Monthly Goals: February 2021

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

This post is written in partnership with Monk Manual. I have had the privilege of trying their 90-day planner and can truly say that it functions well as a guide for balancing being and doing. Sometimes the latter outweighs the former and we lose sight of who we are and what our purpose is. In order to glean as much as I could from this experience, I spent January reading Think Like a Monk by Jay Shetty. I have found that the Monk Manual really helps me live my dharma, find gratitude in my waking moments, listen to my thoughts and emotions without judgement, and learn from my experiences. Whereas other planners have been efficient in creating a productive work flow, the Monk Manual supersedes the others by leaving room for spiritual growth – our most beneficial but oft neglected kind of work. The modern world could use a planner such as this, not to find what’s been missing, but to uncover what’s been with us all along.

A Review of Productive January

January was an effective month for me. I kept up with most of my habits, including meditating five days a week, exercising almost daily, giving up alcohol, getting plenty of rest, docking the phone one hour before bed, and limiting my caffeine intake while increasing my exposure to sunshine and open air. I completed two books (Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki and Think Like a Monk by Jay Shetty), saw my family every week, completed SEO courses and dental CE courses, and grew my blog multiple ways. Still, there are some improvements to be made. I can limit my social media use further, as well as give myself more time to create. Rather than focusing on what did not work in January and viewing them as failures, I have reframed my thinking to what improvements I have to look forward to in the future. It’s amazing how the words we use can change our energies from negative to positive. For February, I want to focus on having an intentional month, and will go into how the Monk Manual 90 day planner guides meaning into our daily lives.

An Intentional February – Aligning Doing with Being

Before we get into the nitty gritty of the doing, I wanted to share a few thoughts about being. I have spent the last few months since quitting my job delving deep into why I was dissatisfied with my work. I read the book Joy at Work by Marie Kondo and Kinfolk Entrepreneur by the Kinfolk team. I took personality tests such as this DISC assessment and studied my enneagram results for the umpteenth time. I had conversations with my friends, siblings, and husband about what my personality results tell me, and how I can maneuver around my shortcomings better while setting myself up for personal success. I journaled about my goals, motivations, inspirations and wildest dreams, analyzing what my driving force is. Most importantly, I expressed on paper everything that gave me sadness and despair about my old way of life.

I have come to the conclusion that among other factors such as an unideal work environment and an office culture that was unaligned with my personality, part of the reason why my old job was painful to me was because it didn’t align with my dharma. And that was entirely my fault. I had never spent time trying to figure out my true purpose in life, aside from making money and a living. I never honed in on what brought me joy, and what kept me going. The reason I wasn’t happy was because what I was doing wasn’t the same as my being. I was surprised by the results of my assessments and also at the opportunities that suddenly presented themselves during my hiatus. It turns out that life will naturally present what you attract, if you leave enough space for it.

How to Use the Monk Manual to Live An Intentional Life

In an effort to coincide what I do with who I am, February is focused on intentional planning, which is where Monk Manual comes in. Like my previous planner Mal Paper (read my review of Mal Paper Planner here), the Monk Manual 90 day planner focuses on prioritizing the tasks ahead to increase productivity. Writing down a to-do list is not intentional enough, if it is filled with activities that do not move us toward our goals. The Monk Manual has a weekly prioritization list but also a daily one. And just like the Mal Paper planner, Monk Manual leaves room for gratitude journaling at the beginning of the day as well as a space to write down what went well. Whereas both of those practices sets one up for a good work day, neither helps with spiritual growth.

I have found that Monk Manual works really well at fostering spiritual growth. On the daily pages, it leaves space to list the one thing we most look forward to, as well as the ways in which we can give. At the end of the day, Monk Manual promotes reflection by asking the user to list three highlights, and the three times they were at their best. The latter shows the moments in daily living that really align with their natural purpose in life. Then it asks for times when we feel unrest, which highlights the part of our lives that probably goes against what we want for ourselves. Lastly, it asks for one way we can all improve tomorrow, because our work is never done.

On the weekly pages, it prepares for personal growth, relationship growth and the good things ahead. This way of planning is new to me. I have always been focused on business growth, never realizing that personal growth is perhaps the more important metric.

Here are examples of personal growth goals that I look forward to in February.

February Goals for Personal Growth

  • Speak less, listen more.
  • Pause before every response.
  • Practice saying, “Let me get back to you.”
  • Every time I speak ill of someone, write down 10 positive affirmations for them to see the good they bring.
  • Be a humble worker so as to inspire respect, never demand it.
  • Grow my relationships by giving self-less service, sharing words of gratitude, and gifting more frequently.

At the end of the week, the reflection prompts ask for the biggest accomplishments, habit insights, and meaningful moments. The habit insights are useful to me because sometimes a habit that I wanted to adopt isn’t exactly the right habit for the goal I want to reach. The section for meaningful moments is also good because it highlights that our biggest accomplishments aren’t always our most meaningful milestones. We are more than what we do. Lastly, it has an area titled “God Is Teaching Me” although I would prefer for it to actually say “Life is Teaching Me”. Regardless, it provides an opportunity to look at our shortcomings and learn something from it so that we can move forward with our improvements.

Both the daily pages and the weekly pages make the monthly section easy to fill out. At the beginning of the month, you check in on your status around relationships, physicality, spirituality, work, personal growth, and playfulness. It also asks for one change you wish to make in the next month that will create the biggest impact, and one questions to answer this month. At the end of the month, the reflections section can use what you’ve written weekly and daily to remember the biggest accomplishments of the month. It also asks for the four relationships you are most grateful for, and the greatest insight you gained, creating space for gratitude and growth.

