2017 Goals Check In

A look back at my 2017 goals and how I’m doing.

Way back at the beginning of the year, I set 12 attainable goals. Or so I thought. I didn’t do a mid-year check-in, so now that Fall is here, I thought I’d take a look back to see how I’m doing on those goals. (Spoiler: Not great.)

  1. Strength training. This was the first goal on my list. At the time I set this goal, I had been participating in the Harder to Kill program with Steph Gaudreau of Stupid Easy Paleo. I was lifting weights and doing functional movements and felt strong and wanted to get stronger. Then I hurt my shoulder. I’ll be honest, I tried to lift weights anyway—more than once. Eventually, I finally realized I wasn’t going to get better if I kept doing that. Here I am months later, still with no definitive answer as to what’s wrong (I’ll do a separate post about my shoulder later). So this goal is (and has been) on hold for a while.
  2. Yoga. My second goal was to do more yoga. During the month of January, I was doing a 30 day yoga challenge. It was a great way to start the year, but I suspect that may have either caused or contributed to my shoulder injury. Again, I tried to keep pushing through it, but eventually had to just give it up. I can’t wait for the day I can start doing yoga again. It’s such a great way for me to de-stress, plus it’s great cross-training, too. Some day, my mat and I will be reunited.
  3. Travel. This one has actually been a bit of a success. We went to Pensacola back in April for our first real vacation since our honeymoon. I also went to visit my husband in Carmel, IN while he’s been out of town for work. Most recently, we went to Kansas City, MO for the Chiefs home opener. And in a few short weeks I’ll be jetting off to Savannah, GA to visit my best friend for a few days! We may try to squeeze in another weekend getaway or two in later this year, too!
  4. Write. I’m a writer, so you’d think this is an unnecessary goal. But I spend so much of my time writing for other people (clients/bosses) that it’s hard to find the time, energy, and inspiration to write for myself. Over the summer, when I was really struggling with depression and low energy levels, I did almost no writing. Now that I’m finally starting to feel “normal” again, most of my writing has been here on the blog. Which I’m totally okay with. I love writing about running and exercise/nutrition in general, and writing about these topics means I’m also constantly learning.
  5. Read. I set a goal to read one book a month. Totally doable, right? Wrong. I’m not sure how many books I’ve read so far this year, but it’s been nowhere near that many.
  6. Business plan. This one has been on hold. I can’t settle on exactly what I want to do and how. And I need to figure that out before I can make an actual business plan. So maybe I’ll make some progress on this later this year. Or maybe next year. We’ll see.
  7. Volunteer. Unfortunately, I can’t think of anything I’ve volunteered for this year. Once I gave up freelancing and went back to a regular full-time job, it got much harder to make time for stuff like this (and exercise, too). I have pinpointed a few organizations that I would like to volunteer with in the future, so that’s a start at least.
  8. Sustainability. At some point last year we started using cloth napkins and really cut down on our use of disposable items like paper plates, plastic utensils, etc. Since then I’ve been trying to find other ways to reduce the amount of waste we create. My progress was pretty minimal until I discovered the magic of Norwex. Their microfiber cloths allow you to clean using just water. This eliminates the need for extremely wasteful things like Clorox wipes (which I used all the time), Swiffer pads, and more. I also love their makeup remover cloths, which are reusable and remove my makeup with just water. So I eliminate the waste of makeup remover wipes/cotton squares and save money! The company itself is also working really hard to reduce waste from plastic, so I feel good about purchasing their products. (Note: I am officially a Norwex consultant now because I really do love and believe in the products, but I’m not here to sell you stuff.)
  9. Minimalism. Basically, I set a goal to accumulate less stuff. I’ve sort of done okay at this, but there’s a whole lot I need to purge from our home, too. I have yet to create a capsule wardrobe, but I do have a pretty limited number of clothes I wear to work, so we’ll call that progress. I’ve also been better about saying “no” to things I really don’t need or want.
  10. Marriage. Our first year of marriage was hard. We really put it through the ringer by packing up and moving to Dallas less than 3 months after we got married. For 2017, I really wanted to focus on making our relationship as good as we possibly can. I can’t say 2017 has really been easier on us since my husband has been traveling so much for work. But we are taking steps to make sure we’re in a good place. I think this is a goal that’s always going to be a work in progress, and that’s okay.
  11. Social media. My goal was to spend less time on social media. I did take a hiatus earlier in the year, which was pretty great, honestly. But then I got sucked back in. No matter what I try, I can’t seem to find sustainable ways to minimize the amount of time I spend mindlessly scrolling through Facebook and Instagram. My husband and I are trying to be better about not doing that when we’re together so that we’re actually spending quality time with each other rather than our phones.
  12. Outside. My final goal was simply to spend more time outside this year. I’m not sure I did too well with this the first 3/4 of the year. Since I started running again, though, I’m spending much more time outside. I’m also making a conscious effort to get outside once an hour to take a break from work, stretch, and soak up some vitamin D. We’ll see how long that lasts once winter sets in.

