Category Archives: Lifestyle Design

All of these posts are about things I have done to intentionally design my life, and that other people could apply to their own lives.

Looking back, looking forward: Goals

At the end of every year, I review the goals I set for myself for that year; and in that process, I also set new goals for the upcoming year. These are not to be confused with “New Years Resolutions”, which everyone forgets about by February (I’ve written about this here).  These are SMART goals – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and tangible.

I began setting yearly goals back in 2008, with that year being written on the back of an envelope and stuck on my bulletin board. It’s evolved now to a longer thinking process, spreadsheet, and regular check-ins. David (and Chris Guillebeau) got me thinking about and in the habit of setting goals. Why set goals? I have this fear that in life we often say “oh yeah, we should ______ sometime” but that ‘sometime’ just never happens because life is busy and we wake up 20 years from now and that opportunity passes us by. So each year, I intentionally think about, what is it I want to happen this year? What do I want to make sure I do this year? Then every month or two, I review the goals and make sure I am working toward them.

My goals are broken down into:
– Health & Fitness
– Creativity
– Finance
– Friends & Family
– Learning
– Outdoors & Travel
– Other
– Work

2014 Goals Review

I’m not going to list out and review all 37 goals (which is way too many); I fully met about 15 of them, vaguely met about 8 of them, and totally missed 14 of them. Some good ones that I met were bike to Attleboro, hike 2 new mountain, spend time with my parents, and max out my Roth IRA.  I fell just short of reading 15 books for the year, and totally missed playing guitar 5 days in a row 2-3x. But, it was a busy (that whole wedding thing) and good year.

2015 Goals

This year also ended up with 37 items listed out! Again, too many, but some are small, simple things, and some will take a lot more work. This year I will finish the blanket I have been knitting for the last 9 years; I will write at least 10 blog entries (get ready!), get my wedding pictures printed, and visit a National Park. There’s more, but I will spare you the long list.

What about you? What are your goals for the year? Even though it’s late January, it’s not too late. I challenge you to think about what you’ve been meaning to do, write it down, hold yourself accountable, and make it happen!


Posted by on January 26, 2015 in Lifestyle Design


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What if Money was No Object?

Some food for thought. What would YOU do if money was no object?

While everyone in our society doesn’t have the opportunity to just do what they’d like without regard to money, it’s still something to ponder and reflect on…If you were to die tomorrow, what regrets would you have?

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Posted by on January 30, 2013 in Lifestyle Design


Farewell Boston

This is a post by Jenny.

After a very busy, overwhelming 3 months back in Boston, we head out of the country again today. This time, we head to our ancestral roots – to Portugal, Italy, and Spain (neither of us have Spanish roots, but I speak Spanish, so that has to count for something!). We fly back into the U.S on September 6.

A lot of people have said “have a nice vacation” or “wow, that’s a long vacation!”. I might be arguing about semantics here, but I really don’t think of this trip, nor our trip to Asia, as a vacation. Granted, we are traveling and not working, which might be the definition of vacation, but it’s also about a mindset. If we were to spend these two months like a vacation (overindulging, splurging, being lazy), we’d come home fat and broke – which I guess might happen anyways! We more think of our trip as moving temporarily, or a leave of absence from our regular lives. When we discussed what our goals were for this trip, or why we were going, the top two that came from both of us was to meet local people and experience the local way of life, and eat a lot of good food. The second goal will be easy but the first will involve a lot more effort, since neither of us are particularly extroverted. We’re hoping to meet a lot of people through hostelling and CouchSurfing – either by staying with them, or just connecting through message boards and going out together. We’re not sure how, but we want to make this trip less about where we go and what we see, but about that we experience.

This trip will be a lot different than our Asia trip in that it’s not quite as exotic, and significantly more expensive. This trip also starts off with a week with my parents, my sister and her husband visiting extended family that we’ve never met. This should be exciting, but also adds another layer of anxiety and pressure (will they like me? will I have time to do what I want? will people judge me for wearing the same clothes all the time?). I’m hopeful to make some lifelong connections with extended relatives that allow many more follow up visits!

