How to Adult: Goal Setting – A Breakdown

So you set some ambitious goals for 2018… Now what?

ICYMI: I mentioned in my previous post that while I don’t like the idea of New Year’s Resolutions, I’m always game for setting new goals for myself. The start of the year is the perfect time to reflect on where you are in your life and dream about where you’d like to go. I’ve never considered myself very ambitious or really even much of a dreamer, though, so setting realistic goals that I actually wanted to achieve took me some time to figure out. And getting started can be so overwhelming! My keys to success: planning, people, and baby steps.

Now, please realize that what works for me, may not work for everybody. I’m an ISTJ on the Myer’s Briggs chart so I’m all about black and white, concrete details and lists. ALL THE LISTS. This is just how my brain functions.

But if you’re like Jake, you probably just have all these ideas and goals rolling around in your brain and sometimes writing them down makes them more real but basically, you’re good with them in your head. If that’s you, I think you’re awesome but I just can’t live like you.

Long story short, take this and run with it – you do you.

Step 1: Dream Big

There are no rules to Step 1 which is probably what I struggle with most. This is just creative brainstorming of things you’d like to see in your life – people you’d like to meet, places to go, things to do, what kind of person you’d like to see yourself become. Think in ideals for this step, no restrictions, no “buts” or “ifs” or conditions of any kind. Once you have a few good ideas, prioritize. What all can you realistically accomplish? What is most important that you accomplish? Remember, it’s crazy-hard to reach a goal that you don’t care about reaching. The best way to set a goal you can actually accomplish is if it’s something that’s really meaningful to you. Otherwise motivating yourself will to do something you’re not interested in will not be fun at all.

Step 2: Write It Out

There’s something unique about writing things down that solidifies things in our brains. When you see your goal on paper, it becomes real – it’s out there in the world, not just in your head. But to really make this step worthwhile, it helps to get specific. You did your big dreaming to come up with your goal, now narrow it down a little. Give it parameters, a time frame. What is it specifically you’d like to accomplish and how long will you give yourself to get there?

For instance, I mentioned that one of my goals in 2018 is to memorize more scripture. My specific goal when I wrote it out is to have Ephesians 1 memorized by my birthday (end of February). I got specific about what piece of the Bible I wanted to memorize and I set a realistic deadline for myself.

Step 3: Find Your Accountabilibuddy

Now that you’ve written out your goal, the next step is to speak it out loud. Tell a friend, tell your significant other, tell your parents, tell anyone, really. Talking about your goal will make it even more solidified in your brain, but the important part in this step is to ask someone to join you on this journey as your accountability partner.

We as humans are not meant to do things alone. We will fail every time we try to accomplish things in our own efforts because that’s just not how God designed us (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). We were designed for community and part of that is spurring each other on (Hebrews 10:24), carrying each other’s burdens (Galations 6:2), and holding each other accountable (Ephesians 4:25). Partner with someone who will not only hold you to your goal but walk with you on the journey to achieving it.

Step 4: It’s All About Baby Steps

Here’s where my ISTJ starts showing but this is super important! You have a big goal that you’ve written out and told everyone about… Now how do you get started? My answer: plan out some baby steps. Start thinking concretely – what needs to happen for this goal to be accomplished? What do I need to get started? What will I need along the way?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll have a better sense of direction and how to start. From there, you can make a plan to tackle your goal. I’ve found it easiest to make it part of my daily routine and keep my goal at the front of my mind, but depending on your goal, you might want to have weekly or bi-weekly check-ins with yourself to see your progress.

Continuing my scripture memorization example, there are several ways I could go about memorizing Ephesians 1, but I know from past experiences that a method that’s worked really well for me is the app Fighter Verses which has all sorts of quizzes, like games, specifically designed to help people memorize scripture in ways that work for them. My first baby step was downloading this app to my new phone. From there, I planned out smaller milestones I want to hit (specific verses memorized by specific calendar dates) and made it part of my daily routine to spend at least five minutes a day in the fighter verses app. Now my ambitious goal of memorizing an entire chapter of the Bible looks a lot smaller when it’s just five minutes a day!

 

Whatever your goal for 2018 might be, I hope this breakdown helps you tackle it. Just don’t forget to bring someone along with you. Sometimes goals can be harder to achieve than we think and we need the support, encouragement, and prayer of the people we’ve asked to join us on our journey. Don’t be afraid to reach out when you need help.

And remember, you’re only baby steps away 🙂

Welcome, 2018!

What would you like to accomplish in 2018?

How did you do on your 2017 New Year’s resolutions? Do you remember what they were? I only had one this year – to marry the man of my dreams – which I accomplished fifteen days into 2017. That’s not really how those things are supposed to work, though, right?

