Jana Says

Living life from cover to cover

Tag Archive: goals

Why I quit my 40 by 40

Today was supposed to be Judging Covers but things happen so we’re talking about why I quit my 40 by 40 instead. Judging Covers will be here on Thursday.

Like every good blogger, I established my 40 by 40 list and shared it for all the world to see. I think I created it when I was 37, almost 38, giving me more than 2 years to accomplish it (although I put that I had 52 months. I should have put “relearn math” on the list). It wasn’t a difficult list, with mostly easy items to check off or accomplish. I made some progress and then, about a year ago, I said fuck it and quit the whole damn thing.  

Deciding to quit it wasn’t something I hemmed and hawed about. I didn’t work through all the pros and cons or have a long, drawn out discussion with friends or my husband or even here. I simply decided I didn’t want to do it anymore and let it go. 

But since some of you asked why, here’s the main reasons:

  1. It was too much pressure. I started to feel obligated to do things that maybe I didn’t care about anymore and that didn’t make them fun. 
  2. I hated most of the items. Admittedly, it was a stupid list and at this point, almost nothing on it seemed either feasible or like something I wanted to do.
  3. It was arbitrary. When I created it, I threw things at a wall to see what stuck. Sort of like I do with spaghetti. I didn’t spend much time thinking it through and what came out was a big old mess of shit. This is probably what led me to hate the items.
  4. It was impractical. There were items on there that had absolutely no way of coming true given my propensity for laziness and introvert tendencies.
  5. I don’t think of 40 as a deadline. I know it’s one of those milestone, big deal birthdays but honestly? I’m totally fine with turning 40 and I certainly don’t think that I have to stop trying new things because of my age. 
  6. It seemed too final. Like, what do I do when that’s all done? Goals and new things should be fluid rather than fixed. Crossing off the items gave me a sense of accomplishment but then what? Is this list really all I want to do?
  7. It was too bucket listy. I don’t believe in bucket lists and a 40 by 40 made it sound like my life was ending (see explanation #5). If I had a list, it needs to be more of the to-do type and without finite deadlines. 
  8. I usually forgot about it. When making decisions, I rarely referred to the list. I did what I wanted with no regard for any type of progress. 
  9. I didn’t care anymore. Honestly, it stopped being important to me to work through it. 

So there you go. That’s why I gave it up. 

I don’t necessarily feel freer that I don’t have it anymore but I definitely feel less obligated. I still want to do check off many of the items but I’ll get to it when I get to it and that’s fine by me. 

How about you guys? Do you have a 40 by 40 or 30 by 30 or any other age related goals list? If you had one and quit like I did, why did you?

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2017: The year I have no goals

So I’ve been thinking about my goals for 2017 and then I decided I didn’t want to have any. 

Seriously. It’s true. 

For me, setting goals is really an exercise in failure. I have a tendency to create really lofty goals in an impossible to achieve time frame and then, when I don’t reach them, it reinforces my belief that I suck at life. And I don’t really want to do that anymore. Because, in reality, I might be a hot fucking mess 99% of the time but I do not suck at life. I am real, functioning, mostly capable adult who has the ability to accomplish what she puts her mind to. 

Just not if I make that stuff actual goals. It’s weird and it makes no sense. I know that. But hang in there with me. 

I’ve also accepted that I’m textbook Type B personality (if there was such a thing. There should be. Type Bs are people, too!). I used to be a raging Type A. Then life happened and now I’m not. And rather than fight what’s my nature, I’m going to work with it. 

Which means that my goals for 2017 look more like habit changes than actual goals. 

For instance, rather than saying “I’m going to finish my book”, my goal is to write every day. Maybe it’ll be on the book. Maybe it’ll be for the blog. Maybe it’ll be editing the book. Maybe it’ll be just for fun in a notebook and no one but me ever sees it. Who knows. 

And rather than saying “I’m going to lose x amount of pounds”, I’m just going to continue to adjust to being a person who exercises regularly and eats better (for what it’s worth, when you realize you can’t eat wheat, most of the tempting good stuff goes away anyway). 

And rather than saying “I’m going to read 80 books”, I’ll keep reading whatever I feel like reading and however many books I read. Yup, that means no 2017 Goodreads reading goal for me. I do want to push myself out of my comfort zone of reading so I have a quasi-goal of reading genres I don’t necessarily gravitate towards (I’m looking at you, historical fiction).

