As I begin this post, I have a smile on my face and fulfillment in my heart. After looking back and doing the final review of my yearly goals, I'm standing a little taller because I DID IT. I set out this year to make my days count and live with purpose, and that desire was backed up by a practical system of goal setting, and IT WORKED! As I've reviewed my list of goals, there are plenty that didn't turn out how I planned, but contrary to what I might expect, I feel encouraged rather than discouraged, grateful rather than discontent, and proud rather than ashamed.
There are areas I mastered, some that still need work, some that aren't as important to me as they once were, and all of that is ok with me. I have embraced the ebb and flow of a life focused on progress not perfection, and I sit on the cusp of a new year feeling both accomplished for what is done and challenged for what is to come.
I share this with you because I can't be the only one that feels this way. Most of us probably look back at 2015 and see moments we're proud of and some we're not. What I want to say to you and to me is that life is too precious and too short to not give yourself grace. You have too much good to make happen in the world and too many people to love to be distracted by regrets or shame from the past. You are exactly who you are and where you are for a purpose bigger than you can imagine, and if you can embrace that even just a little bit, I believe you will be astounded at what is possible.
If all this resonates with you, yet you don't quite know what to do from here, start by reading this goal review. Sometimes giving yourself grace happens easier once you see someone else do it for themselves. I know that's how it worked for me (thanks for setting great examples, Lara and Emily!). My 2015 goal journey started in January, and I posted monthly goals every month along the way. Below is a review of my yearly goals. It's a long list so feel free to read as much or as little as you'd like. I hope most of all that you will see the picture of a real, imperfect life where progress is valued over perfection, and that inspires you to do the same. I've also included a few fun photo highlights at the bottom!
Thoughtfully and purposefully go through the home-buying process with Woody and purchase our first home!We LOVE our new home! The process and the wait wasn't easy, but the reward was so worth it! We hope you can come visit someday! Cultivate our new home to be a place that is peaceful and special for our family and also welcoming and a blessing to others.This is an ongoing process, but the prayers and the heart we have put into our home have already filled it with such love and peace. Build a strong marriage founded on Christ, sacrificial love, companionship and commitment.I love Woody more today than I ever have. Every day we grow and learn. There are moments that are hard, but staying committed to each other and choosing to love when it feels hard, pays off big time.
- Write Woody one love note every month. My love-note writing was sparse, but I loved him in many other ways!
Expand and strengthen The LovingKind as a brand, blog, and products that point people to love and to God.This year I did less blogging in order to develop products (some coming in 2016) and make room to tend to our home renovation. While content was less this year, I feel really good about the intentional choices I made and believe the heart and foundation of TLK was definitely made stronger! Make new friends and connections through The LovingKind.This has to be the thing I love the most about TLK. Connecting with people and encouraging each other is just the best! LaunchDevelop three new products for the TLK Shop.* I launched new love + Valentine’s cards and developed marriage and Christmas products coming in 2016.* Post 2015 and monthly goals on the TLK blog and share progress.YES!!! Y’all, this was such a big step for me. If you look back at my 2015 goals post, you can see the things that were scary about embarking [on a year of sharing my goals. I am SO glad I pushed past that fear nd did it anyway. It was imperfect, but I am so grateful for the process and to all of you who followed along! You can bet you’ll be seeing more goals in 2016! Intentionally plan a 3rd anniversary trip with Woody (hopefully to Paris!).After not feeling peace about going to Paris, we changed our location to NYC, and I am so glad. We went on a “Friendsgiving” trip with our best friends and neighbors, Rachel and Lucas. It was a dream trip and I’m so glad we did it! Sharpen, strengthen, and improve my creative skills, specifically writing and illustrating, by practicing more. Progress over perfection!These are things I’ve loved since childhood, and somewhere in the entry into adulthood, many of them fell by the wayside. I really enjoyed spending time on creative things that give me energy and life this year. This stays a consistent goal to keep practicing, learning and exercising my creative heart! LearnLearning to watercolor!Learning a new skill takes time, and I loved the time I spent watercoloring this year. Celebrate turning 30 in a meaningful way with dear friends.This was one of the highlights of my year. It was so special and better than I could’ve hoped. I am excited to share it on the TLK blog soon! Celebrate Woody's birthday with family on St. Simons Island, Georgia.You can’t beat celebrating your favorite person in one of your favorite places. I love that we make birthdays big in our family. Woody had a great time on his birthday and so did I! Be a good steward of our finances by keeping our monthly budget and having our monthly budget parties before the end of the month.There may not be any better example of “progress not perfection” than this. We made good strides and I’m proud of us for staying committed to healthy finances and good stewardship, and we saw the fruit of it. We are still working on timing and process, and I am excited for the financial peace 2016 will bring as we continue to grow and work in this area.
