Kelly in the City Chicago Fashion Style Lifestyle Blogger-1

[dropcap]O[/dropcap]kay. I realize it’s January 13th, and I’m nearly two weeks late on this post at this point, haha. But I struggled with coming up with my goals for 2016. (Though I managed to get “2015: The Good, The Bad & What I Learned” up!) Maybe I struggled because I started out the new year with a nasty bout of sickness, or maybe I struggled because I was so exhausted from November and December that I couldn’t bear to think about goals for a whole year. ;) Regardless, I finally did it. And while I know I’m going to re-read this tomorrow and insert additional goals, we’ll go with these for now. ;) So in no particular order…

2016 Goals

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Read.

Before I started this blog, I was a huge reader. I had a book or Kindle in my bag at all times, and I blew through novels. While I loved my life and world, I also loved that I always had another life and world that I could jump back into whenever I wanted. It was the perfect escape and mental break.

Today, though, I write far more than I read, and I miss reading. It’s just that every time I sit down with a book, I think about all the blogging and freelance tasks I could be checking off my list instead. So this year, I’m setting aside time for reading. Over the last week, I’ve been actually breaking for lunch, and reading a few chapters while eating. It’s been wonderful. Right now, I’m reading The Alchemist, as it’s been on my list for at least a decade and Emily recently recommended it! Any suggestions for my next read?

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Write for myself.

Much like the above goal, I used to do a lot of creative writing. Today, though? Zilch. I mean, sure. I do a considerable amount of writing for this blog and for various other projects, but I don’t write fictional stories anymore. And I find myself daydreaming about fiction all the time these days. The idea–which, admittedly, I just came up with–is to visit a coffee shop a few times per week, and write for my first hour there… but I haven’t implemented this yet. Maybe I’ll start next week? ;)

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Treasure the moments.

Remember “One Second Every Day”? I want to do more of that. Not the filming part–though Mitch’s new video comes out soon… Eeee!–but the taking it all in part. Lately I’ve been thinking of three really wonderful moments from the day right before going to bed, and it’s made me appreciate life so much more.

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Be a better person.

When I worked in the South Bronx, I truly felt like I was giving back every day. But today, I work for myself, and no longer change lives. While I know that stepping back from inner city education was the correct move for me, the fact that I’m no longer doing something incredibly meaningful with my life weighs on me. I recently looked into volunteering at a local soup kitchen, so I’m going to start doing that as soon as spots free up in the next couple of weeks… and I’m hoping to do more fundraising for Mitch’s school this year. Other ideas? I’m all ears.

I also want to be a better family member and friend, and be better about staying in touch. I talk to my mom on the phone nearly every day, but far too much time passes between phone calls, emails and texts with others, and I want to change that! Life is busy, but what’s most important in life is family and friends. So busy can wait. (Love you, Erica. SO excited for our lunch date!)

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Go to bed earlier and get up earlier.

Seriously, the night owl stuff needs to END. I’ve changed quite a bit over the years, and it’s become clear that I can no longer go to bed at 2 or 3 am and wake up at 7 without issue. And as much as I love sleeping in, I’m a far happier person when I wake up earlier and am exposed to sunlight–especially in the winter months. Oh! And let me not forget how productive I can be in the morning. It feels great to have knocked out a solid four hours of work by noon.

Recently, I’ve been trying really hard to go to sleep by midnight, but I’d love to crawl into bed sometime around 10 pm in the near future. Of course, that requires quite a bit more planning and a lot less procrastination, but I think it’s for the best. :)

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Get out more.

I LOVE working for home, but truth be told, I don’t get out very much as a result. Granted, I’m probably feeling cooped up because it’s been bitterly cold in Chicago this past week, and leaving the house hasn’t made much sense. But monitoring this little issue–and making sure I work at coffee shops and friends’ apartments once in a while–is important.

I also want to do more on the weekends. Way too often I find myself reserving the weekends for catching up on personal stuff, and I really want to start reserving them for fun. Again, more planning and less procrastination, but I live in one of the most amazing cities in the country and I want to experience it. Even in January.

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Engagement post here

Be a better wife.

I never want Mitch to come second to work. Mitch comes first, and then work. I love my husband more than anything in the world, and while I realize I’ll have days when I can’t close the laptop at 5 p.m., I want to make a BIG effort to do it most days. I want to go on date nights, sit on the couch and laugh, take long walks, and make new memories together. I’m the luckiest girl in the world, and I want to remember that every day.

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Put my physical and mental health first.

I’ve always been a super accommodating, go-with-the-flow and generally agreeable girl. I hate disappointing people, I struggle with saying no, and I’m not a fan of confrontation. But sometimes all of this comes at a cost. Last year, Mitch and I made a concerted effort to stop bending over backwards for others ALL the time, and every once in a while think of our wellbeing first.

And can I tell you? I felt a little guilty at times, but overall, life was better. While I still tried my best to always do the right thing, I didn’t constantly feel like I was on the verge of a mental breakdown or a major sinus infection… and I swear I did more good because of it.

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Eat healthier and enjoy cooking.

I’ve been doing pretty well with the whole healthy eating thing this year! (And by “this year,” yes, I’m referring to the last two weeks.) I start every day with toast, eggs and a ton of fruit, and I cook lunch, too. Lately I’ve been hooked on soups and salads, but I’ve also been making some pretty fancy (ha) pasta dishes. It certainly takes more time to prepare these meals, but I feel much better on all fronts, and it’s kind of relaxing. And hey: I was getting a little tired of my daily pizza bagels.

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Stick to a schedule.

Time management is hard for me. I always think I can get it all done, and at the end of the day, I realize that my expectations for myself were laughable. And then I get upset! It’s a vicious cycle.

This year, however, I’m blocking off my time and assigning tasks to certain hours. So far it’s been going well. Here’s hoping I can stick with it!

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Fix my hair.

I’ll admit that this one is pretty vain. But I’m ridiculously self conscious about my fine, dry and damaged hair, and nearly always upset about it. (My apologies if this is the zillionth time I’ve written about this on the blog!) So here’s the plan: do something about it.

Yesterday, Jess posted about ways you might be damaging your hair, and I’ve started taking her advice about how to avoid said damage. (I may have had access to the information ahead of time, hehe.) As much as it disgusts me, haha, I’ve stopped washing my hair every day, I’m limiting my usage of the hair dryer, I’ve ditched the hair straightener in favor of a curling wand, and I’m using deep conditioners and moisturizing products to bring some life back into my locks.

Finally, I’m getting extensions. Actually, I still have them from my wedding. ;) But I’m bringing them to my stylist next week so she can color and cut them, and I’m so excited! On my wedding day, I had the hair I’d always dreamt of having, and I felt like a princess. (There were probably a few other factors at play that day, haha, but you get what I’m saying.) So why can’t I wear them every day?! I’ve been practicing putting them in for the last week or so, and I have it down to about three minutes. Not bad. Of course, I’ll probably wear ’em for a month and then totally ditch ’em ’cause that’s how I do. But for now, I’m excited to have thicker, longer, healthier (-looking) hair.

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Ease up on myself.

Bottom line: I’m way too hard on myself about work. I feel guilty when I don’t put long hours in, and I’m always second-guessing whether I’m doing a good enough job. Maybe it’s because I no longer have a boss or something that really tracks my “progress,” but I need to be kinder to and easier on myself.

I also need to stop feeling badly about not having it all together, like I talked about in this post and this one, too.

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Set aside time for life and relaxation.

Whether with reading a book, watching a television show or snuggling with Noodle, relaxation should always be part of my day. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing–or whether I’m doing anything at all. I simply want to make recharging my battery a priority, and ensure that to-do lists aren’t dancing around in my head during that time. Taking a day off everything month or too might be nice, too. ;)

On a similar note, I’ll probably never be a 9-5er, but I want to keep track of the hours I’m putting in and step away when I’ve put in too many. Real life first!

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Alter my style.

I don’t want to “be preppy” anymore. I love preppy style, but over the last three years of being loosely involved in the fashion industry, I’ve grown to love other styles, too. So this year, I want to venture out of what one might assume is my comfort zone, and not feel confined to preppiness by the blog. Will I likely always gravitate to classic styles? Sure. But, like, I really love over-the-knee boots, lace-up flats and everything from Madewell and Club Monaco. And I’m starting to realize that not everything needs to be navy or striped or bow-adorned, haha.

