Let’s start with this: I rarely set goals. When I do, I rarely achieve them. I’m a planner, but not a goal-setter — never a goal-setter. They’re intimidating and scary and they seem completely unreachable; it’s hard to know where to start. It’s even more rare that I post about them on the internet for fear of seeming humble-braggy, over-sharing, or just plain not following through. Although I have hopes of bettering myself and hitting certain targets, I struggle to prioritize them and carry them out (Obliger, here). It’s bad, guys.
But I do want to be better. So, this year I’ve chosen to set a word for the year and 5 main goals, each with a set of action steps I can take each week and month to achieve it (and idea I got from Lara Casey’s Powersheets, even though I haven’t purchased them). I started with Lara’s Goal Uncovering series (also found in the linked website), and mapped out my previous year in order to decide what exactly I need to aim for this year — along with my theme word. After I mapped everything out, I chose my word based on what in 2017 stood out to me. I juggled between two significant words, and finally decided on this small word:
The definitions that best suit my intentions are these:
exempt or released from something specified that controls, restrains, burdens, etc.
not held fast; loose; unattached
to relieve or rid
(All found at Dictionary.com)
free in Christ
“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)
Much of 2017 was not an easy year for me.
It was a truly blessed year, that’s for sure. We went on several trips, saw all of our family + watched as some achieved amazing things, had a two-year anniversary, learned better ways to love each other, became more rooted and active in our town and church, and I went on a couple of trips with my best friends and marked things off my mental bucket list. John Mark and I were both encouraged greatly.
But underlying that — full disclosure — I’ve still struggled with anxiety and loneliness and keeping myself physically and mentally healthy (see this post and this post). It just goes to show that no amount of earthly joy can fill the joy-shaped hole in our hearts that only God can fill. So, if you’re wondering how “free” fits in here, I don’t mean it all literally (only in terms of health). I mean free from emotional burdens, free to be lighthearted, free from physical pain (nothing serious, just some muscle issues in my neck), and free to be who God created me to be — all adding up to freedom in Christ. I think that’s what we all long for, but don’t quite put our finger on most of the time.
Before I end up writing two blog posts in one ( 😉 ), I’ll get started on my goals. I decided to go completely against my nature, make some goals, and actually achieve them. Granted, I’ve been having to shake things up and find ways to hold myself accountable for upholding my expectations, but in just this first week of January, I’m already noticing a difference — a glimpse of freedom, if you will.
For accountability’s sake and encouragment to you in your own goal setting, I’ll list them below with my planned action steps. Before I start, I’d like to say that this is a *plan* — any plans are subject to change, something I’m learning very slowly to accept. Emily Ley says to wrap your plans in a big “grace hug” and keep in mind that they might go differently.
My 5 Goals
1 | Read my Bible more consistently + pray without ceasing
This is a big one. Sometimes it can be difficult to decide where to start, so I’ve decided to follow our church’s Bible reading plan for the year. Each day we will read roughly 4 chapters of the Bible, starting with Genesis, and two to three chapters of a specified New Testament book or groups of books. Usually these are focuses of our Bible studies together. Along with this I’m going to Journible and read a Chronological Bible whenever possible. I try to always accompany my Bible reading with prayer, as well as meditating on what I’ve read and praying throughout the day. I’m also keeping a gratitude log in my Bullet Journal that will remind be to thank God for my blessings (and be more positive!).
2 | Exercise four times a week + eat healthier
Many people find it easy to eat healthy even if they aren’t working out, but that’s a challenge for me. So, I’ve put these hand-in-hand. I need to take care of my body so that’s it’s in good shape to carry out my daily tasks. When I’ve “worked out” in the past, it’s usually been some form of yoga — Vinyasa or Hot Yoga — which can be hard to keep up if you’re not a member of a studio or finding individual classes to attend, like I did when I attended Auburn University. Because of this, I’ve started using a “real” workout plan (I think it’s by Kayla Itsines, but who really knows?) that I found on Pinterest, that I can do at home. I know next to nothing about working out, but I’m also hoping this will boost my confidence in that area. Along with this workout, I have prescribed stretches from my chiropractor that I need to do every day or my physical structure will go downhill, giving me back pain and headaches. As far as eating healthy goes, I’m not starting any particular plan like Whole30 or Paleo like I have in the past because I’ve found that it’s easy to beat myself up over eating off-plan. And it’s the hardest goal for me because I love junk food. This time, I’m simply trying to limit sugar, grains, dairy, and caffeine, and drink LOTS of water, plus making sure to eat breakfast. These will be trial-and-error, and I might end up eliminating something in the future.
