Quarterly Goals 2018, #1

One of the things that worked best for me last year was making lists of quarterly goals. I first fell in love with Quarterly Goals through watching Jenna Moreci's Quarterly Goals videos; I've always liked that she seemed to have a perfect grasp on how to choose goals based on what she could accomplish in the given time while still challenging herself to get a lot done, and every time I watched her QG videos I was totally inspired to think about what I would choose for my goals if I were to set them.

I had already been nagging around with the idea of setting up a ten-year plan, a five-year plan, etc ... but it just wasn't working for me. I could never figure out what size house I wanted to be paying what size mortgage on by which date in what year. But three months? I can do that - I just need to look realistically at where I am right now and then choose the best way to get a little closer to where I think I'm going.

"Three months at a time," I thought. "That's short enough; even I can do that."

So I tried it. I made a list for the first quarter of 2017, and I was exactly 0% surprised by how much I loved the process. That first quarter wasn't a 100% win, but I accomplished enough to keep myself going. I made a list for the second quarter of 2017 and I worked hard to accomplish those goals. As with the previous quarter I didn't accomplish every single goal, but I made enough progress to keep trying and set new goals for the third quarter of 2017, and then again in the final quarter of 2017.

Obviously this is something I'm planning to stick with as we move into a brand new year, and I like to think I've started a little momentum to build on as I move through 2018. So without further ado ...

Last Quarter's Goal: Memorize my rosary prayer! FAIL.

Next Quarter's Goal: Practice my rosary daily.

I made forward progress with this just like every other time this has been my goal, but I still didn't completely memorize the prayer patterns because while I could excuse myself with the fact that both the opening and closing prayers are LONG, the truth is I just didn't practice enough. I did practice enough to notice differences in my attitude, mood, and motivation when I was practicing regularly though, and I also noticed a certain bleed-through in my chats with God - in that I felt more comfortable in prayer when I practiced my rosary more often.

In recent years, I've allowed challenges with difficult and judgmental people to chisel away at my faith and my relationship with God, and that's not fair to me or Him - so this quarter I'm adjusting my focus and putting more emphasis on increasing my regular practice, not only because it's a goal here, but because I miss the way my friendship with God felt before it was colored by the poison of interference. What's left of my memorization effort will follow on its own, and I'm okay with that.

Last Quarter's Goal #1: Listen to a personal development podcast daily. PASS - BARELY.
Last Quarter's Goal #2: Increase accountability by tracking goals. PASS.

Next Quarter's Goal: Continue listening to at least one personal development podcast daily.

I listened to personal growth and development podcasts exactly 76 percent of the time in the final quarter of 2017, so this year I'm keeping the goal and planning to aim for a higher success rate.

Thankfully, I did manage to track my goals and habits more reliably though, which is how I know about that 76% success rate with the podcast listening. I'm actually sort of proud to report that I used my tracker every day, even when I hit a rough period of decompensation and wasn't able to accomplish nearly as much on a daily basis as I wanted to. I still used my tracker even when I had very little to track, still gave myself grace on the things I couldn't do, and still celebrated the milestones and accomplishments no matter how small they felt.

In the coming quarter, I'm planning to keep using my tracker (I use an android app called Loop - Habit Tracker) to keep myself on track as I aim for better continuity in my personal growth.

Last Quarter's Goal #1: Drink 75 ounces of water every day. FAIL.
Last Quarter's Goal #2: Remember to take my Prilosec. 69% - CLOSE BUT STILL A FAIL.

Next Quarter's Goal #1: Drink 75 ounces of water every day.
Next Quarter's Goal #2: Remember to take my Prilosec daily.
Next Quarter's Goal #3: Bring back intermittent fasting 3x weekly.

It's weird that I can set goals like that, knowing how much they impact my daily life - and yet I can still let life get totally in the way of my doing such small things to take care of myself. I use routine-building tricks like habit-stacking all the time, and I maintain my blog and writing productivity by mitigating my embarrassingly short attention span with the Pomodoro Technique ... and yet something as simple as popping a pill in the morning has slipped my mind enough for me to fail at this goal.

Then again, 69% success with this is actually an improvement from before, so I'm going to keep this goal around and keep trying to get more consistent. It really does change my quality of life when I keep up with my Prilosec - and my life is sorely in need of a quality upgrade. That being said, I'm also going to bring back another favorite water-drinking/weight-managing trick I've loved for a long time but fallen out of practicing, which is intermittent fasting. The history and health benefits of this particular eating pattern are long-reaching and much-argued, but my personal experience with it has been wonderful enough for me to wonder why I fell out of it in the first place. And so, we have goal #3 in the health category.

Last Quarter's Goal: N/A
Next Quarter's Goal: Still N/A

I've already mentioned this year that there are certain challenges that lie hidden behind the facade of happy solitude - I'm not always thrilled to be single, and I'm rarely ever thrilled to be a single parent. Parenting is meant to be done in pairs - this is why humans are created to need a partner in order to procreate. There should be balance, and you're supposed to have help. A sounding board when there are behavioral challenges. A shoulder to lean on when you got too stressed and yelled and you shouldn't have. A hand to hold when you're sending your daughter off to a date and you really just want to snatch her little boy crush up by the earlobe and give him the fear of a mama bear's God-given ferocity.

