Goals update – 24 in 2024 goals, and the secret list :)

I’m writing this goals update 3 months and 1 week into the year.

Summer – beautiful, but I have had more than enough of it.

A few disclaimers before I start the update:

  1. I have two lists this year, the main one and a few more fun, once-off items on a second list, simply because when I looked at the main list, it looked like a LOT of hard work and I didn’t want to feel burdened by a list.
  2. Therefore, when I talk about numbers done, I’ll refer to both of these.

Done

  1. Buy a new car
  2. Try a new stretch class
  3. Read Atomic Habits as a work book club (I have read it, we have met 4 out of the 6 allocated sessions and I got what I wanted from it).
  4. Listen to more music. I have listened to more music in one month than I did the entire year of 2023, so I’m calling it done.
  5. Watch more TV. Same. May I recommend Dance Life on Prime Video? I loved it! I love seeing people in their passion and hard work that goes into making that passion true excellence.

Abandoned

Do Happiness Project Revisited. Towards the end of February, I cancelled – nothing to do with the content but I was bone tired of chasing up on my playbook, nearly 3 months after ordering. The chasing up was worse than work and it was causing unhappiness instead of happiness. (nothing to do with Gretchen’s team; I am not sure why DHL decided to send it to our liquidated Post Office in South Africa – seriously, we have no post offices).

I was trying to take a photo of my favourite new summer pants; clearly I am bad at taking these pics but I still liked how I looked, so there you go

In progress

  1. Exercise going well but I have abandoned the stretch because I wasn’t getting enough cardio and that is very important to me for heart health.
  2. Reading – 30 books in
  3. 10 non-fiction physical books – I have finished 4 of the 10; 2 currently in progress.
  4. Play with photography again and post things that delight me – yes, going well! Also really looking forward to full autumn foliage, the most beautiful season.
  5. Write 24 in 2024
  6. Use up 24 beauty/ body/ bath products – this is going very well. Just this week I had a little relapse (I bought a set of body wash/ body lotions, realised only once I’d got home and opened it up so I kept one of each, and gave some to the kids and Precious). Bonus points for me for returning the other two boxes I’d also bought.
  7. Do many declutter challenges – I have now done 6 batches of 24 (you can see all of these on my Instagram highlights; I post the week’s stuff every weekend.

on my other list, I have to try a recipe every month. this is so easy because of Instagram. Also, StephCooksStuff 🙂

The other list

  1. Finish listening to last few CDs before decluttering them – done (the new car sped things up because I have no CD player so had to listen on Spotify)
  2. Make eye appointment – yay, I don’t need new specs. R10 000 saved!

And that’s it – very happy with my Q1 progress. On my main list, I am tracking at 33,3% for the year, which is ahead of  my budget. Good thing, because it looks slow hereon out unless I actually get around to planning my 50th, booking a weekend away or doing that no-spend month. Hmmmm.

How are you doing on your 24 in 2024 goals?

Whole – how it’s going, one quarter in

I’m really going to do my best with continuing to recap my word of the year throughout the year, hopefully every quarter.

Here’s where I wrote about whole and why I chose it.

On the whole I’d rate myself a 6 out of 10, making progress but not doing particularly great in all of the areas.

Body and health

  • This has been an unbearable summer. Even for people who enjoy summer in Johannesburg, this one has been “challenging”. For me, it has been absolutely horrible. Imagine spending your weekends in the coldest rooms of your house and in bed due to headaches. Yes, that is me. I only felt whole at the office and on cooler days at home.
  • I have lost about 1 kg and I am disappointed that it’s not moving faster.
  • I made and had my eye appointment and… the difference is so slight that there’s no point in getting new glasses made (yay, R10 000 saved!). Apparently I need to make behaviour adjustments like not staring at a laptop for hours on end, make the font bigger on screens (I did my iphone that very day) so that there isn’t such a strain.
  • I had my cholesterol and iron checked and I was honestly despondent until my doctor called me back. Yes, my cholesterol was higher but she is not concerned yet. Apparently the double iron supplement is doing what it needs doing so keep on keeping on. I feel like it’s swings and roundabouts – eat more red meat for iron, but red meat leads to higher cholesterol. Ugh. Perhaps this next quarter will settle things down?

