How to set goals you might actually keep…

It’s mid January, do you know where your resolutions are?

A few weeks ago my Facebook newsfeed was awash with posts and articles and memes about New Year’s resolutions. Some make resolutions. Some decrying resolutions they could not keep. Others resolving not to make resolutions.

someecards.com - My New Year's resolution is to stop lying to myself about making lifestyle changes.

I have spent quite a bit of time in my nonprofit career thinking, talking, reading, and learning about goal-setting. While there are a lot of differences between a program and a person, I have found a lot of the ideas in goal setting as a field make a lot of sense for those of us who want to make changes in our personal life. And it’s a lot of these ideas that seem to be missing the traditional “resolutions” I’m seeing crop up all over Facebook.

So here are my two cents on setting goals you might actually keep. (edit: once I got to the bottom of this wicked long post, I realized this is more like my four cents)  The good news is, the more thoughtful you are about the process at the onset, the more likely you are to follow through. And you can do this at any time. Midnight on 12/31, mid-January, or mid-year.

Where to start

Photo courtesy of bonbonbreak online magazine

Photo courtesy of bonbonbreak online magazine

One of the most common missteps I see in goal setting is that people often start with setting a goal. Wait, what? I’ll let you re-read that. Yea, that’s what I said. You can’t actually set goals by starting with a goal. Let me explain, please.

I see many people make resolutions out of any context of reality… I would even go so far as to say that sometimes, they’re arbitrary. It seems like a good idea to say we’re going to be healthier or more mindful or more organized, etc etc… because really, who doesn’t want those things? But what does that really mean for you? Is that even possible or attainable in your actual life as it is today? Or are we just picking a resolution of off Pinterest because it’s new and shiny?

In the nonprofit world, this is calledmission drift.” Mission drift happens when an organization takes on a goal that is a little tangential from its original mission (this usually happens because they’re chasing after money.) They start to blur the boundaries around what it is they actually intend to do until before you know it they’re an animal shelter that is going to end the war in the Middle East.

An organization’s mission reflects it priorities. When we set out to plan goals, we need to first figure out what our priorities are. So for example, my general priorities (in no particular order) are my children, my husband, my career, my well-being (health, mental health, financial), and my personal development (self-care, learning and growing as a person). These are the things that are most important to me – the areas in my life where, when things aren’t going well, it impacts me in a significant way.

Go do this: Write down your top 5 priorities. Think about what each one really means. I would hope that parents would have their children as priorities. That’s obvious. But what does that mean? What about your relationship and role in your child’s life is a priority for you? Is it a priority for you to be a certain kind of figure in your child’s life? You don’t have to go in depth on the page with what each one means, but just be sure when you write down “kids” or “marriage” that there’s more behind those words.

Once you know what your priorities are, you can set goals that are in line with becoming the person and creating the life you intend to. Having goals that are related to the things that are most important to you means you’re more likely to pay attention to them and make the investment to get them done.

So now that you have those priorities straight…

Hop on the scale

faceslikart

Not that scale. So once you know what your general priorities are, you can begin to assess what needs your attention. What are your priorities right now? Because you’re only human and you can only do so much. You are not going to change everything in your life all at once, so don’t even go there.

On a scale (1-5 usually works), how are your priorities going? Do you feel that your relationship with your children and your role as a parent are where you want them to be? How about your marriage? Career? Some things are probably going pretty well. Those don’t really need your immediate attention. What needs your attention is what is a 1-3. Things that aren’t sitting well with you. Those are the areas in which you’re going to focus this year. Because you can’t do it all. I think I already said that. I’ll probably say it a million more times. It’s important. You can’t become a whole new person with a whole new life just because 12/31/13 is over. You need to pick one or two manageable things that are most urgent and run with them. Maybe that’s it for the year. Maybe you can get one of them up to a 4 or 5 in about 6-8 months and then can pick a new one. Goals don’t have to start and end on January 1. So pick one or two and know that the others will come in due time.

Go do this: review your 5 priorities and rate them from 1-5. Thinking about these things can sometimes be tough – it’s not easy to admit that the things that are most important to your life are not going as well as you’d like. Remember that there is no such thing as perfect. You are doing the best that you can with the tools you have and what a great step you’re taking to go through this process to set some real goals for yourself to get moving in the right direction!

