January 27, 2017

Grace for Personal Goal Setting in the New Year

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This month I have talked about all the ways that I am trying to set myself up for successful goal setting in the New Year.  I have my word of the year, I have figured out what my long range goals are and I finally was able to go through those goals to make them into more manageable goals using my word of the year.  Now, since we are at the end of January, it is time to share some of those goals with you, my wonderful readers!

I know what you are saying, it is the end of January, how can you be writing out your goals now?!  Well, although in years past I have loved having the opportunity to take the week between Christmas and New Years to get all of my goals written out and reflect on the previous year, the past couple of years that has not happened.  Instead of getting upset about how I can seem to get my schedule to work, I have decided to embrace it.  


Easing into the New Year throughout January has helped me to combat the after Christmas blues, it has allowed me freedom to know that I don’t need to make all the changes on day one.  If you are looking for a much more eloquent explanation of this, I would visit Renee at Fimby – she explains this easing into the New Year and how it is working for her this year.

I am going to get my easiest-to-make goal out of the way first – read 100 books.

This has been a goal of mine since 2013.  I think that I successfully read 100 books in one of the past four years.  I know that I can do it, but trying to keep myself on track to read a couple books each week is difficult.  I definitely go through phases of reading a lot, and phases of reading very little. 

Because we have a literature based approach to homeschooling, I do a lot of read alouds with my kids.  I have decided that instead of only logging the longer books, I am going to log everything that I read to the kids as well as the books that I read for myself.  I think this will help give me a true picture of my reading for the year, instead of only logging the books that I read for myself and some of the long read alouds I do (Harry Potter) with the kids.


This is a big one for me this year.  I finally came to the realization in 2014 that self-care was something I needed in my life.  I worked hard to find some of that in 2015, and then it totally went off the rails in 2016. 

I realized that if I don’t plan for that time, it won’t happen.

There is always someone else to take care of, something else that needs my attention, and my own self-care gets put on the back-burner.  When that happens I get burned out, and that is no way to live.  If I don’t take care of myself, how can I take care of my family.

I am going to make it a point to schedule time for myself.  I want to have one planning weekend a quarter and a bi-weekly evening of quiet.


The planning weekend is partly homeschool related, I need to be able to sit and figure out where we will go next in our homeschool journey.  I also want to use this planning weekend as a time to revisit my goals, see what is working, make changes and figure out next steps in the process.

This planning weekend will be an interesting attempt, and I’m not sure how realistic it is with three little ones, but I am going to try and get all of my ducks in a row so that I can at least try to get away for one day each quarter and get my “work” done.

I have seen two examples of this weekend off.  One from Erin at the Humbled Homemaker, and the other more recently from Renee over at FIMBY.  Both of these women have written some amazing words about the practice, and it is something I have come to desire in my own life.  I plan to use the tips that these women have shared to create my own planning weekend retreat.

The bi-weekly evening of quiet is something that I started doing in the fall when I was at my breaking point.  I would go down to my mom’s house, use her internet, and really just sit and do nothing.  It was very welcome, and I plan to continue this in the New Year, especially now that the holiday madness has calmed down.

Keeping a Sabbath

As a Christian, I should keep a Sabbath, but I don’t.  In fact, when Sunday rolls around, I try to cram as much stuff in after church as possible.  It is the one day of the week where we typically don’t have plans, so I use the time to work like a mad woman; clean the house, get laundry done, write for my blog, do social sharing, try and tackle big de-cluttering or organizing projects.

It has to stop.

Since my word of the year is Margin, I know that I need to create that in my life, and taking a Sabbath is going to help me to re-center myself and prepare for the week.

I have written in the past about Unplugged Sunday and the need to take a rest from technology one day each week, but it is difficult, and something that I definitely need to work on. 

I’m not entirely sure what our Sabbath rest will look like, whether we will use that time to get outside and enjoy nature, whether we will use it as a family game time, or if we will watch a movie and just enjoy each other’s company.  This is more of a family goal, not just for me personally.  I know that having this time to reconnect as a family is important, especially with how busy we have been over the past several months, and I think observing the Sabbath is a perfect way to do that.


