Long Term Goals

This is the third part of my series on Productivity. To start at the beginning, you can begin here.

So after reviewing and updating my mission, my next step was my long-term goals.

I have a file that includes my long-term goals going back at least two decades. Why? Because it helps me to see how my goals have morphed and changed over the years. It helped me to realize what has withstood the test of time and what was just a momentary glitch. Now I have a better feel for what is my goal and what is my response to someone else’s agenda.

LONG TERM GOALS
• My life has room for my chosen family
• Financial independence
• Innovative and successful software solutions business
• Beautiful, welcoming and nurturing home
• Pagan monastery and temple
• Spiritual, sustainable and healthy lifestyle
• Share my writings, music, art and message with a wider audience

Over the next week or so, I am going to write more about each of these goals and share my annual goals under each of them. My plan is to publicly commit to these annual goals and to review my progress toward completing them throughout the year. We will see what actually happens. One thing I already know is that I need to work on the wording for my long-term goals. Since I usually review them every quarter, I may just wait till the next review to modify them. We will see how that works out.

I am a little nervous about exposing my inner working and my fear about being judged negatively by others is raising its head as well. But I think that this process can be helpful for me even if no one else finds it interesting or helpful. Although admittedly, I do hope others will not only join my journey but also participate in the ongoing discussion. And of course, I definitely welcome suggestions and advice all along the way.

And so I welcome all of you to join me, because … now begins our journey.

A Sustainable Life

These first two long-term goals are associated with having a sustainable lifestyle and a soul nurturing social life.

Spiritual, Sustainable And Healthy Lifestyle

This goal is the linchpin for all my other goals. As I struggle to create healthier habits, my lifestyle also needs to change. I cannot continue with my current level of work while simultaneously having the time to exercise, plan healthy meals and slow down my hectic pace.

So I need a new lifestyle, a lifestyle makeover. I need to continue to simplify, lower expectations and shed unrealistic standards. The life I lead today is so less stressful than when I worked in my corporate job. But with all my goals pulling at me, I often find it difficult to pace myself and I feel like I need to do everything at once.

But there is another way. And this is the path I hoping to discover. As I slow down, experiment and discover new ways at approaching my life, my dreams and my visions, I am hoping to craft a new way at approaching life itself. I am not trying to create a life devoid of passion, challenge or mystery, so I am not complaining about the stress, obstacles and limits of everyday life.

I just want to imbue my spiritual work within the very soil of my everyday life. I want to live the life of a mystic and shaman in the middle of a bustling city. I want to find out just how much magick you can inject into the everyday so-called mundane world before it begins to morph right before your eyes into something we have not experienced as a species in a millennium.

My waking life already resembles a dream more often than not. Now I want that dream like world I inhabit to teach me more about navigating my way through to actually changing the manifest world.

So my annual goals in this area, on the surface, seem very mundane -- more space, more planning, more time, new glasses and a set of healthier habits. It is the approach to them that is key. Each and every goal is at its core a spiritual quest, a journey into my soul and ultimately into the unknown. In order to accomplish most of them requires something inside of me to change at a fundamental level.

My Life Has Room For Me, And My Chosen Family

As my brother said once as he walked through a room filled with my friends, “You have a *lot* of friends!”

And I do have a lot of friends. It is one of the things I enjoy about my life. I can make and keep friends of such depth, talent and authenticity. All my friends seem to me to be such smart, beautiful, talented and down to earth people. Most of them I do not get to see much anymore, but my feelings for them have not diminished one iota.

It is the main thing I miss about teaching at witch camps. I always felt that witch camp teachers were like this big network of best friends that you got to work with in different combinations each year.

In fact, I was really tired last year of not having time in my life for the people I enjoy the most. So I changed my life. These people are my chosen family, so I sought ways to see and talk with them more often. I managed to keep up with more folks last year because of my commitment.

So this year, I need to free up even more time and headspace to keep in touch with other folks too, especially those who are local. And there has to be a way to mix teaching more often with visiting friends when I am on the road.

One strategy that has worked beautifully is my annual New Year’s Day dinner party. Every year I get better at spending more time enjoying my guests. And my commitment to acknowledging birthdays has been a smashing success. I just need to keep up the momentum.

I think one way I can help make it more likely that I have time for my friends, is to have more time for me. The more open my schedule, the more likely I will be able to say yes instead of no to my social life.

