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?

An ode to fun – watch more TV

Some long-time readers will remember that I’ve intentionally included words over the years to help me have more fun in my life – joy in 2016, fun in 2018, play in 2021 and delight in 2022.

This year, as part of my #23in2023 goals, I have a very strange goal for me – watch more TV. Watching a lot of TV is very normal for most people but not for me.

Things I like to watch are design shows like Dream Home Makeover or practical cooking shows like Nadiya’s time to eat, shows about women in my stage of life (Working Moms, On the verge, etc.) and shows with a beautiful visual aesthetic (Grace and Frankie – my true comfort because the writing is perfection, the acting is amazing and it’s gorgeous to look at – the kitchens, the houses, the beach!)

I do not like crime (why, people, why?) or anything dark because I really love that I sleep well and I don’t want that disturbed.

I’m doing excellent on this goal this far – this is what I watched in quarter 1 of 2023:

  • Dead to me (Netflix) – final season
  • Bad Sisters (Apple TV) – episode 1 (I will treat myself to a one-month subscription in July when I’m on holiday and watch the rest of it)
  • On the verge (Netflix) – started last year but I finished everything available
  • The bold type (Netflix)
  • Daisy Jones and the Six (Amazon Prime) – I’d watched half by the end of March and I finished the other half in the first 3 days of April (so that I wouldn’t have to subscribe for another month.

Now, I have some questions for you:

  1. Do you watch a lot of TV?
  2. What do you like to watch?
  3. Given my tastes above, which Netflix or Amazon Prime shows do you recommend?

{Goals} Quarterly review – Jan to March 23

And here we are, at the end of the first quarter of the year.

Three months over – just like that!

A summary of just a few high – and lowlights over the last quarter:

  1. I applied for my passport and received it.
  2. I read 31 books, 8 of them 5* reads, which is a great start to my reading year.
  3. I have watched a lot of TV (one of my #23in2023) – finished Dead to me, On the Verge and am now knee-deep in The Bold Type. And of course, I’m also watching Daisy Jones and The Six.
  4. We finally had our solar installation and it has been life-changing. I don’t have to think about loadshedding when I want to go out or concern myself with my laptop holding charge until the power comes on again.
  5. Despite being on iron supplements over the last 3 months, my iron levels have not improved to a degree where I can stop them. I think I thought that 3 months would sort out my iron deficiency but apparently not.
  6. I’ve had a consistent 3 workouts a week since January – two Zumba classes and a Spanish class. We have had a new Spanish teacher this year and it’s been so invigorating for my dancing.
  7. A friend of mine was diagnosed with stage 3 cervical cancer. Everything else pales next to that, doesn’t it? She is a fighter and she’s fighting as much as she is able.

Life is like this, isn’t it? Highs and lows.

Tend is being a good word for me this year – a reminder to take care of my health, family, friends and work.

How was the first quarter of 2023 for you?

How is your word working out?

A February recap of goals and letting things go

This month I thought I’d give you an update on my 23 goals in 2023 and talk about a project I am letting go.

#23goalsin2023

I think a good goals list has a mix of things you can do quickly, things that are a bit of a stretch and things that you need to continually do.

My 23 in 2023 list is exactly this and while I was only able to cross one thing off in January (7. Listen to one month of Let’s Read the Gospels podcast), I crossed off three in Feb and let one go.

This month’s wins

  1. I applied for and received my passport all in the same month. I’d heard that it takes 6 – 8 weeks but I received a text message 5 days later, which is beyond excellent.
  2. I have also now figured out a good laundry schedule (it is helped greatly when the sun shines!) and tested it for a whole extra month.
  3. I have also set up deep cleaning days and a schedule for what happens then. I booked an extra cleaning day! While it feels luxurious, I realised that I really like a clean house and I’d rather go without other things to have this extra help in place.  

Solar is not yet installed but I have followed-up; they have my application and I am on the waiting list. So exciting with us on stage 6 loadshedding.

What about that project I abandoned?

I had on my list to do #Gooutside23in2023 80% of the time.

Did you know that I hate being outside? The only time I like it is in winter, autumn when it’s cold, straight after it rains and when I’m at the beach. My body does not like the sun (heat headaches mentioned above) and mosquitoes love me. As I type this, I have mosquito welts all over my body from the days of heat we’ve been having.

So why would I put something like this on my list? Because I got caught up in New Year madness, that’s why.

