Prone to work: Motivation month

Motivation monthI’ve written before how I love all things goals/lists/motivation. I’m a sucker for New Year’s resolutions, to-do lists, motivational blog posts, etc. This morning, I was lamenting how many of my goals and ambitions weren’t anywhere near where I had hoped they would be by this time of year. Then I realized that the year isn’t yet over (obviously), and I can still work toward some solid next steps in many of the areas that need some attention.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve also got a few items on your original list of goals that may not be quite where you wanted for one reason or another. Personally, I had a bit of a disruption this year with a cross country move that shifted a few of my projects and put others on hold (read more about that here, here and here).

The good news is that we’ve still got a month to go! While we can’t create more hours in the day, we CAN be intentional about the time we have left. And the fact that the last month of the year is often one of the busiest is no excuse. Just think of how great it will feel to begin 2015 on a high note after finishing this year strong!

So, admitting that I CAN’T accomplish EVERYTHING I’d like to in the next month, here, in no particular order, are the things I’m hustling on:

  • Do something physical once a day. I ran this morning for the first time in WEEKS. The move and drastic weather changes got me out of sync, but I’m back on the horse after signing up for the half marathon in Nashville in April (any other hustlers running that one?). For me, it’s always more helpful to have something external to aim for and schedule around.
  • Do something professional once per day. I transitioned to a part-time, remote role once I moved to Denver from Florida in late September. I’ve been diligent about sending out job applications, updating my resume, and networking with professional contacts, and I want to continue making this job hunt a priority. Shameless plug: check out my profile and professional experience on LinkedIn if you know anyone who’s hiring 😉
  • Get the side project up and running. Before making the move this fall, I had an idea for a writing project that I wanted to tackle after I got here. While I’ve made some strides, it’s certainly not launched, but 31 days is more than enough time to stay diligent and see this idea through.

While these are the “big” things, there’s plenty more on my agenda that I’m looking forward to: freelance project deadlines, Christmas activities, travel, editing projects, Christmas shopping, etc., and I’m excited about the month ahead.

But what about you? Taking a look at your “original” list of goals, whether that’s for the year or the season or whatever, what are you going to focus on–realistically–for the next 31 days? How will you finish 2014 strong?

Comment below, and I’ll check in with you around the middle of the month to see how things are going!


Prone to plan: 2014 resolutions and goals

One might assume that a blog post about new year’s goals and resolutions should be written sometime around the new year. Then again, you know what they say about assuming…

In fact, I’ve had this post written a few different times, but I was never quite ready to press “Publish.” Part of the hesitation was “going public” with goals and the accountability that comes with it. But I got over that. Then I wrote about my friend, Elise, and didn’t really feel like writing anything for a little while. But I’ve pushed through that, as well.

Picking out goals for the year was somewhat tricker since I have have a whole list of things I want to accomplish before April 10. But I’ve resigned myself to the fact that my “30 list” won’t be completed in the next 4 months (like the story of the hike), and I’m OK with that.

Before I get to my actual resolutions/goals for 2014, I thought I would share some that I briefly considered but knew I wouldn’t keep. Thus, these didn’t make the cut for obvious reasons:

  • Eat less pasta. Clearly not going to happen.
  • Say something nice about Urban Meyer. I’m fairly certain this one isn’t even possible.
  • Stay current on my ironing–one of the few chores I absolutely loathe. Sadly, I knew this one was bound to fail.
  • Maybe possibly consider eating at Chick-fli-a slightly fewer times each month. With a Christmas stocking sporting a few gift cards, this one was also out of the running. Plus, eating there feels like tithing–they do the Lord’s work.

