Are you a casual scroller of Pinterest or Instagram? Maybe you never miss a single post of your favorite blogs. Either way, this time of year, you’re likely familiar with posts reflecting on the past 365 days. I’m throwing my hat in the ring with a 2019 review!
I’ll be honest, dear reader — I’ve never really been a fan of this time of year. Call me the Grinch, I know. But between dark Michigan winters and stress surrounding the holidays, there is one annual event that always gets me down in the dumps: goal setting for the next year.
Some people are REALLY good at goal setting. Being in the creative entrepreneur world, it feels as though I’m totally surrounded by men and women who are constantly and consistently achieving incredible things. I have a front row seat to the biggest dreamers I know, and every night there’s a matinee show of their newest and brightest Big Win.
But me? Nearly 6 years in and I’m STILL figuring out how the heck goal setting works — or, at least, how it works for my brain.
I’m decent at steps 1 and 2. It’s everything afterwards that turns my brain into mush. Thank you soooo much, ADHD.
Goal setting for the year ahead should be exciting and inspiring! But because it forces me to reflect on the past year, that means I’m confronted with all of the goals I didn’t achieve. All the things I so desperately wanted and didn’t get around to. Whether the blame rests with internal or external circumstances doesn’t really matter — in my head, they get a big ol’ F for Fail. There’s a reason the last time 2016 was my last year in review.
But last year, December 2018, was different.
I was introduced to my dear friend Shanna’s Blueprint Planner, and an entirely new outlook on goal setting.
Shanna is allllll for abandonment of SMART goals. These goals are measurable. Black and white, pass or fail — you either achieve it or you don’t. And when you don’t? Inevitable feelings of failure and discouragement. Ask me how I know. One ticket to the pity party, please!
Instead, Shanna encourages forgetting about those measurables. When creating the overall goal, instead focus on the outcome you’re really after. How do you want to feel? What do you want your life to look like? How will achieving this goal affect you, your family, your well-being?
For example, say you have a goal to “be healthier.” A SMART goal might lead you to write down “lose 20 pounds.” But an outcome-based goal? That might look something like: “I want to feel healthier and happier in my body so that I can have the strength and energy to be fully present with my family.” At the end of the year, maybe you lost 15 pounds and technically “failed” that 20 pound SMART goal. BUT! Maybe the lifestyle changes you implemented along the way allowed you to feel stronger and happier than a number on a scale ever could. That sounds like a major success to me.
I believe with every atom of my being that self-awareness and emotional intelligence are the greatest powers one can have. The older I get, the more I learn about myself — patterns in my thought processes, what motivates me, my innermost fears and desires, why I do the things that I do — and I can’t get enough. I’m a card-carrying self help junkie.
What this looked like: Continuing my practices of journaling, meditation, hot yoga, and general self-care. I’ve dabbled in the above for 3-4 years now, but am slowly getting better at making them daily practices instead of “when I feel like it / when it’s convenient / when I’m actively in an SOS crisis” practices.
Biggest win: Starting therapy! Biggest win of the entire year? Absolutely. I have been wanting to find a therapist for years, even when there was “nothing wrong.” Having a dedicated hour to speak my truth to an unbiased party and hear it repeated back to me is transformative. Completely eye-opening. I wish I’d done this ten years ago.
Try better next time: Since 2018 we’ve been going to yoga 2-3 times per week, but we totally fell off the wagon this fall. Thanks to injuries, a busy schedule, and general complacency, it became muuuch easier to sit at home instead of head out and put in the work. Yoga is magic. It helps me feel strong, at peace, connected to a deeper sense of self — and I cannot wait to REALLY get back to it.
What this looked like: Continuing to make our house a home! We’ve been here for seven years (!) now, and I gotta tell ya — it is the BEST feeling to look around this little house and see our fingerprints all over it. Thanks to Max’s creativity and handiness, and my contractor father-in-law’s knowledge of how to do anything under the sun, we’ve really transformed this space into one that feels like Us. My to-tackle list this year included a refresh of the master bedroom and guest bedroom; bathroom renovation; and partial renovation of our backyard deck. The last item is nearly completed and feels like a backyard haven, string lights and all! In the day-to-day, I’ve also been making it a habit to “do the 2 minute tasks.” AKA Marie Kondo all day every day. Clutter begone!
Biggest win: A near-total renovation of our bathroom! We have a little house with a tiny master bathroom. Old cracking tile, a yellowed shower/bathtub thanks to hard water buildup too tough to scrub away, an overall aura of “thanks but no thanks” — it wasn’t terrible, but definitely needed some love. I am so grateful for the time and hard work put in by Max and Greg, my father-in-law. They nearly gutted the entire room and put in a brand new bathtub, gorgeous subway tile, and a loudly patterned tile floor that I’m still getting used to. Add a fresh coat of paint and hardware and this little room is my new oasis! We’ve lived in this house for seven years, and in that time I’ve taken exactly one bath. But since the refresh? BUBBLE BATHS THREE TIMES A WEEK, BABY. My new love language looks like candles and dimmed lights, lavender epsom salt, a queue of my favorite podcasts, and soaking. Bliss.