I love to cook, I enjoy cooking from scratch, I love to see the bowls of beans and grains sitting on my counter soaking, I love the time it takes me to make meals, the entire process is fun for me – except when I forget to soak the beans, or miss the window of time to get the slow cooker going, or if I just don’t feel like eating a specific meal that day.


I have an awful time with meal planning.  I am much more a spur of the moment person when it comes to what we will eat in a day, and I think it is because I enjoy cooking, and the challenge of coming up with meals using what we have in the house. 

Unfortunately, this is the worst way to prepare meals for a family of five.  I have come to realize that trying to make meals with three littles in the house is next to impossible.  Come 4pm everyone is hungry, everyone is cranky, and I am also at my wits end – not a great combo when trying to get dinner ready.


Meal planning in and of itself is super easy for me, just write down a bunch of meals, nothing to it.  The challenge for me is actually sticking to that meal plan.  I can have all the ingredients in the house for a meal, and then either not want to make it because I don’t feel like eating that particular thing, or for the above mentioned forgetting to get the food prepared in a timely manner.


The change that I plan to make for my meal planning this year, in order for it to actually be successful, is to work more on freezer meals.

Freezer meals are not something new, there are tons of recipes on Pinterest that go on and on about freezer cooking.  The problem I have is that I don’t typically have these types of ingredients on hand to make the freezer crock pot meals that everyone raves about.


In the fall I signed up for a course with Heather Bruggeman from beauty that moves called whole food freezer cooking.  When the class was live, my entire family was sick, so I didn’t actually take the class.  I did however download all the e-books and material for the class, and now I plan to work through all of that material in order to stock my freezer with some delicious and healthy meals for the future.


I think this will definitely be a game changer for me.  Having the ability to take something out of the freezer (beyond the soups that I normally make) will be something that helps me when the evenings are crazy – and honestly, they are always crazy!

I am really excited about these goals for 2017.  I think it is going to be an amazing year with a ton of opportunity for growth, both personally and with my family. 

I know that throughout the year my goals will evolve, and I will add more to the list, but I thought this would be a good place to start.


What is one personal goal you are working on for this year?

January 25, 2017

Homeschooling in the New Year - What Needs to Change

If there is one thing I learned on our long homeschool break over the holidays, it is that we needed a long homeschool break over the holidays.  I really love year round homeschooling, but this fall was particularly difficult, and I knew that there would need to be changes come January.

This past fall we had a great time.  My husband ended up taking several long weekends during September and October, and it was wonderful to have him home.  But, because of that, we never really seemed to get back into a good weekly school routine.

We still did school, but it is difficult to do school when Dad is home from work – especially when the weather is beautiful and we all just want to play. 

We ended up dropping our science curriculum after a couple of lessons in favor of being outside.  I have been stretching year one of two of U.S. History for 18 months because Emma was on the younger end for the curriculum.  I felt behind, even though there is no measure of what behind actually is since I am the one making the lessons plans.

It was a challenging fall school wise, and our long winter break was a respite we all needed.

Homeschooling in the New Year - What Needs to Change

Now here we are in the New Year, and just like I enjoy changing the calendar to the New Year for my personal goals, I also enjoy the change of the calendar for homeschooling.  It gives me permission to revamp what it is we do all day.

First, similar to writing my New Year’s goals, I needed to look at what we have been doing with homeschooling the past several months.  I need that reflection in order to make necessary changes.

Knowing that we need a reliable routine is the biggest takeaway that I had from last fall.

Our “normal” day starts at 9am and ends right around lunch time.  However, this schedule didn’t seem to work last fall.  We were out of the house a lot more for activities, and when that happens, the entire week gets thrown off.  There was one day in particular that we would spend first thing getting ready to get out of the house, get to the activity, get home a little before lunch time, make lunch, get Lucy down for a nap, and then it was time to start thinking about dinner just to go to the evening activity as soon as Dad walks in the door. 

