I was really banking on having some downtime in January – time to collect my thoughts, plan, organize, get inspired. At least, that’s how it was for me last January. Last year, I had time to ‘settle’ in to January, ease myself into the new year, get comfortable (you get the idea). More importantly, I had the time and space for my creative process to happen. I taught myself video editing and was hyper-inspired with ideas for content. Now that I have more than 1 full year under my belt as a full-time blogger, I kinda figured it would pan out the same this year. But it didn’t. Looking at my calendar on December 31st, I somehow already had all of my work booked for January and 3 trips planned for January, February, and March. While I’m super thankful because it’s as busy as ever, it was a rude awakening: TIME. WAITS. FOR. NO. ONE.
I came to the realization that: a) you don’t have to have a laundry list of resolutions for the year (I wrote about the danger of new year’s resolutions here anyway), and b) there isn’t always the perfect time to plan them. The beginning of January is not the only time to set goals or intentions – they’re an ongoing process. So, if you’re feeling even the slightest bit of pressure because of everyone’s new year goals, or if you feel like you’ve missed the boat because you haven’t set goals for the year, don’t worry. The best time is any time to set intentions and take greater control over your life.
With this in mind, I took a few minutes to REALLY think about what I want to achieve for this year. Those things turned out to be a direct response to the biggest challenges I faced last year. So, my ‘list’ of intentions is short, but very purposeful:
- To be consistent
- To focus, and
- To have balance
My biggest professional challenge last year was staying in control of my content. I was lucky to have many travel opportunities, but this made it difficult to steer the direction of my content. I wasn’t updating my blog as frequently as I wanted to, and when I wasn’t producing travel content, my content was primarily driven by the campaigns I was working on. For a lifestyle blog, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I started this blog with the intention of creating more meaningful content, writing more, and making more of a difference.
So, I have set the intention this year to be consistent with my content. My aim is to stick to a regular schedule of at least one blog post and/or video per week. I also plan to finally map out an editorial calendar, which will allow me to look at the year from a bird’s eye view and plan concepts for each month. If I put my content plans in my calendar and treat them like campaign deadlines, it will help me to stay on track and prevent my schedule from being all over the place.
On the personal front, my biggest challenge, without a doubt, was keeping to a consistent fitness routine and diet. Over the course of my life, I’ve always said that getting into shape is more effective when I have a goal to work towards (usually a trip). But I was doing more harm than good because after I met that goal and went on the trip, I rewarded myself by indulging. I caused a yo-yo effect on my body. This actually caused me to gain more weight in the long-run and I saw numbers on my scale I’d never seen before. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I started a health and wellness journey last year, and I’m committed to it more than ever for this year. I understand that fitness is an entire lifestyle. There will be no dropping off and irregularities caused by my travel schedule. I plan to live each day with this intention in mind.
My ability to focus on something 200% is what I believe has made me successful. But at the same time, when I’m not focused, I’m a hot mess! As a small business owner running the whole show, I can get easily distracted and OVERWHELMED with the sheer volume of emails, notifications, looming deadlines, deliveries, and now, a little pup at home (which is like bringing your kid or dog with you to work each day).
Ever notice how you can pick up your phone to do one thing, see a notification for something else which you check, and then before you know it, you’ve suddenly been scrolling Instagram mindlessly for 20 minutes or watching a YouTube video? I was losing so much time. Time is our most valuable commodity and for someone who complains about not having enough of it, this is not okay.
So, this week, I tried something new. I started to be very mindful of what I was doing and started to be intentional with my focus. How?
- I started each day with my to-do list
- I allocated a certain amount of time for each task
- I told myself to work on only that task before moving onto the next, and
- I kept reminding myself to stay focused and look at the clock to stay on track during that task.
Sounds so simple, right? But you know what happened? I was INSTANTLY more productive and crossed way more things off my to-do list than ever before. When I concentrated on being present in my current task and tried to ignore all distractions, I noticed a huge change. For those struggling with this too, a good tip (borrowing from my legal career) is to docket your time. In law, we would docket in 6-minute intervals (each interval counting as a 0.1). Each time you start a new task, start your timer and stop it only when you’re done or taking a break. While the clock is running, it reminds you to focus only on that particular task. This is a great way to be more accountable for your time.
I intend to prioritize balance this year in two ways: with regards to my diet and work/life balance. Instead of depriving myself of the foods I love (which always caused me to over-indulge after), I’m following an 80/20 rule. I love carbs way too much to say goodbye to them permanently and I’m not a fan of fad diets, so a balanced approach is the way to go for me.
More importantly, I intend to have better work/life balance. I know what burn-out feels like all too well, and this is essential to prevent it and have longevity in my career and personal relationships. The importance of keeping to a reasonable pace is so underrated. I already wake up pretty early, and after working out, work a solid day. I am going to stop working at 7:30 p.m. during the week, and will try to minimize working on the weekend, so I can put the most important people and relationships in my life first. When I travel, I plan to work less and enjoy more! Less shooting and more experiencing!
So, that’s it. 3 intentions for the year, which will have a huge impact on my life and happiness this year. What do you think? Remember: if you don’t have your ‘game plan’ for this year all mapped out, don’t sweat it! But do make the time to set meaningful intentions for yourself, whether now or at any point in the year.