to figure myself out. Somehow I have to balance that with living life to the fullest. Like I said before, I’m still figuring it out. But honestly, thank you for joining me on this wild ride.
If you have any other bucket list ideas, do share! Who knows when my next mini-retirement will be.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.
For the first time since 2020 began, I am finally starting to feel myself take root in this thing I call life. Even after my brother moved back to Arizona to start his second year of dental school and my sister moved to Madrid, Spain to start her two-year contract at the global university; even after my mother returned to working with children in person at school, scoping out the terrain in this brave new world, I find myself where I have been since the start of my teen-hood. Despite the changes, only now am I feeling a sense of home.
Today my roommate asked if I thought our life would be where it is now without COVID. Definitely, 100% no. I know it’s easy to harbor negative feelings, but I see all the positive things, too.
Without COVID, I wouldn’t have spent as much time reconnecting with my past life, putting my future life on pause, and creating the space for the now that bridges the gap between the two. I would have continued working six days a week, making a whirl-wind of activity my measurement for a “productive” life. I wouldn’t have focused my attention inward nor would I have created a home worth staying in. Instead, I had plans to travel to Japan, the Maldives, Hawaii … Now I find myself thinking that staying anywhere other than my own home is less-than.
I really want to continue this grounded-ness into October. Partly because I am genuinely loving the refreshing vibes exuding from my current lifestyle. Partly because not much has changed and what choice do we have?
Well, we still have autonomy over our thoughts.
We can choose to turn with the tide. We can choose to embrace the stillness. We can choose to believe that there is something that we can offer ourselves – something we can’t find in anyone or anything else. We can choose to practice gratitude for what is already here. We can try to bridge the gap within the whirl-winds we’ve created. We can calm the storm. We can listen to the burning fires within. We can ask why things are the way they are. We can choose what comes next. We can create the worlds in which we see ourselves living in. We can decide if COVID has been bad to us or has it been good?
As I continue to reap the benefits of having nothing to look forward to, I question whether it’s such a bad thing after all. I had a patient come in one day after the California fires wreaked havoc amidst the hottest heat wave of the year and he said to me, “Perhaps all of this is just a sign from above telling us to stay indoors and be still.”
Even if it weren’t as ethereal as he posed, there is a heavy weight in his words. Also, a light heart.
Wake up at 6am and sleep at 10pm
Write three things to be grateful for every morning
Talk to my sister who lives in Spain once a week
Do at-home yoga sessions five times a week
No Instagram for leisure – only for blog work
Write 30 minutes every day
Switch out summer ice cream for dark chocolate
Decrease the number of patients being seen
Learn two songs on the guitar
Read two books
Explore two new places
My favorite home upgrades this year:
– A mattress top and two pillows that helps soothe dentistry-related spinal and shoulder pain. Prior to these two game-changers, I was spending Saturdays laying on the couch, too stiff to move. This is the purchase that improved my life most significantly. It is what allows me to continue practicing dentistry and I cannot stress the importance of having decent support when you sleep! I have referred LEESA to a high-school friend who just moved into a new house and she and her husband love their mattress! Also, my brother and his girlfriend have both tried out our mattress and pillows when they were house-sitting for us one weekend and they told me that it was the best night of sleep they have ever had. She now also owns the same pillow as ours. I would highly recommend buying this product straight-away. It is never too late to start caring for your posture. Your 100-year-old self will thank you. If you are going to buy the mattress, check out my review here. Right now, you can get $350 OFF and a free protector too!
– Alternatively, a couch to sink into, especially during hard times. The couch is an Ikea Soderhamn couch – a Scandinavian design that has become a global icon – re-vamped with a Bemz cover. Depending on the cover you choose, you can make the Soderhamn look like a Restoration Hardware Cloud Sectional or a mid-century modern sofa from West Elm! We wanted to make sure we got a color we would like so I first ordered the five free fabric swatches before ordering the actual cover.
– Parachute linens that makes us want to spend all day in bed. These linen sheets are a beautiful color, although this would be great for the Fall season, too!