And rather than saying “I’m going to be organized”, I plan to actually fold the laundry when it’s done in the dryer and write appointments down and blog on a regular schedule and do all the things that would make me be a person who has her shit together.

And rather than saying “I’m going to pay off x amount of debt” (and stop berating myself for being back in debt), the plan is to focus on the long term reason for paying off the debt and knock out whatever I can when I can. There’s also the whole habit of being intentional (again. I used to be and then that went to shit) with what I buy.

Goals I’ve given up: anything I can’t control, especially as it pertains to this blog. Followers, stats, comments, shares…all of it. It doesn’t matter. This is my hobby; it’s not my life. That doesn’t mean I want it to be crappy. I still want it to be engaging and fun and helpful and grammatically correct and I have plans for making it better but it’s not my job. My livelihood doesn’t depend on it. 

Focusing on the habits and systems behind achieving the goal is a much more effective way to get me to reach the actual goal. Looking at the big picture is intimidating, it doesn’t leave wiggle room, it involves too much planning, and it puts me in competition with anyone and everyone else working towards similar goals. Which then leads me to the comparison trap and that’s a very dangerous place for me.

I don’t like being in dangerous places.

And I’m sure, buried in here somewhere, is the impact of words on your habits. It’s probably another post topic. But to be vague and leading, Kathy asked me why I started going to the gym after hemming and hawing about it for so long. And I’ll tell you that it had to do with something very specific someone said to me a few months ago. It had a profound impact on me, more than she probably intended it to have, and I think it’s what led me down the road I’m on with basically everything in my life now. 

Because while I’m not goal focused, I’m improvement focused. I think that’s a good place to start. 

However. There’s one goal I do have. It’s a real goal, too. You ready for it? It’s to play the guitar again. I’ve picked it up and put it down several times in my life and you know, I really like being able to play an instrument. So I’m going to do that. Who knows. Maybe in 2018, I’ll start playing the piano again, too. 

How about you guys? Do you have goals for 2017 or are you more like me?

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3 Tricks for Achieving Your Goals

Jana’s note: I’m working on improving my goal achieving prowess. I’m pretty good at setting them. Achieving them? Well, that’s not always as easy because sometimes I get bored and stop or get frustrated and stop or life gets in the way and I stop. The tips in this post are quite helpful for someone like me and I plan to use them as I continue working through some of my goals in progress. Also, if you’re a resolution setter, with the new year approaching, these are some solid tips to help you not quit those, either.


Many of us fail at achieving our goals. We go through life with a myriad of goals, only to achieve some and not others. When this was happening to me, I became frustrated. I knew there had to be a way to better achieve all my goals. I read books and listened to others to see if I could figure out the secret ingredient to hitting my goals.

In time, I realized that there was no secret ingredient that would magically help me achieve all my goals. But that doesn’t mean I gave up.

Through much trial and error, I found 3 things that have helped me with achieving my goals. In this post, I share them with you in hopes that you too can start attaining more of your goals too.

#1. Break Them Into Smaller Steps

No matter what your goal is, I want you to write it down. Leave some space underneath it so you can add some information. Do this for all your goals. Your next step is to now figure out how to break that goal into smaller goals. The key here is to make a bunch of smaller goals so that as you hit them, you will be motivated to keep going and eventually reach your big goal.

For example, a couple years ago I wanted to pay off my student loans. At the time, the balance was $20,000. For me, seeing this huge number overwhelmed me. I thought that there was no way I could pay off that debt. As I made my monthly payment and saw the balance drop by $100, the goal seemed even more insurmountable.

But then I did what I am telling you here. I broke this goal into small goals. My first small goal was to get the debt down to $15,000. The next goal was $10,000 and then $5,000. Suddenly, I had more motivation to pay off my debt.

Instead of focusing on $20,000 I focused on $5,000. Just pay off $5,000 I kept telling myself. I created a separate spreadsheet and tracked my payments. Seeing me progress towards my goal excited me and motivated me to keep going.

After I hit $5,000 I began all over again, trying to hit $5,000 a second time.

This trick helped me to pay off that debt in just under two years. Each time I hit my smaller goals, I celebrated by going to dinner to my favorite restaurant. So take some time and figure out how you can break your large goal into a smaller set of goals and then celebrate when you hit them.

