Which Goal Did You Accomplish in the Past 60 Days?

A few months ago I posted about a challenge I participated in: the “70 Day Sprint” from Steve Roller of the Copywriter Cafe. I wrote the post on the 10th day of the Sprint with 60 days remaining. I challenged you to set a goal and accomplish it during the following 60 days.

You most likely never saw that post because two months ago, I had still neglected to send an email to my list. That’s something I worked on during the past two months. I plan to do even better in the future.

In the past, I used Elliott in Recovery multiple times as a progress tracker, even in the original 70 Day Sprint post. I listed goals I wanted to accomplish then dashed away all progress towards them away in the following weeks. Crawling back each time with my tail between my legs, I promised you I would do better next time. But I never did.

Not until the 70 Day Sprint.

What I learned from completing the 70 Day Sprint

One time I wrote about the components that make up an effective goal. One crucial aspect of a goal is that it be measurable. If you can’t measure your progress on the goal, how do you know when you’ve accomplished it?

Until the 70 Day Sprint, I never had a measurable goal outside of making it into work every day and writing articles for my client. When I completed the final day of the Sprint, I was brimming with joy over the sense of accomplishment I felt.

I completed something big.

The official title of the 70 Day Sprint is “The 70 Day Sprint: How to go from unstable freelance income to profitable business owner in 70 days or less.”

Steve’s hope is that by the end you have a few actionable items to take away and apply to your business. The Sprint provides a different way to think about freelance writing, one I never considered before. Much less heard from other “gurus.”

The 70 Day Sprint not only challenged me to reconsider my freelancing business. I also realized I can apply some of what I learned to how to run Elliott in Recovery.

Some of you signed up for my email list all the way back in November but never received a thing. All you got was an email to confirm your subscription and then static after that. The Sprint encouraged me to stay in contact (or in my case, initiate contact) with my email list.

Why do I feel that this long-term goal will prove itself a pivotal part of my process?

The importance of long-term goals

Short-term goals are great. Aiming to post once per week on Elliott in Recovery keeps me accountable to both you and myself. I dropped off while in Utah for my sister’s graduation and the week after that but I return with fresh resolve.

Long-term goals provide an overarching theme to your daily activities. When Darren Rowse talks of habitual dreamers vs. habitual action-takers, he points out that small activities add up over time. The little victories you accomplish each day add up to help you achieve your long-term goal.

They also provide a larger feeling of accomplishment. It’s great to cross grocery shopping or laundry off your list as a mini-goal each week. But to look back two months from now and see how the seemingly insignificant activities you did each day added up to something greater?

That’s something to be proud of.

How to keep long-term goals from overwhelming you

The best way to keep from becoming overwhelmed is to stop looking at your long-term goals as a whole. Break them down into small daily tasks. For example, looking at the entire 353-page PDF of the 70 Day Sprint overwhelmed my fingernails off.

Looking at it as simply one email per day, though, made everything more manageable. I set up a task every day then checked it off my to-do list.

Finding a good task management app

I used to make more habit of finding every type of to-do list app out there but didn’t complete any items I put on them. Other than walking and feeding my dogs, the lists stacked up.

Asana was too jumbled, Trello too plain, and Google Tasks made me feel like the Google police would show up wherever I was headed to (not like they couldn’t do that with Mail, Maps, or any other parts of the Google Suite that I use).

Then I found an app called Todoist. The user interface is simple and clean, laying out your week of tasks in whatever theme color you choose. Creating repeat tasks was simple and the gamification encouraged me to come back every day.

They offer a desktop app that syncs with the app on my phone. And no, I’m not an affiliate for them (but maybe I should find out about that?). I just love using the software.

Find a task management app that works for you, or revert back to the tried-and-true pen and a notebook. Take 15 minutes to disassemble your large goal into smaller, manageable, daily victories.

Then cross those suckers off.

So what are you going to do?

Decide the kind of person you want to be 90 days from now. Do you want to learn a new hobby? What about taking a class? Have you put off your drive to exercise or eat healthy?

90 days from today is August 22nd, 2017. That’s three whole months to get yourself closer towards something you want to accomplish.