Running was not a goal I had for this year, but all the progress I’ve made has me really excited. You can bet you’ll see some running-related goals on next year’s list!

Did you set any goals for 2017? Are you making any progress? Did you achieve any? Let me know!

2017 Goals Check-In

I posted my 12 goals for 2017 about a month ago. Now that we’re a month into the new year, I figured I’d do a check-in to see how things are going. Some things I have really focused on while others I’ve made little to no progress with at all. I started the year off by doing yoga every day (31 Days of Yoga by Yoga with Adriene) which was incredible. I’m going to continue trying to practice yoga every day.

I can’t remember the last time I did any strength training exercises. I was feeling a little under the weather early in the month and thought lifting weights would just make me feel worse. Since I’ve been doing yoga–sometimes twice a day–I just haven’t gotten back into the weights. I’m hoping to get back to that this month. I also have not gone for a run in what seems like forever. I’m just not cut out for cold weather running, and the days it has been warmer, I haven’t felt up to getting out there.

We haven’t done any traveling yet, but we’ve got a nice vacation fund going. We’re hoping to take our first trip sometime this March or April. It’s kind of up in the air right now, but hopefully we get it planned soon.

Toward the end of the month, I finally got some inspiration to do a little writing. As a freelance copywriter, that’s all I do, all day every day. By the end of the day, it’s hard to find the energy or inspiration to do my own thing. But for the past week or so, I’ve been working on a little side project that I’m pretty excited about! Hopefully I can get it finished in another week or two.

I’m not quite sure if I’m on track for my “read one book a month” goal. But I’m almost finished with our first book of the year for book club and I’ve got a long TBR list going. I finally gave up on audiobooks. They just aren’t for me. But I’ve been making it more of a priority to read at least a little bit each day, so I think that’s going to help me with this goal.

I finally took that social media hiatus I’ve been thinking about for more than a month. I’ve been social-media-free for two full days now and it has felt great. I have so much free time now that I’m not constantly checking Facebook. I’ve been reading, writing, and I even got my violin out and got it tuned yesterday.

I haven’t made a ton of progress on my other goals so far, but it’s still early in the year, so I’m not too worried. I’m excited about the changes I’ve made so far and looking forward to making more changes to bring me closer to my goals.

Tell me about your 2017 goals. Are you still going strong after one month?

12 Goals for 2017

In my last post, I talked about how I felt about my goals for 2016. For 2017, I’ve come up with 12 goals to focus on. I’m debating focusing on one per month (better get started if so!). I’ve seen a lot of posts on social media about picking a “word of the year”. I though a lot about it. I made a list of goals and words, but I just couldn’t pick any single word for my year. The ones that most stood out were Grow, Simplify, and Explore. I suppose I could say “screw it” and have three words. For now, I’ll just stick to my goals:

