Setting goals has changed my life. Sound a bit dramatic? Probably. But, check out my post on How Goal-Setting Changed Everything to see what I mean.
For the past five years I have not created a single New Year’s resolution. Instead I have set goals for myself. What is the difference? Goals come with action plans–with baby steps to help you reach them. They aren’t just vague “I think I’d like to do this someday…” resolutions. Instead they are written down, planned out, and come with road maps.
I have learned just about everything that I know about goal-setting from Crystal Paine and her blog Money Saving Mom. I also have taken her courses, including Make Over Your Year, in which she breaks down and explains how to create and follow through on goals that will change your life. If you are brand new to goal-setting, or if you’ve tried and failed miserably in the past, I highly recommend the course.
This year my goals focus on the four priorities in my life:
- Personal Growth
I have created three goals within each area that I will strive to reach in 2017. (I have actually created more goals specifically for my blog. If you want to learn more about those and find out how I run my business, be sure to sign up for my blogging tips weekly newsletter.)
My Goals for 2017: October Update
1. Pray through the Psalter 6 times.
The Psalms are the prayer book of the Church. By praying with the words of the Psalms, Orthodox Christians have immersed themselves in the Scriptures and tied themselves firmly to Tradition. This year I would like to pray through the Psalter at least 6 times. This averages out to 2-3 psalms each day, which I think is very doable. I may increase that number during the fasting periods such as Great Lent. If you are looking for a small, beautiful Psalter, the A Psalter for Prayer: Pocket Edition is organized by the traditional kathismatas of the Orthodox Church. You can also, of course, always use your Bible. (I find the Orthodox Study Bible to be very helpful with all of its notes and commentary.)
In order to pray through the Psalter 6 times, I will need to pray half of it (75 psalms) each month.
October Update: This month I completely missed the mark on this goal. With our move and finding our groove in a new schedule, my personal prayer life has definitely suffered.
Please pray for me that God would help me establish a firmer prayer rule this month.
2. Read one spiritual book each month.
My spiritual father suggested this last year, and I am so glad that he did. I read almost constantly, so having a spiritual emphasis to that reading is important. Here are a few of the books that I would love to read or reread this year:
October Update: I am going to count Annie Dillard’s Teaching a Stone to Talk as my spiritual book for the month. While not from an Orthodox perspective, her essays on faith, nature, and life were quite thought-provoking. I enjoyed reading them on my commute into downtown Boston each morning.
Done for this month!
3. Pray an Akathist Hymn each week.
In the Orthodox Church, we also pray prayers that are called Akathist hymns. Akathist hymns are dedicated to a particular saints, events, or a person of the Trinity and are designed to guide a Christian’s prayers and meditation upon that person or event. The word Akathist itself means “not sitting,” as the general posture for prayer in the Orthodox Church is standing. The most famous Akathist hymn (referred to generally just as The Akathist) is dedicated to the Theotokos (Mary) and is a part of the Lenten services.
I would like to add Akathist Hymns to my weekly prayer routine. There are several evenings a week where my husband is out working and my children are in bed. What a perfect opportunity to spend some quiet time in prayer! I hope to pray the Akathist to the Mother of God Nurturer of Children, the Akathist of Thanksgiving, and others.
Akathist Update: Because I am now living at Holy Cross seminary, I am very blessed to be surrounded by a community of godly, loving women. We meet weekly for prayer and readings, and the prayer is often an Akathist. So, I was able to accomplish this goal for October!
4. Go on one family outing each month.
This is one of my goals each year, and I absolutely love it! I find that life can get busy much of the time, so making sure that we set aside time as a family to have fun together can often get overlooked. Each month we look for free or inexpensive things to do together. Past outings have included apple picking, visiting a museum, going to a lake, hiking in a national park, and more.
October Update: We are so excited to be living in Boston! So far we have taken a lovely trip to the beach, had a visit from our daughter’s godparents, played in several different parks, and enjoyed the Public Gardens.
Done for this month!