I don’t know your life story but New Year’s resolutions have never been a fit for me. They’re a little like dieting in that if you tell me I can’t do something, it’s more tempting to do it. And usually the things I’m  attempting to resolve to do are so unachievable, I set myself up for failure.

I’ve attempted in the past to schedule new Bible reading regimes or plan out a year of workouts at the gym and all the planning and preparation goes great! It’s the execution that fails every time.

This, inevitably, turns into feelings of guilt, failure, and disappointment and the things I was so excited to accomplish loom over my head in gloomy clouds of self-doubt. So, yeah, resolutions are not my thing.

BUT goals are!

When I start thinking of goals instead of resolutions, the pressure immediately comes off. Goals can be worked toward. Goals can be accomplished or they can be postponed. Goals can be met half way or you can have stretch goals – things you hope to achieve if you meet your other goals, but if you don’t, they’ll be on next year’s list. Goals, to me, are so much easier to wrap my head around. They are a way to reasonably target your time and energy as opposed to trying to check off an over-eager to-do list.

So this year, I’m thinking about the kind of person I want to be in 2018 and setting goals to help me focus my time and energy to becoming that person. Here are a few things I’ll be working towards becoming in the new year:

  1. A Scripture-Knower. I want to get back into memorizing scripture. Knowing what God says is not only how we get to know Him better but how we fight our sin. Working towards this goal will have me in the Bible and reflecting on God’s word all the time which is something I need more of daily.
  2. A Precious Wife. Now that Jake and I are nearly one year in, I feel like I have more of a handle on who he is and what my role as his wife looks like. I want to be the kind of Proverbs 31 woman that lifts him up, works hard, and shows humility and patience regardless of her circumstances.
  3. An Intentional Consumer. I want to be mindful of the things I put in my body as well as the things I put in my mind. 2017 was a big year for me as far as making healthier food choices on a regular basis and I hope to continue that trend in 2018. But even more, I want to be conscious of the other things I consume – TV, movies, books, social media – and their impact in my life. I don’t want to live my life through a screen and the first step in that is being mindful of what/how/when I’m consuming too much of the things I don’t want in my life.
  4. A More Available Friend. I’ll be honest, I have not done a great job being a friend in 2017 and I need to do better. It’s been very difficult to maintain individual friendships now that I’m married but I don’t want that to be an excuse for letting amazing people fall away from my life. I need the support and community of God-fearing women in my life regardless of my marital status and improving those relationships starts with me.
  5. A Gracious Host. Now that we have the space in our new house, I want to put it to good use. We’ll be renting out rooms on Airbnb during festival weekends here in Austin but more than that, I want our house to be a place of refuge for those that need it. I want our house to be a gathering point for friends and family, brothers and sisters – I want to love people with what God’s given us.

That’s the kind of person I hope to become in 2018. Obviously I know it’s not something that can happen over night, but I believe these goals are in line with what God wants for my life and I’ll be praying that He continues to provide opportunities to become more like Him in these areas.

This year, let’s challenge each other to keep these goals in mind as life inevitably starts distracting us. Let’s hold each other accountable to growing as humans together. Because I know I can’t do it alone.

Are you doing resolutions or goals for 2018? What kind of person would you like to see yourself become in the new year?

PSA: Christmas Has Changed

If you haven’t noticed yet, Christmas is different as an adult.

PSA: Christmas Has ChangedSo Friends, I have a confession: I hate surprises. Mostly when I know they’re coming. Christmas has always been a fun challenge of my stealth skills as I’ve always done everything within my power to know my gifts ahead of time. My parents were pretty great at being Santa Claus but the magic didn’t last long because they never anticipated my extreme impatience and ninja skills.

I remember as a kid sneaking down the staircase and watching them set up all my gifts and taking bites from cookies. When they’d go back to bed, I’d walk around and check out some of my new toys and leave them right where my parents had left them so that no one would know I’d gotten up in the middle of the night.

When I got older and my family stopped doing Santa gifts, I would go on hunts through the house to find my presents before they were wrapped. This usually happened right around when school started because my mother is famous for doing Christmas shopping WAY too early.

And when I started working at a toy store in high school and college, I became so great at wrapping presents that I could skillfully and stealthily unwrap whatever was under the tree for me and re-wrap it, making Christmas morning much more fun by getting to act shocked and surprised.

I still don’t like surprises but since I’m a grown-up now, I don’t have the opportunity for stealthy Christmas antics. More than that though, I think I’m losing Christmas spirit as I get older. Maybe I need to sing louder for all to hear but I really do feel like Christmas cheer is harder to generate these days. In school, there were always breaks for holidays but my big girl job isn’t quite so generous. And now that Jake and I are married, figuring out the holidays has gotten a lot more complicated.

