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Like I talked about last week, I've got my goals all planned out for 2022. Which means I'm setting 8 year long goals! Some stretch, some progress and maintenance. Like the system suggests, I tried not to make each one a stretch goal, so I don't get discouraged or burnt out. 

Top 8 Goals

In no particular order of importance, just in the order of the colored flags. I placed them in rainbow order,  and then matched the goal to the color it matches best in my head. The Powersheets system actually has a color coding option, but it doesn't match what I think it should be so I made my own. 

1. Get Married. Ha, yep, we decide we'll finally do that in 2022. Like actually sign the papers, which we've been putting off forever because I just don't believe in marriage. But, as per the rules of both unions John is part of, I'm only entitled to his pension payments (should he die first) if we get married or do a civil union. And he really wants that money to go somewhere, rather than back to the city, and it can only go to a spouse. Could I fight it up the court system as being a civil liberties violation? Sure. But who has the time or energy? So sometime this spring or summer, we'll go ahead and sign the papers. I wish it was as easy as I make it sound, but there's actual applications to apply and pay for, get signed, find a minister to stamp it, get sent back in to the state, and John really wants his immediate family there which means my mom too and she wants to do at least a little dinner reception at a restaurant plus she's insisting on passing down a diamond and getting a new setting for it, and I've already had to talk her out of a dress and flowers, and do you see how this starts getting out of hand? It's a bigger goal that it seems like and I'll honestly be happy when it's all done. Don't mistake me, I love John, and I will be happy to be married to him, but the whole papers and party thing is my personal definition of hell. I'm here for the legal stuff though - the prenups (everyone should have a prenup, don't let anyone tell you otherwise), updating insurances, updating wills and powers of attorney, even taxes. That stuff is a breeze for me compared to the party aspect.

2. Happy House, Happy Spouse. Don't worry, in my head I know what this means. I just thought it made a fun name, easy to remember. This is about carrying over some of the helpful things I implemented in 2021 to keep the house running smoothly - my cleaning routine, the meal planning and prep, making the space feel homey and uncluttered. Keeping up with these things means they don't pile up and drive me insane. It's also about the homemaker aspect this year and creating a space that guests feel welcome to just drop by. And where I don't feel panicked by that idea! In the specific day to day, that means getting myself ready every morning instead of lounging in pjs until noon (or all day....), having snacks and drinks on hand in a clean kitchen, keeping the guest room stocked and tidy. These things make myself happy and less stressed but they make John happy too. So the happy spouse part applies to both of us. Definitely fits with my 'serenity' word of the year.

3. Get My Concealed Carry License. I already have a firearms owner identification card (FOID card), but I've always really wanted to get my concealed carry license for the state of Illinois. That means you can carry it places (safely, there are rules in place) in your purse or car, or in my case, the base of Hawkeye's stroller. Look, we have to have a Chicago address due to John's job and some people are perfectly comfortable living within the city limits and not having a gun and/or not having it on their person most of the time. I am not one of those people. I've carried my giant ass taser around with me since I started law school in 2007 and have never had to use it. I expect the same with my gun, but I feel better having it on me anyway. So, to get my license, you have to complete 16 hours of a training course on laws, safety, gun cleaning, etc. I also want additional range time under my belt, and then I want to buy my own gun once I determine which I can handle the best. Ideally, it will be pink, because I'm still me after all. This goal is more on the fun end than the 'make me a better person' end like the health or finance goals, but it's good to have that balance.

4. No Spend Year. One thing that stuck in my mind was that I really didn't accomplish this goal last year. Spending was down in certain areas, up in others, and overall I didn't track it like I had intended. I even switched it to 'stick to new budget' halfway through the year. And I really don't like feeling as if I didn't accomplish a goal. So I decided to renew it for 2022. I have a new plan in place for tracking so I feel more prepared, and I've clearly outlined rules for myself. It's a good year to tackle this too; if I want to make a profit off the podcast rather than return to a lawyer job (see goal #8), it will naturally be a pay cut and I need to adjust my spending accordingly and be more strict than I was last year. I'll probably dedicate a full post in January to the in and outs of this particular goal.

5. No Sugar Year. I actually did a few months of this in the middle of this year, but then didn't follow it in September and October - when Halloween candy hit the house. I don't even like candy, but when it's there, I start eating it, and then continue eating it. Because that's the addictive properties of sugar. I really want to do a full year of no sugar. I thought I had made pretty good rules for myself in this post, but I didn't track it and that's part of the reason I fell off the plan. But I know I feel so much better when I don't eat sugar. It's a remarkable difference, I can feel it affect me more than vegetables, proper sleep, water intake, exercise, or any other healthy habit. I know it gives me terrible headaches, among other things. So I'm re-committing to this goal for the full year of 2022. I'll probably focus those rules a bit more, so there's no doubts or wiggle room.

