Well, technically, these are just my goals for Q1. I have some goals I’d like to implement all year round, of course, but I’ve learned to break them up by quarter because who. even. knows what life will look like four months from now?
I’ll never forget sitting in the car, planning goals with Oshiomogho in 2015. Oshiolema was ten months old babbling out the window and I listed off lavish goal after lavish goal. I want to train for a Marathon! I want to give up sugar for three months! I was going to write every day and paint three times a week!
Well, the next month I found out I was pregnant and every woman who has ever been pregnant knows what that meant. I painted zero times. Keogena is now 5 and I still haven’t run a marathon. Basically, all my goals for the year were built on my life at that exact moment and I haven’t done it that way since.
Instead, I start reflecting as the year slows down to a halt in December. I take January slowly and pay close attention to what the Lord is showing me and where my heart is pulling me. What I’m inspired and driven by this January is completely different than what was driving me even six months ago, so there is no rush to get goals scribbled in a notebook. By the end of the month, O and I like to sit together and share our intentions and dreams for the year-partly to keep each other accountable, partly to cheer each other on.
So here we are. I truly love having these to look back on so I’m sharing the Top Five in full honesty. Ready, Set, Go:
To treat my home like my work. I’m a little nervous this might be misunderstood and it will likely be unpopular, but I’m always going to be honest here. A job I signed up for is to be a homemaker. This isn’t 1956 and I’m blessed to live with such a caring, capable and clean man so I hope you don’t envision Suzie Q scrubbing away while her husband sits on the couch with a beer. I just mean because Oshiomogho works full time to support our family, I want the large bulk of caring for the home to fall on me. In the years since I started Gold & Graphite, these waters have become extremely muddy. If I’m really pulling back the curtain, I work more hours than having a full time job and, aside from a few projects, get paid like a volunteer. I was devoting all my time to serving strangers on the internet and because an autoimmune disease leaves me with less energy than I’d like, caring for the home often got pushed to tomorrow’s to-do list over and over again. I cook constantly and I do keep the main living spaces tidy and clean because it would drive me crazy otherwise, but tasks like laundry, organizing, decluttering, deep cleaning and so on often became insurmountable. Because O loves order, it wasn’t unusual for him to spend his weekends or long nights after working doing the tasks that I would consider mine.
The balance of responsibility was off for a long, long time, you guys. This happens in some seasons like when I’m in a Hashimoto’s flare up and have zero energy and strength or when O has been sick and recovering from surgery. That’s what marriage is-the Lord gives us the grace to be strong when the other is weak. But love does not take advantage. It’s just time for me to step back into the role that’s mine and I am truly thrilled to do it.
To run four miles a week. I don’t like to set goals in pounds and inches because ultimately, those aren’t really in my control. I’d rather focus on doing the hard thing and for me, that’s running. As a college athlete, before the season started we had to be able to run a mile under 8 minutes. Friends, I had less body fat than a baseball bat. I was a sprinter. But for the life of me, I could NOT get my mile time down. My coaches sat there on the bleachers watching me run this thing every single day—in the midst of double day practices—and we were all miserable. All of this to say, I have no problem lifting. I love my Peloton. I can bust out a barre or HIIT workout at 10pm with ease, but running? It’s still a challenge. And for someone who is prone to craving comfort and ease above all else, I lean into the things that I don’t want to do and work to face them anyway. A few weeks in, I am learning not to save it all until the weekend, that the playlist truly means everything and that I can do hard things.