Try better next time: A refresh of our master bedroom. I managed to take old art off the walls but whoops they were never replaced with anything. I feel weirdly conflicted about how to decorate or update this space! It’s quite tiny, so ANYthing we add will make a big impact. It’s normal to have an existential crisis and spiral about “but what even IS my personal style???” when debating switching out a bedside lamp, right? Right guys?
What this looked like: Intentionally sharing experiences with the people we love most. I wanted to spend more time with family and friends, host a seasonal dinner party, and make sure I was setting time aside to make memories together.
Biggest win: I wrote down that I wanted to take two girls’ trips in 2019, and guess how many I took? TWO. T-W-O. That alone feels triumphant! In April I flew to Charleston with some of my closest creative friends, and shared a beach house work-cation complete with margaritas, howling with laughter late at night, and an impressive sunburn (oops). A few months later I pulled an uncharacteristically spontaneous move — I booked a last-minute flight to Denver for my best friend Tori’s birthday! We haven’t lived in the same state for years, and time together always feels too-short and precious. Do girls’ trips qualify as “generously showing up for others”? At least in these cases, I like to think so. And the feeling is mutual. This kind of one-on-one time rejuvenates me like nothing else.
Try better next time: Overall, I’d like to be more intentional with how I make plans. We hosted exactly one dinner party instead of four, and didn’t share nearly enough “fun stuff” experiences with family. I’m learning that in order for events to ACTUALLY happen we need to plan much further in advance than I’m used to!
What this looked like: At the end of the day I just want to feel safe and secure in our financial life. This is where I am especially thankful for outcome-based goals, as I truly have nothing to measure “feel more secure” with. Is there a black and white number in my bank account that would make me feel Good and Prepared for Any and All Emergencies / Acts of God? Probably not. It’s weird growing older and suddenly being very conscious of things like retirement accounts and life insurance. Am I on track? Do we have enough? What even IS “enough?” All-in-all, really, I just wanted peace of mind surrounding our financial health. This looked like monthly money meetings with Max, weekly business bookkeeping and personal budgeting, and exploring what educational opportunities were out there.
Biggest win: Hands down, our biggest win this year was hiring financial advisors. Around early summer, I text-complained to my friend Kathleen that the process of buying a new car felt daunting*. I don’t want to be swindled! I just want someone to tell me what to do! Lo, Kathleen parted the heavens and introduced me to who she described as her “financial angels.” And now I am HAPPILY referring to them as the exact same thing.
In just a few months’ time, we now have clear, written financial goals for our family’s future. We took every single policy we had — health insurance, homeowners policy, car insurance, you name it — and analyzed if it was the best option for our needs and our wallet. You know when you were a kid and you asked your mom to explain a concept, and she dumbed it down to kid-level so you could understand? That was us, except instead of learning why the sky is blue, we learned EXACTLY what our various policies meant and what we were paying for. IT IS THE BEST. I UNDERSTAND MY HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE. That type of education is invaluable. And the cherry on top? By learning we paid for a bunch of unnecessary things, we were able to get brand new policies and save a ton of money. I love you, financial angels. <3
(* and another major win — we DID get that new car!)
Try better next time: Monthly money meetings. Sometimes life just gets in the way and you don’t want to talk about death benefits on your one free Saturday, you know? The meetings we DID have were empowering and productive. I’m trying my best to make it a fun thing instead of another chore or errand. A money date!
Having the “we overspent our budget” conversation at our kitchen table? No thanks.
Having that same conversation at our gorgeous local brewery, on a beautiful day, sitting outside in the beer garden with my favorite Hefeweizen? That sounds like a MUCH better time to me.
What this looked like: I’m embarrassed even writing this out, because it was a Major Fail. But that’s the point of this post, right? What worked and what didn’t. I have been wanting to launch a line of semi-custom wedding stationery for years. My perfectionism, self-doubt, fear, ADHD, etc etc etc hold me back and they hold me back GOOD.
Biggest win: Pushing past my fear and finally hiring help! 2019 brought me three incredible women:** organizational genius Annie, who revamped my systems, introduced me to Asana, and automated a lot of my process; Katie, who spent days photographing my intense backlog of past work; and my production assistant Christina, who took over tasks like ribbon cutting and tying, envelope proofing, applying postage, and general assembly.
The help, creativity, and white space these women have given me extends beyond the collection, for sure. I’m extraordinarily grateful. For a long time I’ve told myself “I’m not good at delegating,” and believed the blanket statement that I’m not a good boss. But everything is figureoutable, right? (Thanks for that, Marie Forleo.) And everything is intertwined. Annie’s systems set me up for success heading into 2020, and a brand shoot with Christina highlighting exactly WHY custom stationery is so special will be a great help in my new site.
Try better next time: Anyone have an antidote to self-limiting beliefs? Truly, I am my own nemesis. My need for perfection gets in the way of actually accomplishing anything. Every little task related to this project took about ten times longer than it needed to. Every single thing felt like it needed to be Ultra Special and Extraordinary. From choosing an e-commerce platform, to selecting envelope color offerings, to SKU numbers (like WHY am I worrying about this??), to actually designing the collection — it all felt like the difficulty was turned up to 11.
Dear reader, if you’ve made it this far, I am truly impressed. Thank you for sticking with me through my 2019 year in review! Be sure to sign up for the Honey Post below and let’s keep in touch. xo