Set Reading Goals

It’s January and that means everyone is still running around trying to solidify goals for themselves to achieve this new year. One of the biggest goals of the new year is to read more. Everyone always wants to read more and who could blame ’em? Reading is great! Not only do you seem smarter, but you can also actually become smarter. That’s why it’s so important to incorporate reading goals into your life.

 photo 4F8K4ADXK8_zpsfozu6dsc.jpg
Just the thought that you’re going to “read more in 2016” isn’t going to make it happen. You need to create actual and concrete reading goals to achieve your goal of being more well-read in the new year. Here’s how to create a reading goal:

  • Choose a realistic goal. Don’t decide that you’re going to read 100 books if you haven’t managed to do that in the past three years combined. Keep it reasonable. My goal for this year is 30 (increased from last year’s 24 because I was able to read 27).
  • Find a way to track that goal. Might I suggest using Goodreads’ reading challenge? It’s a great way to keep track. Just remember to make sure you are adding the “date finished” for all your reviews to make sure they count towards your goal.
  • Have a list of books. Remember to have a lengthy wishlist of books – way more than your goal requires you to read. I utilize the public library’s ebooks and not everything I want to read is always available. I have a huge wishlist on there so I can pick and choose what I’m feeling.

Need book ideas? If you have an Amazon Prime account, you can receive a Kindle First – you have access to books before they officially come out. For free! It’s a great way to check out new books. I’ve read a few of them and there have been a few winners.

Or, add me on Goodreads to see my reviews and what I’m reading.

In the comments, let me know what you’re reading right now. And good luck with your 2016 reading goal!



Go Ahead and Quit!

Growing up, every adult made it seem that quitters were the worst kinds of people. I distinctly remember when I wanted to give up on the violin and my mom looked me dead in the eyes and asked with disdain, “Do you want to be a quitter?”

Yeah! I totally did! And I did quit the violin and I moved along to the cello. And, surprisingly, I became great at the cello. I went on to play for many years and even performed at Boston Symphony Hall. Quitting turned out to be awesome for me when I was younger, but I never associated that success with quitting.

Unfortunately, for me and many of you out there, that negative association with quitting has never quite left. There is a stigma around quitting. You know you look differently at your friend that quits her job than the one that toughs it out at the office she hates. It’s because we all hate quitters.

But I’m here to tell you that being a quitter is okay! I promise.

I enrolled in an online writing class a few months ago. I wanted to be able to be held accountable to write creatively. I started the class and after a lot of technological gaffes, I started writing. Then, I started to feel overwhelmed because that same feeling that got me to enroll in the class also pushed me to start blogging again and pushed me to start freelancing. Suddenly, I felt overwhelmed by all the due dates. And worse, I felt like I wasn’t getting anything beneficial from the class.

So, I quit.

At the end of the day, we’re all busy people. Why add more tasks onto our to-do list that we aren’t required to do?

quitter

Here are some things to ask yourself when deciding whether or not you want to stick with something:

  • Does it make you happy?
  • Does it make you money?
  • Is it necessary to keep your household afloat?

If you said no to all of those, why are you still doing it? Honestly – there are so many people I know that are doing things that they should have quit a long time ago.

And, naturally, when you quit something, you will be filled with guilt that your parents and society at large instilled in you. Why couldn’t I have just finished it? Because it wasn’t worth it. Remind yourself that there was a reason you didn’t finish it. And, on the bright side, look at the newly found time you have to do something else – something that will make you happy and will be worthwhile enough to finish.

Go ahead and quit! And don’t feel bad about it at all. Why should you have to keep doing something just because you don’t want to be labelled a quitter? Be a quitter and be proud!



Creating a Joint Budget With Your SO

Everyone is always recommending that you create a budget. Your mom, your friends, blogs – you name it and they tell you to get a budget. But what about that fool that lives with you? Yeah, I’m talking about your SO. Why don’t you two create one budget together? Just like a joint account — this is about creating a joint budget.

Honestly, if you are living with someone and are beginning to intermix your finances, you can no longer rely on your individual budget. And, if you’re not living together yet, but would like to in the future, this is a great step to see where you’re at financially before making that decision.

