Keep It Smart + Simple (mid-year assessment)

The year is a little more than half over and it’s given me time to look back at my goals and re-assess.  What has been going well? And what do I still need to improve? I’ve spent time improving my health, losing weight and organizing everything under the sun.  All great projects–but I’m really assessing my priorities.  What do I want to continue through the remainder of the year and how can I keep it in the forefront.

I’m sure you’ve thought about this too, moving forward can be both tricky and rewarding. But it’s worth it and I’m reminded of this regularly. Look at where you are right now and figure out where you want to be. You can do it, every day is a new opportunity to make it happen.


Start where you are and play to the strengths you already possess.

This year, I did something a little different with my annual goals.  I followed a plan to address each area of my life and I publicly posted them on the Forward page of my blog. It’s been great for me to keep track of my progress publicly each month (I feel very accountable) and has helped me to see the areas that I’m really passionate about and the areas that aren’t a main focus for me right now. I think as the year has progressed, I’ve become more realistic with what I can do and re-shifted my priorities to make it happen.


The process is going to take time.

In a recent meeting with a new (but seasoned) colleague, we were discussing an action plan for the upcoming year.  After my grand presentation, he said, “Well this sounds exhausting–what if we looked at how to keep it simple?” Light bulb! Yes, simple sounds much easier and I think everyone in our department will appreciate it.  My problem is that I think of everything and forget that time is on our side.  We don’t have to do everything at once, we can focus on our priorities and make sure we’re doing these well–our department can’t be all things to all people. We’re going to have to keep it simple to grow in excellence. Think about this for yourself.  What if you let the non-essentials go? What if you only focused on the priorities? Wouldn’t it be much easier to make the important things better instead of trying to do this with all things?


Be honest with yourself and others. 

I’ve found the best way for me to do this is listen more.  And be quiet while I’m listening.  It’s really difficult.  I want to share, I want to take over the conversation and I want to get my opinion in the conversation.  But I’ve done better this year than ever before–in fact, at times, I’ve listened to the other person with my hands over my mouth (real normal and attractive, you’re welcome) so I don’t talk when I should be listening.  And guess what’s happened  I’ve heard some brilliant ideas.  Ideas that have changed our perspective, ideas that were so amazing they seemed so obvious after they were stated, and ideas that wouldn’t have been shared if I’d stuck my opinion in the mix.  And I’m glad I kept quiet, I know I don’t have all of the answers and it’s been refreshing to empower others to take ownership of the changes they were destined to make.


Set reasonable goals and know when to fold ’em.

This may be the hardest lesson I’m trying to learn this year and in my life.  I am great at setting goals and I’m great at finishing them.  But many of my goals aren’t reasonable and more than I care to admit, I’ve sacrificed my health to accomplish my goal.  This is a terrible plan and I know it.  But if I start to get antsy, I try to jump in and do it all myself and then I start the same cycle.   What has been the most helpful for me in learning to be reasonable and knowing when to quit? Surrounding myself with good, confident people who aren’t afraid to tell me the real deal.  I don’t always listen–but I’m learning more and more that when I need help, I’ve got great people around me that can get me back on track.


Tip! Think about your goals and what it will take to accomplish them.  Maybe it’s someone to kick your butt into gear.  Maybe it’s someone who demands you slow it down.  Or maybe it’s someone who is comfortable saying, “That is a terrible idea and you shouldn’t do it.” If you have these people in your life, celebrate! And if you’re still working to find people who can help you–make this your immediate priority.  We go much farther together.


Don’t expect perfection.

Last year, I ran 1030 miles and worked out in the gym 3-4 times a week without fail.  This year, not so much.  I’ve been plagued with injury (elbow, back, knees), I’ve gotten bored with my regular routine and had to make some changes and I’ve been busy and I let it get to me.  But, did I give up on my goal? Nope.  I’ve still been tracking my progress on my Forward blog page. Instead, it looks like I’ll be running/biking about 800 miles this year and I’ve been doing double classes two days a week.  Both changes have seemed much more realistic and give me a little more time to rest and recover these weary old bones (you can follow my Twitter #SeniorCitizenProbs #Im34 hashtags for laughs). Plus I’m enjoying my workout routine again and that is the best progress I could have hoped for.


Keep what you need, only what you need.

One of the things I have successfully been doing this year is Learning to Live with Less.  It’s been a good, interesting experience.  I’ve purchased most of my items from thrift stores or through price matching and we’ve saved a bundle.  And I’ve stopped rushing to the store every time we want something or I’m bored.  And with the free time I’ve found by changing my shopping habits to only what we need (well, mostly) I’ve started two new hobbies.  I’m now a runner and a blogger and I’ve really enjoyed my time developing both skills. And as I’ve lessened my addiction to shopping (so fun!), I’ve been able to really spend time assessing what we own.  Every month we make a great donation to a local charity of our good, functional items that we no longer need.  We’re living with only what we need and sharing our abundance with those who need it to.

Tip! If you need to start somewhere, try setting limits on your shopping.  Could you get groceries once a week instead of every time you think of something? Could you limit your Target trips to monthly? Could you wait until something wears out before you purchase a new one? All of these self-assessments will give you more time to do what you want (even if it’s victoriously vegging out while Binge-watching Sherlock–worth it).


Celebrate success and reward yourself.

Making changes with your life and sticking with them is tough work.  Take time to reward yourself for the small successes and a job well done. I spend most weekends busting my tail to plan our meals, clean our house (especially the kitchen), prepare my week and pick out my work week outfits (yes, it’s my favorite part).  Then on Monday night, I spend the evening reading.  It’s my weekly reward and I look forward to it every week.  I may, in fact, be the only person that looks forward to Mondays. (Save $$ and check your books out from your Library–brilliant!)

The important thing to remember when you’re determining your progress is be kind and realistic to yourself.  You’ve been working on many things this year and for a while.  Look at your progress and keep going, your time and energy have been worth it and soon you’ll see the results of your efforts.


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