Welcome to the monthly goal update series. At the end of each month I’ll write a wrap-up post on how I am tracking with my goals. I know the only person interested in this much detail about my life is my grandmother, however science says that you are more likely to achieve something if you have to share your progress publically, and who am I to question science?
February in a nutshell
February started with two blissful weeks travelling around the South Island of New Zealand. It was a lovely break from work and the routine of everyday life, leaving us refreshed and relaxed. It also means some ups and downs for our finances this month – see goal 4 below. The final two weeks of February were business as usual, though I’ll be holding on to the post-holiday bliss for as long as possible!
The goal review
Get at least 8 hours of sleep per night
New Zealand is 2 hours ahead of Sydney meaning a 6:30am wakeup call back home was actually 8:30am over there – woo hoo! Being on holidays I was a little more relaxed with sleep times as it was largely dependent on the activities planned for the day/night. I was able to easily fit in 8 hours each night – except one. Our flight home was at 6am, so required a very early wakeup call and despite trying to make myself tired early enough to fit in the full 8 hours, it just wasn’t possible to go to bed any earlier. I was however able to nap on the plane (yes I’m one of lucky people who can sleep anywhere!) so this counts to me.
Goal status: Achieved!
Do more physical activity
Some days I’ll come home from my regular desk job with a grand total of 1500 steps for the entire day! As much as I make an effort to get up and walk around, visit the printer, make a cup of tea, or go and meet with colleagues instead of calling them, the reality is that to get work done, I need to be at my desk.
Luckily being on holidays it is so much easier to see the numbers rise. Wandering around new towns, exploring streets and alleyways, walking along forest paths to get to beautiful lookouts and waterfalls, hiking up mountains to marvel at the views. There was not a day when we didn’t reach the 10,000 step minimum goal and often found we exceeded it without even trying. And then we came home. Back to the desk job and coming down from a holiday high, I must admit fitting in exercise started to feel like a hard task again. Some new strategies are needed again hopefully these will help me stick to the goal.
Strategy one – I’m a scheduler by nature and if it isn’t in my diary, it won’t get done. Take the last full week of February as an example; I worked 7 days and 2 nights, as well as fitting in 1 regular social engagement, my diary was busy but not a complete disaster. I had space on Monday and Thursday evenings where I could have scheduled in something more active. Monday nights used to be reserved for Netball, so it wouldn’t be too different to spend at least an hour doing a similar activity. For March I will be scheduling in one hours of something at least 2 days per week. Hopefully this gives me the momentum I need to keep going on the other days.
Strategy two – ask for a buddy. I’m a social person and I’ve discovered I really hate the idea of exercising by myself. I’ve had gym memberships that have gone unused, and even with the best intentions I find it easy to come up with excuses on why I can’t just ‘go for a run’ by myself like so many of my friends. I gravitate to team sports; netball and soccer for a reason, it is a challenge, it is social and above all else it doesn’t feel like exercise! I’ll be on the lookout for another team/group activity I can join or at the very least, asking someone to join me. This is an area where balance really comes into play and spending a bit of money to achieve an outcome is very much worth it in my books.
Goal status: Room for improvement
Find a way to ‘give’ each month
I was able to find a fun way to give back this month. A local children’s charity made an agreement with an adventure obstacle course event that for every volunteer they got to help out on the day, the event organisers would make a donation. This charity is one of my favourites and I like to support them both via monetary donations, and in other ways when possible so I signed up. I was tasked with keeping the flow of participants moving and to motivate them to achieve the challenge. I got to spend the day talking with people and making a difference, a win-win in my books.
Goal status: Achieved!
Increase my savings rate by 1% each month
With a saving rate of 49% in January, the goal for February was 50%. Each month I charge every expense I can to my $0 annual fee credit card in order to get maximum rewards points, and pay off the bill in full each ’55 day interest free’ cycle to avoid any extra charges. This shouldn’t affect the savings rate too greatly as I have a running ‘bills’ account that money is put into each payday to ensure I have the balance when the bill is due.
I had no other large expenses in February, in fact, we had two whole weeks ‘free’ from discretionary expenses because ‘travel’ and all things associated with it; transport, food, entertainment come from a separate part of the budget and they were already either pre-paid or saved for in advance. The downside of being out of the country meant no overtime or extra work could be picked up that required me to be there in person. I could have continued to earn some money online during this time if I was wanted to, however the chance to escape, relax, unwind and recharge was more important than a few extra dollars. My monthly budget is based on a minimum income earned and anything above that is considered a bonus – this is a helpful tactic when income varies month to month.
So although monthly total income was slightly reduced, a percentage based savings rate means this was adjusted accordingly and a smaller figure was saved, but the goal still reached.
Goal status: Achieved!
Learn as much as I can about blogging and update this blog at least once per week.
Still a work in progress, as I expect I will be for a while to come yet. I am still learning and growing. With my focus still on creating content and building networks for February, I believe it was a success.
I’ll also make a schedule for social media posts, at the moment it is just when I can find a spare minute, so hopefully a more systematic approach will capture some new interactions.
As always I’m open to hearing from you what you like and where you think I can improve. If you have a great blogging tool you want to share with me, please let me know.
That’s a wrap for my goal progress this month. Let me know in the comments how you are tracking with your goals.
How I’m keeping on track with my goals and you can too – bonus tips!
Just do something. That has become my mantra each day. When I’m feeling terrible or tired from a long day at work, I remind myself that making a small contribution to my goals will make a bigger difference over time.
Have a support system
Sharing my goals with family and friends (and everyone on the internet!) has kept me going in the moments when I’ve wanted to give up. I’ve got an especially awesome personal cheerleader in Mr. Balance, who will happily go on walks to help me reach my step goal, or have dinner at home to keep the savings rate high.
Accept there will be hurdles and failures
Sometimes life gets in the way and doesn’t work out exactly as we’ve planned, be grateful for the learning experience. Each hurdle you come across will help shape the way you work moving forward.
Review and adjust
I regularly evaluate if each goal is working, making sure they are still achievable and relevant. As well as writing these monthly updates, each Sunday I asses the week that was, focusing on the goals I didn’t achieve and the reasons why. This helps me highlight and plan a strategy to reduce any foreseen hurdles in the week ahead.
Celebrate the small wins
With life moving by so quickly, sometimes we can forget to take stock of what we’ve achieved. Each week in my review, I congratulate myself on what I have achieved so far. Even on an average week I acknowledge that each small step towards my ultimate goal is worth celebrating (with a pat on the back, not a bottle of champers ;)).
Did you set goals for 2017? How are you tracking? What have been your major hurdles and how did you get back on track?