What I Want in 2014

“Sipping on gin and juice. Laid back!” Did you know that song is 20 years old??? Thanks Mashable for that urgent email message that I could have lived without reading but just HAD TO and of course go on to find out the other 20 songs turning 20 in 2014. How many other articles did I read in the last 365 days that were interesting but totally useless or got me unnecessarily fired up. I’ve become acutely aware of how many things vie for my attention that don’t deserve it and instead eat my precious time. There isn’t a single moment I say to myself “today I’m going to get lost in Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, or a bunch of useless articles for at least an hour!” Just like lifting weights regularly helps build muscle, I believe regularly getting back little moments of my life will bring clarity and focus to the things I truly want to accomplish.

2014 is a fresh year full of potential. At 30 I have a clearer sense of who I am and what I need to be happy — something I couldn’t have said in my twenties. I feel more in control of my choices than ever. And, while I like to think regularly appreciating the people and things I have around me makes a key contribution to my overall attitude, I fear floating through my days letting things happen to me instead of actively making them happen the way I want.

In an effort to get my thoughts out, here are a few ideals I have for what I want to see in the coming year. This isn’t etched in stone or completely polished but if I waited for perfection it wouldn’t ever happen. So here we go — my 2014 ideals:

1. Make our home a zen retreat for our family. This means keeping up on laundry, dishes, general picking up, and stocking it with true household essentials. It also means regularly clearing out clutter that can distract from our main tasks and drain our energy. Decorate our home with meaningful things we love or that serve a purpose. Avoid unnecessary DIY projects and tackle hopefully limited handyman projects first thing. Help each family member stay on track and assist them with tasks when possible.
2. Make the kitchen the heart of our home. Let it be a warm place, full of nutritious food options. Try new things. Reduce stress by planning ahead. Play more with spices, vinegars, and other seasonings. Be solid in my belief of eating things made by God and avoiding chemicals in our food. Make veggies the main focus.
3. Support and focus on teaching our children. Show them character through example (easier said than done). Love them like crazy, even in discipline. Expose them to new experiences but avoid over scheduling them. Fuel Lindsay’s love to build things with 1,000 post-it notes, paper clips, scrap paper, etc. Allow them both time for unplanned independent play. Get them outside in the dirt more often. Help them be aware of the choices they make. Let them fail so they can grow. Make time to talk and do things we love together. Have them help make dinner and bake so they can pass it on to their families someday.
4. Continue learning. Read a good mix of psychology and career growth books and articles. Implement ideas learned. Take on more challenges. Try something different. This is the least concrete goal I have that I’m hoping to dig into more. 
5. Use resources wisely. Be less wasteful, consciously finding ways not generate more trash or items needing recycled in our universe. Use money to make money. Stay debt-free and avoid delusions of grandeur. Recognize things for the value they bring (or take), not their price tag. Buy only items that help support our goals. Use time wisely and cut out to dos that aren’t essential. 
6. Prepare. Ensure that prep for the next day and coming week are done before wasting time getting sucked into the interwebz. Plan outfits when needed and make sure I have the right items on hand. Regularly have gifts ready ahead of time for birthdays. Follow up on things I say I will do or find the right way to say no.
7. Focus on real relationships. Make family and friends a priority. Disconnect from the online world and be present in the moment.
8. Take responsibility for my own happiness. Appreciate the little moments. Focus on fun and humor over worry. Choose to act instead of react.

Of course, no plan or “ideals” can be met without specific ways to achieve them. I can tell you, though, a week after originally writing these ideas for action, I’ve already crossed a few off. I know I probably won’t stick to them all and maybe they’ll all change entirely but shooting high means I’ll fall in a better spot than having not even tried, right? This list will be in my closet with a pen nearby to regularly revisit. The point is to make a conscious effort to support my ideals and work toward them. Here’s a few habits I’m hoping to adopt:

  • Get up early instead of staying up late to a) spend a bit of time with Shawn before the work day starts and b) stay focused in my limited personal time.

  • Plan 1-2 meals in advance. Make a list of our favorite fall back meals. Devise a way to plan a weeks worth of meals without wasting food if plans change. 

  • Call my parents, sister, grandparents, best friends once a week, even if it is only for 15 minutes. Send them pictures they’d like directly instead of broadcasting them out on social media sites.

  • Limit time spent with online time sucks. Instagram: 1 hour/week; Pinterest: 30 minutes/week; Facebook: 30 minutes/week (one personal post per week or less)

  • Bring reusable shopping bags. Skip individually packaged products and opt for ways we can package or make them at home. Wrap gifts in cloth or simply decorate with ribbon.

  • Buy quality outfit essentials before they’re needed – black pumps, white button downs, purses plus feel-good shoes and a few fun dresses/skirts.

  • Join a new group – may it be tech, volunteer, eco-friendly, etc.

  • Try: yoga, cooking class

  • Make a monthly to do list & what to tackle weekly. Make sure every item added to my to do list supports my goals.

  • Let bedtime take an hour during the week to make sure there’s enough time for each kid’s chosen book and the lights off “can I tell you about my day?” moments ← the latter is easily my favorite thing we started doing in 2013.

  • Get my sweat on at least twice per week; bonus points for three times. Once the weather warms up, hit up more trails as a fam.

  • If something takes less than 15 minutes, just do it. If it takes less than 5, I have no excuse not to do it (I started this in 2013 and while it’s not always the case, it has made a big difference in just getting things done).

Any tips to share? The best way to plan meals? Little bits for increased productivity? Bedtime routines? Hey, morning routines? Let me know. And cheers to 2014!