I love New Years. In a lifestyle that feels much like a repetitive treadmill -wake up, tend to the kids, get to work, cook dinner, get the kids to bed-it can feel impossible finding time to meditate and strategize the next 12 months in a focused way. I can barely get kids down with both eyes open, let alone daydream about my trail running goals.
So, every new year, January and I spend some time taking inventory of life-my spiritual walk, family health, job, marriage, personal ambitions-deciding what to do better, or differently through the next four seasons and make goals. I’ve found the key to effective goals is being specific, and realistic, or else resolutions can frankly feel like a buzzkill. I mean, we all want to be slightly cooler versions of the Proverbs 31 wife (I always thought she seemed a little people-pleasy) rockin’ it from dawn to dusk, to the symphony of her children’s praise. But over the years I’ve found that creating a small batch of doable changes leads to a lot less disappointment and frustration when we sometimes fail at every single one. Here’s some of my best:
#1 – Do That One Thing You’ve Been Avoiding For, Well Forever
So this one’s not fun, but you’ll feel so much better after tackling that one thing you’ve been putting off for months if not years. A couple years ago, it was my high school son’s FASFA application. I dreaded this process with every fiber in my being after seeing friends practically to hurl themselves off a cliff due to the governmental bureaucracy. For some it could be opening those bills we keep throwing in the junk drawer, or tackling the house project, finally establishing that LLC, or having that hard talk with a family member you’ve been dreading for months. If it’s a more complex task, like purging the basement, make an action with due dates. Make sure to pop some bubbly and reward yourself when it’s done!
#2 – Start Journaling Once A Week
I have a love/hate relationship with my journal. It either sits in the dust, serving as a lovely coffee coaster, or I’m burning rubber through the pages. For some, processing our thoughts and feelings through writing comes easy, while it’s foreign concept for others. If you’re a beginner, start out once a week, maybe on a Sunday night when there’s more time to re-group, and think about the ups and downs you felt during the week. Jot down anything from answered prayers, to unexpected problems, and special moments/experiences that stood out to you. It might seem forced or dutiful at first, but journaling has a way of helping us acknowledge and work through emotions that normally get squelched down under the obligations and stresses of life.
#3 – Pick One Health/Fitness Goal And Crush It
“Loose eight pounds and work out more,” sounds fab, but everyone knows those last five pounds are the hardest, so it’ll probably take more than that one hopeful sentence to get where we want to be. Most friends I know wish they could exercise more and eat better. Again, the businesses of life-more specifically the ridiculous amounts of after school sports we’ve somehow signed up for-usually squelches the best of fitness plans, so it’s better to be specific. “No carbs at dinner,” or “run with the dog three times a week,” is more doable, and easier to maintain.
#4 – Pick A Bible Reading Plan, And Don’t Waiver.
Yeah yeah yeah we all know we should be in the Word daily. But I’d venture it simply isn’t so for lots of us, depending on our season and circumstance. I think Bible reading plans (I suggest downloading one from You Version) are the best way to stick to a quiet time goal of reading the Bible at least five times a week. Life is just better when you’re in the Word. We receive comfort, strength, guidance, closeness in the Lord, and that sweet peace the only comes from obedience. If daily Bible reading is new to you, it might feel dutiful or dry at first. Fortunately, God honors even begrudging obedience and before you know it, you’ll look forward to your Scripture time the same way you do a good catch-up with your best friend….with lattes. Click here for some good plan ideas.
#5 – Target One Area Of Your Marriage To Improve
Sounds a little more diplomatic, than “be a better wife,” right? : ) I feel like this will be one of my goals, forever. Even if you have a Hallmark-worthy marriage, couldn’t it always be better? Marriage is the most important relationship we’ll have, aside from God, so it seems remiss not to try bettering parts of our romantic relationship, and friendship each year. You might want more date nights/quality time, or to start the couples counseling you’ve talked about for a decade, or to approach your finances together in a different/better way. They could be little and silly or weighty and meaningful. My husband is two inches shorter than me and one of my goals last year was to suck up pride and start wearing heels again. And let me just say, 2022 was a sweet family reunion between my stilettos and I. How have I been living without you…
#6 – Book A Trip
This one’s for the mamas out there scratchin’ that travel itch since the babies were born. For those of us who like adventure, and something new to look forward to, this one’s key. Unless it’s truly financially unwise, I say click the “book now” button at least once this year. Escaping with the hubs (or friends!) is so healthy and relaxing, and sometimes it’s only when we’re away that we can miss and appreciate all the treasures in our lives back home. So many friends of mine are constantly wishing they had a retreat or trip to look forward to, especially if you dwell in the northeast and the sun hasn’t hit your fanny in six months. Try and find other line items in the family budget (like the NFL Red Zone channel? Hmmmm) to sacrifice from, if you’re a bit strapped but determined to travel.
Change can be hard, and some goals can really stretch and pull us out of our comfort zones. But nothing’s worse than living on plateaus, full of apathy. That’s where elastic waistbands and stale prayer lives want to keep us. : ) Here’s to an adventurous, abundant and victorious 2023. Cheers to the journey! Xo
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