#2. Keep Your Goals In Front Of You

Another trick I found to help me stay motivated was to keep my goals in front of me. Too many times I would write my goals down in a notebook, close it and not look at it again for months. When I would open the notebook a few months later, I would see my goals and be like “oh, yeah, I did have that goal”. I was a victim to the old saying, “out of sight, out of mind”.

To overcome this, I started to keep my goals out where I can see them. On my desk and computer monitor is a number. To most people who see it, they just see a number. But to me, that number equals freedom. It is my number for financial freedom, the net worth that allows me to retire and live life differently.

Of course, there are some goals you don’t want on your desk for everyone to see. Luckily, there are various things you can use here to get this trick to work.

  • Put sticky notes on your mirror in the bathroom.
  • Put a reminder in your phone and set it to send the reminder to you at various increments.
  • Make the goal your lock screen on your phone.
  • Use a free tool like FutureMe. It allows you to write yourself a note and pick a date in the future to send it to you.
  • Tell friends and family so they can bring up your goal in conversation.

#3. Use The Power Of Visualization

One underrated trick is to use the power of visualization to your advantage. Many professional athletes use it all the time. Basketball players envision shots going through the basket. Soccer players envision their kick getting past the goal keeper.

But you don’t have to be an athlete to use this trick. I use visualization all the time. Every day I take a little time to be by myself. I close my eyes and visualize my goals in detail. For a while, I was visualizing our dream house.

I got so good at this visualization I could see little details, like blades of grass. Doing this exercise helped me to stay motivated to keep saving for our down payment and to keep looking when it seemed like all the good houses were everywhere but where we wanted to live.

You too can use visualization. Look at your goals and start picturing life with the goal being met. I used visualization for my student loan debt too.

I pictured my life without the student loan debt. I felt the weight off of my shoulders. I pictured how I could use that money for investing or saving for a dream vacation. Doing this motivated me to keep pushing through the tough times and pay off the debt once and for all.

Final Thoughts

In the end, I can’t guarantee that using these 3 tricks will help you reach your goals. But you won’t reach your goals unless you keep trying to find something that motivates you to keep pushing forward. I’ve been using these for a couple of years now and have told friends about them too.

Many of my friends tell me today how they visualize all the time now. They also tell me how breaking their goals into smaller pieces really helps them push through the long road that they had to travel down to reach their goals.

I encourage you to give these a try and start experiencing what I have already experienced – reaching your goals more often than not.

About Jon: Jon writes at Breath of Optimism, a website where he helps people think positively and be the best person they can be. You can also find his motivational quotes on Pinterest.

All the 2016 to-dos

I think there might be something wrong with me. 

I’m pretty sure I’m the only person who doesn’t look at the new year as 365 days filled with opportunity and hope and achievement. Nope, I look at it as 365 days of overwhelming because I truly don’t know what I even want to do anymore. Setting goals used to be so fucking easy. Now? Too hard. So I wind up not setting them and then feel like I’ve failed at life at the end of the year because upon reflection, I feel like I did nothing (even if I did do something. Like last year. I feel like I did nothing to advance my career but then I remembered that I got a job in a brand new field. That’s something, right?). It’s like my perfectionist tendencies get in the way and then I downplay what I did accomplish because it’s just not good enough. 

See? I told you something was wrong with me. 

I want to make a declaration that this year will be different but I know me. I’ll declare it and then fuck it up. So instead, I’m going to make more of a checklist. I do well with to-dos. And maybe if I approach my goals as a to-do list rather than goals, I’ll actually do them. That would help me continue with the big shift I’ve been making (as in, I AM someone who accomplishes what she says she’ll do). So here’s what I’ve got:

