It is 2018. It is January 1st. Actually, in the time zone I inhabit, by the time I’ve hit publish on this post, it’ll likely be January 2nd. Thankfully, I’m currently chilling in the Rockies and Mountain Standard Time has gifted me with two whole extra hours — something I’m thankful for tonight, but was annoyed by at this time last night as I set myself a reminder alarm to remember to text my Ontario peeps at 10 pm to wish THEM a Happy New Year!
Anyway, I digress. Where was I? Yes; it’s 2018. Nothing really feels like it’s changed from yesterday. But yet, so much has, hasn’t it? We do this yearly. We wait til January 1st to start things. We spend the last week of December eating all the junk food in our houses in hopes to start fresh January 1st. I was a day late with this silly plan and made my last bag of chips my personal mission for today.
But it doesn’t have to be like this. Futility doesn’t have to be our best friend as we launch into every single new year. New Year’s Resolutions don’t have to be a to-do list that extends no further than the first week of January.
In the fall of 2016, my dear friend Rachel sent me a link to this thing she’d heard of called Power Sheets. Lara Casey and her team make them over at Cultivate What Matters. It’s designed for intentional life planning. Intentional goal setting. Progress. Not perfection. Rachel and I dove right in. We each ordered a set and split the shipping (since it has to come from the States and the shipping is steep), and we dug in. (This year 6 of us ordered and split shipping — highly recommend this if you’re Canadian and want your hands on a set!) We did the prep work while discussing all of our goals together, and we were ready over the course of about a month of intentional thinking, planning, and praying to meet 2017 head on. For me, it felt like 2017 was going to be the year I finally got my act together and stopped making resolutions I couldn’t keep. Resolutions I knew even as I made them I wouldn’t keep. But it’s what we do, right?
I can’t say that my Power Sheets were overwhelmingly life-changing in 2017. Though maybe I can — it’s hard to achieve perspective since I don’t have a 2017 without Power Sheets to compare it to. I don’t know. It certainly wasn’t the productive year I’d hoped it to be. The entire point to Power Sheets is to set goals, track your tending lists, make progress, and cover yourself in grace when you fall short of your own expectations. After all, we don’t keep pushing into what we want to change when we feel defeated and like it’s hopeless, do we? Progress. Not perfection. But I know they made some difference. I was able to measure growth in some areas. Some were more stubborn than others, and I’ve had to re-evaluate what I really wanted to see change in this year to make sure that I was choosing the right goals. But more importantly, I’ve had to evaluate the why for my goals. Why am I choosing this? Am I choosing “be healthier” because I think people will like me more? Or am I choosing it because I actually want health and I want to be able to do things I’ve only ever dreamed of — like learn to surf. The prep work at the beginning of the planner for each year asks big questions and makes you look deep into the whys, and I know I got to the root of some of my wishes for 2018.
I don’t have my 2017 book with me. I don’t have the list of goals I chose for 2017 with me because they’re in my book, and they’re in Ontario, and I am not. But I do have the goals I’ve chosen for 2018, and I’d like to share them with you. I’d like to be a little bit vulnerable and put them out into the air for the blogosphere to read. This year, I’ve chosen bigger, over-arching goals. There’s a Facebook group dedicated to Power Sheets users where a couple people have referred to them as “umbrella goals.” They’re more like a topic where I want to do some work in my life this year, and then the more specific goals (which I have a lot of for 2018) will work their way into my monthly, weekly, and daily check-lists for each month.
Without further ado, here are my umbrella goals for 2018:
- Finances ~ Saving and not spending needlessly. Obviously each month will have specific targets for this. I’d been working on it throughout 2017 as well, and with some careful planning and some good timing, I managed to pay off a pile of debt in May, and have been relishing in the freedom of that ever since. Can I recommend You Need A Budget (YNAB) to you? Seriously, it changed my life in March of 2016. Jesse Mecham, the creator, has written a book and it just released last week. It’s on my list of things to do in January.
- Spiritual Growth ~ Depth. I want a relationship with Jesus that is marked by reliance, listening, and trust. That doesn’t come from just thinking about it and hoping it comes.
- Fun ~ Responsible Fun; Not running to fun to escape uncomfortable emotions. This felt like a funny goal, but through a lot of introspection this year I’ve discovered something I don’t really love about myself. Where I’d perpetually thought I just liked to have fun, it dawned on me that I’m prone to running to fun as soon as I don’t want to deal with something that doesn’t seem fun. Awkward relationship situation? I run away. Work sucks? I want to switch jobs — it isn’t fun! Pain? No fun. Let’s go on vacation instead. Where I want to goal-set around fun this year is to make sure it’s not my escape, as much as it is something that is just necessary to live.
- Mental Health — This is something I began to take very seriously in 2017, as I battled some anxiety that it turned out had been simmering just beneath my surface for a long time, and I’d never dealt with it. I’ve started seeing a counselor, and I honestly can’t recommend a professional therapist enough — seriously. You get to talk about yourself for an hour, and you don’t have to do anyone the social courtesy of listening back to them. My goals here revolve around leaning into stress and anxiety and the situations that cause them so that I continue to get better at managing and reducing both of these things.
- Leadership — I am a leader. For better or for worse, I’m in leadership positions in my church and at work. I’m not sure how this happened. I’m honestly not sure how I got here. But people see potential in me, and I’d like to harness it for good!
- Health — this one is so common. How many of us set healthy lifestyle New Year’s resolutions? This one could be a whole post for me, but it’s a very raw spot at the moment, so… nope! That doesn’t sound fun!
- Creativity — Brene Brown once said in a podcast interview I was listening to her on (For the Love with Jen Hatmaker) that “Unused creativity is not benign.” It hit me to my core. For a long time, I’ve wanted to write but have been too afraid people wouldn’t buy it. I’ve wanted to paint but have been self-conscious because I’m not as good as someone else. I’ve wanted to be a better musician but again, compare myself to others and always fall short. But if unused creativity is harmful to me, then this needs intentional work as well.
- Bravery. It has occurred to me that I am not that brave. I’m a pretty big chicken, actually. So 2018 needs to hone in on some of those areas where I could use some bravery the most. I read Annie F. Downs’ book “Let’s All Be Brave” (buy it on Amazon here) in November, and I cried through parts of it. I’m so ready to be brave. So ready. I highly recommend the book, but if you’re determined to stay seated in. your comfort zone, it may not be for you. I’m doing her 100 Days to Brave devotional starting as soon as I get home (as it’s arrived in Ontario before I have).
- Adventure — I thrive on this. It’s linked to my fun, and it’s linked to my finances. I found a lot of my goals are linked to each other — I actually created a very messy flow chart that reflects that! But I will have adventure based goals. Where will I travel next? Europe is calling — Scandinavia? The South of France? Switzerland (the land of my ancestral people)? Who knows?
- Relationships — This is not just the romantic kind — though that’s pretty intrinsically linked to bravery. I want to be intentional. I want to be present. I want to be brave. In all of my relationships.
And there you have it. My over-arching umbrella goals.
Do you set goals? Do you make resolutions? Do you keep them? If you’ve been a successful Power Sheets user, I’d love to hear from you! I really want them to help me make big changes this year!
Even if you don’t use Power Sheets, I highly recommend both of Lara Casey’s books. They’re less intensive than using Power Sheets, but still give you lots of great tips and encouragement for living a more intentional life. Get Make It Happen on Amazon here, and get Cultivate on Amazon here.