OCTOBERS

“I’m so glad we live in a world where there are Octobers” – LM Montgomery

Fall Fashion via mollyxmackay blog

Fall fashion by mollyxmackay

Fall fashion by mollyxmackay

Fall fashion by mollyxmackay

Fall fashion by mollyxmackay

Fall fashion by mollyxmackay

Fall fashion by mollyxmackay

Fall fashion by mollyxmackay

Sweater: Express / Button up: H&M / Jeans: J Brand / Heels: similar here / Bracelets: similar here here and here

I recently read an article trying to describe why everyone loves fall more than other seasons. Besides the beautiful rich colors and spiced flavors that mark this time of year, it seems that a lot of hope and newness in the start of school, the start of the holiday season has been embedded in us from such a young age, we all look forward to autumn an opportunity for new beginnings. I relate to that idea, but it makes me laugh a little because I remember meeting one person in particular who did not see any magic in fall, rather, he saw it as the time of year when everything is dying. Which is true pretty much across the board. Though he was the only person I’ve ever known to have that point of view, how funny is it that we feel this refreshment of new opportunities at the start of autumn when, in fact, nature is dying off to hibernate through the cold.

Speaking of refreshing new opportunities… I love this new sweater so much. The balloon sleeves are different than anything I own. It looks great on its own, but I wanted a more polished feel, so I added the button up underneath and wore it with heels. Though I wore it out on the weekend, this outfit would also work for a business situation where you feel it’s appropriate to wear jeans.

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PENNE alla VODKA

Penne Vodka recipe via Molly x MacKay
My favorite cookbook was given to my by my sister. It’s The Silver Spoon, a giant book of all Italian recipes. Everything from sauces to rabbit has a featured section, and every recipe is written in the simplest, most bare-bones way, usually a single paragraph how-to per recipe. To me, that’s what Italian food does best – there is nothing fussy about it, just put the ingredients together and cook as instructed. Of course, there are a few method details and a couple of recipe tweaks I like to build from the basic recipes, but keeping it un-fussy is my preferred way to cook.

As with many new foods, the first time I ever made penne vodka, I followed the recipe exactly as instructed in the book. After tasting it, I decided I like my sauce with more tomatoes, cream, and a little bit of meat, to name a few alterations. This is the final product – I hope you enjoy it!

PENNE alla VODKA

PENNE alla VODKA

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Penne Rigate (Rigatoni works too!)
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced small
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 oz chopped pancetta
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper
  • Julienned fresh basil leaves for garnish
  • Parmesan cheese for garnish

Instructions

  • Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water according to package directions. Before draining, dip a glass measuring cup into the pot to collect some pasta water for later.
  • In a large saucepan over med-hi heat, saute onion in butter and oil in a until translucent, about 8 minutes.
  • Lower the heat to medium and stir in the the garlic, pancetta, and oregano, cook 2 minutes.
  • Mash the tomato paste into the onion mixture.
  • Pour in the crushed tomatoes. Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally while flavors meld together.
  • Add the vodka and let cook for another 10 minutes or so while the alcohol burns off.
  • Remove from heat and slowly stir in the cream.
  • Spoon the pasta into the sauce and stir well until combined.
  • To thin out the sauce (it will thicken while the dish stands), stir in some of the reserved pasta water as needed.
  • http://www.mollyxmackay.com/penne-alla-vodka/

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    WORK BASICS

    I have had a lot of my clothes for years. Investing in a few basic wardrobe staples has worked for me to build the rest of my style from. A cashmere sweater and a great pencil skirt are some of my favorite basics – pair them up and the look is classic!

    Work basics by mollyxmackay

    work basics by mollyxmackay

    Work basics by mollyxmackay

    Work basics by mollyxmackay

    Work basics by mollyxmackay

    Work Basics by mollyxmackay

    Work Basics by mollyxmackay

    Work basics by mollyxmackay

    Top: Express, old. Similar here and here / Skirt: Ann Taylor, old. Similar here and here / Bag: Nine West via TJ Maxx, old. Similar here and here / Shoes: old. Similar here

    A good pencil skirt and sweater combo is absolutely perfect for October. When I’m wearing well-made garments, it’s easy to keep everything neutral and simple and let the clothes speak for themselves.