Jana’s 2016 To-Do list

  • Finish the damn book already. It’s 2/3 of the way there. I know how to edit. I know where I want it to end. I need to just sit down and write all the words. 
  • Get back into regular exercising. I used to be someone who worked out regularly. Now I’m not. My mental health needs me to workout. Plus, if I don’t, the 10k the husband and I plan to walk later in the year is going to suck.
  • Restart freelancing. I used to freelance for a bunch of websites. Then I went all crazy (literally. It’s when I had my breakdown followed by my major depression episode) and quit everything. I like money. I like writing. I should combine the two again.
  • Launch my books project. Yeah, I’ll tell you guys about that when it’s ready. But right now I need to find a good web designer and remember to contact my co-host and get shit off the ground. 
  • Redesign this here blog of mine. It’s getting old and needs a face lift. 
  • Leverage social media to help with said side project and freelancing (and full-time job). There is a wealth of information and a number of people out there who can help me. I know how to connect with them and I have the means to do it. I just need to actually do it. 
  • Complete my reading challenges. Erin’s book challenge. My personal reading challenge. My Goodreads goal (75. I wanted to do 80 or 85 but there are some long ass books on my TBR this year and I refuse to feel pressured not to read them simply to achieve an arbitrary number on Goodreads). 
  • Travel. On the books already: Phoenix and Boston. Possibilities: Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego. Plus, I want to do more things locally and regionally. And visit with some friends who are not too far away, even if it’s for a day. 
  • Find a good beige nail polish color. I’ve been struggling with this one for years. Sometimes my nails just look terrible and I don’t want to use a color and draw attention to their atrociousness but I feel incomplete without nail polish on so I figure a nude/beige color will help in such a situation. Any suggestions?

I wanted to set some housekeeping/adulting goals like “do loads of laundry from start to finish on the same day” and “dust regularly” and “get up earlier” and “be craftier” and “give more to charity” and “volunteer more” but then I thought…nah. My house isn’t that dirty and I’m really okay with my bedtime/wake up time and I’m going with my charitable giving and volunteering and I’m a pretty high functioning adult so I left all that out. Why try to be something I’m not? 

Also not on the list? A specific weight loss goal. Weight loss is a funny thing and while I’m working on it, I feel that if I say “I’m going to lose 40 pounds this year”, that’s just setting myself up to fail because what if I don’t? What if I only lose 35? Will that 5 pound difference negate all my hard work? In my head, it probably will. So I’m just going to say that my weight loss is a work in progress and I’ll take what I can get each week. 

That’s it. That’s my list. Here’s hoping I can check them all off (sorry. I WILL check them all off)!

Did you set goals for the year? Do you have a word of the year? Any tricks for accomplishing your goals?


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A big shift

As the year is starting to wind down and we’re seeing the best of lists and all that stuff, I know that lots of us are taking time for reflection. How we did on our goals, our successes and failures, our relationships, and what we want to see for the new year. How we can improve, trips we want to take, items on our bucket lists to check off. You know. The usual. 

For me, though, the reflection has been a bit different than in years past. Yes, I’m doing everything that I listed above but there’s something else I’m doing. This year, I’m looking at how the words I use have made the biggest impact on me and my goals and how I can use that for next year as well. words

If you know me, you know the way I speak to myself isn’t exactly what you’d call nice. I’d never speak to another person the way I talk to myself and it’s something I’m actively working on. Lest you think I’m perfect or have mastered this particular skill, let me assure you, I am not. In fact, just last night, I referred to myself as fatass. But the number of times I do that has substantially decreased since I decided to actively work on this. And that’s what it is. It’s a product of work and effort. 

The other way I’m using language to “fix” myself is to no longer say things like “I want to be someone who writes a book” or “I want to be someone who’s healthy”. Now I say “I AM someone who’s writing a book” (quick update on that: about 10000 words to go before the rough draft is done and the first pass of editing can start. Plus I have an idea that will significantly improve the quality of the story) and “I AM someone who’s healthy” and “I AM someone who can achieve the goals she sets for herself”. 

Changing the words from ones of aspirations and wishful thinking to ones of affirmation and declaration has been a powerful change for me, as well as a huge shift in my self-confidence. Again, I have a long way to go but it’s exponentially better than it was. In fact, it was the reason I was able to make it through the Whole30. During Thanksgiving. 

If you’re struggling with achieving your goals, any goals, or have problems with self-esteem and self-confidence, I definitely suggest changing your word choices. It’ll feel weird and awkward at first, and you’ll find yourself asking if you really are the kind of person you’re declaring you are, but I’ll tell you that yes. Yes, you are. You truly are anything you think you are. unicorn2

For someone who loves books and believes in the power of song lyrics, it’s amazing that it’s taken me so long to come to the conclusion that a simple change in my choice of words makes a substantial impact.

How about you guys? What are your tricks for staying focused or empowering yourself to achieve your goals?

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