6. How Not to Die Year (Vegan Year). This is sort of a carry over from 2021 as well, when I did the Blue Zone year. I concentrated on the 9 points that researchers found lead to living a long, healthy life. I'm very confident on how I did on the community, purpose, happiness, etc. side of things, but not as confident on eating properly. How Not to Die is a book that advocates for a plant based eating plan, and each chapter outlines the foods you should eat to avoid the top diseases that kill Americans every year. Specifically the author outlines his 'Daily Dozen' or the 12 things you should eat daily, including beans, greens, fruits, etc. There's even an app to make tracking it easier. It also tracks proper water intake and has a place for tracking vitamins and 90 minutes of moderate daily exercise, which are the other things that I wanted to concentrate on. So it encompasses quite a few healthy habits into one goal. I want to work my way up to checking everything off in the app, every day.

7. Kate Middleton Energy. Like the concealed carry goal, this is more on the fun end and more of a mindset goal rather than one with specific milestones and steps to take every month. Again, didn't want to overload myself with a bunch of stretch goals and I think I have enough on my plate with the rest of this list. One of the goals over on my 101 in 1001 list is to study and emulate a role model, and that role model is Kate Middleton. I absolutely adore her and her quiet confidence. And her style of course. Now, I don't have a team to help me get ready in the morning, nor do I have a PR coach to watch what I say and how it comes across, but that doesn't mean I can't apply similar principles. A few moments of pause to consider 'what would Kate do?' before reacting.

8. Build a Successful Business. I'm not going back to lawyering, so it just makes sense to bring in more income through the podcast, which is a hobby I actually enjoy. During the first year of the podcast, it got to 100k listens. In this past year, it got to 500k+, 4k+ Instagram followers, and almost 3k YouTube subscribers. Not that the number count is everything, but it is a good benchmarker to track by, and those numbers directly indicate income and income potential. So I set some lofty goals in this area for 2022 (1 million listens, 10k on Instagram and YouTube, 200+ patrons over on Patreon). Definitely a stretch goal. I think hitting all of those milestones would reflect that I'm creating content that people find useful, which is the ultimate goal. Lots of baby steps involved in this goal, so I'll really need the planner to break this one down!

And that's what I have planned - a busy 2022, but I'm really excited to work on these things. I'll be checking in monthly on the blog, as was my system in 2021. It gives me accountability to have to report back here every month and discuss how things are going. In fact, this is probably a good space to mention what will happen with this space in 2022. It will still be here of course, but it will mostly be a space to write about these various goals. I don't have any other plans for blog posts that don't involve chatting about these 8 things in some way. Most of the people who check in here already know this from 2021, but it's a good reminder anyway.

Have you set any 2022 goals? I'm here if you need an accountability partner!

My 2022 Goals and Plans

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Are mornings just the worst for you? Not feeling motivated, energized, or excited about each day? Our energy levels always ebb and flow and not every morning is going to be sunshine and rainbows but it doesn't need to be a sense of dread every day either. And routines can help. It's easy to feel drained before the day even starts when you don't know where you're going, and a routine can set a tone for the day and jumpstart your health goals. There's no one size fits all routine. Some will naturally fit in more things than others, but no matter the level of difficulty, there's benefit in committing to just a few steps that work best for you.

Not everything on this list needs to be in your personal routine, it's just a bunch of options to choose from. My advice is to choose four or five things from this list and start incorporating them into your morning every day. 

Physical Health

Stretching and/or moving. Nothing major, just 5-10 minutes of moving your body. You body gets stiff after sleeping all night so spending just a couple minutes each morning getting some stretching and light movement in gets the blood flowing again and helps wake up your brain. 

Go for a walk. It doesn't need to be a long one, but it can be a nice way to incorporate a lot of healthy thing things in one - movement, fresh air, sunlight, gratitude, meditation, even quality time with a loved one (I take Hawkeye!) 

Adopt a skincare routine. Skin is the largest organ in the body, so take care of it! It's one of those things that pays off in the long run. A lot of skincare routines online are much more complicated than they need to be, so this doesn't need to be the huge undertaking it seems like. I love Hyram over on YouTube if you want to get down to the basics and essentials. Personally in the morning I cleanse with a super gentle cleanse, put on a vitamin c serum, moisturize, and add SPF. And as a side note, Pacifica makes a vitamin c - moisturizer - SPF combo so bam, two steps and done.

