12.27.2011

Thinking Ahead {2012} :: Creating Monthly Goals

Last year, I, like many others, created a list of goals that I wanted to work on in 2011. And, just like many of those well-meaning goal-setters, I didn't accomplish too many things from that list because I was busy with what life threw my way.

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{Let's Review 2011}

At the start of the year, I was hoping to get a job, and I got a job, but not in any kind of field that I was expecting. We went from being a one-car household to a two-car family, but Peter quickly traded that $300 car for "The Bean", and eventually "The Bean" was replaced by "Vader" - things I certainly wasn't expecting when I created the list.

We made some headway on our mortgage principle, and we've come a long way in prioritizing our financial goals, but we didn't get the house paid off as I had hoped in January. Does that mean we failed? I don't think so. We still saw progress and change in our handling of the finances, and setting a larger goal early on helped us regain our focus half-way through the year.


In January I admitted that I wanted to write a book. Over the course of the year, I realized that I spent more time saying that I wanted to write a book than I did actually taking steps to write a book. However, by talking about it more over the last 12 months and admitting publicly that I'd like to author a book, it made it seem less like a dream and more like an actual possibility. And it made my 30 List.

As for the Project House...{insert giant sigh here} If you click the link you'll see what it looked like in March. Bad news? That's what it still looks like (minus the piles of lath). We have really struggled with what to do with this elephant house. We don't regret buying the place, but the question remains, what do we do with it? Finally, a year after closing (and multiple options considered), we decided on a reworked floor plan that will keep 99% of the walls in place and should give us the space we want. I've been pinning ideas like crazy to help us keep costs down, and we're hopeful that 2012 will be the year of the PH completion.

{Welcome 2012

A new year means new goals, but this time I'm breaking those goals down into bite sized chunks. For instance, instead of saying, "I'd like to write a book this year", I've made a goal for the month of January to spend 10 minutes, Monday through Friday, brainstorming book ideas. Not actually writing a book or waiting to come up with the perfect idea, just getting ideas - no matter how crazy they may sound - down on paper. Writing a book? Overwhelming. Sitting for 10 minutes a day for one month putting words on paper. That's doable.


While I still have larger goals (i.e. write a book, finish the PH, pay off our mortgage), I am finally realizing that I have to break them down into more manageable tasks. Smaller goals are like putting one foot in front of the other - the next thing you know you're writing "The End" on the last page of your novel or sending in the final payment for your house. Reaching a goal, realizing a dream - these things don't happen inside a vacuum. Steps must be taken to get the process started, and discipline must be developed.

In fact, I've already been attempting to practice discipline through one tiny, daily task: Flossing my teeth. If you have a problem discussing dental hygiene, then you may want to skip this section. After reading The Money Saving Mom's Budget by Crystal Paine (available Jan. 10, 2012), I decided to put this discipline idea into practice in a very small way, just to build some discipline muscle if you will. My dentist has been after me for years about my lack of flossing. I just don't like to do it, and unless I felt something wedged somewhere, I didn't bother.

But I noticed that even with daily brushing, my teeth were beginning to yellow a bit and I had one bad coffee stain between two of my front teeth, which is why I decided to use flossing as my discipline practice. For the last two months, whether I felt like it or not, I have flossed daily. And you know what? Just as Crystal suggested that it would, my discipline of flossing has changed from a chore to a habit. And if I can make flossing my teeth a habit, then I should be able to make writing for 10 minutes a day a habit, with enough practice.


Now, you may be sitting there thinking, "What a freak! She had to practice flossing her teeth?!" But it's not really about flossing, it's about turning a chore into a habit through the practice of discipline. That might be as simple as flossing or denying yourself that doughnut (if you're trying to loose weight), or as serious as saying no at the store (because you're digging out from debt) or avoiding tempting situations. The habit and practice of self-discipline is fully transferable to any area of life.  

So what does that mean for me? For the blog? For the new year? Well, on the blogging front, I'll be posting for accountability on the first Monday of each month, and giving details about my five "Little Bites" for the month. Starting in February, I'll be adding an update about how I did on those goals and what I learned from the practice-to-habit front. If you'd like to join me in this journey, I'd love to have you! If you want to blog along with me, feel free to leave your links in the comments.  

{Little Bites - January 2012}

1. Spend one hour a week working in the office

2. Spend 10 minutes each day (minus the week-ends) brainstorming for a book

3. Dust one room a week (bedrooms, living/dining, library/kitchen entry, office/basement)

4. Vacuum one room a week (same grouping as above)

5. Clean out five items a week (donate, trash)

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What are your bite-sized goals for 2012?

6 comments:

  1. Loved this post and followed your lead over on my blog. Thanks for this, Carrie. Many blessings to you in the upcoming year!

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  2. Kim - Your kind words are very much appreciated. Thanks for popping back in and taking the time to comment and let me know you're joining me. I look forward to hearing more from you in the future (and am following your blog now). :-) Blessings!

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  3. I clicked over from MSM! Love your idea of bite sized goals- so practical!

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  4. Love these bite-sized goals! My husband is participating in a "Three Tiny Habits" study this month and I've been focusing on the small things along with him--and it's working! (My 3 tiny habits are pouring a glass of water every time I pore a cup of coffee, turning on my lamp when my alarm goes off, and putting my shoes IN THE CLOSET after I take them off.)

    But this weekend I'm looking forward to putting my BIG 2012 goals to paper :)

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  5. I found you through MSM just to see what kind of goals people have and I must congratulate you on the flossing!! You've inspired me to do it too! Loved your post!

    Debbie

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  6. Welcome Brooke - thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment!

    Anne - I like that 3 Tiny Habits idea. I suppose I kind of do that already (I keep a glass by the kitchen sink and try to remember to drink water every time I'm there), but it's something to think about.

    Debbie - How funny! Good luck with the flossing and thanks for stopping by and saying hello!

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There are more than 400,000 words in the English language. My only request of you is this: Use them wisely.

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