Mental and emotional

  1. I have started the year with great work boundaries. I have a number of hours I’m prepared to work every week to both 1) keep on top of things but still 2) have a life and I’ve been tracking and keeping to it.
  2. I’m still behind on a lot of self-imposed things but I’ve just had to tell myself to focus on the things on my actual scorecard.
  3. I don’t know if the teens have just settled better into school but they are a tad more communicative. I still struggle with “this is not how I envisioned parenthood”.

Financial

  1. I bought a car. Love it, happy with it.  The disciplined savings is worth it every day I get to drive in its deliciousness.
  2. I did some good money thinking while listening to The Broke Generation podcast (I want to write a post about one of the episodes) and had a realisation: I think I’m spending money recklessly in a few places because I don’t have a clearly-defined financial goal. So, am pondering…
  3. Therefore, I haven’t done the no-spend month yet but my plan is still to do one this year.
  4. Until then, I’m spending lots of money on good things like people’s birthdays, gifts and fun things.

Fun

  1. I’m finding fun in music, writing, reading and photography, all of which make me feel whole.
  2. I can’t wait to do more photography in autumn, the prettiest time of the year.
  3. I still need to decide on a celebration for my birthday in August that will be fun and will feel like me. Who are these people who like big parties to celebrate milestone birthdays? (As an aside, I read a book called Are we having fun yet? by Lucy Mangan where Liz, the protagonist, said to her husband something like, “what were we thinking organising a big wedding? We’re both introverts, hate crowds and being the centre of attention. No wonder I was unhappy the whole day)

In summary, I’m thinking about whole enough that it’s top of mind, and I am filtering a lot of my decisions through the lens of “is this going to make me feel more whole? does this look like whole?” which is the whole point.

And that’s how my word of the year is going. How about you?

Do you still remember your word?

Is it guiding your decisions and choices?

PS these photos are all from years past as it is still a few months too early for proper cold weather 🙁

11. Listen to more music

This is an entry from my #24in2024 goals list.

For some people, it might be confusing that I put on my goals list to listen to more music. However, for nearly the last 10 years I’ve been listening to podcasts and audiobooks in my car, and the only music I’ve heard is either in my Zumba class or while watching on Instagram stories.

Also, while writing, as I’m doing now. For that, I play classical music, either a mix or something specific (today I’m listening to Aja Gabel’s The Ensemble soundtrack on Spotify – I highly recommend the book, by the way, I’ve read it twice and it’s a 5-star read)

I’m currently listening to Jessica Simpson’s Open Book now (I should finish tomorrow while driving to work) and I have never heard a Jessica Simpson song. Or a John Mayer track. Or a Nick Lachey song. That’s how limited my musical knowledge is.

To be fair, this doesn’t bother me much because I know what I like.

Occasionally when the Zumba instructor uses new music, I LOVE it. Or when I hear some 80s music in a shop (is it me or do most shops not play music anymore?!), it puts me in a really good mood.

So going into 2024, I thought I need to listen to more music. It was also on the back of Christmas season, which has been the only regular time I’ve listened to albums and songs every year.

All of that is my why.

Spotify also started playing way more ads and so I signed up properly so I could enjoy the Christmas music instead of only enjoying every 2 – 3 songs.

They do their jobs so well and suggest such good mixes where I like every single one of the songs so I signed up and it feels like R65 of happiness every month when the money leaves my credit card. I can’t say the same for every subscription!

I now listen to music, even just a song or two, if I need to destress immediately after leaving work before settling into my audiobook. I listen while cooking most nights. And I follow little prompts of delight – if I hear something that triggers a chord or a snippet of a song, I search for the familiar song or the new one and I just follow those breadcrumbs.

The other morning, a new Zumba instructor played Hey What’s Going On as we cooled down and he stopped the music right at the chorus before the good part. Another lady and I turned to each other and kept on singing. Such a fun moment and… I immediately searched and added that song to my playlists.

The bottom line is I could cross off that item now after two and a half months and be happy with the progress.

