Can you believe it’s March already!? It seems like just yesterday I was ringing in the new year and planning my yearly goals. When I reflect on the last couple of months, I’m not nearly where I’d hoped I’d be. But I’ve made progress and I think that’s really the important point. Last year I bought Lara Casey’s PowerSheets, hoping that the sheets would help me more clearly define my goals and organize myself. Let’s just say….I wasn’t very good at completing them last year. This w as not the fault of the PowerSheets or of Lara’s message. I just wasn’t ready.
But I entered 2017 with renewed hope and motivation, excited to use the newly streamlined version of the PowerSheets. I bought the 12 month dated version again in the hopes that it would prevent me from skipping sections. If I bought the undated, I worried I’d tell myself “Oh, just come back to it later.” Confession: I almost never “come back to it later.” I am the worst about multitasking, procrastinating, and down right forgetting. So I thought that as I share my goals each month (lets hold each other accountable, y’all!), I’d share my PowerSheets pages as well.
So you’ll see that I was really successful with some goals and totally bombed others. But as Emily Ley says: Grace, not perfection. I just got back into blogging this year thanks to my friend and colleague, Sam, who runs the British Naval History website. And doing so encouraged me to make better use of my personal website. I’ve long admired the blogs of Lara, Emily, Cheyenne Schultz, and the Cultivate What Matters team. They’re truly inspiring in their own ways. So I’m hoping my blog can be an inspiration to someone. And that it will help me achieve my personal, professional, and academic goals in new ways. I was thrilled when I marked that off my “monthly goals” last month, especially since I only made minor progress on my other monthly goals.
Rather than reflect on how badly I did with some of my goals, you’ll see I simply shifted many of them to this month. In particular:
creating a daily schedule
researching/writing each week
working on my French lessons each week
drinking more water
Positive Reflections on February
A lot of fun and exciting things happened in February. All too often, I bury the positives under the “daily drudgery” and forget to be thankful for those moments. So here are just a few of the highlights from February:
had an unexpected visit from Kyle (along with some pretty positive news that we’ll hopefully be able to share soon!)
attended the opening night premier of The Nether put on by my university’s Theater and Media Performance department with my friend Amanda
had a belated “Galentine’s Day” celebration with Amanda, Kerry, Lily, and Zina
got to give a (well-received) Tedx talk at the university
a couple of colleagues and I took several of our Public History students on a trip to Oregon Ridge Nature Center for a maple syrup/sugar event
I’m really happy that the Cultivate What Matters team moved the”Spring Refresh” between February & March this year instead of placing it between March & April. Yes, I know that Spring doesn’t technically start until March 20th this year. So it might seem odd to do the Spring Refresh at the beginning of March, but it was actually much needed for me. I love the idea of different types of “clutter” in our lives. Categorizing things in this way is helping me to make purposeful decisions about what to “clear out” of my life. In particular, I’ve found I’ve spent way too much time on social media. Part of that has to do with the fact that my loved ones are all quite far, physically, from me. So social media makes it much easier to stay in touch. But between the “highlight reel” of peoples lives (especially baby announcements and academic progress) and today’s political climate, I’m overwhelmed. One goal for Spring, then, is to limit my time during the week. And to try for “Social Media Free” weekends. You’ll see further below that I’ve tried to add that to my “Monthly Goals” for March.
Yes and No for Goal Reaching
My FMEC (Faculty Mentoring and Evaluation Committee) has encouraged me to learn to say “no” to things that are not going to move me forward in reaching my goals. As Lara Casey often says, “Remember: saying NO to one thing means you are saying YES to something potentially better.” I’ve found, in my second year of full-time teaching, that I’ve said “yes” to far too many commitments. I’m on 5 (maybe 6?) university committees. I’ve joined 2 writing groups (one meets monthly, one meets weekly). I teach 4 classes a semester. I’m editing an article for someone. I’ve aimed to attend yoga at least 3 times a week. Any time I’m invited to something (university event, field trips, etc), I almost always say yes. And don’t get me wrong, I love being so involved and feeling like such an integral part of my university.
But I’m finding that maybe I’ve stretched myself too thin. I was inspired by Lara’s reflection:
What does “having it together” mean anyway? Define the lie and the truth. The lie: I have to have the perfect plan and perfect results or I’m a failure. False. The truth: To me, having it “together” means I don’t have to do it all.
For too long I’ve thought that not only do I have to “do it all,” but that I have to do it well. And the truth is: I can’t. So my focus word for the next three months is FAITH. Faith that I can so no to things that drain me. Faith that I can say yes to things that motivate me. And faith that I can let go of my self-doubt, excuses, and worry. I want to fill the next three months with love & learning, purpose, rest & rejuvenation, and most importantly: friends & family.
