why I’m setting monthly goals on lockdown | April Goals 2020

2020, creativity, goals

Hello!

These past few weeks have been absolutely mad, haven’t they? I’m now in my third week of isolation (though I’ve been out a few times to go to the shops for food because I don’t have any alternatives) and I was quite peppy at first, looking forward to time at home with my boyfriend and catching up on my mammoth to do list.

Now the motivation to do any uni work is drying up and the fact this is life for a few weeks, maybe months is starting to set in and my mental health is taking a knock, but I’m trying my best to stay positive – not putting any pressure to ‘achieve’ anything and trying to listen to my body and be gentle with myself.

But with that in mind, I’m still trying to maintain a routine of some sort and I’ve been setting monthly mini goals for upwards of two years now (just looked it up – I started in March 2018, so definitely two years!). These goals really help me focus and I love seeing myself making progress, it’s incredibly satisfying, so I’m going to try and uphold that while we’re all safe in lockdown!

With the COVID-19 crisis in mind, I’ve tried to keep these goals as relevant and achievable as I can. What everyone determines as ‘achievable’ is so personal – some people are still working, whether it be from home or as key workers, and these people are saints, some people are finding these times really difficult and getting out of bed and feeding themselves is a challenge, so please don’t compare yourself or what you’re doing to my personal goals because they’re just that – personal goals.

1. Workout once a week – it’s been one of my goals forever to lose weight, eat healthier and find a fitness routine I can maintain and thus far it’s not worked very well. However with all this time at home and so many amazing influencers offering so many workouts for free, now is the prime time for me to give them a go. But I’m not aiming to workout three times a week – although it doesn’t sound like a lot, it’s those kinds of numbers that always pile up on me so for now I’m starting at one. Depending on how the month goes I can adjust the goal from there but for now just one. I started on April 1st with one of Joe Wicks live ‘PE’ classes and it was tough but I did it!

2. No snacking – with health and fitness in mind, being home so much more these past few weeks has meant that all I want to do is snack. Bored? Snack. Thirsty? Snack. Need motivating? Snack. Dehydrated? Body is misinterpreting that as HUNGRY, therefore; snack. Having more time to tune in to my body, I’m going to try and learn what different feelings mean (it sounds pretentious but stick with me) – logically I want to snack because I’m restricting at lunch time, so I’m experimenting with having a more filling lunch to last me through till dinner. Being home and trying to go out as little as possible means I want to make our food last as long as possible so now’s the time to try and figure out for the sake of food efficiency and being a bit healthier!

3. Maintain routine and keep up with uni work schedule – to no one’s surprise, my masters (that was already incredibly unorganised and is in the process of being complained about) is right up in the air. My assignments are all being rewritten, unit’s are completely different and there’s a lot of ‘if the uni is open by X time’ being thrown about so it’s very uncertain and granted, two of my lecturers are absolute stars and are doing so much to try and make it work. For the sake of my mental health, I need to keep up with to do lists and trying to get something done every single day but I can see a future me where that is more challenging, so I want to adapt as I go along to keep up with the work I need to do so I don’t fall into a slump where I become one with the sofa. Little things like making an effort to sit on a chair at a table rather than the sofa (or my bed) make a surprising difference!

4. Work on COVID-19 bucket list with spare time – maybe ‘bucket list’ is the wrong phrase, more like ‘here’s a list of all the thing’s I said I’d do when I had more time and if I don’t write them down I’ll forget’. I’ve already done a couple of things on the list – I sorted out the stuff in the alcove and my tee blanket is very much in progress – but I’m making a big effort to manage my time to include things like these that are just for me and don’t serve a ‘greater purpose’ other than my personal enjoyment.

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Sometimes in a spur of the moment, you've got to get our the coloured pens and write a list ✍️🖍️🌈 ✨ Generally, I'm handling all this fear mongering and isolation better than I thought I would – especially with a master's degree that's now completely up in the air. But yesterday I felt the urge to write a multicoloured list of the things I want to do whilst I don't have to commute to Oxford and I have more time than I've had in years. Granted, I still have other important things to do and I'm not going to tick this list off quickly, but I wanted to make it so I don't forget. If I carry on at this pace, this list will last me the months that the virus is looking like it'll be around for! I'm trying to find the positives in isolation 😖 ✨ I was going to leave it at 'pretty colours' and post like a normal person but I'm a writer, I've always been a writer and writing is what I do – so I'm going to keep writing.

A post shared by Sophie (@sophiecountsclouds) on

5. Use film camera up, take fun photos around the house – I may have jumped the gun on this one and used up all my film at the beginning of the week and now I’ve realised I can’t get it developed anywhere and I don’t want a second film just sitting in my camera for the sake of it, I’m not rushing to put a second one in. But I might use my DSLR more instead! The one thing that’s taking me a long time to get my head around is manual photography – I’m getting there but I’m still learning so solidifying those skills will help my film photography when I get back to it.

