Starting November 15.

On November 14th, I was sitting in the Rochester, NY airport. I was on my way back home after 7 days on the road. I was tired. I was burned out. I missed Kristina and Eva. I was out of shape (unhealthy eating, too much beer consumption, etc).

It was time to make some changes.

Using Evernote, I keyed in the following:

Starting Nov 15…

  1. Exercise at least 5 days per week – no exceptions
  2. Work ends when I leave to pick Eva up from daycare
  3. Say no to new non-work projects
  4. Cook dinner at least 4 days per week
  5. Eliminate excess
  6. Make Kristina and Eva priority #1
  7. Read

I felt good about my list. Short. Simple. Actionable. Measurable. Let me be clear: This was not the first time I’ve made a list. However, something about this list was different. I found myself re-reading it nearly every day, holding myself accountable. So, now that a full month has gone by, it’s time to do some reflection. How did I do?

One Month Later

Now that it’s been a month, let’s see how I’ve done with regards to my 7 goals:

1. Exercise at least 5 days per week – no exceptions: In absolute terms, I’ve failed to meet this goal. However, I’m still very happy to report that I’ve run exactly 4 times per week for the past month. I’ve been tracking all of my runs using Log Your Run. I don’t love the look/feel/navigation of the website, but it’s easy to enter data, they have a slick iPhone app, and are integrated with Google Maps. All wins for me. I’ve run a total of 50 miles in 4 weeks with runs of either 3 or 4 miles at a time. I’m getting faster too. I’m now running sub-7:40 minute miles for 4 miles. Not bad.

2. Work ends when I leave to pick Eva up from daycare: Again, not 100% on this one, but pretty close. I’m no longer checking my iPhone constantly after picking Eva up. I’m embarrassed to admit this, but prior to November 15th, it was not uncommon for me to sending emails while Eva was on my lap. I haven’t stopped cold turkey, but my “addiction” to email/work has subsided from the time I pick Eva up until the morning.

3. Say no to new non-work projects: I’ve never been good at saying no. Part of this is my need to please everyone; however, I’m also interested in so many things. I love leading. I love doing. I love tackling new projects and challenges. Prior to November 15th, I continued to say yes to projects/causes like:

Don’t get me wrong, I loved being a part of all of the above projects; however it’s just too much. Chris Brogan wrote a pretty timely blog post (November 27th) on this very topic – How To Say No. I’m learning. Since November 15th, I’m 1 for 2 in the “Just Say No” goal. My buddy Josh DeRosa sent a pretty compelling email with the subject line, “Had an Idea (don’t say ‘No” yet!)”. I said yes and am pretty pumped about the potential of our new endeavor. I did say no to hosting Amber Naslund and Jay Baer on their The Now Revolution book tour. This one was really tough to say no to as Jay and Amber are dear friends. So, 1 for 2. That’s progress!

4. Cook dinner at least 4 days per week: I have not actively kept track of this, but I can tell you that – thanks to help from Kristina – we have made meatloaf, chicken pot pie, chili, chicken tortilla soup, lasagna, and roasted an entire chicken in the past month. The good news is that we always make a ton so we’ve had a bunch of leftovers too. In the past month, we’ve only eaten out a few times. I call that success!

5. Eliminate excess: I added this one to the list after a conversation with my good friend, Jeremy Hanks. So many of us own things that we don’t really need. Think about it. My general rule is that if I haven’t used something – clothing, kitchen utensils, etc – in 18 months, I don’t really need it. We started this past weekend going through our closets. Kristina gave away about 8 pairs of shoes. Yikes! We haven’t removed all of the excess yet, but are on our way.

6. Make Kristina and Eva priority #1: Similar to #2 above, I hate that I actually had to write this one down. Seems like it should always be the case, right? But, as we all know, things like work and other interests sometimes creep in and muddy our priority waters (“muddy our priority waters” <– I just made that up. Kinda like it). I guess you’d have to ask Kristina (and Eva) to confirm that I’ve improved on this one, but I’d say I have!