I’ve got problems…

photo courtesy of Heroku

photo courtesy of Heroku

Now think about what the problem is. You need to write a sentence that clearly explains what the problem is. It’s not enough to have an icky feeling about a part of your life. You need to know exactly what’s making it a 1 and not a 4 or 5. Here’s a random example:

Bob’s priority is his health. He’s giving his health a 2 right now. The problem is that Bob is overweight, which is giving him various health complications.

Go do this: If any of your priorities have a rating of 1-3, write a problem statement for each one.

So, we know what our priorities are. We know that we feel like we’re doing less than stellar in one of those priority areas. And we know what the problem is that we want to change.

Finding Cause

So we have a problem. Our health is important to us, yet we are overweight and have several health issues as a result. I bet many of us are chomping at the bit to call this a goal right now. We have a problem so the goal is to just stop doing all of that, right? Well, if it were that easy, why didn’t you just not act that way to begin with?

There is a critical step that I think often gets missed here. We need to find the causes for this problem. The only way we can stop the problem is if we stop the things that are making the problem happen.

Let’s look at Bob again. The problem is that he is overweight. I imagine Bob is thinking then that his goal is to lose weight… and the way people lose weight is to exercise and eat healthy. Bob hasn’t read my blog (haha), so his goal is probably going to be to just go do those things. He might even get a gym membership and throw away all the unhealthy foods in his house.

For some, this can work sometimes, especially if the problem is so urgent that we can’t NOT address it (if Bob’s health has deteriorated to the point where if he doesn’t address is NOW there will be dire consequences).  Many times, though, we don’t see Bob at the gym past February. So what’s causing this misalignment between Bob’s priorities and his reality? He may find that he loses steam when he exercises alone.. or maybe he’s not good at self-motivation. Or maybe he eats out a lot so while he doesn’t have a lot of junk food at home, he’s eating big portions of fattening food more often than not during the week. And the reason he eats out a lot is because he’s never plans his meals.

Go do this: I call this the 2 year old test. You know that 2 year old that keeps asking, “Why?” Harness your inner two year old. Why is your problem occurring? And why is that happening? And why is that happening. Keep asking why until you get to your root causes. You might be surprised at what you find.

And finally, you have some goals to work with

anigif_enhanced-buzz-5354-1341498927-10

Now that you’ve identified what’s causing your life to not match up with your priorities, you can know what needs to change. So, in our scenario about Bob, his priority is his health, which gets a 2 because of his weight issue. The problem is that he is overweight, causing him several ailments. The causes of his weight issue are that he doesn’t exercise because he hates going alone to the gym and doesn’t really feel motivated to keep going. He also eats out more often than not because it’s just him, so why cook for one? He often skips lunch at work because he’s too busy and ends up eating whatever’s around until he can hit the local diner on his way home from work, meaning he’s not able to eat healthy meals, skipping meals entirely and snacking on junk food.

So you can see where some of his goals might be different from just simply saying “go to the gym” and “eat better.” Maybe Bob needs to look at finding a friend or a group activity for exercise – something where he won’t have to do it alone and where others are counting on him to be there so he’ll be more motivated to show up. Perhaps he can set some goals around learning to cook meals for one and packing healthy, portable snacks and bringing dinner leftovers for lunch. Because he’s identified exactly what’s been getting in his way, he can set goals that make sense in his life. Bob from before got a gym membership because “that’s what people who want to lose weight do.”  Bob this time signed up for cooking for one classes at his local library because that’s what causing Bob to not stick to healthy food choices.

Work smarter, not harder

An important note about goals: Goals should be S.M.A.R.T.

Specific: Simply saying “eat healthy” isn’t going to give you something clear to strive for. Be specific about exactly what you’re going to do (eliminate sugar from my diet, limit take out to once per week, add one more serving of veggies to my diet every day, pack healthy snacks in my car so I have something to eat if lunch isn’t available). The more specific you are, the more tangible your goal is, the more likely you are to grab hold and get it done.

