How to stay focused on your goals?

Grap a cup of coffee, or tea, or a glass of wine even, and let’s have a chat! Today I want to talk about yearly goals for 2018 and how to stay focus on them throughout the year.

Claire Imaginarium

We are still fairly early in 2018 and like most people you probably have a list of things you would like to achieve this year. Yet each year, months go by and the last thing you know it is Christmas! So how can you stay on top of your yearly goals and make sure you achieve them (or at least give it a good try)?

This year, for the first time, I have to learn it to do it all myself. Why? Well because I made a big career change which means I will be, at least for now, only accountable to myself. No more colleagues I need provide things with, no more deadlines from my manager or corporate annual review. I start this year being my own boss, which means I HAVE to deliver things to and for myself.

And if there is one thing you need to know about me is that I can be an EXCELLENT procrastinator if given the opportunity! This comes with its pros – I am a very fast and efficient worker. And its cons – without pressure from someone I can stagnate for a while…

Not being used to be accountable only to myself, I had to make a few adjustments and create a strategy that would help me stay on track and away from trashy afternoon TV. I also thought that some of you may find it useful, so here we go!

List your goals

A first exercise I have done is to actually list my goals! Trust me there is a big difference between telling yourself ‘This year I am getting fit’ and actually writing it down on a task list. Listing goals make them more real and you will suddenly itch to scratch them off the list.

In my case, I decided to have at least three goals in the following categories: Professional, Health and Personal. I think these cover most aspect of life and are broad enough that anyone can use them! After all, a health goal could be ‘being fit’, ‘have a healthy pregnancy’ or ‘stop smoking’.

Document your goals

Now that you have a list, make sure to actually document your goals in details and in a more formal format. That is where a good old Excel spreadsheet is coming handy!

I created three categories (Professional, Health and Personal) and under each category, I documented my 2018 goals and the quarterly objectives associated with them. It is a simple, structured and detailed format which will help you stay on track.

2018 goals Excel

Track your goals

Talking about staying on track, a great way to be accountable is by tracking progress. Not only will this help you achieve your goals, it will also be a great document to check on the days you feel down, just to see how much you have already achieved!

I created a second tab in my Excel document where, for each yearly goal, I set a monthly target. I will track them using colour coding – green is for ‘High five girl! You’ve made it (or almost)’, amber is for ‘At least you have tried and now you have some useful lessons learned’, red is for ‘Dudess, you can seriously do better and I know it because you have done it before’.

Oh yes, I forgot to say that inner voice language is highly encouraged! This is a document by and for you.

Share your goals

One thing I found very useful late last year when making a significant career change was to talk about it. All that time I had those ideas in my head but never shared them with anyone. I changed that and suddenly people would ask me about my goals and if things were progressing. This is a great way to find motivation and avoid procrastinating just so you don’t have to admit that you did nothing at the next brunch/ drinks/ gathering.

So being true to my word and practising what I am preaching, below are my 2018 goals. I am sharing them with you to stay motivated and hopefully be able to update you now and then with progress!

Professional

  • To become a freelance communications specialist and digital content creator, and hopefully create my own business to have more time to focus on other passions
  • To develop a strong network of entrepreneurs, communications and digital  professionals
  • To grow my blog so it becomes a trustworthy source for travel, interior and beauty

Health

  • To meditate once a day
  • To workout three times a week
  • To take better care of my body

Personal

  • To fully lose my French accent in English
  • To give more back to the community by helping charities
  • To make more time for my family and friends

And you? What are your goals for 2018? How are you making sure to stay focused on them throughout the year?

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Blogging while working full-time

I wish I could tell you that I am living off my blog – going on press trips around the world and getting a free handbag ever 6 weeks. The reality is far from this. I do work a full-time job in central London. I commute each day for a little less than two hours, and so far I have made just short of three dollars with my blog. I guess you have to start somewhere, right?

So how do I manage to be in an office from 9 to 5, commute for 2 hours and yet still write three blog posts a week and sometimes even produce and edit videos?

I listed below a few tips I have learned over the past 18 months of blogging.

Claire Imaginarium travel blog

Always think content

Pay more attention to the ‘everyday little wonders’. You went to a great local Italian restaurant? Boom, content! You bought that new face wash that changed your skin? Content again!