Have you added any items of whimsy to your list?

Do tell all – I’d love to hear.

How I track my annual goals

A few weeks ago I wrote about the many different types of goals you could put on your #24in2024 list. When I shared my end-of-year #23in2023 list on Instagram, I had a lot of questions as to how I do my tracking.

Here’s how I do it:

There are once-off items and there are monthly/ weekly/ quarterly items. Or maybe even items with known multiple steps, like take 3 family holidays.

I have a spreadsheet where I keep a list of my goals. Here is a snippet of the bottom of the 2023 sheet.

20 Apply for passport 1.00
21 Listen to one month of Let’s read the gospels podcast 1
22 Keep up with my Project Life 0.75
23 Write a monthly blog and newsletter 0.42
19.53 89%

 

  • I like to colour-code my goals into a few separate categories – health, family, house, work and fun. You could have different categories depending on what’s important to you in a particular year.
  • I set up the spreadsheet with formulae for the items that need completion more often than just once. E.g. Apply for passport involved multiple steps but once I had my visit at the bank, I was done. I earned 1 solid mark.
  • The same with listening to the podcast. Once I finished the 31 days of listening, I was done. Another mark.
  • However, for an item like “keep up with project life”, that is a 12-step goal. Every month I completed it, I earned 1/12 or 0.08. If I did it the following month, I changed it to 2/12 which added another 0.08 to the total.
  • For quarterly items, it’s 1/4 until done… or not, as the case may be. And so on.
  • You’ll realise a few things now – too many monthly goals means that you’re inching your way through, only 0.08 every month. This is why I suggest that you have a few once-off goals so when they’re done, they are done. Instant motivation.
  • In the example above, I did Project Life for 9 out of 12 months (I abandoned it at that point as my album was done and I’m not pursuing it again this year). I wrote a monthly newsletter 5 times.

Now that we’ve talked about the how, I want to address the most important part of this post, the why.

In an ideal world that is full of fantasy, you’d end up with 23 or 24 goals achieved (for this year) and a 100% score. However, life is complicated and things happen, so this system I use allows you to see the progress you’ve made instead of what didn’t get done. In James Clear’s language, you’re voting for the type of person you are (a goal getter) instead of only focussing on whether the goal was achieved or not.

If I didn’t do things this carefully, I’d just end the year and say “no, I didn’t write a monthly newsletter” or “no, I didn’t finish project life” but my way, I can say I did it for 5 or 9 months of the year, which all counts.

Does this method of tracking resonate with you? Will you try using it for your 2024 goals?

4 insights on stockpiling toiletries from The Year of Less

 

 

I read a book called The Year of Less by Cait Flanders in August 2018. I’ve just gone to read all my highlights on Goodreads (19 of them!) and now I think I need to re-read the book 😉

But that’s not what I came here to tell you about today.

When I originally read the book, I remember one piece very vividly, the section on stockpiling toiletries.

It completely changed how I think about things now.

Many people (I daresay, 98% of you reading this post) buy extra toiletries when they’re on sale. The sales captivate us all – 3 for the price of 2, the summer/ winter sale, and so on.

In the book, she asks us to consider how long specific items take to use up and how long you really need to keep spares.

Stockpiling is not great for at least 4 reasons:

1. it wastes money

if your money is held up in “stock”, it is not available as cash (remember Accounting in high school?). I prefer to have the cash rather than bottles of shampoo, conditioner or similar. Yes, I’m aware that the prices of things have increased (especially in South Africa due to loadshedding) but I would still rather have cash in the bank than two extra speedsticks in my bathroom vanity.

2. it is clutter 

This one is fairly obvious. Stuff you have and that you need to store because you’re not using is called clutter.

3. waste of product 

if you buy 3 products, they might go old before you can actually use them (this has happened to me once with speedstick deodorants)

4. most of the world lives about 5 minutes from a store

and now… there’s online delivery too. If you run out, I promise you it will be a 5-minute detour to get what you need and for most of us, you will know beforehand that you’re going to run out in a few days.

