During my personal retreat (I know, I know, enough about it already…except it’s had some pretty far reaching effects, so I don’t know how to share those without mentioning it!), I worked through Michael Hyatt’s 5 Days to Your Best Year Ever. Some of the workshop ended up not being extremely relevant for the personal goals I’ve set (because I don’t want these goals to necessarily be measurable, time-sensitive projects that I check off but rather long-lasting life changes), but I did glean a few really important insights.
One of the biggest was confirmation that I need to be regularly reviewing my values and goals. For me, that means a written evaluation monthly and a mental evaluation as I’m planning each new week. My experience over the last few weeks has already shown that review reignites my vision, reminds me to continue pursuing my goals, and prevents me from ignoring the important for the urgent.
The other big takeaway I got from the course was to consider and write down the reasons why I’ve set each goal and then to make an emotional connection with each one. I thought this was a little silly at first, but it’s actually made a big difference in really solidifying those goals in my mind.
In the end, I grouped my personal goals into 10 main categories and then took the time to think about why each one was important—not just why it’s important in general, but why it’s important to me. I’ve listed each “group” below with the reasoning behind the goal as well as the progress I did—or didn’t—make in January and how I’ll be approaching them in February.
1. Lose 15 pounds, make better food choices, drink more water, and walk daily.
WHY: I feel better when I’m healthy, I want to model good habits for my kids, these represent areas of self-control.
Of all of the categories on this list, I feel like this may be one of the ones that takes the most practice before these activities become habits. (Followed closely by being present and not yelling.) I have gotten better about drinking water again…as long as we’re home. I’ve walked a fair amount given the cold and snow we’ve gotten, and I’ve lost about half of the weight I gained last year. But food choices are still a struggle (why can’t I just eat bread all day every day?!), and I have to remind myself to make better choices every single day.
2. Get more sleep and schedule rest.
WHY: I’m more patient, creative and productive when I make time for rest and get enough sleep.
Unfortunately, some of my sleep habits are at the mercy of a baby boy who still struggles with restlessness some nights. But I am heading to bed by 9pm most nights—my goal is actually to get there by 8 and read for an hour before going to sleep…because I am an old lady in a 32-year-old’s body—which has made getting up by 5am so much easier and helped my energy and patience to last much longer during each day.
3. Read aloud, play games, do Kindergarten with Sidney, and make time for special activities.
WHY: I want to build strong relationships with the girls now, fill their tanks and inspire a love of family, reading and learning in them.
We’re at the “toddler in the middle of anything we try to do” stage of life, and between that and the snow we got last month (which the girls want to play in all day long), we haven’t played games as much as I hoped (although it is on my radar, which I feel like is half the battle). The same unfortunately goes for reading aloud, because I’m hesitant to tell the girls they can’t go outside and play until we read when they already read a ton and listen to stories constantly on Audible. I have, however, been super consistent about both kindergarten and piano practice with Sidney. We still haven’t found the illusive time for extra activities, but I’m intentionally sidelining that goal for now as we work to get other routines in place, and then we’ll revisit it.
4. Celebrate minor holidays and birthdays.
WHY: I want to embrace and celebrate every day, create traditions and encourage a spirit of joy in our home.
We just got all of our Christmas decorations put away this weekend, which has made it hard to focus on other upcoming holidays; however, we did have our (now) annual family Superbowl party and sleepover, and we’ll be decorating for Valentine’s Day this week as well. I need to intentionally focus on this goal because it’s not one I want to put off for later, and it really doesn’t take much time or energy as long as I’m thinking about it ahead of time!
5. Schedule coffee and play dates monthly.
WHY: To connect with and build strong relationships within our community for me and the girls, as well as for mentorship and encouragement.
I’ll be honest that this category is the hardest for me to prioritize. It’s not that I don’t value the relationships in our lives (I do!) or know the benefit of connecting with people; it’s just that this one affects so many other areas…it affects our homeschool and office hours, the time I have available for creating and reading, the amount of sleep I get, and so on. As an introvert, it’s much easier for me to prioritize those individual activities over connecting with other people.