What’s Ahead for the Month of March
One of the things that I’m considering next year is buying 2 sets of PowerSheets: one for personal goals and one for work/academic goals. Because I noticed in each section of the PowerSheets prep, I was struggling to narrow things down in a meaningful way. But for now, you’ll see the two sets of goals are intertwined. I chose Self-Care as my word for the month of March because my word for 2017 is Balance. And I think self-care is an important component of seeking and finding balance in our lives. I have a lot of things on my calendar for this month, but I kept my PowerSheets list pretty short. All of my to-dos are already spread across my Google Calendar, my physical day-planner, and my large office wall calendar. Maybe that’s another thing for next year: a single-calendar system.
Yeah….ignore the fact that I tried to make Spring Break a week later than it actually is. But of all the things I have coming up this month, it is the one thing I think I’m the most excited about. Even if I will be grading midterm exams during that time. I’ve loved using the Cultivate What Matters sticker book to help make everything seem more fun. If anyone wants to send stickers my way, I’m happy to take them off your hands! But it’s become increasingly clearer that I need to focus on organization and clarity in the coming months. I think it will make achieving my goals in March much easier (hopefully) and will make me feel more productive.
March 2017 Goals
Drum roll please…..
Here are my March 2017 Goals. You’ll see that many of them are carried over from February, but that’s ok. My daily goals, in particular, are goals that I aim to make habits. So they’ll likely be part of my daily goals every month.
Create a daily “schedule”: I hope that this will prevent me from spending too much time on certain tasks and not enough on others. And hopefully it will help me more easily meet my weekly goals.
Add $$$ to our savings account: One of my goals for 2017 was to learn to manage our finances better. Another goal for 2017 was to go on at least 1 vacation with Kyle. By paying attention to saving money, it will force me to think more critically about my spending.
Write one grant application: Here’s a confession for you: I am awful at writing grant applications. I routinely ask for less money than I need. I feel completely incapable of “selling myself” to the funding agencies. Why is my work worthy? And why should they give me money over someone else?
Be kinder to myself: I am notoriously hard on myself. I never feel like I’m enough (smart enough, productive enough, fit enough, available enough…enough, enough, enough). So this month I want to work on finding ways to be kinder to myself.
Blog posts: Well look at that? I’m already part way through this goal for the month! I’ve set a goal to blog on my personal page once or twice a month. This is an addition to completing my blog posts for the British Naval History website. If you guys have ideas about what you want to read about (for either site), let me know! I’m happy for suggestions!
Taxes $$$: I have always hated doing our taxes. Last year, Kyle took on the responsibility of filing and he’s much better at it than I am. But I can’t let that stop me from being involved. So I’m going to be helping Kyle with the taxes this year.
Exercise (at least) 3x a week: I want to continue doing yoga at least 3 times a week (if not more). But I’m adding to the goal this time by adding at least 1-2 days of strength training into the mix. I’ve never really put my health at the top of my priority list. And that has to change. I want to be healthy for myself. I want to be healthy for my family. If I’m not healthy then I will not meet most of the goals I’ve set for myself. Baby steps. I’m a work-in-progress.
French Lessons (1 hour per week): I didn’t even touch this goal last month. So this month I intend to set aside 1 hour each week (whether that’s broken up into short increments or all at once). And from there, I can increase the amount of time I spend as needed. I think creating that “daily schedule” will help in achieving this goal.
Research/write (1 hour per week): Last month I had the goal of setting aside 2-3 hours per week for my research/writing related to my academic work. I think I was a bit overly ambitious.
Attend Writing Group: I placed this under “weekly” goals because I ended up having a lot of excuses last month. No more. This goal is directly attached to my research/writing goal. 2 birds, 1 stone.
Take my vitamins: I’ve found taking my daily vitamins also helps me to remember to take my heart medication and to brush/floss/rinse. Win-Win.
Drink 64+ oz. water: I am the worst about drinking enough water. Although I limit my coffee intake, it often means not drinking anything else during the day.
In bed by 10pm: Establishing a defined sleep routine will hopefully help prevent me from feeling tired all. the. time.
No frivolous spending $$$: Step one towards reducing debt and increasing savings.
Be active (defined by my Fitbit) for 6 of 11 hours: Having a fairly “sedentary” job leads me to large periods of inactivity. Being more active will hopefully make exercising weekly easier.
Leave a “dish-free” sink each night: I think I might have read about this in Emily Ley’s book, Grace Not Perfection, but I honestly can’t remember. But it’s something that I’ve found makes my morning routines easier. Instead of having to wash my coffee-making accoutrements before making coffee, everything is ready to go first thing in the morning.
These are just some of the things I have planned for the coming month. Some things are ongoing: like working on a Lowcountry Digital History Initiative project with some of our students. And building a digital humanities collaboration between our department and the English department alongside my friend Amanda. But I’m motivated and ready to make progress on my goals. I have to constantly remind myself: progress over perfection.
What are you goals for the month? For spring? For 2017!?