2008 Goals

  • Openness in my schedule so I can have a social life
  • New glasses
  • Improved health indicators
    • Normal blood sugar (A1c ~ 90)
    • Lowered overall cholesterol levels (< 200)
    • Baseline weight closer to ~200 lbs
    • Walk 30 minutes three times a week

Ongoing

  • Radical self care routines
  • Weekly & daily planning

Manifesting My Dreams

These next two goals concern my work as an artist, teacher and priestess.

Share My Writings, Music, Art And Message With A Wider Audience

This goal was the hardest to craft. I feel like I am already doing so much in this area. But what this goal is getting at is my need to reach a wider audience. I cannot rely on my school alone to get my ideas out in the world. I need to publish, record and get on the road.

Traveling is truly very hard on me physically, so I definitely need to build more core strength. I can also put my technical skills to work by experimenting with other media besides books.

And I need time and space for singing and songwriting. And some new poems wouldn’t hurt either. I honestly cannot remember the last poem I wrote, it feels like it has been such a long time since I answered the call of my poetic muse.

One technique I tried flat out did not work. I burned out trying to work on my book every single day. It may work for other writers, but I fell hopelessly behind in everything else in my life. All my juice was used up within four or five hours of waking, which made it very hard to do things like teach, read, design or even just think about anything clearly after 1 pm daily.

I kept trying to figure out what was wrong late last year after I returned from Between the Worlds. But what finally dawned on me was that I was suffering from a case of pretty severe burn out. I managed to end one school year and start another one, and do a lot of amazing things while simultaneously living almost daily in a state of complete and utter exhaustion.

Even now, it is really difficult to write or think clearly. The class I taught a week ago was possible only because I could muster enough inner will to slog through it but by the time the class ended, I could no longer even think straight. My students hopefully had no idea how tired I was as I explained the intricacies of qabalistic reflection and symbolism.

I need to find a different way to approach my life as a teacher, priestess and elder. Teaching normally fills me with such joy and on that Sunday I felt the joy. It is just that I also felt the burn, and that is not how I want to feel when I teach.

So this year, I need to sharpen my focus some in my writings and stop dragging my feet in the publishing arena. I still need to figure out how to approach my book writing while leaving me some juice for the rest of my life. It really sucks having an illness that limits your energy output, but it has taught me a great deal about the need for planning, priorities and choices.

One idea is to stop sitting on the stuff that is in fact ready to be published. Another idea is to capture the teachings from Reflections in a written form. I also need to let people know that I am willing to travel so I have opportunities to teach in areas beyond DC. Weekend workshops and one-day classes on-the-road can be tailored to be okay with my metabolism. Week long festivals and hectic fast paced conferences do not work as well for me physically. And who knows maybe a regular podcast in addition to my blog might be in my future

Pagan Monastery And Temple

I often talk about the need for a pagan temple, but I realized that I seldom mention the monastery. In many ways I have created my dream right here in my home with Reflections. The whole house is my temple and monastery in many ways.

But my long term goal is a larger structure right here in the city, where people could visit during lunch or after work to light a candle, say a prayer, sit in silent contemplation or join in a service just like many folks do at many of the older churches around town. A respite from the world of stress dedicated to the gods and goddesses of old.

And I also want a monastery, where people who are committed to the work of the temple anchor the magic and offer space for others to take a respite from time to time. Many Buddhist monasteries allow folks to stay for varied amounts of time and this allows folks to participate in the life of a working monastery.

That is what I want for pagans. But I want it in an urban setting. Why? Because, I believe that is where it is needed the most. The cities need dedicated sacred space in the midst of the stress and density of urban life. People need the gods close by, and the gods need to be anchored where people actually live.

I feel like my school and tradition needs to reach a critical mass before we can manifest a place to call our own. I also realize that we may need to work in concert with others to make it a reality. An urban temple could fulfill so many needs within our community. I should probably investigate how others have approached this issue in other faith traditions and paths.

My annual goals in this area are focused more on building my tradition and school. I will continue to scan however for more information about modern urban monasteries and how other traditions developed and evolved over time.

2008 Goals

  • Psychology & Magick book proposal, final draft and literary agent
  • Self publish two collections, Descent & Vocation
  • Teach two classes or workshops out of town
  • Document and publish Reflections teachings
  • 2009 weekend intensive for Presidents Day weekend 09

Ongoing

  • Reflections Mystery School
  • Connect DC (public ritual group)
  • Dark Flame Coven
  • Elder / Mentor / Clergy (various communities)

Amber Eyes

This next goal concerns my web design business, Amber Eyes Solutions.