Measurable: “healthier” is subjective. If you’re going to do more of something, how much more? If you want to do something less, how much less? Give yourself something to strive for that you can clearly identify as the finish line

Achievable: your goals should be challenging, but feel possible. Look into what can be expected for your goal. Ask around. Set a goal that you feel is manageable.

Realistic: How will your goal fit into your real life? If Bob’s work schedule isn’t going to change any time soon, it’s probably not realistic for him to set a goal that involves sitting down for a formal lunch every day at noon. His goal is to not skip meals and a realistic way for him to do that is to find portable lunches that he can eat somewhere around midday in between appointments. Make sure the goals you set fit into your life and your family and aren’t based on what “should” be.

Time bound: I still haven’t found “Some day” on the calendar, guys. Give yourself some time parameters. By when are you going to do this? Or how often? Sometimes it might make sense to stagger your goals – maybe by March Bob eats lunch most days. By June he’s eating lunch every day. By March he’s playing pick up basketball every weekend and running with his neighbor 3 mornings per week and by June he’s up to 5 mornings per week. Give yourself a deadline and set reminders along the way so that deadline doesn’t sneak up on you.

Go do this: smart step some goals for yourself based on your priorities/problems/causes. Remember to give yourself realistic timelines and set goals that feel doable. Get out your planner and jot down your deadlines and a few reminders along the way. 

Yea, I said reminders. I like to put reminders in my planner to check in on my goals. If I said I was going to do a certain thing by March, I’d write on mid February somewhere in my calendar, “How’s your xyz goal going?” You could also enlist the help of a friend to send you a text message to remind you that you were going to work on your hobby more often or look into photography classes. They don’t need to call you every day to say, “Did you do your hobby today?” but just periodically to remind you that you wanted to make this change. If it’s going well, great! If you haven’t gotten to it, maybe this is just what you need to say, oh yea! I wanted to do that!  (to avoid the age old question, “Just where did the year go? I never got to do x,y,z…”) OR this may be an opportunity for you to go back and reassess what’s realistic and achievable for you at this time. It’s okay to reassess, redo and start again. There’s always plan b, c, d…. just keep picking yourself up so you keep moving in the right direction. Keep asking, “Why?” and reminding yourself of your intentions.

So there ya have it. Goals. Bet you didn’t think I’d take you on such a journey. But taking the time to really think through your intentions will mean greater success in the end. So get a journal or grab your laptop/ipad, a calendar, and a cup of something yummy and hide away for an afternoon and think about your priorities and where you want to be.

Your future self will thank you for it.

self-five

Advertisements

Quick Tip: Grocery List

I just put together a grocery list and figured I’d share!

 

grocery

 

I divide by sections of the store so I don’t get overwhelmed while I’m there. I’m shopping across two sales so I marked the things I need to get by Thursday with a T (before the sale ends) and the things I need to get on Friday or later (when they’re on sale) with an F. This isn’t typical for us – we usually decide to go shopping and then just grab the circular ad for that day… but I got the new fliers and realized there were some sales ending Thursday that I didn’t want to miss… so I made a list for two shopping trips. I put a (C) next to the items I have a coupon for. Items with nothing next to them means I just need to get them whenever because they’re regular price anyway.

There are two items I want to go to another store for (Shaws market) because the price is really good. I also note on the household items the things I may want to get at the Dollar Store (green dot) or Target (red dot) once I price compare. Those are things I can take my time getting so I can check prices and compare this week and don’t need to buy right away.

Finally, I pulled all my Thursday items onto a post it so I can see quickly what I need to get Thursday. Then I can take a look at the rest of my list and grab what I need that’s not on sale or decide to grab them when I go back this weekend if they’re not high need.

The coupons are paper clipped to the list and it’ll get clipped to my planner.

Happy Shopping!

Money Matters: How I keep my budget

Back in July, I decided I was d.o.n.e. done with barely making it from one paycheck to the other. I was spending my money on pretty stupid stuff, never had anything to show for the money I was spending, and was feeling overwhelmed by debt.