    I don’t wear a lot of heels to work because my job is a a lot of walking and driving around, but when I’ve got a meeting or a closing at the office, I’m all about it. It never used to bother my feet to wear heels, but it must be a perk of aging that it’s not nearly as appealing to me as it once was. For a night out or a special occasion, yes definitely. Beside the fact that it’s less comfortable to think about squeezing my toes into stilettos daily, the shoes themselves had a rough go and showed their wear and tear too quickly. So on the bright side of aging into flats, all of the heels I own now are in really great shape compared to when I used to wear them every day!

     

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    BELL SLEEVES

    Bell sleeve stripe top, sweater duster, distressed crop jeans, booties

    Bell sleeve stripe top, sweater duster, distressed crop jeans, booties

    Bell sleeve stripe top, sweater duster, distressed crop jeans, booties

    Bell sleeve stripe top, sweater duster, distressed crop jeans, booties

    Bell sleeve stripe top, sweater duster, distressed crop jeans, booties

    Bell sleeved top with sleeveless duster and cropped boyfriend jeans

    Bell sleeve stripe top, sweater duster, distressed crop jeans, booties

    Duster: similar here and here / jeans: similar here and here / top: similar here and here / booties: similar here / earrings: similar here / sunnies: similar here

    Nothing special to write today… just wanted to share a look I wore this weekend. All links are for similar items as the whole ensemble came from pieces I’ve been hanging onto for a long time. I hope you had a fantastic weekend!

    xx molly

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    HIGH ALTITUDE PUMPKIN OATMEAL MUFFINS

    I probably started baking on my own around 12-ish, and it was probably all boxed mixes of cakes and quick breads, muffins, and such. I do remember seeing the little high-altitude adjustment recommendations on the boxes, but for whatever reason, I skipped them and the recipes would turn out just fine. However, once I started trying to bake things from scratch, regular recipes would never turn out right. Understanding that there is a fine science to baking, with fancy ratio explanations describing the proper wet:dry and all that, I figured I was just missing something, not measuring correctly, messing up a step, and ultimately, that baking was not my thing.

    Let’s move forward to 24 years of living at an elevation of around 5500 feet above sea level, and I came across a high-altitude banana bread recipe, just because it was one of the top-rated banana bread recipes I found in a quick search. I tried it. I made the ingredient adjustments. I baked at a slightly higher temp for an altered period of time. Guess what? The bread turned out PERFECTLY. It puffed right up, didn’t fall in the center, baked completely through on the first try nice a fluffy without the normal mush… I couldn’t believe that my whole life as a Coloradoan I’ve been skipping out on high altitude baking!

    So now that I’ve discovered I am NOT actually a terrible baker, I am all about re-trying old recipes I’ve failed at in the past with the adjustments and it is working out almost every time.

    Anyone who’s visited Colorado can probably attest to feeling the affects of altitude sickness in one way or another. Light-headedness, dehydration, really super low alcohol tolerance, and so on. Of course our baked good feel the same way about the air being thinner up here. I did a lot of research and was able to put together a quick little guide for high-altitude adjustments that has been working for me like a charm. It’s the perfect time of year to have made this discovery too – who doesn’t like warm, fresh-from-the-oven goodies when the days start to get chilly?

    This recipe originally started as banana oatmeal muffins, but I’ve adapted it for pumpkin by using the base recipe, swapping the banana for pumpkin, and adding a few more spices. I hope you give it a shot!

