Category Archives: Self-Development

The Good In Setting and Sharing Goals, My Goals for Aspire to Grace

I feel like the time has come for me to set some concrete goals for Aspire to Grace for the rest of 2009.  But for now, I will start with goals for the month and build from there. I started this website two months ago not really knowing how far I could go or in which direction. I feel like I’ve done a lot in this short period of time, although I know there is a lot more that I could be doing. It is a challenge to provide updated content every day during the work week while also having a full-time career where overtime is an expectation. Among the few reasons that it has gone as smoothly for me as it has is my love for writing number one and the fact that I am in an empty house every evening while my husband is away.

Now is the time for me to lay the foundation for the path that I would like to follow with Aspire to Grace. In a few months, I will need to transition into moving, maintaining a full-time home office, spending quality time with my husband when he returns, and maintaining this blog. At least, this is what I am planning. But, I will need to determine whether and how this transition will work.

Setting Goals

We should already know that setting goals is a great way to sort out in our minds where we would like to go in the future. Some goals are very small like establishing that you would like to wash the dishes, clean the house, or get the car washed. On the other hand, some goals are quite grand such as a goal to become wealthy, become the President of the United States, or build a personal flying machine to replace the automobile.

Many times, it is appropriate for us to set medium goals. Goals that may require some good and productive work but are definitely achievable in the short term. These are the types of goals that keep us moving forward. They are at the same time a carrot on a stick and a bit of wind at our backs. They also keep us motivated and a little intimidated at the same time.

Sharing Goals

Not only does the setting of goals keep us organized, but the sharing of goals can keep us committed. Once you have articulated one of your goals to someone you know such as a friend or spouse, how do you feel? If you are a person that likes to keep your word, who values your own credibility, then something as small as verbally expressing your goal will commit you to the task.

I remember when I was younger, I was afraid to tell people what I was planning to do because I feared that I would not follow through and would look silly. Usually, I was right and did not follow through. But did I fail to follow through because of poor planning, or because, since no one else knew about it, it didn’t feel like such a failure?

Now, while I am still reluctant to share every detail of the goals that I set for myself, I am a lot more likely to state my goals out loud, if only to keep myself accountable. This brings me to the reason for this post.

Goals for Aspire to Grace

First, let me start with the goals that I have set and have already achieved. To illustrate my previous point, take note that these goals that I have already achieved were set rather quietly and because I have some achievements under my belt, I am just now getting to the point where I am more confident about articulating further goals.

1. At the end of last year, I set a goal of starting a blog at the first of this year.  I started Aspire to Grace on January 31, 2009.

2. I planned to choose a niche topic on which to write.  I ended up choosing five different topics that interest me for every weekday.  This enables me to stay motivated and inspired to write a post everyday.

3. During the first week of March, I set a goal to reach 35 unique visitors in one day by the following week.  Until that point, about a month into my blog, my highest traffic day was 19 visitors. Although, I did not reach 35 visitors the following week, I did reach 31 visitors as a result of my own link back to Aspire to Grace on Reddit. Three weeks later (last week) I reached 109 visitors in a day because someone submitted a link to my story on Road Etiquette to StumbleUpon.

Here are some goals that I have set for the coming weeks. I’m still a bit of a punk, so I want to start out with small goals over short periods that should increase in greatness over time. But, at least I am articulating them here, so I am definitely committed.

1. By May 1, I’d like to have 10 unaffiliated subscribers. Right now, I only have 1 subscriber that is not affiliated with me through friendship, family or marriage. A big shout out to my peeps that know, love and support me!! Big shout out also to my lone subscriber that I don’t know, thank you for being my first. I hope to have 9 more like you soon enough!

2. This month, I’d like to submit three more articles to directories such as E-Zine. I have already submitted two articles, but each were replicas of posts that I have done on Aspire to Grace. My understanding now is that it is best to submit unique articles to such directories since search engines frown upon duplicate works appearing in the search engine.

3. I’d like to write a guest post on another web blog or have an article appear in a carnival. Guest posts and carnivals are great ways to gain exposure for your work, while building credibility for your blog.

I am going to keep it simple with these three goals. At the end of this month, I will review these goals to see which ones I have achieved and which ones still need some work. At any rate, I will continue moving forward as I work on completing these and other goals that I have set in other areas of my life. I will keep you updated as to my progress.

Do you set and share your goals? What are some goals that you are working onnow?

TOUGH LIFE THURSDAYS is a self-development forum. This is likely to be biased toward my own experiences and desired self-improvement, but I hope it will evolve through input by you and others. If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive updates by email or RSS reader.

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Tips for Proper Courtesy and Distribution on the Road

Please take notice! Courtesy and proper distribution of traffic on the road goes a really long way toward peace and happiness!  Seriously.  What I am about to say is ugly and I know a few people that will hate me for it.  But it needs to be said. 

