2020 Is a Year for Goals

This time of year you’ll see almost everyone talking about their resolutions. Some will advertise what their resolutions are while others will be intentionally vague about what their resolving to change in 2020. Even more so, you’ll see the advertising bonanza making good use of everyone’s good intentions.

Did you watch anything about New Years Eve in NYC? Planet Fitness literally sponsored it so a good portion of the broadcast was yellow and purple with Planet Fitness written all over it. You couldn’t even celebrate midnight without marketing from a gym.

From gyms and weight loss products to money management and career improvement programs to fashion changes, skin care and everything in between advertisers will be looking for your biggest insecurity and vowing that, in exchange for your hard earned cash, they’ll wipe all those insecurities away.

That’s why I find goal setting more practical. Goals aren’t a commercial venture. Goals don’t have to be about the things you don’t like about yourself or the things you want to change. They are more likely to be tied to new projects or about measuring progress and milestones without discrediting what you already accomplished in past years. And it’s a lot harder to sell to someone’s goals than it is a classic resolution. Goals are about our own commitments and actions, not about what products we buy.

Even the simple or common resolutions sound better translated from resolution language to goal language. Try weight loss, for one. Instead of “my resolution is to lose weight or get down to this certain number on the scale”, say “My goal is to cook at home 5 nights a week and be at the gym 3-4 times a week.”

We all know that if you’re eating at home, you’re likely eating healthier than if you ate out and if you are also going to the gym there’s a good chance you’ll be losing weight. If not losing, per se, you’re definitely getting on track to a genuinely healthy lifestyle. Health is a better pursuit than weight loss for the sake of weight loss, anyway.

It’s also easy to scale and personalize goals so that they make sense for you and where your current challenges are. If you’re really good at eating at home every night but you struggle with gym motivation then maybe you’d modify the above goal to read “My goal is to cook healthy meals 5 nights a week and go to the gym 2-3 times in the next 6 months and 3-5 times a week in the 2nd half of the year.”

And oh – that’s my favourite part.

Even though this time of year we talk about how fast 2019 went by, how the previous year seemed to go by before we could even process what was happening, how we don’t know where it all went and feel like we can’t even remember what we did…. it still feels like a year is a big, huge, impossible timeline for a goal.

Simultaneously we’re feeling that 2019 was fleeting and impossible to hold while 2020 is massive and the end of it, along with our goals or resolutions, is entirely too far away to think about.

Funny how time plays these tricks on us.

So break it up! Don’t focus on “the year” as an oncoming storm. Focus on the first 3 months, the first 6 months, first. Think about what a quarter of the way, or half way to your goal will look like and correlate those milestones to next month, to March and to June. This gives you the most important things of all, a place to start and a path to follow.

All this, really, to say that it’s a great idea to embrace the good intentions behind resolutions and reflect on what you want to do differently in 2020 but if you’re doing so it’s also time to figure out how those resolutions, goals and plans become reality.

Here’s to avoiding any further New Years Eve’s where we feel like all of a sudden a whole year escaped us.

Making Relationship Resolutions

We spend these last weeks of the year trying to set ourselves up for a great year. We talk about weight loss and career goals. We start planning and prepping and getting excited. If you’re like me you get obnoxiously excited about setting up your new planner. Well, Wednesdays are my relationship post day so here’s a question:

Do you have relationship resolutions?
Here are 5 Relationship Resolutions for a happy, healthy and romantic year:

Don’t focus on what’s “wrong”

This is hard but ultimately good for all your relationships (Yes, that means the friendships you value and even robust relationships with coworkers). When we focus on something we give it increasing power and significance. By focusing on the things that bother us, the things that upset us, any longer than necessary, we slowly let them define our relationship. We start to see the less attractive qualities as defining our partner or partners. We allow our friends tone known by what we don’t like, instead of why we’re friends in the first place. We create resentment.