    HIGH ALTITUDE PUMPKIN OATMEAL MUFFINS

    12 muffins

    HIGH ALTITUDE PUMPKIN OATMEAL MUFFINS

    Ingredients

    • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
    • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
    • 1-1/2 cup pumpkin (I use canned pumpkin, if you try fresh, please let me know how it works! Make sure you get the can that pumpkin is the ONLY ingredient listed. You don't want pumpkin fie filling)
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1/2 cup oatmeal
    • 2 cups + 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 1/4+1/8 tsp baking powder
    • scant 1/2 tsp kosher salt
    • 1/2 tsp cardamom
    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/4 tsp allspice
    • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
    • 1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

    Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 390 degrees F. Place muffin cups into a muffin pan OR (if you are out of muffin cups like I usually am...) spray a muffin pan with nonstick baking spray.
  • In a large bowl, beat oil and sugars until creamy. Stir in the pumpkin until well blended. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gently stir in the oatmeal until well incorporated.
  • In a smaller bowl,sift or whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, spices.
  • Fold the flour mixture to pumpkin mixture gently until moistened.
  • Spoon into muffin cups about 3/4 full.
  • Bake at 390 for about 15-18 minutes, until muffins are puffed and just starting to brown on top, and a toothpick inserted into the center muffins comes out clean.
  • Cool 5 minutes in pan, the transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • *Learn from my mistake! - if you (...happen to go a minute or two over the baking time because maybe you checked the muffins at 15 minutes, they weren't done at the time, and you stuck them back in the oven but forgot to set the timer again. Yep, just did this today as a matter of fact) realize the muffins have already browned at the bottom and they are definitely cooked through, remove them from the muffin pan immediately to a wire rack. They're ready to cool for real.
  • http://www.mollyxmackay.com/high-altitude-pumpkin-oatmeal-muffins/

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    THE NEW NEUTRALS

    What is a neutral, exactly? As an adjective, the word describes something that is impartial, unbiased. As a noun, a neutral is basically defined as a bland color such as light gray or beige. I, on the other hand, have always seen it as a color or print that goes with anything. Enter animal prints and stripes.

    hat: Forever21, similar here / blazer: Forever21 / top: similar / scarf: similar here and here / jeans: 7 for all mankind, similar here / purse: similar here / booties: similar here

    Fun tidbit for today: The top I’m wearing under the blazer is 100% a trend splurge I bought a few years ago – you can’t tell (because I’m covering it up, duh), but do you remember the leather (or in this case, fake leather) panels that were found on shoulders a few years back? Totally dates this top when you look at it by itself, not that I care much about the age of a piece I wear all the time. Rather, I prefer things I hang onto for a long time to have a classic appeal. Besides the shoulder panels, it’s simply a striped tunic that’s incredibly versatile underneath sweaters and blazers. I wear it long and loose as pictured, tucked into high-waisted pants or shorts, or tied at the waist. I have given this top a much longer life than I thought I would about 6 months post-purchase.

    What are your favorite prints to mix and match?

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    OCTOBER GOALS

    September turned out to be an incredibly stressful month for me and my family. I’ll spare you the details, but this past month has been full of challenges for us, and I am so grateful that we’ve got a strong family unit that comes together in difficult times!

    As far as my September goals went, blogging really got pushed to the back burner and I wasn’t able to work on that nearly as much as I imagined I would on September 2 when I put my list together. I did quite a bit of blog planning though, and hope to put together some good content for you in the coming weeks. So for October, I’m keeping my blogging goals exactly the same as last month.

    Meal planning went pretty well, and I ended the month with three consecutive weeks of 7 dinners with accompanying grocery lists. The best part is that I got every family member to contribute a dinner idea so I don’t have to come up with recipes my kids may or may not like every night, and everyone gets really excited for the night their dinner gets made. Now, in my daughter’s case, this means that I made a handful of recipes from the Disney Princess Cookbook, but for now, I’m ok with that! I did hear from a lot of you that you were interested in seeing more recipes and maybe even seeing some meal plans… I’ll work toward that as a goal and see what I can do!

