I love new seasons, especially spring. This morning, I pushed Declan in his stroller around the neighborhood, admiring the emerald grass, the sprays of white and purple flowers on lawns, the velvety tulips standing upright to catch the sun. It's an experience that breathes fresh air and inspiration straight into my soul.
The changing of seasons also provides the opportunity to reflect on the past few months. In the past years, I've blogged monthly about my progress towards meeting goals. This year, I've found it more helpful to take the long view. We had some changes in our schedules and commitments, and it took me a while to find a rhythm to our weeks. But now we've found our sweet spot, and I'm finally seeing growth in areas I carefully tended during the long winter.
At the beginning of the year, I shared that my main goal for 2016 is to cultivate what matters. It sounds so easy, yet the past few months have shown how difficult it can be to cut through the distractions and temptations and actually do that.
After working through my Powersheets goal-setting workbook, I broke down my main goal into eight separate visions for my life this year:
- Learn to preach the gospel to myself every day, in every situation
- Love Andrew more than myself
- Invest myself in Declan
- Cultivate deep relationships with friends, family, and coworkers
- Cultivate a home and family life centered around Jesus
- Build better habits and schedules
- Nurture creativity
- Make our home more usable and enjoyable
These goals are intentionally broad and vague, because I'm not sure how they will develop over the course of the year. And that actually makes them a bit more challenging to work on, because there is no defined end to these goals.
But that's where the monthly work comes in. I sit down towards the end of every month and reflect on the progress I made (or didn't make) in the previous weeks. And I think about what steps, little or big, I can take to move forward.
These are some of the ways I've worked on these goals so far this year -
- Developing the habit of daily Bible reading and meditation on Scripture, using this study
- Keeping at least one night a week commitment-free so Andrew and I can spend downtime together
- Using my days off work to expose Declan to new experiences and activities
- At least once a month, inviting people from our small group for dinner so we can get to know them more personally outside of the group
- Making a simple cleaning schedule that repeats weekly in my planner so I don't have to think too hard about it
- Using my kid-free time on Mondays and Thursdays to write and blog (thank you, daycare!)
- De-cluttering our home, re-organizing our kitchen, and replacing our ancient appliances to make daily tasks more efficient and enjoyable.
Writing all that out helps me realize how much we've accomplished. And it also inspires me to think of new ways to keep cultivating what matters in my life. It's not the accumulation of stuff that quickly wears out its welcome, or trying to build up my career more than I really want to. It's focusing on small improvements in daily life and intentionally making space for relationships to grow.
I've also learned about what doesn't work for me -
- Comparing my commitments and life experiences with those of others
- Speaking of others without grace
- Thoughtless impulse spending
- Wasting time on social media as a time filler
- Making certain goals because others do - then realizing I'm not passionate about them or they don't line up with my big goals
I still have a lot to learn and more space to grow, and I'm ready to get to work.
Do you set goals for yourself? I'd love to hear about your "wins" and ways you've grown in the past few months through goal-setting.
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