There wasn’t much school able to happen outside of the activities the kids were involved in.


Now, I’m not saying that is a bad thing, just the opposite.  I think that activities are great for kids, but it was seriously throwing off the rest of what we had to accomplish in the week (because we had activities 3 other nights as well).

As an introvert, I need that quiet in order to recharge, and unfortunately was not getting any quiet at all.  And all of a sudden I noticed that the kids were a bit stressed out.  I have a feeling that was attributed more to my attitude than to their own, but the busyness of it all started to have an effect on everyone.


Luckily this feeling came right around the same time we were going to start our long homeschool break – perfect timing.

Where do we go from here?

Like I said above, we have been stretching our core homeschool curriculum for quite a while, and so my plan is to back off from that this winter term.

I plan to get back to more basic elements of school – reading and math – and then I would like to start incorporating more projects into our school. 

I have talked about projects and project based homeschooling before, but I have had a hard time implementing projects into our homeschool.  When I last tried more projects, the kids were a couple years younger, and not so interested in staying with something for any length of time. 


I wanted more elaborate projects, and they wanted construction paper and glue and glitter.  And there was nothing wrong with that, but it isn’t what I was thinking about when I thought about projects!

This past fall Emma decided that she wanted to publish a book.  She took it upon herself to find a book of agents at the library, found one, and had Matt e-mail her first book (all 14 pages of it) to the agent in order to get published.  The agent declined, but wrote the most heartfelt reply e-mail to not give up and to continue writing so that one day she is able to publish a book.

I wanted to cry at how wonderful that was.


While I was thinking about how wonderful it had been, I realized that I had not supported her enough when she talked about publishing a book.  In my head I thought, 8 year old, handwritten story, not going to work.  I encouraged her in her writing, but I wasn’t as supportive about trying to find an agent to publish the book because I knew the end result would be not publishing the book.  I didn’t consider that an agent would take the time to write a nice reply and be so encouraging that Emma now has two other “books” that she has written and countless other stories in her mind.

What could I have done differently in that situation?

I could have helped her more with the process.  The blame doesn’t only fall on me of course.  When she came out with her first draft and there were misspelled words, she was not pleased when I suggested we go through and write a second draft.  That first draft was THE draft that she wanted sent to the agent.

However, I could have had her dictate the story to me.  I could have typed the story out, and she could have then handwritten the final draft rather than the first draft and run out of steam.  I also could have spent more time talking about the process of writing a book, and what is involved, as well as what happens when you get an agent, and then an editor, and eventually a publisher. 


This is something I hope to explore further with her in the New Year.

I want to see the passion in my kids’ eyes for a project that they choose and want to run with.

Jack especially loves making movies.  I have mentioned before about how he loves stop-motion.  However, recently he has decided that he wants to make real live-action movies.  But, he reminded me that he has ideas for costumes, and so he has been asking me to teach him to sew so that he can make costumes for his movies.  

That to me is amazing!  And incredibly daunting considering he is six years old, and my own sewing skills are not practiced enough to construct costumes for him and whomever else he decides will be in the movie – especially without a pattern.

But, he is convinced that he needs to learn to sew, so I plan to work sewing back into our homeschool day (Emma also wants to sew, but on a much smaller scale – making clothes for her dolls).

I feel like if we can get back to the basics of why we chose to homeschool – in order to create a lifelong love of learning – then everything else should start falling back into place.

There are times that I definitely feel like I have gotten off track, and start to revert back to a “school-at-home” model.  I consider what the kids in our local public school are doing, and I want to make sure that my kids keep up.  They do, but I think I often spend more time fretting about that, rather than taking advantage of the flexibility (more than the scheduling) homeschooling provides. 


I used to worry when people would ask my kids how school was, and that the answer was almost always “we don’t do school.”  How do you explain that the learning they are doing in the everyday is school?  How do you explain that when your child picks up a book and reads for an hour that that is school, even though she doesn’t think it is school because mom didn’t pick out the book?

