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CyningaDena's Epic Quest, Round 1: The Artist is the Medium

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My standard method for making stuff happen in my life has been just to write a list. I’m addicted to lists. I make lists to keep track of all my lists. But lists aren’t that great for motivation. Sometimes I have to write crap like “take a shower†or “make a list†just so I can cross it off and feel like I’ve accomplished something. Otherwise I look at the huge collection of THINGS waiting for me and feel defeated before I even start.


So that’s dumb. Because in my work, I’ve done a metric crapload of strategic planning, implementation, and assessment. I know how to do this sort of thing for my job, but never thought of doing it for my life.

So I decided to approach my goals the same way I approach “mission fulfillment†for accreditation requirements at work. It’s sort of a reverse Citizens United v. FEC.



            I will achieve the upper limits of my physical, mental, and social capabilities.


I’m not quite sure what to say for that “social†part – I mean for it to cover the ways I interact with other people, but also the way I fill our cultural roles for responsible adulthood (like getting out of debt, saving up for my future kids’ college, keeping the house always clean enough for company, stuff like that). This might be revised later on...I’m open to suggestions!


Core Themes

Core themes are like different “tracks†I can pursue to fulfill my mission – each of them leads to the same awesome place, but through different means. I purposely built my mission statement to easily break out into these themes, so they’re sort of obvious choices.


            Physical Excellence, Mental Excellence, and Social Excellence


Implementation Strategies

Some of the goals I’ve got here would need to be broken down into a series of SMARTer sub-goals. I’ll do that later when I decide to tackle those specific goals – I can’t do them all at once, so I’ll hash out the details for some of them later. They’re here in the list as place-holders, though, so I remember them for the future. I figure I can reassess in a few months to winnow any goals that might not be realistic or high-priority.


Physical Excellence

- Quit smoking

- Quit drinking (the money I save on this can fund my other goals)

- Bike a half-century

- Bike a century

- Work out 3x per week for a month

- Work out 3x per week for X months (scaled to be an always-increasing goal once X is met, probably capping out at 6 months once it’s not a goal so much as a good habit)

- Bench X% of my body weight (ditto with scaling X)

- Squat X% of my body weight

- Deadlift X% of my body weight

- Increase weight to 180 pounds at 6% body fat (this was me in high school, so I figure it’s not unrealistic)

- Correctly perform a pistol squat

- Correctly perform an archer up


Mental Excellence

- Memorize and decently play Brahms’ “Rhapsody in G Minor†(a piano recital piece from high school that I can’t handle any more...I want to not suck at my own instrument!)

- Memorize and decently play Rachmaninoff’s “Prelude in G Minorâ€

- Memorize and decently play Chopin’s “Nocturne in E Minor†(I swear I don’t have something against major keys...this is just how my initial wish list shook out)

- Take cello lessons again

- Read two new books every month, any genre

- Keep a book log with brief reviews

- Write for one hour every week (not counting book log)

- Submit one piece for publication every month

- Take a class on MS Access (we hates it!)

- Learn basic SQL

- Learn Russian

- Become a Master Gardener

- Solve one puzzle each week, any kind (Sudoku, crossword, cipher, logic, etc.)


Social Excellence (or whatever the hell it ends up being called)

- Pay off all debt (student loan, consolidation loan, and loan from parents when I was unemployed)

- Keep 1-6 months’ worth of paycheck in savings (six progressive goals here – eventually I want to have the equivalent of six months’ pay saved up, in case I get laid off again)

- Monitor my credit score for one year and increase it by X points (to be determined after more research into what a feasible increase might be)

- Begin contributing to my IRA again on a monthly basis

- Build a diversified investment portfolio

- Clean something, anything please sweet jeezis, in the house for half an hour every day – this one comes with its own sub-goals, like cleaning the office, the garage, etc.

- Finish building my bookshelf

- Create a weekly schedule for time management that is structured enough to help build good habits, but flexible enough to account for the vagaries of real life without falling all to hell

- Visit my great-aunt and -uncle once a week

- Do something special for my boyfriend once a week

- Write a letter/email to an old friend twice a month

- Find a local charity/social services organization that I believe in, and volunteer there X times a month (to be determined once I have solid time-management skills and a good schedule worked out)


Built-in Rewards

I haven’t sorted out the details yet, but I’m thinking of working up a point system or something so I can earn small rewards for sticking with the plan, and bigger rewards for milestones.