    What I learned from achieving this goal is that I need a place to document all of my meals in one place, rather than whatever scraps of paper are lying around like I used in September. So a new goal in the same vein of meal planning for October is to find the right kind of planner or journal to keep track of these lists. Call me old school, but there’s something about physically writing lists out with an actual pen and paper that really makes things happen for me. I found a couple of meal planners on Amazon that look worth checking out:

    I love that this first one has a tear-off grocery list so I can easily stick it in my purse to use when I shop.

    Amazon, $7.95

    Meal Planner with Grocery Shopping List, magnetic, from Amazon

    This second one is a more traditional notebook style.

    Amazon, $5.99

    Meal planner journal book

    We did manage to put together our super awesome dry-erase board that I was so excited about, and it was almost free, save for two cans of spray paint to paint the frame. I’d love to do a tutorial on that project, but unfortunately, I did not take pictures while my husband worked on the project. We have enough glass to make a second board, though we do not have room in the office to hang it, but perhaps I’ll ask him to make another one so I can get a step-by-step for you all.

    We also cleared out the room and it’s looking like a great blank space. We are all about re-purposing anything we can, and wanted to recreate some desks we’ve seen on Pinterest using a couple of 2-drawer file cabinets and a simple wood surface, but we weren’t lucky enough to find the right filing cabinets. So the desk project is still under way. I’m hoping to cross that one off this month, and I’m also adding another office goal of getting started on our bed/couch. We want this room to ultimately serve as an office/guest room, so we’ll need a flexible cushioned area the size of a bed that will be work as both a sitting area and a bed. We’re thinking along the lines of a double-sized daybed, maybe with a trundle underneath, but it all depends on the logistics of how we map out the project. My husband has been getting really creative with pallets lately, and that’s what he’d like to use for this project. Here are a couple things he’s built at a minimal cost (like under $20 per project) using pallets we found advertised for free on CraigsList:

    Birthday Party Table:

    Building a child-sized table with pallet wood for an outdoor birthday party.

    Child-sized table built with pallet wood. Birthday party painting table

    I should have gotten better pictures of the table in use, but what I wanted was a low-to-the-ground table for the kids to be able to paint on. My daughter had a garden-themed birthday party, so they were painting little flower pots to take home. I saw a few inspiration tables made from pallets on Pinterest, and my husband just kind of ran with the idea. Next thing I knew, we had probably a hundred pallets in our backyard and he was in project mode… Anyway, so that that the kids could paint freely with room to spill, we lined the table with a long sheet of brown craft paper for the party. It was a garden-themed birthday party, so they were painting little flower pots to take home.

    Pallet Shed:

    Shed built from pallet wood. Pallet shed with a deck.

    Isn’t that the coolest little handmade outbuilding ever? It’s fully lined inside to protect its contents from the weather. We have sooo many tools and lawn mowing/maintenance stuff in our garage and were in desperate need of a shed so that we could actually park our car in the garage. We were able to get the Tyvek lining from a friend who had a ton leftover after their own project, so the only things we had to pay for were the window and the door – both found via consignment sites. And notice the “deck” area of the shed? Yep, it’s the party table from above. My smart husband stabilized it in front of the shed but didn’t permanently fix it into place so we can use it again as a kid’s party table if we want to.

    Learning moments

    September came in like a kick in the ass and forced me to remember that things can still be accomplished in times of stress, but you must make priorities. As I said earlier, the blog turned out to be a low priority last month as we were dealing with unexpected personal stuff – and you never know when that sort of thing is going to come up. You can’t let it break you back down to square one, just return to the drawing board and plan according to what’s most important.

    So while again I have to admit failure in a few areas, I’m still keeping it positive and learning as I go! Here is my new list of goals for October:

    1. Spend at least one hour daily working on the blog.
    2. Publish blog posts weekly.
    3. Build out the desk in our office.
    4. Organize our office.
    5. Create plans for our office/guest room couch/bed.
    6. Find a journal or planner that works for meal plans.
    7. Continue with weekly grocery lists and share more about what I’m making on the blog.
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    LATELY ON THE GRAM

    Phew – it’s been a busy month! Falling back into school and work routines, cabbing the kids around to sports and activities, and September is almost over already.