The other challenge I have is that there are so many people on my list to connect with more often (old friends as well as a few new friends that I’d really like to get to know better!) that I almost have decision paralysis because I’m not sure how to decide which of those relationships to prioritize!
6. Read 75-100 books, including 36-48 nonfiction books, and 12 classics.
WHY: It offers an opportunity for intentional rest that also broadens my perspective, stretches my intellect and models a love of learning.
As I shared last week, I knocked my reading goal out of the park in January with almost-20 books read, including 3 classics and 10 nonfiction books. The best part for me was I felt like I did this in a fairly balanced way, without sacrificing work or time with the kids, by just being consistent about reading in little pockets of time and listening to audiobooks during our morning time, on my walks and even in the shower (ha!).
7. Stick to office hours, and be realistic about my time, leaving margin in my days, weeks and months.
WHY: To make time for my other goals, and because my family deserves it.
This was, by far, my most exciting success of January. For the first time since I began working at home, I have kept my office hours consistently in the two weeks since my retreat. That means early mornings are spent working before I take the rest of the morning off for homeschooling and house stuff, and then I work for another chunk of time in the afternoon. I have been working in the evenings on a project that we agreed as a family I should take on, but having the morning off has made such a huge difference for us. I’m really excited to have two weeks under my belt because it feels like it’s really going to stick this time.
I’m hoping to share a day-in-the-life post with you soon to show you how this new schedule works as well as some of my thoughts on why I’m actually getting more done these days.
8. Read Bible (alone and with the girls) daily.
WHY: I want to make time to focus on my faith, encourage my kids’ faith, connect with God and learn more each day.
We’re still trying to figure out exactly how to make this part of our routine, but the thing that works the best is reading a passage together before we come downstairs for breakfast (because my office and the girls’ bedroom are both upstairs). Once we get downstairs, everybody goes in 43 different directions, and once little man wakes up, it gets even more chaotic. Our goal is to SOAP a passage a day: read a section of Scripture, make Observations about what it says or what’s happening (we’re in Acts), discuss how it might Apply to our life, and Pray together.
I’m also working through Elisa Pullam’s Abide study before the girls get up most mornings.
9. Stop yelling, practice being present and patient.
WHY: My kids deserve it and I will respect myself more.
Here’s the thing: When I’m focused on home and family during the morning hours, I do great at this. When I’m in the middle of office hours and being constantly interrupted while I’m trying to concentrate…not so much. Clearly the answer isn’t for me to stop working (my kids rather like 3 meals a day and a roof over their heads), and right now a room with a door is not an option. I have found that wearing earbuds makes it easier for me to ignore them until they get the message (although my goal would be for them to see the earbuds and know that I’m working and shouldn’t be interrupted), and I also think we need to focus more on reminding them not to interrupt, to ask Sean questions during my office hours, etc.
10. Create regularly—piano, doodling and hand lettering, baking, crocheting and sewing.
WHY: I want to continue unlocking the creative side of myself, improving the practical skills and practicing rest even when I can’t read.
As I mentioned in my post about creative goals, piano is the area where I’m making the most progress, both because I love it and because I don’t want to disappoint our sweet piano teacher. I made a lot of time for doodling during my retreat (because there was no toddler crawling all over me, stealing pens or crumbling papers), and I’m hopeful that I’ll have more time for doodling and hand lettering in the evenings once the special project I’m currently working on ends. With Valentine’s Day and our second daughter’s 9th birthday coming up, I should have some opportunities to try some new baking skills as well, although I think crocheting and sewing may need to wait a bit until some of these other routines are more established.
Overall, I could not be more excited about what the rest of 2015 holds. While 2014 was a good year, it became obvious by the end of the year that I needed to make some changes to my workload, schedule, etc. in order for our family to thrive. And I’ll be honest—working toward these goals is a lot of work. I think about them often and have to make intentional choices all day long. Truthfully, I’m as surprised as anyone that I’ve actually had so many successes this year. I’m not under any illusion that from this point forward my life will be perfect, but I have learned so much about goal setting, living intentionally, and myself, and I hope these successes will continue to build momentum this year.
How about you? How do you feel about your goals or “one word” for 2015? How have they impacted your year so far?