– A pair of speakers from which to play our vinyl collection. They are currently $49 off and are absolutely beautiful in white. They’ve got great sound, too. I stopped listening to music sometime two years ago. I think I just got carried away focusing on all my “jobs”. I told myself I didn’t have time for “noise”. Now, I enjoy my weekends deep-cleaning the home, occasionally sipping coffee, while playing some tunes on our record player. This newly added mid-century media console from West Elm perfectly hides the speakers when they aren’t in use. Currently, West Elm is hosting a sale – 15% off furniture, 40% off bedding, and 30% off rugs.
– A Parachute shower curtain and a new CB2 towel rod. Right now, they have 25% off rugs and 50% off clearance items. More importantly, my birthday gift – a bathroom wall-painting project completed with Mike and my parents one summer Saturday. And for those looking for a shower curtain liner, this is the one. So in love, no signs of mildew or soap scum yet!!
– Lastly, this La Marzocco latte machine, giving us the coffee shop we’ve always dreamed of. We never go out for coffee now. Mike sold his motorcycle which was rendered useless due to his non-existent commute and used the money to buy a Linea Mini, the machine of his dreams. He has spent every day since enjoying it.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.
This post is written in partnership with Mal Paper, a UK company creating intentional stationary focused on gratitude and productivity. The company is named after the Swedish word “goal” and is pronounced “mo-l”. The inspiration of their products come from the Scandinavian clean and clutter-free lifestyle that’s extremely popular today. Their mission is simple. Focus on creating products that give the user clarity on what they want to achieve with a clear path on how to get there, all while promoting a positive mindset to carry over on to their daily activities. They recently reached out to me to give their Daily Goal Setter a try. I am desperately in LOVE. I think every American suffering from the over-whelming pressure to do”more” needs to reassess their goals with this planner.
In my quest to discover a balance between everyday life and my mental health during the month of August, I re-discovered a few things about myself. I am an extremely goal-driven person with achingly high expectations. I push myself to do too much, which is why I have such a need to focus on slow and intentional living. (Isn’t it funny how human it is to be attracted to the things we are not?) I found that I was falling off the wagon on a few habits, and then realized it’s because I LEGIT listed twenty-five habits to take up. In ONE month. I set extremely high goals for myself such as “increase production at work”, “work on writing a book”, “post five times a week on the blog”, all of which leave little room for life itself. Yet still, I squeeze “bake a new recipe”, “learn French”, “take up guitar”, and “explore two new places” somewhere in the crevices of my already tight schedule.
So when Mal Planner asked me to try their planner, I was all for it. I adopted a few things that I think will help me to continue my mindful actions in September. Below are all the ways that Mal Planner helps me to slow-it-down and to practice living from a place of calm and peace.
A New Morning Routine
Every morning, I will practice a new routine. It goes as follows.
First, I will write down three things that I am grateful for. This can be something like “For my family” or “For a delicious cup of early morning coffee.” But it can also be things that are often over-looked, such as “For clean water to drink” or “A window in my home for sunlight to shine through.” By practicing gratitude journaling, I will be starting the day with a positive mindset, while also allowing myself opportunity to recognize that perhaps, if nothing else, life is already enough.
Second, I will write down an affirmation. An affirmation is a sentence such as “I am brave enough to tackle obstacles that come my way” or “I am confident in my ability to get the job done.” It can also be something as simple as “I have an ability to make choices” or “I am whole”. Whatever empowering thought there is to carry me through the day, I will focus my energy on that. I will take time to recite and memorize my affirmation of the day.
Lastly, I will read that day’s inspiring quote, which Mal Paper has integrated at the bottom of every day’s page and throughout the entire planner..
A New Way of Creating Tasks
Have you ever felt like you’re doing so much but getting nowhere? One of the biggest problems ineffective people face is not prioritizing their tasks well. There is the saying, “Efficiency is doing things right. Effectiveness is doing the right things.”
