Keep Dreaming

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My husband and I were having a conversation the other night about dreams. Because we’ve just come through a season of survival mode. Looking back I almost can’t believe how long it lasted. I began packing up my house last summer, we made an offer on a new house in October and didn’t get a signed lease for our old house (now the rental property) until early December. Now we are starting into April and while my house is becoming livable, it is also still full of boxes. I’m still struggling with getting back to a routine and making sure all the necessities are covered.

While the whole moving process was a big part of our future dreams, during that time many other things had to be pushed to the side. We are both creative people and our creative activities have always been a big part of our personal self care. But during this survival mode season, much of that has had to take a back seat. Suddenly, the long term dreams and aspirations surrounding those creative endeavors seem like lost and forgotten dreams.

I was lamenting the fact that I seem to have given up on my dreams. (And that my wonderful and creative husband seems to have given up on his.) Then it occurred to me that there is more than one kind of dream.

 

Abstract Dreams

These are the things that sound nice, but may or may not ever happen. Somewhat along the lines of wishes, but I would call them more than that because usually we have invested a great deal of thought, and sometimes even preliminary plans into these dreams. Sometimes because they are entirely outside of our control (like winning the lottery), or simply highly unlikely or because they will require a complete lifestyle chance that we aren’t prepared for. My husband and I have a dream of sorts to travel the country with our kids and home school on the road. While it’s a fun idea, it doesn’t matter enough to us to do the work it would take the make it happen right now. That doesn’t mean never, but until we are prepared to take this dream to the next step, it will remain where it is.

 

Concrete Dreams

Concrete dreams are the kind that motivate goals. They may be likely or unlikely, but they meant enough that we are making measurable steps towards them. One of our dreams is to be debt free (or virtually debt free, I’ve decided to be Ok with a mortgage of some kind). So that means I have to do the math to figure out how to pay down our student loans faster than the current rate. Even if the steps feel small, they still have measurable success; even if it’s just $20 or $30 a month.

If my goal is to publish a book, reading books on writing, blocking out time to write and reading books in my proposed genre are helpful concrete tasks towards achieving that goal. Yes, given the number of people who claim to want to be published authors and the odds of being successful enough as an author to support myself and my family may not be in my favor. But I feel that even if I fail at that aspect of the dream, but in the process I produce work that I am proud of, I won’t really have failed.

I always struggle finding a balance between not dreaming at all (because it feels like it will never happen) and being Ok with dreams that I know are unlikely to happen. If something is really important to me, I need to be willing to make the lifestyle and financial sacrifices to make it happen.

 

Look Back and Remember

I also need to be willing to look back at my life and see where the dreams are coming true. My life may not be glamorous, but much of it is exactly what I always said I wanted. My desires and dreams may have changed a bit, that’s OK. But it’s still important for me to look objectively at my life and acknowledge with gratitude the dreams that have come to fruition. I have three beautiful children. We have been able to move out of our attached home into something a little bit larger. I am able to stay home with my children and home school them. These are all part of the dream I had when my husband and I were first married and I was working jobs just to pay the bills. Most of the paid work in my life hasn’t provide me with much fulfillment, but it was a means to an end.

 

Reassess and Categorize Accordingly

Sometimes we really do give up on a dream, but that doesn’t always have to be negative. Regularly reevaluating how we spend our time and money is a wonderful tool towards this end. If I believe that my dream is to run a marathon, but I can’t even bring myself to walk a mile, let alone take up running, I need to reconsider whether this is really a concrete dream or be willing to chance my behavior. Realizing that something we’ve been working toward is no longer what we want can be freeing. I can stop feeling guilty about what I’m not accomplishing and funnel my time, energy and money into something that I am really passionate about.

 

Enjoy the Journey

We also need to be able to enjoy the process. Life will never been perfect. It’s easy to think that when we have the house, the spouse, the kids, the dream job, the bank account life will be perfect and we’ll be able to relax. That once the kids are older, more independent, out of the house or we retire that suddenly we’ll be able to do all the things we’ve dreamed about. But I would counter that if something is a deeply held desire (i.e. concrete dream rather than abstract one) we will be working towards it now, at least in some capacity, rather than waiting for tomorrow.