Somehow or another, I stumbled upon Dave Ramsey. Now, I can’t really vouch for this guy. I haven’t actually read his book. I joined a budgeting facebook group which is loosely based on his principles and read an e-book very abridged version of his book.

I’ll wait while you click on all those links…

image

 

Anyways, maybe along the way you’ve realized, as I did over time, that this dude is a Bible-quoting, Fox News kind of guy. We all know how I feel about all-uh-dat.

BUT if there’s one thing I’ve learned is that sometimes you have to take what works and leave the rest. So rather than write the whole thing off and continue to hide my head in the sand about my finances, I put some of the tools to work. People swear by what this guys says, so he must have at least something good, right?

I have never felt better about my relationship with money since I started this. My income has not changed. But my attitude about and use of my income has changed significantly. And I feel richer for it.

So I sat down to do my October budget (very late!) and thought I’d walk you through what I do. We each have very unique financial situations so clearly not everything I do will apply to or make sense for you or your family. But.. wait for it…

take what works and leave the rest.   😀

First, some explanations: This is based on a “Zero Based Budget” – which means that at the end of the month, your paper should say you have zero dollars. Here’s a paper bag for your to breathe into. Relaaax. You don’t actually have zero dollars. This just means that every dollar has a name. There’s no such thing has “random” or “free” money. If I have money “left over” at the end of the month, I need to make a decision of what to do with it – put it in savings, apply it towards debt, etc. So a zero-based budget doesn’t mean you spend all your money, it means there are zero dollars that are left unaccounted for. 

I do my budget in my planner (I’ll post about that soon!) because when it comes to math, I need to write it down (show your work!)  I actually manage most of my money online, though. I use BillPay so I don’t have to deal with writing checks and use my debit card just about everywhere. Dave’s method is a cash envelope system – as in, take the cash you will need for each budget item and put it in an envelope. That just isn’t practical to me. For example, I’ve signed up for SmartPay with Cumberland Farms so I save 10cents/gallon by using the app. So I’m not about to take out cash to pay for gas when I could save money by using the app.  I’m also notorious for losing things. I’d rather lose (and replace) my debit card than an envelope with all of my money. The difference between carrying cash and carrying plastic is a personal one you’ll have to grapple with. I trust myself to not go too swipe happy. For some, that’s just not an option and they need cash in their hands to control their spending. You’ll have to think about what’s going to work for you. Which brings me to step #1:

Step one: Start talking to yourself (or anyone else that spends your money)

All of this is pointless if you’re just going to be creating this lovely document but then not actually changing your behavior. This is not about money: it’s about behavior. If you’re not willing to make changes, if you’re not willing to be honest about where you’re money is going and where you want it to go, don’t waste your time. I’m not saying that to be mean, I’m saying it because then the budget won’t work, your finances won’t improve, and you’ll just feel bad about yourself. And I don’t know about you, but when I start to feel bad about myself there’s one thing that always makes me feel better for a hot minute: Retail therapy. Thus the cycle continues.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Also know that if you are in a family/relationship where two people deal with the money you’re budgeting, you need to BOTH do this. It does absolutely no good if one of you is all on a budget and doing well and the other has no idea what is going on or is off doing something else. That’ll only breed resentment and distrust.

My husband and I keep separate accounts as well as our household money. We follow a similar budget strategy to what I’m going to show you here with our household budget. This post will be about my personal finances.

So for my personal finances, I knew my truth was that if I don’t have some fun money, I’m going to rebel. I also know that I need to look at behavior and not just math. Money is about so much more than addition and subtraction. I need to listen to my feelings about money when making budget choices. This will come up throughout the steps..

Step 2: Set the Table

Picture yourself “dealing with” your money. When is it? Where? For how long? For me, it used to be that I never thought of money until I was like, “Crap, I think I’m out of money.” or “Whoops, this is due and I hadn’t planned for it.” These moments were just that – moments that intruded on other areas of my life – like in a work meeting, while making dinner, in the car. Money is such an important, interwoven part of our lives. This is not a bad thing. It doesn’t mean that we are money hungry greedy bastards that just care about money. What it means is that the home you live in, the clothes on your back, the trips you take, the time you spend with your family, the food you eat? Money was a part of that. Have goals for the future? I bet somewhere along the way, you’re going to need some money somehow to get it done. Money is a tool, and tools are good! So don’t you think something that is so much a part of what we do should get some actual time and attention?

setthestage

Important stuff for budget planning: computer, paper, and a cuppa!