To read a book a month. I shared in this podcast episode all my favorite books I read in 2020 and also shared that, for a while, I was too overwhelmed to read anything at all. With the mold and the move and my health I recognized things need to be given up, but often gave up the wrong thing. I’ve heard many people say, “be gentle with yourself. do whatever you need to do to get through.” Yes. That’s true, in a sense. But I also want to be sure to tell myself to do the things I know help me grow in the direction I want to grow. I don’t want to grow in laziness. I don’t want to grow in selfishness. I don’t want to grow in overindulgence or addiction or numbness. So I want to say, “be gentle with yourself. guard your heart. by the grace of God, you can do all that He has entrusted you to do.” All of that to say, I like who I am when I’m reading. I like the version of myself that is continuing to learn. I love when I’m reading while brushing my teeth and in the school pick up line. I love reading on the couch next to my son. I just never want to give up reading again because I gave up a good-hard thing (reading) but kept the easy thing (scrolling.) I’ve read two fiction books so far in January and I’m halfway through a book on distraction and a book on motherhood. Things are lookin’ up.
I will not purchase a single item of clothing in Q1. I have always loved shopping. I used to spend 90% of the monthly allowance my parents sent to me in college between Nordstrom Rack and Forever 21 and survived solely off of Subway, eggs, cereal, boxed pasta and jarred sauce. I was a college athlete with nowhere to wear all these clothes and yet, I kept buying. I was a fashion major living in California! Then I married a professional athlete and suddenly did have lots of places to go and that desire grew even more. I’m grateful to say, many things have changed since then. I have learned the importance of making wise investments in my closet and focusing on quality, not quantity. I have significantly turned down the faucet on that desire to constantly buy new things. I still, however, felt the pressure to add new pieces to my wardrobe because affiliate marketing is one of the only ways I earn an income and without it, it’s almost like I work a full time job for free.
That’s the honest truth right there.
But when we moved in September and I maxed out the closet space in an instant even after purging bags and bags of stuff, I realized I needed a reset. I need to know what it feels like to not add anything new for months and still have far too much to wear. I want to pay attention to the things I never reach for and notice what I love about the things I wear on repeat. We’re renovating a house top to bottom and at a time where we’re spending more than we’ve ever spent in our lives, I’m working to be wary of the endless sea of “want.” I haven’t bought an item of clothing since late December and I won’t even think about hitting add to cart until late March. For some, this isn’t even noteworthy but I have never done this in my life. It feels challenging, but right.
Memorizing large chunks of scripture. This, writing the Word on my heart in big sections at a time, is really number one. Before I became a mother, before starting this part of my life, I memorized scripture every week. It would just build on itself and before I knew it, I was reciting passage after passage like it was my own. Aside from memorizing what the kids are memorizing, I haven’t done this in quite some time. For me personally, when I’m prioritizing my priorities I am regularly meditating on the Word, studying it and memorizing it. I learned years ago that we don’t want to get ready for battle when we see the enemy at our door—we want to stay ready. Much of last year felt like a battle and I was grasping around for a weapon, just barely hanging on. I’m grateful for the gentle nudge of the Lord to give Him, not me, the best of my time. To give Him, not my phone, the best of my attention. To give Him, not my work, the best of my effort. Judging by my ability to memorize every single song on the Encanto and Sing 2 Soundtrack in the past month, I’m more than capable.
There you have it, friends. I’d love to hear how you approach your goals and how you’re feeling coming into this year now that you’ve had a taste of it.
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Gosh, I resonated so much with everything in this post! I really love the idea of breaking goals into quarters because so often priorities shift through out the year, and certain things are no longer important.
Agree whole heartedly on home keeping. It just provides such a source of peace too.
Have you heard of Nancy Ray’s contentment challenge? I think you’d love it based off what you wrote! I am doing a modified version right now!
Oooh, I haven’t heard of that challenge but I’m totally looking into it now! Thank you, Mary!
I love these goals so much, Jill! And love the quarterly focus. Scripture memorization is a focus for me and my family this year, too. A few of the books I’ve read recently that might be fun to add to your TBR list: The Self-Driven Child (the title turned me off for a long time but I LOVED it), Being Mortal (such good perspective and conversation fodder), The Psychology of Money (an easy, engrossing read and maybe fun to read together with your husband!), and for fiction, The Dearly Beloved and The Dutch House were two of my favorites from last year!
I’m so excited to look into these books, Em! Thank you!!