Whenever I write long blog posts like this I remember how therapeutic blogging is for me and why it’s something I’ve kept up for over five years. I’m considering working it into my schedule to write two posts a week again but ideas are what I’m lacking in! I want my blog to be meaningful so it’s finding the balance between the two.

Let me know what you think! I hope you’re happy, safe and healthy in these scary times and please tell about all your tips and tricks for this strange time in lockdown, quarantine, isolation, social distancing (and all the other phrases that are being thrown around).

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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feeling body neutral in a world of ‘# body positivity’

2020, fashion, mental health

Hello!

We all know that loving the body you live in when we see numerous other bodies of all shapes and sizes all over our social media every day isn’t easy – ‘is this what normal looks like?’, ‘should I look more like her?’, or even ‘everything would be easier if I looked like that’.

Whilst it’s easy to say we shouldn’t think that and we should love our body however it looks, it’s never that simple, is it?

Body positivity is fantastic but wow it can be super intimidating if you’re coming from a place of years of self hatred and insecurity!

A YouTuber and influencer I’ve been following for a few years, Lucy Moon, used the phrase ‘body neutral’ on her instagram once (probably a few times) and it made me feel immediately at peace – stay with me, I know it sounds melodramatic – it just made me feel like I wasn’t fighting for this ‘glorious’ positivity that I felt like I had to feel. It gave me a phrase that I could look to that meant I could work towards feeling more comfortable in my own skin without having to love and adore everything I’ve spent so long trying to change.

Feeling body neutral can be a step towards body positivity – maybe one day I’ll love my body for everything it is, but right now I don’t hate living in it and that’s enough. It takes time to break down those mental barriers and feeling body neutral is such an inclusive step towards that. But even being body neutral is enough. As long as you’re not hurting anybody – including yourself – you don’t have to love every part of you.

My relationship with my body has completely changed in the past couple of months – I went from hating every ounce of my body to the extent that in the past I’ve had to cover up mirrors because I just couldn’t bear my own reflection to being comfortable (most days!) in my own skin. Strangely, what changed that was wearing a motion capture suit in front of my masters class.

I’d thought about volunteering to be the motion capture subject ever since I found out we were doing motion capture – the thought of pirouetting and dancing around the studio and making something creative out of it was super fun. But I hadn’t connected that wearing the motion capture suit meant showing every single lump and bump I had to a group of people I’ve realistically only known for a few months.

I volunteered, the realisation hit me, I had a minor internal panic, then I did it anyway because I was having a ‘brave day’ and sometimes you have to push yourself to do things you don’t want to do. I went to put on the suit and I was mildly mortified and then when I walked into the room… no one cared! There were no side glances, no one was violently sick and my best gals even made me feel good.

Then we learnt all about the mocap software and I danced and pranced around the room with a power ranger esqe version of me on the screen and it was a super fun afternoon. Then I pushed myself even more and went on a night out that evening (for my anxiety, that was a big deal) – and I put on a playsuit I’ve had since for five years and it still fit (granted it was a different fit but I felt amazing!) and I wore my new docs and I felt on top of the world with my best mates by my side cheering me on.

Some weirdo jiggled my wobbly arm in a nightclub and I wasn’t phased? Mostly concerned as to why a human would touch another human they don’t know that way but I flipped him off and danced the night away!

And since then, I’ve felt exactly that – body neutral. There’s still the odd day where I’ll touch my belly fat and think I’d quite like to just slice it all away, but then I get over it and my boyfriend tells me he thinks I’m sexy and I’m like you know what? I don’t feel sexy but I am gosh darn adorable.

Body neutrality gave me the space to be okay with my body without loving or hating it and if you’re having a tough time right now – don’t push yourself to feel any particular way about your body. Try not to spend time overanalysing or scrutinising – where clothes that make you feel nice, surround yourself with people that make you feel fabulous and if following ‘body positive’ people online makes you feel pressure to love yourself when you don’t, click unfollow.

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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March Goals 2020

2020, goals, organisation, student

Hello!

I know it’s not just me but wow has March come around fast? How on Earth is it nearly March already? (Well that would be the natural progression of time, but that’s not the point)

With a new month comes new goals and a new chance to work on self improvement! Does that sound super pretentious? Hell yeah, but also not a bad thing to be working on.

This month my goals are a little heavy, but January and February was a mixed bag and it felt a little repetitive so I’m pushing myself. How well will it go? I’m not sure, but even if I make a little progress in each of these goals then it’s still progress! I’m getting better at recognising small steps of progress and celebrating them as part of the bigger picture.

Jumping straight in!

