My Goals for 2011 (plus some blogging changes)

I’m not a fan of New Year’s Resolutions; I think they only set one up for failure and discouragement. However, I’m a huge fan of creating realistic goals and breaking them down into bite-sized pieces. So, at the beginning of every year, my husband and I sit down and come up with a list of goals for each facet of our lives.

Normally, being an optimistic over-achiever, I come up with many more goals than I could ever actual accomplish in a year. This year, though, I decided to make a new policy for all goals on my list: they could only be on my list if there was a time slot for them on my schedule.

Taking the things I learned from Amy Andrews’ ebook, Tell Your Time, I tweaked our daily schedule and created a slightly different schedule for each day of the week for 2011. This allowed me include time slots for everything on my 2011 goal list — from reading to sleeping to once-a-week lunch dates with my husband to time with my children to ministering to others to blogging.

This was incredibly helpful to me in streamlining and just picking goals which are actually doable. Instead of being a bit overwhelmed by an ambitious list, I’m excited this year as I feel like — barring some major catastrophe or unexpected upheaval in our lives — most of these goals will, Lord-willing, become reality.

My Goals for 2011

Personal:
Read through the Bible in a year (I’m using the chronological plan here.)
Read at least 25 inspiring books (I’ll share the books I’m planning to read in 2011 on Wednesday.)
Continue to eat well, exercise faithfully and drink enough water (I’ve finished P90X and am taking a break at least for a few months to do my own and slightly less intense workout regimen. I’ve been tracking my exercising, eating and drinking through SparkPeople and it’s been very helpful in keeping me accountable and on track with my personal health/fitness goals.)
Continue to make getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night a priority
Tackle 12 Do-It-Yourself Projects

Marriage:
Once-a-month evening dates with my husband
Once-a-week lunch dates with my husband
Twice-a-year Marriage Retreat
Flirt with my husband every day :)
Read four books together
Go on a cruise! (Something we both decided we’d do if we paid cash for a house before I turned 30!)

Children/Homeschooling:
Once-a-month dates/outings with both of the girls individually
Play with the children at least three times each week (games, Wii, etc.)
Finish reading through the Little House on the Prairie series together
Memorize Psalms 1 and Psalms 23 together
Finish first grade, begin second grade with Kathrynne
Finish preschool, begin kindergarten with Kaitlynn
Go on at least one field trip every month
Have a weekly Family Night

Ministry/Friendships/Extended Family:
Have at least one family over for a meal each month
Write one encouraging handwritten card or letter at least every other week
Be involved in ministry opportunities in our local church
Continue with weekly get-togethers with both sides of our extended family

Business/Blogging:
Continue to practice media-free Sundays
Continue working towards keeping strict Office Hours for the business/blogging time each day
Follow a weekly blogging plan (see below)
Plan blog posts out a month in advance
Write blog posts at least a week in advance

Financial:
Continue to tithe 10% of our income
Give generously to needs in our community and around the world, as God prompts us (We’ve been looking for 1-2 specific needs to give to each month and find so much joy in giving as God leads us!)
Complete all items on our current Financial Goals List
Save at least 40% towards our Commercial Real Estate Investing Goal

One major change I’ll be making is in the area of blogging. Thanks to the help from my team, I’ve gotten much more organized and efficient this past year (and also really good at saying “no” to stuff — one of the most freeing things ever!). Instead of feeling constantly overwhelmed and behind, I’m actually keeping up with things most day.

But, there is much room for improvement — especially when it comes to the actual writing of posts. While I’ve actually been planning my blogging out a week in advance, I’m still writing most of the posts the day they are supposed to be posted.

Amy Andrews has helped me to re-prioritize things enough in my life and blogging work, that I’m finally to a point to be able to blog ahead — something I’ve always wished I could find a way to do! During the last month, I’ve been working behind-the-scenes to come up with a way to have my blog posts, features and series planned out at least a month in advance and written at least a week ahead.

One thing which is going to help me carry out this plan is to actually have set days for posting set things. I know that I’ve been a source of frustration to many of you all many times because you just never know what is going to be posted when. I’m sorry and I hope you will find much more consistency here in 2011.

In fact, for the sake of accountability — and so you’ll know pretty much exactly what to expect! — here’s my blogging plan for the first half of 2011 (I’ll be re-evaluating and changing things up somewhat halfway through the year):

Monday: A guest post, our weekly menu plan, Giveaways Galore and a new 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget video blog series (starting next week)

Tuesday: Ask Jesse feature, a DIY idea and possibly a Shopping Trip post with pictures and price breakdowns

Wednesday: The next post in whatever series I’m working through (During the first half of 2011, I’ll be finishing up the How We Paid Cash for a House series, then the 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget series then re-writing and re-posting my Blogging for Profit series.), and an Ask the Readers question

Thursday: A recipe, a DIY idea and possibly a Shopping Trip post with pictures and price breakdowns

Friday: We Paid Cash feature and a weekly rotating feature (Week One: Financial Update, Week Two: My DIY Experiment, Week Three: Book Review, Week Four: Frugal Family Fun post)

Saturday: Super Savings Saturday

Most of these items will start this week, though a few aren’t starting up until next week. Of course, there’ll be the usual fare of hot deals, coupons, freebies and the occasional giveaway, as well. And I’m sure I’ll throw in some unexpected, written-on-the-fly posts here and there, too, when inspiration strikes and I can’t keep silent. :)

