Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Slow Ambitions: 2016 Goals Recap

In 2016 my word for the year was "slow" and I picked ten focus areas to work on and then came up with around fifty small goals that I tried to work into my monthly goals. I feel like overall, I did pretty well with the slow theme and the pace of our life feels really good. Some of my goals were met and some weren't, which is completely unsurprising, of course. It was fun to look back and assess myself!

Focus Areas for 2016:
1. Faith
2. Family
3. Relationships
4. Health
5. Creativity/Passion
6. Education/Edification
7. Organization
8. Travel
9. Finances
10. Joy/Gratitude

I want to be reminded often of the scandal of Grace and I want to live an authentic life that points to the Gospel.
1. Pray daily. You know, this became a pretty organic thing. I really wanted to develop some "patterns" of prayer and that didn't happen this year, but what did was even better!
2. Read at least one short devotion daily. I was off and on with this again this year.
3. Find a substantive but not overwhelming Bible study to commit to. Not really and I hate that. I was thinking of doing one with a group I used to be in this coming year, but I decided against it. I do need to find something for myself. I think I'm going to try to really commit to She Reads Truth for January and maybe February and then see if I want to do something else in the Spring.
4. Begin the process of joining Northside as a member. I began the process (really just talking to the pastor about a few things) and the children and I actually joined on the first day of 2017! So special.
5. Look for ways to serve others. Hmmm, I think I did pretty well with this. It wasn't necessarily in the way I thought I would, though. I find my work at the grief center incredibly fulfilling and I've realized how much it means to send someone a note, or make them a meal, or even just listen to them share something difficult they are facing.

I want to love those closest to me in a fierce and selfless and practical way. 
6. Prioritize my relationship with Peyton. I asked him about this one and he said he felt good about it but that it's hard to qualify. I purposefully make these yearly goals kind of open ended, but that does make them hard to measure. I'd say overall I did pretty good with this one, especially for having an infant. I find during that particular season it's inevitable you won't be able to prioritize your marriage as much as at other times (at least that's the case for me), and while it doesn't mean it has to suffer, it's good to just acknowledge that and move on.
7. Set specific goals for the children. I did this exactly once, I think. So not a total fail, but not what I had hoped for. I'd like to try again this year!
8. Observe my family member's unique personalities, gifts, and weaknesses and use that knowledge to serve them. This is such a hobby of mine, so it was an easy and enjoyable task!
9. Practice patience and flexibility. Key word there is "practice" and I sure still need a lot of it! It did help to try to keep it in the forefront of my mind this year, though.

I want my lifestyle to reflect my priorities- PEOPLE above activities, obligations, and things. 
10. Spend time with people in ways that are meaningful and that make sense. I think I did do well with this, too. There are some friendships I need to be more intentional with, but I did make some progress in this area (starting a quarterly book club with friends with similar interests, for example).
11. Be intentional about keeping connected with our close friends. I'd say I was pretty successful here- again, there's always room for improvement but things like emailing with certain friends and texting more with others have helped.
12. Be intentional about cultivating new-er friendships. I'm not sure. I've enjoyed a lot of "acquaintance" type relationships that have somewhat developed into a bit more but I'm not sure they'll ever move into "good friend" territory, more because people (ourselves included) are just busy. There are a handful of people I've had every intention of reaching out to about getting together this year and it just never happened
13. Prioritize people over "accomplishing things". Whew. I know this will always be a struggle for me. I would say some months I did well and some I got overwhelmed and didn't.
14. Continue to make space to communicate over email. As I mentioned, I have one friend this works really well with. I have a couple of others that I do it sporadically with.
15. Prioritize our children's friendships. This one is tough and it's one of the areas where I probably failed pretty hard this year. Besides weekly cousin dates and stuff with the homeschool group (which are really more acquaintances for Annie and Graves), we haven't done all that great. Annie did start taking piano lessons from a good friend several months ago and it allows her and Graves to get together with a lot of their close friends since one of their momma teaches the lessons and another friend of Annie's is learning at the same time.
16. Challenge myself to form and cultivate friendships that are outside my comfort zone. I'd say this goes along with number twelve. I did some forming (outside my comfort zone) but very little cultivating (further outside my comfort zone).