 

Waiting Is OK

I think it is also OK to deliberately defer dreams. This doesn’t mean giving up on the, but rather making an intentional choice to pursue something at a later time. This is a hard one for me, because part of me is filled with the deep fear that some how I will miss out on the things I was meant to do. I have dreams regarding writing and speaking that are simply not possible right now. Why? Because other dreams have taken priority. The one’s involving a family, homeschooling and ministry that I am currently involved in. Because I am only one person, an I cannot do everything. (I am going to say that one more time, mostly because I need to hear it, but maybe you do to).

I CAN NOT DO EVERYTHING!

No one can. Despite what it meant appear on social media, none of us has it all together. We all must decide which dreams to pursue, which to defer and which to let go of. While there maybe be a sense of sadness or resignation in the process, it shouldn’t be a deep abiding grief. This is where may faith will show, because I firmly believe that if we seek God constantly and consistently in the process, he will be faithful to guide us. It is much easier to defer or even let go of a dream when we believe that God is faithful to guide and mold the desires of hearts into the best possible direction for us.

 

Ask yourself these important questions:

What dreams in my life are abstract?
Which dreams in my life are concrete?
Are these dreams in the correct position in my life? Do some abstract dreams need to become concrete through deliberate goal setting and intentional investment or do some need to be deferred or released as I pursue something else during this season?

Always keep dreaming, all kinds in all ways. Let that inspire and sustain you through the difficulties of today without allowing you to miss the beauty of the present.

Write it Down: Mindset for Moms

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Write down those dreams. The house. The finances. The lifestyle

It seems so self-indulgent. Like making some kind of cosmic wish list and then expecting God to fulfill it. But at the same time, sometimes long term dreams and goals can weigh heavy on the mind. We are just at the beginning of a long road to becoming debt free. It can be very discouraging to realize that many of your goals and dreams are going to be deferred for years, perhaps nearly a decade. But when we write down our dreams and put them away for a while, we can take them off of our minds and put them into God’s hands.

I love what Jamie did in this chapter. There was a certain kind of house in a certain kind of location that they wanted, but moving was not urgent. She found the multi-lists and realtor websites overwhelming. She wrote it down, and probably would have forgotten about it until God fulfilled her every dream regarding their home, right down to the color. (Please read the chapter for more details, it really is a cool story).

This is not to say that we can just name what we want and God will give it to us, like an omnipotent waiter, but rather that when we give our dreams and desires to God he will answer us in ways we never could have expected. By writing it down, it allows us to look back and better see the goodness of God.

So I’m going to try to do this. Last year my husband and I already talked about what we were looking for in a dream house, mostly because we hate moving. It’s a hassle. We like to settle in and get comfortable. So we don’t want to move unless it will be to a place that has everything or nearly everything we want. This includes more living space, not just more bedrooms. We have no objection to fewer bedrooms if they are large enough for kids to share. After years of city living, we’re wearying of parking troubles and would love a place with off-street parking, whether driveway or garage (preferably both).

We want to be able to live as debt free as possible, though I may be willing to compromise on having a mortgage as long as it doesn’t eat up too much of our monthly cash flow. We also want to be able to have a more spontaneous lifestyle. This doesn’t mean that we won’t budget, but that we’ll be able to have room in the budget for spontaneity. Surprise the kids with a Friday night out at their favorite burger restaurant. Last minute family trip to the beach. Ability to visit family up north without saving all year for it.  Room to buy each other gifts and surprises on occasion. To be able to give more than we currently do to causes we support. We already have a line item in our budget for charitable giving, but we both feel strongly that should God bless us with an improvement to our financial situation, it would also be because there are others we are called to bless.

Your list of goals may be different from mine. There is so much more to mine than you see here. That’s OK. Yes, we still work toward our goals on a daily basis. But since it is such a slow journey, sometimes it’s easier to put the big ideas and dreams to paper and put them away for a while and wait to see how God will work in the future.

 

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Hitting the Reset Button: 2014 Goals For My Offline Life

 

Thank you for tuning in yesterday to my goals for this space for 2014. Today I’d like to share with you more of my goals for my life offline, and in personal life.

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Writing Goals

I need to be writing more. While I’ve been much more consistently blogging last year than any time previously, I need to be focusing on my other writing projects as well. I have the goal of publishing my Lenten devotional by 2015 so it will be ready to use for Lent that year. That means a lot of work writing and editing for the next 12 months. I also need to get back to my novel. I started my novel more than five years ago (possibly more) and I’m still only perhaps a third of the way through. It’s the story of four characters that begin the novel as total strangers with nothing in common except that they take the same ballet class. The role of dance in each of their lives is central to the story and serves as the thread that draws them into each other’s lives. I also have a working idea for another novel as well. (If I get ambitious maybe I’ll even try NaNoWriMo next year).  Bottom line: I need to write more about things that I’m passionate about and have the discipline to stay the course and attempt to finish projects that I’ve started.

