Adopt This Monthly Habit to Manage Stress and Accomplish Goals

In my day job, I’m a project manager, and a damn good one at that. I manage teams of people and large-scale projects, and it’s on me to ensure that the work gets done. We accomplish our goals by staying organized, collaborating across teams, and motivating each other.

Manage stress through personal inventory days

My personal life is another story. I constantly feel like I’m behind in all facets of my life outside of work. And, it’s not because I don’t make time for myself, because I totally do. I’m great at devoting time to things like sleep, exercise, and champagne. It’s the other adult things, like sending cards, making appointments, and managing my budget, that I let slide or tackle at the last minute. This means that I carry a baseline level of anxiety with me at all times, feeling like there is always something I should be doing or like my to do list is ten miles long.

Finding a way to manage my stress is what made me gravitate towards the idea of a Personal Inventory Day. Human rights technologist and Be Bold Media CEO Sabrina Hersi Issa talked about her philosophy behind Personal Inventory Days on the podcast Call Your Girlfriend, hosted by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman, earlier this year. Issa rejects the notion that goals and resolutions have to fit into the new year or on your birthday, and instead encourages a monthly Personal Inventory Day, where you take stock of your goals, reflect on what you’re grateful for, and manage your tasks. The days are flexible, and can be devoted to anything that you require accomplishing for a successful life.

How to get started

Pick a day each month that works for you, such as your birthday date (i.e., the 20th), or the third Sunday of the month, and create a recurring block on your calendar.

Next, make a list of what you’ll use your day to accomplish. There may be tasks that occur each month, while others may fluctuate. Maintaining a running to do list will help keep your thoughts organized. Try an app like Evernote, Wunderlist, or Google Docs, so that you can add tasks when you’re on the go or when they’re preventing you from falling asleep. Jotting your items down as they occur allows you to destress by taking them off your mind, knowing you’ll handle them later.

What do you want to accomplish?

On your first day, you’ll declare your goals, in writing, and jot down steps to accomplish them. Each month following, you’ll check on your progress against these goals, and review the steps you’re taking to get there. Having a monthly event to reflect on your goals allows you to manage throughout the year instead of trying to cram all of your goals into a birthday or new year’s rush. Instead, at the end of several months, you’ll be able to look back on your monthly reflections to see what you’ve accomplished. We have a few ideas to get you started.

If you have financial goals:

  • Review your financial accounts and budget
  • Check your credit score
  • Check subscriptions and automatic bill pays to ensure everything is running properly
  • Make plans to check in with a financial advisor

If you have relationship goals:

  • Send birthday cards for the upcoming month
  • Share notes of gratitude with people for whom you’re thankful
  • Book time for a phone date with a long-distance friend
  • Make plans for a fun date night

If you have career growth goals:

  • Reach out to someone whose aspirations match yours, and ask to take them to coffee
  • Say “yes” to someone who wants to take you to coffee
  • Sharpen your resume so you’re always ready to apply for jobs
  • Sign up to use your career skills as a volunteer for a cause you admire

If you have adulting goals:

  • Schedule upcoming doctor, dentist and beauty appointments
  • Do some digital decluttering and update your passwords
  • Purchase wedding/shower gifts for the upcoming month
  • Send outstanding RSVPs, thank you notes and event registrations (Be mindful of timing — some of these may require a prompter response depending on your schedule.)

If you have personal development goals:

  • Pick a new recipe to try this month
  • Reserve a new book to read from the library
  • Sign up for a class to improve skills that relate to goals
  • Make plans to do something you’ve never done before
Goals Happiness Think & Feel

About Emily Baseman

Emily Baseman considers herself a fitness generalist. A firm believer that wellness is found by giving your body what it deserves, she is dedicated to working out regularly, drinking lots of water, and eating plenty of vegetables. From barre to HIIT to yoga to cycling, Emily loves to work up a sweat running around to take in a little bit of everything. She is a midwestern transplant to Washington, DC, currently working, cooking, and exploring the fitness scene in our nation's capital. By day, Emily helps social impact brands and nonprofits use social media to tell their philanthropic stories. She's obsessed with her dog, Bascom, red wine, and cheese of all kinds.