Thank you for your support, and look forward to more frequent, interesting updates. If you have any requests for posts you’d like to see, let us know. We enjoy hearing form readers. Lastly, if you have any connections to the areas we are in, please let us know – we love to meet up with people we “know”.


Reflection/Review of my 2011 Goals

Goals Met:

  1. Volunteer 3x: I lost track of how many times I volunteered, which was great! I became a semi-regular volunteer with the Livable Streets Alliance, supporting the development of a built environment friendly to all users. I also volunteered with Bikes Not Bombs, the Charles River Clean Up, Cradles to Crayons, and the Mass Service Alliance. While these were all one-off opportunities and I didn’t get to meet as many people through volunteering as I hoped, I supported some good causes and got my feet wet for the future.

  2. Make new friends (measure by: going out for drinks with 1-2 people I just met this year, signing up for something structured, climbing 1x/wk on a regular day): I met this goal because I went out with some new people and joined a temporary bowling league. By starting a few new jobs and volunteering more, I definitely met a lot of new people but still feel like I want to develop better friendships with more people in the Boston area.

  3. Ride a horse: Gloriously done (see earlier blog post), hoping to do more!

  4. Floss every other day: not sure if it was technically every other day or sometimes everyday and sometimes not for a few days, but I feel good about doing a better job of flossing this year!

  5. See Meghan (from NY) 1-2x: Victorious! I have seen Meghan enough times that I actually lost count! I think we saw each other at least 3 times, including a good time at a Zox concert, followed by a romantic date at Waterfire.

  6. Travel abroad/by plane 2x: While disappointed that I did not travel abroad in 2011, I did get in a fair amount of traveling, which included traveling by plane twice: visiting Colorado with David for Fishy’s wedding, and flying east after a road trip out west. Both great trips.

  7. Read 15 books: I cut it a bit close with this, but I ticked off exactly 15 books. Much of my reading time this year was spent looking at guidebooks/doing travel research, which for the most part, did not make it onto my “books I read this year” list. My top few though were A Simple Living Guide by Janet Luhrs, One Week Job, and The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost.

  8. Drive car less than 9,700 miles: I started 2011 with 71,400 miles, and ended with 80,478, so I drove it about 9,078 miles. Victory again!

  9. Send 2-5 letters/cards by snail mail: I easily met this goal, sending random letters to Leslie, Meghan, Ed, Amy, and a few others. I love sending (and receiving, hint hint) snail mail

  10. Complete a triathlon/5k/athletic race of some sort: I would have liked to do a triathlon, but it just didn’t happen (not having a good enough bike being the first in a long line of excuses). However, I did run the B.A.A. 5k the day before the Boston Marathon and got to cross the marathon finish line. It felt good and I enjoyed it.

  11. Quit my job: Ho yeah did I meet this goal!! I spent the first quarter of 2011 reading and reflecting, and gave my notice to Girl Scouts in May. Quitting my job was not only liberating, it presented a lot of great opportunities, such as working to market the new bike share program in Boston, teaching bike safety classes as the lead Boston Bikes cycling instructor, and starting Infinity Crafts.

  12.  Move: Unfortunately, I think we actually overachieved this goal, and did a little too much moving in 2011! In September we moved out of the beloved Eulita Diner to avoid being locked into a 1 year least in a 3 bedroom apartment and into Englewood Estates (aka the Burke mansion). In October we moved into the “Beacon St Inn” while our friends enjoyed an extended honeymoon. And at the end of the year, we moved back to our parent’s in Attleboro. That’s 3 moves, living in 4 different places, in 4 months. Phew.

Goals Sorta Met:

  1. Weigh 145lbs: Well, I’m not exactly here yet, but I did lose about 15 pounds, and I feel pretty good about that.

  2. Learn a new language or practice the ones I know: It’s fuzzy if I was really successful at this – I did buy an Italian workbook and listen to Italian language pod casts, and I did start to learn some Thai, but I don’t think I can really say I am any better off than I was last year..

  3. Buy a new bike and ride more than 500 mi: I didn’t buy a new bike, due to analysis paralysis and wanting a bike that doesn’t really exist. I did however, definitely log over 500 miles, and most likely over 1,000 miles, as biking became integrated into my employment.