A personal example

I use Olay day moisturising liquid (with SPF!). One bottle lasts 6 months. Given that there are often sales, it used to be tempting to buy extra but I am no longer tempted. Why? I can tell that I’ll run out within a week or two both because of the weight of the bottle and the fact that I write the date on the bottle with a permanent marker when I start using a new bottle.

But also, it just makes no sense to buy 18 months’ worth of product on a buy 3 for the price of 2 sale. What if they change the formula or make a pretty new bottle or (I don’t think this will happen but…) I want to try something new but I’m stuck using the old stuff for 18 long months.

Upholders love self-imposed rules

  • I will  keep one spare speedstick deodorant in summer because the consequences are immediate if I run out (!)
  • I do buy the 3 for 2 shampoos because 1 bottle of the brand I use lasts me just under 2 months
  • Keeping a travel toiletry bag stocked is not stockpiling because it actually saves me so much time when I travel for work or pleasure. I’m on holiday now and I will have to replenish some items (on my list!) once I get back home.

In the 17 years of writing this blog, I have still not managed to convince people to stop stockpiling toilet paper. I personally don’t get this obsession as in my house, I “budget” on about 5 days per toilet roll per bathroom, so I know how long we can go before stocking up.

My goal is not to change your mind but I do want you to consciously know that:

  • that is actual money in your cupboards
  • money you can never recoup
  • and you’re probably going to take years to go through your backstock 🙂
  • also, you don’t need to take hotel toiletries with you (I only take bottles that I deem perfect in function or form, or if the fragrances are particularly compelling)

Tell me, where are you on the stockpiling spectrum? 

I didn’t want to go there but I will say that a certain very popular Netflix show and Instagram account has made it very appealing to have lots of backstock in clear perspex containers. Why?

How to break up with your phone by Catherine Price

I read this book during lockdown in 2021 and at the time, I rated it 4.5*. Based on how much the concepts stayed with me and how much I still recommend this book, I have now moved it to a full 5* rating.

How to break up with your phone

I think most people lie to themselves about their phone usage. I used to do the same until I used the Moments app and these days iPhone helpfully sends me the screen stats to shock me every Sunday morning.

Why did I want to read this book?

My phone usage at the time was abysmal. And, as I’ve said before, we could all literally finish a book every four and a half hours if our phone usage was reasonable.

About the book

The book is divided into part 1 – the research, which is very interesting and easy to read – and part 2 – the how to, practical part.

I don’t care too much about the numbers these days because I now recognise after reading this book that most of what I use my phone for are tools like Goodreads, Mail, Camera, etc., but I’d be fooling myself if I didn’t admit that the Instagram dopamine hit is strong.

Did you know that they purposefully update likes and notifications erratically to keep us swiping and checking? Of course, once I found that out, I channelled my inner rebel and consciously don’t do it.

That’s just one of the things she talks about in the book.

If you watched the Social Dilemma on netflix a few years ago, you will recognise a lot of what is said here, but the book is still a solid, 5🌟 read.

Now for the fun!

my iphone screen

Three things that really, really help me:

  1. I can’t help thinking that I would rather have read a book than scroll some random person’s Instagram feed – that definitely helps me to stop the mindless scroll.
  2. Put your screentime widget on your front screen of your phone (see top left of screen above). Every time you pick up your phone and are confronted with your daily usage, you might reconsider what you intended to do. I added this widget in the second week of January this year and my screentime has gone down from 7 hours 11 to somewhere between 3 and 4 hours on average. More importantly, my Instagram usage has radically decreased. Here’s how to do it for Android phones.
  3. Put all your social media apps on page 2 of your phone. If you keep your tools on page 1 of your phone, you’re less likely to go straight to Instagram, Facebook, etc. Facebook is not on my phone and I maybe spend 10 minutes a month there via the web, and it’s all birthday check-ins.

Does your screentime usage bother you? Have you added the widget to your front page yet?

5 (quick and easy) steps to reflect on your half-year review

If you’ve been reading for even just a little time, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of stopping, and pausing to reflect before marching on. It’s because I was not good at this step that I feel like it’s so useful. If you’re thinking “oh, this reflection business is not for me” it’s probably then going to be a very valuable exercise, especially for you.