Innovative And Successful Software Solutions Business

I enjoy developing software applications. I enjoy learning new ways to use new technologies to build software applications. I like hanging out with others who share my enthusiasm. So I started a company where I hoped I could make money doing what I love.

Amber Eyes was initially an event management and services company. Then it morphed into an event services company. Now it is a software solutions company focused primarily on web design.

I am still struggling with how to make money doing what I love. But one thing is clear to me – I love introducing people to tools that they can use. Plus, I enjoy the design process. I enjoy sketching out ideas, investigating alternatives and finalizing the design. And…. I love it when a plan comes together.

I just need to make money doing it.

One thing I have learned as I morphed my business, if you cannot change, you cannot grow. Over the last two years, I changed my business model. I adopted an open source content management system as the foundation of my web design business. This has been extremely helpful in many ways. However it also meant that I had to come up to speed fairly quickly in learning a new software tool and since it was open source, I had to get directly involved in the developer community in order to get assistance with the software. I now have seven sites up and running, and in many ways I can no longer consider myself a newbie.

But my increasing skill level comes at a price, not of money so much as time. It takes time to learn and experiment. It takes time to research and delve into the intricacies of mastering a new set of tools and methodologies. I had to teach myself a new language, while simultaneously modifying code written by gurus and masters in that language. It was harrowing at times. But along the way, I got to hang out with some very cool people.

But now I need to create ways of building on that period of intense learning and begin to reap some reward for that investment of time and space. But it is not as easy at it sounds. The software continues to evolve and new versions and capabilities are coming out faster than I can keep up with them.

I need a way to keep current with the tool, support my current clients and build my business. This almost constant churn in the development arena is very taxing.

One thing I am considering is backing away from the developer community some, and instead focus on finding ways to automate more of the routine procedures and processes.

I also need to build sites faster, so I may need to simplify my theme development for new sites. Right now, I can build a site in less than two weeks even with my already packed schedule, but it can take me sometimes months to finish a theme. I need to let go of the idea that every site needs to be an original work of art.

2008 Goals

  • Support ticket and CRM (customer relationship management) system
  • Automating key maintenance and upgrade routines
  • Publish my design philosophy on Amber Eyes web site
  • Implement e-commerce solution on two sites

Ongoing

  • Site design templates
  • Several ongoing development projects
  • Completing key site upgrades

What you do not see on this list are marketing goals. Last year I had a goal of 2-3 new web designs. I created two new designs last year but only one was for a paying client. And I am still working on her graphic theme (see above). I thought I had a new paying client in November, but the process got bogged down and now it is the start of the school year. Marketing is not my strong point, although I am getting better year after year.

I guess I could add a goal called, "Create marketing goals", but that feels kind of silly. This is an area that needs work.

2008 Goals Addendum

  • Create marketing goals

  • Home And Hearth

    These last two goals concern two of my difficult areas -- home & finances. For those who have been following along with us at home, by now you have figured out that Earth is not my strongest element. I am an air person, so in my cosmology earth is where my demons live. I generally suck at caring for my health, home and finances.

    This past year, I made huge inroads into this area. I improved my health significantly, had major repairs done to my home and late last year faced some of my biggest financial challenges head on. So 2008 finds me in a much better position in respect to earth than I have ever been before.

    This is also an area where I get the most projections from people. So I was hesitant to share these goals for fear of triggering even more unfounded abuse than normal. However I know that I am hardly the only one facing issues such as these. So in the interest of both helping myself and possibly helping others, I decided I could survive the scrutiny.

    Beautiful, Welcoming And Nurturing Home

    I love my house, again. I used to hate it. I thought it was falling apart on purpose, as if it was trying to make things hard on me. I am slowly making peace with the reality of almost constant home repair and maintenance.

    I have also given up on having a spotless, a clutter free home where every room looks like a photo from Architectural Digest. All of it revolved around my accepting that a person with the illness and limitations that I have will never be able to handle the upkeep of this house all by myself.

    Lowering my expectations allowed me to get to know my house all over again. And so I started breaking up the work into manageable chunks and asking for help. Putting the emphasis on my use and enjoyment as opposed to worrying about what others might think really made it possible to improve my experience of living in my house.