One of my favorite drawings which I first saw in the book of Essentialism is this:
It is my favorite drawing by far because I’ve definitely been the person on the left. Multiple times. So this month (and hopefully every month forward), I will try to be mindful of prioritizing tasks in order of importance. The planner suggests listing tasks for the day, then prioritizing them in order. Afterwards, I will try my best to complete tasks based on priority. Focusing on low-priority tasks can make you feel over-whelmed and exhausted, especially when more important tasks are not being completed.
That, honestly, is a waste of energy.
An Old Way of Setting Goals
I have always set goals in a certain way and I am so happy to see that Mal Paper agrees with me on at least one method of planning. I set goals using the SMART Method.
S: Specific. Goals are always specific so that there is clarity on what exactly we are trying to do. Answer the questions Who, What, When, Where, and How.
M: Measurable. Goals need to be measurable, otherwise you will not know if there is progress or not. It is not enough to say, “I want to earn more money.” It would be better to say, “I want to earn 10% more than that I was earning last year.”
A: Achievable. Make sure that all your goals are realistic. Setting goals that are too high (e.g. “I want to be a millionaire by tomorrow) can be very disheartening when they aren’t achieved. Let’s be real. Unless you win the lottery, that would be impossible.
R: Relevant. This is where you answer the question, “Why?” Ask yourself why it is that you want to complete this goal? How will doing so improve your life?
T: Timely. Set yourself a timeline for when you want your goal completed. This will help you stay on track. I divide my goals into Long Term (years), Medium Term (6 months to 1 year), and Short Term (a month to 6 months).
Doing each of these steps for each of your goals will really clear your path to productivity and success.
A New Weekly Routine
Once I make a goal, I will revisit every week each goal and break them down into smaller tasks. Each week, I will prioritize the top five tasks to complete. At the end of the week, I will evaluate how effective I was. I have done this at the beginning of every month, but I see now that I also need to do it weekly.
A New Evening Routine
Lastly, the routine before bed. I know that this is the hardest part because at the end of the day, the last thing you want to do is think. But it’s important to reflect on the positive moments and write down all the good things that happened. Something like “I got a promotion at work” is equally as important as “I got coffee with an old friend.”
Instead of dwelling on all the things that went wrong or that I didn’t complete (which I do dwell by the way), I can focus on the positive moments which will put me in the correct mindset and build my confidence in making things happen.
Then the planner suggests I rate my day from 1-10. I don’t know about everyone else, but I am a numbers gal. I never thought about rating my day, but I think that is very important. The ratings can easily summarize how I feel over a given amount of time. I know that if I start to notice a lot of low numbers in the past few weeks, then a lifestyle change needs to happen. Perhaps I am rating my days lowly because of feeling burnt out at work. That may mean that I need to change something in the workspace or decrease my work load.
Out of all of these routines, I think that the morning and evening rituals are of utmost importance. By coming from a place of gratitude and focusing on the positive things that happen in my life, there will be a greater chance for happiness. Also, reflective evaluation will allow for chances to identify opportunities for growth and improvement.
Of course, my month of September is still goal-driven. But I have seen a shift in my priorities and goals. I hope you see them, too.
Go offline 1 day per week
Read two books
Practice French daily
Learn 1 new guitar song
Keep up with the new morning and evening rituals
Be early to work every day
Work on growing Pinterest
Apply to affiliates for October
Add Referral page on the blog
Reduce the number of patients seen to decrease burn out
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.
If I am being completely honest, July was the month that got away. Very few habits stuck, and I accomplished little in terms of my to-do list. In exchange was a month full of travel, friends, family, books, sand, beach, mountain, snow, sun, and summer. It was a whole lotta living and very little planning. The days were glorious, every minute worth my aching muscles and tired eyes.
Despite all this good stuff, my soul is calling for a bit of balance in the month of August. Time to readjust. To breathe. To enjoy California which I call home.
I have determined August to be a frugal month. The $600 EDD weekly stipend just ended so I think it would be a great month to focus on how we can all save extra money. I have a long list of frugal challenges in my course on Mastering a Budget, most of which can be found on this landing page. If you are also scrambling to find ways to cut costs, that would be a great place to start!
This month, there will be a few themes.
Frugality is the first.
