finance · goals · writing

Eyes on the Prize.

4.18.18Yesterday afternoon, I had the first call of my new Goals Group.  Like the last one I participated in, we’ll have a group phone call wherein we’ll walk through a series of weekly assigned questions—about our vision for our lives, our goals, a specific goal, what blocks us from this goal, how we can accept help to overcome these blocks, and how we will maintain these (generally spiritual) connections to ensure we continue actions toward fulfilling our vision.

PHEW!  That’s a mouthful, but does generally give you the scope of this work.  At the rate of a call a week (a question or two each week), we’ll end in about 6 months, as did my group that ended in February.

Additionally, we make commitments to actions for the upcoming week that may be in the vein of our goals or seemingly unrelated—e.g. grade papers, take a walk… no, those weren’t mine! … *shifty eyes*

A few things came out of the call for me last night: 1) I need to increase my income to support the philanthropic life I want to lead; 2) I’m going to have to write that book that’s been on my mind (damnit); 3) I need to adjust how I employ my time if I will achieve #s 1 and 2.

Therefore, I committed to my group the following non-committal action: “I commit to experimenting with blogging Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and use Tuesday/Thursday to do my other writing (book, goals pages).”

I commit to experimenting!  Ha!

Well, that’s the truth of it.  I love blogging regularly.  I love that a theme or title will come to me during the day that I’ll file away for tomorrow.  I love the calm and the energy that I receive when I write here—the connection, the humor, the reflection.  BUT, there are no blog police demanding I write daily (right??), and in fact I’d whittled down the frequency from 7 days a week to 5 not long ago.

Realistically, though, I’ve been dropping 1 of those 5 days lately and the hour I devote each morning drafting, editing, photo searching, and posting is an hour that can be spent in service of goals 1 & 2.

Blogging is a part of this vision, and I may indeed begin modifying the format and purpose of my blog to support the book (AKA I want your stories!), but for now my goal is to use all of my time efficiently and effectively, and in the service of my visions.

So, Dear Reader, firstly, THANK YOU.  I know a dozen (sometimes 2 or 3 dozen!) of you read my blog, and it’s a boon to my spirit when I receive a text or comment or facebook message that says my writing affected you—brought you to question circumstances in your own life, gave you a new tool, or allowed you to feel connected to me.  For this, I am so insanely grateful.  I am so glad you are here.

Secondly… I’ll see you on Friday, peeps!;)  Much love,  M.

 

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goals · music · procrastination

O|M

4-11-18.jpg

About a decade ago, I worked for a Jewish non-profit in San Francisco.  I was a program assistant, so I got to sit in on the Professional Development seminars that I bought the bagels for.  One of these PDs was on program development: there are a hundred ways to do anything, but what is your goal?  Thus, the facilitator introduced the O|M method.

O|M stands for Outcome|Method, and also appeals to the hippie-dippy present in all Jews–well, maybe the Bay Area ones!  On a sheet of paper, draw a T chart with Outcome on one side and Method on the other.  Chances are for each goal you want to accomplish, there’s only one outcome, maybe two, you’d like to achieve.  Once you’ve written that down, go at it! on the right side.

Every and any method you can think of to accomplish this goal, write it down!  Don’t be shy about outlandish ideas; that’s what this process is here to help facilitate: think outside your own box, beyond your preconceptions and doubts and judgments.

However.

Once you’ve generated this list, you need to choose a Method.  And this idea pivots my thoughts today to the “SMART” choices acronym that has been cropping up in my sphere–first Deepak, then financial articles.  Although there is some debate about the wording, here’s my approximation of what Deepak said:

S: Stretch more than I can reach

M: Make everything Measurable

A: Agreement with my inner self and those around me

R: Record my progress!

T: Time limits for acting and getting a result.

It does not matter if my Outcome is to play “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” on the piano by Christmas.  It does not matter if my Method is to practice 3 times a week.

If I do not have a Measurement for smaller actions or a Time limit for taking such actions, I will procrastinate… and I will achieve nothing.  Except self-derision.

Someone said recently, Goals without Action are Wishes.  (And to quote a dear friend, “If wishes were horses, then hobos would ride”!)

