January Recap + February’s Goals

Hey friends! Yeah, so, I guess I’m a true adult now that months and years seem to just be flying by. I’m currently enjoying my Texas February (I’ll take every 70 degree weekend the Lord sees fit to give me), and planning a trip to Kentucky this weekend to celebrate my sister and her marriage.

In January, Chris and I really settled into the church and sunk into a new routine. It’s an adjustment to go from having nothing going on to Chris working 2 jobs and have lots of activities, but we are really enjoying the church and the students. Chris worked lots of overtime at his financial job, which meant he was home for maybe 30 minutes before we went to bed each night, but we still found ways to rest and watch lots of episodes of the Office. We also got to have an amazing weekend with his mom and Grandpa and checked out the Fort Worth Stockyards.

As for my goals for January, I really did not do so hot. A few unexpected things happened that took up more energy than I was expecting, but that made me glad I first set my guides for the year. I’m not feeling like a failure, but instead, I can look at what I did and didn’t accomplish and set even more realistic goals for February. Here’s what I’m looking to do:

FEBRUARY

Here are my goals for this month:

1.       Make more veggie-heavy meals. Last week we had spaghetti squash and sweet potato, eggplant, gnocchi, and carrot hash, and it reminded me veggies don’t have to be the boring this on the side of my plate. I’d like to have at least 1 night a week where the meal is almost entirely vegetables.

2.       Celebrate Kayla. My older sister is getting married in April, and I want her to know how much she’s loved by the Stepp family as she’s walking down the aisle to make her own family (insert cry face here).

3.       Blog 2x week. I’m cutting back from last month because I get to do some other fun writing projects this month that will take up time. Look for new posts about Grace and Relationships all this month on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

4.       Meet other writing goals. I have a fun project I’m working on for this space, one for For the Love, and a few others for work I’m looking forward to. I’d like to get lots of legwork for these done this month.

5.       Tithe. Chris and I give to some nonprofits, but we need to get better about consistently giving to the church and other projects.

6.       Clean out my closet. I’m eyeing purchasing some high-quality wardrobe staples, so I want to sell some clothes to help cover some of that cost. (On a wardrobe note, is anyone else excited Un-fancy.com is coming back?!?)

7.       Try making money online. I have an ambitious goal this year that I want to pay for an Alaskan cruise for me and Chris making money on a few user-testing websites. This month is my first full month really going for it, so I’m figuring out how much money is even possible to make.

It’s funny, the last three are financial goals. Chris and I are pretty frugal with our money and committed to staying debt free. Since we’ll probably buy a house in a few years, we’ve gotten to have more money talks (YAY! not) and set some ambitious goals financially. Hopefully we do better with those goals than I did with my January goals!

So what do you want to accomplish this month? Any ways I can cheer you on?

Pssst….are you looking to set goals this year that you’ll actually accomplish? Do you want to not feel like a failure if you don’t meet every goal in exactly the time frame you want to? Get my F-R-E-E workbook, Setting Goals with Grace, here!

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Setting Goals with Grace: The Goal Part

I’m so pumped about goal setting this year that I outlined the process in a new workbook: Goals with Grace. It includes five days of worksheets guiding you to set goals with God’s plans in mind. Click here to sign up for this FREE workbook!

Part I: The Year of…

Part II: Setting Guides

After setting my verse guides for the year and boldly praying over them, I was itching to set actual goals! Since SO much can change in a year, I am holding off setting goals for the entire year. I have an idea of where I want to go and things I want to accomplish, but I am going to take one month at a time.

Something one of my professors in college talked about was setting SMART goals. Goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound. So a non-SMART goal would be to get healthy. A SMART goal would be to, say, only drink water for the month of January.  I typically try to follow this in goal setting.

My first list of goals for January had about 20 goals….blah. Since I’m trying not to fail the first month out, I kept myself to 5 fairly simple goals I want to accomplish in January:

Read a marriage book about supporting your spouse. I checked out Power of a Praying Wife last week and have already started reading! This is definitely an area I need to grow in.