I want to train myself in habits that will lead to a (physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually) healthier me in a way that is not burdensome and can be practiced longterm.
17. Take smalls steps toward more healthy food choices. I honestly probably made better food choices when I was pregnant than I ever have before. It's just what I craved. Not to say I was super healthy, but I ate more produce and that kind of thing than at any other point in my adult life. I wouldn't say I've reverted back, but I don't think I eat as well as I did.
18. Exercise more frequently. Hard nope. In my defense, I was pregnant half the year and then had that post-partum period. But that's six months plus six weeks, so there was a good bit of time to have done something.
19. After the baby comes, do some real work on altering my lifestyle to try to significantly decrease my headaches. Yeah, no. Which is another thing I'm really disappointed in. I know you can't do it all, but this is something I NEED to prioritize.
20. Establish patterns of silence and stillness in my day. Whew. Not really. And I would be so well served to do so.
21. Daily practice some form of self-care. I didn't always do it daily and I never really tracked it even though I meant to, but I think I did better than I have in some past years.
22. Explore the things that "center" and relax me. Lots of room for improvement here, too. I kinda forgot about this one.

I want to lean into and further discover the things that make me feel alive and understood and devote time and energy to those things.
23. Search for, and surround myself with, inspiration. YES. I've set up my Instagram feed where I'm following more "inspirational" accounts. I know some people hate those because it doesn't feel very real. And I do love some grit. But when I recognize that it's highly curated and just enjoy it, it relaxes me. I've also collected lots of good quotes. One area I'd love to improve is music. I stopped doing my monthly playlists and I miss them.
24. Write more in a creative, imaginative way (rather than just documenting). I shared a good bit about this in a recent post. I didn't write creatively so much as reflectively. Both are important, I think and I feel good about it.
25. Read more books. Not really. This may well be the on going struggle of my adult life. Okay, that was dramatic. An ongoing struggle, how bout? I want to read so much and I know it's about making time, not having it so I really have no excuse.
26. Enjoy our camera more. Peyton did this for me some. He was really good about taking "action" shots and videos of the big kids doing fun things. I was really good about documenting the baby sleeping ;) I'm sure I will cherish both more than we can comprehend right now.
27. Think through my passions and outlets and how I make time for those. Yeah, I think I did that, actually. More in the later part of the year but I do think I'm becoming better at organizing my time and figuring out what is worth dedicating it to. 

I want to be a woman who is always learning and I want to teach my children well.
28. Think of ways to make school more fun and engaging for the children. This was not, in fact, the year for this kind of thing. We've had a REALLY fun school year and I've seen so much growth, but a lot of it has been picking up a curriculum and doing it. Ever so grateful we, with the help of many amazing friends and mentors, we've chosen really, really wonderful engaging curriculums that do a lot of that work for us.
29. Read together (with Peyton and the children). With P, we've read together basically nothing. With the children, I've had a less than stellar year. That's...heartbreaking. Again, not to be dramatic. It is what it is and I have the gift of knowing I've done well in the past and the confidence I'll do better in the future. 
30. Read twelve books on varying and diverse topics.Well, I totaled it up and I read parts of eight books this year. As if that weren't bad enough, I completed exactly two of those. I already touched on this with number twenty five so I won't belabor the point.
31. Watch twelve documentaries. No. I watched exactly one. Pitiful. Actually, the bulk of this project would be making a list of the twelve I want to see. I found this list recently and decided it would be a good starting place. So on next year's list it goes!