So I take the time, once per month, to actually sit down and plan my budget for the next month. I take time every week to “process” things – and I don’t mean go swipe my card or check my account balance, praying that it’s not red. What I mean is I sit and have a “date” with my budget, whether it’s an hour to plan for the next month or 15 minutes to make sure everything is where it was planned to be. This isn’t in my head while driving or in the shower. If you want a lovely dinner for your family, you don’t just randomly think about it for 2 minutes before 6pm and think “Gee I hope some dinner shows up on the table…” You take the time to plan a meal, prep the ingredients. Cook the food. Set the table. Do the same with the money that is going to help you and your family meet its goals.

Step three: Whatchya got?

My next step is to actually write down how much money I have. And I don’t mean I log onto my online banking and look at how much I have in this moment. I like to plan my budget 2 weeks before it’s going to start (which is why I said I was late planning my October budget on September 25). This gives me the opportunity to really think about what’s coming down the pike and how I’m going to meet my goals. So first I have to look at what I’m working with. This way I’m not approaching this from a deficit mindset (who wants how much from me?) but from a place of abundance (what’s in my toolbelt to get the job done?). Trust me when I tell you that that small change in the conversation you have in your head about money makes a world of difference. Try it on and see how it feels.

You’ll notice that my income doesn’t start on 10/1. The month starts on 10/1, which means I’m going to need money that day. I get paid weekly, so really I need that 9/26 paycheck to start paying for stuff in Oct. My first paycheck in October is on the 3rd, so if I started by budget with that paycheck, I’d already be 3 behind. Ya dig? This also means that my income ends before the end of the month. That last paycheck in October is actually going to start my November budget, just like my last paycheck in Sept is starting October.

Woot! October is one of those months that has an extra paycheck!!

Start by listing your income for the month.

Start by listing your income for the month.

My budget is pretty easy because I get paid every week, the same amount, from one source of income. Your income section might need a little more thought and averaging than this if you get paid at different intervals or don’t get paid the same amount. This is okay and doesn’t mean you have to just throw the budget to the wind. Don’t use that as an excuse. Take the most educated guess at what you’re income will probably look like for the month. Remember that the budget you’re planning now is a plan you’re not going to actually write all the checks today. So if things change in your income, use your weekly “dates” with your budget to make some adjustments.

Step four: What do you need?

Next, start listing your expenses for the month. This will look different for everyone because we all have different money lives. I like to start with listing my absolutes for the month. The things I know I am going to need money for and how much. Some of them are definite – my cell phone bill is the same amount every month. Others, I went back through my previous spending and figured out what I was spending. Take gas, for example. I was spending about $40 each week on gas (ugh, I know…). So I budgeted for $45/week for gas. Maybe it’d be a little less, but I wanted to give myself a cushion. Even though no one was going to send me a bill every month like Sprint does, it was an absolute. I can’t not put gas in my car. I can’t not pay my credit card bill each month. I also have a regular doctor’s appointment every other week. This is super important guys, listen up. I listed that as a bill. I looked at the month of October, saw how many times I was going to end up shelling out my copay and budgeted it. This way it’s not the day of my appointment and I’m standing there with my checkbook saying, “Uhh… don’t cash this ’til Thursday…”  because I didn’t plan for it. This is one of the few things I actually take cash out for, all at once. I’d rather have those $90 just out of my account at the beginning of the month so I’m not tempted to spend it. Also, my only other option is to write her a check, which means I have to wait for the check to clear and that always makes me nervous. Did that check clear yet? Did it yet? How about today? I’m too OCD for that. So, gather all of the things you HAVE to pay each month. What I call, my absolutes. You may have others on there like “Groceries” or utility bills if this is a household budget. Like I said, I have a separate budget for that stuff.

I set aside a little each week into an xmas fund, too!

I set aside a little each week into an xmas fund, too!