  1. Continue strength training. Since starting the Harder to Kill Challenge back in October, I’ve been strength training at least a couple times a week. It has really made a difference in how I feel and it’s something I want to continue this year.
  2. Practice more yoga. I’m currently participating in the Yoga Revolution challenge by Yoga with Adriene. It’s 31 days of yoga for the month of January. So far, I’ve done yoga every single day, and hope I can continue without breaking the streak.I really want to grow in my practice and I’ve considered looking into teaching.
  3. Travel more. My husband and I finally created a dedicated savings account for vacations and we’ve been fairly successful about building that up. We’re hoping to plan a trip this spring (location TBD), and maybe another, shorter trip this fall.
  4. Write more. I’m a writer. As in that’s my job; it’s what I get paid to do. And that’s completely awesome. Except that it sometimes means I don’t get around to blogging or doing the creative writing I want to do. I announced more than a year ago that I intended to write a book, but I’ve made very little progress with it. My goal this year is to make some progress.
  5. Read at least one book per month. That’s at least 12 books this year (and at least 12 reviews over on my other blog, Black Coffee Books). I’m hoping to exceed this goal, but I never seem to achieve the loftier 25 or 50 books a year. So maybe by setting a smaller one, I can surpass it and feel proud of my accomplishments.
  6. Create a business plan. I haven’t officially announced this one yet! But my husband and I are seriously discussing opening our own business in the next couple years. So my current goal is to figure out the start-up costs and create the business plan.
  7. Volunteer more. Although I had planned to volunteer last year, I never actually did. This year, I really want to become more involved in the things that matter to me. I want to look into volunteering at the library and maybe participate in a community clean-up event.
  8. Increase sustainability. By the end of last year, we were using cloth napkins pretty much exclusively in our home. My goal for this year is to continue finding ways to be more sustainable and create less waste. I got an amazing Starbucks travel mug for Christmas that I intend to start taking with me to the coffee shop so I’m not using paper cups as often. We’re also still using paper towels (although much less so now), so I want to find ways to reduce our dependence on those as well.
  9. Minimalism. Along the same lines of sustainability, I also want to focus on minimalism. Sometimes I get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff we have. I want to be more mindful this year about the things I choose to buy and bring into my home. Is it something we really need? Are there other things I can get rid of to make space for the new? I’m also really intrigued by capsule wardrobes, but haven’t quite managed to start one. Maybe 2017 will be the year of the capsule wardrobe.
  10. Focus on my marriage. I want to have the best marriage we can possibly have, so I want to do what it takes to improve our communication and other aspects of our relationship. I think doing so will go a long way in our happiness for the year and in the long run.
  11. Spend less time on social media. I’m as guilty of it as everyone else. I check social media every free chance I get (and sometimes when I’m really not free to do so). I only half-listen to things my husband tells me if I’m scrolling through Facebook while he’s talking. It has interfered with my work and frankly, it’s just exhausting. I get more and more frustrated with it every single day. I think at some point in the very near future I’m going to take a hiatus from social media. If/when I return, I plan to severely limit the time I spend on those sites.
  12. Spend more time outside. Because I work from home, I never have to leave the house (which is totally awesome sometimes). Of course, right now, it’s freezing outside and I don’t want to leave the house. However, I know it’s definitely not good to stay cooped up inside all the time. So I really want to make more of an effort to get outside when I can (especially if the weather is nice). I want to go on a few hikes this year, and I need to get back into taking my dog for nice long walks.

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Somehow, running didn’t make my top 12 goals! I do have some running goals this year though! I want to run a few more 5ks and potentially run my first 10k sometime this fall (before it gets too cold). Right now, I’m focusing on yoga and strength training because I refuse to run when the temps are below freezing. I think both of these will help me ease back into running when the time comes.

What are your goals for 2017?

As always, thanks for reading.

-AB

Reflections on 2016

Just before the start of the new year, I blogged about my goals for 2016. Below are my 2016 goals and how I feel about them. I’ll be doing a separate post on my goals for 2017.