Embracing the Monk Mentality

The Monk Manual opens with a letter to its user in which it details a monk’s habits.

Where the world says focus on more, the monk says focus on less.

Where the world seeks to master outcomes, the monk seeks to master self.

Where the world fills our lives with noise and distraction, the monk fills his or her life with quiet and focus.

Where the world pursues a life of independence, the monk pursues a life of trust, walking the path of life with God and others.

Where the world medicates, the monk meditates.”

For a more intentional February, I am embracing the monk mentality and implementing what I have learned in reading Think Like A Monk. I will use the Monk Manual all month to adopt a more reflective way of planning, thereby increasing my self-awareness. Also, instead of only worrying about my goals, I want to focus more on service.

The question I want to answer this month is “How can I give more?”

To myself, and to others. It’s a question you guys can help me answer. Meanwhile, I give you my February goals. I already listed my personal ones above.

WORK:

  • Invest my time into learning more about SEO, website development, marketing, and dentistry.
  • Grow my blog connections through collaborations and partnerships.
  • Foster my relationships with my patients by dedicating five extra minutes per patient trying to learn one thing about their personal life that I never knew before.
  • Act from a place of service, as a humble worker. Answer the question: “How can I use my talents to serve others and make a difference?”

HOME:

  • Location has energy, and we must always choose the right location for our dharma. Dedicate to maintaining a clean, minimalist home to facilitate my creative personality.
  • Dedicate each space in the home to a single, clear purpose.
  • Create the ideal workspace in order to facilitate my best work. Find a desk, imagine what I want it to look like and how I want it to function.

HEALTH:

  • Exercise five days a week by either running or doing yoga.
  • Meditate with TIDE app five days a week.
  • Sleep early, wake early. My goal is to wake up by 5:45 am every morning so that I can dedicate the time for meditation, gratitude, exercise, and insight.

FINANCES:

  • Limit spending on myself to practice letting go of materialism. Dedicate only $30 of fun money spending for myself.
  • If I am able to forgo shopping this month, place the fun money in a brokerage account and invest it instead.
  • Spend less on groceries ($250 for the household) and dining out ($100 for the household).

OTHER:

  • Create my own bath salts.
  • Bake a new cake recipe.
  • Cook 2 donabe recipes.
  • Read 2 books.
  • Try Kintsugi for the first time.
  • Finish one drawing.
  • Do 10 minutes of Duolingo French every day.
  • Spend 30 minutes outdoors three times a week.

Monthly Goals: January 2021

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

On the heels of my call to action for 2021 New Year Resolutions with the intent to make this year the most vibrant time of my life, here are my top goals and habits for the month of January!

Habits:

  • Meditate with TIDE app 5 days a week
  • Keep up with the ultimate cleaning list
  • Exercise 5 days a week
  • Limit Instagram to 15 minutes per day
  • Be 5 minutes early to every shift, event, and appointment
  • Give up alcohol for a month for health reasons
  • Sleep between the hours of 10pm and 7am (yes, I like sleep!)
  • Put the phone away one hour before bed
  • Limit coffee to one per day and lattes to weekends. Also, choose decaf for all lattes.
  • Be outdoors for at least 30 minutes 3 days a week

Goals:

  • Finish 2 books
  • Learn how to use a Kintsugi kit
  • Make bath salts and take a bath at least once
  • Complete 5 dental continuing education credits
  • Cook different recipes in a donabe
  • Take 5 SEO courses via Skillshare. Sign up now via my affiliate link and get 14 days FREE to learn any skill you want!
  • Publish 12 blog posts
  • Learn how to use ConvertKit
  • Create 15 Pinterest posts and 5 digital downloads (I use PicMonkey to create all of these! Here is a discount for my readers if you sign up using my affiliate link!)
  • Learn 2 songs on guitar and piano
  • Complete two levels in Duolingo French
  • Complete 1 drawing
  • Land 5 new collaborations for the blog using the techniques found in this course: Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing (this is my affiliate link)
  • 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.

Monthly Goals: December

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.

Monthly Goals: November 2020

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
  • Learn French
  • 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.

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: August

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.

August Goals

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.
  • 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.

WORK:

  • 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.

HOME:

  • De-clutter the filing cabinet and desk.
  • De-clutter the kitchen and pantry.
  • De-clutter the garage.

HEALTH:

  • 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.

FINANCES:

  • 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.

OTHER:

  • 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.

FRUGALITY:

MENTAL HEALTH:

MINIMALISM:

Monthly Goals: July 2020

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.

Monthly Goals:

  • 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.

Weekly Goals:

  • 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.

Habits:

  • Stretch/yoga10 mins every morning
  • Wake at sunrise
  • Use Headspace every morning
  • Skin care routine every morning
  • Wear TBC eyewear when using screens
  • Make bed every morning
  • Read 20 pages every day
  • No social media after 7pm
  • Drink 8 glasses of water
  • Turn on humidifier every evening
  • Wear a nightguard every night
  • Sleep at a decent hour every night
  • Write at least 30 minutes a day
  • Get outdoors 30 mins per day

I love to check off goals when I complete them. As for habits, I love to track. My favorite printable habit tracker download is by Unbound, which you can buy here.

I hope your month goes swell! See y’all in August.

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.

DSC00931

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

 

DSC00921

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.

DSC00923

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!