Monday, December 4, 2017

December Goals

Each month I list out my goals for the upcoming month and reflect on how I did the previous month. Read on to see how I did with my goals in November and what I'm planning for December.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means that when you click them, I may receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!

December Goals | kathleenhelen

November Goals Revisited

1. Read 3 books

I only managed to finish one book during November, which was The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. I’m probably not going to complete my Goodreads challenge of reading 30 books this year by the end of December, but I’ve come to terms with that. I have regularly been reading though, just slowly, so I’m happy with that.

2. Journal everyday

I also failed at this. I definitely journaled more than I have in previous months, thanks to my five-minute journal, but I didn’t manage to write every single day.

3. Track all spending

I really really failed at this one and regretted it a lot when my credit card statement arrived...

4. Maintain a cleaning schedule

Now, I’m not saying that I completed every single cleaning task when it was scheduled, because I’m a regular human being and not a robot, but thanks to the google calendar reminders I set up, I was able to track my cleaning and get everything done in a more manageable way. Instead of having everything pile up until my apartment was noticeably a disaster and then spend an entire day cleaning it, I was able to complete tasks routinely and think about what the next day would actually look like if I pushed a task off for a day. I’m going to consider this one a success because I’ve been able to keep my apartment from looking like a complete disaster all month.

5. Don't watch Netflix past 9:30pm

I admittedly wasn’t great at keeping track of this. I’m going to call it a success because I think I was definitely consciously trying not to watch Netflix late into the evenings. I’m not sure if I managed to cut myself off before 9:30pm every single night, but I’ve for sure made an improvement to my binge-watching habits.

I did pretty poorly throughout November, barely completing 2 out of the 5 goals I set for myself, but sometimes that happens. And really, these monthly goals are to challenge me but also to learn more about my habits. I know, based on the past few months, that setting out the goal of reading 3 books during December is probably not a realistic thing I’ll be able to accomplish. Perhaps reading daily, on the other hand, might be a better goal. 

In total, I’ve completed 18 of my 34 goals since July, which is about 53%. My goal for the year is to achieve at least 50%, so even though I didn’t manage to complete half of them this month, I’m still on track for the year.

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December Goals

1. Read Daily


2. Track All Spending

This was a massive fail for November, but I bought a planner during the Black Friday/ Cyber Monday sales to dedicate to tracking all expenses and income in an attempt to become more financially accountable. I’m hoping to get in the habit of writing everything down every day during December, and then work on a shopping ban of some kind (details to be determined) to start in January.

3. Post at least 5 Photos to Instagram

I love looking through Instagram at everyone else’s photos, and I enjoy posting my own when I think about it, but I often forget and neglect Instagram. Posting 5 new images this month is a little more than one per week, which hopefully shouldn’t be too tricky with the holidays and all the beautiful decor everywhere. (I was going to aim for more, but, honestly, with my schedule looking as busy as it is leading up to Christmas, this will probably take some effort).

4. Finish cross-stitch project


5. Find time to enjoy each tea from my advent calendar

Thursday, November 30, 2017

101 in 1001 Update - November 2017

The end of another month means it's time for another update to my 101 things in 1001 days list. This month absolutely flew by. I didn't make very much progress on any of my "things" this month, but I did work on a few personal things not on this list, and I'm feeling really happy and optimistic towards December.

101 Things in 1001 Days November 2017 Update | kathleenhelen

As of November 30, 2017:
Completed:  14/101
In Progress: 18/101

The following are the items I've completed or made progress on since last updating the list, with an overall total of all the items I've completed or have in progress to date for each category. You can see my full (and updated) list right here!


Life

13. Get a plant and keep it alive for three months (0/3)

I got a few plants a couple of weeks ago and so far so good on the keeping them alive thing... They successfully livened up my apartment, and I tried really hard to choose plants that would thrive in my relatively dark and dry space so hopefully, I'll be able to get them through the next few chilly months.

4/14 Completed

1/14 In Progress


Money

1/11 Completed

0/11 In Progress



Knowledge

26. Read five personal development books (2/5)

I read Leave Your Mark by Aliza Licht this past month.


27. Read 75 books (11/75)

I finished reading The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen, Leave Your Mark by Aliza Licht, Women in Science by Rachel Ignotofsky, and The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux.

28. Write a book review of each book read

I shared The Morning Miracle in this post about my morning routine, and the other 4 books in this recently read roundup!

29. Read all the books currently on my shelf

I'm working on this goal and actually starting to get there! 

0/11 Completed

5/11 In Progress


Fitness/ Health


5/18 Completed

1/18 In Progress



Tech


2/5 Completed

0/5 In Progress



Fun

83. Try five new wines (3/5)

I tried a bottle of Long Weekend Cabernet. The fun name caught my eye, and even though I didn't get the chance to enjoy a lazy long weekend this month, I had to try it. It wasn't bad, but I was a little disappointed in it and probably won't be picking it up again in any rush.

85. Take a selfie on the first of each month to see how things change over time (5/33)


1/30 Completed

7/30 In Progress



Blog

90. Post 300 blog posts (029/300)


This post makes 4 for the month. Less than I usually plan on writing, but still one per week, which is a good minimum number to aim for, I think. The other posts I published in the past month are November Goals, Recently Read, and My Morning Routine.