    First things first… I found a pair of overalls at an amazing price that I absolutely LOVE!

    Overalls Hat Striped top

    Overalls: Forever 21 (medium wash) / top: H&M / Hat: (sold out) similar 

    I feel like I could go on and on about my love for overalls starting in about 6th grade going all the way through High School, but I won’t because it’s not a very exciting story. I’ll just say that I am certain that it comes as a surprise to nobody who has known me since about 1999 that I jumped back on the overall bandwagon.

    Cozy Black Sweater

    Jeans: Levi’s in color Stereo Sound / Shoes: Converse / Sweater: similar and similar

    My birthday falls smack in the middle of the month, and I had a really wonderful birthday this year. I was taken out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, which is basically the perfect day in my opinion, eating all the food. It feels strange to say I’m 34 because I don’t think I feel that old. I do not at all mind getting older and wiser, but that number seems so much more experienced and sophisticated than I feel. You know what I mean?

    Red Plaid button up with shorts

    Top: Target / Shorts: Old Navysimilar / Bracelet: similar / Necklace: similar

    I’ve been behind on my blogging goals… like, really super duper behind… so I’m playing catch up today by posting a bunch of my Insta outfits all at once. If nothing else, I hope to do this weekly because every time I post I get a lot of messages from you gals about where my clothes come from!

    Chambray, black skinny pants, suede stacked heel

    Top: Similar and similar / Pants: similar and similar / Belt: similar / Heels: DSW / Nails: Essie Bahama Mama

    I absolutely love the look of chambray tops… which cracks me up because when my mom would wear “denim tops” when I was growing up, I did not like the look at ALL. She obviously inspired me though, so thanks mom!

    Embroidered Pattern Loafers Slides

    Shoes: DSW / Jeans: 7 For All Mankind

    Okaaay, these shoes were on super sale in store. Yes, I have linked them here, but in store they were even less expensive, so I don’t even care if it’s “bad for business” – head to your local DSW if you have the time and want to snag these mules!

    Stripes and Statement Shoes

    Top: H&M last season, but similar here

    I feel like statement pieces go with anything as long as they are the item making a statement, in other words: keep the rest of your outfit fairly simple with neutrals. To me, stripes are pretty much a neutral, so that’s what I paired these with. I’ve worn them a few times since picking them up last weekend, and they are really comfy!

    Flares Lace Top Stacked Heels

    Top: (sold out) similar here and here / Flares: similar here / Shoes: DSW

    I hope you all have a great week!

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    VELVET CRUSH

    I’ve been crushing on velvet this season ever since I saw this gorgeous top on one of my favorite bloggers. I haven’t bought any velvet for my closet yet, but with my online shopping addiction (the one where I “shop” online by adding everything I want to my virtual cart and then leave it there indefinitely… ususally until the store no longer carries the item and it automatically removes itself… but taunts me whenever I return to the site to see what’s new), I’ve had my eye on a few key pieces for the season.

    I am so happy to see all of the nineties trends come back around because during that decade, I was young enough that my mom was still selecting most of what I wore, and her style is very different from mine. I could only dream of having velvet pieces, babydoll dresses, chokers galore, stylish fanny packs, and amazing mules while my mom never caved for trends but rather got me bland basics. Now that they’re all back in style, it’s like having a second chance at all of those fab dreams of my childhood!



    I have a theory about that… think about the TV shows and movies (the Smurfs, Transformers, Ninja Turtles, etc) and these sorts of trends coming back around 20-ish years after they first exploded, I believe that happens because those of us who oogled the styles and trends in our childhood are now grown up enough to be the influencers choosing to go back to our roots and recreate those things that inspired us in our youth. If I remember correctly, this happens every decade or so – whatever is most popular is inspired by the youth of whomever is making the trends. In fact, I do recall finding a ton of eighties-inspired gear in the 2000s specifically. Anyone else notice that? Let’s see if in 20 years when our kids are starting to rule the world, they’re all bringing back skinny jeans, leggings, and off-the-shoulder tops.