Me on the Road

My daily commute consists of driving on Rte. 295 in DC, which is like a three-lane inner-city highway.  The lanes are generally narrow, the speeds vary, and drivers are out of their frickin’ minds.

I am a very engaged driver on the road in that I am always anticipating what others will do.  I am aggressive, although not as much as I used to be.  Since I am aggressive, I respect other aggressive drivers on the road.  I know enough to know when someone is more aggressive than me and I generally try to accommodate, rather than challenge, those drivers.  But, as aggressive as I am in terms of speed and maneuvering, I try to follow as many rules of etiquette on the road as possible.  

I use my turn signals to let you know what I am about to do, I always try to acknowledge another person’s right of way, and I yield where I am supposed yield.  In my younger years, I tended to get upset over things like someone cutting me off or riding too close to my rear.  Nowadays, these things don’t anger me as much because I can anticipate when someone is going to cut me off and I tend to submit to someone coming up close behind me in the fast lane by getting over to the right to allow them to pass. 

What angers me now more than anything are drivers that don’t know the basics of courtesy and the art of distribution on the road. Courteous behavior are the little niceties we allow each other, such as allowing another person that has properly signaled to cut in front of you even though you have the right of way.  The art of distribution is being aware of where your vehicle is in space relative to the other vehicles around you.  It is ensuring that you are not needlessly blocking passage by another vehicle.  

The Basics

I shouldn’t have to review the basics of road manners, but it is necessary.  Just think of these tips as kind of an Emily Dickinson version of road etiquette: 

  • When pulling up to a four way stop sign at the same time as other cars, the car to your right has the right of way.  Allow that person to pass before you proceed.
  • When entering a shopping center and there are two or three entering roadways with stop signs, be aware of whether you actually have a stop sign before stopping.  Many shopping centers automatically give the right of way to the car entering the shopping center from the main roadway.  If you have the right of way, do not stop, you are slowing down the incoming traffic.
  • If you are driving on a two lane road, the left lane is the fast lane.  Please only use the fast lane if you are going fast enough to pass the cars in the right lane or use it to pass a car in the right lane going slower than you desire and return to the right lane. 
  • If you are driving on a two lane road and you are in the left lane, you should not be going at the same speed as the person to your right.  If you are going the same speed then you and the other car are blocking others’ ability to pass through.  If you are going the same speed as someone in the slow lane, then you should also be in the slow lane either behind or in front of the person you are riding next to.
  • If you are slowing down to stop in the middle of the street for no apparent reason, use your hazards so I know to go around you.
  • If you are entering a roadway in a lane that has to yield to passing cars, then yield.  You should also have your turn signal on.  Although I usually know what you are trying to do, I will do my best not to let you enter if you don’t signal me first. 

These are just some of the most overlooked principles of the road that I encounter on a daily basis.  Please leave a comment if you can think of any more.  If you share the same sentiments, give me a holler.  If you disagree, then for the sake of peace, happiness and sanity on the road, please read these tips again.  

TOUGH LIFE THURSDAYS is a self-development forum.  This is likely to be biased toward my own experiences and desired self-improvement, but I hope it will evolve through input by you and others.  If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive updates by email or RSS reader.  

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Benefits of Unemployment

Last week, I started this series with a discussion about Unemployment Benefits and information about being eligible to receive benefits. This week, I’d like to continue the discussion by talking about some of the benefits of being unemployed. Although unemployment is an unfortunate occurrence, there are quite a few things that you can do to be constructive and productive during those times when you are out of work. While seeking and obtaining unemployment benefits and looking for another job may be your number one and number two top priorities, why not use some of your time and energy to do things for the benefit of your mind and wellbeing?

What is one of the most important benefits of being unemployed? Time.

Relatively speaking, it may not seem very beneficial to have all of this extra time thrust upon you. Only you can decide how you will spend your time. While much of your time may be spent finding a new job, including answering job postings, networking and cold-calling potential employers for work, you should still take some downtime for yourself that doesn’t focus on being unemployed.

Idle Projects

Completing some of the idle projects that you may have sitting unfinished may work to boost morale with a sense of progress – a sense of moving forward during periods of employment stagnation. Idle projects might include house projects such as cleaning out the garage or basement, painting the extra bedroom, hanging the family pictures in the living room or [insert your unfinished house project here].

Exercise

A fitness routine is good for your body and your mind. If you have got some extra time on your hands, why not take the opportunity to start an exercise routine. You don’t need a gym membership to get into shape. You can take a walk or a run outside to clear your mind and work your cardio fitness. You can also exercise at home with stretching and repetitive exercises to work out different muscles groups. Overall, your physical fitness will go along way to also maintain your mental fitness and wellbeing.