  1. Eat Healthy. I feel like this has improved, especially since we moved back to St. Louis. While we were in Dallas for the first part of the year, I feel like we almost felt like we were on vacation (at least when it came to food). Trying new restaurants and finding new places we loved was one of the more exciting things about our new city. Unfortunately, most of those restaurants served less than ideal foods. After we moved back to St. Louis, I feel like I turned things around with my diet. I have still struggled at finding the right balance with my food sensitivities, but lately, I feel like I’ve been doing well.
  2. Be Active. I improved in this area immensely. While we were living in Dallas and I was unemployed, Copper and I were going on at least two walks a day. Most of these walks were two to three miles. In one month, we walked over 100 miles together. On top of that, Chris got me a yoga membership for Christmas last year, so I was taking classes several times a week. After we moved back to St. Louis, I got sick, so it took me more than a month to get back into an exercise routine. But I started going to yoga twice a week again. Then I ran my first and second 5ks of the year and also started strength training thanks to the Harder to Kill Challenge. I’m really happy with the progress I’ve made in the last half of the year and hope to continue my progress in strength and running in the coming year.
  3. Read More. I’m not quite where I wanted to be with this goal. I read intermittently while we were in Dallas. After I started my copywriting gig, it became more and more difficult to have the energy to read after work. Once we moved back to St. Louis, I got back with my book club and am in the midst of my second book with them. In an attempt to read more, I started a book review blog. I have not yet reviewed any books, though.
  4. Unplug More Often. I’ve made some progress here, but not a ton. I really struggled to sleep in Dallas, due to living in a noisy apartment complex in a noisy neighborhood (a mere two-ish miles from the airport!). So I tried to stop checking my phone after a certain time. I tried reading before bed. Nothing ever really worked. I finally started sleeping better once we moved back home. I’m still trying to limit my time on my phone and checking social media, especially. I think in 2017 I’m going to do a social media detox, at least for a while. It has become overwhelming in recent months and I want to spend less time there.
  5. Be Present. This one was connected to my goal to unplug. In unplugging, I aimed to be more present. I have tried to avoid checking my phone during meals and at family gatherings, but I don’t always succeed. Lately, I’ve also tried to limit my phone use even when I’m eating alone. This is another goal that will take some more work in the coming year.
  6. Drink More Water and Tea. I wanted to drink more water and tea and less alcohol. Honestly, I’m not sure if I’ve really succeeded or not. In most cases, I’m at least a little bit more mindful of when and what I drink. If I’m going to drink a beer, it’s going to be a really good craft beer that’s totally worth it. I do drink a lot more tea than I used to, which I have really enjoyed. Lately I’ve been trying to drink a cup of tea before bed to help me wind down at the end of the day.
  7. Be Kinder to Myself and Others. I’ve been pretty successful with this one, especially after moving back to St. Louis. I have taken more time to be kind to myself by doing yoga, finding ways to re-energize, and get rest. I went on a day-long yoga retreat in early November and participated in the Harder to Kill Challenge. Being kind to myself has always been difficult, but I think I’ve made some great strides in how I think and speak to and about myself.
  8. Have Better Relationships. This one tied in with unplugging, being present, and being kinder. It was especially important to me to stay connected with family and friends after we moved to Dallas. I made more of an effort to send cards to friends and family for birthdays and holidays. And although it was difficult, I tried to make a point to call people more, like my parents and grandma, (I know this probably doesn’t seem like a big deal, but I really don’t enjoy talking on the phone). Our time in Dallas was pretty challenging as a newly married couple, but I think we are better now having gone through that experience together.  
  9. Budget: Reduce Debt, Increase Savings. I had lofty goals with this one. I did, thankfully, make some small gains here, though. We paid off only one credit card debt this year. We did, however, increase our savings. In fact, just a few months ago, we opened up two more savings accounts. We now have an emergency savings, as well as one for car repairs and home renovations, and one for vacations. We had an unexpected expense come up about a month ago, and it felt good knowing we had enough in savings to cover it. It sucked using it since it had taken quite a while to build it up, but thankfully, we didn’t have to use it all. So now we’re working on building the emergency savings back up to where it was and beyond. I’m hoping to really hit our debts hard in 2017 and make a bigger impact there. It felt really, really great getting that first card paid off, so I want to continue that momentum in the coming year.
  10. Write More. This wound up being a big success and not much of a success all in one. I got a job as a freelance copywriter, so writing is currently my full time job. I spend between six and eight hours a day writing. I also did a fairly decent job of maintaining my previous blog back when we were in Dallas. After we moved to St. Louis, I really lost the motivation because I was sick and trying to get everything unpacked and get readjusted. On the creative side, I have not written much of anything this year. I have had plans to write a memoir, and I still want to do so, but I made very little, if any, progress on it this year. I’d really love to get into the habit of writing for pleasure a little every day in the next year.
  11. Find a Job I Love. Well, I get to write every day, and when people ask, I get to tell them I’m a writer. I get paid to write. It’s a pretty awesome feeling. Freelancing has its own challenges though. Dealing with taxes and health insurance is all frustrating and overwhelming. And although I do have a steady gig right now, the pay is not the same from month to month, which makes number nine on this list more difficult. Overall though, I do enjoy the work I do, so we’ll call this one a win.

