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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How to make progress when you have zero time

I’ve been waking up at 4am regularly again.  This means that I don’t have enough time during the day and my mind wakes me up thinking of everything I need to get done. Our schedule is too packed, I’m too busy and I’ve noticed things are starting to pile up because I don’t have time to make the progress that I normally do.  I’m too busy, have zero time and it’s stressing me out.

I bet you’ve felt like this too – your schedule is full, your place is a mess and your stress level is rising.  I encourage you to take time to make necessary adjustments to continue making progress, even if you have zero time.  If you do this now, you’ll have a better chance of improving your schedule, your stress level and your sanity.

Remove things from your life.

When you look at your schedule, what do you see? I’ve got a packed work schedule and a packed free-time schedule. And it isn’t working for me.  I don’t have time to think if I’m running from one meeting to the next. It made me realize that I needed to start removing some things from my schedule, from my thoughts and from my life.  After taking a long look at what I’ve been doing, I started to make changes.  I’ve removed important, valuable things from my schedule.  Some of them weren’t easy to remove.  All of them were necessary to remove.  I could tell it made a difference as my stress level decreased with each removal.

I encourage you to look at your schedule right now.  How can you get others to help you? What can you remove? What adjustments can you make? The more you choose to focus on the most important things, the more you’ll start to realize how your schedule shouldn’t be filled up with the other things.

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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.

You are not alone, be brave enough to find out why

I’ve had a few distinct situations in my life recently that vividly showed me that we aren’t alone.  I wish I’d been more vocal in expressing my frustration and my feelings because I would have saved myself quite a bit of trouble.

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Simple Ways To Be More Organized Right Now

Want to be more organized tomorrow? You can make it happen today. Right now.  Spend a little bit of time tonight – maybe 30 minutes – and you can have a simpler, less stressful day tomorrow.  Here’s what I do each night to keep my days organized:

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Why we’re OK with spending more on food | 100 days of Real Food

We stopped shopping sales.  We’re buying more local, organic, fresh food than ever before. We’re trying new things (well, the kids aren’t fully on board with that one yet).  We’re spending more money on food – and I think we’ll be OK with it.

We’ve been testing the 100 days of Real Food challenge for almost a month – ours is a medium-paced, gradual transition instead of an abrupt change. But we’ve made big changes that I think are for the better and I’m not sure we’re going back.

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What to do when you are out of your league

I went to a fancy lunch recently and as I was looking around the table, I realized that I probably had no place being there.  I wasn’t a major donor, I wasn’t a high-powered decision-maker and I honestly didn’t know much about the project in discussion.  I was out of my league. 

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I’m sure you’ve felt like this before.  You are in a situation – a business meeting, a party, a specialty event – where you feel like you don’t belong.  The good news is you can make the most of this situation.  You can make it a valuable experience, but you have to know where to look.  Here’s what I learned that day.

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