I’ve heard it said before that goals are dreams with deadlines.* I’ve been really good in my life at dreaming, but not so great at accomplishing goals. I’ve come to realize that a lot of this is due to a lack of deadlines. I do just fine at getting things done when there is some sort of external pressure. I did just fine at work. I was great at school. But when it comes to my own personal life I often feel like I’m not accomplishing very much. In the past I’ve balked at placing an arbitrary deadline on myself. I guess I figured that if the deadline is coming from me, then I can just as easily change it. And then it’s not really a deadline, it’s just procrastination. But after all that reasoning I still don’t really get anywhere.
So, to commemorate my 31st birthday this past week, I’ve decided to make this a Year of Accomplishing Things. I’ve made it my goal to complete 31 projects before my next birthday. October 1st, 2016 is the deadline. And since it’s my birthday I can’t change it. No procrastinating on this one! I’ll either meet my goal or I won’t, but at least it won’t just languish out there for all eternity while I wonder if I’ll ever get around to it or not. I feel like this will be good for me.
So what do I mean by 31 Projects? It’s pretty open-ended really. The purpose is to take all the many many many many ideas I come up with throughout the year and turn at least some of them into reality. Some of them will likely be craft projects. Some will probably be home projects (decorating, organizing, and the like.) Some may be projects for the kids. Hopefully all of them will bring about some sort of personal fulfillment, either by being a creative outlet or improving my life in some way.
I have dedicated a page in my planner for keeping track of my projects and have already started jotting down ideas. A few are already in progress. You can also expect a lot of 31 Project related blog posts. 31 of them, hopefully.
When I do the math, it looks like I need to complete a project every one and a half weeks. This is a pretty lofty goal. So if you know me in real life, feel free to ask about what projects I’m working on. I have a feeling I’m going to need a little motivation to get this done. :)
*Pinterest tells me that was said by someone named Napoleon Hill.
I have to say, I started the 2015 Reading Challenge with a good one. Chris and I chose “a book that is currently on the best-seller list” as the first category of the challenge to complete. I went with All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I had no great expectations for it. It was just one of the few books on the list that didn’t seem to center on a murder or crime, so that’s what I picked.
The story is set in Europe during WWII and is told from the perspectives of two different characters – children really – who come of age during the height of WWII. The first is a blind French girl who flees Paris during the Nazi invasion with her father who may or may not be in possession of a cursed diamond. The second is a German orphan boy who escapes his fate of working in the coal mines when his gift at working with radios and mechanics awards him a spot at a prestigious school for the Hitler Youth.
The 500 some pages in the book go by quickly. It’s an easy read, but definitely not fluff. The chapters are short and go back and forth between the girl and the boy, the beginning of the war and the end. It was fascinating to watch the story unfold and reveal how these two separate lives would intersect.
At one point near the end of the book I told Chris that either there was going to be some kind of miracle, or everyone was going to die. It turned out to have some of both. There was a bit of the miraculous. There was a bit of the sad. Some people lived and some people died. Everyone came out of the war with some scars. But many also learned how very strong they could be.
If you’re looking for a book to read, I would definitely recommend this one.
There was a time in my life when I could call myself a bookworm with no reservations. I’m pretty sure I spent more time reading than just about any other activity – eating, sleeping, having conversations…
But that time has passed and the number of books I’ve read in the past 5 years or so has been in the abysmal range of less than 10. This is something I would like to change in my life.
Enter the 2015 reading challenge from Modern Mrs. Darcy. The challenge is to read 12 books in 12 different categories in 12 months. That means a book a month. IT SHOULD BE TOTALLY DOABLE. It’s really not a lot of books for one year. But if I complete the challenge I will have read about six times as many books as last year.
Since I’ve been out of the reading loop for so long, one of the problems I have when I actually want to sit down and read is picking a book to start with. There are so many options! And since I know in the back of my mind that this could very well be the only book I read all year I put a lot of pressure on myself to pick one worth my time. But of course you don’t know if a book is good or not until you’ve read it. So I become paralyzed in the book store and walk out empty handed. I’m hoping the categories in this reading challenge will help get me over that hurdle. They are broad enough to give plenty of choice, but they offer some nice boundaries to keep things from getting overwhelming. I have a feeling these categories will encourage me to branch out a try some books that I wouldn’t otherwise, so I’m excited about that too!
What’s even more fun is my husband is planning to do the challenge too! We won’t be reading the same books, but we plan to read within the same category each month. And I suppose we’ll compare notes and encourage each other to read and other such helpful things.
At the beginning of the year I wrote a long list of somewhat unrealistic goals. A big reason I started blogging in the first place was to have a place to document my progress in life and keep me accountable for the different things I try to accomplish. So here’s an update on how I’m doing on some of my goals…
4. Get stuff hung on the walls of our house – I put up a couple of pieces of artwork by my sister. We still have a lot of empty walls though.
7. Plant a garden (vegetable or flower) – Here’s my flower bed. It’s overrun with weeds, but I planted it and the flowers have lived. I’m going to say this goal was accomplished.
11. Develop marketing materials and strategies for our web design business – ALMOST! My sister interned with our business this summer and helped me make a lot of progress on this goal. We wrote up some good copy to explain our services and process and have a rough draft of a brochure to hand out to potential clients.
14. Organize Charlie’s toys – YES! Accomplished mainly by purging a lot of toys. They stay organized a lot better when they actually fit in the space you have.
18. Make improvements to church website – a few small adjustments have been made, but I have bigger ideas for down the road.
19. Practice hand lettering in designs – Somewhat. A few of my blog posts feature hand lettered art.
20. Read more to Charlie – YES! Story time is now firmly established as part of the bedtime routine and we just got library cards so we (I) won’t get bored of reading the same books over and over.
28. Cut down on grocery budget – getting pregnant kind of threw this one out the window.
29. Get comfortable using Adobe Illustrator – I’m slowly improving on this one. Photoshop is still my go-to program, but I’m finding more and more opportunities to use Illustrator.
32. Grow readership of blog – taking a 3 month break didn’t help with this one. We’ll see if I can build it back up by the end of the year.
33. Find ways to make a modest income from blogging – While still a nice thought, I think I want to focus more on experimenting with the topics I write about and find what I like best before thinking too much about how to make money from it.
So there you go. Out of the 30+ goals I set for myself, I’ve accomplished or made progress on nine of them. I knew from the beginning that I wouldn’t be able to cross them ALL off, so it feels pretty good to know that I’ve accomplished at least some. And there’s still a lot of the year left to make progress on even more!
Every blog everywhere is talking about New Year’s resolutions and goal setting right now. So, since I’m trying to be a legitimate blogger I figured I better jump on the bandwagon and inspire all of you to better yourselves in the new year. The problem is I’ve never been very good at setting helpful, realistic goals for myself. There are all kinds of rules and guidelines for how to make a good goal, but following such guidelines always sounded so stifling and boring. So I’m going to take a different approach: good old fashioned stream-of-consciousness list making. Here are my goals for 2014: