Holy S#$!, Where did October Go?

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October 29, 2019

A list of goals

It’s October 29th and I’m exhausted.

You know that really good feeling when you’ve managed to find the balance of challenging yourself and taking care of yourself? October 2019 has been like that for me. When I look at my calendar, I’ve been reeling with how late in the month it got without notice.

At the start of this month, I tried to be more intentional than I have been in previous months: I wanted to better understand what sort of short-term challenges I should work towards and measure. I wanted to get practice setting realistic goals, where I could see what parts of my life were harder for me to work on than others. I wanted to do those things – and try my best to keep my effort at a level that didn’t cause feelings of burnout.

I am happy to report than my official October 2019 grade comes in at a resounding 105%.

And that’s without even completing all of them!

Each goal got an individual rating of effort, though this was really an exercise in fun more than anything else. It’s very easy for me to get into my head and feel like anything less than “perfect” is a failure, and I’ve been trying to work on celebrating how things actually are in my life, instead of setting my expectations on an idealized version.

Content: The first goal contains an exploration of weight and eating habits, including a briefly mentioned past struggle with disordered eating.

Goal #1: Weigh in at 157 pounds
In hindsight, this goal was never really feasible for me. It boiled down to attempting to lose 6 pounds in just four weeks, which is hard for me to do without very committed diet and exercise planning. Losing 6 pounds in 4 weeks amounts to 1.5lbs lost per week, equal to cutting out 750 calories per day from my diet. That kind of change is hard. I ended up losing just under 3 pounds, and I’m proud of that.

I already have specific dietary restrictions (Celiac disease means strict no-gluten, and I went vegetarian at the start of the year to reduce my carbon footprint) so adding something another, more restrictive set of rules would have re-ignited some of my old, unhealthy patterns of disordered eating. Instead, I doubled down on replacing empty carbs with more veggies at lunch, and stuck to my dessert-after-lunch-or-dinner-not-both rule.

Goal rating: 50%, measuring in % of goal loss achieved

Goal #2: Go climbing 5 times
I used to be a big fan of bouldering when I lived a couple of blocks from a rock climbing gym, and after moving apartments, I’ve been struggling to get back into the routine of it. I made this one of my goals for October and it was the motivation I needed to sign up for the nearby gym and go a couple of times, but at the end of the day, I only made it to the gym 3 times and on the wall twice. But I’m going again tomorrow, the ground is laid for making it a regular part of my routine, so I’m giving this a 4/5 rating.

Goal rating: 80%

Goal #3: Release 4 Blog Posts
This goal was easy – I ended October with not 4, but six blog posts written (including this one). Four of those posts were for my SCUBA & Snow blog, one was for work, and then I have this post. I forgot how much I missed writing, and it’s been fantastic for me to make it a regular thing. This goal brought me back to one of my favorite hobbies, and I’m hopeful to keep this up throughout the next months too!

Goal rating: 5 personal blog posts out of 4 – 125% accomplished!

Goal #4 – Complete 21 Inktober Prompts
I was never the strongest artist growing up, but I’ve always loved to draw and I’ve been trying to do more of it. Inktober, a challenge that gives artists different daily prompts to draw, coincided with my personal goal setting and I tried to set aside time to do 21 prompts.

I did 12. Just judging this goal by that, I didn’t do the best job – but in addition to the 12 official prompts, I created another 6 pictures that were original sketches and not based on the prompts. The spirit of this goal, to draw more frequently, was definitely met, so I’m giving it a solid 18/21.

Drawing of a stick figure surrounded by other people
My Inktober 2019 drawing for the prompt ‘Misfit’

Goal rating: 86%

Goal #5: Decorate Apartment for Halloween
This was the first goal I accomplished this month and it really set my month off to a good start. I have lovely childhood memories of fall and winter decorations coming out, and I finally had the space this year to add my own seasonal touch to our living space. I went to thrift stores and bought a collection of fall decor that I’ve been in love with all month, and it’s definitely helped me feel more appreciative of the cooling weather!

Goal rating: 100%

Goal #6: Hike in Yosemite
The last time I went to Yosemite, I had the idea to do Upper Yosemite Falls after feeling like I could totally handle a difficult hike. While I managed to make it to the top, the experience was awful and I complained the whole time. When we planned this year’s camping trip, I was nervous about what it would be like, but we picked an easier trek around Sentinel Dome and Taft Point. The almost 8-mile loop was just the right blend of challenging and rewarding. I’m giving myself a higher score because technically it’s two trails.

Me at the top of Sentinel Dome, Yosemite National Park
Photo: Zach Fox Photography

Goal rating: 2/1, 150%

Goal #7: Dive Pt. Lobos
Point Lobos is a state marine reserve down in Carmel, California, and is an extremely cool dive destination. You can read all about the dives in depth here and here on SCUBA & Snow, but the TL;DR is that we actually ended up going diving there twice, once in great conditions and once in terrible conditions. I would 100% go back again.

Me under water at Pt. Lobos on our second weekend trip
Photo: Zach Fox Photography

Goal rating: 2 trips instead of 1, 150%

Goals aside, this month has flown by and I’m so surprised that it’s almost November. October was also a great month for me at work – we’ve hit some key milestones on new features, I got to participate in the Tech Women mentoring program, and we launched an update to our team’s online 3D environment editor, Spoke.

Emotionally, it was important for me to balance the goals that I had with my well-being. I found that being more intentional made me rate my days as significantly happier on average than previous months ( I use an app called ‘Year in Pixels‘ to track my daily moods).

My ‘Year In Pixels’ tracker for October. Days are rated on a scale of 1 (Purple, worst) to 5 (Dark Green, best). The single blue square is a 3/5 day.

There were also some minor moments that I appreciated a lot about this month – heartfelt messages on Twitter, surprising my partner with a trip to visit friends, watching the final Star Wars trailer for ‘The Rise of Skywalker‘, and learning that F9 is the shortcut in Firefox for ‘Reader Mode’ were just a few.

What are your strategies about setting reasonable, healthy expectations of yourself? Do you set concrete goals, or milestones for yourself? I’d love to hear more about what works for you!

Happy end-of-October, everyone!

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