20 February 2017
How are you all feeling about your 2017 goals, if you made some? (My company actually declared last week “Cultivate What Matters Week” because February 15th is statistically the day that the majority of people give up on their yearly goals!) I am feeling pretty good overall. I’m particularly excited about one practice I’ve implemented to help with my second and third focal areas: loving my loved ones well and cultivating a rich life for my family.
If you’re curious about my planner, you can read more about it here!
It’s my monthly prep days! When I thought about what had stopped me in the past from doing kind and fun things for the people I love, it wasn’t a lack of money or time, it was a lack of preparation. This came up over and over again as I filled out my PowerSheets, and eventually led to my word of the year (preparation!).
Starting in January, I’ve designated one day a month my monthly prep day. They’re usually on the last Sunday of the month, and I’ve already put them on my calendar for the rest of the year. I’ve noticed a huge difference in just the two months I’ve tried them so far, and wanted to share! Here’s what I do:
— After June goes to bed, I sit down with a few supplies: my laptop, my planner, my perpetual birthday calendar, and my phone.
— First, I note any birthdays coming up in the next month. If I’m going to send a card, I write the card, address it, and put a stamp on it. If I’m going to get a gift, I decide what it’s going to be and order it (or make a plan to buy it). I also set individual reminders on my phone to call or send a text to each person on his or her birthday.
— Then, I look through my planner and note any upcoming holidays or events. Where appropriate, I decide how we’re going to celebrate, and then make a plan. For example, in February, we had the Super Bowl, the Walking Dead premiere (ha!), Valentine’s Day, the Oscars, my Favorite Things party, and my birthday. Right then and there, I decided what special game day food we were going to make for the Super Bowl, I made a note to buy a Valentine’s Day card for John, I decided what we were going to do for June’s teachers for Valentine’s Day, I made the invite for the Favorite Things party, and more. Not everything gets done that evening, but I try to at least make a plan for anything I can’t do right then.
— I run down some of our normal monthly happenings and consider whether we want to schedule anything for the month: dinner with friends? A date night? A trip to the Museum of Life & Science? Some other sort of adventure? If necessary, I reach out to friends, make a restaurant reservation, etc.
— If a babysitter is required for any event, I text our babysitter and try to get on her calendar.
— Finally, I try to think if there’s anyone that’s been on my heart — someone who’s been celebrating or hurting, or who I just haven’t connected with in a while. If applicable, I take some sort of action there!
All told, my monthly prep usually takes about two hours. I do NOT do it perfectly, it needs to be said. Even with all this forethought, I forget things, I leave things to the last minute, I say the wrong thing or don’t say anything at all when something should be said. But I’m trying! And instituting these prep days has helped me immensely.
The downside? Decision fatigue can set in big time, and John is not always on board to be peppered with questions about what we should do for this or that (which is fair enough, since I’m working on my timeline, not his!).
One final tip: If you see someone celebrating in a way you love and you want to try it yourself, write it down! I have a simple doc on my computer, split into months, where I write down cute or clever ideas I see. Just got a lot for Valentine’s Day 2018 from all the sweet things you guys posted last week :)
I’d love to hear: do you have any systems for thoughtfulness? Or are you just a naturally, spontaneously fun and celebratory person? :)
1 February 2017
I am so pleased with the progress I’ve made on my 2017 goals — little bits, but all in the right direction. February is the last month of my 60 Before 30 project, so in addition to my four focal areas, you’ll also see monthly goals pulled from that list to finish strong. And, I added a new update that I’m planning to include going forward: what I read in the last month!
What I read in January: Celebrate Everything, The Meaning of Marriage, The Power of a Praying Wife (ongoing), and The Lifegiving Home (ongoing). Those last two I plan to read a little at a time throughout the year!
Revisiting my goals for January:
Head to Val’s site and choose and order a prayer journal (was deciding between this one and this one and ended up ordering the undated)
Look over Val’s recommended books on prayer and purchase one (bought this one and this one!)
