I decided to give myself a full two week break over the Holidays to enjoy my family, our traditions, and our little vacation. We returned from vacation yesterday afternoon and today we jumped right back into work and daycare and now the blog. Phew! No more rest days for me. It is full speed ahead into 2014!!
We are now on day two of the New Year. This year, I fell asleep well before the ball dropped at midnight. We were in the middle of vacation and my sweet little cherubs were not handling the change of routine and lack of sleep very well. This momma needed to get as much sleep as possible to survive those two. I think it’s going to be a while before we all get caught back up on sleep and readjusted to our normal routine.
I knew going into this Holiday season that we would be busy, busy, busy, so I (shockingly) planned ahead for the New Year. I’m not a big “New Years Resolution” person in the sense of big, harry, scary, unrealistic life changes that begin on day one. But I do find that the new year is a great time for reflection, reevaluation, and setting some new goals or making a few lifestyle adjustments. Way back in late November I sat down and spent some time reflecting on 2013, reevaluating where I am in life and the things I’d like to accomplish, and then I set some goals and plans for the New Year. Usually I don’t get around to this until the week after Christmas or sometimes several days into the New Year. I don’t think there is anything magical about January 1st, so I don’t concern myself with making sure that everything goes exactly according to plan the moment the clock strikes 12 on New Years day.
I thought I’d share some of the things that I did this year to reflect and plan for the changing year. I’m sure there are several busy moms out there who are still cleaning up after Christmas and thinking about the New Year just hasn’t happened yet. It is never to late to reflect, dream, and plan. Today is always a great day to start improving ourselves, there is no need to wait for a fancy Holiday.
Even in the busy-ness of raising young children while working full time, I find it so helpful to have plans, goals, and dreams to keep myself moving forward and accomplishing new things. It’s easy to let these years fly by, but I don’t want to look back and wonder “what in the world just happened in the last decade of life.” Accomplishing more, becoming a better person, and achieving goals should happen in each season of life.
To start with, I think it’s important to take some time to reflect on the year in the past.
- Scroll through your own Facebook Timeline for the last year, your Twitter posts, your pictures, and any other social media/journals/blogs that you have to get a picture of what the last year looked like for you and your family.
- If you had some written goals for the last year, read through those and consider how you did, what worked, what didn’t work, etc.
- Consider some reflective questions and write/type out your responses. Some good questions to start with would be:
- What were some of the best things that happened in the past year?
- What were the major challenges for the year?
- Were there any unexpected joys?
- What kind of unexpected obstacles did you experience? How did you get through them and what did you learn?
- What was your biggest personal change from January to December?
- In what ways did you grow emotionally, spiritually, and physically?
- What was the single biggest time waster last year?
- What were the best ways you used your time?
- What is the biggest thing you learned this year?
Creating a Vision
The next thing you want to do is start envisioning what you want 2014 to look like. This is where I think it’s helpful to start breaking your ideas into categories (personal growth, health/wellness, marriage, children, finances, career, etc). Take some time to consider the changes you’d like to see in the coming year for each category. Ask yourself some more questions and write out the responses.
- What areas would you like to learn and grown this year? Are there particular character traits you’d like to develop more over the year? Anything new you’d like to learn? Would you like to pursue a new hobby, new vocation, or add some additional responsibilities?
- Are there specific books that you’d like to read?
- Do you enjoy your job? Are there things that you can do to improve your career situation (job change, pursue a new degree, modify your current job, etc)?
- In what ways would you like to be healthier at the end of next year?
- Do you have any goals to strengthen your marriage (implement a monthly date night, plan a getaway vacation, start marriage counseling, etc)?
- Are you planning any vacations for the new year? What types of things need to happen to make this a reality?
- In what ways would you like to see your children grow over the coming year (physically, emotionally, spiritually, educationally, etc)?
- Are there any changes you would like to make in the way that you parent your children?
- What is one specific goal would you like to achieve in relation to your finances in the coming year?
Obviously this isn’t a complete list, but these types of questions should help you start creating a picture of the things you’d like to achieve in the New Year. You want to dream about the ways that you can improve yourself and your situation. Keep in mind that you can only control you. As much as you may want to, you can’t change your husband, your children will still have the same stubborn personalities, and your job is what it is. You want to consider what ways you can change yourself, your perspective, your actions and attitudes, your abilities, and your plans based on your knowledge of the people and circumstances you are currently in. Your situations can improve over the New Year, but don’t plan on improvement coming through any means but your own hard work on yourself.
Set Some Goals
Now that you know what you want the next year to look like and you have some ideas of things you’d like to change or achieve, it’s time to start setting some goals. You don’t want to set too many goals because it’s hard to focus on achieving much when you have too much to achieve. Personally, I like to create one or two main goals in several categories, similar to the ones above (God, personal growth, marriage, parenting, career, finances, other).
The most important thing to remember is that you must write your goals down. Either write them on paper with an old fashioned pen, type them into a Word document, enter them into Evernote, post them on Facebook, whatever works best for you. I have all of my reflections, visions, and goals typed up in Evernote so that I can view them pretty much anywhere, anytime.
When setting goals, you want to remember the acronym S.M.A.R.T.
- Specific – you need to make sure to list exactly what you’d like to achieve. Example – Run a sub 4 hour marathon in Sunburst. vs. Run a fast marathon.
- Measurable – you want to measure “quantity” instead of “quality” as much as possible so that you know for sure when you’ve reached your goal. Example – Add an extra $6000 to the savings account. vs. Save more money this year.
- Action words – start each goal with an action verb instead of a “to be” verb. Example – Go on two dates per month with my husband. vs. Be a better wife.
- Realistic – make sure that your goals are a bit of a stretch, but also something that you can actually achieve in the next year. Example – Read through the Bible in a year. vs. Read through the Bible every 90 days.
- Time specific – you need to have a date to achieve your goal by. Some of your goals will be completed by year end, but many of them might be completed sooner. Example – Start a new blog. vs. Start a new blog by June 1st.
Once you have your goals set, it’s important to continue to review your goals throughout the year. It doesn’t take all that long to read through your goals and think about your progress. The main reason that I’ve stored all of my goals and reflections in Evernote is so that I can review them anytime. As a busy working mom, it’s hard to find time to even plan goals, much less think about them and make sure I’m achieving them throughout the year. Keeping my goals easily accessible allows me to fill tiny gaps in my schedule with something productive like reviewing my goals. At least once a month, read through your vision questions and your list of goals, do some quick reflecting on your progress, change some things as needed, and carry on. By this time next year, you’ll be amazed at how much you can achieve through planning, focus, and a little bit of hard work.
What goals and plans do you have for the New Year? What are you hoping to achieve in 2014?