goals

Grace for Growing

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It’s time we talked about failure. If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been a bit sporadic with my posts lately, falling into a trap of excuses that, if I were more put together, I wouldn’t have. I’d have scheduled blog posts, prewritten content, woken up early, worked for every hour of the day. But I am not that person, and while perhaps I dream about one day being her, I have to accept who I am here and now. I must allow myself the grace to fail, to admit defeat, and begin again.

Let’s look at the last round of goals. September’s action list:

-Wake/get out of bed on first alarm

Keep apartment relatively clean; do dishes immediately, pick up after myself, scoop litter boxes

Continue Couch to 5K program

-Do at least three adult tasks (appointments, phone calls, emails) a week

Write/research for 2 hours every weekday

Continue blogging every weekday

-At least three job applications out every weekday

-At least one long-lost phone call a week

Five hours of reading a week

-At least one short story/poetry submission out this month

Say yes

Limits:

-Two spoken/written complaints a week

So, I didn’t do terribly. Last Wednesday I actually finished Couch to 5K, and I’ve now started on 5k to 10k. I’ve blogged pretty consistently (up until the last few weeks), and I’ve done well at maintaining a clean apartment, and I’ve been reading pretty much nonstop (everyone should read Cinder!). After a few set backs I’ve been fighting an uphill battle on the job front (jobs I’m qualified for are flooded with applications, and jobs I’m under-qualified for write me off quickly), but I’m attempting to turn that around and follow leads, get some temping in. Plus, I’m well into 14,000 words for NaNoWriMo (today’s word count goal is 10,000), so I’m definitely doing something with my days. Surprisingly, I haven’t been watching that much TV. Having daily goals (that can’t be procrastinated–no one wants to write 3,334 words in one day) has really helped me to prioritize. All in all, despite still being unemployed, I’m going to call this round a success. While I didn’t achieve all of my goals, I’m some big leaps past who I was a few months ago. I’m learning about myself, my limits, my abilities, my talents. We’re calling it a win.

Now for November’s action list:

-Win NaNoWriMo (and complete novel even if it runs past the the 30th)

-Continue 5k to 10k training

-Complete at least one adult task (appointments, etc) a week

-Wake up on first alarm

-At least one long lost phone call a week

-Short story submission out

-Get a source of income (temping, freelance)

-Get outside every day

Limit:

-Don’t throw away any produce

I always buy so much produce (vegetarian), and almost every week I throw a decent portion of it out. Even if I don’t feel like eating it, time to get over it! No more throwing away food.

How have your goals been going? Are you getting any closer to your Future Self?

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When You Run Out of Synonyms for Messing Up

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve fallen off the wagon a bit in terms of posting. My “on the road” blogging skills appear to be somewhat lacking. Half-vacations are rarely valuable, but I needed to get out the Twin Cities, and my bank account couldn’t take two weeks off. And while I applied to a few jobs, I didn’t exactly stick to my daily routine. Which means it’s time to check in on last month’s goals.

August action list:

-Wake/get out of bed on first alarm

-Complete couch to 5K program

-Do at least one responsible/adult task each weekday (this does not include job applications)

-At least two job applications/inquiries out each weekday

-Blog every weekday

-Write/research at least 1 full hour each weekday

-Say yes to every safe offer to hang out/meet people

Limit:

-NO TV

I would like to say that I attempted all of these tasks, but the three seasons of Suits I have under my belt argue against that. For a good while I did quit TV. But the sad truth is that rationing isn’t my forte (that and my two-month wait for Game of Thrones from the library finally came through).

For the most part, I did succeed at my goals for the month. I’ve definitely fallen off at the end, but for much of August I blogged every weekday, I have worked through the Couch to 5K program (today I ran for 25 minutes, and felt like vomiting! YAY PROGRESS!), I’ve applied to over 40 jobs, I’ve worked on my writing pretty consistently (owing much to my wonderful alpha readers), I’ve said yes to quite a few new things. I don’t know if we can call August a rousing success, but, well, I’m not counting it as a loss.

The key, for me, to achieving my goals is to accept my pitfalls. I am far from perfect (last night it took me almost ten minutes to change the lightbulb in my bedroom), but seeing my imperfections as failures is detrimental to my success. Just because I skip a day writing, doesn’t mean I abandon the novel. We make mistakes, this is inevitable. What we control is the grace we give ourselves after the fact. I am not yet the woman I want to be, but that doesn’t mean who I am now isn’t wonderful too.

September action list:

-Wake/get out of bed on first alarm

-Keep apartment relatively clean; do dishes immediately, pick up after myself, scoop litter boxes

-Continue Couch to 5K program

-Do at least three adult tasks (appointments, phone calls, emails) a week

-Write/research for 2 hours every weekday

-Continue blogging every weekday

-At least three job applications out every weekday

-At least one long-lost phone call a week

-Five hours of reading a week

-At least one short story/poetry submission out this month

-Say yes

Limits:

-Two spoken/written complaints a week

Here’s to having a more positive outlook, and a more successful day. If we fall off the wagon, if we screw up royally, if we watch 17 episodes of House of Cards in one sitting, we are not failures. We have made mistakes. And we are not defined by our mistakes, but rather, how we overcome them.

