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Blog — "goals"


Heidi Shenk daily life goals

Happy New Year! I'm still allowed to say that nine days in, right? It's no secret that I've neglected this space for several months. Looking back, my last consistent post was sometime in April. Yes, April. I'm not here to make any big plans or to make a comeback, and I'm ok with that.

Here's the thing-- when 2016 came to start, I made my list of goals like I usually do each year, some of them incredibly lofty. One of those things was to blog every week day. I was pretty good with keeping up, and then life happened. Considering how many people have reacted to 2017 finally making its appearance, I know that I'm not alone in thinking that 2016 was one of the worst years in recent history.

While I don't want to get into details here, 2016 was a year full of too much adulting for me and Andrew. Our luck wasn't so great and just when we would think things were getting better, another roadblock would appear-- mostly of the house related variety-- leaving us wondering when the boomerang of karma would come back and turn things around.

Somehow, despite the incredibly tough hand we were dealt in 2016, we still came out victorious. We're still alive and well, our house is still standing, and we have a few more life lessons under our belt. We tried our best to laugh at it all and say to each other, "It could be worse!" (Which sometimes it did get worse, but I digress.) And when we had had enough mentally, we were able to escape it all through travel-- Santa Fe, Boston, and Puerto Rico were all checked off our travel list in 2016. And those things were the light throughout it, making 2016 not such a bad year after all.

Last week, as I sat reflecting on the year that had passed, I thought about what would have made things easier when things did go wrong. A lot of that came back to self-care. Often, we can let stress get in the way of living our lives. We dealt with that stress by taking a literal time out, leaving Baltimore, and traveling somewhere new. However, on the day to day, there were no time outs.

In 2017, instead of making specific and measurable goals, I'm focusing on the smaller day to day things-- finding the quiet, the calm, the beauty among the stress and chaos. I want to enjoy life every day, even when things get tough. I want to have fewer expectations for myself and consciously make time to decompress. I want to continue to travel as an escape (and we're already planning trips to France and New Orleans this spring!), but also find a way to escape in my own city. I want to turn stress into productive energy instead of dwelling on things I can't change. I want to feel quietude.

I don't need a specific formula or list of things to do to be happier and healthier in 2017. Instead, if I can find ways to take care of myself, those things will fall into place.

Did you set goals this year, or you taking a more relaxed approach like I am in 2017?

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Hello April

Heidi Shenk daily life goals

April Flowers

I can't believe that it's already April! It seems absolutely crazy how quickly we've made our way through the first quarter of the year! Just as I have done at the start of each month, I'm checking in on my goals for this year. So far, it feels sort of crazy to see how far I've come in just a few short months, but there is still work to be done.

1 // Continue learning new things. Not a huge learner this past March. We've been continuing with our New Recipe Saturday, so I guess I'm still learning in that regard. Maybe learning this past month was more introspective and personal-- learning how to be more patient, how to trust my gut, and to let go.

2 // Become stronger and healthier. We're still going to the gym three times a week. This past week, I was able to row 100 pounds, which is a huge feat for me. Arm strength is not my forte in any way, shape, or form. Major victory here. I still need to get back into a regular yoga routine. We've also been spending a lot more time walking and running outside since the weather has been warmer.

3 // Streamline my wholesale program. Still a work in progress. I'm getting so close! Most of my line is more cohesive now. I got rid of a lot of old designs that didn't make sense, but I still have some that I want to convert. I'll be sending another batch of cards to the printer, and working on my wholesale catalog like crazy this month.

4 // Identify when I'm sabotaging myself and take active steps to change that. Getting better! I usually have one day a week where I let things slide a little more than I should. However, my days the past two weeks have been incredibly productive. I've taken advantage of the down time in March to put out a huge new line of cards, catch up with other creative women (I've had networking meetings every week this month), and start to reorganize and streamline my studio space. I feel really good about my use of time this past month and hope to continue on that trend.

5 // Start blogging regularly again. I haven't been blogging every week day in March. I wrote about that last week, and I'm ok with letting it slide. Sometimes it's just not in me and recognizing that it's ok to take a break and step back for a few days is huge. I don't want this space to feel like a chore. That being said, taking time away has brought new excitement and motivation for upcoming content, so I'm looking forward to things to come for the blog in April.

6 // Take more photos. I'm getting better at this! We've had more opportunity to get out and about now that the weather is nicer, and I've been taking my camera with me. I had fun photographing the Light City Baltimore installations this past week. Light gives you the perfect opportunity to experiment with long exposure times, which was fun.

7 // Make time for myself and the people in my life. This has continued to be a success. We're doing our Wednesday night happy hour dates, I've been doing some reading in the evenings for my own down time, and I've made it a priority to spend time with others each week this month. Hoping to continue the trend through April.

8 // Spend more time traveling. My passport application is still sitting on the kitchen counter. We don't have plans for international travel this year (yet), but it is something I just really need to get taken care of. I'd like to have it available in the event we decide to jump on a last minute deal or something. We've booked flights, a car, and an Airbnb for a trip to Santa Fe in May, and we're continuing to research and decide what to do for a trip to California later in the year. It feels good to be back in adventure mode.

9 // Continue to minimize and organize our house. I realize that this will probably always be a work in progress. My studio was the huge minimization project this past month. I got rid of a lot of stuff that I wasn't using anymore and it's made my life easier. I still need to get rid of more in order to get to my end goal of reorganizing and streamlining my work process. As for the rest of our house, we really don't have much stuff. We purchased pantry containers and in-drawer trays from IKEA a few weeks ago in order to get more organized. In general, when there is stuff anywhere in our living spaces, I freak out and start throwing things away. I just can't handle the clutter, especially in such a tiny house.

And there you have it my friends. Progress on this year's goals has been moving right along! I'm looking forward to a new month. It's going to be a busy one, so I'm sure I'll write more about those details in the coming days!

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Hello March - Goals Update

Heidi Shenk goals

February went by so quickly even with an extra day, that I missed the fact that yesterday was the first of March until later in the afternoon. March is here, and with it has been nice weather! I'm not getting too excited though-- rain and possible snow showers may be here on Friday. BUT warmer weather and the outdoors will soon be a constant, and that lifts my spirits.

With a new month here, I thought I'd check in once more on my goals for this year. Some have been going much better than I could have anticipated, and others are not coming along at all. Here's a quick look.

1 // Continue learning new things. While I didn't take a class this past month like I did in January, I'm still learning. We've decided to dub Saturday nights "New Recipe Saturday," so I'm learning a new recipe each week. I'm also getting back into some old habits like playing the guitar more regularly again, so I've learned a few new songs. I've also learned some new business related things that pushed me out of my comfort zone a bit.

2 // Become stronger and healthier. I'm still feeling like I haven't gotten back on track with this. We're going to the gym Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday of each week, but I haven't been back into my yoga routine. I majorly fell off that horse during Valentine season. There was simply no time during the day to take an hour from my daily schedule to do yoga. I needed to be working on orders instead. I'm hoping to get back into that routine this week.

3 // Streamline my wholesale program. This is still a constant work in progress. I'm currently working on my spring line, which is taking much longer than I had anticipated. I need to get a bunch of designs to the printer, and then reshoot a lot of photos this month for my catalog. The biggest endeavor will be making the leap to creating a wholesale website.

4 // Identify when I'm sabotaging myself and take active steps to change that. There were a lot of frustrating things that happened in this past month, which I don't exactly feel like mentioning. However, they left me annoyed and sometime unmotivated due to complete and utter frustration. Definitely wasted a lot of time doing other things when I could have been more productive during the second half of February. On the flip side, sometimes I need that mental break after going non-stop since November. March is my slowest month, so it's time for me to continue to push myself to be productive when I try to sabotage myself instead. Lots can get done when I'm not filling orders 24/7, so it's time to take advantage of that.

5 // Start blogging regularly again. I've stuck with it! I've blogged every single weekday so far this year with the exception of two days that I took off for vacation. Some days I feel as though I don't have anything to write. Other days, I have an entire list of posts I could rattle off. Blogging for two months straight has definitely pushed me in many ways, and I think for the better.

6 // Take more photos. Still a total fail. What is wrong with me?! I seriously need to strap my camera to my body. We went on an awesome hike on Sunday. You would have thought I would take my camera. Nope! Ooops. I completely forgot about it. Still trying to get back into that habit.