  • start planning my dissertation artefact – my dissertation isn’t due till September but I have to write a 5000 word essay and make a project, which in my case is 10 minutes of playable game and a 10 minute short animation. Neither of which I know how to do yet. But I want to start take small steps – come up with a game and animation concept, perhaps start writing a script for one (or both!) and maybe even start drawing some concept art. The focus is making a start on the project in some sort of capacity.
  • work on a new career plan based on the work I did in my PG Cert last year – my career and what I want to do with my life has been freaking me out since I had the shocking realisation that I don’t want to work in marketing. So I’ve booked an appointment with the careers team at my university and I want to use the professional development plan I made last year and redesign it to try and fit my new goals (or find some goals to fit anyway).
  • try FOUR new veggie recipes – I’ve been trying really hard to be more cautious about how much eating and get more veggies in my diet on both a ‘saving the planet’ and eating healthier point of view. But I’ve hit a bit of a stale mate so I want to try some new things! Maybe I won’t like them, but that’s fine – cooking is my time to chill and relax at the end of the day so I will enjoy the process of cooking regardless of the outcome. I’m starting next week by making a veggie tikki masala so if you want to know how that goes, probably check my instagram!
  • practice digital art – in the black friday sales last year I treated myself to a drawing tablet and I’ve used it precisely once since I got it. In line with the animation I have to create for my dissertation, I just want to practice drawing in a new way! Starting with some concept art would be beneficial on two of my goals and being able to tick two things off at once just makes my heart soar a little bit.
  • writing challenge – 18,000 words (581 words per day) – if you were following along last year you’ll know I set myself little writing challenges in the run up to NaNoWriMo in November (writing 50,000 words in 30 days!) and this year I’m doing the same. Writing has been my thing for as long as I can remember and I don’t want to lose the skill or the habit! I think I’m going to work on something new this month, but if you’d like to hear more about that just let me know!

And my two smaller goals that I’ve set myself for every month this year is to read at least one book (currently I’m above and beyond that and feeling very smug about it) and have a date night with my boyfriend, so they’re at the bottom of my list too.

This months goals are big, but I’m thinking of them as small steps in the building blocks to bigger things and as like the beginning of every month, I’m feeling fired up to achieve them.

Let me know your goals! I’m starting to think that I should find a way to set up some sort of consultancy business where I can make lists and help people with their goals and hold them accountable and stuff because I love making lists and goal setting so much. Is this a ridiculous idea? I don’t think anyone would pay for that!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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what am I doing with my life?

2020, career, lifestyle, student

Hello!

The end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020 has been confusing – outside of stuff going on in my personal life, I’ve been trying to figure out what comes next after I’ve finished my masters in Oxford. I’ve been working towards the same ‘career goals’ for the best part of four years but with a year of rejection after I graduated from my undergraduate degree and finding out more about the industry through job applications, research for a professional development course and starting research for my dissertation I’ve realised that actually, I don’t want to work in this industry that I convinced myself I want to be part of for so long.

And with that decided… what do I do now? I’m feeling incredibly lost about what I want to do when I finish my degree. I finish my classes in May and my dissertation is due in September, so over the summer I could start working in an industry that I really care about… if I could figure out what industry I want to work in (see ‘is too many passions a bad thing?‘ blog post…).

My goal for the year is to have a full time job by the October/end of the year whether it’s an industry job or an office admin job (which, feels more realistic but that might be because I’ve lost all confidence in all of my ability to do anything). But by then I’d also like to have more of an idea of what I want to do with the rest of my life.

But I know for sure that I am not the only student or person my age who isn’t sure what they want to do and feels intimidated by the future and the whole expanse of a career in front of them.

So here are my completely-non-academic, not-from-experience, might-not-even-work tips from me to you – one unemployed, confused twenty-something to another.

  1. Don’t fixate on your first career job being with a company that you want to stay with forever. People move jobs, people develop through different companies, people even change entire careers after 20 years in an industry so try not to put too much pressure on yourself to find the company that you never want to leave because let’s be real – they’re probably a big company that have a lot of competition and are more likely to take you on a couple of years down the line when you have more experience.
  2. Don’t get overwhelmed by being in a job that you want to stay in forever – people change careers. Someone can spend 20 years of their life being a geography teacher and then decide they want to be a writer. Someone can spend years training to be an actor or performer and end up wanting to be a nurse. Someone could go from being the biggest daredevil, stunt coordinator gymnast to working at your local supermarket. Things change, people change, industries change. You won’t be ‘stuck’ in whatever your first job is and don’t feel tied down by whatever your qualifications are (unless you want to be a vet and you’re a qualified hairdresser… you might need to go back to uni).
  3.  Stop trying to make your hobbies profitable – sure, we all want to do something we’re passionate about. But sometimes, hobbies should just be left to be hobbies; things that we do in our spare time just for the sake of enjoying them. Whilst it’s important to me to work in something that I’m passionate about, I’m only just learning that I don’t need to incorporate everything I love doing into my career.

And four – I should take my own advice.