We only started school again on January 9th, so I will have to give it a couple more weeks to see how things are shaping up in our homeschool to give a better idea of what is to come.

For now, I need to remember my original purpose – create a love of lifelong learning in my children.


What do you do when you get off track due to outside influences taking over?


January 23, 2017

Selling your Old Smartphone - What you Need to Know

This is a sponsored post on behalf of U.S. Cellular.  All opinions, as always are my own!

What do you do with your old cell phone once you upgrade?  I think that is a question a lot of us face, especially after the holiday season where so many people did get an upgrade to their phone!

I am considering an upgrade to an iPhone 7 myself.  But, if I get that iPhone 7 I will then have several old iPhones.  I think it is about time I start selling some of them so that I can get a little extra money, and not worry about having a bunch of unused devices in my house.

If you need more help after reading my tips, make sure to visit your local U.S. Cellular store – they have an amazing customer service department that will help you with any and all questions (I utilize them frequently!).

The most important thing to consider when selling an old phone is to remove all personal information from the phone.

Many of us keep personal information on our phones, from saved passwords and financial information, to pictures and videos.  What do you do with all that information before you sell your device?


First – back up to your cloud account.  This is really the first step.  You want to make sure that all of your information is saved in your cloud account.  It allows for easy transfer to your new device, and you are able to have confidence that you will not lose anything.

Remove your SIM card.  The SIM card is the external storage device for your phone.  You definitely want to remove this before selling your phone.  It is the small, rectangular shaped card that is usually located near your phone battery.

Log out of services such as e-mail and social media.  You want to make sure that you have logged out and clear all your data from these apps. 

Disconnect from your cloud account.   Make sure that you disconnect your device from your cloud account.  You obviously do not want people having access to your cloud information after you have sold your phone.

Remove mobile payment options.  These days many people are using mobile banking for bill payment and other financial needs, make sure that you remove these options from your phone.

Restore the phone to factory settings.  This should remove all personal information, but I would definitely follow the above steps first, just to make sure everything is really gone from the phone.

Disconnect service.  Chances are, if you upgraded, you have already disconnected service from your phone.  However, if you haven’t, make sure that you do!

Unregister device.  If the phone is registered with Apple by its serial number, remove it by logging into supportprofile.apple.com with the Apple ID information.

Similarly, Androids will need to be unregistered. First, go to the Google Play store from a computer's Web browser. Then, go to the gear icon at the top-right-hand corner of the screen, and select the Settings option. Deselect the device from the Google account under the Visibility option. This will hide select devices from appearing in the Play store when attempting to download a new app.

And finally, if you are looking into purchasing a used device, it is recommended that you wipe your new phone clean before personalizing it with your own information.  That will ensure that the device settings, data, and apps are yours only.  You will start with a clean slate!


Did you upgrade your phone over the holidays?  What do you do with your old phone when you do upgrade?

January 16, 2017

How to Create White Space in your Day and Why that is Important

Creating white space in my days is one of my biggest goals this year.  But what is white space?  White space is that margin in your day, your breathing room.

I know that probably sounds funny, why would you want to create white space in your day, but I realized during my year of action last year that I need that white space in order to be present in my life.  I can’t continue to fill it up when I see an opening.

Several years ago I learned to say no.  It seems like such an easy concept, but I was used to saying yes, no matter how much I actually wanted to say no.  I would say yes to time commitments that didn’t make sense for our family, and I would say yes to toys that I knew I didn’t really want in our home.

It was incredibly stressful.

In 2015 I had a pretty good balance of white space in my life, and I think that was partly because I had a new little baby to take care of, and it is easy to say no when you have a baby.  Of course, that didn’t really create white space in my life, I had an infant; there is no such thing as white space with an infant!


In 2016, my year of action, I started filling in that white space with a lot of activities.  Activities for me, I wanted to be more involved in our community, so I started to be more involved.  Matt and I wanted the kids in activities, so we enrolled them in more than we normally would.  I was bending over backwards to build up the blog, and that obviously takes an insane amount of time.

