I published 2020 | What Worked For Me | What I’d Like to Change in early January and promptly forgot that I’d set some big picture goals for the year. Some recent engagement with that post reminded me about them and I decided it was time to revisit those ideas.

I came up with five general strategies to ensure I was using my time in ways that felt important. They’re targeted to address some problem areas for me such as mindless scrolling, wasting time looking for things around the house, and unnecessary tidying. They are also targeted to ensure I’m spending time on things I feel are important: writing and taking care of my body.

Put my phone away
I no longer participate on any social media platforms, but still catch myself mindlessly zoning out on my phone. My current strategy to minimize phone time is to keep my Kindle nearby. Anytime I get the urge to pick up my phone and go to the same 3 news websites over and over, I try to read a few pages of a book instead. It’s been effective when my reading game is strong. It’s not so effective when my brain is tired or I’m avoiding reading for a myriad of reasons.

While this is a good substitution, replacing my phone habit with reading books doesn’t address the underlying problem with mindlessly accessing the internet: I’m looking for an escape. Of course, that’s fine periodically throughout the day, but not when it becomes a crutch that I’m leaning on several times an hour or when I become crabby with the kids because I’m too distracted by my phone to pay attention to them.

I’m going to experiment with really putting my phone away. That will mean slipping it into my purse during the day. I have an apple watch, so it will alert me if my phone rings and I’ll know if it’s an emergency or something I want to pick up. Other than that, there’s nothing I need to immediately access!

More time writing
This is hard. I’m still trying to find a rhythm that welcomes all of my hobbies: reading, writing, sewing, and knitting. Time to sit at my desk and pull thoughts together is not easy to come by, yet feels necessary. Every morning, after journaling and meditating, I have an internal struggle – should I write for my blog or should I get on the exercise bike? I’m Making A Decision right here: I will write. I’m going to release the guilt about exercising in the morning and not overthink it, which will give me (typically) an hour of writing time each morning.

Embrace the slow
The idea here was to not get caught up in “finishing” everything, but finding ways to enjoy the process. I become wrapped up in a certain identity – someone who achieves a lot. Lots of knitting, lots of quilting, lots of reading, lots of writing – and I’m trying to let that go. And I think I’m doing okay with that. I haven’t spent much time knitting or sewing and I typically use those two activities as a way to prove to the world that I’m actually “doing” something. Instead, I’ve focused on reading and writing, which has been quite fulfilling. I still miss admiring the knit stitch and a perfectly sewn seam, so I’d like to find ways to pull those back into my days but with less internal pressure to finish everything quickly.

How?

I don’t think this is something I’m going to solve this spring and summer because so much of my time is taken up with gardening and playing outside. But perhaps I can turn my attention toward it as the weather starts to cool and we head into the last third of the year?

Drink more water + physical movement
Now I remember why I was tracking my water intake and worked so hard to exercise in those first few months of the year! Exercising early in the morning worked really well, but it made it difficult to find writing time, which is another goal listed above. Most of my day is completely out of my control – I can have a general idea about what to expect, but there’s always some sort of wrench thrown in.

The good thing is that we’re moving into summertime, which means I’ll get some quality time puttering in the garden. That will ensure natural and functional workouts nearly everyday. I’m going to channel the Okinawans and focus on time in the garden and eating lots of fresh vegetables. And again – I’ll revisit this goal when the weather turns cooler and working outside becomes more difficult.

Less clutter
It might not look like it around here, but I am making progress in this category. It’s been something I’ve had to face with our flooring and painting projects. There are still several hotspots that need to be addressed, which I’ve written down in my planner and am slowly (like, one a week) working through. There are moments when I want to sweep everything into a trashcan and just be done with it all, which I’ve been known to do in the past. I’m trying to be as thoughtful as I can, but I pine for clear spaces. Shelves with margin. A place to put things when my hands are full and I just need an empty spot for a few minutes until I can sort through it all. I’m determined to get there! So: one hotspot a week is a good place to start.


You can see that my goals contradict each other in some ways; some occupy space and time that others need. More time writing most likely means less time exercising or embracing big, slow quilting or knitting projects. So how does one navigate all of the competing desires? 

Well – I’m going to focus on what makes sense given the season we’re in. Why would I hole myself up in the basement to ride an exercise bike or quilt when there’s magic outside during the warmer months of the year? Typically when I think of rhythm or routine, I think of it in the time span of a day. I’m challenging myself to think of my rhythms as seasonal – what works in the dead of winter is different than when the grass is green and the sun is shining.

(that’s a plastic plant, but isn’t it sweet?)

To keep these goals at the top of my mind, I’ve written them down on an index card and taped it to the windowsill I stare at while I’m going through my morning routine. I’m planning to revisit these goals in early September, once we’ve made it 2/3 of the way through the year.

Did you set any goals this year? How are they going? How do you remind yourself as the year wears on? Do you live by the seasons or do you find that you usually do the same things every day, despite the weather outside? I’d love to hear about how you work big-picture goals into your life.

I’m planning to be back tomorrow with an update on my reading – take good care!

23 thoughts

  1. You have some great goals, just time to remember not to try to implement too many at one time. In the winter I have plenty of time for sewing. When spring arrives though, life changes. It’s my responsibility to keep the yard mowed and the flowerbeds weeded. I helped my son and DIL plant garden last Saturday. I think the garden is going to end up being my responsibility this year. Fortunately it’s a small garden. It feels good to work outside, I remind myself I’ll have plenty of time for sewing again in the winter. One goal I’ve been keeping is 10,000 steps a day, I’m over 200 days of consecutively 10,000 steps a day! I’m really glad I bought the new Fitbit last fall. Have a wonderful day!

