The February 2019 Monthly Review

Here we are, with March more than halfway over. 

And here I am, just now writing the February monthly review.  

Is it just me, or does it feel like it should still be February at this point? 

Huge silver lining though... it’s almost (officially) spring! 

So let’s get to it. 

Build a Blog / Brand / Business 

I know I technically shouldn’t write about the fact that I’m still figuring out what to write about in this section, but here we are. These monthly reviews are new for me, so at this point I’m still determining what I should be including in them. Last month, in this blog / brand / business section, I wrote about my quest for the perfect editorial calendar. Update on that quest: the perfect editorial calendar remains elusive. 

Despite flying by, February was a better month than January for content. I FINALLY completed the post about the lessons I learned from my Six Week Sabbatical here on the blog. I also spent some more time thinking through how exactly I want the Going Places Media blog to differ from this blog. For now, I am planning to keep all the content about starting a blog, brand or business over at Going Places Media, while this site will continue to include all my content about travel, money and life.  

If you want to read more about how the blogs and social media channels are doing from a stats perspective (traffic, visitors, followers, etc.) check out the February Review over at Going Places Media.  

Save 50% of My Income 

In January my savings rate was technically “not applicable”, since I didn’t earn any money. Luckily, paychecks from the new job started coming through in February... and it was a good month for the budget: I saved OVER 50%! 

Let’s talk about how exactly this happened. First, I had to withdraw some money from savings right at the end of January to cover a few bills coming out late in the month and the first of February, so my first paycheck in February didn’t have to pay for as many bills as it normally would have (I basically just put it back in the savings account to reimburse that amount I withdrew in January). Obviously, this situation inflated my savings rate for February artificially... but this isn’t something that will occur again next month, so it should all even out. Second, my first paycheck in February was a three-week paycheck instead of a two-week paycheck based on when I started the new job in January, so it was larger than normal. Again, this isn’t something I will be able to depend on going forward.  

In a nutshell, it was a good savings month, but March will be the real test! 

One New Country, One New City 

It may appear that not much is happening on the travel front yet this year, and due to the new job, that’s mostly correct. However, I did put some vacation on the calendar in early May. I’m planning to do some house work that week (painting staycation: so exciting), but I’m also sneaking in a long weekend in Chicago. Since I’ve already been to Chicago, this city doesn’t help with my “One New City” goal. But honestly, who cares?  

I love Chicago and I can’t wait to go back (and eat all the fantastic food). 

Read 52 Books 

I got a bit behind on my reading challenge in February, so I’ve been trying to catch up in March. Generally, the more writing I do in a month the less reading I do. It’s unfortunate, but it’s one of the side effects of having limited time to spend on creative endeavors with the full-time job: since February was a pretty good writing month, it wasn’t the greatest reading month. As always, if you want to keep up with what I’ve been reading, follow along on my Goodreads page.  

No TV Shows 

A friend of mine I worked with a few years ago used to talk about how so many people in the U.S. work, eat, go numb in front of the TV for a few hours, sleep... then do it all over again. While I’ll admit his statement is a generalization, there is also an uncomfortable amount of truth to it based on what I’ve observed and experienced over these past 6 years working full-time (which is one of the reasons it always stuck with me).  

The most difficult thing about that work-eat-TV-sleep-repeat cycle is that it’s easy to think the reason we can’t get things done is simply because we don’t have enough time. If we could just spend less time watching TV, we could spend more time creating. 

That’s certainly what I thought when I implemented this resolution.  

But there’s another level to this challenge of trying to create, write, manage a side hustle or do virtually anything else that requires mental energy in addition to a full-time job... depending on what you do in your full-time job, you may simply not have enough mental energy left at the end of the day. TV is a default for so many people (including me) for a good reason: your brain doesn’t have to do anything while you watch TV. We tend to think of it as a reward for doing hard things with our brains all day while we are at work (we deserve a break after all that, right?) 

All this to say: I may have figured out how to quit watching TV, but it’s difficult to not simply replace that time with other things that still aren't the things I really need to be doing if I want to achieve my blog, brand and business goals. Some of those things are “productive” and “healthy”, which makes this conundrum even more difficult to figure out: like going to the gym with friends after work, reading or cleaning my house. Healthy, productive... but not creating content.  

I see this “time vs. mental energy” discussion getting a post of its own in the near future, since this is definitely not something I’ve figured out at this point. Stay tuned for that.  

My February General Review 

At the point when I was writing last month’s review, I was still adjusting to being back in the 9-5 lifestyle. Maybe it shouldn’t have taken me a full month to get used to alarms, business attire, commuting, traffic, and sitting all day staring at numbers... but it did. After three months out of that world, it took my brain a bit of time to actually feel like doing anything other than napping when I got home.  

By the end of February, my energy levels outside of work had mostly bounced back. Though I doubt I’ll ever be the most productive human with my time outside of work (check out the “No TV” section of this update for more on that topic), I’m trying to get better about this whole work/life balance thing. I have noticed that the more I write, the easier it becomes, so carving out time to write throughout the week as well as on weekends is essential (otherwise, I end up spending half of Saturday on ONE POST and still not liking how it turns out).  

Writing, kickboxing and working were the big activities in February. Hoping I can bring something more exciting to the table for next month’s update, but sometimes it just is what it is. As always, thank you for reading... and I will try to get this monthly review to you a bit earlier next month. Promise. 

I’m going to be a serious blogger at some point.  

Not sure when, but eventually.  

love, sarah