    And in the process, I began to love my house again.

    But now I need to translate that love into action. There are so many areas that need work and attention. I have developed a set of routines that have helped me to keep up with many of the basics. Now I need to concentrate on correcting several problem areas and resolving some long-term issues.

    Financial Independence

    I oh so do not want to have to get a “real” job.

    I took a huge pay cut when I decided to retire early, and the subsequent changes in lifestyle have been painful. But I would not change a thing. The freedom to do my work is so worth it.

    But as energy costs go up, and things start to fall apart, living solely on my pension is becoming more difficult The money I make from teaching can no longer be justified as quality of life funds that pay for things like books, hobbies and classes. I need to find ways to trim as much as possible from my expenses, build up my reserves, and find alternative sources of income.

    When you live on a fixed income, many of the habits you build up when you received a salary or wage no longer work. I no longer have to save up reserves in case I lose my job for example, but I do need them for large expenditures like car repairs. Also my habit of paying large sums each month to quickly pay off debt no longer works, because I no longer have the luxury of earning way more than my expenses. So I have to change my relationship to debt completely. My credit cards which never went more than nine to twelve months without being paid off suddenly started to inch up. I had to relearn habits from my younger days and avoid debt completely. Now I only pull out my credit card for things that are two large to pay immediately and are part of project where I have planned how to pay it off. I use my debit card as a credit card instead of writing checks, but that simply makes it easier to track my expenses. So I use less cash overall.

    But no matter how much I cut expenses, I still need another income source besides my pension to meet the higher costs.

    Best-case scenario, I produce enough web designs, books, and teaching gigs to help me fill the gap. Otherwise a part time job may be in my future.

    I also need to finalize/update some long-term items associated with finances, such as my will, life insurance beneficiary list and power of attorney documents.

    2008 Goals

    • Repairs and reorganization -- 2008 Focus
      • Kitchen (4 projects),
      • Bedroom ( 3 projects) and
      • Closet (2 projects)
    • Build up my cash reserves
    • Will and Power of Attorney documents
    • File Taxes in Feb/Mar, no extensions

    Ongoing

    • Weekly & daily routines
    • Repairs and reorganization planning
    • Budgeting & financial planning

    2008 Goals

    2008 Goals

    • Openness in my schedule so I can have a social life Done
    • New glasses Done
    • Improved health indicators
      • Normal blood sugar (A1c ~ 90) Done
      • Lowered overall cholesterol levels (< 200) Done
      • Baseline weight closer to ~200 lbs
      • Walk 30 minutes three times a week Two times a week
    • Psychology & Magick book proposal, final draft and literary agent
    • Teach two classes or workshops out of town Done
    • 2009 weekend intensive for Presidents Day weekend 09 Announced
    • Implement e-commerce solution on two sites Done
    • Create marketing goals Done
    • Repairs and reorganization -- 2008 Focus
      • Kitchen (4 projects) 2 Completed,
      • Bedroom ( 3 1 projects) and
      • Closet (2 projects)
    • Build up my cash reserves
    • Will and Power of Attorney documents
    • File Taxes in Feb/Mar, no extensions Done
    • Raise prices for web design to reflect my new hourly rate Done
    • Create templates, wire frame themes and a live test bed so I can build sites faster Done
    • Attend networking events like the local Drupal Meetup Done
    • Advertise Connect DC Rituals in Washington Post Religion section starting with Summer Solstice. Done
    • Advertise annual Reflections intensive in regional and national publications
    • Create a Reflections Mystery School brochure
    • Advertise classes and rituals in local newsletters such as the Hill Rag, DC North, Takoma Voice, etc.
    • Answer requests for short term Drupal assistance on local job boards
    • Support ticket and CRM (customer relationship management) system
    • Automating key maintenance and upgrade routines
    • Publish my design philosophy on Amber Eyes web site
    • Document and publish Reflections teachings
    • Self publish two collections, Descent & Vocation
    • Let more folks know that I am available for out of town classes, workshops, festivals and conferences.

    Ongoing

    • Weekly & daily planning
    • Weekly & daily routines
    • Radical self care routines
    • Repairs and reorganization planning
    • Budgeting & financial planning
    • Site design templates
    • Several ongoing development projects
    • Completing key site upgrades
    • Reflections Mystery School
    • Connect DC (public ritual group)
    • Dark Flame Coven
    • Elder / Mentor / Clergy (various communities)