This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.
October has arrived in California, marked by gloomy mornings, cool evenings, and the darkened petals of my favorite tree outside our bedroom window. It’s unmistakable, the turn of the season. Within my own body, I feel an inward shift of my mental state, as I start to yearn for the smell of comfort foods, the soft glow of reading lamps, and the softness of cozy rugs and blanket forts.
There is still a bit of left-over unrest from the summer days – pent-up energy that is manifesting as anxiety. Anxiety worth sharing, in case you feel it too – over the upcoming resumption of student loans, over the holiday season around the bend, over the general lack of progress or feeling of stagnation now that we’ve finished our international travels for the year… I chalk the blend of emotions up to the changing of seasons.
I have noticed that my goals this month are extremely ambitious, with a number of productive goals intertwined with tasks to keep me creative, learning, and relaxing too. Sometimes, it can all seem a bit much, but I do tend to shoot for the stars, so that even if I fall short, I’ll still be somewhere up there. I know that it’s dangerous to pen so many expectations, but if I don’t, I wouldn’t necessarily feel like myself. I recognize that I fall to the cadence of cycles, with periods of lull and burnout, but I’ve come to accept my ways rather than resist of be ashamed of the roller coaster ride I call life.
Here is what I’ve got to look forward to in October.
Ways to Improve the Blog
Apply to 20 affiliates.
Publish 20 blog posts.
Make 50 Pinterest posts.
Add excerpts for past posts.
Internally link related posts.
Reach out to 10 collaborations and secure a few partnerships.
May was the longest month of the year yet it still managed to escape me. I don’t know where the time goes but if I could somehow pocket just a little extra bit of it, then let my pockets rip at the seams with carrying the stuff. Luckily, I do practice bit of daily journaling with my Unbound planner so that I may look back at the forgotten memories buried within my fickle mind and recall what it was that I did with my precious time. It’s good practice, too, as it forces me to set aside a few hours at the end and beginning of each month to review not only progress, but the good and important stuff that we sometimes miss – that which is the essence of life.
It turns out, there were many accomplishments in May that, when taken separately, seem random, but when read in the context of our big picture plans, actually move us closer to our dream life.
We drafted a living trust on our own after we were quoted $2.5K to have one written up by a lawyer. We wanted to put all our assets in a trust but did not want to pay the lawyer fees so with the help of Legal Zoom (the same company that I built an SCORP with, and no I do not get a commission for this, I just really want to talk about them), we were able to draft our own living trust for less than $400.
Mike’s job officially offered him the option of fully remote work in the future which sets us up nicely for our dream to travel the world and live in different places. I am actually most excited about this fact in congruence with the refinance since it allows us to try our nomad life sooner than we thought! Our housemate is leaving at the end of summer, and our plan is to rent our home out for a year and nix the permanent address. Also falling in line with all of this is our HOA’s recent approval to allow year-long rentals in our community (starting tomorrow!). And the world is slowly opening up to leisure travel. The timing couldn’t be any better!
Aside from the accomplishments, May was also spent with friends and family. We stayed with friends in NorCal, visiting Healdsburg for a weekend and working remote in their dining room. My brother was home from Arizona for three out of the five weeks in May, celebrating Mother’s Day as well as Memorial Day with the fam. We stayed with friends in their newly purchased San Diego home for an entire weekend, then hosted friends in our space over Memorial Day weekend. I may not have worked as much, but my lack of productivity at work was offset by being with people I haven’t seen in months (or for some, over a year!), which is fine by me. In fact, I was so busy with life that my blog earned $0 this month.
Looking Forward to June
June is my birthday month, as well as the halfway point of the year. I tend to approach June with gusto and an intent to live life to the fullest, as it serves a reminder of both the passing of time and the gift of being placed on Planet Blue with a beating heart and a working mind. Also scribbled on our calendars are Father’s Day, plus a wedding we’ve been waiting over a year for – so celebrations abound!
Then we jetset off to Iceland in early July, where we will meet my sister and begin our traveling life. With the liberties Mike’s new way of work-life gifts us, I tell myself I will start approaching the rest of 2021 with the same exuberance I felt when I tackled the challenge of adding baking to my career repertoire – that is, with reckless abandon, shutting my eyes tight and taking leaps of faith that could land us somewhere far away from here, or alternatively, right on our arses. Cheers to mid-life crises or whatever you call it, that which I experience every other year or so it seems. 🙂
June Goals Include:
Notarize the living trust, because we must continue to do practical things.
Plan our nomad life, because I shan’t forget to dream.
Declutter garage, email, and phone, as a symbol of starting anew at thirty-two.
Organize digital photos, especially if travel will start to accelerate the collection.
