I’ve never been much of a new year’s resolution type of person. Sadly, they just never seem to hold. I’ve tried giving myself 21 days to start/break a habit and that never seemed to work either, nor did mentally setting goals. For me, the only effective ways I’ve found to change things are: a) setting daily/weekly goals. That time span seems more manageable. b) Setting family goals with my husband and breaking our bigger goals up into weekly goals. Again, doing things on a daily or weekly basis for a consistent period of time is what seems to make a difference. Take, for instance, our finances. We are far from wealthy, but not quite broke, and we managed to not keep up with our financial goals during the time that I was in business for myself. With two kids, a dog, a mortgage, a car payment, and stack of medical bills, you can see how that would happen. I felt like I worked all the time, my health was failing, and life just wasn’t so fun. Once we started following Dave Ramsey’s teachings together, we started chipping away at things and re-assessing our life decisions. It’s been hard, but now that we’ve been going at it over a year things have gotten easier. Much like this article states, “habits are a process and not an event.”
Turns out, science backs this. Resolutions don’t work. Habits won’t change overnight. Nor will they change in a magical 21 days. In a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, scientists determined it takes far longer than 21 days for a new behavior to become automatic – 66 days on average. This number varies widely though, from 18 to 254 days. So, you can imagine how cynical I was when I read about “Powersheets.” People in various circles online would describe them as “inspirational” and “life changing!” And, honestly, I just didn’t buy it. But sometime later in 2017 I finally started to pay attention. Because the truth is, last year was AWFUL. I mean, it just plain stunk. I spent an entire month of the year in the hospital, several more sleeping, and the rest of the time wanting to sleep. How could some silly sheets bring any more power to my life? Why should I expect anything would be different?
Let me tell you about Lara Casey though. I met her in 2010 at Making Things Happen in Atlanta. It was a small group of ten or so women that I’ve continued to not only keep in touch with, but watch bloom and grow. Some of them have become incredibly well-known for what they do, and it also connected me with such lovely ladies as Angie Webb and Gina Zeidler. At the time, I was relatively new to having a photography business and wanted help but didn’t know how. I was searching. That workshop was honestly transformational – it helped me align my vision with goals and ultimately helped me start a successful business as well as help me find accountability partners. A year or so later I attended a follow-on workshop at Lara’s parent’s house with some of the same people, as well as a few additions (like the sweet Emily Ley of Emily Ley Paper, Inc. Again, it helped me clarify my goals and ultimately is what helped me kick off the commercial/editorial photography part of my business. But I digress…
This fall I finally bit the bullet and purchased Powersheets. While I still had my doubts, I trusted Lara and her processes. What appealed to me was how my larger goals could be decomposed into monthly, weekly and daily goals. I started working on my goal planning sometime after Thanksgiving and was shocked by how much planning was required – in a good way! I have had to take a pretty intense personal inventory in order to even get to January. I immediately chose “BALANCE” as my word for 2018 because that’s what I yearn for more than anything – to balance all of my life, as well as to be able to regain my physical balance.
I don’t have the prettiest handwriting, but a friend of mine from work was kind enough to write my word of the year for me, and my color pens and colorful binder cover have made it more fun.
After great thought and planning, I finally came up with the following eight goals, all of which I’ve figured out my “why” for, as well as starting steps. Here are the goals and starting steps for each one:
- Be proactive about my health – ALWAYS put health first!
- Take a rehabilitation swimming class in the spring
- Get 9-10 hours of sleep nightly (My body requires a ton of sleep while the nerves are still healing)
- Consistent nutrition – no chips!
- Continue to work towards financial freedom
- Track debt regularly (I’ve started using Undebt.it and it’s working well)
- Do money envelopes a la Dave Ramsey every pay day
- Update our budget/surplus sheet monthly
- Cultivate a loving marriage
- Start and end each day with a hug and a kiss
- Read a good marriage book (taking recommendations!)
- Ask about Chris’ day/week regularly
- Savor the moments with my kids while they’re young
- Shift my work schedule so I can spend more time with each kid
- Less iPhone time around the kids
- Restart weekly “no distraction one-on-one time” with each kid.
- Foster consistent spiritual habits
- Wake up early to pray and do a devotional. (I’ve started the January session of Damn Early Days and am going to keep this up as long as my body/mind allows).
- Attend church more regularly (this has been hard since I became ill)
- Read a couple’s devotional together
- Make space for joy
- Lean In to my career
- Participate in a career strategy course. (I’m starting the Strategy in Action course with Susan Mazza).
- Continue to support the Women in Leadership group by helping set up Lean In circles
- Make the FINAL decision on whether I should start a PhD or focus more on writing and photography
- Nurture new friendships and tend to old ones
- Invite friends over more!
- Go out to lunch with work friends
- Reach out to old friends and send them bits of encouragement
Looking over all these goals, it looks more than a bit overwhelming. Breaking it up into smaller steps and working them into my calendar seems like a manageable process though.
If there’s one thing that Guillain-Barre Syndrome has taught me it’s that there are no quick, easy solutions to hard things in life. You have to choose to improve yourself and put one foot in front of the other, no matter how hard it may be. Just like this quote, you have to “Embrace the long, slow walk to greatness and focus on putting in your reps.”
I’d love to hear more about how you’re planning your goals for the year as well as what goals you’re setting for yourself!
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