I do have this goal.  But I do not have a method that has yet been actionable.  I haven’t had a plan — I haven’t had a method.  So what I think I’ll do is to open my brain to the right column, brainstorm, write down any ideas realistic or un- and help myself overcome just even the very first hurdle.

 

Because surely, if you’re like me, that first one is the highest.

 

action · goals · real estate

One Foot, Two Foot

4.9.18

On Saturday, I attended the First-Time Home Buyer’s workshop put on by the San Francisco housing department.  It’s one of the 2 pre-requisites to becoming eligible for their Below-Market Rate (BMR) units, and in the workshop I learned a number of tools, was dizzied by “math in public,” and was familiar with a number of concepts.  But the most important thing I learned was: I do not want to buy a house! . . .

What I realized sitting in that workshop was that buying a BMR (or winning their lottery once I’m in the pool) would keep me in a relatively small box.  I’d be required to live in that unit… forever.  Or if don’t want forever, then I sell but I won’t make a profit because it’s kept at a BMR rate for the next person.

All this to say, I’d be locked in to the life that I have now, when I have no idea what my life may be later.  That condo on Lake Street that brought me into this whole process altogether?  Well, it’s a 1 bedroom.  If I marry and have 2 kids, as I do intend to do, well, that won’t work at all.  In fact, it’s against the program’s rules to have more than 2 people living in it.

It’s a great option if my life were to stay the same size for 30 years.  But my hope and intention is that it will become much, much bigger.  And so this option is likely not the right one for me.  I don’t mind paying the $900/month rent that I have right now (yes, that’s insanely cheap for Bay Area standards, yet perhaps insanely costly by others’) and continuing to save up my money.

Because what I realized is that while I don’t want to buy a BMR, and I don’t want to buy a single-family home, I do want to buy income-producing properties.  I want to own a unit I can rent out, I want someone else to pay down my mortgage, I want to amass some land, some wealth, and realistically I cannot do that if I put every penny of my savings into the “American Dream.”

Forgive me if this blog is dry to you (don’t worry, there’s a HEAP of emo, relationship, back-in-an-“it’s complicated”-phase update to be written), but I do think it’s important to honor that my vision is changing.  My intentions are changing.  I’m honing in more specifically on what I want in life, and how on earth all the hard work I do every day can support that.

I do not want to blindly go through life, aimless, without goals or actions to support them.  I want my days to support my life, not drip from it.  In order to achieve that, I must learn, I must sit in 6-hour workshops and understand what a “cap rate” is.  I must invent my path.  And part of that is sharing with you the minutiae of real estate acquisition;)

 

goals · pride · self-love

“And reward achievements.”

3.15.18

This is the latter part of a sentence that begins, “We set goals for ourselves…”

Like most, I’ve never been great at acknowledging, let alone rewarding, achievement.  My mother has the famous story about bringing home her “99” test score to her father and him replying, “Where’s the other point?”  And while I’ve never been that exacting with myself over tests, I’ve certainly been exacting over other efforts of mine.

Theater, singing, writing, artwork.  (Strangely, though, not musical instruments… perhaps to the dismay of my bandmates!);)

And, of course, I’ve been exacting with myself over my time and my goals.  I have not at all been able to stick to the 30-minutes-of-reading-per-day limit that I set for myself about a month ago.  In fact, I have swung the pendulum crazy far in the other direction reading the Game of Thrones series, as the set was gifted to me by a colleague for my classroom, but deemed too violent for middle schoolers!

That all said…

As part of the structure of my weekly Goals Group call on Sundays, we’re each required to share about our achievements from the past week.  And while I can’t yet point to a balanced relationship with couch+sunlight+novel, I can boast about many other achievements.

I come to reflect on this today as our Goals Group will be coming to a close this Sunday, at nearly the exact 6-month mark.  Together, myself and two other ladies have spoken about our vision and goals for our lives in all areas, fears and illusions that impede our efforts, and tiny little markers of movement that we set out for ourselves that week to report upon the next.

In this way, I have been able to write a weekly list of accomplishments in my pocket calendar (yes, paper), and I gotta tell ya, I love it!  I love writing in the notebook, “Accomplishments,” and following that luscious word with a dozen actions I’ve taken.