Mental health is the second.
Minimalism is the third.
All three make up the foundation of this blog. Without further ado.
Decrease phone use –> Dock phone when at home, do not allow the phone at the dining table or when in conversation with others, remove the Instagram app after every use to add a barrier to habit-scrolling, set screen time goal of 30 minutes or less per day.
No fun money spending –> Think about your long-term goals and how not spending money will get you closer towards your other financial goals. Follow the 30-day rule, which is to wait 30 days prior to making a purchase just to make sure you really want it.
Finish two books –> Read 20 minutes per day.
Stay offline one day a week –> Dedicate one day a week to time with family, being outdoors and in nature, or pursuing other passions and hobbies.
Learn French –> Complete 5 lessons of Duolingo per day.
Practice Guitar –> pick up the guitar at least three times a week.
Do nothing more often –> Every time you start to think about traveling or going out, force yourself to stay home and enjoy the joys of doing nothing.
Get more affiliate projects for the blog –> Apply to at least 20 affiliates, get at least 5 partnerships for September.
Increase blog views from last month by 500 views –> Post at least five times a week and apply to five podcasts.
Increase Instagram followers to 900 by tagging more companies that the blog partners with.
Get through dental continuing education classes —> Do one online course every day on Mondays through Wednesdays.
De-clutter the filing cabinet and desk.
De-clutter the kitchen and pantry.
De-clutter the garage.
Schedule “me time” for two hours every week.
Wake up every morning and meditate or do yoga.
Take care of the physical body by committing to eating more fruits and veggies and exercising at least five times a day.
Schedule to call a like-minded person at least once a week to catch up and discuss ways in which you’re both thriving right now.
Write down one thing you are grateful for each day.
Limit spending –> less than $250 in groceries and dining out, less than $75 in gas
Cut down on electricity – and even get paid for doing so!
Increase income –> Try to hit the goal of $500 from the blog.
Tackle loans –> Take advantage of the 0% interest rate on student loans right now and funnel all the money towards debt before September 30 hits.
Read JL Collins.
Write the book –> Work on it thirty minutes a day.
Bake 1 new recipe.
Explore 2 new places.
I know these goals are pretty particular to my life and situation, but I hope they inspire you to focus on whatever is calling to you right now. Below are a few resources to draw from, whether your focus is on frugality, mental health or minimalism.
This post is sponsored by KINTO, a Japanese company that focuses on bringing tableware, drinkware, and interior items that bring its owners a sense of joy. Each of their items are heavily considered for the ease of integration into one’s lifestyle, without sacrificing the beauty of everyday things.
A few days late, but better than never. In May, I shared how daily habits can help get goals achieved and in June I wrote about how creating time blocks can facilitate getting goals done.
For July, I wanted to do something a bit different and separate goals from habits. Habits are tiny daily steps we take to create a particular lifestyle. Hopefully the habits feed into your future goals but let’s not get the two confused as being the same thing.
This month’s goal formula has monthly goals, weekly goals, and daily habits listed separately. I consider monthly goals to be TRUE GOALS – one time events that occur after reaching a certain thresh-hold. In contrast, daily habits are tiny wins that we wish to accomplish so as to create a particular lifestyle. They are not true goals in that there is no end point. You do them daily, so it’s not like you drank 8 cups of water today therefore you’re done with that goal. Habits should be things that never leave you. You still want to do that again tomorrow in order to maintain a certain lifestyle. Lastly, weekly goals are somewhere in between. They’re goals that you can cross off and forget about for a few days, until a new week begins. They create a repeating habit over time. Below, you will see the difference between the three.
Increase Instagram followers to 800 people, which may not seem like a lot but for a non-socialite such as myself seems like such a huge feat! If you like this content, perhaps you might enjoy a follow😉
Get a podcast recording in the books. It’s been a while since I’ve shared my story or put myself out there. After a few years of going down this loan repayment path, maybe some people can glean valuable info from my mistakes and my successes? I will try to see if there’s a space who would be interested in hearing the story thus far.