Thank you to each and everyone of you for reading here, for leaving comments, for sending in deal ideas and frugal tips, for your encouraging letters and many suggestions for how I can improve this blog. My hope is that you will find better content and consistency in posting in 2011, which will, in turn, allow you to glean more ideas to save money, spend less than you make and give generously!

photos by Paul Worthington; jek in the box

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Comments

  1. says

    Crystal,
    Don’t be too hard on yourself. You’ve got a great blog, a kind personality that actually shows through your blog, a wonderful family, dedication to home schooling, financially savvy, … and you seem very well organized too. And I agree with you, I never set New Year resolutions because of the same reasons, instead I set achieveable goals to keep me encouraged, as well as goals that may seem way out there to keep me challanged. I linked your blog to my blog roll – that’s how much I admire your blog :) Keep up your great job, and I look forward to following you through 2011 and beyond. And happy New Year to you and your family. Like you, I’m excited about this year as well, and I pray it brings the best to everyone of us!

    • says

      You’re very kind! I had quite a readers who have gently suggested I work on being more consistent in blogging as it’s been frustrating to them that they never know what I’m going to post when. :)

  2. says

    I just want you to know how much of an encouragement you have been to me. If you haven’t been consistent, well I benefited a thousand times over anyway! Thank you for sharing in this blog all that God has blessed you with. You are making a difference in my life. Blessings to you,
    Kim

  3. says

    I can’t even tell you how much reading your blog has blessed my life!! I’m a young mom with two small boys and husband who works a lot of overtime and felt very overwhelmed a lot of the time staying home with them. You have really helped me organize my life from cooking, scheduling my day, to saving money, and earning extra money…you even inspired me to create my own blog!

    Thank you for all you do, looking for to reading in 2011!!

  4. says

    You do such an amazing job and your heart for God is so evident, so if your heart for your husband and your family. God has really gifted you with a heart to help others and give of yourself but it is nice to see your struggle with “keeping” your priorities in order. I know that I have great plans but after a week or two, they fizzle out and I constantly need to keep my eyes on Jesus for direction.

    The thing that stood out the most in this post was that Kathrynne will be starting second grade this year. Kathrynne and Ranen are a few months apart and he will also be starting second grade. I feel like I can read peoples thought as he is so young but he is very capable and I want to challenge him. I know we have similar homeschool styles and this works because Ranen is not in PS. But all that to say that I find it very encouraging that I am doing the right thing for my child even when it looks different from others.

    Thank you for all your encouragement and dedication.

    • says

      It sounds like Ranen and Kathrynne are a lot alike! We’re just going with the “flow” here and taking it one year at a time. If, at any time, it seems like she’s at all overwhelmed or it’s too much for her, than we have breathing room to stay on a grade for extra time. The beauty of homeschooling is the flexibility it gives to specifically tailor education to each child’s needs. I love it!

  5. says

    Our personal finance goal of 2010 was to pay off our mortgage so we would be completely debt-free, and we did it! We mailed in our final check in the beginning of December! Now we are able to significantly increase our giving both to our church and to missionaries and save more for retirement and education. We have already saved up cash for a “new” used car for my husband, though he is still driving his until it quits, and plan to pay cash for a cruise for our 10th anniversary this summer (if we can ever decide which cruise to take and book one!–any ideas?). Where are you going on your cruise and how did you decide?

    Now we are setting our new BAGs (Big Audacious Goals!), like saving money for our whole family to take a trip to Israel (there are 7 of us so far, but we wouldn’t go for another 10 years or more, when the kids are older).

  6. Mare says

    Awesome goals! I have no idea how you do it all. I just thought I would pass on info on this “couples cruise” since you mentioned it. She’s a Christian marriage counselor. Her book is awesome. Plus, you get the group rate! Anyway, here’s the info if you’re interested. Thank SO much for all your hard work!

    http://www.strengtheningmarriage.com/cruise.php

  7. Karen says

    How in the world do you read even one or two books in a year? I used to be a voracious reader and I have trouble reading one book a month. I’m homeschooling an 11 y/o, 9 y/o, and 6 y/o. I also work part time. I’m a gym rat too. :) Hmmmm…

    • says

      Can you listen to audiobooks at the gym or in the car? That might possibly work!

      I shoot for 15 mins of reading per day and then an hour or two on the weekends (usually Sunday afternoons). I can usually get through around 4-5 books per month at this rate. I sometimes read in the car (when Jesse’s driving, of course!) and then I just snatch in minutes here and there.

      I love to read, so I guess it’s one of those things I just try to always make time for!

  8. Sandy says

    This is what I love about this blog! As much as I appreciate the posting of great deals and high value q’s, my favorite part is the sharing of goals, and suggestions on how to manage life in ways which help me to organize and think about what’s really important. While I have made a committment to honor my mother in being her 24/7 caregiver, and am exhausted by the end of the day after completing all I need to do for her, I am still a woman, and I want to find a way which allows me to focus a little on myself. It’s easy to let all other areas of my life wither, but this blog and posts like this make such a difference for me. Thanks so much for sharing.

  9. Sharon says

    Your goals are definitely realistic…kudos to you :) #1 on my list this year is to save more and spend less. I started off by switching to a prepaid cell phone with an unlimited plan so I no longer go over minutes and ended up with huge bills every other month! (Hooray for StraigtTalk). I’ve also been making a habit of buying the Sunday papers just to clip coupons for grocery shopping and have been saving quite a bit of money….every little things add up. Plus, now I’m an expert at comparison shopping and know for example, for the best deals in pampers this week…must visit Walgreens! Let’s just hope I can keep this up :)