Back to School

Another way to boost your morale might be going back to school to earn a degree or other credentials that would make you more marketable in the workplace. Many Americans have been returning to school under programs funded by the federal government for retraining and reentry into the workforce. Some receive booster training for skills that will move them up through the ranks of their existing career path. Still others seek a drastic change in their career, obtaining entirely new skill sets altogether. You can contact your state university or local college about these and other federally funded education programs.

Start a Business

Maybe you have had some great business ideas for quite a long time, or maybe you have a talent or skill that, if marketed, could lead to alternative income sources. Now that you have the time on your hands, why not go into business for yourself? Sometimes all you need is a computer and the Internet. If start-up funding is required, you may use some of your time to research and write a business plan to present to potential investors.

Volunteer

Helping others in your own time of need takes a special kind of character. Sometimes such an unselfish act is its own reward… and sometimes it can place you in the right place at the right time to take advantage of an employment opportunity with the possibility of killing two birds with one stone.

In my opinion, employing any of the foregoing activities during unemployment is better than doing nothing at all. In addition to putting forth the effort to find another job, you will have pushed yourself into constructive and productive behavior. At the end of the day, it may be disheartening to think only about your employment situation. Being able to say I accomplished ‘X’ today can offset some of the negative thinking you may be having.

If you have any additional suggestions for staying productive during unemployment, please share your comments in the comment section below.

MAKE MONEY MONDAYS is usually a forum to discuss ways in which you can create additional sources of income. In light of the current employment environment, however, I am using this forum to write a series of posts focusing on unemployment issues. If you have any questions or would like to make a contribution, please share your comments in the comments section.

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ADHD… or just me?

I tried something different today…. I focused.  Not on the usual 5-10 things at one time… today, I focused on one thing at a time.  It was so much easier to do than I remember.  You see, it has been ages since I have had the discipline to focus on the task at hand and nothing else. 

Lindsay over at Writing for Your Wealth wrote an article recently about being productive and less busy.  The reading was timely for me considering that I had recently made a commitment to become a more focused individual.   Lindsay writes about the cessation of multitasking and the assignment of only one task per day.  But, she also recommends the one thing that I am proud to have accomplished each day this week – focusing on one task at a time. 

ADHD

Sometimes I like to convince myself that I have suffered from ADHD most of my life.  It’s a good way to get to feel good about the things that I have accomplished in my life while imagining that those things were accomplished under some sort of special circumstances.

I could certainly argue that I’ve suffered many symptoms of ADHD in life.  I have often had difficulty remembering information, concentrating, and organizing tasks.  When I was in school growing up, I had less than stellar academic performance and frequent disciplinary issues.  But, I could also tell you that at any time when I applied myself and worked to maintain focus and organization, I excelled.  So, is it ADHD, or just me? 

In this age of the Internet, I might go as far as to say that all of us are touched with just a little more ADHD tendencies than our parents.  On top of that, we all have different levels of ability when it comes to filtering out distractions.

It’s Just Me

I have always been very poor at filtering distractions.  But, at the end of the day it is me that lets in those distractions and it is only me that can keep them out.

Here are the things that have helped me to stay focused this week:

1.     Organization

I started each day with the usual list of items that I intended to accomplish.

2.     Addressing My Idle Mind

My greatest vulnerability is having an idle mind.  My mind is idling when I am between tasks or waiting for something such as a page to load on the Internet.  It only takes a few seconds or minutes before I am off seeking out something else to turn my attention to.  For many of us, this is where the Internet becomes a game of Russian roulette.  Let’s say 6 times out of 10, you can go to a page, read its contents and then turn your attention back to the task you are trying to complete.  But, 4 out of ten of those times you are subject to going off on a tangent. 

A tangent is an Internet digression.  Say you go to a website to read a story about whether a marriage proposal on Twitter is acceptable, but you’ve never heard of Twitter.  So, then you go to Google and do a search on Twitter and turn up 20 other websites.  You choose the first one, and there you read all about Twitter.  Well, now you are interested in setting up a Twitter account.  So, you go over to Twitter.com and set up an account.  Then you want to post about your status…… you understand where this is going.  Then, 15 minutes later, you snap out of it and forget where you are supposed to be in your task at hand.  It is seriously like blacking out sometimes. 

This week, I took a different approach.  Whenever my mind was idle, I took notice of the fact and brought my attention back to the thing that I wanted to accomplish.  I did not stray.  By not allowing my mind to ‘take a break,’ it was easy to stay focused. I didn’t have to bring my mind back to the task, because I never allowed it to leave.  Simple.

3.     Completion

As I completed each task, I drew a line through that item on my list until there were no items left.  Victory.  Once my tasks were complete, my mind was free to go wherever it wanted to go and follow any tangent it so desired.

How do you maintain your focus?

TOUGH LIFE THURSDAYS is a self-development forum.  

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