When you find your mind constantly circling to something negative turn and face it, address it and mentally close that train of thought. If it keeps coming up remind yourself that it was dealt with. That’s really key, though, do turn and face it. It’s not useful to ignore and push away things that bother us. The key is to be able to calmly say to someone “Hey, this is something that’s bothering me but I value what we have and so I want to work on creating positivity.” In your own words, of course. This gives you both an opportunity to speak on the subject and hopefully make the right decisions to alleviate the irritation.

The sneaky truth about “thinking positive” is that it takes a lot more effort than we ever talk about. We say “think positive” all the time but we don’t talk about doing the work. Once you’ve been able to address what’s bothering you, give yourself permission to let it go and focus on what’s going well.

Remember to Date Each other

This is kind of the flip side of not focusing on whatever feels “wrong”. No matter where you are in your relationship – dating, living together, engaged, married – remember to date each other.

The thing about this advice is that it’s really just a reminder to think of each other and let yourself enjoy all the happiness, and infatuation that you felt in those early days of dating. I like to do this for Tom with really simple things. Like surprising him with mini cheesecakes I came across when I stopped to get an afternoon tea. it’s not a big fancy date night. It’s simply a little something that tells him he was on my mind, even in the middle of my day while he was at work.

As relationships get more serious it’s easy to let the infatuation evaporate because we feel like it doesn’t have a place in the conversations about bills, families, and daily life. But love – infatuation and unreasonable affection for one another – is what separates adults in a relationship from adults with a functional partnership.

My ex and I became a functional partnership without even realizing it. We let go of the flirtation and infatuation and let the day to day operation of our household become the only thing we ever talked about. We didn’t leave space for loving and sweet nothings. It was so subtle but a definite contributing factor to the death of our marriage.

Make time for Each Other

It doesn’t have to be like a “date”. Going out for dinner or to do things is nice. However, it’s not really about that, is it? It’s just about making time to make each other a priority.

Sometimes when we are going to be home, just having a regular night, we think of it as not having plans. We look for something else to do with that time. Somewhere else to be, someone else to see. We choose to go out with our friends or go to an event.

Sometimes we have to just see that open time in our schedule as booked. We have to enjoy that obligation-free time with each other and protect it from the incessant need to fill our calendar with “something else”.

This also means putting down the phone, switching from a show that takes all your focus so you don’t talk, and giving each other attention. The “how was your day” kind of attention. You don’t expect your job, your hobby or anything else to flourish without dedicated time so why would you expect this of your relationship?

Celebrate and Support Independence

Relationship advice tends to tell you how to be together. I want to remind you that you should also celebrate and support independence. Encourage each other to pursue hobbies and things that fuel your soul. In this, don’t make your partner feel you don’t notice their individual wins. It’s okay to say cheer them on without getting outright involved.

Be okay with the fact that there is happiness that isn’t shared. Be okay with your partner loving something that you don’t.

Let them talk to you about it and express their happiness without making them feel guilty for loving something that isn’t you. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be in the bleachers, cheering like crazy – metaphorically speaking (Or not metaphorically, if it applies). You should be there, even if behind-the-scenes it’s not your thing.

Take the time to find your own hobbies and interests, too, and celebrate being a whole person who loves another whole person.

Never (Ever) Air your Dirty Laundry 

My mother gave me some really great advice as a teenager. She told me that the reason I should never air the dirty laundry in my relationship is because I am in love with someone, so forgiveness is part of the deal but for all the friends and family I might vent to when I’m mad, that isn’t true.

I can go running to friends or my mom or whoever and tell them all about how upset a partner made me or some stupid thing they did. At the end of the day I’m going to go home and forgive my partner because that’s how relationships move foreword. Also, because I love my partner. Even when they tick me off I know the love is so much bigger than the moment we’re in and in the private moments between us that nobody ever sees we’ve built something that is so strong.

That person I vented to, though… anyone who saw the dirty laundry… they aren’t in the relationship. They don’t have any reason to forgive. I just make us look bad and my partners reputation isn’t fixed by my forgiveness.