Break your large goal into manageable tasks. If you want to eat healthier, cut out soda or fast food one day each week. If you want to start a new hobby, find a video on YouTube to learn how.

Then take the first step towards that goal. Give the sodas in your fridge to a friend. Go for a 10-minute walk. Find that YouTube video. Do something today that will move you closer to where you want to be.

As Seth Godin says, “Soon isn’t as good as now.”

The 70 Day Sprint inspired me to begin contacting my email list. If you’re on it, thank you for your openness to receiving my words directly in your inbox.

If you aren’t on my list, you can sign up to receive a weekly dose of your friendly neighborhood transgender alcoholic. I’m releasing something on June 9th. But my email list will get it two days early on June 7th.

Sign up now in the form on the left-hand sidebar. I’d love to have you join us.

A One Month Update on My Goals.

I spent last night reading the book Awareness by Anthony de Mello cover-to-cover and it provided an incredible change of perspective. My all-or-nothing thinking distorted for a few hours my understanding of the world, and I believed I simply needed to spend the rest of my life in meditation and denying myself pleasures in the world. As I continued to read and arrived at the end, he proceeded to discuss how life is nothing without good food, good people, good conversation. It’s an amazing book that induced a momentary spiritual experience, an understanding of my place in this world and a brief period of “okayness.”

I took from it the understanding that no one truly knows what God is (and that it’s impossible to know) and to spend my life consumed by questioning the meaning of life is to waste it. I’m grateful to my friend Andrea who suggested another book of his to me for it led me to the book I finished last night. My thoughts are still quite jumbled so I will reflect on what I read and return with a more cohesive report in a few weeks.

Instead, I want to use this post as an update on the goals I established just over a month ago. I want to consider the progress I’ve made and that which I’ve not done so well on, but rather than morbid reflection, I want to look at what I’ve done well. The self-deprecation that takes place in my head isn’t as loud as it was a few months ago but it still holds its place. If I continue to allow it a firm grip on my thoughts then I’ll be doing a disservice both to myself and those around me.

Now, without further digression, an update.

  1. Make an active effort on this blog.

    I’ve posted on average once a week since I wrote that post, but averages are not always realities. After starting a side-gig with freelance writing, I moved away from my personal projects and towards incessant working. I’m still trying to decide what exactly I’d like to do with this blog but not posting won’t help me to determine where I’m headed with it.

    I think I try to make everything perfect, have a concrete purpose here when I really seem to be moving in the direction of periodic updates on what’s taking place in my life. I don’t know whether people are truly concerned with the happenings in my everyday, but I know that I’d like to have something to look back on a few years from now and see where I’ve come from.

    I’ll continue towards the goal of one to two posts a week; I’ve got enough going on to fulfill that.

  2. Half hour walks, four times a week.

    I’ve ended up walking half an hour about once or twice a week. Kate and I take the dogs on multiple walks a day that add up to about 20 minutes a day, but one solid walk per day would be much healthier for me. Especially with Kate’s stomach issues that hospitalized her last week, walking is an important part in maintaining a healthy lifestyle for ourselves and I want to continue making more of an effort. Walking is an extremely enjoyable activity for me so I want to do it more often. I want to participate in some sort of activity that keeps my body moving so I will continue walking. While I may not head out for a half hour every day of the week, four times a week is still an achievable goal.

  3. Start rock climbing.

    I still haven’t done this but it’s still something I want to do! I need to do a better job of budgeting because my excuse so far has been “I don’t have the money to do it.” I do have the money to do it, I just put that money towards other things. If rock climbing is an activity I’d really like to do then I need to prioritize the funds to do it. I was supposed to go with a friend this Thursday but I’ve got a meeting to find out more about legally changing my name and gender through the courts. I’ve got to set a date to climb! This is also a goal that stays!

  4. Learn to code.

    While this seems like a fun thing to do, it’s just not something that is a priority in my life right now. There are other things I’d rather do with my time so I’m going to set this one to the side for now. Sorry, Learn C# in One Day and Learn it Well, I’ll read you at another point in my life!