Blog 3 times a week. If you’re reading this, the first week’s accomplished!

Pray intentionally for the youth group. Daily.

Only eat out one dinner a week. This weekend I made 4 freezer meals to help prepare for this—too bad I want to eat them all ASAP. (I made a version of The Pioneer Woman’s Chicken Pot Pies and Annette’s Enchiladas from Shauna Neiquist’s book Bread and Wine).

Memorize Romans 15:13. This is my “guide” for my personal growth in 2016.

In addition to these goals, I am going to continue praying my guide verses and see where that leads me. Looking at the list, it seems like kind of a lot, but it’s all things I’m looking forward to. At the beginning of next month I’ll update you on how I did!

What are your goals for this month? I’d love to pray you through them! Leave a comment or shoot email to lifemeetsgrace@gmail.com!

Setting Goals with Grace: Guiding the Way

This week I’m talking about what happened when I prayed for my goal meeting process to meet grace. Stay tuned to the end of the post for a F-R-E-E workbook outlining how you can follow this process, too!

I do love setting goals every year, but don’t always/hardly ever meet them. This year, instead of putting together a huge list of resolutions, I wanted to really submit everything in prayer before I made my list of things to change. This seems so simple now that I’m writing it, but I don’t think that I’ve ever spent time in prayer before setting goals or guides for the year. I typically make my list of things I know I need to change (“Eat healthier” “Pray more”), then maybe pray one time over them. But this year, without really setting out to, I took a different approach.

I think my heart was prepping for this for a while—my year of dwelling really set my heart in a place where I just know I need God in able to do anything. I feel like my tendencies for perfectionism, while still tangled in this heart of mine, have been loosened as I spent this year learning about God and myself.

The very first thing I did, again, unintentionally, was start praying about a fresh start in early December. Nothing crazy, just a quick “God, please guide me to start fresh where you want me to this next year.”

Then early last week, when the word try wouldn’t leave my mind and before my work day started, I got out a piece of paper and wrote TRY in the middle, then wrote out categories for my life: Personal, Marriage, Finances, Spiritual, Creativity, Career, and Health. Throughout the day as I worked, I would write whatever came to my mind for these areas. All of them were realistic, but some were more ideas that goals. When I went home from work and looked over the paper, I saw some really broad ideas that made me so excited and hopeful.

I pared down these ideas into what I’m calling guides. For instance, under Spiritual Goals, I wrote that I really just want to fall in love with Jesus. That’s not really measureable or specific, but it really shows what I want to happen in my heart this year. All the other goals I wrote down in that category fall under this general idea.  So that was my guide for Spiritual Growth in 2016—all of my goals and ideas throughout the year, I want to help me fall in love with Jesus more.

My guides looked like this:

Spiritual: Fall in love with Jesus.

Health: Be strong.

Personal: Have joy.

Creativity: Commit to consistency.

Marriage: Be a support.

Career: Work diligently.

Finances: Be faithful.

Missions: Serve my community.

I mulled these over for a few days and talked about them with Chris, too (let me tell you, he absolutely LOVES goal talk…NOT!).  I really really didn’t want these goals to be just from or for me, another way I would keep striving to become the “Perfect” Woman. Instead I want to listen to what the Lord is asking from me, in my career or with my creativity or marriage and allow him to refine me. I want to be intentional to accomplish things that I feel like God is asking from me.

So, last Saturday, I woke up and instead of turning on the Pioneer Woman, I pressed record and then sat with my Bible, my journal, and my guides. I felt really great about the guides I had written out, so I set out to find verses that would match these and put them into perspective (aka about God’s glory and not about mine). I used Google search and my Bible to search these out, and here’s what I’ve got:

Spiritual: Isaiah 61:10 “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul will exult my God, for he has clothed me with garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness.”

