How’s the new year treating you so far? I wish I could say I did something fun and exciting over the holiday break but truthfully, December was one big blur of finishing a handful of large projects, cleaning up my books, shredding old paperwork and finishing up my revised portfolio. Not glamorous…but totally necessary.
I’ve been struggling with feeling behind on a bunch of important tasks for months now and that’s one of the reasons I’m hesitant using word “goals” in the typical sense. To me, the 10 things outlined below are more of a work-in-progress and a simple reminder of the changes I want to keep charging towards.
Pre-P.S. Do any of these resonate with you? If you have anything you’re working towards, I’d love to hear in the comments below – let’s keep each other accountable!
Goal #1: Live more in the moment.
In the past, I was guilty of dwelling too much on what was next and trying to plan my future in excruciating detail. But, we all know what happens when you micro-manage your life! The universe laughs in your face and throws you a curve ball. 😉
These days, I don’t have a five year plan, let alone a one year plan. Why? Because I have confidence that things will always work out and I know I’m on the right track, spending my days doing what I’m meant to do. I’d rather not chase after more, more, more and put myself on a nonstop treadmill of busy-ness (that was my entire last year — and it’s not fun or inspiring). Growth is good but also, I’m conscious that right now, right here, I do have enough.
Goal #2: Take more field trips.
Last year, I spent so much time sitting at my desk, being super regimented, mostly out of habit. It’s a weekday, therefore you must go into the office, sit at your desk and refresh email. NOT. Sure, there’s plenty to get done on a daily basis but there will always be more things getting tacked onto your to-do list. Taking an afternoon off to wander through the art museum will not kill you!
Goal #3: Take more photos.
One thing that made me sad in 2017 was glancing over at my camera as it sat around untouched for weeks at a time. I’m not a professional photographer but I’ve always enjoyed documenting the world around me as a creative outlet. What I realized is that hobbies like taking photos don’t always need to have a specific end goal – not every photo needs to be blogged or shared on social media. Do something because you enjoy it, pure and simple.
Goal #4: Make time for non-client projects.
As Branch continued growing in 2017, I felt the squeeze with keeping up on my own projects which led to me feeling like the cobbler who has holes in their shoes. The longer I put off my own work, the worse I felt. Ugh.
If you never allow yourself the whitespace to think through what you do, why you do it and explore new ideas, you’re only going to hurt yourself in the long run. I know it’s hard to find the time to add your own projects on top of everything else and there are nights I stay at the office till 3 am just to have the space to work through ideas, uninterrupted. It’s not ideal…but if there’s a will, there’s a way.
Goal #5: Hit inbox zero every week.
You know what stresses me out? Unanswered email lingering in my inbox. I feel immense mental clutter when I feel like someone is waiting on an answer, especially a client. If I can resolve something quickly right when I see it and get it off my plate, awesome.
With the longer, more in-depth emails, I try to batch tasks. For instance, if I get 5 inquiries for new projects, I’ll answer those all at once. For estimates, I’ll complete those all at once since a lot of the requests are very similar. Going forward, I’m going to try to wrap up whatever hasn’t gotten answered before 6 pm on Friday so I can start the weekend with a clean slate.
Goal #6: Think before buying more stuff.
Over the last few months, I’ve gotten rid of so many things — clothes, objects, dishes, old food in the cupboards…you get the point. What I realized is that the more stuff I was surrounded by, the more foggy I felt. After a few long trips in 2017, I’d come home and think, “I forgot about all this stuff for 3 weeks. I lived without it. Why do I need it?”
I’m not an anti-shopping saint. I still buy things but now, I think harder about them. Buy what you need, sprinkle in a few things that make you happy as you have the budget and then cut out all the mindless money wasters. It’s all about balance.
Goal #7: Move around more.
I have have always struggled to fit exercise into my schedule but I’ve found a fairly easy solution with the Sweat With Kayla app. The exercise routines are less than 30 minutes and the equipment is fairly basic, no gym membership needed.
I’m not super regimented because some days, I just don’t have the time but I try to get in 3 workouts in a week. Sure, it would be great to follow the exact schedule but my take is that you should do your best and making a regular effort is better than not trying at all.
Goal #8: Share more.
I’ve always enjoyed blogging and using social media but most days last year, there wasn’t room to make it happen. Over December, I mostly stayed offline and made a lot of progress – things are finally getting more balanced and ready to share more again.
Once again, sharing content is not about being glued to a specific schedule (that just creates more stress and resentment) but by simply alotting more time for creative exploration though blogging, podcasting, posting to social media, or whatever else that may be.
Goal #9: Spend more time offline.
This is a bit of a contraction to the point above (haha) but one thing I became really aware of last year was how much time I was spending online basically goofing off and how that affected what I was getting done.
I’ve recently gotten a lot better about not aimlessly surfing random sites — I get online, get what I need and get back off. I used to be afraid that not being as present online as much would affect my business but to my surprise, it hasn’t, probably because I’m spending more of my time doing the actual work versus obsessively checking up on what everyone else is doing.
Goal #10: Get better at saying no.
Why is saying no so hard?! Towards the end of the year, I had to say no to a bunch of things in rapid succession and each time, I dreaded it. Through a lot of tough situations, I’ve realized that we all have a limited amount of time and it should be spent doing what we enjoy as much as possible. Of course laundry needs to get done, bills need to get paid and work needs to get finished but the limited time we have left should be spent in enjoyable ways.
The more things you take on that you secretly dread, the more resentful you’ll be…and nobody wants to deal with that! ;).
When you do have to say no, be polite but firm, own it fully and most importantly, always offer a helpful alternative.
Wow, that was long! But all these things have been on my mind lately and what I’ve found is that the more clear you are about what you want to achieve and where your boundaries are, the sooner it will transpire.
What are some goals you’re working on this year, big and small?
Do you have any tips for staying accountable?
I’d love to hear!
Photos: Monica True
Creative Direction: Public Persona
Makeup: Rachel Lane