Saying ‘don’t worry’ or ‘don’t get stressed about this’ is so easy but hopefully it can help to remind yourself that actually, these things aren’t the be all and end all and everything will work out in the end.

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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February Goals | 2020

2020, goals, student

Hello!

These monthly goals posts have been a part of my blog for maybe two years now? They’re the posts I really look forward to writing every month and with that has come a lot of learning about reflection, setting goals that are actually achievable and seeing a lot more personal growth!

If I could make a whole career about coaching people to setting good goals then I’d be all over that.

Either way, February has rolled around really quickly this year – everyone seems to be talking about how long January lasted and I’m pretty sure I’m still in 2019 so I appeared to have missed that boat. I’ve always quite enjoyed January – a fresh new start where the resolutions are in full swing and everyone’s saying ‘Happy New Year’ until February! Sure, there’s horrible diet ads everywhere and it’s cold but the evenings are lighter and people start talking about Summer holidays!

And with that in mind, let’s crack on with the Feb Goals!

1. See if writing one blog post a week is better for my creativity

I’ve been posting multiple blog posts for years – in 2015 I blogged every day, in 2016 I blogged three times a week I think? Then at some point it went down to two and in this last month I’ve really struggled with figuring out what I want to write about amongst feeling like an utter fraud on the internet. So I want to see if not having the pressure to write twice a week but just once helps me feel more creative and less forced.

2. NO SPEND MONTH. (again). (no, seriously this time).

I did a ‘no spend’ month in January and generally I did okay – between some low moments and McDonalds cravings I didn’t spend too much in the first month of the year. But as my student loan dropped this week, two thirds of the money went straight to paying my course fees, some of it went to rent and I treated myself with a ticket to MCM ComicCon in May and now it’s back to no unnecessary spending.

Seriously.

3. Start Nike Training workout program at home

With a little shuffle around of our furniture and realising I really can’t afford a gym membership or classes, I’ve decided I’m really going to make an effort at home. I like the Nike training app and I’ve done the ‘Beginner Program’ a few times now so I’ve started it up again. I did a benchmark workout on Tuesday morning and I’ve got four weeks of workouts lined up if I can stick to them. I’m determined!

4. Start my t-shirt blanket!

I made a whole video about this blanket project I’ve been mentally-but-not-actually working on for years and 2020 is the year. This month I want to make a start. My goal is to lie the blanket out on the floor and pin the t-shirt cuttings where I want them to be by the end of the month, not necessarily to start sewing. That might sound like a minor goal but between university, ongoing dental struggles (I still have an infected wisdom tooth that is causing me grief) and maybe having a social life this blanket isn’t a ‘priority’, even though I really want to do it! If that makes sense. So smaller, achievable goals.

5. Plan my uni workload properly

Heading into the last eight months of my masters from this week, I’m being inundated with new assignments and deadlines and frankly it’s scary. But the only way to combat this is a lot of lists and prepared organisation! I’m in a good mindset of setting really achievable deadlines for myself, making realistic to do lists and having a calendar where I can see months ahead, hopefully meaning I can plan my assignments accordingly!

I think I’m being quite optimistic but we can but try!


As well as these five goals, I have my ongoing monthly goals of reading a book and having a date night with my boyfriend (we’re not very good and blocking out proper time together outside of playing video games together when we’re both home). In January I managed to read THREE books and we went on two dates nights so all round it was a good start to the year and I’m looking forward to (hopefully) maintaining it.

Especially with all my uni work, I think these next few months are going to fly by so I’m trying to live as much as I can in the moment and make the most of all the opportunities I have right now.

Feeling positive and motivated!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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January in my bullet journal

2020, organisation, student

Hello!

I’ve been blogging fairly consistently about my bullet journal for around three years now – I started in January 2017 and I’m now on my fourth journal and it’s something I love to constantly experiment with to maximise productivity and clear my head.

So I thought I’d show you what my bullet journal looked like in January – I’ve decided to stick with a colour theme per month so it’s very blue. My layouts at the moment are really working for me but there’s some bits I’ve already changed in February, so let me know if you’d like to see those!

Starting with my opening page! I knew I wanted to use my letter stamps but I wasn’t sure how, so the left page is one that looks a bit bare but I love how my January Goals look! And I’m pleased to say I’m on track to achieve all of them – I’ve nearly done my word challenge, I registered at the doctors, I’m eating mostly carb free lunches, I’ve made an alternative decision with the new blog I want to launch and I didn’t go too mad on spending this month. And I read THREE books and went on two date nights so pretty good start to the year!

Next is my finances – I was a bit hesitant about posting this page but then I thought actually… it’s not my card details! The only information this really shows is how many times I caved and went to McDonalds this month! I find tracking my spending like this makes me much more thoughtful about the purchases I do make (except those McDonalds…) and the ‘total spent’ really makes me think. By the time my car bills come out I’ll be on about £550 for the month and maybe that sounds like a lot, but compared to some of my finance trackers last year it’s bloody brilliant!