Keep what happens behind closed doors right there behind closed doors.

What are your relationship resolutions?

Let’s Stay Connected

How to: Support your Poly Friends

TL;DR: (Yeah, I had a lot to say here, #sorrynotsorry ) Be kind. To all of us. About our relationship. We like pizza and laughing so… less drama and more pizza please.

When we came out we knew the news would be a surprise for a lot of our friends and we were prepared to be patient while they processed this change in our lives.  We couldn’t have fully explained then exactly what we needed or wanted from them that was any different from before – we were in the midst of understanding this ourselves.  However, now that we’ve had some time to live this life and experience what it’s changed and what it hasn’t I have some thoughts I want to share.

In most ways being a supportive friend to any of the four of us hasn’t really changed. Maybe it’s more accurate to say that what we need from our friends didn’t change, just the number of people supporting us did. We’ve all been blessed with friends who included our married partners in the friendships and made sure they always recognized loving us meant loving our marriages.  Well there’s more to love now.  If you loved us and our marriages before please remember we have more partners we want to involve now.  Maybe it won’t be everyone together all the time – we don’t always travel as a group. However, we do travel as a group a lot of the time and it’s awkward and disheartening to think there are spaces where we aren’t welcome to be all of us.

Maybe I should note here that if there’s a real reason you want to invite one or two of us in to a space but not invite all of us, just talk to us! We’re pretty understanding about circumstances.  But if the limitation is being placed just because the plural nature of our relationship makes you uncomfortable, why are you inviting any of us to anything? This is a huge part of who we are.

Think of how you generally show support to your friends: spending time with them, keeping up to date with their lives, listening when they need an ear, offering advice when they need it, and yes, having some sort of friendship with their partner – even if its only because they’re dating and not because you would choose that partner as a friend for yourself.

I think maybe that last bit has been the most complicated for people in our lives, but we’ll get to that.

I want to stress here that I’m writing this with the greatest affection for everyone in all our lives and the deepest gratitude that they want to support us and be a part of our lives. Our friends aren’t the only ones figuring out “how this works” exactly, so we’re here to support them supporting us.

Spend Time with Us: We all have our own lives. Don’t worry – we didn’t become like a single-minded entity that can’t function unless we’re together. We still have our own friends and our own interests.  However, we love our time with all of our partners and we are protective of that time – we only have so much time with each person in a week – so maybe we’re a little picky about how we prioritize, especially when it means less time for our relationships. Try not to hold it against us if we can’t make a certain day or certain something work because we need to be home that night.  If we say we want to make plans work with you, we mean it.

Stay Up to Date with Us: Just ask us what’s up, what’s new, what’s happening.  We are busy, busy people and we’d love to share all the little things that bring us joy, stress us out, drive us crazy and make us laugh in a week. We have stories about the quirks of dating each other, about the side effects of living under one roof, about our various jobs and of course our hobbies.  We want to catch up – let’s pick a time. I think people hesitate to ask us what’s new because they just don’t know what to expect so let me reassure you – it hasn’t changed that much. It includes more people now. But if you’re afraid we’re going to bombard you with awkward amounts of detail about our sex lives or something you can stop worrying.

Let us Talk: You’re our friends – we’ve always been able to vent and rant and just talk with you.  We really highly value being able to speak freely about our lives without holding back when we want to switch from a story about one partner to a story about another.  We crave the ability to and the space to express ourselves without hiding any part of ourselves and our happiness.  But this is pretty well tied in to the next piece…

Give us Advice when Asked for or Needed: Except… don’t discount our relationships. I think it’s easy to assume poly is the root of all problems in our lives but we all have people at work that cause us stress, frustrations with our hobbies or other activities, and generally a whole lot of life that isn’t defined by our relationships.
We live together. We love each other. If we’ve come to you for advice on any topic, just know the recommending a break up is never the answer.

