goals

All My Goals for January 2018

All My Goals for January 2018 | Writing Between Pauses

This year, I decided not to write a list of resolutions. As I've written before (like in my post about setting goals), I find it is easiest for me to break things down into easy, digestible pieces. And often that means focusing on small, week-to-week or month-to-month goals versus a large, overarching goal.

1. Meal Prep 

When I say "meal prep," I definitely don't mean making 400 prepackaged meals. Nothing turns me off food more than it being old and soggy. Also I got food poisoning in October from a banana muffin, so I'm not forever suspicious of leftovers of any kind. However, a few years ago, I would often cook up a big thing of brown rice and a bunch of protein, and just add veggies and condiments throughout the week. That way, I'm not just microwaving a little plate and having to look at the same meal over and over and over again. I want to start having ingredients prepped (rice cooked, chicken ready, veggies trimmed, washed, and cut up) so I can more easily make dinner and not have to do a complicated tango with Forrest in the kitchen every time I try to make dinner. 

Danny and I have a shared goal of cutting out junk food (mainly fast food, because it's so easy to stop and get a Dutch Bros or a sandwich instead of making something at home), so this is definitely part of that larger goal. 

2. Rededicate myself to working out 

Danny and I joined (well, I rejoined) the gym in April and for about 4 months, I was extremely dedicated. Then I just got really tired. I can't really explain what happened, but I think a lot of it was burn out: by the time October rolled around, I had been working part-time, running my blog's new content strategy, and working out. I was tired a lot and often ended up accidentally napping on the couch--and worse, I was half-assing it at the gym. The past few weeks, I've actually taken a break from the gym (Danny, a rockstar, is still going) and just been focusing on eating healthy. In January, I want to really want to go to the gym again and dedicate myself to a system that I know works (lifting weights). 

3. Write blog strategy for 2018 

Recently, I mentioned that around August, I gave myself an ultimatum: I had 1 year to make this blog work or I wasn't doing it anymore. I've been blogging for nearly 10 years and while I've never reached any kind of success, I feel like I have at least muddled through with a following and decent numbers. However, just in terms of effort-I'm-putting-in versus what-I'm-getting-out, I definitely was putting in almost no effort and getting none in return. In short, I wasn't happy, but I didn't exactly want to quit blogging. I realized that I needed to actually make an effort, do all the things I'd read about for years, and just deal with it. Just get on with it! So in August, I wrote a short, 3-step blog strategy that I've been following. It's not perfect. This month, I'm planning to write a more complete strategy for really making this blog work. Wish me luck! 

(Click here to read my post about achieving goals for your blog!

4. Redesign blog graphics

I currently use Canva for my blog graphics and, while I love it, there is definitely an element of "nearly every blogger uses this font"! The fonts I selected as my design moving forward happen to be some of the best Canva offer under the free plan. Moving forward, I want to do a redesign of my font aesthetic and start using photoshop to create my graphics, if only so I can differentiate my look from others! 

(Click here to read my blog post about Canva & how I use it for my blog.)

5. Write for 20 minutes a day

This is one that is really difficult for me, but I want to write 20 minutes a day. Michelle, you're probably thinking, you work as a writer, with a side hustle as a blogger. You write already

Well, this goal is actually about journaling. I love journaling. I've been doing it since I was 12 or 13. But in the past few years, it's definitely fallen to the wayside. So this month, I really want to try to hand write in my journal for 20 minutes at least every day. 

(Click here to read my blog post about how I refuse to force myself to be productive.)

My Goals for October

My October Goals | Writing Between Pauses

I’m a goal setter by nature. It’s just how I am. I operate best when I have small, easily digestible goals. (I’ve written about this before here.

For this Blogtober, I wanted to share a few of my goals, blog-related and otherwise. I always love reading other people’s goals and, especially when taking on a project as big as Blogtober, I think it’s really interesting to share what my hope is for it. Not only does it help with transparency, but it keeps me accountable!

Blog-related

  1. Hit 1000 monthly views. This goal has been alluding me for months, but I think Blogtober is officially going to push me over the edge! 
  2. Hit 1300 followers on Twitter
  3. Post daily to Instagram (I struggle so much with this) 

Personal

  1. Add Sunday back into my gym routine. I had been going to the gym Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday—but then dropped Sunday to spend more time with Danny. But now that Danny is back at work (as a teacher), he needs Sundays to prepare his classes and that extra gym day will do me good on Monday morning I think. 
  2. Stick to my meal planning. I do a good job meal planning, but usually by Thursday, we’re eating turkey sandwiches or eggs and toast for dinner. 
  3. Sign Forrest up for the music classes I’ve been meaning to call about for two months. 
  4. Meet my monthly book goal
  5. Spend time with friends
  6. Take less naps in the afternoon (it’s becoming a horrible habit!) 