So there are a couple of other things I want to tell you about expenses. See that Perkins line item? I don’t actually owe Perkins (one of my student loans) any money in October. I pay that bill quarterly. BUT I don’t want the end of the quarter to come and have to shell out the whole payment. So I created what Dave calls a “sinking fund” – a pot of money that you add a little to over time to prepare for an expense down the road. I also have my xmas fund, where I deposit a dollar more than I did the week before (so, one week I deposit $1, the next $2, the next $3…). These are the types of things you don’t need to spend money on every month, but when you set aside money every month or week, when you do need the money, you’ll be glad it’s there. You could also set up sinking funds for things like a new car or a house or a new TV – things that you want to chip away at over time. Consider it like a layaway program for peace of mind in future expenses. Who doesn’t love layaway?

So once I have my absolutes listed, I go back and figure out what’s left to attack my negotiables. My negotiables are the things that I can decide how much I put toward. Sprint doesn’t give a crap if I would rather spend some of that $91 somewhere else. That’s an absolute. But how much spending money I allow myself is negotiable, depending on what other goals I set for myself that month. I generally give myself $80/month in spending money (for things like take out, make up, clothes, random purchases at Target, etc). It keeps me satisfied. I am also working on Baby Steps 1&2 (if you didn’t read the Dave Ramsey thing I posted above, that’s setting an emergency fund and paying off debt). Since this is just my personal account and not the household budget (where we have our $1,000 efund) I’m working towards a $500 efund. I’ll talk about how I pay my debt (Dave calls it a debt snowball) later – this post is already long enough. So, once I figure add up all my income and subtract my absolutes, I negotiate the negotiables. You’ll also notice that I give myself a $25 cushion just in case something goes awry. I want to plan for a zero based budget, but I don’t want to actually ever have zero dollars in my account.

IMG_3299

Step five: Go with the flow

The next thing I do it predict a cash flow. I write each week out of my budget (usually starting with payday) and see how my money is going to come in and out of my account. This is a time to see what’s due before my next paycheck comes in so I can decide when to pay for things and how to make my money last. The middle of the month is a tough spot because a lot is due all at once, so I try to use some of my first paycheck or two to pay for one of those bills so it’s not all coming out of my third paycheck. The first thing I write is the stuff I have to pay for every week (gas, xmas fund) then I see what else HAS to come out that week because of a due date, then I see if there’s something else I WANT to take out (spending money at the beginning of the month is nice… I like to take out those doctor copays right away, like I said).

IMG_3301

Finally, I like to write out a budget like a check register so I have all pretty and color coded (because I’m a nerd). This is also nice because each payday, when I have my “date” with my budget, I can just open to this page and see what I have to do this week – what bills need to be paid, etc. It also tracks what my account balance SHOULD be in order to make my budget work for the month – so that if things change and my balance is higher or lower than anticipated, I can see clearly by how much so I can make adjustments.

IMG_3302

Who knew a budget could be so pretty?

Step six: commit, but not to the point of self-destruction

This is important. Yes, you absolutely have to stick to your budget in order for it to work. But don’t let a slip up set you back. Just like any healthy lifestyle change, you have to keep your eye on the prize and get back in the saddle. Should you eat the chocolate cake? Probably not. Will you? Maybe. Does that mean that since you ate the cake you might as well forget your healthy diet and eat McDonald’s morning, noon, and night now? Um, No. Will you over spend? Yup. Will something come up that you totally forgot about and didn’t budget for. Happens to me every month. (1) that’s where the efund comes in handy and (2) that’s where planning comes in handy. Your new positive outlook with money means that instead of throwing in the towel, you look at the challenge before you and assess how you can use money as the tool that it is to get the job done. Don’t let your finances, or your fear of them, dictate your life.

Take charge. You can do it!

Your Turn: What’s your relationship with money like?

Fashion Friday – wedding weekend – update

Hi Everyone  –

Here’s my Fashion Friday post… I actually wore my hair down today.. you can see just how fried it is. I’m hoping that the new Herbalife Shampoo and Conditioner I just got will help with that. What I really need is a hair cut… but ya know, I’m broke.

ootd1

My shirt and jeans today were thrift store goodies!