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More Fun Mommy, Less Sad, Angry Mommy

This past year was not an easy one for me as a mom. It’s revealed to me a lot about myself that I’m not very proud of. Including the fact that I love my children more when I get regular breaks from them. It took me most of last year to realize that without this I become short tempered, inefficient and depressed. Now, knowing that and doing something about it are two different things. It has been hard for me to make time in the last few months to do this. In fact it was one of the first things to get pushed off the list when time got short. I suffered for it and so did my parenting.

I want to take my time to enjoy my children this year. That will happen only if I plan properly for it. That means leaving room in our family calendar for laid back, unscheduled time. I know I have trouble relaxing when the house is a mess so I am going to try to create a compromise between sometimes ignoring the mess to enjoy the kids and other times keeping on top of the mess so I can better relax with the kids. It also means taking care of myself. Especially now that I am working part-time outside the home, I have to be very intentional about my time. I need to be doing things that I am passionate about but also things that rejuvenate me.

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Reading

I want to begin reading regularly again. This is something that fell almost entirely by the wayside last year. Naomi Novik’s new book came out last August, and I still haven’t finished it! At this point I may have to start over again. I want to start going to bed earlier enough to leave time to read and unplug from technology perhaps one night a week for the focused intention of reading. I want to alternate reading fiction and non-fiction, especially fiction that helps make me a reader writer as well as those books that inspire me to write. (Yes, those are two different kinds of books.) I also want to make the time to reread a few favorites simply because I enjoy it.

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Fitness

I’ll be talking in more detail about this later in the week, but my husband and I are both making some fitness goals this year. This is a big deal because my husband really hates exercise. After a high cholesterol diagnosis last year he is finally ready to take developing a healthy fitness habit seriously. For me it’s mostly about maintaining my energy levels and my self esteem, and reducing my risk of type 2 diabetes as well as reducing risk of gestational diabetes in further pregnancy. There are several different avenues that we are pursuing but for now what matters is that we are making it a priority.

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Invest in My Marriage

Last May, my husband I celebrated our 10th anniversary. After 10 years I’m realizing how much we’ve grown and yet how much growing up we still have to do. We need to constantly maintain our marriage and invest in improving it. Part of this will be through reading. We haven’t read a book together in years. So we are going to start by reading a marriage book together, followed by a parenting book. I’m not sure what we’ll do after that, but we want to keep reading together and then discuss (and sometimes blog about) what we’ve read. It will be an important way for us to connect with each other more often. We also need to regularly get dates, at least once every other month and then at-home dates one a month. (In an ideal world we’d be going out almost every week but that is neither financially nor logistically feasible.) An at home date usually involves the kids going to bed earlier, takeout and a board game, movie or TV show. The important thing is that we make an effort to spend time together doing things we find relaxing.

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Be More Hospitable

We would like to become more social again. We don’t yet know when or if we’ll be growing our family further, but we do know that we’ve become isolated for far too long. We want to make new friends and more deeply invest in the casual friendships we have. This requires time and often money but we think that will be worth it.

Overall, as a good friend put it, think of the new year as a reset. You get another chance to try and accomplish the things that matter to you. Really it could be anytime, but something about turning over the page of the calendar makes it easier to start anew. I hope you’ll continue to join in the journey of The Laundry List and share your own ideas and journeys as well.

Where Would You Like to See Yourself One Year From Now? My 31 Day Financial Challenge Goal Update

Nearly two years ago I undertook the 31 Day Financial Challenge I found on The Simple Dollar. I decided it was time to review the goals I set during that challenge to see how things are going.

 In 25 years I would like to:

 Have 3 children (possibly 4)

  • Be living in a detached house with 4 bedrooms, family room, office space, 2 bathrooms, driveway and/or garage
  • Have published 3 books
  • Be debt free (the one exception to this is that we may still have a mortgage, but hopefully it will be at least half paid off).
  • Cultivate a family lifestyle of fitness
  • Develop a meaningful relationship with Jesus and be able to pass that deep faith on to my children

 What about 1 year from now?