What are your goals for this month? 

My Summer Goals

Summer Goals.png

You may have noticed I've been a little quiet lately. On here, on Instagram, not so much on Twitter. I should probably address that now. 

A few weeks ago, I started to get pretty extreme anxiety about... the internet. I got really scared about how much of my life I've shared (over roughly 10 years of my life), of how much I've shared not just about myself, but about my son. You might notice that posts specifically about my son have disappeared. There isn't a lot I can do about Instagram--I've shared a lot of photos of him, but I've gone through and removed any photos that I felt violated his privacy. I only include him in my Instagram Story now and rarely post photos of him on my feed. 

There is a huge part of me that feels maybe I've moved on from blogging. Maybe this isn't for me anymore. I've been blogging for almost 10 years solid--week after week, month after month. I've written an absolute ton of words. I recently went back and deleted my old blogs--yes, Locked Out and Ellipsis are gone for good. That happened after I received a scary, weird email relating to a very old outfit photo someone found on Pinterest. 

My anxiety has been really, really high lately. Taking a step away from blogging allowed me to feel better about everything I've shared. Ultimately, I don't think any of it is too damaging. But putting myself out there opens me up to a lot of scary things. Now that I'm responsible for a small human being, I worry a lot more, specifically in relation to my safety and his safety. 

I've been feeling a lot better and I'll be stepping back into blogging again. It's hard to shift from posting entirely about my life to barely mentioning it. I'll always be more real and personable on Instagram, but I'm trying to be more conscious and careful there as well. 

Anyway, that's a very long way to say: I got scared; I took an almost month long break; but I feel better now. 

On that note, let's talk about goals for the summer. 

1. Focus on content again. 

For a few months, I was really great at blogging day-to-day. This weekend, I'm going to be sitting down and writing out an editorial calendar for June, July, and August to keep me on track again. 

2. Keep up my gym routine. 

If you follow me on Instagram (and watch my stories), you know that I got to the gym 4-5 days a week again. I've been posting my workouts and progress. My main goal, honestly, is to increase my arm strength. I can leg press over 115 pounds, but I can barely do 15 bicep curls at 10 pounds. That's embarrassing. 

3. Clean up my social media accounts. 

This is an overwhelming task. I have nearly 10 years worth of tweets (cringe). A few weeks ago, I deleted about 3,000 tweets from college. That was 18 months worth of going through and filtering. It's tough, long work, especially because it involves looking back at every dumb thought I shared. But it's important spring cleaning. 

3 Ways to Achieve Your Blog Goals

As I sat writing this blog post this morning, I felt a bit like a fraud. I feel like I've written this sentence multiple times already, but: March was a bit of a rough month for me. The very first Friday of the month, I got the flu and was sick for a solid 3.5 weeks. Just as I started to feel 100% better, I woke up this morning with a sore throat again. How's that for getting better? As a result of being sick, a lot of things have fallen to the wayside, the main one being this blog. 

So, yeah, I feel a bit like a fraud writing this post knowing I won't have hit my goals for March in terms of page views and growth. But, that's life, isn't it? Some months you do everything right and have a great month (January); some months you achieve your goals even when you aren't sure why (February); and some months, you really want to try, but you just can't (March). 

Anyway, what I'm saying is: blogging should, at the end of the day, be about passion. If it's taking it away from you, you need to adjust what you're doing. I know a lot of people start blogs in the hopes of doing it full time, but I highly discourage this behavior. We've seen multiple "blog bubble bursts" in the last few years--the first round of very famous Mommy Bloggers are currently in the process of downsizing their homes, selling off all the trendy furniture they bought, and locking down real jobs. I'm not kidding. All I'm saying is: don't put all your eggs in one blogging basket. Be realistic: blogging is, at most, a supplemental side gig. Use it to supplement a full time position. 

Ok, that's my only little PSA/soapbox. Let's get onto some tips for actually hitting those blog goals. 

1. Actually Set (Realistic) Goals

I mean, duh-est of duhs, but you should actually set blog goals. Every month, on my editorial calendar, I write a few little goals: usually a page view increase of 3-5% (nothing crazy), and a certain number of Twitter or Instagram followers. The most important thing is to set realistic goals. You might see some people claiming to gain 2,000 Instagram followers in a month, and not to doubt those people, but buying followers doesn't count. Using hashtags and an increased Instagram strategy, I've gotten about 150 followers in 4 months or so. Yeah, that's realistic. My goal every month is 10 engaged followers on Instagram. 

2. Strategize Social Media, but Don't Go Overboard

Here's the thing about social media: it's easy to let it drive you crazy. When you're trying to schedule posts for Facebook, for Instagram, for Twitter, for Pinterest, and more, it gets really overwhelming, especially if you're also a full time student, or parent, or worker. The truth is, you probably just don't have time to do all that managing. I decided to stop scheduling Twitter posts recently (unless something really tickles my fancy). Instead, I focus on scheduling posts for Facebook and that's it. I get a higher return from Facebook, so that's where my energy should go. My goal for Instagram is two posts a day (one around 10am-1pm, and then one after 6pm). 