I would love to be a person who likes being outdoors but I’m very much indoorsy.

However, I calculated that 3 days in office every week plus Zumba on Saturdays and church on Sundays equals 5 out of 7 days I get out of the house. 71% of the time will just have to do… and I’m no longer tracking it.

Do you need to abandon a project? Not that you need it, but here is your permission slip.

What were the month’s hits and misses for you in February?

I still use a paper diary. Here’s the 2023 one.

I’ve written many, many times before about how it’s important to know what works for you in terms of planning.

My perfect diary is a weekly format, preferably some space for other notes too and enough space horizontally.

I’ve used the same type of diary as I’m using this year before – in 2018 and 2020. I like that I can zip up a pen or thin bullet journal inside and nothing falls out.

Let me show you more:

This is the monthly goals and planning page – goals, to-dos, birthdays and other important dates.
This is the monthly overview – I LOVE this page because there’s space for plenty of tracking – I track work from office days, exercise days as well as actual events.
This is the weekly view. I use the top section for events and the bottom for any specific daily to-dos. I write my weekly goals in the bottom left section (Priorities) and my weekend to-dos in the notes for the week section.

Here’s the key: I take some time every Sunday afternoon/ evening to update my diary for the week ahead so that this tool is truly useful and not just lovely to look at.

Do you use a paper or digital planner/ diary? When do you update it?

15-minute Fridays: organising your to-do list

I want to try sharing really short, quick tips here. The idea is that they will be quick and easy inspiration for your weekend.

I typically break up my weekend to-do list into errands (out and about), house stuff and relax.

Under the house section, I have things that are always on there (laundry, menu plan, etc.) and then I add one or two quick things – like declutter my nail polish or tidy the storeroom. In my head, these things are about 15 minutes (if they’re not, don’t tell my brain because that’s how I trick myself to actually go do them)

For this weekend, grab a notebook or your phone’s notes app and walk around your house. That’s it.

Walk into each of the rooms and note what needs sorting out. As an example…

Bedroom – declutter sock drawer, tidy nail polish, clean gym shoes, declutter t-shirts.

When you’re done with your list, you’re done.

But…. if you do feel motivated, please pick the one thing that will feel most satisfying to have done, and do it.

January 2023 goals and word wrap-up

I thought it would be fun to bring in a monthly goals review component to the blog in the hopes that something I say might inspire you to keep on, or shift something in you to spur you on.

Gretchen recommends putting a variety of goals on your list – some once-off items, some bigger items and some things that are more project-based that will last the whole year.

I wrote down my 23 goals late last year/ early this year and as at the end of January, I have now completed 1 – keep up with one month of Let’s Read the Gospels, a daily Bible podcast by Annie F Downs.

It was an easy goal to achieve – I simply subscribed to the podcast so it popped into my feed every day. I do have a habit of listening while I prepare supper/ get ready for the day (after my 20 minutes of non-fiction is done) and it was actually lovely to listen to her reading the gospels to me.

Fun fact – I have continued listening although I am looking for a full Bible podcast (maybe the New Testament to start). I tried out several that popped up in my podcast feed but they all felt too… boring.

What about my word, tend?

January has been all about setting up systems for me – systems for good work, systems for good health and systems for home and relationships.

I feel like the tending is not very sexy at the moment, but it is necessary so I can stay the long haul tending to everything I need to.

So far, so good.

And overall January goals?

I set 23 goals and ended up with 83,5% done. Overall, a really good month.

Tell me, how was January as far as goals and your word?

If you would like to have a 1:1 60-minute goals session, contact me for available times.

3 things that are working for me these days

(and by these days I mean January!)

This list could change next month but this is what’s working for me at the moment. I’m fully back at work – this month we’re in the office two out of five days a week, the kids have both had their first week at high school (and were exhausted!), we are adjusting to them having phones and we are dealing with constant (stage 4 – 6) loadshedding.

1. Getting inspiration for meals by actually walking around the supermarket
I go through periods of severe non-inspiration where I cannot even think what I’d like to eat, let alone cook. I am also someone who needs lots of variety in their meals. Add to that the fact that I don’t do the food shopping and Dion online shops all the time.  

I read a book last year, Creative You, which talks about creativity and your MBTI type. I get creative energy as an ESTJ by experiencing the world around me by touching, seeing, smelling, etc. I need to remember this and schedule food shopping dates maybe once a month. I’ve been hot (we have had weather in the 30s C) and with loadshedding, I just have felt so uninspired. The book is excellent for many other reasons and I highly recommend it!