Mike (my boyfriend) and I have been living together for a year and we have just now created a joint budget! I don’t know how we managed before.creating a budget

Here’s the skinny:

  • Keep it somewhere accessible. It doesn’t do you any good to keep the budget on an excel file on your computer. You both need to be able to see it. That’s why I suggest using Google Docs. Mike and I can both access the spreadsheet from any computer and our phones.
  • Actual vs Budgeted. Don’t just put what you think you should spend or what you do spend. You need to be able to reflect on what you’ve budgeted versus what was actually spent. Sometimes, it’ll surprise you. Sometimes, it’ll devastate you. That leads me to …
  • Recap at the end of the month. After your first complete month using the budget, talk about it. What did you guys go waaaay over on spending? Eating out? Was it eating out? I bet it was eating out. What did you save on? You can adjust your budget. Or plan how you’re going to fix it – like creating a meal plan instead of eating out every day. Can you tell what our problem was?

Mike and I are using our budget to figure out ways to save up for a house. And, it’s a great way to see how our money is being used. I go on about once a week to update the spreadsheet with that week’s expenditures. And then, I yell at Mike for eating too much Chipotle, while failing to mention that I spent a lot at Sephora.

But honestly —  creating a joint budget with your SO is a great way to plan for a future together and make sure you are both on the same page.



You Don’t Have to Care About the 2016 Election … Yet

Trust me, I’m a political scientist.

Sorry, I had to get that joke out of the way. Seriously though, it is 2015. So, why do we even have to care about the 2016 election right now? And the field of candidates that you see now will not all be around in a few months.

2016 election

Why should you get invested when the field is so jam-packed with candidates that aren’t going to make it to the spring? My suggestion is to pick a viable candidate when it is time for the primary and vote for them. Don’t waste your time on a Lincoln Chafee.

All day, people ask me if I’m afraid of Trump winning the nomination or if I heard what Hillary did. I let them know that I’m not paying attention because this is all fluff. By the time November (of next year) rolls around, none of us will remember the political gaffes of today.

Want to get involved with politics? Check out your local elections. They happen all the time – not just every two years. And, they are much more important to your daily life than who becomes president.



Life Tip: Get a Planner

life tip: get a planner

All my life, I have depended on a planner. Remember in school when you would get one at the beginning of the school year? That was my favorite day of the year. New planner, new possibilities.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve tried out different planners. I even tried to rely completely on technology – my Google calendar and Evernote. But, it just didn’t feel the same.

There is something about physically writing in a planner that helps to get things done. Nothing feels better than actually crossing something off a list or checking a box. That is why you need to get a planner.

For the upcoming year, I’ve opted to try something new and get the BASICS Notebook. They claim it will simplify your life and I believe them — any planner will help you simplify your life.

What kind of planner do you use?



Top Ten Things To Do When You’re Sick

On Saturday afternoon, I felt a frog in my throat around 5 pm. By 8 pm, I had no voice and I was incredibly nauseous. So, here’s how I ended up spending my Sunday. Your top ten things to do when you’re sick:

top ten things to do while sick

1) Sleep – naturally. This makes the most sense. I have had zero motivation to leave the couch.

2) Catch up on television. I managed to watch the first couple episodes of Parks and Rec. And the first episode of the third season of Kroll Show. Along with everything else under the sun.

3) Eat junk food. If you can keep it down, don’t worry about what it is. Being sick is a free pass for your diet.

4) Reinvent the wheel. I made myself a “Sick Person Mimosa,” aka OJ & 7Up.

5) Spend quality time with your furry friends. Gabby hasn’t left my side since I got home from work on Saturday night.

6) Take a warm shower. First thing I did when I got home was jump into a boiling hot shower.

7) Enjoy all the varieties of cough drops and Gatorade. Mike made sure to give me options since I’m the pickiest person ever.

8) Demand constant attention. Thankfully, Mike is feeling good enough to take care of me. I’ve enjoyed some feet rubs and food runs.

9) Pamper yourself. Paint your nails if you can handle sitting up straight. Take a long bath and shave your legs – something I desperately need to do.

10) Gargle some salt water – you need to get better. As much as it sucks, this is my cure-all for my illnesses.

I’m not surprised I got sick because of how stressed out I’ve been lately. Hopefully, today I’m back at work and kicking some ass. And for anyone else out there, make sure to get better!