7. Read: Kristina is a big time reader. So is my dad. I never really have been. I read occasionally but tend to read business books. I bought Kristina The Nook for her birthday this summer. She plows through pretty much one book per week. I am not nearly at her pace, but am very happy to say that I’ve read one book in the past month and am 94 pages into my second one. In case you were wondering, I’m reading the Stieg Larsson series (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, etc). I would not say that I’m a reader just yet, but I am reading a heck of a lot more.

Overall, I’m really happy with my progress on the “Starting November 15″ list. While I haven’t met each of the 7 goals 100%, I’m making a solid effort. One thing that has really helped is not only creating the list, but checking it regularly and keeping myself honest.

How about you? Have you created any lists/goals lately? If so, have you taken the time to revisit and measure your success? Please share; I’d love to hear from you!

DJ Waldow
@djwaldow

13 comments
Chel Wolverton
Chel Wolverton

Moving forward consistently will make you happier with yourself and with life around you. Keep going, 'kay?

BTW, that series is one of my guilty pleasures. :D

Brian C. Smith
Brian C. Smith

I so need to make THE list. This is excellent. You heading back to Rochester this holiday season? You can check on my list.

Ms. Herr / @MsHerr
Ms. Herr / @MsHerr

Hi DJ, I'm echoing Zaid when I say this is an inspiring post. The fact that you aren't 100%, yet, is part of what makes it great. Goals like this aren't just about achieving something, they're about breaking habits and making new ones. Better ones. It's about changing behaviors. Goals like that aren't achieved with failures along the way.

One of the keys to strength training is maxing out once in awhile, so that you pushed your muscles to the point of failure. It was in the recovery from that failure that progress was made and strength developed. When it comes to your goals, it's the failing, and the subsequent recovery that creates the behavior changes you're striving for. That's inspiring.

jeffespo
jeffespo

DJ Nice way of sticking to the list and making it a point to equal out the work/life minutia.

janetaronica
janetaronica

Good for you, DJ. This is really inspiring to see someone working toward work/balance in such a disciplined/calculated way. You're actually focusing on it. Awesometown.

Zaid Rasid
Zaid Rasid

This is an inspiring post. Thanks for sharing your list! I find that a lot of people will scoff at a simple list because it seems or looks trivial. I have a whiteboard at home with my monthly lists and people are always curious about it and they have a good chuckle. But I find that creating a list works wonders. And sticking to even the most simple of lists is a HUGE challenge. Thanks for providing some encouragement.

davevandewalle
davevandewalle

Good for you, DJ. Making the list is half the battle, following through the other half. Nicely done.

I need to make a list of my own - I have several running lists of both professional and personal things, but none that are even close to what you're trying to accomplish. Except for giving up soda - which was something I opted to do in March and haven't looked back - I need some real, tangible personal goals.

Cheers!

DJ Waldow
DJ Waldow

Brian: What are you waiting for? Make the list today! Unfortunately? I will not be back in the 585 until sometime in 2011!

dj

DJ Waldow
DJ Waldow

Thanks, Heather. I'm really glad that this post was able to inspire a few people. It's comments like this that keep me blogging! Thanks for that.

Your comment, "Goals like this aren't just about achieving something, they're about breaking habits and making new ones. Better ones. It's about changing behaviors." REALLY resonates and makes me feel a bit better about not acheiving 100% success.

Rock on.

dj

DJ Waldow
DJ Waldow

Yeah. The more I look back at the list, it really is all about work/life balance. Thanks for pointing that out!

dj

DJ Waldow
DJ Waldow

Janet: Thanks for your kind words. Always trying to "get better" ... to improve. Know what I mean? AwesomeTOWN <--that's a new one. I'll try and use it as much as I can.

dj

DJ Waldow
DJ Waldow

Zaid: Thanks for the compliment. The key is that simple is not easy. The list was short (simple), but executing on the 7 things is/was no easy task!

dj

DJ Waldow
DJ Waldow

Dave: Appreciate your comments. Thanks! I think the key is to "just do it." Don't wait until Monday or Jan 1 - start today. Go. I'll wait.

dj