5 Ways to Make Progress Towards Your Goals

5 ways to make progress on your goals

I don’t pretend to be any kind of expert on life or even achieving your dreams. While I’ve read and heard the opinions of the masses regarding finding happiness and success in life, and I’ve seen a lot of inspirational quotes on Pinterest, the truth is that I’m only 23, and I have a lot to learn before I can deem myself a successful adult or become any sort of expert on anything.

That said, in the past few weeks I have made a few personal discoveries that have demonstrated to be beneficial to my achievement of my goals. I often find myself overwhelmed by all of the things I want to do and hope to accomplish. I want to keep up with this blog, but also keep up with my creative writing. I want to grow my photography business, but also remain invested in my day job now. I want to live a healthy lifestyle complete with a well-balanced diet and a regular exercise regimen, but I also want to bake all the sweets in the world. I want to try new recipes, keep a clean house, and still have time to watch TV with my husband. I want to host parties and go out with friends, but I also want to stay home and veg after a long week. I want to travel the world, but also save money to invest in a home.

It’s enough to make you just want to bury your head in your pillow and never come out of bed. And I know I’m not alone in this dilemma. But over the weekend I came to a sort of sense of peace. I realized in which ways I can change to make myself more productive towards achieving my goals, and I also realized that it’s okay to not be able to work towards them all at once—because, well, that would just be impossible.

Thus, the five things I, the total non-expert, suggest for anyone who hopes to strengthen their progress to their own goals:

  1. Ask for what you want. If you don’t let your desires be known, then no one will have any reason to grant them to you. I have always had a hard time with this. I am a naturally quiet, people-pleasing person. I don’t like to raise a fuss. But I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone on this a few times lately. When I found out there would be an editorial position at the press opening, I went straight to our editor-in-chief and asked him what he’d suggest I do to best be considered for it. I turned down another opportunity at the press in hopes that the editorial job would pan out, and it did. If I had just sat around and taken what was first offered to me, I would not be in the job I’m in now. Similarly, I would not be shooting my first wedding in a couple weeks if I had not reached out to my friend who was searching for a photographer. Putting myself out there with my desires known was terrifying, but it has paid off time and time again.
  2. Start the day off right. Sometimes, my favorite thing to do on a Saturday or Sunday morning is to park myself right in front of the TV for a lazy couple of hours. While there is nothing wrong with that, it can get me started on a lazy streak throughout the rest of the day. Last Saturday, I woke up at 9, got myself a bowl of cereal and some coffee, and delved into my writing project all morning. Starting off the day with doing something productive actually made me feel ready to tackle the other things on my to-do list, like doing the dishes and adding to my photography website. Then I got some relaxing time in later, and felt better about taking it.
  3. Balance your time between your tasks and pursuits. If you have several things you NEED to get done during the week, don’t overestimate your time and energy and expect to get them all done at once. I get much less stressed if I divide each day during the week by tasks. For example: Monday I’ll catch up on blogging; Tuesday I’ll take care of photography business; etc. This doesn’t always work out, especially since there are other things that do have to be every day, but it helps me feel better when I reach the end of a day and realize I had no time for blogging after I worked, went to the grocery store, worked out, made dinner, and did creative writing for half an hour.
  4. Come up with realistic short-term and long-term goals. Strive for something you know you could achieve in the short term, if you put your mind to it. And keep all your short-term goals in mind when you think of your big, long-term goal. It’s okay if it seems unattainable at first. It’s not going to happen overnight. You’re going to have to go through a lot of short-term goals before you’ll reach your long-term one. It’s okay. Your goals will keep you focused.
  5. Pray and/or meditate. Whether you’re religious or not, taking five minutes out of your day to recount your blessings, ask for your wants, and free your mind of all preoccupations has such an effect on your zen. It’s freeing.

Happy pursuits, my friends. Did I miss anything on my list? What do you do to increase your productivity?

love always, Delia

Crossroads

holding the final pieces of the puzzle in our hands

It seems that time is winding closer and closer to the anniversary of one particularly important day in my life. And no, I don’t mean the anniversary of being hired as an official employee at the Press, though that is another mile marker I’ve recently passed.

