February is a challenging month. At least if you live in northern Toronto. Temperatures are reaching record lows, and the portable heater is constantly blaring in my home office (which happens to be the coldest room in the house). I’m like a bottomless pit when it comes to consuming hot cups of tea, and yet I can’t drink it fast enough — the black liquid that was at one moment steaming from my mug quickly drops to room temperature (pre-portable heater).
I start each day with a walk around the neighbourhood or along the trail with my dog, and what once used to be my source of energy and inspiration has become a draining chore I dread. I trudge on though, the ice-cold air whipping at the tips of my cheekbones — the only part of me left exposed.
Fortunately, I will soon be off for a sweet escape (hence the reason for the sunny photo above). Mr.O and I will be exploring waterfalls and sandy beaches in Jamaica. In many ways, the timing for the trip could not be more ideal. Another month is behind us, and I’ll be feeling refreshed and ready to climb the final stretch of my Q1 goals upon my return. Until then, here’s a look at my progress so far…
✔ Launch my new website.
✔ Find two new small business clients. (Checking this off early feels so good!)
✗ Write for a new magazine/blog. (I fell short this month as I’ve been focusing on building up my client base, so will have to push into overdrive in March).
✔ Start a new project for The Reply. (Last month it was the Bell Let’s Talk video, this month we finalized our online submission portal).
✗ 100 days of writing. (This is my biggest fail so far this year, and it hit kind of hard. I even failed to reach my revised goal. But I have a few ideas for ways to turn this around when I get back from vacation).
✔ Join a new networking group. (I’ve joined a local group in Newmarket and we had a great first meeting — can’t wait for the next one!)
✔ Attend a new workshop (I learned a lot at the 6-figure freelancer seminar hosted by PWAC last month).
✔ Attend a writing retreat.
✔ Take a business mentor session.
✔ Blog at least twice a week for Web of Words. (Yes! I’m happy I’ve been able to keep this up. Will be on hold next week for vacation…but that doesn’t count, right?).
✔ Set up business accounting software. (After reviewing different programs, we’ve decided to go with Wave).
✔ Track all personal spending (this has been so rewarding and I highly recommend it).
✗ Pay for vacation in full without dipping into savings. (Unfortunately, due to a surprise $300 dental bill [we didn’t realize Mr. O’s benefits hadn’t kicked in yet] and making it a priority to max out our RRSP contributions this month, we didn’t reach this goal. But the good news is, we have the travel savings from the trip to Ireland we didn’t take last September to fall back on, so we’ll be dipping into that).
✔ Max out RRSP contributions. (For some reason this wasn’t on my list for Q1, but it definitely should have been!)
✔ Live off of chequing account (so far so good, but it’s good to know that freelance savings cushion is still there when we need it).
✔ No spending money at restaurants for February. (I have to admit we did treat ourselves to one meal out for a belated Valentine’s Day celebration. BUT overall, the challenge was a success so I still think we deserve that check mark).
✔ Workout three times per week. (I’ve missed a day here and there but made up for it in other weeks — so that counts right?).
✔ Schedule one date night per week. (It was a bit tough this month, as our ‘date nights’ were spent staying in, but we made the most of it).
✔ Register the dog for doggie play days.
✔ Take weekly trips to the dog park/trail.
✔ Eat better.
✔ Prep homemade lunches daily.
✔ No fast food.
This month has definitely had its fair share of highs and lows. While we’ve had some fluctuation on the financial side (welcome to the world of freelancing!) with slower payments, etc., we’ve made up for it by tightening our budget and finding ways to make extra income. In fact, Mr. O brought in an extra $500 in January and February just from selling stuff from around the house that we no longer need. This has been a double success, as it brings in more money and also helps us simplify our lifestyle. And it felt great to max out our RRSPs, as our savings goals will be a bit different this year with some changes to income.
It has also been an exciting month for Web of Words, with new clients coming in. But I do want to step up my game in contributing to some publications in March, and I also have a new idea for my initial “100 Days of Writing” goal. I’ve been distracted from my novel with a couple non-fiction e-book ideas, and I really want to get the ball rolling there. So my novel may be put on hold for a little while…
Highlights This Week
What I’m writing:
My latest post for The Reply is on taking back control over your career. It’s become a greater challenge for professionals today to build stability in their careers — and this was a big part of the reason I wanted to make the leap to entrepreneurship early on. Whether or not entrepreneurship is in the cards for you, this post shares some approaches you can take to create your own career path.
What I’m reading:
This post on the self-employment mentality by Erin M on Careful Cents was just what I needed this week. Erin shares key lessons she’s learned in the first six months of her journey to self-employment, and I can relate to every single one. Check it out for yourself!
What I’ve learned:
I started listening to the NPR Invisibilia podcast during my workouts, and I am loving it. My mind is still feeling a little blown from episode one, which was all about the power of our thoughts. It reminded me how important positive self-talk is, and also gave me even more reason to feel grateful that I am building a career I love. I can’t wait to listen to the next show.
What I’ve experimented with:
Yikes, I can’t think of anything I’ve experimented with this week. But next week will be full of many experiments, including river rafting through waterfalls and horseback riding alongside the ocean. I think it’s fair to say I’ll get my fix then!
What have been the highs and lows of your week? Have you made some progress on your goals this month? Let me know in the comments below.