Consumer/Creator

Lately I’ve been struggling to find a balance as both a consumer and a creator. This is a balance that I’ve been struggling with a lot, especially in recent years, but seems especially stark of a contrast since I’ve recently committed to making more.

I watch tons of TV, subscribe to nearly 100 YouTube channels, and go to the occasional movie; read novels, non-fiction, and comics; take part in events like VidCon and Comic Con, but don’t feel like I’m making nearly enough. I’ve been told at panels and events that creators need to be consumers too. If I’m going to make something I need to know what’s out there. While that’s true, I think for me I need to start focusing on the opposite.

Instead of watching, I need to write, shoot, and edit video to put up on YouTube. I need to be writing scripts that are never going to see the light of day in the hopes that one day I’ll come up with something I’m proud enough to share. I need to practice and do, not just in response to all the things I consume, but from my own thoughts and ideas outside of the mainstays of culture.

In a lot of ways I have no idea how to do this. I’ve spent so long trying to determine what I think of the world around me that to shift into my own thought process is an astounding transition. But absolutely necessary. I’m starting to journal more. I’m starting to write here. I’m starting with my YouTube channel. I’m not disillusioned to think this will be easy, but starting is half the battle.

Ch-Ch-Changes

I’ve been struggling to blog lately. There are many reasons for this, the main one being that I finally got a job. I’m a receptionist at a small production/distribution company and I’m excited about it and what it could become. I’m glad to be employed, but I know that a job taking up my time isn’t the reason I’ve been quiet around here lately. Even before I got the “You’re hired” phone call I had been having troubles putting my thoughts into posts.

It’s frustrating to me that I can’t seem to express myself in the same way that I used to. For the past month or so I’ve written multiple blog posts that have never seen the light of day. I kept trying to be timely and failing. I wrote posts about the How I Met Your Mother finale, the Divergent movie, and Captain America: The Winter Solider. I have so many thoughts on these things, but I can’t seem to articulate them well enough to feel confident in hitting publish.

I want to talk at length about how much I adore Shailene Woodley’s hippie-ness. I want to have deep discussions about the Marvel cinematic universe. What the last few films will mean for the next ones. How they are tying the movies into Agent’s of SHIELD. How SHIELD is finally starting to pull on my heartstrings. But I can’t seem to come up with the words.

Even beyond media I never got around to writing up a post about my writing goals for this quarter. I’m sure if/how they change in balance with working full time, but I can’t even seem to outline it for myself. Using my phone alarms to be on time, a new planner, how I’m dealing with buying a car; all things I’ve written on our thought about writing on, but haven’t gotten out the way I want to.

My frustrations are because I know that I’m not where I want to be. I know I could be doing better. But I’ve lost track of how to do it. So I want to say that I’m not putting any pressure on myself to write, but I’m starting to see that route is going to get me NOWHERE, so it’s time to rethink.

It’s time to plan and organize and figure out what’s reasonable within my new schedule and current commitments. I don’t know the answer yet, but this post it a declaration that I’m going to try. I love my job, but I know that I want to do more with myself than just get by, it’s not going to be easy, but I know I’ll be better for it.

One Little Word: Planning Freedom Wrap Up

At the beginning of the year I decided to split my goals for the year into three quarters, each of which would focus on one phrase that includes my word for the year: Free. The first quarter was about Planning Freedom. During the first three months of the year I worked on three goals to set myself up for the rest of the year to varying degrees of effectiveness.

Find a job. NO. I didn’t complete this within the time, but I dare-say I made a decent sized dent in trying once I put my mind to it. I had trouble at first getting into the mindset of applying for jobs, but once I started forcing myself to just do it, applying became easier. I’ve applied to about 50 jobs so far and gone on a few interviews.

While I had hoped to have found something by now, I’m comforted by statistics. An average job hunt takes three to six months – a parameter I am well within – and includes 100 applications. Not only am I halfway there on both counts, I’ve spent some time figuring out a system of applying that will serve me well if/when I am ever job hunting again. (Hint: it involves spreadsheets because I’m a NERD)

Re-launch and re-design the blog. NOT DONE.

This one I’m a little upset about, but I have no one to blame but myself. While I set this as a goal for three months I didn’t make an actual plan to complete it which meant that I wound up scrambling to attempt to start in the middle of March.

