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.

Professional experience everyone needs

Ever wonder what it takes to be really successful? Sometimes it’s the right experience at the right time. I’ve learned a few things throughout my professional career and the more I speak with others, the more I realize there is valuable professional experience that everyone needs. If you’re beginning your career, look for these opportunities. If you’re where I am – you probably realize your valuable work experience too.

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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 Victorious Veg-Out Solution

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.

I had a little bit of free time a few days ago and I wanted to watch my favorite binge-TV show: NCIS.  Not just one episode, I’d prepared for a 3-hour mini-marathon.  But I knew there were things I needed to get done (just like there always are). Try this simple, effective solution to get your mini-projects done.

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Make a List of your Mini-Projects. For the first hour of the TV show, I worked on my mini-list of projects I needed to do that could be done quickly and easily for the next few hours.  I needed to put groceries away, start our bread machine and tidy the house.  All of these projects could be done in little bursts of time.  When you need to get a few things done, start with a to do list so you can stay focused on the task(s) at hand.

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15 minute Clean Kitchen Solutions

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.

I love reality competition shows like Top Chef, Cupcake Wars, Iron Chef and Food Network Challenges.  I’ve noticed that with each of these shows, there’s a common denominator for the winners.  A clean kitchen.  And they do it while they’re in the competition of their lives.  Luckily, we can use the same knowledge to quickly and easily make the kitchen a no-stress environment.

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Organized Home: Fantastic Freezers

Your freezer may remind you of the Siberian Tundra–a barren wasteland that you’re lucky to survive.  But it doesn’t have to be. You freezer (and deep freeze) can help save you tons of money if you keep them well-organized, in a system that works for you. 

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Make All Items Easily Visible. Our deep freeze (and freezer, and all food storage areas) are usually packed with food because we buy what is on sale and buy in bulk.  But all of our items are easily accessible.  We keep bins of items at the back and smaller items toward the front.  Everything is stored so it’s easy to see, making it very easy to find.

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