If you use a passion planner, one of the big organizational things they try to instill is goal setting. Whether it’s for the week, the month, a year, whether it’s three years, ten years, your lifetime, whatever, the point is to try to accomplish as many things as you can even if they don’t end up being your SOLE goal. (For example, you may not have published a book, but you did write 10,000 words of a draft of a novel that you can query. Or you didn’t get married, but you did get engaged. Or you didn’t get a new job, but you did get a promotion.) At the end of each month, you reflect on your goals and your steps that you’ve taken to get there, however big or small. You sit down, you look at questions that ask you about specific feelings or moments, and you reflect on how you’ve changed over the month. You look at the things you said you wanted to do/accomplish 30 days ago and you see if you’ve made progress on them. If you have, yay! If you haven’t, that doesn’t mean that you failed anything — you look at the month and you think about why you didn’t accomplish things, and you make resolutions to do better next month.
(See, look at me trying to make it look like I don’t feel like a failure for that whole “no I didn’t make my goals this month” thing!)
The monthly exercise is a way for you to keep your motivation in check, and I figured putting those things in a blog would be a good way to do that, as well. Maybe it’s all a little redundant, since I’m doing this in my planner each month, but hey, it can’t hurt.
These were my “goals” for January, as put into my planner at the end of December:
So, how did I do?
- FIND AN APARTMENT
I didn’t find an apartment. The truth of the matter was, I didn’t expect to find an apartment, not with my lease ending in two months and knowing the way the market moves in New York. But I did start looking, and I plan to kick that more into gear this month. I basically have to, considering that I’m leaving my current place no matter what. Have I mentioned that I hate apartment hunting? Because I really, really hate apartment hunting. Number one, it means making a huge change, which basically fuels a lot of my anxiety. Number two, I hate processes that are out of your control, so when I need to make a huge life decision or change I usually end up putting it off or hiding in order to avoid dealing with it. My therapist and I have been talking about ways to combat my fears, because I can’t really do that with this situation or I’ll screw myself over in more ways than one. In good news, I saw a place that I fell in love with. In bad news, I’m pretty sure for a variety of reasons it won’t work out. But if not, the search goes on.
- START SAVINGS/BUDGET
I didn’t do this the way I envisioned I would, or by starting some program that helps you track your spending. (Apparently programs like that don’t do well for me considering I live alone and have a hard time allocating expenses and I get overwhelmed more often than not.) But I did become aware of my spending, and I kept a vigilant eye on my checking account and my credit card balances, more than I usually do. I carefully calculated what was coming out each month (usually, I just handwave a lot of the automatic payments and forget about them) and at the beginning of each week, when I wrote out my passion planner, I tried to remember to put in my starting balance so I always knew what I was working with when it came to spending. It’s a slow process, but I do feel like I’m slowly gaining more control over my financials, however small the steps are.
- WRITE EVERY DAY
I cheated slightly with this — even before I made all my “resolutions,” I was pretty much writing every day because it’s how I spent my free time or downtime. So it wasn’t really about making myself write more, but more refining my writing — how much I do it, when and where I do it, etc. Admittedly, although I blocked off time in my passion planner every morning and night for writing, I didn’t stick to those constraints. I did find, however, that it does help me to visually and mentally put the time aside, because even if I go out on a weeknight or sleep in too late, I always remember I need to at least try and write. But I did open a google doc every day and make progress on projects. Right now, all of the things I’m working on are fic, and it will probably stay that way until NaNo starts again. But in other ways that writing every day has made a difference: I’ve blogged regularly almost every week, I’ve kept on track with my huge multi-chapter, and I started new stories I have inspiration for.
- READ EVERY DAY
By the end of January, I had finished Wishful Drinking (love Carrie Fisher so much), The Night Circus, and Amy Poehler’s Yes, Please. I read three books this month! THREE! Last year, I read maybe two books over the course of the entire year, and one of them was Margie’s Black Widow novel which was half work. The only difference between last year and this year, aside from commuting, is I made an effort to read when I wasn’t doing anything else or when I had some free moments to relax, rather than sitting on the computer and scrolling through Tumblr, or re-reading fic on my Kindle. (Which I still do, I just default to it less often, having an actual book I know I want to get through.)
- POST ONE NEW FIC A MONTH*
Success! I finished my Star Wars/Avengers AU, which I had started back in December when I realized just how much alike Rey and Finn were to Clint and Natasha. And I’d like to finish one of the three ideas I’ve been working on for next month — even if I can’t break my word count from last year, as long as I can keep posting one new story every 30 or so days, I think I’ll be satisfied. It’s just important for me to keep my brain creatively active, even if I go through periods of feeling like I have no motivation or inspiration whatsoever, or I feel like there’s no audience for my words.
*(for the record, this whole “one fic a month” thing does not include an ongoing multichapter that is, at this point, over 100,000 words.)
Every step is a baby one, but I think so far, I’ve done okay. It’s been a productive first month of trying to make myself happy with what I have. And looking back at what I’ve accomplished makes me feel positive I can push forward, even if things endeavor to push me back.