Goals I failed to Meet:

  1. Moisturize hands, feet/legs 2x wk: abysmal failure. I just don’t really like moisturizing.

  2. Learn 3 new songs on guitar: even bigger abysmal failure. I’m a guitar-playing disappointment and I didn’t learn a single new song, or even play that much.

  3. Finish knitting my dad’s blanket, or at least an additional 2 feet: Bah! I didn’t do a very good job L while the blanket does look great, I only added on 1 foot (from 3.5 ft long to 4.5 ft long).

  4. Get dog/cat: This was completely unrealistic and I knew it wouldn’t happen, but I just want one.

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Posted by on January 4, 2012 in Lifestyle Design


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Setting (New) Year Goals

I don’t believe in New Year resolutions. You only think about them and try during the first half of January. I mean really, who really says, in August, “oh, I can’t eat that, my resolution was to lose weight”. Even just the name implies that you’ll really only think about it around New Years.

Instead, I (and I encourage you to) set goals for the year. Each year, I write out 10-15 goals of things I would like to do or see happen during the upcoming year. The goals are often hung on the wall, somewhere visible, and a notice on my reminder calendar tells me to do a monthly review of the goals – am I working toward the goal? Does a goal need to be readjusted? Do I need to add something to my to-do list in order to reach my goal?

As far as setting the goals in the first place, I think of what I want to accomplish and I set a SMART goal.  This means that the goal is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely (or Tangible). Instead of setting the goal as “losing weight” (which isn’t specific, and questionably the others), the goal would be set as “weigh 145 lbs” – which is very specific, easily measured, can be attained realistically, and done in that one year time period (and it’s very tangible!).

This whole process ensures that my dreams, hopes, and plans don’t fall to the wayside as “I’d like to do that someday…”. Instead, I think of what those dreams are, and decide if I will do everything I can to make them happen this year, or if I will save them for another year! So, go ahead, set your goals for 2012! Think about your personal and professional lives, hobbies, personal wellness, dreams you’ve always had, and what you realistically want to see happen in 2012!

(my 2011 goals review to be posted soon – scrambling to meet a few of them in the last days of 2011! 2012 goals to be posted in first week of New Year)

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Posted by on December 29, 2011 in Lifestyle Design


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Ponder & Reflect


Some thoughts on life, and breaking out of the box, from Steve Jobs. I always get the feeling that most people don’t actually think about and actively live their life – considering each decision as a choice rather than a given. I feel like most of us just do what you’re “supposed to” – go to college, get a job, buy a nice car, get married, buy a house, have kids, work forever, get old, and die. And there is nothing wrong with that. But, what if instead of just doing all those things, everyone actively thought about and intentionally made the decision to do or not?

(my guess is there’d be a lot of mental breakdowns ;-))

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Posted by on December 8, 2011 in Lifestyle Design


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To Do: Doing Nothing

Being able to do nothing is something you need to learn to do. Everyone always feels like they should be doing something, with lists to guide them. Even fun, relaxing things like knitting or playing guitar end up on the list, and then they are no longer leisure because they are on the list! My response to this is “if it’s not on the list, how will I remember to do it?!” What if I just learned to not be doing something off a list, but instead just existed, and did things as they came to me?

Are we constantly volleying between and enjoying memories of the past and anticipations of the future? Do we need to learn to enjoy right now and be 100% in the moment? Have I (you) ever been fully present at any moment in your life?

One example of how I see this play out in my life is by taking pictures. I love to take pictures of the outdoors and mountains, and especially the sunrise. However, I couldn’t imagine going to watch the sunrise without taking a camera. I find that I spend most of my time taking pictures of the sunrise and the beauty around me rather than actually seeing it – saving it for seeing in the future as a way to remember the past, but not ever actually seeing and enjoying it in the present moment.

I don’t think I know how to live in the moment, but have felt like I have gotten closer to being able to do it in the recent months with quitting my job and feeling like I just know this is what I am supposed to be doing. On my recent road trip, on a long-haul day full of endless views of corn, I had a moment in which I knew and felt like this is exactly where I am supposed to be right now. I can’t explain it, but it was an overwhelming feeling that I made some good decisions and of complete contentment. That felt good.

Now, I just need to get rid of all of my lists…


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