Many have been related to this blog redux, some with flying an airplane, writing my Allegory, or using my time well at work by taking breaks.  Ice skating, vitamin-taking, meditating…

I get to write a list each week of things I feel proud of!  So if, honestly, nothing at all came from the larger goals I’ve been setting before myself, if I didn’t scrape the surface of a single dream, the mere habit of writing, sharing, and honoring all that I’ve done in one week will have been success enough.  (Dayenu!)

But… my dirty little secret is… I do have to keep reminding myself of that each and every week.

 

addiction · goals · reading

Come on, just one more…

2.21.18 clocks.jpg

My eyes are raw and scratchy, the lids nod closed, the thoughts stutter fuzzy and disconnected.  I try to harness my attention, to inject one more word, one more page into my skull.  I try to shove words into my brain like Gluttony topping his gullet in Seven.

The sun has moved across the window pane, bathing me in warmth and stupor, and still I cannot put down the book.  I sneak glances at the clock like a school mistress, waiting for it to chide me, to alarm me out of my torpor.  But it only peers back at me with curiosity, head cocked, asking, Now?

No, I tell it, defensive, defiant, perhaps rabid.  No, you cannot take this moment.  This is mine, and my couch’s, and my book’s.  And besides, reading is good for me.  For anyone.  Mine. …

 

In the circles in which I’ve run, I know many people who learned very early in life that a book could not only be a pleasure, but it could be an escape, a haven, a protectorate.  And many of us found that we could hide inside the pages of a book from all the chaos outside the binding.  I certainly did.

I’ve been an avid reader since childhood, eventually picking up longer and longer books left by my mom from the library — including Stephen King’s 787-page horror/delight Insomnia in middle school, and staying up ’til the wee hours of the weeknight, ’til 1 or 2 am, before I felt sufficiently zonked that I wouldn’t be scared to walk upstairs in the dark alone.

I hopped on the Harry Potter train just before the 7th book was released, and read the whole series in a mad, head-long, eye-straining dash.  Same with many other novels…many other Saturdays…many other Sundays…afternoons…evenings…

As I listened yesterday to the The Success Principles audiobook when I returned from work (continuing my newly-formed habit of cleaning up for 5 minutes when I arrive home), I heard the author say the following:

If you eliminated one hour of TV from your day, you’d have freed up 365 hours in a year.  This translates to 9 weeks of a full-time job.  

At the time, I’d been waiting to finish my cleaning so I could continue haunting the pages of Game of Thrones (which I’m not convinced I enjoy, but I certainly appreciate disappearing into).  I’d already exercised, blogged, worked — what was the next 2.5 hours to me anyway?

But it struck me: If I eliminated 1 hour of reading from my daily life, what could I accomplish?

I’ve already begun to tease apart my “Time Indifference” (not using the time I have to pursue my goals), and I’ve located so many places where I feel inefficient and blindered:  The goals I write on my January list that recur annually; the writing I must do for my weekly Goals Group that I put off until the 45 minutes beforehand; the practicing of the piano so that I can actually play, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Christmas…

What could I be doing if I weren’t reading?  What could I be accomplishing if I weren’t fogging out in the words of another land?

love reading.  But I do also know when it tips over from a time of rejuvenation and enjoyment to a drooling, mindless binge.  I love reading, but I don’t need to spend ALL of the hours I have free doing it.  I want to read, more and more and more, and into the future and always — but not at the expense of everything else I’m called to accomplish this lifetime.

Inside a book, I can hide from actions that are in service of a bigger life.

So, for now, maybe only for Lent, I am instituting a habit that I will only read for pleasure for 30 minutes a day (outside the 10~20 minutes I get before bed!).  I don’t actually find this to be limiting or depriving; I find this new edict to open a world of possibilities directly into my hands.

 

 

adventure · goals · pilot

Take off.

2.19.18 miss-fisher-plane.jpg
My fictional style hero, Miss Fisher.