    Blank NYC velvet blazer Nordstrom Rack, $59.97 (sale!)

    Velvet blazer Nasty Gal, $70

    BlankNYC velvet jacket Nordstrom, $94.49

    Velvet bodysuit Revolve, $33 (sale!)

    Velvet off-the-shoulder top Forever 21, $19.90

    Velvet wrap skirt asos, $42 (sale!)

    Pleated velvet skirt Nordstrom, $47.40 (sale!)

    For Love and Lemons tank dress Revolve, $58 (sale!)

    Platform heeled sandals asos, $135

    Who What Wear velvet booties Target, $49.99

    Dolce Vita Emmy

    Dolce Vita over the knee boots Zappos, $200

    Rebecca Minkoff skinny fringe scarf Nordstrom, $58

    Skinny velvet belt Club Monaco, $59 (sale!)

    Velvet choker Shopbob, $8.75

    Velvet ball cap H&M, $12.99



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    GOALS

    TalkingAboutGoals

    Ok. Time to get real. In thinking about opening up and sharing my ideas on goals, I decided I wanted to begin a monthly series on my own personal goals, starting at the beginning of each month, and share my trials, successes, and failures. Unfortunately, I’ve got to begin with a failure. My thought process in posting this today, September 2 was, “What kind of person writes a blog post about setting goals at the start of every month on the second day of the month? Molly, you have no business posting about a time-sensitive project a day late, and you should get it together and wait until October to start a series about monthly goals.”

    I could have stopped there. A couple of years ago, I would have stopped there. I would have said, alright, I’ll wait until next month, and that gives me 4 whole more weeks to get it right and post the perfect entry! Then I would have put it off until September 29th or 30th rolled around, realize I didn’t accomplish anything, and never get around to reaching any of my goals because of a number on the calendar. Aaanndd, I would feel like total crap as a result.

    Roadblocks and setbacks

    At almost 34 years old (September is my birthday month!), I think we all do this a bit… we build roadblocks keeping us from being as successful as we wish we were because we find reasons – not even excuses, but actual valid reasons – why we need to wait for step 1 or 2 or whatever to happen before we can get started on step 3. That kind of thinking does have merit, to a point. I should have planned ahead and had this post ready for publication on September 1. I can still make my own goals, but internally this time. I won’t write it down or bring it up, nobody will know I wanted to post about setting monthly goals on the start of the month, and I can get to it later.

    But that is not how goals get accomplished. That’s how a person starts beating themselves up because of one or two setbacks, which turns the dream of accomplishing something into one whole entire setback. If you can’t bounce back from these roadblocks by learning from them so you can plan better for the outcome you want in the next go round, you wind up quitting. So a day later than what I originally felt like would have been perfect, I am readjusting my own expectations and giving myself a little room for error while still holding myself accountable for putting my thoughts out there.

    Share your goals!

    I want to write about my own goals because I’ve read countless times that writing your goals down and sharing them with others will help you keep yourself on track. I do want to keep myself on track, but I also would love to find others out there who are interested in pushing their lives forward and crafting a route to get themselves to the endpoint they desire. That’s all a goal is: an endpoint, a destination. It doesn’t have to be grand in size, just something to look forward to, to work toward. I’ve had daily goals as simple as composing a thorough Costco list. As quickly as hitting setbacks and choosing to give up will cause you to cut yourself down and feel awful, crossing off an accomplished goal, no matter the size, can spur an inner desire to continue on a path toward achievement.

    I encourage simple goals to start. You must begin with step 1. However, if you miss step 1, as I did yesterday, that doesn’t mean you scratch the mark completely; it means you revisit and revise until you get realize the right starting place for you. For me, the starting line is September 2, 2017.

    Start with a feeling

    I begin goal-setting by thinking about how I feel now and how I want to feel later. Look at the pain points in your life and start from there.