Personal: Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

Creativity: 1 Peter 4:10 “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.”

Marriage: Ephesians 5:22 “Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord.”  (Side note: I was surprised by how much I really wanted to find a different verse, but this is what God stuck on my heart and wouldn’t budge from. Looks like I have some learning to do in this area)

Career: Colossians 3:1 and 3:23 “Seek the things that are above…whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord.”

Finances: Hebrews 13:5 “Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, for he had said, ‘Never will I leave you nor forsake you.’”

Missions: 1 Peter 4:10 “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.”

You’ll see Health is missing, because I’m struggling to find one there! I don’t want to take a verse out of context (i.e. Philipians 4:13 isn’t at all talking about working out), so I’m waiting on that one.

I was really surprised to see how God allowed me to find the perfect verses that really summarized what I wanted to ask for this year. And ask is right—I am going to put a lot of work in, but this year one thing I am trying is to pray boldly and frequently. I have a feeling God is going to move some mountains in my personal life this year, and my expectations are through the roof.

Another thing about these guides is that I am going to use the verses, instead of the original words I wrote, as my guides for goal setting in 2016. That way, each month when I look these over, I am reminded that God is the source of change and refinement in my life, not me.

I’m so pumped about goal setting this year that I outlined the process in a new workbook: Goals with Grace. It includes five days of worksheets guiding you to set goals with God’s plans in mind. Click here to sign up for this FREE workbook!

 

Setting Goals with Grace: The Year of…

Towards the end of December, I started thinking and praying about a word for this next year or season to focus on. I wanted something that I could really sink into, whether that meant reading lots of books, word studies in Scripture, whatever. And what I came up with is super not that, and I love it.

I was reading this article by Kelsey Humphreys where she talks about dreams, and this paragraph really stuck out to me:

“When you start a blog, no one reads it but your mom. When you start performing at coffee shops, only your friends show up. When you start writing your novel, you’ll only have a few measly pages at first. Technology and the internet make everything seem fast and simple, but anything worth doing takes time and effort. I have seen many an excited dreamer start on their new project only to bail one month in because they didn’t anticipate just how lame starting actually is.” Source

It’s like she was giving me personal permission to put something out there that…isn’t super awesome at first. I can figure it out and get better as I go. And I know it’s kind of lame, but this year I am going to hold onto that. This year I am just going to…try.

To me, this means:

Not being afraid of being vulnerable or lame.

Having the self-discipline to follow through.

Trying something and not committing.

Being okay with lameness for a while.

This year I accidentally set some guides and goals for the year in a way that hasn’t left me overwhelmed or striving. Instead I am so hopeful and excited for what God’s going to do in 2016. Over the upcoming week, I want to outline the process I unintentionally did this year that I probably will carry into years to come. Part II of Setting Goals with Grace will come your way this Wednesday!

hello, September.

Hello, September.  I am ecstatic to see you.  August was pretty good to me, but I have a feeling September is going to be even better.

This month instead of my usual goals, I’m aiming for three things in all areas: self-discipline, peace, and love.

Self-discipline in health by cutting down that sugar (August meant lots of wedding/birthday/because it’s Saturday cupcakes). Self-discipline in a project I’m working on by creating a schedule and sticking to it. This month I am going to attack some hard things, and I am actually looking forward to them.

I’m creating space for peace, starting with cutting the podcasts from my morning walks (*the horror*). I need some silent space for breathing and talking with the Lord, and an hour long walk in the morning seems like a great start.

Love in that I want to stop and listen. I want to really look people in the eyes as they are talking, from the grocery store cashier to my husband.

September, we are going to have a great time, I think.

What are you hoping for this month? Any words or specific areas you want to grow in?

August Goals

It’s AUGUST aka BIRTHDAY MONTH!

