Staying Motivated

I thrive on instant gratification. I think most people do, but I swear there is something that triggers in my brain when instant happiness takes place like purchasing clothes or winning the lottery. As you can imagine, things that build over time for me result in lack of motivation and a need to constantly find ways of making me want to push through. I am a huge procrastinator for this reason – in personal, work and home life. Waiting until the last minute gives me the boost that I need to get it done but often times it can be done half-assed and with lots of frustration. After the fact, I always look back and wish I would have taken my time, been more thoughtful and spent more time preparing. It’s taken a lot of work but over time, I have learned what motivates me and have figured out how to be more prepared and organized for the important things in life and the non-important. Creating goals with a deadline and accountability is the only way I can stay on track for anything.

At the beginning of this year, I set out to create goals that were attainable and measurable so that when I start to track progress 3, 6 and 9 months down the road, I can really see how I’m doing. Not just “resolutions”, but actual life changing goals I would like to see happen over time. On the first of January, I created a “where I’m at” page in a journal. I take note of where I’m at and then where I want to be for any category that is important to me. For me personally, I look at my weight, financial situation, career position, relationship status and home progress. I then create short term vs. long term goals and timing for each one. I update it each month with any adjustments based on what is happening in our lives. I try to be flexible with changes we didn’t anticipate but firm with my overall progress. It has been such a huge help at keeping me on track and reminding me what is important in life. And more than anything else, it keeps me motivated to continue pushing forward and to be better than I was the month before.

I’m in the process of getting rid of CRAP

  • It is really hard to stay motivated when I feel like we are living in a sea of crap. Half of William’s toys are missing parts, his socks don’t match, Alex and I have clothes we haven’t worn since college and I’m OVER it. We moved the dresser that he uses up to the third floor and he asked if I still needed the drawers that had my clothes in them. I didn’t even know I had clothes in the drawers and the items had been there since we moved in over three years ago. Oops.
  • So, I essentially have piles of items we are donating, items we want to sell and items that we want to organize. Our basement is the only keeper of crap right now. Everywhere else I’m trying to organize it or throw it out. Most of what we have, I am donating but we do have some really nice things that we no longer need (stroller from William that was upgraded, some baby items we don’t need for #2)
  • Not just broken or mismatched toys, but actual crap. We have a drawer of “important documents” that we can never find anything in. It is also where we stash our passports, rosaries, notebooks, pens, coloring books. Basically anything that makes me crazy. We still have wire hangers that were clearly invented before logic existed, and our kitchen is filled with cups that we used in college. None of it is needed, it doesn’t bring us joy and it’s all going.
  • I am attempting a room a week from here on out. That way I don’t set myself up to fail by saying it will be done in one weekend, but I will feel pretty good about the kitchen or the front room or William’s room each week and I see them as small wins in the overall goal.
  • This process is also shedding light on things we ACTUALLY need, like hangers for the 21st century. So I’m able to make a note and keep track of what we will need with the next Amazon purchase.

We are following a budget

  • I think I’ve talked briefly about budgets but never in any detail. One day I may share more about our situation and how Alex and I came to a household budget, but for now, I know what our current financial situation is and what I want it to be at the end of this year.
  • We lived THE LIFE in Chicago – i.e. we spent what we made. On ourselves. And it was glorious. I wouldn’t take back that time for anything, but I also recognize that we are kind of paying for it now because we never had much of a savings and the concept has always been foreign to us. Can’t afford it? Put it on the credit card.
  • I am the spender in the family (shocker) but I am also the one who is responsible for making sure William is dressed, fed and looking somewhat presentable. I handle birthday gifts, family gifts, payment to friends and many other things that affect both of us. But I am also known to spend $160 on makeup or $300 on a Target run. Alex, on the other hand, will ask me if he can purchase his lunch out that day. Which infuriates me (that he even asks such a question) but also gives you an idea of the extreme difference between he and I when it comes to money.
  • So, I have created a budget that I put together each month in an effort to 1. Pay off outstanding debt like car payments and some credit cards that grew during the time we bought our house and 2. End the year with a more substantial savings than we currently have. We are also about to spend more than our mortgage on child care so whether we like it or not, we are being forced to budget more than we have in the past
  • Also – not to get too into the weeds, but we just ran numbers to open a college savings for William (yep, still haven’t done that yet) and if we were to give $220/month to that starting tomorrow, we still would only cover 86% of an in-state, 4-year college tuition for him. W. T. F.