As we have just finished the half-year, let’s pause and reflect on the first six months of the year. Here are my 5 steps (I change these all the time and if I gave a talk, I’d probably change it again ;)) which I have positioned as questions:

1. Where do I need to give myself grace?

  • Many of us set out at the end of 2022/ beginning of 2023 with a brand new set of goals and intentions that seemed easy at the time because we were hyped up on New Year Energy. I am the same as you! I conveniently forgot that I’m not an outside person and told myself I could go outside almost daily for 23 minutes in 2023. Here’s where I let that notion go.
  • Do you need to give yourself grace and let some things go? Books, TV shows, projects (work or personal)?

2. What is working? What am I happy with?

  • This is the fun part so go wild.
  • Did you get some work projects done? Did you get personal projects done? Did you rest well? Did you watch some good TV? Is your reading in a good place? (I have watched some good TV – On the verge, The Bold Type, Working Moms, Wellmania, etc.)
  • Are you rocking your relationships? (I am rocking my in-person relationships… probably because I’m tired of online everything!)
  • Have you finally adjusted to a new work from office rhythm? (more on this in a blog post but finally, after 5 months in a 3-days-a-week schedule, I can say yes)
  • Have you finally reduced your addiction to the tiny computer in your hand?
  • Are you in a good exercise/ movement routine?

3. What do I still need to do?

  • When you review your list (or make a new list), what is still calling to you to do for this year?
  • How is your health? No joke – I have 5 health appointments to make this month and two that must happen – the pharmacist told me she is only issuing my meds as an “emergency” so I’ve got to go get a repeat script from my doctor in the next 3 weeks. Alrighty then.
  • Do you have some house projects you want to take care of?
  • Do you have some fun things you want to plan to look forward to?

4. What do I want to change?

  • When you consider the last 6 months, what are you not happy about?
  • What needs to change? Is it something you need to speak up about? Schedule the time to do so.

5. What are my in-progress projects?

  • What have you started, made some progress towards but you need to finish it off? Personal projects, work projects, finance projects (I met with my financial adviser in May and she gave me 3 actions – I have done none but I told her I would only action in July or August), health projects?
  • If you have nothing, great! I put this question because many of my projects don’t always start and finish in the same month, as neat as that would be.

If you need some inspiration and guidance to get going, I am here to give you a loving kick in the pants to get you moving again, but you have to take the first step.

Other half-year review posts on the blog

(no surprise to anyone – I didn’t do one in 2020!)

My 3 top takeaways from quarter 1 of 2023… updated for quarter 2 too

Originally written in April 2023 and sent to my newsletter list, now updated in July 2023

If you look at my numbers, it appears things are going great. I just checked my spreadsheet and I’m on 11.84 out of 23 for my #23goalsin2023, which is 51%, and we’re only 3  months into the year.

That says two things to me: I am good at getting big things done early (this is true – I always weight my work so that I “eat the frogs” first) and the rest of the year is going to show only incremental change (also true as a lot of my goals are project goals which means a 1/12 increase monthly).

However, let me share some of my favourite insights from the first three months:

1. Leave what’s not working for you

  • I abandoned the tracking of Gretchen’s Go outside 23 in 2023 project (and then on a recent-to-me podcast, I heard another listener say she also considers time in her car travelling to places “outside” time) but I am certainly outside more than 161 minutes a week.
  • I have abandoned three books this year already (great for me!) and I have abandoned some self-imposed, ambitious work projects (on my actual job). That will have to wait for after 30 June 🙂

2. Habits are easy for me to maintain if I schedule them

  • As a true upholder, I’ve embraced the scheduling of good habits.
  • I faithfully book two gym classes a week and attend. My Spanish dance classes happen every Thursday without fail.
  • I book all the days I plan to be at the office. Our hybrid work situation is flexible so “be here any 3 days of the week” I plan the previous week and align my menu planning and gym visits to that schedule.
  • I also take about 30 minutes (I tell myself it’s 23 minutes though, for whimsy!) to do my planning for the week – update diary, book journal, bullet journal and line-a-day diary. This is all scheduled.