No need for fancy trips to the Seychelles, all you need is to be a little more aware of your surroundings and what you use/do/like that could easily make for a 500-words post and 2 pictures.

Have an editorial schedule

This is a great time saver for me, I have an editorial schedule for the next 3 months. Of course, it can change at the last minute, but having those blog post ideas lined up means that you won’t have a panic attack not knowing what to write about 2 hours before your publishing time.

I also make sure that my schedule is in sync with the season and trends, for instance, I shared my guide to the Greek islands when it was peak season there, knowing that tourists would be googling for addresses and recommendations.

Dedicate time

Working from 9 to 5, then going home and spending another 3 hours on your computer can be pretty daunting. I, therefore, identified time slots I always dedicate to the blog. The structure helps me feel less overwhelmed.

I spend about 3 hours every Sunday morning on the blog, most of my lunch breaks and a few hours a couple of evenings each week. All in all, it adds up to 10 hours which is enough to write content and take pictures. Once a month, when I am editing a video, I sacrifice either a couple of evenings or a full Saturday or Sunday.

Schedule in advance

The scheduling functionality is my best friend on WordPress! I schedule most posts in advance, sometimes days ahead, sometimes only a few hours ahead. This is a game changer when you work full-time, so you know that your content is going up even if you are stuck in a meeting. All you then have to worry about is to Instagram, Tweet, Pin, and share your content on social media which will take you about 10 minutes.

Get a mentor

Last but not least! Get a blog mentor! Someone who has been there and done it! I find it very helpful through a dry spell to chat to someone who knows how it feels. It’s also the best way to improve your blogger skills, for instance, I had never heard of Domain Authority until Alex Better Together took the time to explain it to me!

Here you go guys, my few tips to help you juggle work and well… (more fun) work!

Claire Imaginarium interior blog

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Need some motivation? Read those books!

I recently went, and still am, going through a little bit of a self-doubting and questioning time. I am in my thirties, I am married, I am not ready for a baby yet, what should I eat tonight, why am I so afraid of flying, and what’s the meaning of life???

That escalated quickly! But that’s my thought process most evening before to go to bed at the moment… I have been feeling a lot like I am living the life I am given instead of owning it, and being a very anxious person the feeling of being out of control is very difficult for me to manage. Anyway, enough of the self-introspection and on to what I have been doing to help and move forward.

Well, I have been reading a lot! I find dedicated time to think and learn very restful and almost a little bit like meditation.

And because sharing is caring, I listed below the books I have found the most useful! Some helped me being more productive with the blog, some helped me with confidence at work, and others helped with my general anxiety.

Inspirational and motivational books

So when you feel overwhelmed, keep calm and read a book!

Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg

This book needs no introduction. It is very famous for a good reason! Sheryl Sandberg shows you how she navigates work and life as a woman and a mother, so you can do it too. You will finish this book feeling empowered and ready to ‘sit at the table’.

Read it if:

  • You are looking for motivation in the workplace
  • You need to boost your self-confidence as a woman in the workplace
  • You feel a little left behind and not very valued at work or at home

Girlboss, by Sophia Amoruso

You may have heard about Sophia Amorous when shopping for some clothes or watching Netflix. But before being the controversial business woman she is today, she was a young and poor woman trying to make money selling clothes on eBay. This book shows you that all you need is a good idea and motivation!

Read it if:

  • You want to own your career
  • You need inspiration and motivation to create a business
  • You have limited resources but you want to achieve big things

Artist in the Office, by Summer Pierre

You are stuck in a very uncreative job or work environment? This interactive book will show you how to inject creativity in your everyday life, from making coffee to writing and drawing.

Read it if:

  • You want to inject creativity in your daily life
  • You are stuck in a very non-creative job and are looking to change that
  • You are an artist but cannot live off your art and had to take an office job

The Working Woman’s Handbook, by Phoebe Lovatt

A guide to help you plan and organise your career around the life you want, from budget, to execution, to taking vacations!

Read it if:

  • You need inspiration to change and/or better own your career
  • You like guidance and actionable tips
  • You struggle finding the right work-life balance

Don’t Get a Job…Make a Job, by Gem Barton

This book is useful if you are looking for your next job but find nothing you like on LinkedIn. Maybe your dream job doesn’t exist, maybe you have to create it?