I did my 5 minute face in the car while I was waiting for my husband to get out of a doctor’s appointment. I always keep my little make up bag with me so I can quickly apply a fresh face where ever I end up starting my day.

I don’t really have much in terms of awesome fashion in sight this week. But we are traveling to my brother-in-law’s wedding this weekend, so I’ll post pictures of my rehearsal dinner and wedding outfits, for kicks 🙂

In the meantime, check out my pinterest board dedicated to style – looks I think, things I want to try, etc.

Update!

9/11/12 – whew, it’s been a while! We had a great time during the wedding weekend! I totally forgot to take a picture of my dress the night of the wedding, but I did get a picture of part of my rehearsal dinner outfit. I didn’t realize how ill-fitting it was until I saw the picture… I think it’s time to get some of my clothes tailored. Many women forget that this is an option for every day wear – not just for formal gowns. They assume they are a size and that’s it. Not true! Get your stuff taken in or let out to fit your body shape!

photo

Before going to the rehearsal dinner, we stopped at the natural history museum along the way. It was a jeans and tshirt kind of day (I had to sit and wait for my car to be repaired). But! I did get to wear one of my favorite things to wear – my baby!!

photo[1]Seen here in a BabyHawk baby carrier borrowed from a friend.

On a final note, remember that when it comes to a fun weekend full of festivities, everyone likes to be a little fancy.

photo[2]

MLK and journaling (they’re connected, I swear)

This is my journal!

This is my journal!

50 years ago today, Dr. Martin Luther King gave his famous “I have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial. He had a dream of a world where all children, regardless of race, worked together, joined hands, and built a better world around them.

I’m trying to spend some time reflecting on my thoughts and feelings and have taken up journaling. What started it was when I was ready Sarah Mae’s Desperate (awesome book!). Each chapter ends with a journaling prompt. Something to write and reflect about. She had a similar journaling prompt at the end of each segment of the Unwired Mom challenge. I really got into it.

I have been really learning some things about myself. Things I think I already knew and could probably have told you if I had to the time to stop and really think about it. But that’s just it – who the hell has time to stop and think any more? I mean, really really think. Dig. Investigate. Wonder. Set goals. Next steps. Appreciate accomplishments. So with the Unwired Mom challenge done and Desperate almost done (I’m kind of putting it off because I don’t want it to end!), I really really wanted to keep journaling.

But then I was like, well, what do I write about? I really didn’t want to go back to my elementary school days of “Dear Diary, here’s an accounting of my day.” (I still have that diary, by the way. It has kitty cats on it). In my quest to find good printable planner pages for my life planner (more on that later!), I stumbled upon journal printables, which sparked my interest. It turns out, there’s a whole slew of “Journal prompts” out there.. even printable journal pages you can fill out and color! So that’s what I’m going to be doing, along with smashbooking, scrapbooking, and making collages in my journal.

I will share my journal pages, when appropriate, with you all – for inspiration, motivation and lessons learned. As I find more journal ideas (and planner ideas) I’ll pin them.

In the meantime, I thought “I have a dream” scrawled across the top of a blank journal page might be a good place to start tonight when I sit down with my journal, my thoughts, my dreams.

Happy writing.

Your turn: What’s your dream?

Fashion Friday – my approach

So I’ve decided to do a weekly “Outfit of the Day” post – Fashion Friday.. and guess what? I’m already a day late for my first one!  Welcome to following the blog of a person with ADHD.

Anyway, I should really call this “fashion” Friday. Note the quotation marks. I am by no means a fashion guru. Or fashion anything. But, I try to put things together and figured I’d share. Flylady says to “dress to shoes” every day – even if you’re not leaving the house. As much as she annoys me (sorry, Flylady) I agree with a lot of what she says, including this. There’s just something about putting your best face forward every day.

Look, I am as feminist as they come. I think the messages we get about beauty are a load of crap. Do I need make up to be beautiful? Absolutely not. Do I have to wear the latest fashions and trends to be a good person? Puh-lease. BUT something happens when I feel put together. And for me, put together is a touch of make up (most times), actual clothes that I wouldn’t wear to bed. Some accessories. Add a touch of nail polish and I could take over the world. Real snazzy.