The truth is, I miss being partnered. I'm good alone because I haven't been blessed with just the right life partner yet, and so I've had to learn to make things work with just me. There's no other choice because I'm truly all I have - but do I miss being partnered. That being said, I'm still not in a place in life where I feel like romantic goals make sense. And yet, should the perfect man walk into my life at any given moment ... well, let's just say I wouldn't be rushing to send him out again.

Last Quarter's Goal #1: Plan more outings and have more fun. SUCCESS.
Last Quarter's Goal #2: Secret family goal. SUCCESS - BUT JUST BARELY.

Next Quarter's Goal #2: Plan one fun family outing a week.
Next Quarter's Goal #2: Secret family goal.

I did well with both of these family goals, and I'm proud of the changes I've seen in my life (and in my kids) because of my efforts here. So this quarter I'm stepping it up a little more by being more specific. Last quarter I spent lots of time each week hunting for free and affordable fun for the girls and I, and it was a great quarter because the holiday season was in full swing and there were loads of festivals and things to go to for free. But the holidays are behind us now, and I'll have to work a little harder to keep up with this - so I'm setting a more specific but still totally manageable goal of planning an average of one FUN outing a week. Some weeks there may be more, other weeks there may be less - but the goal is that this quarter will be another chance to teach my kids how to have fun even if we're still broke, and a bonus is that keeping them busy bonds our family as a team and helps to distract the girls from their issues with their dad's absence. I'll be working to maintain better timing and a higher success rate with my secret goal, too - time is precious, and I'm looking to make the most of it.

Last Quarter's Goal: Finish writing Still Fighting For Freedom. FAIL.
Next Quarter's Goal: Reread Fighting For Freedom and take notes to prep for SFFF.

I'm amazed at how hard Still Fighting For Freedom has been for me to write. Maybe it's all the changes in my life in recent years. Maybe it's the way my battles with PTSD, PMDD, Anxiety, and Depression impact my daily life. Maybe it's just that my personal experience with domestic abuse on every level makes this story so painfully personal. I don't know. But I'm not going to keep kicking myself over it because it isn't helping. Instead I'm going to break it down and give myself smaller steps, because how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

Last Quarter's Goal #1: 1250 page views a month. SUCCESS.
Last Quarter's Goal #2: Secret book sales goal. SUCCESS.
Last Quarter's Goal #3: Reach 10 patrons on Patreon. FAIL.

Next Quarter's Goal #1: 1500 page views a month.
Next Quarter's Goal #2: Secret book sales goal.

This has been the one place where I've been able to set and achieve quantifiable goals successfully, and I'm proud of the slow but steady growth these goals have brought into my life - not only because they've allowed me to improve my family's financial situation but also because sharing this growth with my daughters has encouraged them to believe in the possibility of their own dreams.

Last Quarter's Goal: Read at least one book every month. SUCCESS.

Next Quarter's Goal #1: Secret self-care goal.
Next Quarter's Goal #2: Read at least one book every month.

I did read a book every month in the last quarter of 2017, and I liked that it helped me balance out a little more time for myself. I tend to fall too easily into the habit of serving the people around me to the exclusion of myself, and this needs to change for two major reasons. One, how can I expect others to respect me and care about my needs if it looks like I don't? And two, my relationships suffer when I allow my tendency to serve to get off balance with my own needs. I'm a single mom, and my daughters are energetic extroverts who haven't yet connected to their own sense of serving others - this often leaves me spending too much time on other peoples' needs and very little time enjoying having my own needs met. The problem is, there's no one to meet my needs but me - and instead of resenting the people around me for not stepping up, I want to spend this quarter stepping up more often for myself. Because I deserve it.

Last Quarter's Goal: Quiet the "noise" of social media - follow less than 100 accounts on Twitter/Insta, and more effectively utilize my FB newsfeed controls. SUCCESS

Next Quarter's Goal: Continue to be mindful of social media follows - follow less than 95 accounts on Twitter/Insta, and keep paring down the "noise" on my FB newsfeed.

It's amazing how much this helped my enjoyment of social media in general - paring down the accounts I follow helped me to more carefully choose what I see and make sure that what I do see is healthy for me. I'm currently following 89 accounts on Twitter and 99 on Instagram - and last quarter I made a point to be more mindful as I scrolled through Facebook, unfollowing accounts I no longer cared for and even unfollowing people I found to be too rude or negative for my liking. I'm glad I did it, and I plan to take this goal into the coming quarter as well.

I also found that being happier and more mindful about my social media in general made it easier and more fun for me to actually interact with people instead of just scrolling mindlessly. I've been making it a point to use the "like/favorite" button less too - in favor of using the comment option more, both in my social media use and in my blog reading. I plan to keep this up as well.

(PSST: Don't forget to check out my BLOGuary co-host's goals for 2018's first quarter, too! David (of the Single Dad's Guide to Life) had some really inspiring goals for the next 90 days, and I for one can't wait to see how to accomplishes them.)

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