Then we have the content plan – I was clearly optimistic about how many notes I was going to make on the right hand side of the page but overall the layout of these pages has been fairly consistent. Though I am trying something new in February…

And then we’re onto weekly spreads – I’m not going to show you every week because they all have the exact same layout with different tasks to do. I picked Week 2 because it had lots of ticks if I’m being brutally honest!

The thing I find works best for my productivity is having to make as few decisions as possible so I don’t spend time worrying about which tasks are priorities, so having the long weekly to do list broken down into day by day tasks is really good for me. If I’m feeling a bit unmotivated and run down sometimes I’ll even make a schedule where I have an hourly timetable and set myself tasks for each hour and that works really well too! Not only because I know exactly how my day is going to look but also because if there’s a big daunting task that I’m putting off, I know I only have to spend an hour on it and often I finish it in that hour and it’s not as bad as I thought!

And to conclude – my spread for this week. I also have digital to do lists so I can access my daily lists on my phone but they’re based off this spread (but I can add additional tasks as they pop up, for example I just made a dentist appointment for Thursday!).

In terms of ‘monthly organisation’ I like to count the weeks where months overlap as the last week of the month rather than the first week of the following month. I don’t know why but it just makes my mind happy.


Whenever I write about journalling I always end up rambling far more than I anticipate, but I love talking about organisation so let me know if there’s any other posts like this you’d like to see!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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Netflix’s Cheer – so much more than cheerleading

2020, film, student

Hello!

So this week I binge watched all the episodes of Netflix’s docu-series ‘Cheer’. I’d seen loads of people raving about on Instagram. Firstly, it was absolutely beautifully shot – the quality, the storytelling, the individual stories bringing together a whole team, just magnificent.

But it was so much more than an insight to cheerleading.

When I was growing up, what I thought I knew cheerleading to be was pretty stereotypical – I was a dancer; ballet, tap, modern, hip hop, shows, performances, leotards, the lot. My view of cheerleaders was from Disney Channel shows and American High School movies – the blonde dumb girls who only care about popularity and dating athletes.

Then I went to uni and auditioned for the dance team – it was actually a dance and cheer team and whilst I wasn’t interested, I was impressed at what I saw at the first competitions we attended. Especially UK comps like Future Cheer showcased some truly incredible talent. (To be clear – I wasn’t a cheerleader, I did jazz and hip hop and competed just in the dance sections)

But the cheerleaders from my uni kind of fit the stereotype I knew – they were party girls and if you weren’t a party girl (hello, that’s me) they didn’t care about who you were and you didn’t have ‘team spirit’. The teams weren’t very well organised and as someone who was really passionate about dance, it was really frustrating. So that stereotype festered in my head – I appreciated that there were serious teams with incredible talent and athleticism out there but there were also a lot of stereotypical uni girls.

Three years later I’m sat watching this docu-series about Cheerleaders with tears in my eyes because of these amazing people and the progress they’ve made and I’m absolutely astounded by what they can do and the strength, skill and power they’ve worked for.

What I really took away from it was more of a personal discovery – I was driving to pick my boyfriend up from work, thinking about the show I’d just finished watching, and feeling almost jealous that I didn’t have that one thing that I’m passionate about. Everyone on the Navarro Cheer team had been cheerleading for years to learn and hone those skills and I have so many things that I love that I just can’t imagine being so driven about just one thing.

I thought maybe dance could still be my ‘thing’ even if I wasn’t a dancer. Then maybe photography/videography/cameras and stuff but I find the technical aspects of settings, hardware, software and so on really hard to retain. I’ve always loved writing, but I can’t seem to focus on rewriting my novel, I kind of want to learn to write for TV but I only really want to write for the DC superhero show ‘The Flash’. And on top of all that, regardless of what my ‘one passion’ could be I don’t know if I’m actually any good at anything to make it work.

All of these thoughts from a documentary about a cheerleading team from a community college in Corsicana, Texas.

These kids have inspired me to find a focus – to find something I’m passionate enough to dedicate my whole life to it. It might not be trusting a bunch of people to throw me in the air and be there to catch me or throwing myself across a mat pretending I can do backflips (which I definitely can’t) but it’s the drive to work hard to be talented it at the one thing I love the most.

If you haven’t seen Cheer, I wholeheartedly recommend it – it’s about so much more than a sport no one really knows about. Its discipline, facing hardships in life and finding family in the places you least expect. It’s genuinely heartwarming.

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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having a 5 year ‘plan’… ish

2020, career, goals, lifestyle, organisation, student

Hello!

With the amount of goals, organisation and planning posts I’ve written on this little blog, I think it’s relatively clear that I’m one of these ‘productivity’ types (even if being organised is actually procrastinating being productive). One of my goals for 2019 was to start a five year plan and get some notes on paper on what I want to achieve over the next 5 years. As I moved into my new bullet journal this New Year, I’ve started my ‘new’ 5 year plan starting in 2020 and ending in 2024 (where I’ll turn ~28~ and that is scarily close to 30).

