Three New Habits I'm Cultivating This Year

Three New Habits I'm Cultivating This Year

This year, like many of you, I set out to create a few new habits in my life. You know what it's like: those things we do, the routines and structures that shape our days—our habits are patterns of learned behavior that are so second nature to us, we don’t even think about them.

“Out with the old and in with the new!” we say, as if it were that easy. But what does it really take to form a new habit?

According to Charles Duhigg, former New York Times reporter and author of the book, The Power of Habit, every habit has a cycle or loop:

  • The routine (the thing we find ourselves doing automatically)

  • The reward we get from that activity

  • The cue or trigger that starts the cycle

Goal-Setting for 2014 - Part II


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It's been a great first week of January!  I had a chance to spend some time this week really thinking about my goals for 2014 and planning for what I'd like to see happen.  Here's where I am:

Based on the things I learned in this post (I even added a few things to the list since I published it - take a look!), I decided to choose goals that are a little more broad - lifestyle ideals rather than things to attain or cross off a list.  I want to live a purposeful life this year.  I want to spend my time doing things that are meaningful and add value to other people's lives.  I want to be intentional about the things that get my time and attention.  I want to live a life that reflects peace and joy.

So without further ado, here are my goals for 2014:


Schedule more emails (thanks, Boomerang!) / No checking email after dinner / Streamline the workflow of my business / Start a new mini blog series / Read The $100 Startup


Less planning before lessons, more discovery in lessons / Set monthly goals for the studio - things to focus on in each lesson / Think of ways to send formal communication home to parents at the end of year / Plan a year-end recital


Present my research at Eastman / Finish my course work and pass my qualifying exam / Teach two workshops / Find ways to add value to others through writing or mentoring


Take intentional time off on weekends (and times off of social media) / Plan adventures and trips with SD / Plan 90 minutes of intentional exercise per week / Read Margin / Write more / Create an Artifact Uprising book for our first five years together



Finish reading Entreleadership and choose a new book Research online invoicing and workflow organization Research and donate to a birthday party mission organization Plan studio goals for January + February Create presentation and materials for my first workshop! Set new budgets + investment plans

This is a work in progress, y'all.  I may edit or add to this list as the year progresses but for now, this is where my head and my heart are.  Each month, I'll be sharing a few of my more action-oriented goals, to keep me accountable and to help bring this list into a living reality.

What are your goals for the year?  Feel free to post them in the comments below or, if you blog your goals somewhere, please share the link - I'd love to read them!

Here's to a wonderful 2014!

Goal-Setting for 2014 - Part I


Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means if you decide to purchase through any of them, I will earn a small commission. This helps support the blog and allows me to continue creating free content. Thank you for your support!

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.