Finish online continuing education courses for dentistry and plan future live CE’s. Since we are spending a lot of time quarantining, I might as well use this time to knock out 25 of my 50 required continuing education credits. As a frugalist, I always do 25 of them online for FREE, which is the maximum allowed remote courses one can take.
Upgrade bathroom. We recently re-painted our bathroom in June. I wanted to upgrade the rest of it to make it feel like a brand new space without breaking the bank. I will be brainstorming a frugal way to upgrade a bathroom and will be sharing the project as we continue along.
Pantry declutter project. Every month I try to check the pantry for soon-to-be-expired items that I then integrate into meal planning. I like a minimalist fridge and pantry, getting rid of ingredients before buying more. We have very little pantry space in our small home, so it’s kind of a necessity, but also, a fun challenge for me.
Digital declutter project. For so long, I keep telling myself this will be the time I will digitally declutter. I have tons of files, photos, emails, subscriptions … I’d love to tackle this today!
Break $500 with the blog. I just recently started making money from the blog in the hundreds and my goal is to continually increase my blogger income. This month, I hope to break $500 in extra cash. One way I do this is by getting affiliate sponsored posts or by making affiliate links.
Explore 2 new places. It’s always good to have goals that nourish the soul. I love to explore and experience new things so this month, I wanted to explore two new places that we have never been before.
Bake 1 new recipe. I typically try to learn a new baker’s recipe every month using a variety of cookbooks or bloggers as inspiration.
Stay offline one day a week. This means no blogging or social media for one entire day. This will be the day I spend with Mike, friends and family.
Deep clean house including bathroom, kitchen and floors.
Run 3x/wk. We have been pretty good about running a few days a week and I am proud of my abilities now (running up to five miles) so I want to keep this up. Hopefully it naturally turns into a habit so that I won’t have to keep making it a goal.
This is my second monthly goals post, but before we get into the thick of things, I just wanted to take the time to ask how everyone’s May went? For me, I’d say rather quickly. Compared to April, May kind of got away from me. Yet there were many accomplishments that I wanted to share.
I decreased phone use significantly, thanks to my habit of deleting Instagram after blog work every day and docking my phone when I got home. I also had added a nighttime lock on all apps between the hours of 9pm and 7am. Lastly, I limited screen time to an hour a day.
I’ve developed a new habit in the mornings. I somehow couldn’t get myself to keep the humidifier on every night so I’ve actually reverted the habit to mornings and it’s worked better for me. I wake up, light a candle, fling open the windows, and turn on the humidifier, adding a few drops of essential oil. It holds enough water to run until the evening.
For the blog, I received more views than the previous month (despite failing to post five times a week). I added over an additional 2313 affiliates, of which about 50 are well-aligned with my blog.
I completed 6 dental CE courses, despite aiming for 16.
I kept the home tidy and neat. Mike has helped me make the bed every day, and we’ve worked as a team to do a weekly cleaning of the entire space.
I’ve run five weeks in a row, and have achieved consistently running 5k in under 35 minutes. To give perspective, my lifetime “record” of a 5k was 45 minutes prior to this month. Embarrassing, but true. My fastest mile for the month was 9 minutes and 30 seconds, which is a lifestyle achievement for me. I have only my roommate and husband to thank for pushing me to get out there.
I reached the goal of increasing my income without increasing the number of days I worked. I made an additional $4,000 this month than the previous month by increasing my production at work. Due to COVID-19’s restriction on dental care being lifted in California mid-May, we were swamped with all sorts of neglected dental care that needed urgent attention. I don’t think I left the office early all of May.
We stayed under our spending limits this month. This was helped by the fact that Mike’s dad and grandpa live in a 55+ community and receive a weekly box of groceries. Since they have food preferences, Mike and his sister benefited from the left-over excess, which then reduced our grocery bills.
There is one thing in May that I did not accomplish and that was to start writing a book. I planned to create a habit of working on it thirty minutes a day, but my short-coming was that I never scheduled that 30-minute block into my planner. I still want to write a book, so this month, I will try to make it a point to block out 30 minutes a day to just write. I find that the best way to get myself to do something is to do it first thing in the morning. Therefore, I aim to start each day writing at 5:30am to 6:00am.
