Motivation Monday: setting (and attaining) goals!


This the season for making resolutions, setting goals, and getting motivated!  I always love the energy and spirit of January's hopes and aspirations.  I am an avid self-help book reader, dream chaser, and general lover of all things self-growth focused.  I wanted to write a little post to share some tips that I have found useful in setting, pursing, and achieving my own personal and professional goals. Below are my five little steps that I use when setting and achieving my own goals.  I hope it helps you reach yours.

1. Create realistic goals : Set yourself up for success from the beginning.  I always encourage people to dream big, but set realistic (a.k.a. attainable) goals. Create a longer timeframe for your larger goals.  "I want to be a billionaire" could be "by the time I retire."  If it comes sooner, great!  A more realistic goal would be, "I want to increase my salary by 15K this year".  Then you have a pretty attainable goal with a specific deadline.  Now you can easily set yourself up with smaller tasks that will help you reach your goal!

2.  Create measurable outcomes Specific time frames and measurable outcomes will help you set up the framework you need to achieve your goals. For example, "I want to make more money." vs."I want to increase my salary by 15K this year".   "I want to make more money" is a little vague.  Think like a big company.  I don't think you would hear Pepsi say, "lets try to sell more sodas this year." in their board room.  Set yourself up with a specific goal that has a measurable out come and then you can break the end point into the steps you need to take you there.

3. Break your goal down into steps Even if you are working with a big goal such as "I want to organize the whole house" (one of mine) or "I want to make 15K more this year", start with the steps.  Once I have a main goal, I start to break it down into the smaller tasks that will get me to the end point.  Let's take my home organizing goal and break it into steps.

1. Research organizing tips: Pinterest, Magazines, Blogs, etc.

2. Buy organizing items: shelves, storage bins, etc.

3. Start with one area at a time.  This week: the bedroom.

4. Begin by getting rid of the things I don't need, don't use, or don't love. Donate them to charity or give them to friends.

5. Start sorting the rest into categorizes by type, color, or frequency of usage.

6. Use bins, shelves, etc. to get the categories into action.

7. Repeat process with the next area in the house.

See how much easier it is to get to your goal if you break it down into little steps. Part of the reason people don't attain what they intend is because they get overwhelmed and are afraid to start or continue.  If you break your goals into smaller tasks, it makes attainment more feasible. Enjoy crossing items off your list.  That sense of accomplishment will motivate you to continue your project.

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4. Check-in, re-focus, and re-inspire It is easy to get off track after the initial excitement wears off.  I like to routinely set aside time at the end or the beginning of each week to "check in" with my goals and see where I stand.  If you are on track, pat yourself on the back! If you are off, don't beat yourself up, just start again.  I sometimes need to find ways to re-focus myself on my goals that have started to slip through the cracks.  Here a  couple of techniques I use:

1. Re-inspire your goals: I use Pinterest, Instagram, and seek out meetings with leaders in my field to stay inspired by what they are doing.  Seeing others doing amazing things usually fuels me to start again.  Just don't let their successes intimidate you.  Don't compare yourself to their accomplishments.  Everyone is on a different path.  Be inspired.

2. Make a list of why you wanted to achieve your goal.  In my organizing example my reasons are; to make room for new stuff in my life, to spend less time looking for what I need, to only surround myself with things I love, to create a restful and inspiring place to recharge my batteries etc.

3. I also like to hang up motivating pictures and sayings near my workspace.  I write my goals on notes where I can see them everyday to keep it fresh in my mind. I write a list of them in a pretty notebook and review them weekly.  Stay focused!

5. Reward yourself Once you have attained your goal, it is important to take time to reflect.  I am super ambitious and always trying to rush off to the next thing.  To stay charged and productive, it is important to reflect on your success.  Think of this time as charging yourself up with positivity.  I reflect in a couple of ways; I meditate during a quiet time on what I did well, I write about what I did in my journal, and/or I talk about it with my friends, loved ones, or my team.  All of these people helped me to attain my goals and it is nice to share the success with them.  When you are done, make sure to reward yourself in other ways too!   This is my favorite part.  Do something you love that is a little out of your ordinary routine.  Things I like to do are: go out to a fancy dinner, get a massage, spend a day in bed reading a great book, go on a trip (if it was a huge and long term goal), and/or treat my team to a dinner or reward.

That is about it.  I hope you find this helpful and inspiring!

Go chase your dreams,


How To Tuesdays: Valentine's Day String Art

How To Tuesdays: Valentine's Day String Art


I love string art!  This is a fun and easy project you can do with a few simple materials and about 30-60 minutes of your time.   If you are in Chicago, join our class on Valentine's Day.  It is all ages and only $25.  You can sign up here. If not, we will have a kit for sale soon!

Supplies Needed: 8 X 10 wood panel, heart stencil, pencil, tiny nails, hammer, white paint or gesso, paint brush, and twine

Step One: Prime your wood panel with gesso or white paint

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Step Two: Trace with pencil around a heart stencil 


Step Three: Pound nails in around pencil outline about 1/2 inch apart


Step Four: Tie your twine securely around one nail.  Twist around the nail and then move across the design and go around a new nail with your twine. Repeat this process until you have filled the heart in.


Step Five: Twist around each nail in the heart to create and outline.  Tie off the string securely and cut.  Viola! 


Hang your art and be proud! 


Stay tuned for next week's project: Painted Heart Art


We're All In This Together

Whew! We've been busy! With Kids Summer Camps, Adult Classes, and enjoying all the Summer activities that Chicago has to offer, the season is going by so quickly. We needed to pause, however, to tell you some exciting news. Our newest featured artists for the month of August is the One Strange Bird Staff! Each member of our crew will be showing work throughout the next month, in media including paintings, embroidery, jewelry, and sculpture. This is a great celebration of the creativity of all the artists who work here! The opening reception will be Saturday, August 3rd, from 6-9pm where you can see and purchase art by Nicole Northway, Alex Agudo, Jessica Egan, Simon Gallo, Ashley Ingold, Maia Leppo, Madeline Northway, Nicolette Ross, and Savannah Wisham.

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As a special part of this show we will be posting interviews with each of our staff members before the show begins and throughout the month of August. Get to know your favorite teacher or employees a bit better. We'll give you our insights to favorite Chicago spots, new artists we're into, and what we love about art. Keep your eye on our blog to read each new post or subscribe to our page to receive updates when interviews are posted.

We can't wait to see you at the show opening on Saturday, August 3rd!