All of this took its toll on me.

It became evident to me right around the start of the holidays, and our long homeschool break.  I had let all of the white space fill up again, and that was not healthy, especially as an introvert who needs that quiet and alone time to recharge.


Our holiday break flew by, and I didn’t bake like I normally do, we didn’t do our big Christmas Eve open house like we normally do.  I didn’t blog like I normally do.

It all came to a stop.

The funny thing is that our days were still super busy.  We were still reading books, we still did crafts, I still cleaned my house (for the most part) and tried to read; I still prepared meals.

What this showed me is that I have been overloading my days with the tasks that need to be completed.

I took a step back and realized that even though I was on this “break” my days were still full, and it made me wonder how I had been able to keep up with all the other stuff when my days were already so full.

I needed some changes for my own sanity.

What is the purpose of creating white space?

When I think of white space, I think of room in my calendar.  When there is white space in my calendar I have room to breathe, room to do spur of the moment activities, and room to recharge.


When you have a little bit of free time in your day, you can choose to do other activities on a whim.  Perhaps it is baking cookies with your kids, or doing some meditative coloring, reading a book, or saying yes to a last minute coffee date with a friend.  Having that white space, or margin, allows that to happen.

But how do you get to that point?  How do you incorporate white space?  How do you plan for nothing to be going on?


Believe me, these are questions that I have been asking myself for the last couple of months.

This is a big reason my word of the year is margin, because I need to look at my entire life, and goals, and make sure that I am leaving room for white space in my life.

I realized that it was time for another 168 hours assessment.

Every one of us has 168 hours in the week, and we choose what we will use those hours for.  We can choose to fill them up to overflowing, or we can choose to leave some of those hours, empty spaces.

I looked at everything that I did in a week, and it was slightly overwhelming.  I know that I am constantly jumping back and forth between tasks, homeschooling the kids, mothering the kids, blogging, reading for myself, reading to the kids, knitting, journaling, zoning out in front of the tv at night because it was a particularly difficult evening routine.  Making sure everyone is fed, the never-ending laundry pile; sports practices, games, theater, piano, church.  It was a slightly stressful list of *stuff.*

I get it, how do you even find time in there to make white space?  How can you choose what to give up?  I think that personally I feel the stress of having a toddler, the craziness of being home with three small children.

I need strategies to help me work through these times in order to be the best person I can be, and when I don’t have the white space in my life, my kids feel it.  They can see my stress, and I don’t want that for them.


What can be done?  Well, I realized that I needed to take a hard look at the tasks that I am doing daily and see if there were ways that I could streamline some of them.

I am never going to have a day without interruption, and would be insane to think that would ever happen.  I can’t create a schedule and know that we will stick to it because there are always those urgent needs that come up.

What I have decided is to do just one thing.

When I am homeschooling my kids, make it just about homeschooling instead of jumping around once I get them settled to do some independent work.  

I notice that when I get up to change laundry over, or start to make food, or throw dishes in the dishwasher, my kids tend to take longer at their homeschooling tasks.  This throws off our days, making them longer than they need to be with regards to school.

I need to deal with menu planning in a much better way – by using my freezer to help out.  I can’t even count the number of times 4pm rolls around and I have nothing ready for dinner, and end up getting take out because I don’t have time to prepare any of the whole ingredients I keep in my house before we rush off to our next evening activity.

I have to get help with my blog.  I have been a one woman show for 6 years, but it has gotten to the point where I need a little extra help so that I can concentrate on the things that are most important to me with the blog – sharing my journey and building community.

What can you do with white space? 

Well, you can use it to say yes to activities that you really want to do in the moment, or it can be just that, white space in your day, where you are able to spend time with your family, without being concerned about all the things you *should* be doing.

Do you want to create more white space in your day?  What area do you think you could adjust in order to garner that white space?

January 9, 2017

Using One Word to Facilitate Goal Setting in the New Year

I have talked about choosing one word for the year, and also about how I am more of a long range goal planner, but how do we combine the two?  Today I plan to show you how I am using my one word – margin – in order to guide and facilitate my goals for the New Year.