I want to work on things that will help me gain mental space and free up energy in the long run.
32. Back up everything on the computer and wipe it out. No. But I'm very determined to do it this month or at least by the end of February. It's a SUPER daunting task to me.
33. Get back in the habit of organizing pictures when I upload them. Sort of. I need to figure out a new and more efficient system.
34. Continue to purge our house, though to a lesser degree. There's a lot left to be done, but I'm proud of what I've accomplished in this area.
35. Consistently work to keep things (closets, drawers, cabinets) clean, organized, and minimal. I think I've done a much better job here, too. I still need to retrain myself some more, though.
36. Make time each week to plan activities for the coming week, plan school for the coming week, and plan meals for the coming week. No. We do okay and then drop it. I wish we could figure this out because it benefits us so much.
37. Care for the house (CLEAN) in a way that is sustainable and practical but also thorough and frequent. I feel like I've kind of found the balance with this. Sometimes I go too long. Sometimes I get too obsessed and let it take the place of more important things. But overall, short of hiring a cleaning service (which is never gonna happen in this house), I think we've found the sweet spot. It helps to have Peyton's help.
38. Examine ways to better manage my time. I've analyzed this a lot lately and really it deserves it's own post or two. But yes!
39. Be very discriminating in the activities we commit to and the purchases we make. I think we did well with finding the balance here, too. I did mostly only things I wanted to and bought mostly only things I loved.
These may seem counter-intuitive to the overall theme, but I want to live small and slow near home and I also want to challenge myself to be open to adventure elsewhere.
40. Take friend trip to Nashville in February. We did this and had a great time! It was a nice catch up with Ashley and I always enjoy a road trip and Carrie's a great friend for one!
41. Take "babymoon" to NYC in April. We did and it was definitely one of our best couple trips we've ever taken.
42. Plan small camping trips and other close, low cost, family focused excursions for the four (and later five!) of us. Praise God that I do love road trips, because instead of a few small ones, we took one big twelve hundred mile, many many hours, long trip. We hit five (I think?) national parks. WITH THE BABY. Can you tell I felt accomplished with number forty two? Ha!

 I want to continue to work toward a more frugal lifestyle and push back against what the culture says is important.
43. Spend the money I make in a careful and thoughtful way. Well, I didn't make a lot but what I did I was pretty careful with. 
44. Make the most of opportunities that are free or low cost. I think we've gotten pretty good at this. We try to take advantage of free things (hello, NATURE!) and we've gotten really good at eating out hacks where we split things and order appetizers and such.
45. Appreciate the ways the Lord will use this sort of discipline to sanctify me. I haven't dwelt on this a ton as it's been easier than I thought, but yes, I know He is using it.

I want to focus my mind and heart often on the things I am grateful for and the things that bring me joy.
48. Make thankful lists at times other than the month of November. I didn't do this and I so should have.
49. Find other specific ways to express thankfulness. I mostly just worked on trying to tell people I appreciated them.
50. Learn how to be content without buying things. It, like everything, is a work in progress. And, like everything, it's not a linear journey.
51.  Be vulnerable in telling others how thankful I am for them. As I mentioned, I think I'm doing this more.
52. Surround myself with words, music, and people that bring joy. Again, I did well with the words and people. I want to work on incorporating more music into our days in 2017.
53. Challenge myself to hold things loosely. This is getting easier and easier for some reason. And I think it's something outside of myself. Maturity? Perspective? I dunno. But it feels real good.

So, now my thoughts:

- This was my third year to organize goals this way (focus areas and goals for the year that I tried to incorporate into monthly goaling). I think I'll always do it this way and each year it's fun to tweak it and make it work for me a little bit better.
- I do feel like I'm getting better at goal setting and pinning down the things I value and want to prioritize and accomplish. I'm excited about doing my 2017 list later in the week!
- It's interesting, because I noticed the same thing last year, but with the more fluid, relational things that are harder to qualify I felt good. With the the concrete, measurable tasks, I didn't do as well. Now, that could be my bias because with the former I don't have a clear way to measure it and I just have to go with my feelings, whereas with the latter, it's clear when I don't succeed. Or, it could be that the former are just easier for me personally. Or it could be that they are easier goals in general. Or it could be that I'm prioritizing relationships more than to-dos, which is a focus point itself! I think it's probably a little bit of each.

Next up, 2017 goals! 

1 comment:

Mallory Pickering said...

You're so smart and insightful, SD.