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    1. Wow – 200 days of over 10,000 steps! That’s amazing! Thanks for the reminder to go slow – it makes such a difference. I’m glad to hear that you also think of your routine as something seasonal!

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  2. I LOVE these goals! An idea on the less scrolling – when I find that I don’t have the attention to read, I do good with a word puzzle book instead of scrolling. It requires less time and energy than getting back into a book.

    I just set a new goal – to try 21 new recipes in 2021. I made the first one last night. I’m excited about this goal, which is NOT my regular kind of goal!

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  3. I am honestly impressed that you manage to get as much done as you do, with three kids and homeschooling. I think you are also very smart to reprioritize given the changing seasons/weather. If you’re going to be outside more, then you will definitely need to focus on drinking more water!

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  4. Did I just read that correctly, that you feel you don’t achieve or do much. You are raising three children and home schooling them. You may not be Superwoman saving the planet from alien invaders but you are doing the most important job in the world. So number one tell yourself well done. Mindless scrolling is something I am guilty of, and reading a lot, to escape. It could be argued that you are taking care of your mental well being in escaping. But what are you escaping from? Might be worth thinking about.
    I think what you need to do is cut yourself some slack from all these goals and just enjoy your family.

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    1. Oh, no, no! I do know that I achieve a LOT, but sometimes I lean on creating things to try to prove to other people that I’m staying busy… despite knowing how busy my day is without any knitting or sewing!

      Thanks for the food for thought – it’s something I’ve been considering as well 🙂 Have a great day, Cathy!! And thanks for always sharing such kindness and encouragement!

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  5. You are amazing! Do enjoy every moment of this late spring and all of summer and then some. Taking care of your self is the very best way to take care of your family. Enjoy these summer days.

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    1. What a great reminder, Honoré! We’re definitely trying to soak up all of this sunshine to take us into the dark winter that will be here in no time!

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  6. Index cards are on my list these days! I am with you on putting away the phone, maybe having certain online hours too. Always a work in process. Thanks for this inspiring post.

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    1. I can’t believe how much I love index cards and I savor every opportunity to use them 🙂

      And yes – always a work in progress! I think it might just be our personalities, Juliann!!

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  7. I REALLY need to work on putting away my phone. It’s gotten bad. And I can feel it. So last night I tried putting it in my purse. If I have the ringer on loud enough I’ll hear it. I’m gonna try and do this nightly after work and on weekends. Thanks for the reminder! Good luck with your goals. I echo other commenters in saying that I think you do A LOT and even if it’s not a tangible object you’re still accomplishing a ton in my eyes.

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    1. I’m still working hard to keep my phone out of sight, out of mind. It has helped, but sometimes I forget to put it away until it’s too late! I hope this practice has been helpful for you!

      Thank you for your kind words – I think it’s just the overachiever in me that thinks that I need to PROVE that I stay busy, which I know is ridiculous!!

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  8. I can’t say I’ve ever explicitly thought of it this way, but now that you say this, yes, some of my routines are seasonal. This was more of a thing pre-COVID – fall was for the musical so I would never try to work out because it was too much.
    I personally can’t set and work on too many goals at once, because if I don’t do one I get very discouraged and stop all of them. So this year it’s all about building habits slowly to gain confidence. First I worked on writing in a journal everyday to prove I could have that consistency. Now it’s working out – I have a schedule of 3 days a week and I’m sticking to it.

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    1. Yay – another seasonal person! And I’m exactly the same way – I get super discouraged when I let one goal slide and then all of a sudden: I’ve let them all go without realizing it.

      3 days a week of journaling sounds like a great practice!

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  9. I have to admit that I didn’t make a list, because I can get very obsessed with self-optimizing my life, myself etc. I do have a habit tracker in my planner where I write down things I wanted to do more – draw, read, exercise, and this has been very helpful so far! Apart from that, I figured that the academic stuff was goal enough. 😉

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    1. You are so wise to recognize how obsessive it can get! I love habit trackers – the visual reminders are perfect for my brain. And yes – I’m sure you have lots of little goalposts to help you along the way while wrapping up school – and that’s plenty!

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  10. Thank you for sharing this honest check-in on your goals. The spring semester completely derailed most of my big-picture goals for 2021, but maybe it’s time to take another look at them, or to set some new ones.

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    1. School has a way of derailing lots of things, doesn’t it! I like the idea of revisiting the ones you set to determine what makes sense while IN school. I know you’re super busy with work and school, so sometimes just surviving is quite the accomplishment!

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  11. Echoing how much I appreciate your honest checkin! I’m finding that my “more connection” and “more stillness” intentions often conflict (contradict is a nicer word perhaps?) … and if I’m wise about about my choices (see what I did there – my OLW is choose) I can use my other intentions, for more courage, joy, and gratitude, to solve the conflict. and I love the reminder about watching our words. I need to ponder ones to edit out of my vocabulary!

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    1. I love this connection between stillness and choice. I’m trying to be better about choosing connection instead of isolation, which is my comfort zone and a DANGER zone for Enneagram 4s like me. My Enneathoughts (thank you for them, by the way) remind me to think more like a 1 when I find myself holed up in a corner – so thank you for being such a good example 🙂

      Also – the list of words to edit out grows by the day, ha! And I have it there to remind me to delete, delete, delete while I’m writing! (So far the list includes: that, just, so, bit, such, but, really. I should really include exclamation points too.)

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