The next few weeks are going to be crazy—Chris and I are going to be gone three of the next five weekends, and in the meantime trying to find a new place to live when our lease is up. *insert gritted teeth emoji*

So I am going light on the goals this month, because the main one is to soak up every minute of fun with Chris, so let’s start there.

Fun: Have a blast in San Antonio, Kentucky, and Austin. Read a few books for fun. First up, Everything I Never Told You.  I also want to cook every weeknight that we are at home. *yikes!* You can follow me on that journey at my Meal Planning Pinterest Board or even send suggested pins my way!

Health: Continue to walk daily but also pick a workout class to start in September.

Professional: Keep writing every day. Read Outliers, Daring Greatly, and The Upside of Down. Get ready to send off 2 celebration tours and get ready for our last trip of 2015 to Spain and Portugal (I am just about to die of excitement).

I feel kind of boring this month, but really it’s going to be jam packed. I’m actually putting a *little* something together over the coming months that I am SO excited about—but also kinda nervous. Let’s just say the season of dwell might be about over, and now it’s time to jump! (See what I did there?)

So what are your goals this month? Anything fun you’re looking forward to?

*This post has affiliate links, which just means if you click on it and buy the product from Amazon, I get a few cents for referring you. Your support is appreciated!*

wrapping up July

I’m linking up with Emily Freeman to chat about what I’ve learned in July! Check out her site and her new book, Simply Tuesday, 50% off on Amazon today!

So it’s the last week of July. I would say I don’t believe it, but I think I’ve said that every single month this year! I don’t know if traveling so much makes everything fly by, but I cannot believe the year is more than halfway over. Darn, I just said it…where did this year go???

Besides a few days in Chicago, I spent most of this month at home with Chris, which was great. I feel like we rested and just had a lot of fun. Obviously Texas in the summer is scorching hot, but there’s also so much to do. We spent a lot of time exploring Dallas through food, attending a restaurant opening and finding unique food places, which was so much fun. Groupon is where it is at, for real. Good food plus relaxing by the pool equaled a great month in my book.

So I had fun, but what about my JULY GOALS?!?

Fitness: YES! I’ve worked out most days, and the Fitbit is still an amazing tool that is great motivation. I get my steps more days than not, and same with active minutes.

Reading: I’ve read a TON this month, which honestly helps me feel more like myself. I finished Cold Tangerines, and I started Let’s All Be Brave. I LOVE Annie Downs, and this book was great, but in this season I feel like God is asking me to be still, so I put down LABB and am looking forward to picking it up in the next season. Other books I loved: Bossypants and Just Mercy

Professional: I took the Strengthsfinder! All of my strengths were in the category of Strategic Thinking, which I think makes total sense and definitely helps as I look to make career goals for the next few years.

Fun: We didn’t head to a Texas swimming hole, but we are floating down a river in just a few weeks. I can’t WAIT!

That about wraps up July, and I’m already looking forward to a really fun August and September (hint: hanging out at Jen Hatmaker’s house over Labor Day) (#DYING)

How’s your July going? What’s the most fun thing you’ve done?

It’s July?!?

Let’s just hold up and talk about how half of the year is now over<–OMG when did this happen? When did I blink and miss June? How did it get so stinkin’ hot?

Okay, now that the important questions are over with, let’s get focused. While this weather makes me want to lay under a fan and slather sunscreen all over my shoulders 24/7, I just cancelled Netflix so I guess I have to get moving, and might even have to go outside once or twice. So let’s talk some goals.

For the last several months, my goals have been pretty simple: enjoy time with Chris while I’m at home and take steps toward a healthy body and mind. The latter’s been pretty hit or miss (hello…gelato in Italy? Not passing that up), but in June I really hit my stride (pun intended) with my new Fitbit. I got the Fitbit Flex, and for my type A perfectionist self, this is amazing. Once I get my steps, it vibrates on my wrist, and that small accomplishment every day feels HUGE. Like, do a happy dance in the middle of the street HUGE. Also, if I meet my goal in steps, calories, active minutes, or distance, I get a gold star on the app. And I’m all about gold stars.