During my brief and spectacular life, I have wanted to be the following:

Piano player, lounge singer, painter, poet, home organizer, decluttering specialist, home stager, blogger, stage actor, physics teacher, physics student, math student, fitness instructor, model, runner, international traveler, bass player, guitar player, gallery assistant, English professor, property owner, board member, gala attendee, copy editor, executive director.

Most of these desires remain (several have been accomplished, yet not enough to satisfy). Though some rise to the top of my mental list and some swim among the bottom rungs, one has rarely fallen: Small-plane pilot.

Specifically, the desire to be a tour pilot for tourists over the Napa and Sonoma valley vineyards.

Today, I continue to place the stepping stones toward that goal in front of myself, like a childhood game where you have to use only 3 cardboard squares to wend your way across the “lava” of the carpet.

My brother and I have the identical, if apparently false, memory: flying in a glider or small passenger plane as children.  We both remember being in a small plane in childhood, perhaps during the annual family vacation in Cape Cod, perhaps somewhere else.  The details of the flights aren’t clear, but the memory –and its attendant delight, thrill, and glee– are.

Surprisingly to us both, neither of our parents have any recollection of such an adventure.  And so, either our parents are mistaken, or Ben and I have a shared sensory delusion.

In any case, the desire for me to fly a small plane has never diminished.  I bought a Groupon discounted one-day flight lesson several years ago, and a little more than a year ago finally cashed it in for a 4-hour lesson, including FLYING AND LANDING an ACTUAL PLANE — with PEOPLE in it!! (just the instructor and myself, but still).  I went up flying with a friend who has his pilot’s license last year, and he let me take the yoke for a while (THRILLING!).

And last week, as it continued to be written on my goals and dreams pages, I finally contacted a flight school nearby to ask about the time and financial commitment to earn my private pilot’s license.

They replied to the effect of, “It’s complicated,” and why don’t you come on down to discuss it.  So, today, I am.

I have no idea if I will continue to lay the cardboard steps before myself, if I will decide to train the path in a different direction, or forge ahead on this one.  But, I will never know if I don’t show up.

Molly Louise, You are Cleared for Take Off…

 

goals · success · time

All we are is dust in the wind, dude.

2.4.18 socrates-with-bill-and-ted

One of my favorite exchanges in film is this one between Bill & Ted and Socrates (delightfully mispronounced, “So-CRATES,” as in boxes).  Socrates then lays the following gem on the endearing surf-philosophers: “Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.” (Albeit, he says it in Greek…)

I share this today because: What’s the deal with all the calendaring and habit stuff, anyway, Moll?

Listening to a habits book; reading said habits book; writing a time plan; crafting a habits calendar; listening to a 21-day meditation on time sickness.  Why?

Because of Socrates’ reply: There is only so much time; How will I spend it?

I’ve crafted a degree of discipline over the last several years about how I spend my money.  Discovered money is a useful tool, yet a harsh master; decided how to use it to best support my goals, desires, health, vitality, future and present.  How I spend my money reflects the values I hold.  And so, now, I look at another of the very few tools I have control over in my life: my time.

With the habits tracker eliminating decisions and encouraging a little effort each day (rather than the sprinter’s “exertion/exhaustion” purgatory), I’ve crafted and carved out more minutes in which to do that which I must.  Not dishes or laundry, but purpose.  To act in alignment with my purpose.

When I spend 4 hours on the couch both days this weekend reading Cider House Rules, is that in alignment with my purpose?  Hmmm, yes, reading is a love but, maybe just 2 hours would suffice!

When I clean out folders and boxes when I really need to start an avoided piece of writing for my weekly goals call?  Well, yes, clearing needs to be done.  But what ultimately moves me toward my purpose?  Certainly not “tricking” myself with apparent busy-ness so that I have zero time to write.

My next body of work is in the arena of effectiveness, success, and (forgive me) “flow.”  I can tell because the words I’m reading and listening to have begun to shift from time:  Oprah’s Super Soul conversation with Jack Canfield about success.  Downloading his Success Principles on Hoopla (the library e-borrowing app).  And this morning, starting the 21-meditation on…Manifesting True Success.

My weekly goals call has shifted in its tenor, too, from finding, making, using Time to a pulled-back overview of refining my larger goals and purpose on this earth:

Now that I’ve made time, how will I use it?