- New books

- New clothes – wardrobe replacement!

- Phone upgrade

- Fix my tattoos (was everyone’s taste this horrible in college, or was it just me?)

- Take my shirt off in front of people and strut like a rooster


That is all.



  • Like 1

Wood Elf Ranger

LEVEL 1, It don't mean a thing if I don't hear that ding: My Epic Quest


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Started some of the goals already, and have an initial implementation plan for a few others.

In place now...

Quit smoking: I switched to an e-cig on May 1. This doesn't count as "quitting," since it's just a different flavor of inexplicable shit that I'm putting into my body, but I count it as a step in the right direction. It's boatloads cheaper, it doesn't coat my lungs with tar, and it's scalable so I can step down the nicotine over time.

Quit drinking: Quit on May 1. Pleasantly surprised I could do it...I was drinking pretty hard for a good long while.

Create a weekly schedule: Built the skeleton of one that will evolve as I start adding more goals to my routine.

Visit my great-aunt and -uncle: Stopped by to visit last Sunday. I'll go again tomorrow. They're in a nursing home and do nothing but watch golf on TV all day, and I'm not much of a conversationalist, so these visits can feel sort of awkward after five minutes when we run out of things to say. It's in my weekly schedule, though, so I'm sticking to it!

Do something special for my bf once a week: Made a card and put it in his lunch, and planned some things I can do for future weeks. I fail at romance -- the last time he asked for a romantic date, I took him to a dinosaur museum -- so we'll see how this one goes!

Later this month...

Pay off all debt: Between the e-cig switch and not drinking, I figure I'm saving just under $400 a month. I'll put $200 of that toward increasing my loan payment with the highest interest rate. Once that's paid off, I'll roll that entire payment over as an additional amount for my student loan. Man...not being an alcoholic is like giving myself a big friggin raise.

Work out 3x per week: Another $50 of what I've saved will go toward a gym membership for me and the bf. This will start on May 18, after some major events are done and my schedule returns to normal.

Savings: Another $50 of what I've saved will go toward having a savings account again. This might increase in future months once I'm confident in my maths, but I don't want to commit my entire $400 cost savings right away in case my maths suck (which is highly probable).

  • Like 1

Wood Elf Ranger

LEVEL 1, It don't mean a thing if I don't hear that ding: My Epic Quest


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Figured I should log my current status here, just to keep myself on track. I have a habit of starting goals and then letting them die quiet deaths while I avert my eyes.

So, the "later this month" goals actually didn't happen later that month. The money I'd saved is going to my vehicle instead for registration renewal and a new serpentine belt. I didn't start my gym goals, either, because I took a tumble during a bike ride and cracked a rib. (I will master you one day, clip shoes!) Feeling loads better now than I was, but it still hurts to twist or stretch my torso, and sneezing puts me out of commission.

However, the goals that I started are still going strong. The highlights:

Quit smoking: Haven't had a cigarette since May 3. I've twice stepped down the amount of nicotine in my e-cig, and am now working on transitioning to zero. For anyone trying to quit smoking, I highly recommend an e-cig. I've tried everything short of hypnosis, and nothing has worked the way this does. The bf says there were only a few days of grouchy right at the beginning, and even then, I maintain that they were caused by him being a little shit. :P

Quit drinking: Had one beer during our trip to Yellowstone Park and a few during the graduation party for my best friend's son, all of which was planned.

Something special for the bf once a week: Success, plus also a lot of fun. I didn't want it to be a big expenditure each week, so I've channelled my inner dork with quirky, inexpensive stuff like high-school-inspired love notes (check yes or no) or pinkie rings from the 25-cent machine at the drug store. I've actually worked ahead a bit and am anxious to unleash some of the stuff I've got saved up. :D

Bike a half-century: A new one for the list. As mentioned earlier, I'm on a motherfucking bike. As a step toward biking a half century, the bf and I have registered for a 33-mile ride in one of the most beautiful parts of Montana.

Wood Elf Ranger

LEVEL 1, It don't mean a thing if I don't hear that ding: My Epic Quest


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