Take a shower. Most people fall into the category of being a morning shower person or a night shower person, but people who shower in the morning report feeling cleaner, more energized, and ready to be productive throughout the day. It could be worth a try for you too.

Make a smoothie. If you struggle with getting enough fruits, vegetables, or greens into your diet, starting off your morning with a smoothie is the way to go. Smoothies are a great way to give yourself energy first thing in the morning and take only a few minutes to make.

Drink a large glass of water. I feel like everyone is under-hydrated. If you forget to drink throughout the day, drinking a large glass of water each morning can jumpstart your hydration.

Make a cup of coffee or tea. Yes, physical health! There are a lot of good nutrients and antioxidants in both of these beverages. If you don't load them with sweeteners, they're a healthy part of a morning routine and help with focus throughout the day. It's why my dad allowed coffee for me so early, he knew it would improve my brain power at school. 

Physical Space

Make your bed. Making your bed each morning is an easy way to start the day with a small win. It makes the space feel tidy and is something to enjoy at the end of the day too. And a small win like that builds momentum to head into the rest of the day.

Open a window. Homes can often feel stuffy and stale, especially overnight when the air just isn't circulating as well. Opening some windows allows the oxygen to cleanse your home and gives you more fresh air and energy. 

Let light in. Try letting some daylight into your room as soon as your alarm goes off. We're naturally programmed to wake with the sun. So your body sees the light and responds to it, waking you up faster and bringing some energy to your morning.


Identify the top three priorities for the day. We all know the overwhelm of having a giant task list but the truth is, we're only going to get a finite number of things done in a day. Most planners and other goal setting tools have space just for the top three priorities for the day for that reason. Knowing these top three gives the day a sense of direction and know where your priorities lie.

Brain dump everything else you want to accomplish that day. Yes, yes, just top three priorities. But it can also be helpful to do a brain dump and list out everything that you want to accomplish. You won't get it all done, but mentally, it helps to get everything out on paper and out of your brain. Then you can organize the information and make a plan on tackling the tasks for the day. 

Lay out your clothes the night before. This is an element that you’re actually doing the night before in preparation for the morning, but it still counts - one less decision you need to make in the morning! The choice was made the night before so no closet battle during the precious morning hours.

Get fully dressed. Getting fully dressed every day is part of the Fly Lady routine, even if you have no plans to leave the house. It's because it's a way to mentally prepare for the day, so your brain know it’s time to be productive. 

Mental Health

Read a chapter of a book. Refer to my post last month about reading more - there's a lot of benefits to it and we all want to do it, so if you work a chapter into your morning routine, you'll finish more books than you thought possible.

Listen to a podcast. But, your brain may not be fully awake and functioning at maximum capacity to read a book. Fair. Listening to a podcast instead can be a great way to get your brain working and learn something new each day. 

Write down your gratitude list. This is a powerful habit that can impact how you feel throughout the rest of the day. If you spend time reflecting on the things you have and are grateful for, it lifts your entire mood  and energy levels for the day.

Meditate. Distracted or constantly chasing thoughts all day? Meditation. Best way to get centered and focused before the day starts. You can also set your intentions for the day while you do so, giving your day better flow and clarity.

Pay a little attention to a loved one. It's such a tiny thing but can have a big impact on your loved one's day. It could just be saying I love you with a kiss before someone you live with heads off for the way, or it could mean sending a text to someone you miss. It makes everyone involved feel good. And who doesn't want a little positivity in the morning? 

Spend time on a hobby. Puzzles, taking care of plants, writing, scrapbooking, it doesn't matter what your hobby is, only that it sparks joy in you rather than feel like a chore. Incorporating something simple and fun into your morning takes just a few minutes but improves your mood for hours.

So think about what four or five of these elements you want to incorporate into your morning routine so that you can create one that works best for you and serves your mental, physical, and emotional health goals. You can always tweak it along the way to find what system works best for you.

Mine? Coffee, skincare, attention to a loved one, and walking. I also usually end up getting fully dressed and making a smoothie, but those tend to come later in the morning.

Crafting a Morning Routine

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

One thing I stick with pretty well is my cleaning routine. It does come more naturally to me because I like the house to be orderly all of the time, but I did have to implement a trackable routine to make certain I wasn't overlooking any areas or particular cleaning tasks. I settled on a modified Fly Lady routine, because it really works.

