What I Learned in July and What August Holds

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You may recall I set a bit of a challenge for myself in July. It was completely personal, but the lessons transferred into my professional life in a big way. As a reminder, here are my goals for July:

And while you’ll have to take my word for it that I was successful on the eating and drinking elements, here’s the proof that those rings got closed every day in July. Which was the most challenging part for me.

Thirty minutes a day of exercise doesn’t sound like a lot in the grand scheme of things. But here’s what I’ve learned: exercising every day — getting in those calorie burns and getting down to the basement to work out or out to the Greenway to run or even dragging out my yoga mat in the comfort of my bedroom — takes planning. Similarly, but slightly easier for me, having the right foods in the house and doing some prep ahead of time also requires a certain degree of planning, regardless of how much I love to cook or how good we are, as a general rule, at trying new foods. July forced me to be more organized, to think about my day and my week in advance, and to have a plan.

However, I will tell you that receiving the “all your rings have closed!” message on one’s Apple Watch is addicting. Just the sight of those swirling rings is enough to have me doing jumping jacks or a few minutes on the rower before bed to get that last…ring…closed…

And if you’ll forgive one teensy humble-brag, here are my July results in black and white. For July: 33 workouts in 31 days, for a total workout time of 1 Day, 6 Hours, 49 Minutes, and 40 Seconds; a total of 87.93 miles run (plus some hiking, walking, and yoga thrown in), and a total of 10,882 calories burned.  Compare this to the two previous months, when I was just fitting workouts in when they were convenient instead of making them a priority.

Why track this, post this, or talk about this?

First, it’s proof of a goal set and met. Second, every goal should be measurable, trackable, and celebrateable (yep, I just made that up). When you set goals for yourself — talk about them early to encourage accountability and then talk about your successes so others can celebrate with you. A little positive reinforcement is good for everyone. (Similarly, don’t be afraid to talk about the goals you didn’t quite meet, too — discussing your challenges can make them less daunting, renew that encouragement from friends, and help you scale that mountain on your next try!)

Now it’s August (officially — hooray!): I have a few new goals to tackle this month, so here’s what I learned from July and how I’m putting those things into practice for August.

Doing something 21 times to make it a habit is a myth.

It takes a lot longer to truly create a habit. Exercising every day is not yet a habit for me, but it has become, let’s say, an expectation. I wake up in the morning expecting to exercise that day. I have put my regular workouts in my calendar so that I know when they must be done (to stay on my training schedule), and on the “off-days,” I still expect to have to work in enough activity to close those rings. I don’t have the expectation, however, that exercising will just come naturally to me. Just as I don’t expect my marketing efforts for my business will just come naturally or happen on their own without sufficient planning and effort. (More about that below.)

Time-blocking can be tough, but scheduling works for me.

I hear a lot from other REALTORS® that the concept of time-blocking can be tough to commit to in our world. Things just happen in our business — client crises, from minor to major, can pop up and require our attention at times that we might have blocked off for something else. My 9 AM run may be thwarted by a last-minute issue with a closing that’s supposed to happen later that day, and my 7 PM yoga class may be put on hold for a buyer whose dream house has just come on the market. So while I may not be able to block times on my calendar, I can schedule what I need to do that day and slot it in when it works. My 9 AM run may turn into a 2 PM run; my 7 PM yoga class may turn into yoga in my bedroom to an instructor on YouTube rather than at my local yoga studio. It can be done, but maybe not always on my schedule, but as long as I’m getting it done, that’s okay.

As a result, my calendar combines firmly-scheduled appointments and an additional checklist of scheduled items that need to get done that day at some point when time allows. This works for me. If you find time-blocking challenging (and when something doesn’t work for you, it can be more difficult to commit to), then my suggestion is to find what works for you. July was instrumental in solidifying what works, what doesn’t, and what’s the best way for me to create good habits, both personally and professionally. Don’t take what works for someone else as gospel — find what works for you and put it into practice. Get creative. Explore the possibilities. Then stick to it.

July was a better month (for me) to set new goals and work through them.

I found myself doing the thing that many people do in January with their newly-formed New Year’s Resolutions in July. July was more freeing — the pressure of the new year wasn’t there; the constant barrage of the goals and plans of others weren’t splashed across social media. Believe it or not, choosing July was somewhat random — I chose it not based on the articles below (which confirm my decision 33 days after I made it), which argue that January is the worst time to make resolutions — and my July Rules were just that: Resolutions. I based my decision on when it made the most sense for me — contributing factors were that I had a very light travel schedule (my second lightest of the year), and it was not my birthday month. Not so scientific reasons for choosing July, but hey! It worked! The lesson here (again): do what works for you.

Finally, here’s a look at my August

So what does August hold? For me, a couple of things. First and foremost: it’s my BIRTHDAY MONTH (happy birthday to me!) — I will be celebrating all month long, as is my habit (this is one habit I have had no trouble with over the years). This includes, for those of you who know me, a full Thanksgiving dinner for my birthday (I mean, what better way to celebrate than with your absolute favorite meal? Also, yes, in case you’re wondering, my parents, spoil me with this and they are absolutely saints about it every year).

Second, a few years ago, for my 40th birthday (yep, I just gave away my age!) I donated my birthday month to a local animal rescue and asked that my friends make donations, which I then matched. It was a GREAT way to celebrate my birthday. This month, I am changing it up a bit and making August a month of Giving and Giving Back, but in really small ways that anyone can do. I’ve committed to a daily random act of kindness, and I hope you will follow along and join me!

Finally, full transparency: I didn’t publish my July Rules and what I was working on until July 17 — I wanted to be sure that I was having success before I talked openly about it, and I was the only one holding myself accountable. August is going to be more about accountability, so here are my goals for this month — and you can feel free to pester me about them.

  • Rings closed every day, at least 6 days a week. As rewarding as that image is at the top of this post — a full month of all rings closed, every day, I’m awarding myself with a rest day, once a week, in August. I’m training for a bit of a big weekend in January, and my muscles (but my legs especially) will need some regular rest breaks.
  • Recommitting to my monthly newsletters. If you received my December 2018 newsletter, you read this: “You start the year with the best of intentions: you make resolutions to work out and eat better, you vow to stick to your marketing plan and stay in better touch with your clients… And then life happens.” I had committed to my monthly newsletters at the beginning of this year — one per month for my real estate clients and one per month for my REALTOR® colleagues — that train came off the rails pretty quickly, mainly because I didn’t have a plan and I didn’t schedule my time well. And, well, life happened. And that’s okay! So recommitment starts now.
  • Scheduling time to write at least twice a week. Writing is an outlet. Writing is therapeutic. Writing helps me to create new courses. Writing gets my newsletters done. Writing goes well with my morning coffee…especially on a Sunday (which is one of the days that writing will be scheduled!). Writing (or editing) at least twice a week means a personal goal accomplished, as well as contributing to my website content — it’s personal, and it’s professional, which really mirrors what our business is a lot of the time, a merging of the personal and the professional.
  • Reading more. As my reading list grows and grows (take a peek at my BOOKS! wishlist on Amazon), I simply need to make more time for my favorite hobby. The only way to make that happen is to make it a priority and schedule it.
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