3 | Creatively encourage others
I’m a pretty elusive encourager. Because I’m shy, I find it difficult to actively encourage by walking up to someone and complimenting them or praying with them or taking them a care package or even simply asking specific “how are you” type questions — but oh, how I love writing cards! Although writing cards is an awesome thing to do, I think I need to branch out. I’m starting with small steps by simply putting myself out there more than usual. I teach a kids’ Bible class within our church, which is teaching me confidence with their parents and helping me find Biblical ways to encourage that may be outside of the usual. I made a Pinterest board and a note in my phone that I can save service and edification ideas to for easy access when the time comes. Because I’m taking baby steps with the “creative” part here, I’m not doing everything on my own just yet; I may get a small group — by group, I mean about two or three other women — together to make a care basket, and then deliver it myself. This goal is going to be a little more challenging and a work in progress.
4 | Love my husband better each day
Y’all, I very much love my husband. But the way he can know that is by my actions. He’s not very much into receiving gifts, so I have to really brainstorm action steps for this one. Confession: for a long, long time, I have slept in as he gets up and goes to work. I’ll have spurts of motivation, and get up at the same time to see him off, but for the majority of our marriage, he’s had to tell me goodbye while I’m half-asleep. Yikes. Although he doesn’t necessarily mind this, I think I can be helpful to him in the mornings. My action steps here are simply to start by waking up with him, making our breakfast so that we can eat together and visit before work, and pack his lunch — although sometimes I pack his lunch the night before. I’m also trying to make sure I’m done with my to-do list and in a good mood when he gets home, so that I’m more of an encouragement and less of a nuisance and can give him 100%.
5 | Read at least 25 books
This one is pretty straightforward. I love to read, but I find that I’m distracted easily and end up frying my brain in front of the TV all too often. So, I’m making a point to be specific with the number of books and names of books I want to read/finish by the end of the year. Hopefully I’ll read more than 25, but I didn’t want to overwhelm myself with some crazy number! I’ve been reading at the end of the afternoon if I’m done with my to-do list and at night when we’re relaxing — I sometimes pair this with a bubble bath and have started turning my phone off for that period of time so I can give full attention to the book.
Aside from my planned-out goals and action steps, in the past couple of days, I’ve found a few helpful strategies/items that increase the likliehood of getting this stuff done:
- Starting a Bullet Journal
- Bible reading first thing in the morning
- Talk about plans each morning at breakfast
- Exercise first thing in the morning or in the afternoon after most of my list is checked off
- Organizing the apps on my phone so that only the ones I need the most are on the first page
- Turning off all notifications (including messages!) so I’m not constantly distracted by my phone
- Cheerful colors and calming imagery
- Energizing music throughout the day
- Emily Ley’s Simplicity Challenge that she’s posting daily to Instagram (some of these strategies I’ve actually borrowed from her) and her book Grace, Not Perfection
- Being ready for bed by or before 9:30
Hopefully these goals are going to help me climb the ladder up to my 2018 word-theme and shape me to be the best I can, fully believing in myself and fully trusting God.
I probably won’t be “checking in” with my progress on the blog because that’s not really my style, but I hope this post has encouraged you in your goals or encouraged you to make some! I know it will help to hold me accountable. If you have some goals, I’d love to know what they are and how you plan to follow through in the comment section. 🙂
Thank you for reading! I hope you’re always encouraged to be like Christ and learn more about God’s word when you’re on my blog. All glory goes to God. Feel free to print, pin, and share my posts on all platforms; I only ask that you link it back to this site. For thoughts and questions, comment directly below or click the Contact Me tab (here) to send an email! Have a blessed day. 🙂