There seem to be two camps when it comes to goals and planning for the New Year.  One is choosing a guiding word for the year – like margin for me; the other is to make SMART goals (I am completely taking resolutions out of the choices here!).  However, I like to combine the two. 

I love to write goals and see the progress I make against these goals when the end of the year comes, or whatever time period I am using to measure the goal, but I also like to have a guiding word to keep me on track while writing the goals – and for life choices in general.

Last year my word was action and it was a great word.  I accomplished more last year than I ever thought was possible, it was an amazing word that worked to facilitate my goal creation for the year. 

Using One Word to Facilitate Goal Setting in the New Year

Now, at the end of the year, I was slightly burnt out (more than slightly, actually), and knew that going into 2017 things were going to have to change. 

Here is the thing though, I still have a lot that I want to accomplish in 2017, and I know that I can push through any sort of discomfort to get a lot done.  But, that is not how I want my year to be this year.  I don’t want to just push through.

This is the reason that I chose margin as my word of the year.  This word is going to help guide me while writing my goals for 2017.

When I talked about goal setting for the year I talked a bit about how I have the issue of wanting 10 years of goals to be finished by the end of a one year time period – that is a little insane, but it is also how my brain is wired. 

I love change, and I want the change to be immediate, I don’t like to wait for things (this may be a result of the instant-everything culture we live in currently, but that is a post for another day).

Knowing this about myself, and also knowing the feelings I had at the end of 2016 (the totally burned out need a nap kind of feelings), I easily chose my one word for 2017 – margin.

How do you use one word to facilitate goal setting?

This is where long range goal planning comes in.  I know that I have a list of goals that I want to tackle this year.  Some of them might be able to easily be completed in a year, some may be a stretch, and some might be completely insane yet I still write them down. 

Once I have written out all of my goals I will start to sort them.  I talked about this a bit already when talking about long range goal planning, but I need to take a realistic look at the goals and see if they are a short term or long term goal.

Then I use my word of the year to take a look at the goals that are in my “yearly goals” column.

When I look at my goals, I need to make sure they match up with my guiding word, otherwise what is the point of choosing one word at all?  If I go through my goals and see that I want to sign the kids up for all the activities while simultaneously writing 5 blog posts each week, start daily vlogging, homeschooling using a project based approach and making sure Lucy doesn’t tear the house apart (that last one doesn’t necessarily qualify as a goal), there is no way that I see any margin in those items.  I need to back off.

However, if my word of the year was action, like it was last year, these goals might actually be good for me. 

I look at those few items and think, well perhaps instead of 5 blog posts I try for 2-3, instead of daily vlogging I will do a weekly vlog, and the kids might only sign up for one activity in the season instead of multiple activities.  There is a lot more margin in those goals instead of the previous list.

Now, your word is most likely not the same as my word, but when you look at your list of goals, do they line up with your word?

You chose your word for a reason, and looking at your goals you should be able to see hints of that word in all of them. 

If you see a goal that doesn’t match up with your word, why doesn’t it match?  Is it something that you really want to accomplish this year, or should it be moved to a long term goal column?  Or perhaps there is a way to re-write that goal to be more in line with your word?

And the last thought – maybe it shouldn’t be your goal. 

I often will think I am writing goals when they are actually ideals

That was a harder one for me to swallow, what I want my life to look like, but not having it be realistic or attainable in the foreseeable future. 


How do you use your one word to facilitate goal setting?

January 6, 2017

Long Range Goals and How to Plan for the New Year

There are affiliate links in this post.  If you make a purchase after clicking one of these links I may receive a small commission, thank you for supporting Townsend House.

I really love to make goals.  I like the possibility, I like knowing that I can grow, I like the change.  Goals help me achieve those things.  Setting goals is something that I do every January.  I like to map out my year to see where I want to go, what I want to accomplish, which direction to steer my family in.  Goals are important.