Mark monthly prep days in my planner and try my first one for January
Celebrate June’s first birthday in tuxedo cat style!
Finish June’s one year video
Attend my free trial ballet class
Restock my supply of cards
Set a date for my favorite things party
Buy one product Sam recommended during my personal consult
Peruse the aisles of a bookstore for a new Bible
— Peruse the aisles of a bookstore for a new Bible
— Fill out the first month in my prayer journal
— Host a favorite things party for neighborhood friends
— Start my weekly ballet class!
— Submit everything for HOA approval for our backyard project (it’s back on!)
— Post one city for my Triangle guide
— Hit 10k steps 4 out of 7 days a week (this will be a challenge, as I only hit 10k two days a week on average in January…)
— Get our wills notorized
— Go to the Museum of Life & Science with June (we got a membership for Christmas!)
As a reminder, here are my 2017 guideposts. If you’ve posted your goals somewhere, I’d love to see – or just drop them in the comments!
3 January 2017
Happy 2017, friends! The company I work for is a big fan of the phrase “there is nothing magical about January 1.” And while I wholeheartedly believe that, I also think there IS something special, invigorating, and exciting about turning the page on a new year. Some of the best things in my life have come out of looking back, looking forward, and making intentional decisions about how I’ll use my time, focus, and resources. In that spirit, I’m excited to share my 2017 goals with you today!
But first, let’s briefly revisit 2016 (again). For 2016, the year I knew we’d be welcoming our first daughter, I decided to set guideposts. From last January’s post: I love the idea of having something to measure myself against throughout the next twelve months – a touchstone to refer back to in this year that has the potential to be tumultuous. Because you know, the one thing people love to tell you about kids is that they will change your life in ways you could never imagine. And while I welcome that, I also don’t want to start at zero on January 15. I want to protect and preserve the best parts of the life John and I have built together over the last ten years while welcoming the changes that will inevitably come. So, knowing that this Big Change has the potential to throw us off track and derail the progress we’ve made, I want to establish guideposts that I can look to to remind myself of what matters most to us as we integrate our girl into our life over the next year.
This worked out SO well. I referred back to that post each time I set my monthly goals, and it was the perfect encouragement to keep me working toward the life I want.
For 2017, I’m keeping the intention that worked so well for me last year but giving it a little more specificity. Still, I hesitate to even call these next four things goals, because they certainly aren’t goals by the SMART definition. I’m thinking of them more as focal areas, and I plan to flesh them out with specific, smaller goals each month as I work through my PowerSheets.
My four focal areas for this year of PREPARED (my word for the year!):
1. Become a woman of prayer. Pray diligently for John and June. Pray with John and June. Turn first to prayer. Know Him better. Anything I want to accomplish, do, or be needs to start here.
Why? Prayer has never been something that’s come naturally to me, and I hope this is the year that changes. I know all the fruits of the spirit I so deeply want to embody – joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness – flow from a heart connected to the giver of Life.
How I will feel at the end of this year having made progress on this goal: Peaceful, more assured, and more mature in my faith.
How I will know I accomplished or made progress on this goal: I will hopefully see the fruit of this goal in my life, and in the life of my family. John, June, and I will pray regularly together. I will have established rhythms of prayer in my life. I will feel comfortable praying out loud and will naturally turn first to prayer.
2. Love my loved ones well. Through good and hard things, surprising and delighting them along the way.
Why? My people are most important. I want them to feel His love through me. This is the primary circle of influence I’ve been given and I want to honor it.
How I will feel at the end of this year having made progress on this goal: Grateful that I am pouring out effort in the right places. Satisfied, on top of things.
How I will know I accomplished or made progress on this goal: I will have systems in place for important touch points. Loving on others won’t feel overwhelming or like a burden, but a natural, gracious way of life.
3. Cultivate a rich life for my family. Find joy in the smallest adventures, establish traditions, and create space for fun.