The Importance of Blocking Out Time
Last time I wrote about habit creation in order to achieve goals. Today, I will briefly note the importance of blocking out time.
My time is greatly structured and organized, which isn’t to say it isn’t fluid. However, it is mostly adhered to and taken very seriously. I set aside blocks for everything I do, even spending time with my husband or family. I know it seems boring to have your whole life planned in such a way, but it is necessary to living a full life. When opportunities present themselves, it doesn’t mean you have to turn them down. It only requires the extra step of prioritizing and pivoting if need be.
In the mornings, I set aside time for tasks such as exercise and breakfast. But I also set aside time for making coffee, turning on the candles and humidifiers, and listening to a podcast. These are things people don’t usually block out time for. I have found that without putting even the most mundane things into the calendar, they can be forgotten or missed. However, the effects of self-care tasks such as these are crucial to the overall picture. If I don’t set aside time to turn on the candle, then I don’t give to myself the calm atmosphere that I thrive in, thereby impeding the quality of my work. Whatever it is you prioritize, you need to set aside time for. Not only does this ensure that your highest goals are at the forefront of your life, but it also makes life easier for you.
You see, when things are scheduled into the calendar, you relieve yourself from the need to remember to do something. You free your mind from spending energy on recall which then allows it to calculate other functions. Additionally, you take away the stress of deciding whether you’ve done enough towards a particular goal. And you can visually see that you have set aside enough blocks for the things that matter. This makes it easier for you to get 1% better every day.
With that little diddy, here are my goals for June.
Schedule an hour of Mike time a day.
Block out time to see family once a week.
Block out time to unwind every evening without technology in hand.
Aim to publish 3 blog posts per week by working on the blog one hour each day.
Schedule an hour of CE courses four days a week in order to reach 16 CE courses.
Get one podcast on the books for the blog by applying to two a week.
Make the dental office as safe and efficient as possible by grouping certain procedures together.
Schedule an hour a week to clean the entire home.
Focus on maintenance rather than improvements.
Schedule an hour of running three mornings every week.
Schedule forty minutes of yoga two days a week.
Do not spend any fun money this month, especially since my birthday will likely yield a few new items to love.
Increase savings by opening a high-yield savings account.
Earn more income by funneling more time into the blog.
Create spreadsheets to analyze where money will be best “invested” – funneled into loans bringing us closer to financial independence or into a rental property to set us up for early retirement?
Work on a book 30 minutes every day.
I know that the world is hurting right now. It may seem as if I don’t care about the current state of affairs perhaps by posting this but that surely isn’t true. I live in the heart of downtown Santa Ana. We evacuated our home yesterday because we didn’t feel safe. The shops on our street are boarded up and graffitied. My dental office closed early to protect our patients from the protests. I am not above or outside of this. If anything, I am in the midst of it all. I am very active in helping where I can. I messaged the owners who I delivered bread to for a year. I texted my boss to make sure the dental office was safe overnight. We drove around the area this morning to make sure our neighbors weren’t broken into or robbed. I sent positive texts to fellow business owners within a 1 mile radius. I continue to go into work every day as a dentist to treat the marginalized and the lower income community which I proudly call home. I may not be speaking much publicly about what’s going on, but I am listening. At the same time, I don’t believe in being muted for a week so that the online space can work some algorithm. I think the government or an organization will find ways to spread their propaganda regardless of some app equation, and being silent only helps them to do so.
In posting this, I go back to one of my core beliefs that in order to create change, we must start at home and with ourselves. Forgive me for being trite, but writing goals is how I know to make the world 1% better. Because I cannot control what happens outside these walls, only how I act and react. The only way to improve the world is to improve ourselves. That’s what I know how to do.
Meanwhile, I will continue to live believing that my hands are doing daily work. This space included. And that whatever statement that I make about the political state of things online is what’s truly trite. Rather than coming to a full stop, I’m going to keep dealing with the world the way I always have. Through writing. If you do not want to be in this space, you do not have to be.