3 Things I'm Learning About Achieving Goals (+ A Giveaway!)
In January, I sat down with coffee in my Anthro mug and wrote out a list of goals for the new year in my May Designs notebook (pssstt… keep reading, we have a li’l giveaway for you!). The goals spread over multiple areas of my life, from where I’d like to see That First Year go, to perfecting my homemade latte (Y’ALL I can froth milk now!), to writing a book, to practicing Arabic every day outside of the class I’m taking. I love dreaming up goals and writing them down—that, to me, is the highlight of the goal-setting process.
But following through with said goals?
Because now it’s March. March 4 to be exact. And it’s hard not to feel a sense of defeat looking back over my goals and realizing that aside from the homemade latte, I’m not exactly meeting many of the goals I had set for myself. In fact, I barely wrote in February, only practiced Arabic in my once-a-week class, and didn’t put as much work into this blog as I had hoped.
It’s easy to let one failure in meeting a goal during a preferred timeline dwindle my motivation to continue pursuing my goals.
But March is only month 3 of 12, so I can’t let a lack of goal success over a two-month period dictate the rest of my year. I’d like to offer three things I’m learning about setting yourself up to meet your goals.
1. Create a proper work space.
A proper work environment sets yourself up for a proper work flow. But “proper” is subjective to everyone, since we don’t all thrive in the same work environments. I love early mornings spent in my favorite coffee shops, music in, words flowing; you, on the other hand, might concentrate better in a quiet room, just you and your laptop tap-tapping away into the wee hours of the morning. It's important that you know what sort of space best sets you up for success.
I somehow am the luckiest apartment-dweller in all the land, because my roommate and I have a shared office in our current place, and it is the office of my writing dreams. A whole room dedicated just to reading and writing! What more could this 24-year-old heart ever want?! But as I’m learning both in my home study and in my 9-to-5 job, a workspace that complements your personality is integral to motivating you to actually, you know, work.
For me, that means beaucoup wall art, candles, flowers, and notebooks on notebooks on notebooks (have I mentioned how many May Designs notebooks I own…) adorning my desk space with some dope pens (good pens are essential, this is a non-negotiable). I don’t have wall space at my desk at my day job, but I still have photos on my desk to personalize the space and make it feel more like my own.
I’m on a budget (read: I have, like, no money to spend on decor), so I’m always looking for ways to decorate my home office without spending much. For wall art, I purchase inexpensive downloadable prints from Etsy, scour through pretty magazines like Darling or Belong to use the photography within, and I even framed the cutest cactus stationary my roommate had given me for my birthday. Oh, and I have the city prints Lane made exclusively for That First Year all over my desk area because they’re dope (this is not a sales pitch, I really do have Lane's art all over my home). Printed photos from your travels also make great wall art, and Target and Michael’s both have inexpensive frames (and Michael’s usually has a coupon or sale on frames!). BOOM. A proper work environment created without spending all your money in the process and the motivation to actually spend time in this workspace you’ve created.
2. Drink a drink to help focus.
Pick a drink, any drink. Coffee with a splash of creamer, a homemade latte, a fruit smoothie, an herbal tea, a glass of wine, a bottle of water. There’s something about having a drink I can sip while I work that magically makes me more productive than if I were nary a drink. Brain science could probably explain the reasoning behind this, but here’s my empirical evidence: I brought a coffee machine to share with my office compadres at my day job, and now I’m on fire with my productivity every morning compared to mornings in the era B.C.M. (Before Coffee Machine).
Give it a try and see if this works for you!
3. Offering yourself grace is integral to working toward your goals in a healthy manner.
Oof, offering grace to myself has been the hardest lesson for me to learn, and I’m still thick in the throes of learning this life lesson. (Hey! I wrote about this for Her Story Goes once!)
As I wrote earlier, it’s difficult to not enter into a headspace of self-defeat whenever I see all the steps I didn’t take to reaching my goals last month. I believe that sociologist and author Brene Brown may call this “shame” and let’s be real, shame isn’t the easiest pursuer to throw off the scent.
Enter stage left: grace. A concept I learned like a theory (yes, F=ma, got it!) but have never really known what it meant to apply this theory to my life, both in offering it to myself and in offering it to others.
Last September I spent the month worshipping at the Pedestal of Productivity—though I was falling asleep fitfully and having near-panic attacks nightly, I still continued to set my alarm for 5 am to give me time to write for an hour before work, ignoring the fact that my body was crying out for sleep. Though I felt exhausted and disconnected from my friends working 50+ hours a week, I didn’t feel comfortable asking for a day off to rest and spend time with human beings outside of work. I had too much to do, and any day that didn’t feel “productive” felt like a failure.
And then I got sick. Like, sicker than I’ve ever been. Like, an infection in my intestines (how do you even GET something like that?!?! Doctor’s answer: *shoulder shrug* “It happens.”) that sent me to the ER incredibly dehydrated and put me on an adventurous 10-day sojourn with two incredibly strong antibiotics.
All because I let work become the dictator of my days and a completed to-do list become my daily marker of success at the expense of my health—physically, emotionally, and even spiritually. I was treating work as my life rather than as a part of my life. And though my random infection was a wake-up call to slow. it. down., I still haven’t mastered the art of offering grace to myself, but I’m working on it. Because last month, the month I wasn’t as productive as I’d hoped to be? I needed mornings without an alarm clock, instead waking up naturally with the early light of sunrise instead of my jarring pre-dawn iPhone alarm. I needed less screentime and more friend time, less writing of posts and more reading of books. Just because I didn’t accomplish everything on my daily to-do list doesn’t mean my days last month weren’t full or worthwhile.
So instead of sinking into shame at all the goals I still seem so far from accomplishing, I’ll instead offer myself grace, the remedy to shame, so I can continue moving forward, encouraged both in my work and in my rest.
Creative & Caffeinated Instagram Giveaway
“Why, I’m ready to accomplish all of my goals!” you’re probably saying after reading this. (Right? Right.) GOOD NEWS, FRIENDS. That First Year has teamed up with two lovely ladies, Emily of Her Story Goes and Kaitlyn of KVH. Creative for a giveaway for the #creativeandcaffeinated ladies or lads among us. Included in this collection is the prettiest of all pretty things: an Anthro mug, a May Designs notebook, and three U Brands pens.
Special thanks to Megan Weaver for this beautiful prize photography!
[This giveaway has ended. Thanks so much to everyone who entered and congrats to our winner, Bree!]
Looking for more productivity tips? Check out these fantastic blog posts from Her Story Goes and KVH. Creative!
Goal-Getting + A #CreativeAndCaffeinated Giveaway // KVH. Creative
Productivity 101: The Secret to Tackling Your To-Do List (+ A GIVEAWAY!) // Her Story Goes