Making Things Happen in 2013 - Part III

We had a wonderful holiday adventure in Utah with SD's family - we skied five days out of seven! Now, we're on our way back across the country to our home, sweet home. After thinking on Lara's Goal-Setting Steps 1-9 and writing out my answers (read Part I and Part II), I began writing out my goals for 2013. In addition to writing the WHY with each goal (why I want to spend time on this in the coming year), I used the following guidelines from Dave Ramsey's Entreleadership (recommended here):

1. Be specific. 2. Have a timeline. 3. Own them. 4. Measure them. 5. Write them down.

I spent a few days mulling everything over, sketching out some initial thoughts, and then finding ways to make them measurable and meaningful. Boy is it tempting to turn this into another to-do list! A word of advice if you're working through the process yourself: Your goals should mean something to you. Good goals should inspire you to take action. Think about those things you wrote down in your vision. Is there a discrepancy between the life you're living now and the life you want to live? Start there.

Here are my goals for 2013:


1. I want to stay healthy and get more physically fit this year. I want to run 2-3 times per week with SD and increase our route from 1 mile to 2 miles once per week.

2. I want to find ways to give to others each month because it's a way of serving those in need and making love into an action word.

3. I want to make more time for pleasure reading (this ties in with goal #6) because it's a way of being intentional with rest, it encourages me to focus on what matters, and it inspires me to make better business decisions. This year, I want to read six new books in twelve months.

4. I want to study the Word actively because it is wisdom, Truth, and inspiration for my life and it strengthens my faith.

5. I want to be more intentional with starting my workday on time and being productive during working hours. Starting this week, I want to get up at 7:30 a.m. six out of seven days a week.

6. I want to be intentional with rest because it will allow me to take a step back and refocus, it will inspire my work, and it will make me more productive during working hours.

7. I want to live a life of gratitude all year long - not just during the month of November. I want to start this year by making a list of things that we are grateful for to display in our home. I think this will be a powerful reminder to focus on the things that matter most and to count our blessings every day.

8. Going along with goal #7, I want to focus on inspiring influences and purge negativity from things like my Facebook newsfeed and my blog reader. I want to focus on the positive and things that will inspire my work, not detract from it. I want to learn from others rather than comparing myself to others. I want to feel more content.

9. In 2012, we started buying almond milk instead of regular milk, organic eggs instead of regular eggs, and we started eating more vegetables in place of meat. This year, I want to eat more whole foods because it will keep us healthy, it will give us more energy during the day, and it goes hand-in-hand with goal #1.

10. I want to find ways to add value to others - to make an impact. I want to give and invest and encourage this year.


1. I want 2013 to be the year I get published (or at least get something in the queue). This not only will move me forward in my degree but it's a way to share my research with others in the field of Music Education.

2. Goals #2 and #3 are somewhat related - I want to become a better musician in 2013 than I was in 2012. I want to write a hymn arrangement this year and make good use of my keyboard skills class because I know it will inspire my creativity and make me a better listener.

3. I want to get back to my instrument and spend more time in the practice room. I want to become a better improviser. I want to sightread and sightsing on a more regular basis. I want to learn five songs in twelve different keys.

4. I want to create a blog schedule so I can be more consistent with my writing. I want to be authentic, share creativity, and build relationships this year.

5. I want to make a few mini updates to my website because I want it to grow and change with me throughout the year and reflect the things that I am currently doing.

This list inspires me to GO and DO (unlike a to-do list, which I admit is often met with dread). In these final days of holiday vacation, I'm working on the step-by-step process for making each of these goals happen this year - with a timeline. 2013, let's do this!

Love, Ashley


Making Things Happen in 2013 - Part I Making Things Happen in 2013 - Part II

Making Things Happen in 2013 - Part II

"Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least." Y'all, thank you for sharing such encouraging responses to my last post! I have been so inspired by this goal-setting process this week - I can't wait to apply these steps to aspects of my professional work.

I left off last time with my progress up through Step 5. Step 6 is writing out a vision for 2013, reflecting on where you see yourself in 50 years and what you consider to be your personal mission statement. Here's my vision for 2013:

Content, grateful, and present. Gracious. Saying "yes" to things that matter and basing my priorities and decisions on that. Doing more of what fires me up! Giving freely. Making love an action word. Speaking with intention. Working with passion and living a life of gratitude, love, and grace.

This was the most reflective step for me. These questions really make you stop, think, and evaluate your life in a whole new way. What is important in the long run? What kind of person do you want to be? I found I really had to quiet myself for this part of the process. What a wonderful way to prepare your heart and mind for the New Year! Steps 7 and 8 are designed to keep you accountable for living your vision this year: Make a list of things you are saying NO to this year (because they detract from your vision or keep you from being the person you want to be) and make a list of things you are saying YES to this year (because they support your vision).

This year, I am saying NO to: 1. Social media distraction 2. Selfishness in relationships 3. Greed - holding onto things we don't need, buying things we don't need 4. Worry and fear of the future 5. Not being a good listener 6. Working without passion 7. Negative influences 8. Complaining 9. Making excuses to myself 10. Judging others 11. Multi-tasking, not being fully present or focused 12. My iPhone during time with SD 13. Selfish rewards 14. Trying to live up to others' expectations 15. Carrying emotional baggage 16. Having unfair expectations of others 17. Comparison - trying to be too much like others 18. Not taking/making time to rest and be inspired 19. Talking negatively about others 20. Laziness in work, marriage, and personal life

This year, I am saying YES to: 1. More impromptu date nights with SD 2. More prayer 3. An established exercise routine 4. Giving time in service to others 5. Being grateful and counting our blessings 6. Simplifying our life 7. Giving away things we don't use or need 8. Building relationships 9. Getting up on time 10. Making healthy food choices 11. More focused, productive working hours 12. Fewer distractions when I'm home with SD 13. Becoming a better musician 14. Taking time to rest and be inspired during the week 15. More study of the Word 16. Being honest and authentic in what I do 17. Inspiring influences 18. Reading for pleasure 19. Encouraging others 20. Resting in the security of grace 21. Solitude 22. Walks 23. A balanced day 24. Living freely and giving freely 25. Letting go

Everything seemed amazingly clear to me after I made these lists - I even refined my vision statement. Have you ever taken the time to vocalize or write out the things that you want less of in your life? It's freeing, friends. Do what matters and forget the rest. I'm going to post these lists above my desk so that I can be reminded of them every day.