But calling it a 5 year ‘plan’ feels a little bit more formal than my plan really is – it’s a double page spread in my bullet journal (though it might actually make more sense to make it digitally if you do everything else online!) with a grid split into five columns and three rows for the five years of the plan and three categories I plan my life in.

So I thought today I’d write about how I make my 5 year plan, what I’m learning in my second year of having a 5 year plan and where I think I’ll learn more in the future.

I started by making a grid in my bullet journal – as I said, 5 years across the top and three categories down the side. Three seems to be my magic number and having three categories works for my New Years Goals and I thought it would be useful to have those three categories match up, so mine are Professional, Personal and Home.

They’re pretty self-explanatory – in ‘Professional’ I put my career goals, at this point I am having somewhat of a career crisis and I have no idea what I want to do so this section is a bit quiet at the moment. But as I do more research into what I actually want to do and actually develop a career I can make more solid career goals but this section is probably the simplest.

The next section is ‘Personal’ – this is where I will detail my travel plans, any ‘life’ stuff like when I want to shave my head again etc. I’m still kind of figuring out what I want to put in this category but it’s for things that aren’t career stuff, kind of hobby related, travel goals and stuff.

And then the last category is ‘Home’ – this is where I put my plans for my life with my boyfriend essentially. Where we’ll live, what we’re saving for (house deposit etc), when we’ll get a pet, maybe a wedding or a baby? It’s another one of those that’ll get more specific when I have more of an idea about what my career will look like over the next few years but the baseline and the ideas for what I want to achieve is already set!

And that’s my 5 year plan! It feels like I haven’t described enough but actually, all it takes to make a ‘5 year plan’ (or ideas, which is how I prefer to think about it) is to write down 5 years and write down what you’d like to achieve in that time.

Now going into my second year looking at my 5 year plan, I can see what was a ridiculous idea and what is actually more achievable. I’ve learnt that setting ‘blind goals’ (such as “I want to have made this career progression” when I’m not actually sure what career I want right now) is not going to help anything and filling up space for the sake of it might make it look like I have my life together but it’s just unachievable words. This year, having an emptier plan is something I’m finding reassuring rather than intimidating – it’s a prospect of endless possibilities and not a terrifying emptiness (well, most of the time anyway).

As I continue to fill in my 5 year plan this year and start again in next year’s bullet journal and so on, I can only see that I’ll get better at goal setting and making them S.M.A.R.T (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound, or something like that). It’ll be less ‘get married’ and ‘try for a baby’ and more ‘pay X amount of the mortgage’ and maybe ‘Child A starts school’ – the next 5 years are going to be some of the biggest of my life and that is exciting.

But even talking about 5 year plans sounds daunting – the thought of knowing exactly what I want from the next stage of my life is a lot! But seeing the scope of what I could achieve is really motivating and helps me focus on the steps I need to achieve to be able to get there. 

If you’re wanting to take yearly goals to another level and get some longer term ideas down on paper but don’t know where to start, just start by writing down the years. It’s a lot less daunting than you think when it actually comes to it! Hope that helps.

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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2020 Goals + January Goals

2020, career, goals, lifestyle, organisation, student

Hello!

really want to start this post with a joke about ‘I’ve not written a post since last decade’ because really I’m the closet King of Dad Jokes but instead I thought I’d just tell you about it. I think that might be worse.

Either way! If you’re a close followed of this blog, you’ll know that I love goal setting, organisation and planning. If you’re new, hello! Join the party – I love goal setting, organisation and planning. To the extent that I lull myself into this false sense of security thinking I’m getting stuff done but I’m actually just writing lots of to do lists and not doing very much.

This is something I actually got better at in 2019 – I really reevaluated how I was productive with my time and I’m still figuring out what works best for me. This time last year I thought I was embarking on this amazing freelance digital media career (which fell through pretty much immediately) and now I’m working towards a masters degree, I have my own place with my boyfriend, I had a job and now I’m looking for a new one, I’m spinning a lot of plates and somehow they’re just about not falling.

Having looked back on my 2019 goals (I was going to write a blog post but I think personal reflection was more appropriate), I’m actually really excited about my 2020 Goals because I was inspired by videos by Doctor Mike and Hannah Witton to make SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) goals that are actually going to be relevant to me over the whole year.

So let’s try and keep this succinct – please do let me know your thoughts on goal setting! Do you like setting goals as they become relevant? Are you a fan of New Years, Fresh Starts? Do you make SMART goals or more ‘bucket list’ style goals? I’d love to hear all about it.

My goals are split into two different types – I have three categories (Professional, Personal and Home) each with three goals as well as 9 stand-alone ‘bucket list’ style goals. Here goes!

