Goal-Setting for 2014 - Part I

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Happy New Year, friends!

This has been such a peaceful week for me - back home after a week of traveling, time with good friends (old and new), cooking, and yes, doing a little planning for the New Year.

I must admit that goal-setting has been a little bit more challenging for me this year than last (read more here, here, and here). I started off 2013 super motivated and ready to take on my ambitious goals (not that ambitious goals are a bad thing...). That lasted a few months but once summer came around, and the pace of life slowed a little bit, my action-oriented goals felt a little more like things on my ever-present to-do list. By the time fall came and school picked back up, I barely looked at my goals.

Granted, I did make progress. A lot of good things happened, in part as a result of setting thoughtful goals at the beginning of the year. But before I set standards and expectations for what I want to see happen in 2014, I want to make sure I spend time reflecting on the things that worked well and the things that didn't work last year.

This is how we learn, right? We try things, we experiment (like that vegetable casserole I made for dinner tonight, right, SD?), but it's only in the reflection that follows that true learning really takes place. Here's what I learned:

Things that worked:

1. Rest and space on the weekends. This made such a difference for me this year. It gave us something to look forward to each week but I also felt like my working hours were more productive.
2. Setting professional goals. I made significant progress on my degree this year, in part due to some goals I set for myself early in the year.
3. Goal-setting in January. In general, this was a great way to start the year with focus.
4. Blog calendar. I started using this free printable in November and loved it! Thanks, Em! Planning to use it again this year.
5. Monthly duty days. I first read about "duty days" here and loved the idea. Now, I use part of the day the first Friday of each month to catch up on paying bills, depositing checks, and miscellaneous home and business to-dos.
6. Afternoons to work at home. I am such a home-body that taking time to occasionally work from home for part of a day is actually refreshing. I can't and don't really want to work from home all the time right now but every once in a while, it's a good thing.
7. Getting up on time. Yay me! We did fairly well with last year's goal. I'm not much of a morning person but my day always feel more productive when I get a lot done in the morning.

Things that didn't work:

1. Lack of monthly action steps for goals. I lost motivation over the summer when my schedule changed and it was hard to get back on track with my goals come fall.
2. Letting distractions in while working. Especially checking email and social media.
3. Complaining. Especially to people who couldn't help! This is fruitless.
4. Writing on two separate blogs. I decided to do all of my writing on this blog in the coming year.
5. Comparing myself to others. As Lara said, "comparison isn't just the thief of joy, it's the thief of everything."
6. Choosing goals that became more things to do. Trying to come up with a better way to choose and write goals that are meaningful, things that center and focus my life rather than adding to my schedule.
7. Consistent exercise schedule. It's always the first thing to go when things get busy. I walk to school most days (a mile each way) but I want to find a more consistent time to exercise in addition to that a few times per week.

Good things that happened:

1. This post pretty much sums it up but here are a few others:
2. Started teaching piano at Harley
3. Traveled to new places with SD
4. Made time for 30+ runs in 9 months
5. Had my writing featured on the Clavier Companion website
6. Received two grants
7. Wrote a hymn arrangement
8. Recorded two songs for SD
9. Made time for writing (outside of academic writing - blogs, poetry)
10. Read four books: The Go-Giver, 7, The 4-Hour Work-Week, and EntreLeadership (almost finished!)
11. Got all of my inboxes to zero
12. Purged negativity from my social media feeds
13. Started volunteering with RAIHN, a hospitality organization for homeless families
14. Paid off one of my student loans ahead of schedule
15. Invested more in our Roth IRAs than past years

I really have so much to be grateful for. 2013 was a good year, a fun year. I am ever grateful for God's "immortal love, forever full" (one of my favorite hymn texts) and His grace that covers all. I am so grateful to be married to SD and for the blessing of our marriage. I am humbled by the people I work with at Eastman and am honored to be part of such a community.

Y'all, I love our little neighborhood - our daily walks (when it's not 5 degrees outside), cozy restaurants with waitresses that know what we want before we order, and happy hours on the roof overlooking the city.

I am grateful for people who truly listen and love extravagantly. I am grateful for opportunities to make music and share it with others in meaningful ways. I am humbled by the ways God provides for us. I love our everyday adventures and the joy that we find in the little things.

I am thankful for intentional rest and quiet days to be home. I am grateful for opportunities to do new things with SD (like bowling!). I am grateful for the promise that each new day holds because of His great faithfulness.

2014 is going to be a good year.