Several years ago I stopped writing resolutions in favor of goals.  I thought that while saying “I will be healthy” was a great idea, it was not something that was achievable because there were no steps, there was no end.  What would “be healthy” actually look like?  So I started writing goals, but then I realized…

I am excellent at coming up with goals, but not the steps to achieve them.

I read so much about setting SMART goals.  If you haven’t heard the acronym before it goes a little something like this –

S – specific, significant, stretching
M – measurable, meaningful, motivational
A – agreed upon, attainable, achievable, acceptable, action-oriented
R – realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented
T – time-based, time-bound, timely, tangible, trackable <source>

When you come up with a goal, it should have all of these parts to it. 

Long Range Goals and How to Plan for the New Year

I am really good at coming up with every change I ever want to happen in my life, all tidy in a one year commitment period.  Unfortunately, that is incredibly unrealistic.

I am a big picture sort of gal.  I can look at my life, at my family’s life, and see what I want for us to move towards, how I want our lives to be, but I often forget that I can’t change everything in a short amount of time, and I shouldn’t either.

There are stages of life, and while each stage has its challenges, I really need to be fully present in each stage, instead of always looking forward to the next one.

I said in my post about choosing one word for the year that I love the newness that January brings, the change of the calendar, the new seasons, it gives me a sense of refreshing my life.  But, I sometimes look forward a little too much.

Long Range Goals and How to Plan for the New Year

I can see what I want my life to be like when my kids are older, when they are able to take care of themselves a bit more.  I think part of that comes from having a toddler in the home, and knowing that I am needed for just about everything.  I love to be needed, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes it is stressful feeling so needed, without remembering that I also need me.

When thinking about my goals for this year, I realized that I need to be more realistic.  Having the steps to achieve my goals is awesome, but if I am unrealistic about the goal itself, or the time frame that I am working with, then perhaps it isn’t the right goal for me this year.

Because of my struggles in the past with SMART goals, I decided to make a change for 2017. 

In 2015 I read a book called Make it Happen by Lara Casey.  It was an amazing book, and if you haven’t read it, you definitely should.

As you can probably tell from the title, it is a book about achieving the life that you want, living life on purpose.  It definitely helped me in formulating goals for 2015 and 2016, but I was still too lofty.  There wasn’t enough balance between personal and professional goals. 

In 2015 I worked hard on personal goals, and 2016 I worked hard on professional goals.  What I needed was a way to combine the goals, or to make goals that were not complete polar opposites.  Achieving a life lived on purpose.

This year I decided to help myself by purchasing the 2017 PowerSheets Goal planner.

Over the past few years I have moved back to paper and pen – for planners, for to-do lists, for pretty much everything in my normal day to day.  It works better for me to have it sitting in front of me, for me to go through the process of actually writing it out rather than typing it.  I knew that this goal planner would definitely help me realize the goals that I want to accomplish this year.

Why do I think it will work so well?  Because of the questions that the planner lays out to respond to.

Like I said before, coming up with changes I want to make in my life is easy, but formulating that change into a SMART goal doesn’t always work for me.

Long Range Goals and How to Plan for the New Year

Sure, professional goals are usually pretty easy – for example “I want to hit 100,000 page views per month by March.”  And even some of my personal goals are written well, “I want to read 100 books in 2017.”  However, making sure that I continue that through all of my goals is also important.

How am I going to change goal setting in 2017?

I have decided to segment my goals into categories again – I did this back in 2014, and honestly that was a really smart decision on my part. 

In that post I talked a bit about how I like to cram all of my goals into one year, but that isn’t realistic.  And while I did great for one year with that, having a baby at the end of 2014 probably threw off my goal setting in 2015 and 2016.  Now, Lucy is 2 and life is a little more normal around here again, so I can sit and think a little more clearly.

I don’t want to pile on an entire decade of goals into one year, that is completely ridiculous, and I know better.  But, in January I have all of this optimism and want to accomplish it all – see above about the newness of flipping the calendar.