5. Have one date night (in or out of the house) each month.
This is another favorite goal. Because of our budget restriction, my husband and I don’t have too many “out of the house” date nights. We have, however, perfected the in-house Date Night Challenge. Past date nights have included: watching movies off of the AFI Top 100 List, playing board games, listening to audiobooks, or cooking together.
October Update: Our schedule has been incredibly full this past month as my husband is simultaneously finishing his dissertation and taking classes at the seminary. However, we have squeezed in some time to watch a few episodes of Parks and Rec and to sit outside with a glass of wine. We’re totally counting that as a date night!
Done for this month!
6. Read or listen to 12 chapter books together with all of the children.
My youngest son is now 3–an age which I believe is old enough to begin to enjoy chapter books. So, this year I will read chapter books together with all of the children. I’m excited to choose books that all 3 kiddos will enjoy! (If you are looking for some good chapter books for little ones, check out my Favorite Chapter Books for Young Readers.)
October Update: The kids and I absolutely loved our most recent audiobook–The One and Only Ivan. What a phenomenal book about friendship in the most unlikely of places!
Done for this month!
7. Attend one writing/blogging conference.
As I am working more and more on my writing and blogging, I am realizing just how important conferences are. They give opportunities to learn from experts and to network with others in the same field. I am really excited about this goal!
October Update: I was so blessed to attend the Ancient Faith Writing and Podcasting Conference this month. I met many people I had been listening to for years and had a few “fangirl” moments–like meeting Elissa Bjeletich and Jane G. Meyer! You can read about a deeply profound spiritual experience I had here.
8. Create two more products to help Orthodox families live out the Faith.
This past year I wrote the e-book Seasons of the Faith: Helping Your Family Celebrate the Feasts and Fasts of the Church Year. I was just blown away by the response! People have used the book in their own families and for Sunday Schools around the country. Because of this, I would like to create two more products that will help Orthodox families live out the Faith. Be sure to look for something coming up soon for Great Lent!
October Update: This month I am deep in the throes of writing a book proposal for a traditionally published book. Be sure to keep posted for more details!
9. Take the EBA 3.0 course and implement all parts
A year and a half ago I purchased and began the Elite Blog Academy (affectionately known as EBA) taught by Ruth Soukup. I have seen definite results in my growth as a writer and blogger. In February of this year, Ruth is launching EBA 3.0--a completely reworked version of the course. I have lifetime access to the course, so I am really excited to re-take the course with its updated parts. (If you are a blogger, be sure to get on the waiting list for EBA. It will seriously change your life!)
October Update: I have done some work on my blog based on what I am learning through EBA, but I still have a lot to do.
10. Run/Hike 365 miles this year.
Last year I set some pretty big goals for myself as a runner. However, I didn’t reach any of them–partly because they required running in races which have fees. This year I have decided to set a goal in miles instead of races. I thought that this goal of roughly 7 miles per week was very doable.
October Update: I feel like this goal will not happen this year. However, the older kids and I are getting some great walking in each day–almost 2 miles every day as we walk to and from our train stop!
11. Read 100 Books.
In 2015, I set the audacious goal of reading 100 books. I was surprised that I managed to do so by November! Last year I did not set that goal for myself and read 70 books. While 70 is still a respectable number, I realized that I need to set big goals in order to have big results. So, this year is another 100 book year. Here’s to reading!
October Update: I read some great books in September and have read 65 books so far this year.
12. Set aside one day each week as a Sabbath in order to rest and maintain my health.
Finally, I have to realize that I am not a super hero. I do not have limitless supplies of energy that will help me reach these goals. So, my final goal is to rest. Each week I will set aside one date in which I will not work on blogging or writing or grading papers. Instead I will spend time with the family, pray, read, and go to bed early. After all, rest and health is just as important as doing and going.
October Update: I have actually decided to spend a couple of nights each week in “Sabbath mode.” It has been lovely! This is one reason I have been able to get so much reading in. And, I have had time to play games with my kids, listen to audiobooks with them, hang out with my husband, and exercise. Perfect!
Do you have any goals for 2017? What are they? Let’s share so we can encourage each other this year!