So now a few steps forward (pun unintended) I want to take in July:

Brave//Swim
Brave//Swim

Fitness: Keep up the walking. I currently get up at 5 AM to walk, so I am generally able to avoid the heat. This month I’ll probably be adding a few swim workouts in our pool, despite the fact I am crazy afraid there will be snakes in there one morning.<–Is this irrational? It *might* have kept me up a few nights thinking about it.

Reading: Finish Cold Tangerines by Shauna Neiquist (my very favorite author EVER), start and finish Let’s All Be Brave: Living Life with Everything You Have by Annie Downs (who I want to be my best friend)

Professional: Take the Strengthsfinder test (kinda like the new Enneagram—I feel like I am hearing about it everywhere). I feel like personality tests help me be more self-aware so I can push through in situations that aren’t really my thing but also move into places that are a sweet spot of skills and passion.

Marriage: I really want to work on being a better cheerleader for Chris. I feel like my method of encouragement can a teeny bit action-focused (aka pushy), so this month I want to practice turning off the advice-giving and simply cheer Chris on.

Fun: Don’t laugh, guys, but I really want to check out a Texas swimming hole. Isn’t this list gorgeous?

So what about you? What’s something you want to accomplish this month? 

December Goals

What in the world happened to November? It came and went and goals-wise, I did okay, I guess. I think I am going to try to be a little more specific and maybe a little more meaningful with my goals.

1. Have an amazing Thanksgiving. Check! We spent ours in Texas with my half of the family. Can’t wait to see them in a few weeks.

Newlywed 018

2. Do the dishes every day. Besides a few days, we did okay on this one.

3. Read a book. Kind of check. I started Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, and it is great so far.

4.  Find/make cheap Christmas decorations. Yes! I love my Christmas house.

5.  Plan a fun and unique date night with Chris. Um…does Taco Bell count?

6.  Keep a gratitude journal. Yes! I loved doing this. It was a great way to end each day.

So now, December goals!

DecGoals

1. Start a new Christmas tradition. No idea what, but I feel like it’ll be an important part of establishing me and Chris as a family, and a good way to not miss my family in Texas as much.

2.  Get a haircut. A year is just too long!

3.  Enjoy graduation and celebrate. I am hoping to celebrate graduation in some way—even a few days off doing nothing or some sort. Or getting a haircut. I live an exciting life.

4.  Eat more fruits and veggies. Not gonna lie, there will be lots of fudgie goodness going around the house this month, but I truly want to up my fruits and veggies.

5. Handle change with grace and faith. In the midst of many changes around here, I want to truth in the Lord and not be a giant ball of stress and worry.

 

So what about you? What are some goals you have for December?

This month is pretty low key as I am gearing up for some major changes, so I bet January will have more specific goals for both the year and the month.

November Goals

November!

I can’t believe it’s here. 2013 has been a big year, from marriage to internship to graduation.

I’m linking up with The Tiny Twig to think over what I want to accomplish this month.

Image

1. Have an amazing Thanksgiving. Chris’s job change makes it a little difficult to plan, since we have no idea what his schedule will be. We are hoping for at least a few days off so I can see my family. However, even if we can’t, I’m hoping my first time cooking Thanksgiving dinner will go well, and at least be a fun and relaxing time.

2. Do the dishes every day. Because, goodness, I just feel better when they’re done.

3. Read a book. A good one.

4.  Find/make cheap Christmas decorations. So thankful for my Horton and Brown decorations!

5.  Plan a fun and unique date night with Chris. Because what’s better than throwing leaves in comfy clothes with my cute husband?

6.  Keep a gratitude journal. Because sometimes I get too caught up in the bad to look at the good. And because Ann Voskamp says so.

 

What are your goals for the month? I’d love to hear them!