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!

 

Less Waste: Facial Skin Care with Aesop

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.

I’d be the first to admit that in an effort to rid our house entirely of plastic waste, I’ve been neglecting many aspects of skin care, and after a year and a half of doing so, it has started to show. In all honesty, walking down aisles of grocery stores in search of self-care products can be a bit nauseating for the environmental enthusiast. Almost every bottle promises some magical cure packaged in plastic capsules, listing a number of chemical compounds that stray far from being natural. Not a big fan of beauty products anyway, I decided it would be easier to rid my life of this added complexity by just ousting the need to buy. And while that has worked well with some aspects such as make-up routines, and substituting bars of soap and refillable aluminum bottles for daily necessities such as shampoos, conditioners, and lotions, I’ve found that when it comes to facial skin care, my skin has suffered and has started to rebel.

Admittedly, this past winter in California was the driest that we’ve had in a while. I woke up some nights with an itchy throat that needed clearing, and made a habit of having a glass of water by my bedside easily within reach. I recognized the dryness when our adopted toothless cat started to have asthma attacks in the evenings, waking us up and worrying us to death. And I couldn’t deny it any more when my facial skin started to itch, form a rash, and flake, when it has never reacted like that before.

Part of the irritation lies in the fact that I wear a dental mask every day, and the itchiness is localized around where my mask touches my skin. A visit to a dermatologist told me that it’s nothing that a good skin care routine couldn’t fix. She prescribed me a routine that required buying moisturizers, facial cleansers, sunscreens and ointments in plastic bottles, and at first I resisted. The resistance only lasted so long until my body signaled with fervor that it’s in need of some attention. Eventually, I did get her prescribed regimen, and I saw some improvement right away. My skin seemed satisfied, but I was not. I could not, in good conscience, bear to buy another round of plastic bottles filled with chemicals.

Then I remembered that when we went to Melbourne in January, we stayed at an apartment that was furnished with only amber glass bottles. I quickly started researching Aesop and was quite pleased with what I found. Packaged in those amber bottles were little doses of formulations created with meticulous attention to detail for one’s body needs. Their focus was to source plant-based ingredients mixed with lab-made ingredients that have proven record of both safety and efficacy. Headquartered in Melbourne, I was glad to learn that they had a store here in Southern California.

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Searching for something to soothe sensitive, dry skin, the knowledgable staff at the store was able to guide me towards a selection of bottles lined up on their walls, but only after offering me tea and refreshments. They then helped me sample the products and the experience was akin to being at a spa and being waited on hand and foot. They massage the oils into your hands while talking you through the best treatment methods and tips. They detail the differences in ingredients and explain why each one has a purpose. Every item smelled heavenly, and best of all, they were packaged in glass! The only plastic to be seen are the caps and lids, which is much better than the alternative options. Plus, when you take them home, they are sent home in beautiful linen bags that can be re-purposed for such things as jewelry bags and stationary tool kits.

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Off course, the price point is a little bit higher, but to be honest, not much different from the prescribed routine by my dermatologist. And you may call it a misperception due to my obvious affinity towards the brand, but I do believe it worked wonders much better then the Western medicine that was prescribed. Either way, I received these as gifts and took them home with care. Using them in my own bathroom elicited the same type of spa-quality that I experienced in store due to the fresh aroma and high tactile quality of the products. Lighted candle use, optional.

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So here’s to new facial skin care routines. Mine specifically:

This Gentle Facial Cleansing Milk  – panthenol, grape seed, sandalwood. $35 for 3.5 fl. oz.

This Parsley Seed Toner – parsley seed, lavender stem, blue chamomile. $43 for 3.4 fl. oz.

This Primrose Moisturizer – sage leaf, rosemary leaf, lavender stem. $49 for 2.1 fl. oz.

Mr. Debtist also walked away with this hand balm, for hard-working hands.

Intentional Living: Logging off

My recent experience with an overwhelming amount of working days has lately made me extremely sensitive to the value of time. It seems that when time was of the essence, I made running amok as a chicken with it’s head cut off a daily occurrence. The imagery may be a bit vulgar, but it’s an accurate depiction of my panicked emotion. Now that I have more time on my hands, I am not of the inclination to use it wastefully. As in, lying in bed daydreaming, sleeping into the late morning, or scrolling through Instagram ALL DAY LONG. Those type of mindless activities would have been acceptable if my body was drained from the stresses of a crazy work schedule, but they are inexcusable when I’ve asked specifically for more time. Some things just shouldn’t be taken for granted.

So I’ve made quite the habit shift, specifically with the only social media platform that I am admittedly hooked on, Instagram. The habit: Logging off. Now, this isn’t to say I’ve completely deleted the app and forever forgotten about it. It has its usefulness which, mostly, is related to the workings of this blog. But it also has its wastefulness, specifically while I am sitting at work scrolling endlessly while waiting for my next patient. Or when I take a break from writing and slump onto the couch, phone in hand. An hour can pass by miraculously quickly when your head is in the clouds, up in cyberspace somewhere.

The habit I’ve created is this: I’ve allowed myself Instagram time in the first few hours of the morning, as I work on my blog. Anything I want to post is fair game, whether that’s recaps of the day prior, or anything going on the morning of. However, once I leave for work at 10:30am, I make an effort to not use Instagram for the rest of the day. Even on a day off, such as yesterday, I limited Instagram to only the morning. Which then forces me to create rather than consume. If I have downtime at work, I will type away on the blog. If I get tired of writing, I will pick up a book instead. If I am at home, there are endless chores that I haven’t gotten around to.

We detox our guts with diets. We detox our surrounds by de-cluttering. It’s time we detox our minds too. I would admit to a dependency on my phone. Embarrassingly, I would also admit to an addiction with Instagram. But that realization is the first step in getting our time back.

How have you curbed your social media time? I would gladly take any pro tips and what not. 

 

 

 

Things to do on Earth Day

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.

For those looking to celebrate Earth Day, here are some fun, and simple suggestions.

  • Join a group for a beach clean up.

Or gather a group of friends and family and do it on your own. Also applicable to nearby parks, lakes, neighborhoods, and more. Make it a fun event so that more people will want to go. Here’s a local option in Orange County, if you are around.

  • Make a habit shift.

For example, when you do groceries this Sunday, try our No Plastic Challenge. We make an effort to never leave a grocery store with single-use plastic containers, even if they ARE recyclable. There are many habits worth shifting. If this challenge is too difficult, then start with something small, such as carrying a reusable water bottle.

  • Ride bikes everywhere you go.

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Every weekend, Mike and I make an effort to bike and walk everywhere. Last week, we biked to our coffee shop to refill our re-usable Cold Brew Howler. We walked to a restaurant when we wanted to dine out, and we bike to the library when we have to drop off books. Anything to try to limit car usage. In Mexico, I was very impressed to see that every Sunday, they close down the roads from 8 am to 4 pm so that people can bike and roller blade all day. It not only promotes physical activity and community, but also eco-friendly habits. Once we realized how close and accessible everything was on a bike, we started to use it more and more. Try it out for yourself!

  • Plant an herb garden.

While planting trees would be ideal, some such as ourselves do not have a backyard (or front yard for that matter). But I DO dream of planting an herb garden on our balcony one day. Why not start on Earth Day?

  • Simply get outside.

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Notice the sun warming your face, the sound of trees moving in the wind, the smell of an ocean breeze. We can’t learn to appreciate the Earth if we don’t take the time to acknowledge it’s worth.

How about you guys? Doing anything fun this Earth Day? Leave comments and suggestions, I would love to hear them!