Professional:

  • Finish my Masters in Digital Media Production at Oxford Brookes University
  • Start my career – have a full time job by the end of October
  • Learn website design

I don’t think there’ll be any barriers stopping me from finishing my masters (and the end of 2019 really gave it a good shot!) but this first semester has been a massive learning curve and I want to really make the most of my time in Oxford so next semester is going to be a bit more level headed.

Finishing what will be my third degree (BA Hons Multimedia Journalism, PG Cert Professional Development Planning and MSc Digital Media Production, thank you) should lead to being able to get a job and starting my career journey! I’m a bit nervous about this one, because this is what I anticipated when I graduated from my undergrad and I’m still struggling with incredibly low self-esteem about my worth in the workplace, but by the end of October I want to be working full time, even if it’s not in the industry I want to stay in forever yet.

And I want to learn website design! 2020 is my fifth year of blogging and I still don’t know anything about code, hosting or designing a pretty blog and that’s a skill I think will really benefit me. So if you know of any good courses or online tutorials please do let me know!

Personal:

  • Work on making a savings plan for my personal bank account when I’m in a position to afford to save
  • Develop my knowledge of film photography
  • Learn more about vegetarian cooking and aim to eat veggie 3 nights a week

I made some amazing progress with saving in 2019 and I was so, so proud of myself but moving, starting a masters and a personal crisis of sorts led to me using most of those savings just to pay bills so once I’ve figured out my financial situation, I want to get back on the savings wagon because it’s so satisfying.

Film photography is something that’s intrigued me for a little while – just before Christmas my dad revealed he had a bunch of film cameras that he was willing to let me have and after spending £10 on one roll of film I’ve been studying the manual and experimenting with lenses as much as I can. It’ll take the film being developed for me to know if I’ve actually learnt anything but I’m really excited to take this little camera on adventures this year.

And eating veggie has been on my radar for a while – last year when I was doing really well with healthy eating I was ‘veggie till dinner’ and when my boyfriend and I moved out of my mum’s house and he started being away a lot with work, I tend to eat veggie when I’m on my own because it’s cheaper and I love vegetables. But I want to learn to cook more veggie meals and experiment with more ingredients this year.

Home:

  • Don’t move house! Stay put for a whole year (please)
  • Travel! A European holiday with my boyfriend, also Centre Parcs with family friends and MCM ComicCon
  • Save £500 in Help To Buy ISA account

Pretty simple – I don’t want to move in 2020. It will be the first year since I moved to uni in 2015 that I haven’t put all my stuff in boxes and had to settle somewhere new. But obviously it depends on income, whether they want to put the rent up after the first year and if the location is still relevant to what we need.

Travelling is always a goal and last year I got way too excited and overambitious about where I thought I could go. For Christmas, my boyfriend has said he’ll take me on holiday and I’m thinking a beach holiday in the first week of October just to CHILL after my dissertation is handed in but I’m a little blown away by the whole thing so advice please.

Lastly, I know I said I want to make a plan for my personal savings account but I actually have three (personal, joint with the boyf and a help to buy ISA). I think this amount might be a tiny bit optimistic but smart goals have to be measurable – I currently have £10 in there so only £490 to go? But for real, I really want to start saving for a house this year and any amount is a good amount to start.

And onto…

9 ‘Bucket List’ Goals:

  • Read 12 books
  • Do 6 writing challenges (January, March, May, July, September, November NaNoWriMo)
  • Keep adding to 5 year plan
  • Register at the doctors and dentist and actually go
  • Figure out a fitness routine and reach weight goal (not confident enough to share this on the internet yet, soz lads)
  • Get another tattoo!
  • Listen to new music and podcasts
  • Have monthly date nights with the boy
  • Actually start making my t-shirt blanket

Also maybe figure out a blogging and YouTube schedule but tbh, I want to keep it chill this year so we’ll see how that goes.

And that’s what I’m aiming for this year! I was going to do my January Goals in a separate post but I figured most of it will stem directly from these goals so I’m going to tag them on the end here.

January Goals:

  1. Write 9000 Words for Writing Challenge (I’ll be real, I didn’t twig that I wanted to do a writing challenge this month until the 3rd when writing this so that was a nice realisation)
  2. Register at the doctors – I’ve been collecting my anti-depressants from my home doctors at my mum’s house since I moved nearly four months ago so I really need to get onto this
  3. Find carb-alternatives for lunch food – a sandwich is so easy and what worked for me last year was not eating carbs or meat until dinner and I want to find a way to make this less boring. I don’t really like salads that much, I love couscous and roast veg but I can’t heat it up at uni. Need to do some research!
  4. Launch new blog…
  5. Spending ban – except food, bills and my boyfriend’s birthday

And so I don’t forget my two monthly ‘bucket list’ goals…

  • Read 1 book
  • Have a date night!