Ok, but what about Pinterest? Every day, I spend about 20 minutes pinning 5 of my blog posts to two group boards. That's it. And I get a ton of traffic from Pinterest by repinning, by creating dedicated boards to specific topics that are popular on Pinterest, and by creating graphics that look good on Pinterest. You don't need to pay a whole heap of money for a fancy Pinterest scheduler, I swear. I do most of my Pinterest work from my phone while my son sleeps. 

3. Join Facebook groups. 

I really groaned about including this one tip. Because it feels a bit like cheating, doesn't it? Facebook groups dedicated to blogging are great places to promote your blog posts, join threads where people share your most recent post (and you share theirs), and learn how to optimize and improve your blog. It can be really time consuming to try to do everything though. I am only a member of three groups and I participate in maybe one thread a week. That's my goal for the moment! For some good Facebook groups to join, I really like this blog post. 


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My February Goals

Tell me I'm not alone: it felt like January went on forever, right? Every week, I thought, next week has to be the last week of January. We're still not done yet! Longest. Month. Ever. This is the January Slump in full effect

Since January is almost over, I wanted to share my February goals with you. As you probably remember, when it comes to setting goals, I made myself promise to set baby step goals: I can't do everything at once. 

How did January go? Mid-way through January, I decided to reassess my "health" goals. I reset my FitBit goal to be 6,000 steps instead of 10,000. Why? Because I wasn't getting anywhere close to 10,000 steps a day, it made me depressed, and it made it harder to get motivated. As time passes, I'll increase my step goal accordingly. 

My other goals (like letting myself relax and working on blog promotion) went really well. I set up G Suite for my blog (uh, three years after the fact?) so now you can email me at michelle@writingbetweenpauses.com. Fancy, right? I'm also 8% completed with my Goodreads 2017 goal. So that's exciting! I've also written over 30,000 words in January, not including work and blog posts. That's huge! 

OK, enough checking in! Here are my goals for February. 

  1. Promote more bloggers on social media. I want to start sharing 3-4 articles by other bloggers on Twitter. Why? It's kind! It helps them! I love the blogging community and contributing to a positive atmosphere is more important than anything else. 
  2. Start taking 1 day off a month to deep clean my house. In December, I took a week off to clean my house and it was amazing. I realized yesterday that I would feel a lot better if I took the time, without Forrest following me around, to deep clean my house one day a month. 
  3. Continue going walking in the afternoons. Speaking of FitBit step goals, for the past week, I've taken Forrest walking every afternoon, if the weather permitted. Or we walked up and down the driveway with him in the Ergo. This helped me meet my reduced step count goal every single day. I want to keep it up because I feel better about myself when I hit this goal and can take Forrest somewhere fun. 

What are your goals for February? 

The One Goal I Gave Up in 2016

Last week, I wrote about all the things I stopped buying in 2016. Over the weekend, though, I started trying to remember what my resolutions or goals were last January. 

In January 2016, I was definitely fixated on continuing pumping. I remember desperately thinking that if I could keep pumping breastmilk for just three more months, I was at 6 months--and then it would be easy to make it to a year, right? Nope! By the time April rolled around, I was pumping less than 1/4 of an ounce every 2 hours, even through the night, totally just barely 6-10 ounces per day. I had to give up the ghost. So that's one goal (would you call a fixation a goal?) that didn't make it in 2016. 

But I don't remember actually ever sitting down and thinking about goals in 2016. I really wanted to take more time for myself. I really wanted to start working out again. I really wanted to eat healthier. 

But I didn't really set any hard and fast goals. At least as far as I remember. 

Then, my husband reminded me: one of my top goals in 2016 was to use my free time to be productive. 

At the time (January 2016), Forrest was 3 months old and barely sleeping. We were still in an exhausted haze. We didn't start sleep training until late June. Which meant that every day for the first 6 months of 2016, every moment of every day, I was holding Forrest--for naps, for play times, for bottles, everything. 

And yet, I wanted to be more productive. The house was a mess; we ran the dishwasher only when we were totally out of silverware; and I always felt just a bit on the edge of losing my mind in terms of how our house looked. 

Once Forrest started sleeping (which meant I had free time to clean, read books, write, whatever), I started beating myself up for doing things like lying on the couch reading or going to bed early. I got a precious 4 hours every evening to myself--I should spend it being productive... at least, that was my thought process. 

I gave up on forcing myself to be productive. 

Here's the thing: I love being someone who is very self-motivated to learn and try new things. I love the fact that my anxiety drives me to be working nearly every hour of every day. 