Those were my primary goals for 2016. Overall, I’m pretty happy with how things turned out. What were your goals for 2016? Where did you succeed and where did you struggle?

I’ll be back soon with another post about my 2017 goals–stay tuned!

-AB

My First 5K in a Year

On Saturday I ran my first 5K–the annual Race to the Shrine in Florissant–in about a year. Thanks to illness and injury, I hadn’t done any of the training I had planned on doing since at least August. The good news is, I survived! Not only that, but I finished in 38 minutes. I can’t seem to find my time from last year’s race, but I think it was around the same. My pace was about 12 minutes/mile (I’m a super slow runner), and I unfortunately walked several times throughout the race.

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Our pre-race selfie.

My husband, Chris, agreed to run the race with me, but I started walking too early in the race for him, so he went on without me. I was kind of okay with that, because he was there with water when I crossed the finish line 😉 He ran the race in 31 minutes. He had to stop to walk one or two times too though. This route (and the city in general) are hilly, so that makes it a tougher race.

I felt so motivated after the race that I decided I want to sign up for one of the Turkey Trots taking place early on Thanksgiving morning. That gives me just a little over a month to train properly. I kicked my training off with a 2-mile run yesterday. Unfortunately, I ended up walking some of that too. I’m hopeful that if I keep training and keep eating right, eventually I’ll be able to run much more than I walk.

I ran the race with brand-new earbuds. I was a little nervous to be running with new earbuds, but they worked out. I recently purchased the Jaybird Sport X2 wireless earbuds (on sale!!) and they were great. I plan to write up a full review for you guys later this week, after I’ve got a couple more runs in with them. In short, they stayed put (which is a major hurdle for me), and they were wireless, so I didn’t have to worry about accidentally pulling on the wires.

Today I’m starting a new challenge. It’s call the Harder to Kill (HTK) Challenge by Stupid Easy Paleo’s Steph Gaudreau. It’s a six-week program that focuses on building strength, renewing energy, eating nourishing foods, and having a positive mindset. Today was the first day of the challenge, and we were instructed to create a pledge for the duration of the challenge. My pledge reads: Every day I will honor my body and treat myself with the love and respect I deserve

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I’m so excited to start this new journey. I think the strength training will perfectly complement my 5k training plans, so I’m hoping to get faster and stronger! I also want to focus on the energy and positive mindset. I have seriously been lacking in energy for several months now. Everything–even activities I enjoy–all feel so exhausting. I’d like to get back to a place where I have energy to get my work completed and still work out and do other activities at the end of the work day. As I’m on day 28 of my Whole30, I plan to mostly stick with those eating habits for the six weeks. The HTK does provide meal plans, but since I have food allergies, I will probably have to modify the meals.

I’m planning to write more on the HTK Challenge later this week as we get going with the program.

Anyone else out there training for an upcoming race or starting a health/fitness journey? I’d love to hear about it!

-AB