- Get healthy! Take care of my body by putting better food in it and developing an exercise routine so I have the energy and strength to give, participate, love and create in this life! This was a challenge. There were high moments, but overall, I just didn’t find a way to consistently invest in my physical health. And, I’m feeling the consequences—my body hurts more and just isn’t giving me the energy and strength I need to live the purposeful life I want to live. As I prepare for 2016, I’m thinking about how I can make changes to make my body stronger and healthier, and consistently make it a priority in my schedule. Any advice you have is much welcome!
Get more spiritually healthyby setting aside intentional time to pray, read Scripture and worship God daily. Progress! My daily routine is something I’m still working on, but I definitely grew in this area this year and it has been amazing and rewarding.
- Create more time in the mornings by getting up earlier so I can have a peaceful start to my day through time with God, breakfast, and getting to work by 8:30am. *“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” There were pockets of this, but it was not as consistent as I wanted. I still feel the need for this in my life, so I imagine it will show up again in 2016 goals. *
Go to a conference, event, or workshop that gets me out of my box, inspires me creatively and challenges me personally.I went to The Influence Conference with my friend, Rachel, and it was great. I’m so glad we planned and committed to this. We grew creatively, personally and in our friendship. Have 3rd anniversary photo shoot with Woody in October or November.* Rachel offered to take our photos in NYC and I am beyond grateful! I highly recommend planning a photo shoot on your next vacation. It helped capture beautiful memories of a really special trip.*
- Plan a specific December budget to account for holiday giving, traveling, entertaining and Christmas cards. The house renovation, moving and NYC trip turned this one on it’s head. We didn’t get a head start and do this how we wanted. Nonetheless, we were conscientious spenders in all these areas so I feel good about that.
- Order Christmas cards by December 1. I didn’t meet this deadline, but I got my cards out earlier than ever before so setting the goal still worked!
- Mail Christmas cards by December 15. See above
- Complete Christmas shopping by December 15. Christmas shopping was really different this year. We moved into our home October 31, and the process of settling put us in a different flow than we could’ve expected. Good thing is, there is plenty of grace here and we still got to show our love to our family and friends with gifts and quality time.
Host second annual Christmas cookie swap in December.This was so fun! It was our first party in our home and it was very special. This is a tradition I hope will last for years and years. Love my family well. Be intentional about time spent with them and choose to invest in my relationship with them through visits, phone calls, texts, emails, cards, etc.I am so grateful for all the times with family this year. Focusing on loving them well has made me love them even more. Have better dental health. Keep flossing as a daily habit and keep regular dentist appointments.This is one of the goals I'm most proud of! After moving a couple times after college, it proved to be a challenge to keep regular dentist visits. I went longer than I care to admit without one, but 2015 changed all that! I now floss regularly and know my dentist well. He even told me, "I probably shouldn't say this, but your teeth are in pretty good shape for not having visited the dentist in this long!"
- Let go of the fear of success. This is an ongoing journey. The fear of success is strange, yet real, and letting it go is easier said than done. Recognizing the fear is there is a big step and I’m still praying and working through pushing past it in order to live a full and purposeful life.
- Let go of my need for control. Progress! This year I have recognized areas I was trying to control that I didn’t even realize. This is a hard one to tie up in a neat little bow, but I am grateful for the growth I’ve seen and support I’ve found from friends in this area.
Pray for our future children and for God's perfect timing and plan for our family.*God has worked in my heart so sweetly in this area. I never expected all the emotions and thoughts I would have in preparing to start a family. I will continue to pray and lean on God for His plan and timing. *
- Stop using social media by 9:30pm. This goal was a little specific and I think would have been better worded as “manage social media usage with self control.” Anyone with an Instagram account knows this isn’t easy, but I really feel like I have grown (and continue to) toward having a healthier balance in how, why and when I use social media.