Achievement Unlocked

When people find out I’m a vegetarian, they often ask why I made the decision. Sometimes, I spout off political and economic reasons, but if I’m being honest, I just thought vegetarians were cool. Most of the vegetarians I knew had a sense of confidence I lacked, thought more about politics (which, barely registered for me), travelled the world, listened intently. I wanted to be all of these things, and I figured being a vegetarian would be the gateway to that.

I did not get any cooler simply by being a vegetarian. And I definitely didn’t get any healthier. I ate fried foods almost exclusively (mozzarella sticks, potato skins, french fries), and didn’t really pay attention to the impact these foods had on my “political reasons” for changing my diet. I was not (and I’m still not) a great vegetarian. Now, it’s just far too complicated for me to try to teach myself how to buy and cook meat. No, becoming a vegetarian was not a life-changing experience I thought it would be.

Instead, vegetarianism taught me less about my health, and more about my stamina. As a kid I never liked challenging myself. I felt embarrassed when I looked like a fool in front of my friends (sports coordination was not my forte), never felt any sense of accomplishment if I failed. Trying didn’t really count as effort if it didn’t succeed, so I just sort of bailed on the whole thing. Until I became a vegetarian. With every month I stayed a vegetarian, the more I felt like I had accomplished something. For the most part, changing my diet was a big deal—getting rid of meat was difficult and complicated. But when I could answer “I’ve been a vegetarian for about a year now” I felt both surprised and elated. I had changed some huge aspect of my life—I had actually changed and stuck with it.

When I started to get healthy, I took the achievements of being a vegetarian as proof that I could do it. And within a year I had lost almost 40 pounds. With the knowledge that I could actually make a change and stick with it, I was able to actually get healthier.

About a month ago I went on a pretty mediocre date. There was nothing wrong with the guy, but there was clearly no real connection—we scrounged for things to talk about, stumbled through back stories. When I got in my car to head home, I felt a sense of failure. What was wrong with me? How was I so boring?

The next day I spent in my TV chair, plowing through episodes of Teen Wolf. I ate poorly, felt like a boring, old sad sack. I let the crappy date explain my entire life up until that point. I was a boring, mediocre person, and I could very easily fail at everything. You’ve had those days, I’m sure. Where everything seems to go wrong, and you just sort of let it.

That night, I vowed that I would try to get more interesting. I would start running the next day. That way, at least I had something to talk about on a date. My hobbies include writing and running. Now I’m interesting.

I took the success of being a vegetarian and was able to bring it to my running. I had changed my diet for five years, I could most certainly run for a minute. Two minutes. Three minutes. Five minutes. Eight minutes.

Today I ran 20 minutes at a 10:10 pace. I am still in shock that it happened—that my legs and my lungs actually survived the whole process. On Wednesday I thought two sets of 8 minutes was rough. But today I ran 20 minutes without stopping. (I can’t stop thinking about high school me, and how she’d just stare with her jaw to the floor if I passed her now.) And how did I do that? By proving to myself, again and again, that I could do these little things that initially felt impossible. Every time I kept running through the full length of time, the more I felt like I could challenge myself to do it again. I could do it. I can do it. I just needed a little bit of a push.

Do you challenge yourself? Have you always tried new things, or is it something you’ve struggled with? How have you learned what you can accomplish?

Three Days Late, $400 Short

So I missed a blog post on Friday. Which means it’s time to talk about goals and falling down.

In June I set up a list of goals, which I never checked in on. Not checking in on your goals is like purposefully not logging into your bank account–you know it’s not going to look the way you’d hoped it would, so put it off for another day.

Well, my bank account is lower than I want, and my goals are drowning under the fluidity of Netflix’s autoplay option. Let’s get back on track, shall we?

June’s action list:

-Make bed every day

-Do at least one responsible/adult task each week day

-Write/research for a half hour each day

-Go for a walk at least twice a week

Limit:

-Two hours of TV a day

The strikethrough? The only consistently achieved goals in the list. I managed to achieve two goals I could do in elementary school. Don’t be a slob, and get your butt outside. Suffice to say, I don’t really count them as success stories.

Sticking to a schedule is one of the hardest parts of being unemployed. Many days have started with several rounds of “snooze,” too many hours on Netflix, an hour or two of blogging, and an application out a day. It’s the bare minimum of what I can do, and while I’m trying not to let the shame spiral take over (and force me to weep into a bowl of ice cream like a sad sack), it doesn’t feel great when I look at my finances and watch the money disappear from my accounts.

Being an adult is hard, man.

So, let’s pick ourselves back up, and get it together. June goals are still on the table. August goals will force us closer to the person we want to be. Time to grow up.

August action list:

-Wake/get out of bed on first alarm

-Complete couch to 5K program

-Do at least one responsible/adult task each weekday (this does not include job applications)

-At least two job applications/inquiries out each weekday

-Blog every weekday

-Write/research at least 1 full hour each weekday

-Say yes to every safe offer to hang out/meet people

Limit:

-NO TV

Someday I will tell you the sordid tale that is my relationship with TV, but for now we’re just going to cut it out. For me, it’s one of the things I feel will push me to meet my goals faster. It gets in the way more often than not.

So there it is. Future Me wakes on her first alarm, goes for a run, is up-to-date on appointments, seeks employment, is a self-starter, and doesn’t let introversion get in the way of meeting new people.

What does Future You look like?