So here are the resolutions and goal’s I’ve settled on for 2014:

  • Faith: Read the Bible each day, preferably before skimming social media in the morning. Recently, I’ve been convicted about how much time I spend mindlessly reading about my friend’s cousin’s kid’s teacher’s latest class activity and how little time I spend in the Word. So I’m hoping to change that, even with a few minutes of reading a chapter in the morning. Then once that’s done, I don’t have to feel so guilty about finding Pinterest recipies for new desserts.
    • Fitness: Exercise at least three times a week. Getting presents for Christmas is great; getting fat is not. I’ve gotten into a fairly consistent schedule with this over the last few years. It’s normally easier for me to stick with something if I’m training for a race (like this past fall), so without anything on the calendar for the first part of 2014, I’m hoping that making this a resolution will keep me accountable and on track.
    • Focus: Write a blog post twice a week. I honestly hope to keep this one, but I’m not making any promises. It’s a goal, and I’ve declared it here in hopes of my other blogging friends (here, here, and here) keeping me accountable. But this is the one that seems to fall by the wayside when things get “busy.” But if you can’t count on me for two pithy posts a week, I’m not sure that you can count on me for anything.
    • Furnish: Complete one house project per month. I’ve got a house plan a’brewin, but that likely won’t come to fruition until 2015. Between now and then, I want to prioritize some time each month to work on a home project (like this, this, or this): something that will be fun and/or functional. Because let’s be honest, the joys of homeownership aren’t all painting walls and making curtains (though my friend, Mariah, just helped me make some great ones). Someone’s got to fix the sink drain and get the dryer serviced. If I can stay consistent with this (and build up some of my handyman skillz along the way), that will make the future idea that much easier.
    • Finances: Save for goal #1 by June 30; save for goal #2 December 31. I read and learned a while back that when coming up with things like money saving goals, it’s better to break them up into smaller chunks so you can see early wins. I’m fairly good at putting some cash away every month, but this year, I want to be deliberate in prioritizing this in the budget. Like I mentioned above, I’ve got some long term plans that I want to prepare for now, and this is the year to make that happen.
    • Word for the year: Each year, my pastor challenges us to pray about a word that will serve as a “guide” of sorts throughout the year. Last year, I settled on (post). This year, my word is…revealed in a future blog post. Sorry–I’ve got to have something for you to come back for!

2014 Resolutions
At this point, 20 days into the new year, I’d give myself a B- on the goals above. I’ve been doing OK, but not great, and in keeping with the grade school motif, there’s always room for improvement. But I’m excited about the prospects to stick to these plans.

How about you? Have you made any goals or resolutions for the year? If so, how are you doing on them now? If you don’t make any commitments at the beginning of each year, why not?

Prone to quit: The worst kind of busyness

do all the things

If you ever ask me how I’m doing and my reply has anything to do with being “busy,” you have permission to unfriend me. Seriously. No questions asked.

Let’s be honest: we’re all busy. It may look different to you than it does to me. Some of us wear it as a badge of honor, but I’m over that.

I find myself in a very brief season of what I jokingly referred to as “the worst kind of busyness”: spinning your wheels while making no progress. (As opposed to making real progress, like my in-person friend growing her garden and re-doing her office, or my internet friends getting great content out on their blogs. At the moment, y’all are not my favorite people.)

Perhaps you know the feeling. Lots of lists written down and strewn hither and yon. A woefully unrealistic deadline (often self-imposed) to get things done. The promise to yourself that it won’t be like the last time.

And then it becomes like the last time. You resign yourself to the fact that things will be left undone. You substitute a real dinner with a fresh pack of Oreos to mask the disappointment. Just me? OK then, moving on…

In this particular episode, I’m juggling projects at work against a pending international trip in 1.5 weeks that I’m leading and STILL haven’t booked our final hotel with LOADS of unnecessary house chores and cleaning sandwiched in between watching two dogs on two separate weekends with a friend visiting from out of town thrown in for good measure all before welcoming a new roommate this weekend and finalizing my house refinancing. Clearly, I NEED to sweep my garage and organize my Gmail and sort, file, shred, and store YEARS worth of paperwork before I leave the country.

Who knew Oreos could be so soothing?

I should know better by now. You would think my awesome sense of self-awareness would kick in at some point and keep me from such destructive patterns. When I took the StrengthsFinder test a few years ago, it told me one of my strengths was “Achiever” (shocker!) but I’ll “never feel as though [I’ve] reached [my] goal” and I “must learn to live with this whisper of discontent.”

Discontent, thy name is Dustin.

But this is not a pity party. This is not a complaint. For the most part, I rather enjoy the things that keep me busy.

This is a line in the sand. The day I stop talking about being busy and give myself the permission to avoid creating it. And recognize that this is a season.

I’m going to plow ahead and redeem the time that’s left as best as I can. There will be things left undone. But the world will keep spinning and those things will be here when I get back from the other side of it.