3. Some things will just take longer than you think

  • For my work programme, I have now finally embraced the “staying present” and “enjoying the journey” but I’ll tell you – it all takes way longer than I think it should. On the other hand, I do actually think the end-product is better!
  • My health metrics are taking longer to right themselves. I was very disappointed about a month ago when my iron levels had not miraculously fixed themselves (nor had my cholesterol) but a colleague told me that her iron levels took two years to fix. I’m hoping mine happens faster than that but still, apparently health metrics don’t all fix themselves in just a few months.

What were your big takeaways from quarter 1?

For my quarter 2 update, I …

  • am now at 65% of my 23 in 2023 goals (if you think that’s awfully specifc, it’s because I track it with formulae on an actual Excel spreadsheet)
  • I have fully completed my programme and finished well
  • I am on my actual treat holiday for finishing the programme (so glad I booked it as it dragged me through the last two months).
  • I have now finished reading 64 books for the year so I am on track for 100 in 2023
  • I am most behind with all my medical appointments and have to get my bloods drawn and schedule my appointments to see if there is any change. It still feels like a miracle to me that doctors know what’s happening with you just from your blood! (Yes, I am easily awed)

And what are your quarter 2 updates?

Our bathroom renovation – what we would change and what we wouldn’t

A little bit of background:

  • In 2020 Dion and I were planning to go to the US for a holiday to celebrate a big anniversary. We all know what happened and there were no big travel holidays.
  • 2021 didn’t look much better both from a comfort to travel point of view and so I had the bright idea – instead of those savings languishing (!) in our savings account, waiting for better days, why don’t we spend it on something we can enjoy daily, like a new bathroom?
  • This was one of my more inspired ideas as that is exactly what we did. Another inspired idea was to have them do the main demo work while we were on (local) holidays and therefore not bothered by noise and dust (win-win). We did have a full week of people in the house once we returned.

What we would change:

Maybe next time (if there is a next time) we’ll stay away for two weeks because it was challenging for me to work and live in a house with a ton of people also working. On Teams: “hi client, please just ignore the drilling, there’s a bathroom renovation happening”.

I go back and forth on this, and we can still change it – the force of the shower is just pleasant, not super strong. That is a water-saving mechanism and is fine for most of the year but I will admit that in winter, I do sometimes think I need a bigger force shower with lots of hot water blazing down on me.

What we did change

We added more hooks and towel rails and moved the position of the rails within that first week. Compare the top picture to this one.

What we would not change:

  • Everything structural – I love having a big shower and no bath
  • I love our double basins
  • I love that we kept our wall for toilet privacy
  • I love our long wall of cupboards that hide our laundry baskets, cleaning materials and toiletries!

Here are some more pictures:

 

Have you ever had a renovation while you lived in the space?

Did it make you crazy or how did you handle it?

{Mindset} Let’s talk about social inertia

I first heard this term on a podcast during the stage of lockdown when people were just starting to feel safe about venturing out again.

I think it even might have been on the Happier podcast.

However, if you google, you won’t find the same meaning as the one I want to discuss today.

The podcast hosts described social inertia as follows: we all got used to staying indoors because we had to. Things then opened up again but now we all have a certain reluctance to venture out because we became used to not connecting in person.

Our inertia leans to not do things socially.

I often wonder about this as an extrovert.

I remember telling my father early during lockdown that I am literally the only person in my house going stir crazy from cabin fever.

And yet, I also have a form of social inertia. I enjoy being with people, I am energised when I’m out and about, but I also am not my pre-pandemic social self.

It’s probably a little normal but I also think like this now: well, if they wanted to get together, it is not all on me to initiate and make arrangements. It’s a little tough for my enneagram 1 self, I will admit.

I left a friend a voice message recently for her birthday and I said my usual thing, “when are you free? let’s get together” and then I realised afterwards that I’ve been saying the same thing for awhile and felt guilty. Straight on the heels of that guilt, I reminded myself that the phone (and arrangements) work both ways. This is unheard of for me.

How about you? Do you have social inertia? Or did you spring right back into all the plans and arrangements and socials with friends, colleagues and family?

 

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