7 // Make time for myself and the people in my life. Yes. This has been working! I've spent a lot more time with others in the past month. I've also felt like I'm taking more time to do the things that I enjoy-- going to the coffee shop during the day, spending time reading or playing guitar in the evenings, etc.

8 // Spend more time traveling. My passport application is still sitting on the kitchen counter. Oy. I need to have Andrew take my photo so that I can get that squared away. We're also falling behind in planning anything for this spring, so I'm not sure what will happen now. In other news, I just ordered a Fodor's book for California. We have airline miles that are going to expire, so we're planning a trip to California for September. We'll be road tripping and AirBnbing it throughout the state.

9 // Continue to minimize and organize our house. I'm still working on this. After getting rid of a bunch of stuff in my studio, I still need to get rid of more. We dropped off two bags of clothes at Goodwill recently, and I need to dive back into the closet to do a little more minimizing. The final plan is to completely reorganize my studio and change the work flow set up so that it's more efficient. I've got my work cut out for me.

And that's it, folks! So far, 2016 is going fairly well. How are your goals coming along?


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Printable Goal Tracker

Heidi Shenk goals printables

Last year, I felt as though I made some serious steps to being more organized. This year, I wrote about wanting to continue on that path and I have some serious goals to go with that. I needed some accountability, and wanted a way to keep track of my progress, so I decided to make a goal tracker for the entire year.

I decided on a full year check box format so that I could see progress throughout the year. Something about having all 366 days of the year right there in front of me is both daunting and incredibly motivating. I added some fun hand lettering with a lined section where I color coordinated two almost daily goals that are important to me. For the check boxes, I started each month with the lettered initial of that month to mark the first day. The lettered boxes are then followed by the appropriate number of days for that month. Each row on the chart is 14 boxes, or two weeks.

Finally, I printed the goal tracker on a piece of card stock and taped it to my inspiration wall so that I can see it frequently for that good ol' daily reminder. In case you're wondering, that's some letterpress awesomeness from Eight Eleven Press, a cloud painting post card by my cousin Julia (check out her amazing art here!), a photo of me and Andrew at Uluru, and a sunset over the Sydney Harbor.

In line with my goal to blog every week day, I thought I'd blog about how I'm trying to keep track of my goals. It seemed like it would be added accountability. Then, I had the genius idea to share my goal tracker with anyone else that might need a little motivation this year. So, if you'd like to download a copy for yourself, click the image of the goal tracker below and you can snag a PDF version. All you need to do is print, and you'll be on your merry way!

You're more than welcome to share this with others as well if you'd like. I just ask that whatever you do, you don't use this to sell to anyone-- that would be a jerkface move, since, you know, I'm already sharing the love and giving it away for free. ;)

So far, I'm on track with my goals, and I'm hoping that this will help me continue that trend. Have you had a productive start to 2016? What sorts of tools do you use to help you stay on track with your goals?

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Hello 2015

Heidi Shenk "business" daily life goals

Hello 2015

While I realize that I'm getting around to this somewhat obligatory post quite a bit later than most of you, I still needed to write it. You see, it's been quite an interesting start to 2015 already in my world, and that's led to a whole lot of that "holy shit I'm getting old and need to get it together" type of thinking. So for me, even though I may be late to the game, I still find value in writing about a new start for the year. And for what it's worth, in my book, it's never too late to start something, so it's quite alright by me if I'm straggling behind in writing down my yearly hopes and goals.

After visiting a whole lot of family both in Cleveland and in Indiana over the holidays, I felt a tad bit overwhelmed by some things that occurred. Two situations arose both three days before I arrived and three days after I left Indiana in which family members essentially escaped death. In addition, nothing was how I remembered it to be from my previous visits. As I told my mom on the phone shortly after our visit, "I spent an afternoon with my 90 year old grandmother, another afternoon with my 83 year old grandparents, one who is dealing with dementia. My 13 year old childhood cat is so old that he's like a boney curmudgeon, yet he refused to leave my lap, and my other cat died a month before I got to see her one last time. And the town is NOTHING like it used to be, and feels like a foreign place. It's as if EVERYTHING is dying!"

While my "everything is dying" freak out moment is probably not the most optimistic way of starting the year, I can say that it left me thinking about what is important to me and how I want to continue building my life. Some things are new items of my list, and others are things that I want to continue working toward. All of them sort of revolve around the idea of being more intentional about how I do things and how my time is being spent throughout the day.