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April was the most balanced month I have ever had. I spent a lot of time with friends and family, including helping my mother-in-law and sister-in-law move, dog-sitting and house-sitting for my parents while they were traveling, celebrating my sister-in-law’s birthday (twice!), celebrating my dad’s birthday, celebrating Easter with Mike’s family, continuing my weekly calls with my sister in Spain, hanging out with my co-workers after a long Friday work-day, and visiting our best friends in Los Angeles! I had a lot of new experiences, such as hitting a record month with blogging, as well as hosting my first virtual cooking class for a friend’s company Lunch and Learn. Financially, we are at a stand-still with our second refinance and I am putting together our living trust, both of which were the biggest challenges for the month. Meanwhile, I started taking piano lessons (I’ve always wanted to learn), spent the entire month boxing at my cousin-in-law’s gym and running a few times a week, hitting a lifetime record mile. I take care of myself by taking afternoon naps, working on a few coloring pages, and sitting on the sunny balcony with my pensive thoughts. Best of all, I started planning for a few trips in the summer months, determined to make the most out of 2021 as I promised to myself on New Year’s Eve.
April was the month that really reflected what I have been working towards since pursuing financial independence three years ago. I created a work schedule that I am not only proud of, but that also works for me. I get to enjoy the creativity of writing on my blog, a growing network in the hospitality industry while connecting bread and coffee together (two of my favorite things in life that I am passionate about), and still get to dabble in dentistry at a relaxed environment that feels more like home than a job. I go into the office two days a week which I stacked back to back so that I have five days straight of being at home if I so wish. I was pretty adamant about making blogging and wholesale directing both remote and on my own time. I know it seems like asking for much to some, but it’s actually more about asking for what will work best for your personality and lifestyle. In return for granting me jobs that are aligned with me, I think all of my co-workers and bosses can tell you that my output and return is of better quality and my outlook at work is a very positive one. I do believe that your satisfaction in work and life is visible through the energies you emit, so it is very important that work align with your dharma and being.
The most impactful thing for me is not being dependent on a job or other people. We aren’t financially free, meaning my student debt is still looming over us (although much smaller now), but we have a very strong grasp on our finances. I feel more in control of our situations and have the confidence that I needed to dissociate my dependence from others. (On a side note, being independent of others doesn’t mean you are isolated and alone. It simply means you are self-sufficient enough to be the truest version of self you can offer). You can read about how I gained enough financial independence to quit my job here. It is one of my most viewed posts in this space, which tells me that people are interested in doing the same. We were taught that doing more and earning more is the way to being rich. For us, the opposite has been true. Doing less allowed us to save money and led to me cutting my work days. Cutting my work days gave me freedom to pursue other interests, which gave me more meaning and satisfaction in life, but also, increased my connection with people and my experiences in this world. Even during the pandemic, financial independence played a positive role for us, which I wrote about here. All in all, I am getting closer to where I intended to be when I started living intentionally – which is to have separation from work, a bigger community, the ability to pursue my passions, and soon, to travel the world. With that, I hope May follows suit.
I have finally found the planner for me this year and will stick with Unbound Planner. I think it provides the best balance of mindful living and productivity. I was able to be productive and be calm, which is always tough for a go-getter like me. I also realize that as much as I try time-blocking and as productive as it is, it doesn’t give me that sense of peace. I find myself glancing at the clock to ensure that I stay within my time limits. It subconsciously adds an extra layer of stress, so I switched back to my checklist method. I prefer to keep a running checklist and to pick off one item at a time to do. I like to spend time with each task without rushing, which ultimately leads to better results.
The planner also helps relieve me of thinking about day-to-day chores. I use the meal planning section to simplify making meals at home and grocery shopping for them, too! The weekly overviews are built around plans I made for the months and years, and I can easily look back on my game plan and timeline to plan for the week. The daily indications for exercise, taking my supplements and drinking my 8 glasses of water are also helpful. Lastly, each day starts off write, with the section for gratitude journaling as well as a Top 3 Priority checklist.
Without further ado, here are a few goals for May.
Practice T.I.M.E. ritual each morning: T- Thankfulness Practice by Gratitude Journaling, I- Insight by listening to podcasts, writing, or reading, M- Meditate using the TIDE app, and E – Exercise whether that’s running or hiking.
Put phone away when I am with people or when doing something to avoid distractions.
Have a digital sabbath one day per week.
Learn how to use my new Microsoft surface pen.
Let myself take an afternoon nap every weekday that I am off.
Learn the 195 countries’ locations and be able to fill in a blank map with their names.
Learn 2 modern songs on the piano.
Go to the beach twice with Mikey.
Spend one hour this month doing NOTHING.
Finish reading 2 books.
Bake 2 new recipes.
Be able to run 5 miles under 50 minutes.
Workout with weights 3x/week.
Go on a hike once a week.
Use Magnesium Spray to boost energy, lift mood, calm the mind, and relax the muscles.
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.
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?”
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.
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.
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).
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.
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