Step 9? Review Steps 1-8. Refine things, add to or change things on your lists, get feedback from someone close to you. Make a note of any key ideas/goals that emerge as you do this.

The final step is writing out purposeful, accessible goals. Yes! I love what Lara said about this part of the process: "The idea here is for you to SIMPLIFY your life, not to give yourself a new to-do list of random things that sound good. Be very specific and careful about what you decide to spend your time on this year." Use the following as a checklist:

1. Will this goal help my 2013 Vision? 2. Does this goal also help other people? 3. WHY would I spend my time on this goal? Write out your answer next to your goal.

I love this. I'll be sharing my progress on this last step and my list of goals for 2013 with you later this week!

Love, Ashley

// Making Things Happen in 2013 - Part I

Making Things Happen in 2013

Happy New Year, friends! As I write this, I'm 38,000 feet in the air in Delta seat 42A headed to Utah for a Danyew family ski trip (my first!). We've had a wonderful holiday adventure so far, including three Christmases, three states, and a harrowing six-hour trip (that should have taken two) in the midst of Winter Storm Euclid. You could say that we're making the most of the holidays/Winter Break. In between all the traveling, skiing, and butter cookie-eating, I've been reflecting on 2012 and setting goals for 2013.

Don't you just love this time of the year? I do. Everything feels fresh and new with the calendar change and though I'm not one for making resolutions, planning thoughtful, meaningful goals and setting up ways to achieve them fires me up to live the life I want to live and do my work with passion.

Raise your hand if you've jotted down a short list of goals at the last possible moment on New Year's Eve (in order to make the magical January 1st deadline). Raises hand. When you look back, how many of those goals did you accomplish? How many moved you forward? No more! I want to set authentic, purposeful goals that I can actually attain.

This week, inspired by Lara Casey's Goal-Setting Steps, I've been doing just that. Guys, the process is so important to setting real, attainable goals. Think about this past year. What did you make happen? What worked well? What didn't work? I spent an afternoon last week pondering these questions and writing out my answers. Beginning with the positive, Step 1 is making a list of things you're grateful for and things that worked well in 2012. Here's what my "worked well" list looks like:

WCMW // the organization and planning, the community support, the quality of the music, and the overall experience PhD at Eastman // I love the work I am doing, the things I am learning, the opportunities and experiences, and the people I work with Living in Rochester // city + country + lakes + beach + mountains, culture, dining, separation of home/work, people our age Setting boundaries // more productive during working hours and able to enjoy time away from work Making decisions // better at getting through emails, taking risks, being confident in my abilities, taking an active role instead of a passive one, and making things happen New website/brand // represents me as an artist, a teacher, a writer, and an entrepreneur; better way of staying in touch with professional network Musical growth // recitals, musicianship, learning new things, surrounding myself with other musicians Giving // helping those in need, living with less, compassion, living "Love Does" Grace // living it in action (calm, patient, peaceful, joyful) Traditions // making new traditions with SD while honoring the old, living in the present and focusing more on what matters Healthier choices // exercising more, eating less meat and no milk, buying local, drinking more water Reading for pleasure // read three books since summer; inspiring, motivating, refreshing

Basically, this comes down to three points (skipping ahead to Step 4): 1. Never stop learning. Be honest and authentic in what you do. 2. Continue striving for musical excellence. Share this with others. 3. Work to live. Set boundaries, know your priorities, and focus on what matters.

Likewise, there were several things that didn't work well last year. This is Step 2. These are learning opportunities for the year to come:

Taking work personally // investing too much of myself into work Worry // about what others think, about finances, about the future, about relationships Lack of boundaries // separating work and personal life at home Lack of inspiration // teaching full-time without being refueled, without rest, and without being inspired Selfish intentions // in decision-making, in marriage, in giving, in relationships Taking things for granted // thinking that newlywed life should be bliss, not focusing on what matters Wrong priorities // paying too much attention to things that don't matter

Again, three basic points (Step 5): 1. Invest yourself in your priorities. Give with intention. 2. Do more of what fires you up. Be inspired. Take time to rest and be filled. 3. Give thanks and be grateful every day.

Step 3 is making a list of what inspires you, invigorates you, and fires you up. Make a Pinterest board for inspiration and to keep yourself on track this year - see mine here (in progress!). Y'all, this was eye-opening for me. There it is, in black and white, exactly where I am today, how far I came in the last year, and the things that inspire me most. Amazing! Now I can begin thinking ahead with purpose (Step 6). Where do I see myself in 50 years? Why do I do what I do? What is my vision? I spent a little time during the flight reflecting on these questions and sketching out my initial responses. More to come as I continue the refining process. In the meantime, please feel free to share your goals for 2013 (if you have them already) and/or your reflection on what went well/not so well this past year in the comments below. Looking forward to sharing more of my goal-setting process with you in the days to come!

Love, Ashley