Now that is a long ass, self-indulgent post about what I’m hoping to achieve this year! But I find reading and hearing other peoples goals is so inspirational so let me know all about your goals in the comments!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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feeling festive… or not?

2019, lifestyle, student

Hello!

December has rolled around! You scroll through Instagram to see trees galore, there’s pretty lights everywhere you look and I bet your feeds are choc-a-block with festivities… but do you actually feel festive?

Do you feel that cosy warmth of the twinkly lights and tinsel and dark evenings with warm drinks? Do you feel the excitement building for the one day of the year where you spend time with loved ones and you get to spoil them with special gifts you’ve chosen and amazing comfort food? Do you feel Christmassy?

However much I want to, I’m not really feeling it yet – it might be something to do with the tooth infection I’ve been diagnosed with and the potential six months on an NHS waiting list to get it removed (fingers crossed for me please!) but Christmas is the last thing on my mind.

I’ve been to my local light switch on, I’ve planned Secret Santa with my favourite gals at uni, I’ve got plans to see my boyfriends family and the tree is up (even if I haven’t bought any decorations for it yet).

The reason I’m not feeling Christmassy is probably more personal than ‘I’m just not feeling it’ – the aforementioned tooth pain, the fact this will be my first ever Christmas without seeing my family and financial worries are probably putting a negative influence on my desire to watch festive movies and wear that one Christmas jumper I have with bells on it.

But here’s how I’m trying to put a bit of festive fairy dust in my step (but not really because getting that out of the carpet would be a nightmare).

ONE – PUT THE DECORATIONS UP!

Like all mums, my mum have a spare six foot Christmas tree under her stairs so having that has really helped make my new house feel a bit more homely. I’m all for fake trees because having the same tree come out every year is so sentimental and lovely. I see the appeal of a real tree, but the upkeep and the hassle of having to go pick one isn’t for me – and I’m saving the environment lads! Hashtag Team Fake Tree over here. Don’t @ me.

Either way, I spent a couple of hours on Sunday trying to make myself feel a bit better after calling in sick again by putting up the tree (with no decorations because I only had enough for the little tree that’s gone in our room) and some tinsel on the bannister.

It’s quite exciting because this is where my boyfriend and I can start to build our little Christmas collection – our own decorations, our own bits and bobs that come out every year and our own traditions. That warms my heart just a little bit.

TWO – MAKE PLANS TO SEE FAMILY!

Not only am I missing seeing my own family this Christmas but our ‘family Christmas’ where we do see each other is on a weekend and I now have a retail job so I can’t go which I’m genuinely gutted about. But I’ve got two mid-week trips planned – one before Christmas and one over New Year where I’m hoping to see my family but I’m just waiting on my work schedule to set it in stone.

My boyfriend’s family are lovely, but I’m a very sentimental person and my family means more to me than I can put into words (I may not be a McPherson by name, but I’m a McPherson by heart) so at 23 having my first Christmas away is definitely going to be emotional.

Having that time booked in where I know that I’ll at least see my immediate family will make this new change a lot easier!

THREE – PRESENT PLANNING

I know I’m very fortunate to be able to live in a nice house and pay rent and pay for my car and go to university in a different city, but finances are something I’m struggling with at the moment. Moving is expensive and stretching my wages to cover everything has all but ruined all the good work I put into my savings this year (but at least I did the saving so I had something to fall back on!).

I’m going to write a whole blog post about doing Christmas on a budget but making a list of everyone you want to buy presents for, setting a budget and getting as creative as possible with home crafting  makes it all feel a little more achievable.

The other thing to bear in mind that all these places posting ‘shop local’ and ‘shop small businesses’ – that’s great if you can afford it, but you’ve got to do with what fits best for your budget. I’d love to do all my shopping from Etsy and Not On The High Street and independent sellers on Instagram, but it’s infinitely more convenient for me to do one big Amazon order. Maybe next year, but for now – I’m doing what works for my bank account!

FOUR – MAKE THE MOST OF TIME WITH YOUR FAVOURITE PEOPLE

Another change I’ve had to get used to that is probably another reason I don’t feel too festive is that I’m still getting used to my boyfriend not being home all that much. He works in live broadcast, mostly at sports matches, so it means he’s away all over the country for three/four nights a week and after spending a whole year living in my mum’s house together and not really being apart overnight much at all.

I think at first we were grateful for the time apart to be ourselves for a bit and now I can feel myself waiting for him to get back. This is definitely something I need to work on 1) because I’m an independent woman who thrives with or without her man and 2) because it’s not going to change for however long he decides to work in this industry.

But making the most of the time that he is home by cooking together, planning activities to do together (like buying decorations for the aforementioned naked tree) and playing video games together makes everything feel a bit more like home.

If you want to see more Christmas content this week, I will be uploading a Christmas themed vlog on my YouTube channel at the weekend, so go over there and subscribe to make sure you don’t miss it!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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