1 // Continue learning new things. Over the past two years, I've taught myself two new printing techniques-- both with my foil press and starting to print at the letterpress studio. I've learned new information, new recipes, new techniques for doing things, new things about my city. Lifelong learning is so important to me, and I want to continue that learning this year. I'm starting to brush up and practice my French, and I hope to be back to a conversational level. I'm learning to play the piano, very slowly, but surely. I put new strings on my guitars and hope to play regularly again. I want to learn something new as part of my paper business as well-- maybe try screenprinting. Most of these things also have to do with turning the tv off, disconnecting, and focusing on something a lot more fulfilling.

2 // Get out of the house a least once a week. Andrew and I have a plan for this. We're getting back to a weekly habit we'd developed after returning from Australia over a year ago. Wednesday night will be our night out. It's nothing fancy. The plan consists of us trying a new bar or restaurant for one drink, and nothing more. We get out of the house for an hour or so, expose ourselves to a new place we've never been, and enjoy doing nothing but having conversation during that time, and all at a reasonable cost that doesn't break the bank. Week one was already a success.

3 // Make more local art connections. In Baltimore, there is a fantastic arts and handmade community. The only problem is that if you're not already part of that community, it's hard to be accepted by it. I've struggled with this for several years now and it really started to bring me down. Being denied by that existing community made me feel as though what I create wasn't good enough. I'm done feeling that way, and I'd rather seek out my own art community instead. I'm already part of the way there. I have a small group of other artists that I'll soon hopefully be meeting with on a monthly basis. And I'm hoping to also connect with another printer to do a local event this summer. Baby steps, but I'll get there.

4 // Find community within my personal life. Along the same lines, we tend to feel a bit out of the loop in most situations. We've lived in Baltimore for eight years, but we don't have a lot of friends. We aren't religious, so we don't go to a church thus there are no instant connections with other people in that regard. We're not always into the events that are put on in our neighborhood as a lot of them revolve around large parties and drinking. Let's face it, we're not trying to act like we're in college anymore or party our faces off. We'd rather have meaningful conversation and community. It was finally decided that if we can't find the kinds of community events we'd like to be a part of, then we can create our own, and if people come, they come. And if they don't come, then they don't, and neither is a bad thing. We're having a successful start with this as well.

5 // Be more organized and follow through. This is a continuation from last year. I'm making small progress here and there. I purchased what I would call the most intense planner I've ever seen in my life. I've continued planning out my days the night before, so that I'm able to unwind from work, and focus on new tasks ahead. We got rid of quite a lot of stuff in our house, and the idea is to continue on that trend. I still need to work on following through on things that I set my mind to, but I'm getting better with that as well, which is why I've already made progress on some of the above goals.

6 // Find affordable studio space of my own. This is more of a hope than a goal, but at the same time I feel very driven to get to this point. While I'm really enjoying sharing a small production studio at the moment, I ultimately would love to have my own space in which I can do all aspects of my work-- the designing, production, and shipping. My home studio is simply too small. It's a daily struggle. I cut card stock while sitting on the floor because it's the only space I have available to do that task. It's extremely cramped quarters and just not practical. It's the kind of space that is so small that as soon as you clean it, you begin a new task and it's instantly cluttered again. When I receive my card stock and envelope orders from my suppliers, my studio becomes nothing but boxes stacked on boxes. So yes, this is a huge hope for me this year.

7 // Send more snail mail. I started doing this last year when I got my my PO box, and I'd like to do even more letter writing this year. It gives me a chance to stop for a few minutes and think about what's happening in my daily life and how I relate to others in this world. I didn't take time out of my busy holiday schedule to write my own Christmas cards, and that really bothered me. If you have a similar goal, or would like to try getting back to letter writing, I'd be happy for another snail mail friend. You can write to:

Heidi Shenk
PO Box 12396
Baltimore, MD 21281

While these goals are big ticket items, I feel good about them this year. They leave room for growth on both a personal and business level, and make me hopeful of new experiences and creative energy.

Did you make goals for the new year? I'd love to hear about your hopes and dreams so that we can encourage each other throughout the year!


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