Yesterday though we went for a quick vegetable shop and just strolling around the supermarket (in the blessed aircon!) for 20 minutes inspired me so. I returned home and made a menu plan. It felt so easy!


2. Having a weekly 30-minute power hour to update my lists
I used to schedule a weekly planning session and somehow that has fallen by the way sometime during the last two or so years.

But I’m bringing it back (I might do 23 minutes just to be whimsical). This block of time is to update any books I’ve read in my book bullet journal, update my diary, check on my goals, and update my line-a-day journal.

I find Sunday afternoons work best for this, just before the supper/ getting ready for the week rush, because after supper, I want to peacefully read.

3. Accountability for exercise
I’d got out of the habit of going to my Wednesday evening Zumba class around September/ October. I didn’t enjoy the class as much as I used to and then I was too busy to look for another one.

Well, there’s one thing loadshedding’s good for – my gym opened up memberships to all clubs even if your membership is only at a specific location.

When I found out, I contacted my old Zumba instructor, checked logistics, and told her I’d be in her class on Wednesday evening, and I was.

It was so good and afterwards, I told her that I’d be there every Wednesday as long as this loadshedding lasts.

What’s working for you these days?

How I did on my 2022 goals

As I do every year, I set some goals for 2022. I used Gretchen’s printable, My 22 for 22 List.

Some items were once-off (apply for high schools), some were project-based (read 100 books) and some were continual (Project Life monthly).

I really like having a mix of different types of goals so that they all don’t feel insurmountable at the same time.

So how did I do?

I got 13 done completely, 3 not done at all, and 7 partially done. With about a month since I last looked at the list, I think I was maybe too hard on myself with those 7 partially done because if I were coaching someone else, I’d consider some of them done because one of those partially done goals was at 95%, one at 62% and one at 50%. Oh well – honesty!

Still, not bad in a year that was really not the best at all.

One of the items I’m particularly happy about is getting my will done! It took 5 months of thinking, drafting, redrafting, conversations (so many conversations!), and then we finally had a final copy for signature which was done in December. Yay!

I want to talk separately about my “success” with reading because I really feel like I’ve set up good rhythms and routines that I can rely comfortably on. With almost no effort, I can get through 8 books a month. I mention it here because the one consistent thing many people talk to me about is that they want to read more, and… I can definitely help you with that.

How did you do with your 2022 goals? Can you even remember what you put on your list?

PS Gretchen’s 23 for 2023 list is here

How I did on my Project Upgrade for 2022

Unlike #rest22in2022, Project Upgrade was a huge success.

I just read the first paragraph of my post where I told you about it and it is literally the opposite of what rest was for me… and maybe that’s why it worked so well.

If you’ve hung around here for awhile, you know I love a project. I don’t know what it is but I think it’s that I like something with clearly-defined rules, and a very clear start and end date.

Remember it all started with a hotel facecloth from a hotel… and morphed into a big list of 22 items. As is always the case with these kinds of lists, some things were not as important but other things had to be added onto the list that I couldn’t have anticipated.

Things that didn’t get done

  • we were just about ready to sort out the pool and then our city announced water restrictions so we couldn’t go ahead
  • I still don’t have the big pot I mentioned in that original post (I still want one and welcome your ideas)
  • I have started to simplify our luggage (kids are sorted) but mine could use an upgrade 😉
  • I don’t need a standing desk anymore as we’re in the office so much but I did buy two laptop raisers – one for work and one for home

Good things done that were not on the original list

  • got 4 new tyres
  • got some plumbing sorted out (much, much bigger job that spanned two months)
  • we had to replace a section of our boundary wall
  • I replaced two phone screens
  • I bought a lovely, new laptop bag and handbag (and mouse pad) with some of my bonus
  • I bought new glasses (not covered by medical aid!)
  • I loved the upholstery so much I went wild and did two more chairs and an additional couch

All in all, I still did more than 22 things so this was a big, big success for me.

You’ll not be surprised that I’ve already made a smaller Project Upgrade list for 2023. One of the big items is getting solar panels installed which will solve so many problems in this land of loadshedding and power outages.

Feedback to follow at the end of the quarter 🙂

Do you need to make a Project Upgrade list for 2023? Or maybe a few items on your 23 goals in 2023 should be matters of upgrade?

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