  5. Continue my transition.

    This is something I’ve very much followed up on! I attended my first gender assessment session last Monday and was officially diagnosed with gender dysphoria. I have an additional assessment tomorrow where we’re going to establish a plan moving forward. I can break this large goal down into sub-goals, which include legally changing my name and gender, starting HRT, and setting a top surgery date. I’m working towards each of these by taking the little steps I have in front of me. It’s not as quick as I’d like, but I’m moving forward!

In addition to these goals, minus the dropped “learn to code”, I would like to add two more:

  1. Lose weight.

    This is bringing back one I had a few months ago. After discussing it with the therapist, I’d like to lose 30 pounds before I go through with top surgery in order to get the best results that I can. I’ve stagnated at 172 for the past two months and stopped eating healthy after allowing stress to take over. My goal of losing weight ties back into walking four times a week and rock climbing, but I can also add eating healthy in. I read somewhere that, “You can’t outrun your fork!” Losing weight begins with diet, so if I continue my lazy diet I won’t move forward.

  2. Wake up earlier.

    I’ve read endless articles about successful people who start their days early and I’d like to be one of them. I make excuses because my workday starts at 7:00 AM, but if it’s something I really want to accomplish then I’ll find a way to do it. An ideal morning routine includes meditation practice, a walk, a few minutes of writing, something to eat, and a cup of coffee. Aligned with this is an additional goal to QUIT PRESSING THE SNOOZE BUTTON. I snooze away half an hour every morning that could be better used to work towards my goals!

So that’s six goals I now have to work towards in order to live a happier, healthier life. I’ll continue working towards them along with updates every month or so on how they’re going. Are you guys working towards any goals right now? Let me know!

Wake, sleep, rinse, repeat.

Life has fallen into a state of repetitiveness. Wake up, walk dogs, go to work, take lunch, finish work, go home for an hour, go to group, come home, watch TV, sleep. Day after day, week after week. Someone mentioned to me that perhaps this is serenity due to lack of calamity, but I truly hope this isn’t what my life settles into. I want more for myself. I want to see incredible things, meet amazing people, try things I’ve never tried before. I hope that this is not serenity.

While I appreciate that time slips by quickly sometimes bringing me closer to the moment I’m able to start my medical transition, I realize the last 174 days have blurred past in a series of wash, rinse, repeat. I don’t like that I’m not appreciating each day as it is, focusing on the negative rather than the moments of beauty that I would see if I would only stop for a moment and seek them out.

I live for the two day weekends each week then end up sleeping them away, exhausted from I don’t even know what. I’m not taking seriously the time that’s been given to me, the life that has been saved by half an inch. I’m wasting away not working on the things that are important to me because I won’t take the time to sit down and figure out what those things are.

I know that I’m here to help people. I know that I’m a transgender alcoholic. I know that I’ve been given the gift of writing, however rusted it may be, but as I begin to spin the gears again the rust will flake off and the shininess will show again. I’ve got a small platform to discuss the things that are important to me and I want to assure that I utilize that platform to its full potential. I don’t want to live for two days of sleeping when there’s so much to be seen and appreciated around me.

I’ve made a list of goals I would like to accomplish.

1. Make an active effort on this blog.

While I know that I can’t post every day because I have a variety of responsibilities to attend to, posting at least once a week while aiming for twice is an achievable goal. Often I feel as though I don’t have anything to say; however, when I sit at the computer to write I find there are more words inside than there appear to be. If I can find a way to coax them out the way I used to in college, I can create a nice little project here to look back on in times to come, to see how I’ve changed as both a person and a writer. One to two times a week gives me a few days to notice the things worth noticing and then capture them here as I see fit.

I continue to believe that I’ll be able to sit down and write as well as I used to, when in fact writing is like any other art: it takes practice to be good. Just because I was somewhat well-written before doesn’t mean the talent didn’t disappear; it’s going to take work for me to return to the place I once was. I can’t command my vocabulary the way I used to and I use too many commas now, but I’m trying to put words down and get used to the action of it again, and it will come back in time.