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Take on fewer partnerships.

As blogging has become a source of income for me, saying no to partnerships has proven to be very challenging. While Mitch and I have made saving a big priority over the last few years and have made strides in that department since moving to a more affordable city, I still stress about finances because I don’t have a predictable paycheck that’s automatically deposited into my bank account every two weeks. As a result, I find myself saying yes to way too many partnerships.

Don’t get me wrong: partnerships can be really fun, and for the most part, I’ve had some absolutely amazing experiences with ’em. However, a person can only do so much, and then it gets to be too much.

First, there’s the issue of time. Often, I just don’t have enough of it to complete all the projects, and I send myself into a tizzy. And then there’s the issue of wanting to do a good job. Because I never want my blog content suffer–yet when I’m drowning in partnerships, I do see the quality of my writing and photography suffer. Finally, there’s the creativity factor. Over the years, I’ve made some mistakes and learned from that one, for sure. And while I try really hard to only take on partnerships that are a good fit for my blog and me–those that allow me to be authentic–I sometimes feel suffocated, and sad that I don’t get to create content that I dreamed up completely on my own.

This year, I still want (and need) to take on partnerships, but I want to only take on so many per month. With my “extra” time, I want to do a whole lot more long-form writing and reflecting. Don’t worry. You don’t have to read it if you don’t want to. ;) And more photos series! And videos. I just want to be more creative. Posts like the one you’re reading right now. Any suggestions? Would you like to see more of something in particular?

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Be better about using social media, and enjoy it.

I can’t be the only blogger who hates using social media, yet I sure feel like I am. It’s the weirdest thing: I sincerely love managing this blog. But I can’t stand “promoting” my content and putting additional content up on my social media platforms. (With the exception of Instagram. It’s not as horrible.)

I just want one thing.

But I want to improve. And I want to like it. So I’m making the effort to stick with everything–Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Tumblr and even Snapchat (Just started! Follow me at @kellyinthecity)–to see whether I’ll grow to like social media. Some people love it, so maybe I will too!

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“Finish” the house.

And by “finish the house” I don’t mean furnish and decorate the whole thing. I just want construction to eventually come to an end. We get closer every day, but once the master bedroom and bathroom are rebuilt, we’re planning on remodeling the fireplace, refinishing our kitchen cabinets, putting a door on the office, and installing wood floors on the stairs and in the guest room. All doable by the end of 2016, right? ;)

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Take a cool trip.

I’ll be realistic here and admit that it probably won’t be to anywhere crazy. We have a lot of expenses to deal with this year, so it’ll have to be an affordable trip. But I keep thinking about our $700 honeymoon to Culebra and how magical it was. I don’t need fancy hotels or first-class flights. I just could use some warmth, pretty water, and sand beneath my toes. Know of some cheap beach vacations? Please fill me in!

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Take more photos.

Photography is something I’m incredibly passionate about, yet I don’t often find myself taking photos for fun these days. Sometimes I do (remember this?!), but it’s infrequent.

Before I started this blog, my camera went everywhere with me. But now, because I shoot so much for the blog and for freelance work, I find myself opting to leave the camera at home more and more. While I’m all for experiencing life through one’s eyes and not just through a lens, I want to renew my personal connection with photography, and start taking more photos for me. Noodle and Mitch, I apologize in advance.

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Share more.

I really love sharing my life with you. The connections I build with my readers–both those I know in person and those I don’t–keep me going, and they’re invaluable to me. As a friend recently put it, “digital girlfriends” are the best.

That said, I’m sure you know I don’t share everything. But a goal this year is to share more. To think more deeply and to write more deeply. To reflect and wonder; to record and memorialize.

But I want to do it the right way. I’ve read far too many in-the-moment social media and blog posts that were later regretted to know that there’s a formula for sharing, and a big part of it is realizing when to do it.

Personally, I’ve always been a fan of sharing after the experience, if that makes any sense. After you’ve been through the most trying part, and after you’ve learned from it all. After there’s been some time built up between you and whatever it is, and after you’ve been able to really think about everything.

But we’ll get to that after we all get some sleep. ;) I’m off to bed!

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Do you have any interesting goals for 2016?