My one year anniversary of being married to Ryan is just two short weeks away, and I find myself quite often musing about that life I was living in the time leading up to our wedding day. The monsoons have arrived in Albuquerque, and I am brought back to the memories of packing up my room and moving my things across town in the rain and into our apartment a week before the wedding. As the thunder booms and the giant rain droplets pound down for just a few minutes at a time, I’m reminded of when it did the exact same one year ago, as I stood in an empty apartment kitchen and unpacked the brand new dishes and appliances my mom bought for us. I think of my parents losing power for four days that weekend before the wedding, and each day praying for, at the very least, clear skies between 4 and 7 pm on August 2.

Now I have no such worries. The skies are free to rain any time and any day of the week, and I will welcome the drenching with open arms. I still have other worries for the future, as I always will, but I smile thinking of the monumental crossroads I stood at one year ago in comparison to the new, yet just as important, ones that I stand at today.

While at this time last year I was in the midst of starting a new job, finding an apartment, finalizing the last possible details of my wedding, and preparing for a life together with Ryan, these days I find myself in the midst of beginning yet another new chapter in my publishing career, anticipating Ryan’s official completion of his college career (as of this Thursday!), waiting to see where he’ll end up getting a job, making moves with my photography, and becoming newly inspired in my writing, thanks to the creative writing workshop I had the opportunity to attend this past weekend (but more on that in another post.)

It’s comforting to know that everything and still nothing has changed. Life was, is, and always will be busy, and it has turned out beautifully alright since last year’s crossroads; I’m soothed by the notion that the same will be true yet another year from now.

love always, Delia

A Letter to Myself Graduating High School

Dear Delia,

You’re graduating high school very soon, and I’ve been thinking about you a lot.

graduating high school sweethearts

You’re about to go through more changes in your life than you ever imagined. Over the next five years, you’re going to enter adulthood, but trust me when I say, you’re never really going to feel like an adult. I’m not even sure adulthood is a real thing. We’re all just big pretenders, so don’t worry if you constantly just feel like you’re faking it. You’re not alone.

The world is a scary place, college is a big deal, and you’re right to worry about it all. You’re going to learn what it’s like to live states away from your parents, your best friends, your boyfriend, your dog, your cat, and your green chile. You’re going to face living in a new place with all new people. You’re going to get your first (and last) C on a paper, and it’s going to feel like your high school grades were all a lie.

You’re going to cry a lot the first few months that you’re gone. It’s going to feel like your whole world has lost its color and begun to implode. You’re going to wonder if your relationship will survive the distance. You’re going to fight with your best friend because everything is changing and you won’t understand why. You’re going to try and socialize, but it’s going to be hard because everyone wants to socialize with alcohol, and not only do you not want to partake, but you’re also just socially introverted and awkward. And in time, you’ll come to embrace that.

awkward selfie

But the next five years are going to go by faster than you think they are right now. You’re going to blink and find yourself at your first high school reunion, surrounded by your former classmates who all still look the same, but older, and with a bit more life experience written in their faces and voices. And you’re going to realize that that’s how you are now, too: basically the same, but older—and, yes, wiser.

You’re still going to love Friends and One Tree Hill as much as you do right now. In fact, at times, bingeing on those DVDs is going to feel like it’s saving your life. You’re still going to have the same best friends you have right now, and those best friends are all going to stand beside you at your wedding, just like you’d always hoped. You’re also going to make new friends, and find the best dance and creative writing communities you’ll ever experience.

Hyper Xpressions dance crew

Yes, the three and a half years of long distance through college are going to suck. But they’re going to be worth it, because they’re going to teach you about true communication, they’re going to teach you that you can survive by yourself if you have to, and they’re going to prove to you that surviving the distance can be done. So don’t believe what anyone else tries to tell you.

Ryan surprising me with proposal at LACMA

I’ll let you in on a little secret: that painful distance is going to end with a surprise proposal that will make you think you’re living in a fairy tale, and less than a year later you’re going to be the wife to your very best friend. If that’s not worth everything, I don’t know what is.

winning--just married.

And as for that world beyond college you constantly dream about? It is everything and nothing like you’d imagine. It is expensive and complicated and weird and unpredictable and freeing, and like with college, you’ll be ready for it, even though it won’t feel like you will.

Enjoy the ride.

Love,

Yourself in 5 years