2. Half-hour walks, four times a week.

My original goal was to run a 5k, but I realized I had no true interest in being able to do this. Running has never been an enjoyable activity for me no matter how much I try, and trying to force myself to be something I’m not hasn’t worked well for me in the past. I only want to run a 5k to say I can run a 5k, but I wasn’t enjoying the process of getting there at all. I dreaded the days I came home to run, and the Couch to 5k app dings plagued my dreams.

Instead, I’ve realized I love to take my dogs on long walks and look around me to see what is taking place in my bustling suburb; I don’t want to remain in California forever but I can appreciate my surroundings in the meantime. There are beautiful things to see but because they aren’t snow-capped mountians and endless blue skies I deem them unworthy. The freeway near my house passes traffic constantly and the mossy creekbed smells of rot, but the clouds still trail across the skies creating paintings at dusk that rival those of past greats.

3. Start rock climbing.

I believe that things come in threes and my friend was recently the third person to suggest rock climbing to me. I’ve been a few times and always enjoyed it but it was never something I got “into.” However, I’m looking for more interactive forms of exercise and it may not stick, but it’s something I want to do when I move to Colorado so I might as well start now and see if it’s something I truly enjoy. There is an indoor bouldering gym nearby that I’d like to try out and the memberships are the same price as a gym pass and, I imagine, twice the fun.

I want to try it out before I commit to a monthly pass so that’s another goal of mine. Go climbing. See how I like it. See if it’s something I can see myself sticking to. There seems to be a community among rock climbers that I’d like to be a part of, so we’ll see how I like it. I’ll let you know when I end up going.

4. Learn to code.

This is a difficult one because it is such an open goal. There is so much to learn in the world of coding, from HTML 5/CSS to Java, from Python to C++. It’s not something that I can just “learn,” but it’s something that I can take a bite out of and attempt to work on it a piece at a time. I can pick one language and begin to learn it until I understand it and then move onto the next. I was originally taking a computer science course that is due December 31st, but I ended up too far behind due to outside circumstances so I will attempt it again come the new year when it’s reuploaded.

From what I’ve read, you don’t just go in to “learn to code.” You go in to create a project. That’s where the real desire to learn comes from, from a passion project that you want to put into life. I’ve got some ideas but they’re not nearly fleshed out, so I have some things to consider as I go about selecting my first language and taking those initial steps to get started.

5. Continue my transition.

This is another open-ended goal as there are myriad things I’d like to accomplish within this umbrella. I’d like to start my medical transition, to begin hormone replacement therapy, but before that I have to get enrolled with insurance. My three months at this job is tomorrow so I’ll be eligible but I’d like to talk with the insurance agent before I sign up to assure that gender identity disorder is covered within the plan my employer has selected. I don’t want to sign up for something I won’t be able to use. There’s a small sub-goal: talk to the insurance agent.

I’d also like to get started on my legal name and gender marker change. From what I’ve learned it’s a more expensive process than I originally imagined, but I’m saving up money right now (currently $250 a month) and I’ll be able to apply some of that to the process. I’ve got the forms printed and I need to fill them out, and I’ll go from there and document the experience here.

The two main aspects of my life I want to document in this blog are my transition and my journey in sobriety, in the hopes that some other transgender alcoholic will be able to benefit from where I saw a lack of information. While I’m not going to be any sort of concrete evidence of how to do things, I hope that my experience will help someone else. I’m still very new to all of this so it’s all going to be from the beginning which, I believe, will be interesting to follow. But of course I believe myself to be interesting. I could merely be rambling to an empty cyberspace, but I’ll look back on this project in a year or two and see evidence of the changes I’m working so hard to make.

I believe that having goals will make it easier to remain present while I slowly get things ready to move. While it’s still around a year away, I’m starting to see it becoming a reality. I’ve established both these short-term goals and some long-term goals that perhaps I’ll write about another time and I intend to see them through. I have things I want to accomplish with my life and I don’t want it to become an endless cycle of sleep, work, eat, rinse, repeat. I was made for more than this and I want to see the things I can accomplish. I won’t be able to see those things, though, if I don’t take the first step.