I can only think of one time that the whole New Year’s resolution thing worked for me, and it wasn’t even New Year’s. At the beginning of the last summer before I graduated college, I made a list of a bunch of things I wanted to do. Most of them were habits, like writing letters to friends and reading the Bible and probably flossing my teeth, rather than specific achievements. I wrote them out on a piece of Taiwanese stationery with penguins on it and tacked it to the bulletin board above my desk. And maybe it was the act if seeing it every day that helped me see every single habit through.

This has not really happened again since then.

Most of my goals and habits have turned into…suggestions. I’m not sure if it’s because I set unrealistic expectations or because I have such unspecific goals that not doing them doesn’t ring a bell. I’ve also become a lot less driven by fear of failure, which is not a bad thing in my book, but it does result in a more careless attitude toward goals and expectations

But I always feel somewhat obliged to do *some* kind of visioncasting and dreamweaving at the end of the year. This year I started thinking about it at the beginning of December, knowing that, if I don’t start now when I have a mild breather from client work, I won’t be motivated to do it in January. (Self-awareness works wonders, man.)

Rather than rattling off a list of resolutions and goals that I will likely forget about in a month, I zoomed out a little to take stock of what I wanted more, the same amount, and less of in my life. In no particular order:

I want more…
  • money
  • creativity
  • prayer/contemplation
  • spiritual growth
  • muscles
  • vacations
  • trying new things
  • dates
  • nice photos of our life
I want the same…
  • schedule flexibility
  • amount of work hours
  • clients
  • childcare providers
  • community
I want less…
  • clothing in my closet/dresser/floor
  • screen time
  • anger
  • takeout meals
  • trips to the grocery store

With these lists, it was pretty easy to figure out what I need to do in order to get the things I want.

I will…
Join the YMCA and schedule workouts with a friend.

I have enough work now that I need my toddler’s nap time to get things done, which means I need childcare in order to exercise. (Although he does think my squats and jumping jacks are pretty funny.) I’m also never as motivated to work out at home as I am away from home with a buddy. Doing this gets me some me time and some social time, in addition to mas muscles.

Double my income without significantly increasing my work hours.

I did a whole separate mindmap for this one, but among other things I need to raise my rates for some existing clients, find one or two more ongoing retainer clients, and start generating some passive income, which I plan to do through offering some online courses. Since I’m quite happy with my current client relationships, I need to keep them happy and continue being selective about the clients and projects that I accept.

Plan a creative sabbath every quarter(ish).

Life is a little too unpredictable for me to commit to anything like 12 Week or 90 Day Year, but it’s still useful to break my year into chunks. I’d like to take a week off from client work every quarter or so to focus on my own writing and other creative projects. I’m also considering taking some ongoing art classes.

Reassess our housekeeping routines and outsource as needed.

We’ve gotten into a pretty decent cleanup routine at the end of the day, but I’ve let some of my other chores lapse as my naptime cleaning hour has turned into work time. I think I will outsource some of our regular cleaning, but unfortunately no one is going to pick up my clothes at the end of the day. So I want to do yet another closet clean-out, and at this point I probably just need to hang everything I own besides underwear because I can’t keep drawers organized to save my life.

Replace evening screen time with something more edifying.

In an ideal world, I would wake up before the toddler and do some yoga, reading, journaling, and praying. In reality, my offspring is an early bird and I really like sleep. So the next best time is after he goes to bed. Unfortunately, I am usually tired in the evening, so it’s easy for me to just veg out with social media. But I gave Science Guy permission to shoo me off my phone if needed. I bought myself a copy of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Day by Day: A 40-Day Journey with the Daily Office to start with. I wouldn’t say that my spiritual muscles are weak, since raising a child is the most spiritual thing I’ve ever done, but I definitely feel undisciplined. We’ll see how it goes!

Plan your year to have more, same, and less of what you want.

This was a helpful exercise to dig into some of the motivations behind my goals. I also used this list to plan a (hopefully) efficient and effective weekly and daily routine. (Routine is tricky for me to maintain without becoming a slave to it, so I hold those plans lightly.) If you’d like to look back and forward about what you want and what you’ll do about it, grab the free printable below. I’ll occasionally send you other productivity tips and maybe some fun stories if you’re lucky.

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