In slightly better news I did start, so I am still hoping to make some progress on this one. My focus will be on the above unfinished task, but I’m hoping to make some progress on blogging even if it is mostly focusing on content, something I’m planning on tacking in the second quarter.

Create good habits. YES?

There is a question mark there because this is a task that will likely never actually be complete. No matter how many goals and spreadsheets and habits I manage, creating rituals out of everyday tasks will always be an evolving job.

I’m glad to say that I’ve been working on this one the whole three months and have been taking notes of both what has and has not been working from when I’m the most productive to how best to complete daily and weekly tasks like doing dishes and laundry. Whatever my schedule is in the next days, weeks, and months, I’ll be able to take what I learned in these past few months and apply it to whatever my life winds up looking like in the future. If that’s not a win I don’t know what is.

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While this first quarter wasn’t quite all I had hoped for I am still excited about these goals individually. I still plan on working with these goals in the coming months and hope to complete them soon. I’m also excited for my goals for the next quarter which I’ll be sharing later this week.

Next quarter: Free Write

This Will Be: April 2014

April is the launch of a new quarter and a new set of goals. More on the specifics of that next week, but I’m excited to jump into this month. My focus this month is absolutely on job hunting. I’ve been using a spreadsheet to track what jobs I’ve applied to and… I’m getting ahead of myself. Here’s some of my goals and plans for April.

Career

Of course, the continued job hunt. I have a list of companies I’m going to be looking into that I’m sure will continue to grow as the month goes on and I come into contact with people who can help me along. Every time I start to panic (which isn’t too often yet), I remind myself that the average job hunt takes 3-6 months and includes ~100 applications.

April is the start of a new quarter and a new focus (which again, I’ll talk about next week more), but one of the goals for the quarter is to write a short film. I have an idea to work with, and this month I’d like to start to beat out the story and outline the film.

Similar to above, I’ll be working on writing and putting out more consistent content on the blog. This month my goal is to get up to three posts a week. I don’t have any visitors planned this month, so hopefully it’ll be a little easier to stay on track for April.

Education

A friend of mine offered to teach me how to longboard a few weeks ago and I’m hoping to take her up on it this month. I’ve surfed and snowboarded before, so I’m excited and a little scared to be trying this out. While it will be a great way to connect to the city, falling on concrete will hurt more than into water or on snow.

Relationships

I want to get back into serving at my church and investing in the relationships I have there. I’ve served on the production team for a few months, but haven’t been scheduled as often as I’d like to be. This month I’m going to sit down with my planner and request a few days to plug back into this community.

Seeing as this month is also Easter, I am going to try and get some friends together to celebrate Easter. I don’t really know who’s going to be in town or what’s going to be happening, but I know I want to do something more this year than I did last year (I didn’t really celebrate last year besides going to church).

Health

Somehow I feel like this month will be great for hiking. It’s something I’m excited to be getting back into and will hopefully be able to work into my schedule a little more often.

See also: Education. If longboarding isn’t exercise than what’s the point?

What are your plans for April?

This Has Been: March 2014

I have been pretty absent here for the past few weeks. I hate when bloggers apologize for not blogging, so I’m not going to do that. I’ve had a full month and my focuses were elsewhere. Sometimes life is like that. That being said, I spent some time this past weekend getting back up to speed and hope to be a bit more regular in these parts. For a reminder of what I was planning for this month go back to the start. This has been March.

Career and Finance

While I still haven’t found a job, I have kicked it up a notch in trying to find one. I have been putting myself out there more and working as a PA (sometimes paid, often not but good for the contacts and experience). A friend of mine also got me hooked in with a network that will be a great resourse going forward. This was a pretty big push for me this month and I’m glad that it was a focus.

I didn’t file my taxes yet, but I did print out a 1040. It’s the thought that counts? (If only it was that easy)

Education

I did finish five books this month and am still working on a handful more. I find that I’m constantly in the middle of at least half a dozen books, though usually only actively reading two or three. Check out my GoodReads profile to follow what I’ve been working on, and keep an eye out here for a few reviews of what I’ve read so far this year. 

I did spend some time thinking about the blog, but between friends being here and focusing on job hunting I didn’t post of re-organize as much as I had hoped. I’m fine with this for now though, because the things I was focusing on definitely come first. #sorryImnotsorry

Relationships

My roommates coming to visit was a clear highlight of my month. Between them and another friend from my early days in Chicago coming for a visit, I’ve had my fill of playing tour guide for a little while this month. I enjoyed having them here, and got a chance to explore the city more which has lit a fire that I hope to expand upon in the coming weeks and months.

Health

I can’t even believe that I failed at going to two yoga classes. I went to one, so that has to count for something, but I definitely did not quite have my act together on this one.

Other

Renewing my scooter was kind of a hassle because I had some insurance snags that meant I had to go to the DMV in person. Since I was also late (unbeknownst to me), it cost a pretty penny too. The good news is that it’s done and I don’t have to deal with that again for a year.

Another failure was window washing. I don’t think I’ll roll it over into the next month again though. I just don’t seem to have the motivation to get through to this one. On the other hand, I did finally get around to buying a real dining table (as opposed to the card table I’ve been using), along with a few other things from IKEA, so now my apartment feels even more homey than before and I love it.

 

This Will Be: March 2014

I’m testing out a new way of setting monthly goals. This may change as I go forward with the year, but I realized that just like I have split my yearly goals into categories, it would probably be helpful to split my monthly goals into categories as well. Not only will this give my some consistency, it will also give these posts a bit more of a formula to follow.

My categories are career and finance, education, relationships, and health.

Career and Finance

Obviously, since March is the end of the first quarter of the year, I am trying to complete the first quarter goals for Planning Freedom, one of which is finding a job. I had hoped to have more of a lead by now, but this month I am going to be applying to a few temporary things along with continuing to network and look for a permanent position.

Meanwhile, I received tax forms in the mail last month and have been avoiding doing anything with them. I’d like to file for both federal and state tax returns this month so that I don’t have to panic in April.

Education

My reading goal this year is 50 books and so far I’ve only finished three. Womp womp. To make up some time I’d like to finish five books this month. I have four (maybe more?) in the works already, so this shouldn’t be too hard. Honestly, I think the hardest part is making sure to record the books I’ve read when I’ve finished them. I could’ve sworn I’ve read more than three book already this month.

This doesn’t quite fit under education, but I’m not sure that education is actually quite the word I’m looking for with this category. Another Planning Freedom goal is to re-organize my blog. This larger goal will almost certainly extend into the second quarter, but this month I’m going to be working on a mission statement for the blog and a photo shoot for a new header and profile picture.

Relationships

Not so much a goal as just an exciting thing that’s happening this month, but my old roommates are coming to visit me this month. I’ve seen them a few times since leaving Chicago, but it will be good to reconnect.

Health

Probably the simplest goal, but also the least often done, I’d like to go to two yoga classes this month. That’s not even a class a week. I think I can manage this.

Other

A few little things that I’m not sure how to categorize. My scooter’s license plate expires this month, so I need to figure out how to renew that, and the sooner the better.

And a rollover from last month that I didn’t get to. I want to clean my apartments windows from the outside. I live on the first floor so this is possible, I just didn’t get to it last month because when I finally scheduled a day to do it, there was a monster rainstorm.

 

One Little Word: Planning FREEdom

This year I am taking my one word theme for the year “Free” and crafting it into four different focuses throughout the year. I find that a month is never enough to go into as much depth as I wanted to; with this system I can spend a more extended period of time on a few things over a season.

For the first quarter my focus is “Planning Freedom”, so for the first three months of this year I am working on setting myself up for 2014 and beyond. As it’s currently halfway through the first quarter of the year, this is the midpoint for the three main goals I made in conjunction with Planning Freedom.

Find a Job

The first and biggest goal is to find a job. While I have been working on this, I don’t feel that I have any solid leads yet. Every time I get one, it goes cold as soon as I follow up. On the bright side, I a friend of mine told me this month that the average amount of time someone looks for a job is 3-6 months, in which case I am still on track. And goodness, I hope I am not still looking for a job in six months!

Blog Redesign

The next big goal is to work on revamping the blog, which I’m excited about. I met with a friend of mine who is a graphic designer last week, and she will be helping me with branding. I am so glad to get started on this since I’ve spent so long hoping that it would just happen by magic. I know that’s not how life works, but I kept hoping.