Perhaps you’d like to join me. Let’s quit this cult of busyness.

Fun fact: I decided to write this blog post instead of tacking the to-do list, because there aren’t enough Oreos in town to deal with my inbox or the work list I carried home.

Prone to remember: May in review

Inspired by bloggers far more gifted than I am, I thought a little month-in-review post would be fun. This includes links to some previous posts, as well as some life events that didn’t make the blog, and things I’m looking forward to in the coming months. I did my best to stick to the pattern, but as you’ll see, it’s definitely not perfect…

  • Attempting some craft projects
  • Buying more things for the office as incentive to use it as a creative space
    May birthdays
  • Celebrating a slew of birthdays in May
  • Dreaming about future trips
  • Eating at new places
  • Filing all that fun paperwork that comes with being an adult that I’ve pushed out of the way for far too long
  • Getting up early and working on being more of a morning person
  • Hoping to launch a new blog idea next month
  • Indulging in some food at the Flower & Garden Festival
  • Joining fellow bloggers for an event in September
  • Keeping a restaurant wish list
  • Laughing at the bathhouse story
  • Meeting the newest member of the family and celebrating Mom
  • Nabbing tickets to see Paul McCartney!
  • Organizing the office to make it more usable
  • Preparing for an overseas trip next month
  • Quizzing friends on Harry Potter (currently on book 4!)
  • Remembering a life well lived
  • Stalling out on the hundred push-up challenge
    peanut butter pie
  • Trying new things, like chocolate-making and a new peanut butter pie recipe
  • Understanding the complexities of a corporate web project
  • Visiting with friends
  • Working on plans for the 30 before 30 list
  • X (I’ve got nothing, and I don’t care that it’s incomplete; I’m an adult and I do what I want.)
  • Yearning for pie
  • Zooming toward another half marathon in December

What did you make of May?

Prone to create: When the mood strikes

Occasionally, I’ll get a burst of creativity where I’m compelled to produce something: painting, cooking, attempting to plant something, etc. I call it a “burst” because it’s definitely not the norm for me. I default to more of an analytical/left brain dominance, though this isn’t always the case.

When the mood strikes, I know I’m either going to bust my budget on craft supplies, lose out on sleep, or both. The abject proliferation of Pinterest has not helped matters. Yes, I’m a straight guy who does not mind using and perusing Pinterest or admitting to doing so. I’m actually quite good at it–you’ll love my pin boards.

I had two projects in mind a few months ago when I succumbed to one of these phases. When I could no longer ignore the weekly Michael’s coupons or the incessant pinning, I set off for Goodwill in search of raw materials.

Goodwill findsI was thrilled to find a dated though not-completely-hideous print that would work great for both ideas.

First, I wanted to create a magnetic chalkboard for my office. Curiously, this room is the one that has had the most “work” done on it, but it’s likely the place I spend the least amount of my time. (See previous projects here and here.)

orange chalkboardI removed the canvas from the frame and painted it an appropriate shade of orange, since there are hideous versions of this glorious color that would make the project all wrong (e.g. U. of Tennessee and Texas Longhorns). I attached some sheet metal to some thin plywood backing, painted it with chalkboard spray paint, put it all together and hung it on the wall, but not before applying some finishing touches of encouragement to go along with my race bibs.

St. Augustine quoteOnce that was completed, I set out to use the canvas/artwork, now that the frame was gone. I had a quote in mind that I wanted to use, so I bought some scrapbook letters, drew out some grid lines, and arranged the letters into words for the quote. I applied some white spray paint, waited (impatiently) for the paint to dry, then removed the letters, revealing the quote through the original art.

(In case the quote is hard to read in the photo, it says “If these are the beauties afforded to sinful men, what does God have in store for those who love him?” -St. Augustine)

I put this second piece downstairs, and I absolutely love it. I’ve always appreciated good quotes and Bible verses, but I like them the best where I can actually see them regularly–on a wall, in a journal, etc.

So there you have it: a few of my latest creative endeavors. What have you been creating lately? Is creativity more of the exception or the rule for you? What projects have you been particularly proud of recently? What’s coming up on your “creativity agenda”? Let’s hear it in the comments.