But sometimes, I need to be kind to myself too. When I'm feeling exhausted and just want to sit on the couch, that's ok. 

Since August, I've struggled with weeks-long tension headaches and migraines (a super fun combination). I try to still get things done regardless of how my head feels, but sometimes, it's just harder. The floors go without being vacuumed; the windows haven't been washed in months; the dishes pile up in the kitchen. And that's ok. It's ok. I'll get to it eventually. 

For me, forcing myself to be productive was a way of forcing myself to believe that if I don't do something right this moment, it will never happen. But the reality is: if you let things go (the floors, the dishes, the whatever), it's not the end of the world. They aren't going to be ruined. They'll live to see another day. 

And if I allow myself to relax and do what I need to do, I will see another day too. I don't always have to be productive. 

On Setting Goals for 2017 + Free Printable!

I've written briefly before about how I set goals for myself. It's kind of a process, but it's one that I think works really well if you, like me, get a little overwhelmed by goals in the first place. I find breaking down my goals into manageable, easy pieces to be the best way to, you know, convince myself to actually work on it! 

Step 1: Decide what I want to accomplish (aka, what's my goal really?) 

The first thing you need to decide is what you want you goal to be. In my example, what I want to accomplish is to finish Couch to 5K. That's a solid goal, except that it's maybe just a little too specific. Ultimately, my goal is to start running consistently in January. It's not as set-in-stone as specifically finishing a program. 

Step 2: What 3 things can I do to accomplish this goal? 

Once I have my goal in mind, I set myself to setting three deliberate tasks that I can focus on to accomplish this goal. It would be so easy if I could say, I want to run consistently this month; but there is so much else going on. In my example, my three things would be to set aside time every evening where my husband watches Forrest & I go running; prepping meals in advance to cut down on cooking time at dinner; and washing all my work out gear to ensure I'm ready to run. 

Step 3: What 3 things might hinder my progress? 

When I'm setting goals, I know things are going to hold me back. It's best to have an eye on those things before you get too far into a goal. In my example, three things that might hinder my progress are getting hurt, not eating enough calories (and therefore being too tired to run), and the weather (I refuse to run in the rain or if it's gotten too dark). 

Step 4: Set weekly tasks

Sometimes, when trying to accomplish something like running consistently (or cleaning my house, etc.), it's easier for me to break it down into smaller tasks or goals. In my example, my first weeks tasks might be to meal plan for the next month & prep small items (like portioning chicken and vegetables); and my second week tasks might be something like altering my routine to create more time for myself in the evenings. Basically, set a goal and then build up to that goal with smaller, more manageable tasks. 

Step 5: Write it all down

Listen, no one can remember everything. I'm a big fan of keeping calendars and checklists for myself. That's why I created the goal-setting printable for you to download! Just click the button below to check it out. 

My New Year's Resolutions

I told myself, about a month ago, that I wouldn't be setting any New Year's Resolutions. 

However, as January 1 gets closer and closer, I find myself getting that familiar feeling. I want to set goals. I want to try to do things that are tangible and measurable. 

Sometimes, I think people get caught up in the word "resolution." All resolution means is "the firm decision to do or not do something." It doesn't mean to make a vast, sweeping change to your life. It doesn't mean anything different than a goal or a desire. 

So, my advice to others is: set the same goals for yourself for 2017 that you would for a month, or a week, or whatever. Then build on them. 

These are my goals for 2017. 

1. Write 600,000 words.

This is my biggest goal. I want to write 600,000 words in 2017--and my blog posts, my daily writing at work, and my journals don't count. I want to write 600,000 creative words. Words that are for me, as a writer. This divvies up to 50,000 words a month. A NaNoWriMo every month. 

Also included in this will be editing & rewriting my NaNoWriMo novel--and potentially previous years NaNoWriMo novels. 

2. Support more bloggers & writers. 

My newsletter is a big part of that. I want to give a platform to other creatives who are just doing what they do: running Esty shops, writing, creating content, whatever. 

3. Be brave & stand up for myself more. 

I had an experience two weeks ago where I felt more empowered than ever to stand up for myself and take charge. It was terrifying, but exhilarating. I loved every second of it. Usually, I'm the type of person who rolls over, who apologizes, who lets other people make the decisions. But not anymore. I'm done. I'm over it! 

4. Practice intuitive eating. 

The best thing I did for myself in 2016 was starting to listen to Food Psych, a podcast about eating disorders and intuitive eating. It really, truly changed my life. If you're a podcast listening, it's a must-hear, especially if you've ever had issues surrounding food, anxiety, and body image. Since then, I've been tiptoeing around intuitive eating, trying to implement it but still preoccupied with using it purely to lose weight; in 2017, I want to take bigger steps towards freeing myself from restrictive eating and embracing food.