Create Good Habits

The third and last goal is to cultivate good habits, which sounds vauge and strange, but mostly means that I want to create a really solid routine that I can fall back on when I don’t have a specific plan. This is probably the one that I have made the most progress on, though I would hardly say I’m done. Routines are things that are set and then tweaked and changed to be what is needed. While I have a general schedule for my day, I am changing it every week.

Unfortunately this task will probably never be “done”, but the goal is the get to a point where I am a fully functioning human as opposed to a Netflix watching machine and that is most certainly within reach.

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Overall I think that I’m pretty much on track with where I want to be to achive all these before the end of March (the end of the first quarter), which is fantastic. I am already thinking about and planning for my goals April to July, which is a great feeling. Actively looking ahead is always better than reacting to whatever comes next.

What are you working on through this season?

This Has Been: January 2014

This month has been my first of the “real world”? There’s a question mark there because I’m not even sure I know what that means. Am I a part of the real world now just because I’m done with school assignments? That doesn’t seem right? What world was I in before? Nevermind that though, we can leave the philosophic musings for another time.

Some highlights from January include:

Going Snowboarding for the first time in a few years. I never got a chance to go while I was at school in Chicago (the midwest is far too flat), but I finally got a chance to go to the mountains down here in SoCal. I’m excited to go again and for the many other adventures that are sure to come.

Started to write a DONE list in the evenings, reminding me of the things I did get done instead of beating myself up over procrastination.

Brought my scooter in for a tune up. Not sure that this is really a huge high point, but my scooter is cleaner and runs better now than it has for the last few months, so I’m pretty happy with that.

Got back to blogging. One of my new years resolutions is to get back into the habit of blogging (more on my new years goals in my one little word post, here).

Came up with a routine to start following and have been tweaking it and reorganizing it ever since.

Lot’s of reading! Ton’s of TV! I’m still reading some of the stuff books I got for Christmas and I’m searching for new books almost every day on my Kindle. Gotta keep my eye out for those deals.

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Overall it’s been a weird month. I struggled a lot this month with not having a schedule and the same structure that I’ve been so used to for the past 16+ years of my life, but I think I’ve figured out a way to rebuild that structure and am getting to a better place for it.

Start with the Minimum

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I’m a bit of an overachiever.  As a kid I would always want to do more than was actually required.  Read the optional summer reading books. Climb to the highest point in the tree. And when I got math problems wrong or I couldn’t find the right puzzle piece I would get frustrated and give up the whole endeavor. I can’t tell you how often doing homework resulted in tears.

But even when I was only able to do the minimum, I was always surprised by often just the minimum was enough.  By just showing up on time and having read the assignment I managed grades I was happy with.

This isn’t to say that school was always easy, or that I expect that life will be the same way.  But I think that this is part of why I’m psyching myself out over finding a job.  I’m trying to overachieve, but I don’t even know what the minimum is yet.

So this week I’m starting with the minimum, and we’ll see where that gets me.

One Little Word: Planning Freedom

Like I mentioned in my last post about my word for the year, I’ve split the year into four so that I will be working on focused goals over the period of three months. I’ve already determined how I want to frame each season, even if I haven’t quite figured out all the details how these frames lead to goals.

Planning Freedom

January to March is about Planning Freedom. Not only will I be spending a lot of time in January planning my larger goals for the year and how to achieve them, but some of my goals have to do with planning as well. I’m breaking it into three main goals that I’d like to acomplish by the end of March.

Finding employment

Obviously it would be ideal if I am able to find an industry job within this time, and I am hopeful about doing so, but I’m also aware that it could take longer than this. Regardless, I would like to have some type of either full time or part time employment by March. If not an industry job, then certainly a part time job to give myself some structure while I spend more time searching.

Blog Re-Vap

This is something I’ve been meaning to do for a while, and since I don’t have a hard schedule right now, this is an ideal time to focus on it. I want to get a new layout, either by purchasing one and installing it myself, or through a designer. I especially want to get my own domain name and transfer everything to my own .com space.

Creating and Sticking to Good Habits

Another long-time goal of mine that I’ve already started to implement. I’d like to get some sort of rhythm going that can easily be continued once I’ve found something full time. Getting up on time, incorporating exercise and movement into my week, and cleaning my apartment more regularly.

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Hopefully, by working on these thing through the coming months I’ll be able to come back at the end of March and show off a handful of successes. I’m excited to be putting these things down on paper and solidly defining what I want to work on.

What are you working on this month?