Start Small (and crush your goals just for you)

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It’s been a while since I’ve focused on what I enjoy.  Life seems to keep getting in the way. And I’ve had my focus in other places – growing family, life goals and work. I’ve come up with excuse after excuse and labeled them reason after reason – everything seemed valid for pushing what was important to me aside to get other things done.

But no more! I’m proud to say, I’ve made great progress this year in many areas and the goal I’ve been working toward is within my grasp.  Even when you feel like you’re at the starting line, I encourage you to make a plan to make progress. Here is what I did:

Focus on small goals.  

I had a baby in December and I gained a lot of weight (ok, it was a normal amount, but it felt like a lot).  I’ve been working steadily since then to lose weight, build muscle and eat clean.  In the last 6 months, I’ve lost all the baby weight (hooray!).  It wasn’t easy, but it certainly was doable.  I will write about the details later, but the short story is – I focused on a small goal to make it happen.  I watched each meal and each day with a goal of losing 2 oz to 4 oz.  It didn’t seem like much, but it adds up to about 6 lbs per month and over time, that makes a big difference!

When you have a major goal that you need to accomplish, break it down into tiny pieces. Seriously, tiny bite-sized (like 1 oz) pieces.  The smaller your goal, the more realistic it seems and the closer you get to your overall achievement.

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Turn Your Passion Into A Paycheck

Image-1I was speaking with someone recently about volunteering with my organization and they told me they couldn’t.  You see, they were bitter that their passions weren’t coming to fruition to help pay the bills.  They were too busy, too tired and too annoyed to help me.

It made me think about how often I hear this from others.  They’ve discovered their passions and are excited to live a life of bliss.  Then they seem to be disappointed when life gets in the way of living each day to their passionate potential.

Here’s what I’ve learned about turing your passions into a paycheck:

Realize it’s going to take (lots of) hard work to accomplish your passion

Your dream job isn’t going to fall into your lap.  It’s going to take time, energy and investment to make your dream happen and you need to be ready to make progress now, so you can reach your goal and dreams later.

Think about what you need to accomplish to get where you want to be.  Sometimes it’s easiest to write the end goal and work backwards.  You may need to volunteer with organizations to build your skill set and resume, you may need to seek help of others that can mentor and guide you, you may need to attend more networking events and build your connections.

Every single thing you do that gets you closer to your goal is a step in the right direction.  Even if it’s a tiny step, it’s still progress.  When you’re working on your timeline, be realistic and aggressive with your goals. You may realize it’s going to take months or years to get to the end result – but if it’s your dream – then it’s worth it.  Don’t get discouraged, just “keep swimming” and soon you’ll be there.

Schedule time to accomplish your passion

I love to write and design and realized that I’d gone months without focusing on either of these things.  And I immediately discovered the problem: I didn’t have either one in my schedule.  When you schedule time to accomplish your passion, you’re more likely to accomplish them – your passions are an important meeting, you deserve to spend time on yourself.

I’ve noticed the more time I spend in things I enjoy, the more excited I get about these things and the more progress I make toward my goals.  I encourage you to schedule time today to regularly work on things that are important to you. Make a list of goals, work regularly at these goals and check of your accomplishments.

Find your passion in your current surroundings

Even more than writing and designing,  I love to organize.  When I see something that is a hot mess, I start to get excited.  I also love meetings, projects, task lists and results.  And guess what kinds of jobs I’ve naturally gravitated toward in the past decade? Jobs that have meetings, projects, task lists and start as a hot mess.  I’ve realized the more I see the small things that I love come to fruition within my job (where I earn my paycheck), I’m more alive, I feel more accomplished and I’m more invested.

You are wired to make a difference and if you aren’t in a job that supports your (tiny) passions: Make a plan to make changes now.  Maybe it’s speaking to your supervisor about your responsibilities. Maybe it’s dusting off your resume and using your network to find your new (dream) job.

What was most interesting about the conversation I’d mentioned earlier is that the person that was too bitter to help, was turning his back on a volunteer opportunity that would have built his network and probably given him the chance to meet someone to help him move his paycheck to be more in line with his passions.  

He’s not alone.  So many are just waiting for the opportunity to fall in their lap.  It’s not going to happen.  You are going to have to work – starting today – to make changes in your life to get what you want.  Whatever you need to do to turn your passions into a paycheck, you deserve to find this fulfillment in your full-time responsibilities. I encourage you to be brave enough to try.