91. Set 5 goals a month for a year (5/12) 



0/6 Completed

2/6 In Progress



Finally

97. Update this list once a month (05/33)



1/6 Completed

2/6 In Progress


Be sure to keep checking back to see how I'm progressing on my goals in what remains of these 1001 days and you can see my full (and updated list) right here

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Recently Read - November 2017

To date, I’ve posted an individual book review for each book I’ve read since I started working on this blog. I had planned on continuing that practice but fell behind on writing reviews when I finished 3 books within 2 days of each other. In the interest of continuing to post relatively regularly with varied content that genuinely interests me, I’ve decided to begin combining a few of my reviews into these recently read posts. Now, that doesn’t mean I will never post a review for an individual book - I still plan on doing that - but only for the ones I feel especially passionate about sharing. For those I just enjoyed, and which only need a short summary and review, I plan on sharing those books all together in a monthly series, the first of which is this post.

So read on to discover the books I’ve read in the past month:

This post contains affiliate links, which means that when you click them, I may receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!

Recently Read Books - November 2017 | kathleenhelen

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

The Sympathizer was the 2016 Pulitzer Prize winner. The novel tells the story of an anonymous undercover operative for the North Vietnamese Army (the communists) that opens towards the end of the Vietnam War. Working as a trusted Captain for the South Vietnamese Army, the operative is instructed to evacuate to America with the General he is working under and continue to send coded messages back to Vietnam from America. As the operative gets closer to the people around him, his ideals and loyalties begin to clash resulting in a significant amount of internal conflict.

I thought this novel was an interesting look at the legacy of the Vietnam War and I was really interested in reading it because of its different perspective. The story failed to draw me in, however, and I found it very difficult to follow. I felt little to no connection to the operative which made this a difficult read for me. Although I can see value in this novel as a piece of literature, because I found it severely lacking in anything to maintain my interest, I gave it 1 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

Recently Read Books - November 2017 - Leave Your Mark and The Sympathizer | kathleenhelen

Leave Your Mark by Aliza Licht

Aliza Licht was the voice behind the hugely successful DKNY PR GIRL persona on twitter until 2015, growing that following to over 500,000 all while maintaining her day job as the senior vice president of global communications at Donna Karan International. This novel discusses Licht’s journey from studying pre-med in college to taking on that role at Donna Karan and the rise of Twitter, along with advice for new to the workforce young people looking to make a name for themselves.

Having followed DKNY PR GIRL on twitter, I enjoyed reading about Licht’s journey from pre-med to PR at a major fashion house. I felt, however, that a particular tone of condescension and frigidity was used to give advice that any high school class covering resume writing and interview skills would provide. I may be alone in this, but I think that if you’re using “text speak” in a cover letter or networking email, you probably aren’t going to be picking up this book.

I was also surprised to see how dated everything related to social media already seemed. The book was published in 2015, but in those two short years, it seems a lot has changed. The advice related to social media also seemed to more along the lines of tweet often, reply to others, and think before you post, rather than true advice on things like how to create a personal brand. So, although I did enjoy reading about Licht’s journey, I did find the book rather lacking in any useful advice, so I gave it 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

Recently Read Books - November 2017 - Women in Science | kathleenhelen

Women in Science is a beautifully illustrated book showcasing women from a variety of STEM fields throughout history. For each woman, their scientific advancements are highlights through short biographies and quick fun facts. The book contains famous women like Marie Curie and Jane Goodall, but also a lot of lesser-known names (I had never heard of the majority of women featured).

This is a beautiful, engaging, and inspiring book. It works great as a pretty coffee table book for adults, but also as a gift for any children in your life, though the font is small and sometimes somewhat difficult to read. Because I loved this book so much, I gave it 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

Recently Read Books - November 2017 | kathleenhelen

Le Fantome de l’Opera by Gaston Leroux

Loosely based on actual facts, Le Fantome de l’Opera, or The Phantom of the Opera, by Gaston Leroux tells the story of the mysterious Paris Opera and the perplexing disappearance of a young singer. Just before his death, Christine Daae’s father promises to send an angel of music to help guide and protect her. When she begins hearing a disembodied voice in the Paris Opera that helps her improve her ability to sing, she assumes it’s the angel her father promised. In reality, it’s a man named Erik who lives in the bowels of the Opera and has become known as the Phantom of the Opera. As Christine develops a relationship with the Vicomte de Chagny, Raoul, a love triangle of sorts emerges with both Erik and Raoul showing jealousy that could result in trouble for everyone.

I read the novel that inspired one of my favourite musicals in its original French. It was beautifully and descriptively written and was thoroughly enjoyable. Although very dark, the story quickly draws the reader in, much like other gothic novels like Wuthering Heights. I expected the book to differ more from the musical, but Andrew Lloyd Webber stayed very close to the original, and I found myself getting song after song stuck in my head while reading. I gave this novel 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.


To keep up with my currently reading list, follow me on Goodreads!

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