Cultivate meaningful friendships and say "yes" to friendship. Answer the phone, send the text, mail the birthday card.YES! Friendship has been one of my favorite parts of this year. God has been so good to me to give me such sweet friendships and I have enjoyed them immensely this year. To hear more about my friendship journey, check out the podcast I did with Mavenly + Co. Continue cultivating friendships with mentors and creative inspirations both local and through the online community.This is so important and so valuable. I felt more connected to other creative this year than ever before and it has been so good for my heart and my work. Celebrate well. Moments, accomplishments, milestones within my family and people around me. (birthdays, weddings, new babies, new homes, new jobs, holidays and the every day.)This was one of my favorite goals. Celebrating is such a gift and creates so many moments in time that are only lived once. I loved the times I got to savor with special people celebrating some of life’s greatest gifts! Be intentional at work about fostering a healthy working style and environment. Set a plan, say "no" to stress, use time wisely, stop "spinning," set goals for work, and love my team well.I saw great progress in this area. This year had its challenges, but it was also probably one of the best years of my professional life. I learned a lot and can see a positive change in myself. Also, our team had some really impactful accomplishments this year and had fun along the way! Create girls' creative group with Rachel and meet once a month for six months.God is so good. That is the only way to explain The Orchard. He birthed the idea in us and He made it a success. We are starting Season Two in January, and I am greatly anticipating what He has in store. Find people to collaborate with creatively (photography, videography, calligraphy, illustration, writing, flowers, design, shops, etc.)The Orchard played a great role in this. Specifically, I got to collaborate with a stationery designer, photographer and letterpress artist, and it was so fun. Use my Simplified Planner and PowerSheets as tools to help me have a purposeful and expansive 2015!This makes me so happy! I am so grateful for these tools. They made a huge impact on my year, and are most definitely making a return appearance in 2016. Make birthday card list and send birthday cards to friends(minimum of 25).I did a great job the first part of the year with birthday cards, and it was one of the highlights of every month. As I saw happen in a few areas, my focus was heavily shifted to buying and renovating our home in the second part of the year, but I still am grateful for all the people I got to love through birthday cheer this year! Keep improving and practicing my baking,learn three new recipes, and keep sharing!I didn’t spend quite as much time baking as I expected, but I did get a new pancake recipe that has become a family favorite and have baked my mom’s famous chocolate chip cookie recipe that I hope to bake for many years to come. Take time to sit on porches.I now have my very own porch and porch swing! As I think back through the year, I am so grateful for all the time I spent sitting (on porches or otherwise) having meaningful conversations and savoring the moment.
- Honor and preserve our family memories in a beautiful and meaningful way. Create family photo wall in our home and order Artifact Uprising books of our honeymoon, first and second anniversary trips, and 2012, 2013, 2014. I didn’t make this happen this year, but I’m not letting go of this goal. I have spent a lot of time lately thinking about the ways we will preserve and share our family memories. From gallery walls to photo books, I am looking forward to making this happen and having a place to share it in our new home!
Attend two, new local Birmingham events.I went to The Great Hurrah and Community Pieces. Both events made me proud and grateful to live in Birmingham. Buy a piece of art for our new home.Smiles all over the place for this goal! We love art and we were so fortunate to get several new pieces this year. Finding the perfect places to hang them in our new home has been so much fun so far!
- Plan a trip to North Carolina. This didn’t work out for 2015, but it’s looking like it will in early 2016 and I am very excited!
- Spend time every week reading a book other than the Bible. This goal turned out to be a little too specific, but the overall heart of it was to read more. I spent some good time reading this year and even found a new author, Melanie Shankle.
Maintain a clean, orderly, simplified home.This is kind of a funny goal to cross off considering we moved this year, which means our home spent a good bit of time being packed and unpacked which is not orderly or clean! However, aside from that season, we were able to do some tidying at our loft and are in a good flow so far of keeping our new home in an orderly state.
Thank you for joining me in pursuing a purposeful life this year. Check back soon for 2016 goals and the beginning of a new year full of days and moments that really count. Happy New Year!