Fly Lady Routine

I like the routine because it encompasses the idea of the morning routine too, and getting yourself dressed each day. And if you've never been successful at creating a cleaning routine, let alone sticking with one, this is an excellent place to start because it really assumes you're starting from messy house ground zero.

The website is very overwhelming so I wouldn't be surprised if you think the system is too complicated. It's not though! Start instead with the Secret Slob's YouTube channel, she breaks it down a lot better for beginners. Try this video, and then the modification tips.

Essentially, there's two main parts to the system: the daily task and the zone cleaning. (The system is designed to be for 5 days a week, so I reference Monday through Friday but you can choose whatever days.) You spend 5 to 15 minutes a day on your daily task, and then 15 minutes on cleaning in a single zone in your home. So each day is no more than 30 minutes and your house remains in a clean state all the time! The exception is Monday (or your chosen day) when you spend one hour on a 'weekly home blessing.'

Daily Tasks (5-15 Minutes)

Monday - Weekly Home Blessing Hour, which includes washing the bedsheets and putting them back on the bed, taking out the trash and recycle, dusting, mopping, and vacuuming. I spend no more than 10 minutes on those last three tasks, because I do the deep cleaning version of them in the zone cleaning. I just need to stay on top of the main level each week because between me and Hawkeye, there's a lot of shedding happening!

Tuesday - Plan and Pay Day, where I pay bills, file any paperwork that came in the mail, arrange any necessary plans like doctor appointments, and meal plan.

Wednesday - Anti-Procrastination Day, where I pick a nagging task and just get it done. Sometimes I don't have anything, sometimes I'm finally fixing the loose doorknob or organizing the extension cords.

Thursday - Errands Day, which is when I grocery shop. I also try to schedule any other appointments and outings for this day, so I just get in the car one time and get it all done.

Friday - Car and Bag Day, which is exactly what it sounds like. Cleaning out my car and purse.

Zone Cleaning

I divided my home into 5 zones and I spend 1 week on each zone. Then start back all over again when it's done. Your zones will look different, but try to keep it to 4 or 5, otherwise you're going too long between cleanings in a room. Walk your house to make sure you don't forget any areas, and try to group things by similar cleaning tasks (all the bathrooms on one zone, for example.)

Family Zone - our living room, basement entertaining area, and the staircase.

Food Zone - kitchen and dining room.

Splash Zone - both bathrooms, the laundry room, and the weights area outside the laundry room.

Bedrooms Zone - our bedroom, the guest bedroom, and the treadmill room.

Welcome Home Zone - entry way, the sun room, and the front and back porches.

For each area, I made a list of all the tasks I want to get done. From vacuuming and wiping down mirrors to dusting blinds and baseboards. Every cleaning task I could think of to make the room perfectly clean. Outside of the major, once a year items like washing walls and ceilings and outside windows. Each day I grab my supplies, set the 15 minute timer, and work through the tasks in the designated zone until the timer goes off. I do that every day until the list is done. If I don't get through everything in the 5 allotted days, I start with the skipped tasks when I come back into that zone the next month, but that hasn't happened yet - I'm efficient and I don't have that much house!

My Favorite Products

Some of these links are to Grove, which is where I order most of my supplies from. They specialize in safer, environmentally-friendly, cruelty-free products, so I feel at ease with whatever I buy there. If you use this link, you get some sort of free gift.

Cleaning Caddy. There's a much bigger caddy that I store in the laundry room with even more supplies but I only use it on bathroom cleaning days when I need more tools. For all the other days, I keep this cute, small bucket from Grove under the kitchen sink. It holds my multi-surface spray and my glass cleaner (I talked about that here), along with two microfiber cloths.

Surface Spray. I absolutely love the Caldrea sprays, they smell so good and keep the room smelling nice all day. I swear the tangelo palm frond scent smells like Disney World. It's a real treat, which makes me want to use it. It's just pricey. But the Mrs. Meyers one is a great option too, for a lower price point.

Duster. Lambswool dusters are just so nice. They work better than anything else I've ever tried, and they're very easy to clean - I just go outside and shake it off and it's basically back to new. Can't do that with those swiffers, which are designed to be single use.

Vacuum. We have a (very expensive) Miele vacuum that I got from my mom. That thing's basically a shop vac. When it's a deep cleaning day, it's great, but it's just too much to pull out for quick jobs. For the more regular vacuum of the main level a couple times a week, I use this cordless version.

Do you follow a cleaning routine in your space? What's your favorite cleaning product?

Working the Fly Lady Routine (and My Favorite Cleaning Supplies)

Tuesday, June 8, 2021