My plan is to do a little more long term goal setting.  I obviously have a lot that I want to accomplish this year, but I also need to do more long term planning.  What do I want my life to be like in 3 years?  In 5 years?  In 10 years?

Because I am a big picture kind of gal, if I am able to sit down, look at my list of goals and changes to my life, my blog, my family life, etc. I will then be able to categorize them into a long term goal or something that can be accomplished this year. 

When I see the long term goal, it will be easier for me to look at the steps that I need to take this year in order to realize that goal in 3, 5, or even 10 years. 

It is all about perspective.

I’m really excited about this new goal setting strategy that I have.  If you are looking for those thought provoking questions to help you write your goals for this year, I definitely recommend the questions that Tsh puts out on her blog the art of simple every year.  I started using these questions years ago, and they have helped me formulate ideas and paths that I want to take. 

My plan is to share some of these goals with you over the coming weeks, and I would love to hear what your goals are. 

Are you more of a long range planner, or someone who likes to see their goals attained in the very short term?  Or do you fall somewhere in the middle?

January 4, 2017

knitting and reading - yarn along

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It is the first yarn along of the New Year, and I am determined to participate in it this week!  Knitting and reading are two of my favorite things, and they kind of fell off the radar last year.  I was still reading books, but I wasn’t talking about them here very often.  I did not knit nearly as much as I had hoped, and I really want to change that for this year.

In fact, my knitting has kind of fallen off over the past two years.  I think that part of that is because of my littlest one, since she is two and so it makes sense!  It isn’t that I haven’t wanted to knit, it is that I don’t seem to be able to sit – literally sit – in order to knit.

The last yarn along I participated in was way back at the beginning of November.  I had started a hat for Lucy – the same hat I am working on today!  These hats used to take me a day or two to make, now, clearly they take much longer.

knitting and reading yarn along

I would be remiss to mention that I have actually knit this hat 4 times since I started it due to my little Lucy deciding that she loves to use my double pointed needles for other purposes than staying in the stitches for her hat.  Perhaps she doesn’t want a hat?!  I have learned that I must keep my knitting very very high up, and away from anything that might possibly be climbed in order to reach said knitting.

I think that we will be finished soon though, which is perfect because she has taken Jack’s hat as her own, and gets very upset when he wants to wear it outside instead of her.  Not that we are lacking in the knit hat department, but she knows this is going to be for her, and I think she is happy about it. 

As far as reading goes, I am continuing with my yearly goal of reading 100 books (although, since 2013 I think I have only succeeded in that goal one time).  I have finished my first book of the year – Grace Not Perfection by Emily Ley.  She makes the simplified planner and also a range of beautiful notebooks as well as other fun paper products.

I love these types of books, especially right at the beginning of a New Year.  They usually give me a fresh perspective, and help me to move towards the balance that I crave.

knitting and reading yarn along

Unfortunately, I didn’t really like this book.  Perhaps my expectations were too high after reading books like Make it Happen, Own Your Life, and The Best Yes over the past couple of years.  I thought that it was a good book, and it was a nice story about how she built her company, but she talked a lot about not comparing yourself to others and the “perfect” life people depict on Instagram while putting a lot of “perfect” life photos throughout the book.  It was a nice read, but maybe I have read too many of these “self-help” type books for me to really be engaged in the topic now?  I’m not sure.  It wasn’t my cup of tea, but there have been a ton of rave reviews for it – which is why I picked it up to read in the first place!

I am very slowly (very slowly) reading Leadership Education.  It is a book that I want to sit down and read completely through, but I need to ruminate on the words and ideas, and I haven’t had as much time to do that lately as I would like.

Also, I have been reading a lot of New Year’s Eve reflections, and ideas and goals about the coming year, which is always fun for me.  I think partly because I love sharing them so much, so it is enjoyable to see what everyone else comes up with.

My hope is that I can share something new each week in the yarn along this year, it is a practice that I miss dearly, especially since I have connected with so many of you over the years!  I am looking forward to seeing what everyone else is doing for this first yarn along of the New Year!


What are you knitting and reading this week?