goals & meal plan for the week of 2/10

Last week absolutely flew by! It was a productive and balanced week — filled with work time, crafts, fun, friends, and lots of yummy food — but looking over my goals, I was feeling a little discouraged. How could I feel so productive all week, but then have so many uncrossed-off goals at the week’s end?

Then I found this amongst my school papers:

mind dump

It’s my “mind-dump” to-do list from the past couple of days. Whenever I have a lot of little things running through my mind, I like to get out a piece of paper and write everything down, which usually helps clear my head so I can focus better on my tasks for the day. This list is filled with tasks big and small — grading to finish up, a specific email to send, housekeeping chores, a fellowship application to finish up — and it was quite long! I was really happy to find this and see all the items crossed off, because it reminded me that I actually did a great job working towards my goals this week. Some weeks just have more unexpected tasks crop up than others do, and sometimes surprises take precedent over the goals you set at the beginning of a week or month. And that’s okay.

This week, I finalized some paperwork about my thesis defense, submitted short stories to three journals, went out on a date night with Mike, got together with friends for a lovely catch-up visit, talked to one of my young writing mentees over Skype, prepped for a workshop I’m teaching in a few weeks to fellow graduate instructors at Purdue, sold a couple of chairs via Craigslist, made pumpkin pie and a batch of chocolate-covered pretzels, started a Valentine’s Week series on this blog … all sorts of good things that were important and fun and necessary, but hadn’t showed up on my goals list for the week.

All this was also a good reminder that I tend to over-reach at times with goal-setting, biting off more than I can chew. In the past couple weeks, I’ve been setting ambitious goals to work on my YA novel manuscript AND revise large chunks of my thesis. It just isn’t happening. It’s not possible for me to do both, at least not right now when I’m working on broad, sweeping revisions to my thesis that require a lot of rewriting and additions of brand-new material.

So I’m stepping back a little and reassessing my writing goals. For the next three weeks, I’m going to focus all my attentions on my thesis novel and see how far along I get. I think I’ll feel better about my writing goals if I’m celebrating the work I DO get done, not feeling guilty about the writing I don’t have time to do {for me lately, the YA novel manuscript.} And from a practical standpoint, it is easier for me to immerse myself in one large project at a time. Trying to work on two novels at once left me feeling drained and a little lost between the different worlds, storylines and characters I was creating.

So, that’s my big changes for goals this upcoming week! Have you ever needed to step back and reassess your goals? Is anyone else like me, sometimes biting off too much at once?

Here’s how I did on my goals from last week:

  • write 10 more pages of my YA novel
  • revise next 4 chapters of my thesis novel {worked on some major revision, but it’s a little slower going than I thought it would be}
  • blog about Week 5 Act of Kindness Challenge & complete it myself this week
  • finish reading & blog about 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess {finished reading this; blog post coming soon!}
  • finish reading & blog about The Secret Keeper
  • finish the scarf I’m working on
  • clean out & organize filing cabinet
  • mail out my Valentines

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:

  • revise up to page 60 of my thesis novel
  • blog about Week 6 Act of Kindness Challenge & complete it myself this week
  • blog about 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess
  • clean out and organize filing cabinet
  • knit 25 rows of the new scarf I’m working on
  • make 3 changes/updates as part of the #28DBC

And here are some recipes on my menu for this week:

tilapia with pineapple salsa
chicken with stuffing in the crock pot
teriyaki meatball bowls
mini hot cocoa cookies

What are your goals and meal plans for this week?


This post is linked up to Menu-Plan Monday!

marvelous monday: guest post by “the sunny girl” Lauren Cook!

I am thrilled to have Lauren Cook as a guest on the blog today! She is a dear friend and an inspiration to me to live life with joy, gratitude and love. Her blog The Sunny Girl: The Brighter Side of Things is a treasure trove of insights and resources to make your daily life happier. Check it out!

She was kind enough to stop by the blog today and share some thoughts on finding happiness through a sense of daily accomplishment. Enjoy! 🙂

There are a few things in life that leave me hard-pressed for happiness. Without a good meal, a good night’s rest, and my daily to-do list, I’m lost at my soul’s sea. I love having direction in my life, both for the big picture and for the seemingly small tasks throughout the day. That’s why nearly every day, without fail, I write a check list for what I need to get done and what I want to get done.

The main reason: I love the feeling of accomplishment. Even getting that little “check” on my list for achieving something as simple as going to the grocery store keeps me on track for the day. I know it sounds silly, even ridiculous, but I think it’s so important to stay goal oriented and focused. If I leave my mind to do as it pleases, I’ll end up watching mindless TV, eating that extra scoop of Ben and Jerry’s Greek yogurt (my new obsession!), and delaying my work for the day. I wouldn’t label myself as a procrastinator, but my life is so much more productive when I’ve planned it out on paper.

I write all about happiness for young adults. I’m working on publishing my first book right now and while this is a huge goal, there are hundreds of small goals embedded within it. Without my daily to-do lists, these goals just seem to float along in my head rather than actualize.

I’m so much happier at the end of the day when I can look back on my list and see that I made an EFFORT. Even if I don’t finish a chapter or if I still have emails to send, knowing that I gave it my best for the day leaves me satisfied yet eager to start the next day.

We all have our own ways of writing to-do lists but here are a few of my Sunny Suggestions:

1. Get a planner you love to look at. You’re going to be using it a lot! No matter how you like to take your notes, whether it’s on your phone or a notebook, make sure it’s convenient to carry and nice to look at. I’m hoping for a Lilly Pulitzer notebook soon—with a notebook that pretty I’ll never want to stop adding things to do!

2. Look at it at least three times throughout the day: If it’s out of sight, it’s all too easily out of mind. Sure, it’s simple to write down the tasks but it’s a whole other thing to keep your eyes on the prize. Make sure you have your notes handy so that you can see how much progress you’re making throughout the day.

3. Make goals out of goals: Some days are busier than others. Some days I know I can’t accomplish even half the items on my to-do list. Still, set a goal for how many goals you’d like to finish that day. And if you meet your goal? Don’t stop there! Set a new one and keep going til that sun goes down!

We all ultimately strive for happiness and I think setting goals is a primary way we work towards that happiness. For me it all starts with a to-do list. Make your visual and present on a daily basis. Don’t leave your list in your mind—get it on paper. It’ll motivate you to put in the extra effort.

I hope you start seeing your goals getting accomplished more than ever and I hope you start living the happiest life you’ve always wanted!

Keep shining,

The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook

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