If you are the sort (like me) who makes New Year’s goals, you know there are million ways to tackle it. You can pick a word or set goals by categories or choose one habit to practice a month and on and on. A quick online search gives you more articles about strategic goal setting than you could ever read. There are planners and journals to get you focused and online support/accountability groups to keep you going.
I’ve tried a variety of methods and approaches and tools over the years. Breaking down my goals by category makes sense to my brain, so I’m here again, jotting down what I’d like my life to aim toward in 2019. I see these aims as my daily liturgies—these are the practices that orient me toward God, where the Spirit refines me into the image of the Son:
“This is how our hearts are lifted up to the Lord and recalibrated to be aimed at the kingdom of God: through material practices that shape the imaginative core of our being-in-the-world.” (Smith, Imagining the Kingdom, 15)
Recalibrating is the perfect descriptor for the way I approach resolutions each year. I take stock of my life and how I long for it to look and then I make adjustments. I recalibrate. And so, I’ve followed my usual goal categories; but this year there’s an added twist.
A dear friend of mine, who is naturally skilled in planning and organizing and doing, introduced me to Ruth Soukup’s Living Well Planner. It is a beast of a system draped in some cheery graphic design. If you need total life management and goal setting instruction in one binder, this is for you. That’s not my thing, but I decided to use the system primarily to move my creative projects forward, as those got shoved to the way-back in 2018 (my greatest disappointment of the past year). The Ruth Planner (as we now refer to it) has many sections I will never use, but I’m getting creative with it, repurposing some pages and making the most out of the goal sheets and daily planning pages.
This is the sort of direction I need. Many creative types are so driven by their artistic endeavors that they forego sleep to get their creativity out. That’s not me, as much as I wish I could be like that. My professional work is demanding; much of it is creative content development, which I love, but it also means that I spend my days plunking away at my laptop, writing and editing and creating communications. After 10-plus hours a day of it, my brain is fried, and I don’t have creative energy left to string together more words for my own projects. That’s why, in 2019, I’m trying something new: I’m blocking out time specifically for creative work and I’ve set some practices in place to “shape [my] imaginative core.” Which means I have to be rather disciplined to get my work done before these blocks so that I will, indeed, be free to invest mentally and emotionally in my own writing projects.
As I’ve mentioned before, my annual goals are more like dreams and vision casting, and I’m not great at execution. My mind is often so high up in the clouds that I fail to actually put words down and accomplish some actual progress. Since my trouble is with concrete execution rather than wishful thinking, I chose a simple and direct word to encapsulate my goals for 2019:
Today is the day to actually put words on the page, sit quiet and pray about my projects, play with words and ideas. Today is the day to fulfill my work commitments so that I will be free during my creative work blocks. Today is the day that matters—if I don’t put in time today, I cannot expect anything to be accomplished after 365 todays come and go.
My big three goals (per Ruth’s system) for 2019 are focused on my writing and creative work—and they are simple and concrete, reflecting the theme:
- Complete daily pages > I need to sort through my internal clutter and be a writer, every day, so I’m committing to daily pages (Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages).
- Write my book > This goal is lofty considering I don’t have more than sparse, foggy ideas so far. But I’m starting where I am. I’ve outlined activities and creative writing exercises to get things rolling toward an outline, then a proposal, and then I’ll start writing. If I get a rough draft started in 2019, I’ll call this goal accomplished.
- Scatter my ideas > I’d like to invest my creative ideas in more places this year via articles, speaking, podcasting, etc., so I’ve developed a few goals throughout the year to accomplish that.
These are the three things I’m using my Ruth Planner to accomplish. I’m very glad to have 365 days (Ok, now it’s 356) to choose TODAY and move things forward one inch at a time. So far? I’ve loved it. I’m in a rhythm of thinking, reading, and musing that is feeding my soul and giving me great joy. Today is, indeed, the day.
Did you make goals for 2019? I’d love to hear all about them!
daily Bible reading
annual beach retreat
monthly mini retreat
try one new coffee a month
read 52 books
go to 1 movie a month
set a daily limit on social media
read 30 minutes a day
get up from my desk during the day
run 20 miles a week > run the Champaign Half Marathon
complete 2 workouts a week
move 30 minutes a day
Saturday coffee date w/Mike
regular check-ins w/ family & friends
expand my comm strategy client list
book a few seminar clients
WRITING & CREATIVE WORK
see my big three goals above (writing, speaking, podcasting, daydreaming, journaling, praying, staring into space, etc.)
rearrange my office area
clean out storage area