Monthly Goals: September

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:

Essentialism, Greg McKeown | Wise words, Words

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.

PERSONAL:

  • 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:

  • 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

HOME:

  • Work on upgrading the bathroom
  • Declutter digital photos

HEALTH:

  • Run or yoga each day
  • Take up gratitude journaling
  • Keep up with evening assessment
  • Light a candle at 9:30pm + relax every evening.

FINANCE:

OTHER:

  • Write the Rough Draft of the book
  • Read about Self-Publishing
  • Make 1 new recipe
  • Explore 2 new places

The planner from this post is from Mal Paper.
The mug is from East Fork Pottery in Morel.
The linen coaster is from Shop Fog Linen in Black Houndstooth.
The nail polish is by Restore ________ in June’s color for mental health awareness.

Monthly Goals: May 2020

This post was sponsored by Smitten on Paper but all opinions, thoughts, and tips are my own. Smitten on Paper is a paper company based in Monrovia, CA. They have daily planners as well as wedding services including invitations and thank you notes. They also host a number of workshops, for those into stationary and calligraphy.

I always get questions about how I get so much done. Balancing blogging, dentistry, dog-sitting and once a bakery on top of being a wife, sister, and daughter can seem like much, and people often wonder, “How can you even consider yourself as someone who lives a slow lifestyle?” But I do.

You see, a slow lifestyle isn’t just dawdling on the couch reading, or sitting cross-legged on a meditation pillow for an hour in zen (although I also do both). Slow living is all about being mindfully in the present moment. Not surprisingly, when you choose to live slowly, you get more out of the time you have.

Once of my favorite aspects of slow living is intentionality. In order to have time for the things that matter to you (books, exercise, bread, whatever it is that excites you and lets you call this a life), you need to be intentional with what you do. Most people are not intentional enough. They try to do thirty different things at once, instead of honing out the single chore that will get them to where they want, fastest. It is this minimalism with what you choose to do that paves the way to slow living.

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Creating Goals

On the first of every month, I write down the goals I want to accomplish. I list personal goals, work goals, home goals, health goals, finance goals, and leave a category for “other“. However, just saying I want something done doesn’t actually get it done. I tie each goal to a habit that I want to form that will get me there… slowly.

Why habits instead of tasks?

When habits are formed, they stay for good thereby improving you over the long-term. When tasks are performed, they are checked-off and dropped, never to be seen again. The difference is that habits make your future life EASIER. You store certain actions that make you 1% better each day in such a way that, eventually, takes no extra energy. Once a habit is formed, it becomes rote motion, thereby making you more efficient. Aditionally, your brain power is now reserved for other thoughts or actions. You compound the interest invested in yourself, and you continually get closer to the person you want to become while also gaining the freedom to stack on even more goals and habits come next month.

Starting this month, I wanted to share with you guys my monthly goals on the first of the month. More importantly, I will share the habit I tie to them, to demonstrate how I use talent stacking to make me one bit more efficient each day.

The goal isn’t the important part. I don’t care if I don’t reach it at the end of the month. It’s the habits that I track. I mark my top habits and physically track them on a daily basis using Smitten On Paper’s Weekly Agenda (#gifted). It is my favorite planner, and the monthly goals page is so helpful to keeping me focused.

I note the goals here in the following manner: GOAL –> HABIT

I hope this is helpful.

May 2020 Goals

 

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PERSONAL:

  • 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.
  • Show self-care —> Remember to wear the NG every night and turn on the humidifier before bed.

WORK:

  • Get more affiliate projects for the blog –> Apply to at least 20 affiliates, get at least 10 partnerships
  • Increase blog views from last month –> Post at least five times a week and get another podcast on the books
  • Get through dental continuing education classes —> Do one online course every day on Mondays through Thursdays

HOME:

  • Keep the home tidy –> Put things in their proper place once you are finished using them.
  • Make it look neat –> Make the bed every day.
  • Keep it clean –> Run Roomba every other day, deep clean the house every other week.

HEALTH:

  • Get into a workout routine –> Run or do yoga 6 times a week, Work up to running 6 mikes.
  • Protect the eyes –> Wear Blue-light glasses from TheBookClub

FINANCES:

  • Limit spending –> less than $250 in groceries and dining out, less than $75in gas
  • Increase income –> Make bonus on a daily basis
  • 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

OTHER:

  • Start writing a book –> Work on it thirty minutes a day.

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Tips on Habits

If you’re looking for inspiration – check out this ditty about the power of habits. For more creative minds who struggle with the structure of habits, may I suggest this read? Lastly, a few tips on how to make habits stick.

  • Create a path of least resistance by setting up cues and reminders for yourself to get a habit done. If you want to read every night, set a book down on your pillow when you make your bed. If you want to exercise every morning, put on your exercise clothes the minute you wake up.
  • Make it something you want to do. There are many habits you can do to get you to a goal. For example, if you want to lose weight, you can try multiple diets, stop buying plastic, get a gym membership, go on a run, do yoga in your PJs, eliminate just sugar, &c. There are many habits you can use to get you to the same goal. Choose the habit that works for you. You only need to pick one.
  • Provide motivation. Try using a habit tracker for that natural neurotransmitter kick. It’s FREE! Or try a reward system where you promise yourself something after reaching a goal using the habits you created.
  • Hold yourself accountable by sharing with a friend, or the world. Tell somebody about what you want to accomplish. Agree to get something done together with someone else. Use people around you to hold you accountable, too.
  • Make it a positive habit. Verbage is key. If you write something in a negative way, you already start with negative thoughts and your chances of success are diminished. For example, instead of writing “Spend 25% less of my weekly wages this month”, write “Pay 25% more towards credit card debt.” You feel good after your habit, instead of feeling starved.

Of course, there are many other tips and if you have one or two you’d like to share with other readers, please do!

See you in June!