It feels like any time one of us expresses stress it’s easy for people to question if we should rethink our relationships. This gets frustrating because our relationships are a source of comfort, confidence and strength in our lives. Think of your own happy and healthy relationships – regardless of how they’re configured or defined – what do they bring to your life? I hope they bring you happiness, laughter, inspiration and that they feed your soul, feed your fire and enable you to be all that you are outside of those relationships. That’s what our relationships do in our lives.

When people suggest that our relationship structure is the reason we’re stressed about one thing or another I think it just kind of saddens us that maybe that person isn’t seeing how happy we are.

Including the Partner(s): Hey – you didn’t pick them. Your friend might think this person can do no wrong and you might think they’re all sorts of wrong.  That doesn’t change the fact. Friendships, in my experience, work best when friends respect and include a serious partner regardless of if they would pick that partner as a friend for themselves.  In case us living together isn’t the hint you’re looking for: We’re serious about this relationship and each other. You don’t get to pick your monogamous friends partners, and you don’t get to pick which one of us is coming to dinner.  If you message me saying we should get together for dinner and the invite is open to my partners – then it’s open to my partners. When you specify which partner or partners are invited and which aren’t it leaves me with the feeling I’m not really accepted by you. There’s a whole part of my life, a whole person who makes me crazy, insanely happy that you’re trying to ignore just because there are other partners you can focus on and really, that just doesn’t work. Maybe sometimes you want one on one time with me and that’s great but if this is an open invite for partners, it’s open to all of mine, or none of us.

Stop waiting fo the Break Up: Seriously. How much more do I need to say? Regardless of if a relationship is monogamous or not, holding your breath for us to break up because you’re not sold on the relationship is one of the absolute rudest behaviours I’ve ever witnessed in a friendship. You want me to be happy, yeah? Even if it’s not the exact happily ever after you imagined for me? (Otherwise, why are we friends?) Well then, start breathing because this relationship is built to last and friendships that don’t accept us can’t.

We’ve all gotten less tolerant of “friends” who add stress and drama to our busy lives

There might not be a super cute way to say this one. People who add stress instead of relieving it, people who make us cry instead of laugh, people who manipulate, spread doubt instead of encouragement, and who generally can’t bring themselves to be a positive part of our day… we’ve got less and less time or patience for those people.

And if our attitude shifting in a way that makes us okay with those friendships fading is a problem – if it’s a problem that we’re really over negativity and negative people – well, then our attitude changing really isn’t the reason the friendship is ending.

Carmen

Those whose Career is Building Your Career

When you choose to make a career for yourself that looks and feels different than the beaten path it’s a choice that comes with a lot of questions. Wanting to blog and make money online from home is different than either of my parents careers, it’s different from my husband, my girlfriend or my boyfriend. I don’t have anyone in my personal network who I feel alike to in this regard. All the people who I see doing what I want to be doing are the people I’m following online but don’t know in real life.

This leads to a healthy amount of skepticism, both in terms of doubting myself and my ability to do this but also with people around me doubting the realness of this career choice. When very few people actually know someone in person whose made a paying career online it’s easy to imagine those who say they do might be stretching the truth and us who aspire to similar careers are simply foolish.

If you find yourself in my position, be aware of the vulnerability some people see in us.

Picture yourself from the outside looking in: We are trying to build careers that look like the careers of people we only see online, we are trying to make money from home on our own terms and outside the regular 9-5 or familiar corporate structure, we probably start knowing where we want to get but not a lot about how to actually get there and there’s no hiding that we’ve got big questions on how to reach our goals…

There’s a lot of people advertising answers to our questions.  They’re marketing is alluring like those whose influencer or blogger careers we admire. The people advertising answers to others like us really set themselves up as being among us – boss babes that have broken the 9-5 grind to launch their own business and build their dreams. It’s inspirational and compelling marketing that makes you see them as “just like you” – a version of yourself that’s “made it” and now wants to share how she did it to empower you to do the same.

How kind, right? That’s some on point feminism and the true definition of women for women – helping each other build that dream life.

