In It

It’s January 18th and, according to WordPress, this is my 50th blog post. This is exciting because, when I started this blog a while back, I was really concerned about stalling out after a handful of posts. While I’ve certainly had my blogging dry spells, I’m proud that I haven’t completely abandoned this site all together.

But, I have to admit to having this fleeting thought:

Darn. Woulda been cool if my 50th post was a New Year’s Eve wrap-up.

You know exactly the kind of post I’m talking about because you likely read a dozen of them three weeks ago. I could have revisited last year’s New Year’s resolutions, talked about everything I learned in 2014 and then set goals and commitments for the coming year. And it would have been post 50, which is such a nice, fat, juicy number.

But, honestly, I don’t know where I would have started. And, 19 days later, I still don’t. The truth is that I’m so IN IT, that I just can’t step back far enough for that kind of reflection. I’m not winding down or gearing up. I hopped on a running treadmill a couple months ago and I am just trying to keep myself from slipping off the end of it.

He had it.
He had it.

But, it’s all good. This momentum feels good and right, and I think it’s fair if the particular rhythm of your life doesn’t match up with the calendar.

In the spirit of all that, I’m going to leave out a thoughtful conclusion to this post and jump back on the treadmill. (But, I’ll take a cue from George Gray and face forward.)

Question: Anyone else IN IT?

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Not so S.M.A.R.T.

I started to write this post about resolutions vs. S.M.A.R.T. goals, and how you’re really much better off with this acronym-guided goal-setting than the typical, vague, forgotten-by-mid-February New Year’s resolution…But, then I could only remember what 2 of the 5 letters in S.M.A.R.T. stood for. I sat in front of my computer for a few minutes really trying to remember without the help of Google. Because, honestly, if I was going to write a S.M.A.R.T. goal inspired post, shouldn’t I just KNOW what all the letters stand for? (And, what is Google doing to our brains? Pre-Google, I would have just remembered this, along with the name of the guy in that show and where the post office is because I simply had to in order to survive…)

But I was like “S…stands for ‘smart.’ Your goals should be smart, right?…” And then I realized the level of irony of this particular internal conversation.

So, then I finally googled “S.M.A.R.T.”

Well, first I watched this video from the most recent episode of SNL, which is all about New Year’s resolutions:

resolutionrevolution

S.M.A.R.T. goals are:

Specific

Measurable

Attainable

Realistic

Time-bound

It’s not rocket science. Basically, you’re more likely to make progress if your goal is something like “train 3 times a week so I can run that 5k at the end of March in under 30 minutes” vs. “work out more.”

At the end of December I set a S.M.A.R.T. writing goal. Instead of telling myself that I’d “write more” I wrote the following on a piece of paper, pinned it to my corkboard, and told a handful of close friends who could help keep me accountable:

Manuscript #2

Draft 1

May 1, 2014

I felt organized and motivated. Empowered.

A month later I wonder what the hell I was thinking.

OK, maybe it’s not that bad. I’d already been working on something for a few months, so it’s not like I was starting from scratch on Jan 1. I have a preliminary story outline. And it can always be a really terrible, pockmarked Draft 1 (as most are).

But, the truth is that I am way off from something that’s even nearly complete. Which could mean a couple different things:

  1. I’m not writing enough. –>This feels true. I’ve been less disciplined about setting aside designated writing time that isn’t peppered with a dozen snack/Netflix breaks
  2. My goal isn’t realistic. –> It’s possible. But, it feels like a cop-out to change my deadline at this point before I make a real effort to address possibility #1.

And, this is what I like about S.M.A.R.T. goals. Maybe it’s just me, but it feels so much easier to say “eh, screw it” when it comes to vague resolutions. But, if I have a self-imposed deadline looming, I’m more likely to regularly check in on my progress. And, maybe I’ll realize that May 1st just isn’t going to happen and I’ll need to go back in and tinker with the “time-bound” element of my goal. But, that’s a lot better than ditching the thing all together.

Question: What keeps you on track when it comes to setting and pursuing goals?

Vision Boards

So, vision boards. Maybe you’ve heard about them? The idea is to create a visual representation of your goals, aspirations and anything that inspires and motivates you to create the future you want. And then you hang it in a place you look at on a regular basis so that you can absorb its positive mojo and achieve your dreams. The VB philosophy is sort of along the lines of positive visualization that athletes use. They see themselves crossing the finish line/scoring the goal/carrying the trophy.

With vision boards, cork or poster board is usually involved, as is a pair of scissors and magazine clippings/computer print outs and tape, glue or pushpins.

The cynic in me would dismiss the concept as an arts and crafts project at best if there weren’t a handful of accomplished people who swear by them. One vision board proponent is YA author Susane Colasanti.  I am forever grateful to successful authors who are generous enough to share their process in a public fashion, and Susane has written about her use of vision boarding numerous times on her blog. This is a person who is publishing her seventh YA book this May, so I think I better just shut up and listen.

Also, there’s my health guru and adventure cleanse guide, Kris Carr. My favorite vision board story is hers. When she was trying to get her documentary out there and getting a lot of “NO,” she tacked this note to her vision board:

“Oprah, save a seat for me, I’m coming”.

That’s balls. But, four years later, it happened. Kris was a guest on Oprah’s show, and we all know what happens when Oprah endorses you.

Of course, those four years weren’t spent idly praying at the altar of her vision board. Kris has a ton of passion and worked her butt off. As did Susane. Writing takes a lot of discipline and focus, not to mention talent, and she put in the time.

So, what do I have to lose?

2013-03-10_19-24-33_595

You’ll see it’s still in the wrapper with its mounting kit. It’s been like that for two weeks now. I guess I’m still trying to figure out how to get started. And I’d be lying if I didn’t admit there was a tiny part of me that’s slightly queasy over the new agey-ness of the exercise. And, also, there’s something about creating this thing that makes me feel just a little too vulnerable. What if someone sees it and thinks I’m silly? Or, worse yet, delusional?

Well, here’s what Ms. Carr says:

“A bit of advice to all the negative Nellies who like to rain on parades and poop on dreams: When a person is powered by faith, love, a righteous mission and a vision board, it’s best to get out of their way or you just might get hit with the holy sparkle (which wouldn’t be such a bad thing – holy sparkle definitely combats hot air).”
– link

If she’s got my back, I should be ok.

Speaking of…

Cleanse update: I am finishing up on week #2 and THINGS ARE JUST FINE. I even survived a birthday celebration at a not particularly vegan/gluten-free friendly restaurant last night. I didn’t have it in me to interrogate the waitress and verify that everything I ate was 100% vegan/gf, but I abstained from shared dishes that obviously included meat, dairy and gluten, and didn’t touch a drop of alcohol. I’ll admit it – that one hurt. It’s not easy watching others thoroughly enjoy their champagne and cocktails from the sidelines, and it’s slightly alarming  to be the only sober person waiting for a cab on the Lower East Side at 1:30 a.m. on a Saturday night.

Question: What do you think about vision boards? Any tips on how to get started?