podcaster, writer, photographer

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Blog #12: 2017 Is Halfway Gone. What’s Up With Those New Year’s Resolutions?

There are days when I look at my calendar and feel some serious anxiety.

I have a full-time job and try my best to hit the run/gym regularly, make time for the podcast I co-host and this blog, hang with friends and family, and attend networking events among other professional outings. But if I’m trying to accomplish a big goal like writing a book, I have to carve out time for that as well. I bring up checking on goals this week because I am halfway through the year and I like to see if I’m still on track.

So, it can get a bit overwhelming but I rely on two things: an aesthetically pleasing list of goals for the year (photo below) and my Google Calendar.

I wish I liked vision boards, I really do. But in all honesty, I think they are just so ugly. Any time I see one, I flinch. And, this is NOT to say that the goals I’ve seen on there are “ugly”, it’s just the way they’re set up. It looks like a big ol’ mess and I don’t know what to do with them.

So I rely on my little list. I always put it in a place in my apartment where I can see it every day. It’s been working for me so far. And, it might work for you so here’s the thought process behind it, especially for my fellow go-getters.

GO: You cannot go everywhere, at least not all at once

I have to tell myself this more times than not because I’m just too damn optimistic. This year, I had Japan, Costa Rica and Peru on my list but that’s a little nuts considering I just came off being laid off. Knowing Peru was a priority, I bought that flight first. Funny the way life works because while Japan has always been on my bucket list what helped motivate my visit was that my cousin was just stationed there. Now he’s going to Peru with his son and we are meeting there for the last leg of his trip. Amazing! Which means Japan has been moved over to spring of next year because #cherryblossoms. I traded in Costa Rica for Puerto Rico since that group trip fell through and Japan for a solo cross-country trip that can work with my work schedule.

DO: You may be a multi-passionate person like me, so read on

If I could make time to learn how to knit, rollerblade, paint portraits, start my own company, and more, I would because I’m insanely interested in all those things but I can’t do it all, at least not as wholeheartedly and focused as I would like. So I narrowed it down to three. Starting my own creative company (more on that later), writing a book, and paying off my credit card debt. I made that last one my priority because you cannot do anything in this country without good credit.

LEARN: In order to grow personally and professionally, you might need classes

I love learning. But I’ve also wanted to step up my journalism game up a bit in learning how to edit video. It’s only going to make me a stronger candidate plus I would love to shoot a documentary one day, so I have to start somewhere. On my list is: video editing classes, salsa classes and sprucing up my French via audio lessons. Salsa classes won’t happen until the winter but it gives me something to look forward to when it’s cold outside and I give my gym side eye. As for French, I’ll upload Pimsleur to my phone again in the fall and dive in during my commutes into New York City.

BUY: Treat yo’self

I have everything I need and want, thank God. But there are some things I could use like: more video equipment (already got some), roller skates (I know, stuck in the 80’s right?) and photo books of my work and outings with my family for myself and as gifts. This doesn’t take much planning since the items are pretty manageable.

I treat goals the same way I treat to-do lists and content strategies at work. I start at the end and work my way back. At the beginning of the year, I try to figure out a game plan, for goals. You could divide it up into months since there are 12 spots, depending on your goals.

For me, writing a book means every month I have to do something to work up to that goal whether it’s taking a memoir class, writing or trying to find a literary agent to connect with. That means writing everything down that needs to be done and breaking it up by months, weeks and days. Most importantly, being honest with myself on when I work best. I know I may be a little slow in the winter and love being home, as many of us are, so I spent January-March doing research, making connections in the book world via email, and reaching out to people who have already written a book for some words of wisdom. April through June, I wrote a book proposal and some sample chapters. This July I might even join a writing group to get some feedback on what I’ve already written. But only after my video editing classes are over.

Enter my dreaded but God saving Google Calendar.

I take one to-do like writing sample chapters and find time once a week for about 2-3 hours after work to just write. But the next day I give myself a break and go for a bike ride, chill at home and order in, or go have drinks with friends. I used to just keep going day in and day out but I was wearing myself thin and felt like giving up when all I really needed was a break. I would love to take a weekend to go to a cabin in the woods and just write but that’s just not realistic for me right now. Maybe in the winter when I’m knee deep in writing? There are times when I have to make adjustments to my Google calendar, but in my experience, it’s always better to have a plan first then edit.

With that said, here’s a sneak peek into my crazy looking Google calendar for this upcoming week. Don’t judge.

Yes, I have to account for commuting times, dinners and such because I know now I am the kind of person to just keep going without stopping and then wonder why my hair is like falling out in clumps. And, yes my lunches are non-existent and filled with errands but that’s just this week. Look I even squeezed in time to go salsa dancing with my co-worker! But I double booked myself on Wednesday so I have to get on that. And, yes, I make time to wind down. It's vital. 

Confession: Sometimes on my commutes home, I work on editing video or other stuff, which is why there’s a block of time in my calendar for it. Sigh. But on Saturday, I plan on laying on the beach with friends or even alone. As long as I’m chillin’ on the beach.

I’m writing this because I’ve talked to so many people that ask how I stay organized but still travel and make time for lots of fun. To be honest, spacing my time out between work, play and conquering the world can be tough but I found that my digital calendar works for me. I’ve taken a deep look inside myself to know that I cannot truly enjoy myself on a Friday if I wasn’t at least a bit productive that week. It just makes me uneasy. I don’t deserve that glass of wine if I all I did was work and go home to watch TV. I am not judging those that do that but I am just not that kind of person.

I bust my ass Sunday through Thursday so that I can plan trips to Puerto Rico with my friend at the last minute and coordinate with my cousins in Japan and Finland to meet in Peru for a fancy meal. I have so much I want to do and I know I have to make some sacrifices in order to accomplish my goals. Organizing your life is by no means easy, but it's worth it. Once these video editing classes are over, I look forward to giving myself meditation classes and homemade dinners on Wednesday nights again.

But for now, the hustle is on. How do you stay on top of it all without going insane?