Some people genuinely do have some useful info that they’re putting out there because it’s useful. I like to think I’m writing myself in to this category. If you read my posts about working from home I hope you find them interesting and useful. I hope they make you feel encouraged to pursue a career you really want and that you know I don’t expect anything from you, and I’m not holding info hostage from you.

You see, that idea that some people just want to share what they know and help out someone similar to them, it’s not entirely false. If my posts help someone land the teaching job, or see a path for themselves that answers how they want to work and define their life – that’s awesome! Given that I really don’t know it all, it’s also nice to think I might make a few friends on this journey while I write.

That’s the thing with the other category. There’s a lot of people who have actually made their online, influencer and blogging or work from home career out of supporting others that want to do the online, influencer, work from home thing. They write posts with tips but really, their way of answering questions inspires more questions. Then they tell you they’ll answer those questions too, but you’ll have to buy the answers. They have courses, e-books, paid support groups and other buy-in resources.

Don’t get me wrong – they might have some really valuable information that can provide the success they promise. They might be really smart, have worked really hard to acquire the knowledge and they probably deserve to be paid for sharing it and supporting your education and career journey.

I’m absolutely not against them working their business and asking you to buy the answers. In fact I’ve purchased e-books and resources that make sense to my business and I’m both grateful to the entrepreneurs that created these resources and truly happy to support their entrepreneurial career.

However you can’t buy all the answers.

So while you shouldn’t write off the idea of paying for some good resources now and then you should be very critical and picky of which resources get your money and which ones you pass up.

Not to mention, there’s a lot of tidbits and good advice out there for free. It takes more time to find it all… you’ll have to read a wider variety of sources and connect some of the dots for yourself instead of having them connected for you in a course format but it’s doable. The idea that you must put a lot of money out before you’ll know how to bring it in is false.

The bottom line is that I think what kills a lot of dreams is the fear that the dream is inaccessible.  So far I can say it’s really more accessible than it seems once you get past the barrage of paid everything and start making your own little space.

What are your biggest questions when it comes to pursuing this dream?

The Value of Goals

When you work for yourself, chances are there aren’t a lot of opportunities for promotion. Or there are, but they look a lot different than your traditional corporate promotion and they don’t always serve as the most accurate markers of success and development.

For example, there are some limited opportunities for promotion with my teaching company in that some teachers are invited to take on non-teaching rolls with the company.  It’s a great way to add a little extra work and experience when you get these additional roles , however they may not satisfy the ladder climbing itch the way a traditional promotion does.

That’s why I want to take a second to talk about the value of Goals. Goals give us something concrete to work towards, encourage us to plan for accomplishment and to always have a plan we are paying attention to.  Reaching a goal gives us a moment when we can pause and celebrate our success.

Did you want to connect with a certain number of new clients this month – and successfully do so? Share that news with your partners or family and let them congratulate you.

Did you want to grow your social network reach by a certain number of followers and have you met that goal? Take a moment to thank those who follow you with a little #humblebrag post!

These goals help you stay focused and give your work purpose and meaning in the context of your life.

Accomplishing goals also provides the opportunity to set bigger and more ambitious goals. Much like being given a bigger role in a traditional company, feeling that bigger goals are possible for you satisfies a sort of constant growth and promotion desire.  For example, if my first goal is to reach 100 followers on instagram by the end of the month and come the end of the month I have 125 followers, perhaps my next goal will be to reach 250 in a month. Seeing success will allow me to make data-based decisions about my capabilities and see my capabilities grow through my data.

Without goals we are working solely to make money and pay bills. Ultimately this is unavoidably important but it isn’t enough to motivate us. I want to pay my bills comfortably as much as the next person but working from home and not knowing why I’m doing it other than to continue existing becomes lonely, tedious and isolating.

We crave purpose, meaning and accomplishment and we can infuse our gig-to-gig life with these elements when we set and aggressively pursue goals that mean something to us!

What are your goals? How do you measure success?

Carmen