Wednesday, January 7, 2015

No More Resolutions, Just Small Steps

The new year came in as a blur, because our second child was born the day after Thanksgiving; so, needless to say, the past 6 weeks has been a sleep-deprived haze for my wife and I (okay, mostly my wife).

I've barely had time to reflect on the past year, let alone assess where things are headed for the next, so I'm going to sort of "verbally process" here.

Of all my goals from 2014, I really only got parts done:
  • Read 1 book a week (52 book challenge). 
    • Not even close.
  • Read 5 Psalms and 1 Proverb everyday.
    •  I got a month or two in.
  • Blog every week.
    •  This one is a little deceiving, because while I did not blog here, I began writing for here. I had 51 of my 52 post goal, when you add it all together, though most were not as in depth as I first envisioned.
  • Confront critical attitudes (of myself and others), attempting to make a positive difference.
    • This is the only one I feel I've succeeded in, but I give most of that credit to God's grace, my son, and wife.
  • Start making everyday memories.
    • See note on the last bullet point...
I was prepared for failure in some areas and, while I found it in nearly every goal, I still see this year as a success: for me, for my life, for my family... I've been more well read over the past two years, I've become a blogger in my own geeky right, and I've "live deliberately" (for the most part)--which was my goal in the first place.

Reflecting on my past year also makes me focus on the reasons I didn't reach my end goals. These are not excuses, I only blame myself: Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, and Netflix are some of my biggest weaknesses... go ahead and judge. I'm unashamed of my online presence; however, I spend way too many countless hours just trolling on my favorite websites. BUT, the combined efforts of Pinterest and a friends blog gave me a brain child for 2015.

Similarly to last year, I plan to have new goals for the year. Unlike last year, I will not do this alone. My wife, along with all of the other amazing things she does in my life, has been my partner in crime in all of this and I couldn't have done this without her; she has done most of the ground work of making this possible.

Ditching the individual goals, we sat down and set goals as a family in seven different areas: faith, marriage, intake, outtake, simplification, health, and finances. You think it's a lot, but you have no idea. Each of these is broken down into tangible things that we can do to accomplish these goals each month, which is broken down into tangible things for every week. Allow me to dive deeper into each topic.

Being a family of four, with "Kitty" (our youngest child) barely able to stay awake and "Happy" (our oldest child) just starting to communicate his needs, this was a tough goal to figure out. We want to set a foundation for the years to come, when our children are older and talking and showing the world who they are, and so this year we're starting small with only two goals as a part of this: 1.) Serve as a family and 2.) read the Bible/pray together. The second is an easier goal, I'll admit; we wind down every night doing this. The first, however, is a little more difficult with a 2 year-old and a 2 month-old. We started by getting our kids The Jesus Storybook Bible: collector's edition for Christmas. Secondly, we started reading through Common Prayer together daily. Small steps everyday we can take to grow in our faith. The following months will involve easy things we can do together, such as making cookies for students, giving away toys, making cards for people, etc. In following years, we hope this is something that can grow into bigger expressions of our faith, but for now we just wanted to start.

I'm devastated to admit it, but since the bug was born, we haven't gone on many dates. That was over two years ago. So, while we can't afford to go out every week (we'll talk about finances a little bit later), we can take small steps into bettering our relationship together (even with kids). Starting with dates: dates out, dates in, game dates, dancing dates, eating dates. You get the picture. Two a month for the year. 24 dates shouldn't be as hard as it is, so that's why these small steps are in the goals for this year. Apart from the bi weekly date, we want to set aside time to be together throughout the week (talking, laughing, dreaming, etc.) and, as a self-imposed rule, no computer after dinner. That may be the hardest part of all of this...

Intake (read more/less technology)
Lots of these goals are going to start integrating into each other. This is why we made the no-computer-after-dinner rule. In years past, we've each tried to read a book a week (52 in a year) and have come short. When the bug was born in 2012, we had no internet or smartphones, so we did quite well in the first half of the year. We got internet when Jenn started her new job, so that I could get some work done when I was home with the bug. At least that's what we told ourselves, but the reading came to a halt. Now screen time is something we want to cut down to make more room for reading, particularly since we have a toddler. So this one is fairly self-explanatory; read more, less tech.

I always say, "if it has a place it won't get lost." For those of you into MBTI, that's my J coming out. Then there is the pile of stuff on my side of the bed (there's my P). Living in apartments our whole marriage has had its perks; living small means we can only have so much. That being said, we have too much stuff... we've moved from a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment to a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment over the summer, which helped us out a bit. But, now having two kids and having lived here for six months, we still have too much stuff. So, we're taking my own advice and finding a place for everything. If it doesn't have a place, we're getting rid of it. When we get a new mug (for example), we get rid of an old one. New toy in, old toy out... We have six rooms (if we count Jenn's office, which has sort of become storage area for us), so we're also taking one a month for six months (and then revisiting them the second half of the year) in hopes of being minimalists by 2016.

I turned 28 on Christmas and my metabolism is reminding me that I'm getting older. I can't keep doing nothing about my health, so we're aiming for lots here, trying for an overall clean up: eat less sugar, workout three times a week, be awake by 8am (easy right now with an infant), eat less processed foods, make our own bread, mental health (this will tie into outtake later). We also have some friends that just started the 100 days of real food challenge, which has us thinking about what we eat and how it affects us. There may be more on that later in the year.

Being in college ministry, we have never had a lot of money, so not being wise with it was never an option. In fact, I raise support for my own salary and ministry expenses with students, so this is always something we pay attention to. Most of this will be connected to the food we buy, but as always, we set goals for finances.

Outtake (inspiration/creativity)
This one is a little more abstract, but still connected (particularly to the mental health part). With weekly times set aside on top of this, much will also happen organically as we reach for our other goals: reading with the kids, crafts, cooking, sketching, journaling, reading, writing songs (in a former life, my wife and I had a band, but I also write songs for the church I'm on staff at), etc. I may even start grad school, so I'm sure this will be a part of it at some point.

So there it is! Our family goals for 2015. May it be a year that we can all achieve our goals together through small steps.

Share in the comments what goals or resolutions you made this year.

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