But let’s all remember – I’m a mom of three. My size has fluctuated and my income has not grown significantly in a long time. I have no time, little energy and not a whole lot of fashion sense. So ya know, I’m not going to be walking down any runways soon. So what’s my approach?

Little touches.

I don’t really need to wear business attire – business casual on many days – jeans most days. But simply adding a dressier top with some dark jeans can pull a look together. My hair is getting pretty shaggy and I am saving up for a haircut, so most days, I wear it up in a bun. But wearing a low bun over to the side once in a while gives it that “little touch” – dresses it up a little. I’ll blog more about my 5 minute make up routine – but it basically boils down to finding the 2 or 3 little things that make a difference for you in terms of feeling “made up.” Add some sparkle, some accessories and there you have it. Minimal effort, not that much time, but mama is sparkling. And like Soul Happy Living would say, when mama sparkles,  everyone shines.

So without further ado, here’s the first Fashion Friday Outfit of the Day!

photoI didn’t feel like getting too dressed up, so I wore my favorite skinny jeans (which I got by the way from a local thrift store). Not wanting to look too dressed down, though, I added some little touches. I wore a sparkly top. A similarly colored cardigan toned it down enough so that it still sparkled but didn’t look like I was going out for a night on the town. A large deeply colored blue necklace added a little something to an otherwise pretty neutral outfit. My five-minute face makes it look like I at least tried that morning. You can’t see it, but I have my hair in a low side bun and I twisted my bangs a couple of times before I pinned them up.

And look! Bonus! I brought in some nail polish and did my nails at lunch! I got this great idea from my friend Sarah (you can see some of her awesome home manicures here). I never have the money or time to get my nails done, and good luck doing your nails at home when you have three kids (or one kid, for that matter).  But, I get an hour lunch break and really, it’s not anyone’s business but mine what I do with that hour. So on Friday, I did my nails.

photo[1]They’re not perfect, but they’re better than nothing. And besides this photo, who really is going to be closely inspecting my nails, anyway? From the distance at which 99.99% of people will be seeing my hands, it’ll look like I have a lovely french manicure.

So, there ya have it. I ended up with a pretty well put together look that took no more time or energy than jeans and t-shirt. Ta-da! Oh, and P.S. – I’m all about being real. So I will post OOTD, regardless of how put together I look. Consider it a practice in showing myself some grace.

 

Your turn: in what ways do you add little touches to your look and style?

It’s not about the Bangs.

It's not about the Bangs.

I’m Kat! This is a picture of me the day I got bangs for the first time since, like, 4th grade. That may sound ridiculous, to take such a happy selfie of bangs, of all things, but it meant something to me.

Mostly because everyone was telling me not to get bangs. My friends, my hairdresser… every time I said “I think I want bangs” they were like, no you don’t. Your forehead is too small for bangs. Your hair is too thick for bangs. Then you’ll have to keep cutting them to keep it up. All good points.

But I wanted them. And I felt defeated. I would shrink back and think, “yea… maybe I don’t want bangs after all…”

Then one day it clicked. Why was I seeking permission for this? (Hint: I do that a lot. It wasn’t about the bangs.)

So I went to the salon, pulled out a picture of what I was thinking, and said, “I want bangs like this. How can you make this work for me.” No “I think”… no “maybe.” no I’m sorry to be bothering you with my existence and my persistent need for fringe. No question marks. I want them. Period. P.e.r.i.o.d.

“Ok” the lady at Supercuts said, mostly consumed by some distant thought and not really concerned at all that this was a momentous day in my life.

Really? Bangs? Momentous? It wasn’t about the bangs, guys. It was about being assertive. Asking for what I want in a way that says, “I matter and I deserve it.”

So, go out and grab something today. Get the bangs you’ve been wanting, whatever they may be. (Remember to always do no harm and to handle the souls in your care, whether it’s your kids, your partner, or your friends with great respect. But don’t think that means for a second that you can’t have bangs.)

Your turn: Send me your selfie doing something you’ve always wanted to do!