    For example, I’ve taken to blogging thus far as a hobby I do in my spare time. I spend less hours working at it than I did in my part time high school job at 24 Hour Fitness. But every time I have a new follower on Instagram or a new person I’ve never met before clicking on my links, I know it could be something more.

    As another completely different example, an issue I face daily is dinner. I LOVE to cook. Sharing meals with my family and friends is one of my favorite things in the world. But I feel like I’m in a rut lately, and by the time 6pm rolls around, I’m scraping together a meal of what’s left in the fridge, or running to the grocery store to pick up whatever’s on sale.

    Last example: my husband and I both work as real estate agents, meaning we both work from home a good portion of the time. As I write this, I’m sitting in a very comfortable, but equally very impractical-for-work chair in my living room with the laptop literally atop my lap, knowing full well we have a whole entire unused room upstairs waiting to be turned into a home office.

    All of these “problems” can be resolved, and I know that. Whenever I think about how easy it would be to put in the work, change my habits, and end up changing my life, my gut reaction is to become frustrated with myself for not having the willpower or the determination to have already fixed what’s not working. But my secondary reaction is to take inventory of what I am in control of and what I can work to become in control of, and put it all together to get to where I want to be. I know that 6 months from now, I want to feel like an accomplished blogger. I want to feel like I don’t have to stress about feeding my family every night because I’ve created the habit of meal planning. I want to feel like I have a place to work in my own home that’s structured and organized, and designed the way I want it to look.

    Create achievable goals

    Each of these ideas seem achievable today because they are 6 months out. Right now, I can dream of having all of these things under control and how great I’m going to feel when they are under my belt. That is all abstract until a plan is in place. I need to get a little more specific.

    To begin, I’m going to be a little easy on myself because I know myself enough to see how easy I can be deterred by a setback. I live for lists – crossing off completed items feels absolutely amazing to me. Rather than write those three things down to be accomplished arbitrarily at a later date, I need the structure of breaking up tasks to create an action plan.

    Long-term goals:

    1. Create a blog I’m proud of.
    2. Become a meal-planning master.
    3. Work with my husband to finish our home office.

    September goals:

    1. Spend one hour working on the blog (writing or taking photos) every single day.
    2. Publish a new blog post every week.
    3. Create a weekly meal plan with the family’s input every Saturday night.
    4. Draft a weekly grocery list to accompany said meal plan every Saturday night.
    5. Clear out all the stuff we’ve been storing in the office room and put it where it actually goes.
    6. Build our desks.
    7. Build and install the glass dry erase board on the office wall.
    8. Post a goal update on the blog at the end of the month.

    Don’t beat yourself up

    Here’s the tough part, and it’s coming from real and present experience: do not let setbacks set you back. Mistakes are a learning experience, always. As a mom, when I see my kids make a mistake, I make them say what they messed up out loud. It’s not a shaming technique, it’s an opportunity for self improvement. It’s because if you can’t see what you’re doing wrong, if you can’t say it out loud or write it down or otherwise consciously identify it, you will let the mistake get the best of you. You’ll let that mistake define and allow your bad choices.

    There will always be setbacks or mistakes. I had one today, and I had to make a choice. I had to take a look at what I did wrong and decide to either wait it out and write that perfectly timed post at the start of next month (and risk maybe never getting around to it), or use that knowledge to change step 1 so I could keep moving forward instead of waiting out 29 more days.

    Your goals are yours. They are an opportunity for you to improve your own situation and change your life in a way that is meaningful to you. Think about the big ideas you have for your life, then break those ideas apart into specific action plans to be achieved over smaller periods getting you to where you want to go.

    Encourage yourself!

    Do you have an inner dialogue that is maybe a little negative, distracting you from doing what you want? I know I do. I have to shut that bitch up every day. Give your goals a voice by making sure your inner words of encouragement are louder than the ones detracting you. Tell yourself, “You can do this!” every single day, and mean it. Sound hokey? I know. But it works.

    What kind of goals do you have for yourself? What’s your best tip on keeping track of your progress and staying on task? I would love to hear what you’re working on – comment below or message me with your thoughts!


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