Read it if:

  • You are a young graduate and are starting to look for your first job
  • You want to get away from the conventional 9 to 5
  • You find the task of looking for a new job daunting and you need motivation

Blog, Inc., by Joy Deangdeelert Cho

A little blogging bible! It guides you through the steps to follow to create and grow your blog. It also shares some successful bloggers’ stories which are very inspiring, and show you that everybody had to start somewhere.

Read it if:

  • You want to start a blog and need some guidance
  • You have been blogging for a while but you need a refresher
  • You are planning your blog strategy and could do with some inspiration

The Inside-Out Revolution, by Michael Neill

This book was a recommendation from my therapist as I suffer high anxiety and a phobia of flying. It hasn’t completely cured me but I had a few ‘light bulb moments’ while reading it. A good read to get a different perspective on your feelings and how to manage them.

Read it if:

  • You suffer anxiety
  • You want to better manage your fears and worries
  • You want to get more control over your feelings

Now breath in, breath out, read a bit, it’s all going to be okay!

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100 blog posts – My blogging story so far

100 blog posts! That’s a milestone I never thought I would reach when I really started blogging in June 2016.

Why do I say ‘really’ started? Those of you who have been around for a little while would have seen that I post two types of content – travel photographs and written blog posts. I don’t really consider the photographs + one-liner posts to be real blogs per se. Those are just little travelling treats for the eyes.

Having reached 100 posts, I thought now would be a good time to tell you a little bit more about my blogging story because, after 16 months writing, I finally have a story!

Back in 2014, I wasn’t very happy with my job. It was fine but I wasn’t really doing what I had studied for and I felt completely drained out of creative energy. At the time, a recruiter got in touch with me for a role I would have very much liked. He asked me if I had a portfolio, and, of course, I didn’t. Panicked at the idea of failing, I logged on WordPress and created ‘Claire Imaginarium‘. I thought that, even if my current job wasn’t creative, it didn’t prevent me to create content showcasing my skills.

So I went live with the blog, and then nothing happened, or barely anything… Let me explain.

Claire Imaginarium

I was looking for content I was good at creating and which was easy to share. With thousands of travel pictures on my hard-drive, I thought ‘Bingo!’ and started my one-sentence-and-a-picture posts. Then life got in the way, and in the summer of 2014, I was offered a job in Communications and PR. I was finally really enjoying what I was doing!

The blog then took a back step for the rest of 2014 and 2015. I would post a picture every now and then but I wasn’t really committed to it and was too busy living life. I am also someone who thrives on positive feedback and with an average 200 visitors per year (yes, per year…), I didn’t really feel like I was making much of a difference and thought I was just better off letting this little site be, without much input.

Claire Imaginarium

Fast forward to 2016, and the week after my wedding, I felt an urge to shift the blog to something different! There was a lot of changes introduced at work and I needed to really ramp up my digital knowledge in order to be better at my job. So I thought, what better place to start than trying things on that little blog I have already? No one knew it existed, so I could freely play around with different types of content and increase my digital understanding without anyone one seeing me fail.

I started writing one long blog post each week, with more than 3 words and a picture. After three months, I had as many visitors as I had in 2 years! Complete strangers were actually taking the time to read what I was writing! So I kept going!

Claire Imaginarium interior

The number of visitors was growing, which completely blew my mind and I finally ‘came out’ to my parents and my husband at the end of 2016, and told them that I was blogging. Until then I had never ever talked to anyone about it! I only saw it as a platform to play with, it wasn’t something I was proud of or wanted to proactively share with my close ones. And even up to now, I have not talked about the blog to most of my friends, or proactively advertised it on my personal Facebook page and Instagram account… So family, friends, colleagues, if you are reading this – well done! You found me!

Claire Imaginarium travel

We are now heading toward the end of 2017, and from a post a week, I have increased to 3 weekly posts. The number of people reading my content has also increased exponentially, and I may even end the year on another significant milestone, but I am keeping this one to myself because I don’t want to jinx it (oh yeah, I am superstitious too by the way!).

So thank you all soooo much for reading this and showing me that what started as an exercise is actually worth reading. You have no idea how much it means to me and I will forever be thankful.

Ok, I am done now! That’s probably the most I have ever talked about myself on this blog, and I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit more moi! See you again in 100 posts!

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