I have tried to focus on my relationships which are still a work in progress

  • Shortly after we found out I was pregnant, morning sickness and exhaustion set in and I gave up on any sort of routine with William sleeping in his own room. So when he moved into our bedroom and I started going to bed with him at 7 PM, any sort of intimacy with Alex went out the window. And I’m talking about any sort of togetherness or personal conversation- Alex used to scratch my back more than half the days of the week while watching a TV show before we went to sleep – if he didn’t it was rare. Now it feels like a special occasion if we even get to turn on an adult TV show before falling asleep, let alone him being close enough to touch me.
  • Beyond intimacy, we are also working on doing more to make each other happy. Right now Alex is leading the charge for sure because I can be relatively worthless when I am pregnant, but I’m trying not to throw such a fit when he really wants to go to a dinner with random friends he has just met or decides to pack our weekend full of festivals, lunches and outdoor activities – none of which I typically enjoy without wine, beer and minus 20 pounds of baby.
  • I NEED to be better about getting together with my girlfriends. I’ve alluded to the fact that Alex is the friend-maker in our family and while I don’t easily make new friends, I have a strong, core group of friends who I love and enjoy and look forward to spending time with. The other night Alex had a jam packed week and I found myself fuming at him reading off his list of “obligations” where I will be left to take care of William on my own the majority of the week while he enjoys drinks and dinners out. And then I was like…wait. I CAN DO THIS TOO. I just need to plan it and do it. We tend to focus on how busy life is and feel like there is never enough time to do or plan anything, but I feel like it’s an excuse to just not have to plan it. I need to be more of that person who does.

I am starting to create goals at work

  • I started a new job in January just in time to get up to speed, gain some momentum, and then leave to go on maternity leave. So I’m trying not to be too hard on myself by creating goals that will just have to be pushed to the side while I’m out.
  • I do however want to embrace the new position I have on the client side and start to learn as much as possible. I tend to want to come in and start doing and I’m really trying to just sit back and start learning so when I’m back, I can be productive.

We continue with house priorities

  • I JUST had a conversation with my mom where she and my dad debate home updates year after year and this year they are finally doing a few things she has wanted to for a while. My dad built our house when he was single with no thoughts of having kids and so you can imagine that it has gone through many stages of life. I think it’s a generational thing because as soon as I finish one project, there are 5 others I’m ready to attack. If I hate something about our house, I’m probably trying to figure out a way to get it done
  • I recently found this “wish list” I had created for updates I wanted done to our house and I was honestly shocked at how much we have been able to accomplish since moving in. We could move out of our house in 3 years or we could be here for life, but in both scenarios I want our house to feel like home and not be constantly frustrated with the way that things are.
  • This year, baby girl’s room will take over some of our “budget” we would otherwise put into other updates we want to make, but I would LOVE to redo our closets. It’s low on Alex’s priority list but getting all new windows was low on my list and that has been done and crossed off so I feel like I may have some leverage here.
  • Our closets are weird, and in some instances feel like they were created for the sake of having a closet. Since the house was built in 1885, I never know what or how the house has evolved. BUT either way, I want them to be more functional. Period.

All of this is just a glimpse into how I am attempting to stay on track to achieve some of my goals that I have set for myself. I’m a serial notebook starter, to do list maker and goal setter. But I often forget where my focus areas are and give up halfway through the year, month, week, etc. By putting together attainable goals that I go back to each month to track progress, I am able to really see how I’m doing and where I need to put more effort or make more adjustments. This is the only thing that has worked for me for the last two years.

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