Why? I specifically chose the word “rich” for this goal, because even in this year where we will be quite conservative financially-speaking, I want to create deep, joyful, rich time together for our family of three. I know this is completely possible, but it will take thoughtful planning and a willing heart. (More about this later!)
How I will feel at the end of this year having made progress on this goal: Content. Grateful for a year of sweet memories.
How I will know I accomplished or made progress on this goal: We will love to tell each other stories about the things we did in 2017! As silly as it sounds, I always love looking back at our photos on Instagram, too :)
4. Live fit. Take a ballet class. Run. Build muscle. Stretch. Ride our bikes. Walk in the evenings. Hit 10k steps on my Fitbit.
Why? I want to honor my good health by reestablishing a healthy lifestyle. Most of the things I want to do and be require a healthy, physically fit body, and I want to be proactive about maintaining mine!
How I will feel at the end of this year having made progress on this goal: Strong! Confident, prepared.
How I will know I accomplished or made progress on this goal: I will have greater flexibility, greater stamina, more strength, and more energy!
And now, here are my goals for January:
— Head to Val’s site and choose and order a prayer journal
— Look over Val’s recommended books on prayer and purchase one (considering this one or this one – any other suggestions?)
— Mark monthly prep days in my planner (more about this later!) and try my first one for January. I need a better name for these!
— Celebrate June’s first birthday in tuxedo cat style! (hint hint :))
— Finish June’s one year video!
— Attend my free trial ballet class
— Restock my supply of cards (birthday and otherwise)
— Set a date for my favorite things party!
— Buy one product Sam recommended during my personal consult (more about that soon!!)
— Peruse the aisles of a bookstore for a new Bible
There are few things I love more than reading about other’s goals! (Second only to reading other people’s Christmas cards, haha!) If you’ve posted your goals somewhere, I’d love to see – or just drop them in the comments! I can’t wait to take a peek and cheer you on.
Vision board credits, clockwise from top left: patriotic couple photo by Laura Ivanova, blueberry photo by Elaine Palladino, beach house, Jenny Komenda’s play room, personal photo from Michigan, tomato sauce, clever little pool, Simply Seleta ballet photo, office photo, camping photo from Lovely Morning, Laura Ingalls Wilder quote, Rylee Hitchner photo from Southern Weddings
1 December 2016
As I hoped it would be, November was full of so much love — and, lucky me, December looks to be the same way. From a quick work trip to Sea Island that the J’s get to accompany me on to another epic road trip for a Connecticut Christmas (this time overnight – hold me) to a brunch reunion planned with all of our high school friends, I am grateful. But you know what the best kind of love is? A tiny baby who came to love all of us two thousand years ago, so that we could love others. I’m making sinking that into my heart the priority this month, even as I work on the goals below!
P.S. I love using the PowerSheets to track my professional goals (and sometimes personal ones, too – I shared a little bit about my process last year). The 2017 workbook is truly awesome!
Revisiting my goals for November:
Make reservations for June’s baptism celebration
Buy June’s baptism gift
Choose our outfits for family photos (sneak peek above!)
Finish our will
Post my guide to the Triangle (more progress has been made! :))
Begin crafting for June’s birthday party! (Started a brainstorming doc, bought some supplies on Black Friday, and designed the invitations last night!)
— Design and print our Christmas newsletter + send out our Christmas cards with love (and personal notes!)
— Send invitations for J’s first birthday party (!)
— Give away as much as we spend on Christmas gifts in our church’s Christmas Eve offering
— Love on our trash and recycling guys, my post office peeps, and June’s teachers. (Homemade toffee will likely be in the mix.)
— Finish our will (This is it, people. Really. It’s happening. It is.)
— Go out to dinner with John for our 2016 review + celebration
— Have lots and lots of fun celebrating Christmas with our families and friends in Connecticut
As a reminder, here are my 2016 guideposts. If you’ve posted your goals somewhere, I’d love to see – or just drop them in the comments!