I think part of the reason Christmas feels less magical though is that my priorities have changed. I care a whole lot less about the presents under the tree these days and a whole lot more about celebrating Baby Jesus with my family. While I am still a firm believer in holiday traditions, I hold on to them as an adult for the time spent with loved ones rather than for the magic of preparing for Santa. So maybe, the magic isn’t harder to come by, maybe Christmas is just a different kind of magic as an adult.

Regardless of whether or not you’re feeling the magic this year, I hope you hold on to the hope that Jesus’ birth brings and make your own brand of Christmas magic with the people you love.

Merry Christmas, Friends!

Jackie

Kids: A Psa

No, I’m not pregnant. Yes, we’re planning to have kids, but when that happens is not your concern.

As Jake and I close in on our first marriage anniversary, it has not escaped my notice that one question seems to permeate so many of my discussions lately: “when are you guys having kids?” While most people are genuinely just trying to make conversation or mean the question to tease, I’m becoming more and more annoyed by it. I expect this question from my parents, in-laws, and grandparents, but if that’s not you, I honestly don’t want to hear it.

Yes, Jake and I would love to have kids. But our timing and intentions are not really anyone’s business but our own. We have ideas and plans for how we would like to spend our limited time together before parenthood and we’d like to accomplish as much on our list as possible.

We know our plans and lives are not our own and if God chooses to bless us with a baby earlier than expected, we’ll welcome him or her with open, loving arms. But we’d also like to enjoy our time together before that happens.

So please, before you ask a friend/coworker/sibling/couple/stranger when they’re planning to have kids, remember that it’s not really your business. If and when they choose to produce offspring, they’ll let you know. Until then, pray that their marriage will be strengthened in this time without children and kindly keep your mouth shut.

How to Adult: Hosting for the Holidays

Planning to host friends or family this holiday season and not sure where to start? Here’s some simple ideas to be the hostest with the mostest (even if you have no idea what you’re doing)!

How to Adult: Hosting for the HolidaysWith the holiday season in full swing, it seems like Jake and I have a party or event to attend every other weekend! With so much going on, I’m not sure we’ll get around to hosting anything ourselves this year but getting to be a party-goer so often recently has given me plenty of ideas for being a better party-thrower. Here are a few simple tips and tricks to have your friends thinking you’re profesh at throwing holiday parties!

  • Set the melodic mood – No matter the size or theme of your party, (background) music is super helpful in creating the right atmosphere. Spend some time on Spotify curating a playlist to help the evening flow just the way you envision.
  • Get your stuff clean – I know this sounds incredibly silly but having a clean home is absolutely necessary. Clear the clutter from the main rooms your guests will occupy and make sure your kitchen and bathroom are sparkling. Why did I add kitchen? Because if you’re serving any time of food and your kitchen is a hot mess, it reflects poorly on whatever you just slaved over to serve. Trust me, clean your stuff.
  • Arrange seating – You can take this piece of advice as literally as you would like. My original thought was along the lines of making sure you have enough places for your guests to sit comfortably (my and Jake’s biggest challenge in our 600 square feet). But if you’re having a dinner party, you may want to pre-arrange seating so that your guests have the best time possible. After all, you know your guests probably better than they know each other. If you think people will click, sit them next to each other and watch new friendships form. Similarly, if you think certain personalities won’t work in close quarters, seat them away from each other.
  • Have a place for jackets/purses – This is something small that a lot of people don’t seem to think about any more. Having a designated spot where people can dump their junk keeps your party area looking and feeling cleaner and bigger and your guests will appreciate not having to look after a jacket or carry their purse all evening.
  • Give your guests something to do – I really like the idea of assigning friends or family with certain tasks throughout the night to ease the burden of hosting. If you don’t think it’s classy to assign guests with cleaning or cooking duties throughout the evening, how about assigning a particularly friendly guest with making sure everyone is introduced? Or, if you have a friend with a good sense of the mood in the room, how about putting them in charge of your playlist for the evening? Play up the strengths of the friends or family that you involve and make sure everyone is game for it before the party, but having helpers definitely makes the multi-tasking host’s life a little bit easier
  • Have lighting set the mood – Similar to music, lighting is a huge factor in creating your ideal party atmosphere. Want people to dance? Make it dark and, if you have them, turn on the party lights. Want your guests to participate in a game? Keep the lights bright enough so that they know what’s going on. Not sure what kind of lighting is best? I’d suggest lower light or candlelight because it makes everyone glow and brings people together!
  • Light it up with vanilla extract – This is possibly my favorite trick! Before guests arrive, spray or dab vanilla extract onto lightbulbs near the party area. Do this while the light is off so that when you turn it on for the party, the heat will release the vanilla and make your party smell delicious!