Nope, #YouDeserveThis

No. Nope. No Thanks.

You don’t have to say yes to everything – in fact, it might be doing more harm than good.  Learn to say, “No” and learn to be OK with saying it. Really. #YouDeserveThis

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Learn the difference between essential, immediate and important. They are not the same. What do you need to do right now? Really. Exactly right now.  Important things can wait, and may not be as important as the moment suggested.  Essential items will come up soon.  Focus on the immediate items – and make sure they’re really immediate.  I’ve started making multiple to do lists.  Madness or Genius? You decide.  I have a list of what I have to do right now (or over the weekend) and what needs to be done, but can wait.  Stress level zero – love it.

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Prime Organizing Practices You’ll Actually Use

The prime locations in your house need to be top priority for organization.  Keep these in shape and it will make your life more organized, less cluttered and much easier.

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What you use daily should have the prime location – everywhere.  If you’re going to look at something every day, make sure you use it every day.  You have plenty of storage places that are less visible for non-essential or less used items, make sure you store everything accordingly to how often it is used. We keep our main meal preparation ingredients in the kitchen and all of our extra food storage items are stored the pantry.

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Learn to Live with Less: My 365 Experiment

We moved into our new house one year ago today. It was only two blocks away from our old house, so the move was easy. But we learned something as we were moving all of our things. It seemed like we were moving lots of junk. Now we’ve always been pretty organized, but we’d been keeping and organizing our masses. And it wasn’t working.

As we were loading our things into our new house, my husband and I came to the same realization: “What if we just had less?” It sounded like a great idea, but we needed to figure out what that really meant. Here’s what I’ve learned in our year of living with less, follow these simple strategies and you can do the same.

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15 minute Junk Drawer Rescue

We have 96 intervals of 15 minutes every day, meaning you have many opportunities to make a difference.  Each day this month, I’m giving you a 15-minute project idea. Pick your favorites to improve your day, yourself or your world. I promise you have time for this.

We all have one. The Junk Drawer. And that’s OK! They have a purpose and can serve you well; a very useful space in your house that will help you when you’re dealing with Junk and need the random tool or item that will help solve your problem.  Use this simple strategy to set up the Junk Drawer you’ve always wanted.

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Get the right supplies. You don’t need to purchase new supplies to organize your Junk Drawer, you already have the supplies you need in your house.  But they do need to fit in the drawer (both height and width).  You’ll usually need to have low containers, but they can be varied shapes and sizes–whatever works for you. Here are a few of my favorite repurposed container ideas:

  • I always use pottery I purchase at university-student project/class fundraisers to organize in my home and office. Looks cool, supports college students and I own tons of it–so I want to put it to good use.
  • I also like coffee mugs and use them creatively for everything (cheaper toothbrush holders than the official toothbrush holder and easier to clean in the DW).  We don’t drink coffee and get tons of these as gifts, so we make use of what we have.
  • And I love the little, inexpensive bins (photo above) you can purchase at your local big box store, usually in the kitchen/home section.
  • My mom also uses boxes: cereal or food boxes (cut to fit–your cereal will survive in the plastic bag), shoe boxes, checkbook boxes or small gift boxes.

Any of these items work, use what you have available! Right now, find about 10 containers of varied shapes and sizes to use for this project.  You’ll also need one XL storage box (to use for 10 more minutes).

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Growing Generosity

It seems like an easy concept, “be more generous.” But what does that really mean? By accomplishing these small improvements, you can build your generous spirit and help improve the world around you.

Take the smallest piece (of what you love–for me dessert).  At a birthday party. At an office meeting. At family dinner. Why does this matter? When you let go of your need to have the biggest and the best of everything, you’re releasing greed from your life. Think of it as giving away the biggest piece. The more you let go of your need to take care of yourself first, you begin to see the joy that others have and are less worried about getting what is yours. And after you’ve made taking the smallest piece into a lifestyle, try not taking anything at all. I promise, that delicious dessert gives you more lasting enjoyment when you give it to someone else.

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Let others go in front of you. You have unlimited possibilities to accomplish this goal. At the grocery store, give someone your cart. On the road, let them out first. In the buffet line, sit down until you’re in the last group. When you begin to happily and graciously let people go in front of you, it calms your desire to hurry, reduces anxiousness and gives you a small, valuable lesson in peace.

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