Have any other go-to party tricks? I can’t wait to try these out next time Jake and I host at our place! If you try them before me, let me know how it goes in the comments!

You Are More Than Your Cat-Eye

There’s so much more to girls than our ability to get the perfect cat-eye…although that’s an awesome skill.

You Are More Than Your Cat-EyeConfession: I’m a girly girl who never got into makeup.

I’m not really sure how that happened. I was a cheerleader and a drama kid so I learned those kinds of heavy-duty makeup skills early on. But day-to-day makeup never really stuck with me. I have friends and family who do amazing things with concealer and eyeliner, contouring and cat-eye but I’ve just never been interested. Not because I’m not fascinated by the whole process but because I’ve never felt like makeup-me was actually me.

I remember having a conversation in high school with my friend and her mom in the car and they asked why I didn’t wear makeup and I responded “because I don’t think I need it.” And then immediately regretted coming off so full of myself.

But it’s not that I think I’m a supermodel or anything. I just don’t feel like anything about my face or skin needs to be hidden or highlighted or concealed. I think the real me, with a clean face and sunscreen, is so much more comfortable than makeup-me. And I wish more girls felt the same way in their skin.

I have nothing against makeup. I wear it on special occasions and I totally think it makes women look extra-stunning. What I don’t like is that there are girls who see makeup as a necessity for beauty. Like they can’t be pretty without putting their face on in the morning. This ideology makes my heart so sad.

I hope that if I’m lucky enough to have a daughter she would measure beauty not by makeup and beauty products, but by people’s character, confidence, and loving actions. I think this is an important part of improving this world we live in because enforcing the idea that girls can’t be pretty without makeup is a harmful, deceitful, unnecessary, ugly lie. And girls already face so many patronizing, demeaning lies in this world.

If you are a girl who rocks a killer contour, I envy you. But I also hope you rock days without makeup just as confidently. Take a page from Alicia Key’s book and learn to be comfortable in your own skin, just as God created you. And let’s start working together to create a world where girls see the beauty in health, confidence, and caring for others.

Thanksgiving Day Activities to Fight the Food Coma (That Aren’t Football)

Need some ideas for fun ways to beat the turkey hangover on Thanksgiving Day? I’ve got a few!

Adobe Spark (13)I mentioned last week that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. There’s something about it that I just love. Maybe it’s the family time, or the food, or the fact that there’s no presents to distract us from actually being thankful. Whatever it is, I love it and it’s coming up so fast!

The one thing I’m not a fan of with Thanksgiving is that because it’s not such a fanfare of presents and traditions like Christmas is (at least in my family), we tend to end the day early and fall asleep on the couch.

Now, as much as I love food coma naps, I’d also just like to enjoy more time with my family while we’re all together.

If you’re like me and want more ways to keep your family from whiling away your post-feast hours together and making the most of your day, here are some ideas we can try out this year!

Family Thanksgiving Journal – I just think this would be a cool one to start. My family usually goes around and says what we’re thankful for but what if we wrote it down every year? The idea behind the journal is that you get to look back on past years and be thankful, not just for the current year, but for all the ways God has worked since you started it.

Board and card games – Obviously! My family isn’t huge on board games but they are pretty competitive card players. If it won’t tear your family apart, set up a game tournament and compete for the Turkey Day Champion!

Talk a hike!…I mean, walk – What better way to start working off all that stuffing and pie? Get the siblings together and take a walk to a park or around the neighborhood to get active and fight off that turkey-induced coma!

Scavenger hunt – You could totally add this to your walk and make it a two for one! Someone will have to be in the know about where and what is hidden, but if you play your cards right, you could have the whole family hunting and guessing all day!

Turkey bowling – This seems like so much fun! Grab an extra turkey at the grocery store when you do your Thanksgiving turkey and set up in the back yard for some slippery bowling competition! Fun for all ages!

Volunteer – Get everybody together and serve. If you’re local to Austin, here’s a great organization that will need help on Thanksgiving day. What better way to share a thankful heart than to help those in need!

Set up the Christmas tree – My family typically does this the day after Thanksgiving but it doesn’t hurt to get a head start! How much more fun would it be to set up for Christmas with the whole family together? And how much faster!

I hope these at least gave you some inspiration for new and fun ways to fight the mid-Thanksgiving food coma! Do you have any fun Thanksgiving family traditions to keep everyone awake and together? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!