 Put at least $1,500 toward principle of our student loan debt

  • Have finished two chapters of my novel
  • Query all potential publishers for my Advent Devotional
  • Be pregnant with our second child
  • Participate in physical activity (walking, Pilates, dancing) at least four times a week
  • Have developed a daily devotional habit and finished reading the entire bible
  • Have completed a list of no/low cost renovations and landscape projects on the house

I don’t think my opinion on the 25 year goal has changed much. If anything I feel less strongly about the urgency of moving to a larger house and more strongly about living debt free. So I still hope to be in a larger house, but I hope that will only happen while being relatively if not completely debt free.

As far as my goals for one year from then, well I don’t know if I actually accomplished them in the following year, but I was pleased to see that I’ve made progress in the last two years. We did pay off another $1,500 of our student loans in 2011 and another $1,700 this year. I’d like to be further along, but every little bit is encouraging. Hopefully we’ll pay off another $2,500 at the end of this year and then maybe another chunk after next year’s tax returns. Our biggest hope is that my husband’s soon to be published novel will be a success and allow us to finally free ourselves from those student loans for good.

I am several chapters further into my novel. I have also sent many queries regarding my advent devotional. Sadly, I haven’t gotten any interest from the religious publishing market, so I’m considering self-publishing, which I never thought I’d be doing.

As far as growing our family is concerned, our second child joined the family in March of 2012, our son Robin Isaac.

I am currently very physically active, usually 3-4 days a week, though I shoot for 5.  But that hasn’t been the case consistently. One year after I made that goal I had just gotten pregnant for the third time, after miscarrying earlier that year. So exercise, while important, wasn’t high on my priority list. But I am attempting to make it a priority again now, mostly because I know that it helps me to control my anxiety and because it makes me feel good about myself.

Well, I am currently working on building a daily devotional habit, something I continue to struggle with. My times of daily prayer and bible reading ebbed and flowed for the past two years though I currently feel like I’m on a good track with a system that works for me. Though I still haven’t finished reading the Bible all the way through, but hopefully I will have by the end of the year.

Probably the biggest failure of my goals is the lack of progress made on our house. With the two pregnancies in a row and now with a new baby in the house, we haven’t accomplished much. I have made some minor additions to my garden but mostly we’ve been trying to declutter; giving items away or selling them on Ebay. Last year we divested ourselves of an entire box of my husband’s childhood He-man toys, which helped pay for Christmas expenses. They also helped make extra student loan payments and contributed to our hospital co-pays when the baby was born. Though we haven’t done any more Ebay selling since the baby was born, I’m hoping to get back into it soon, both for decluttering and financial purposes.

While overall I’m more pleased than I expected with my goal progress, being the perfectionist that I am, I’d rather be making larger strides. But as a parent of a newborn and a toddler I’m also learning the meaning of “good enough.” I think my success is good enough for now and I’ll keep plugging toward the future.

I am Resolved to . . .

Why do we make New Year’s Resolutions? We resolve to lose weight, eat healthier, be better parents, be better spouses , be better employees, stop speeding, start reading more, listen more, interrupt less, be more kind, be less judgmental and the list goes on. Why do we wait until the New Year to try and improve ourselves? The other 364 days of the year (365 if it happens to be a leap year), are just as appropriate for groundbreaking new starts. What makes us wait, why don’t we simply start now?

Of course, many of those promises to better ourselves are recycled from the previous year. Mostly because the majority of these so called resolutions are abandoned by midway through February for lack of effort, lack of desire or lack of interest. Not that I’m against improving myself. Every year I have lists of things I want to do. Exercise more, be a better housekeeper, write more and yet rarely do I meet my goals. Or I do them for a while but never enough to become a permanent part of my life style.

Perhaps I should resolve not to make a resolution unless I mean to really stick with it. (Of course no one means to give up on a resolution otherwise we wouldn’t call them resolutions.) I perhaps it we could call them New Year’s intentions instead. Of course we all know where good intentions lead, don’t we? That’s right. (In case you don’t know where I’m headed, its rather warm, rather crowded and contrary to Billy Joel, not a place you’d like to spend all eternity.)

Maybe there is something about a new year that seems fresh, like a blank slate. As we turn another calendar page and add a new digit to the dates in our check books, we see the days and weeks that stretch out before us as days of opportunity; A second (third, fourth or umpteenth) chance to get it right this time. Even when we think we are happy with ourselves and our lives, if asked to make a New Year’s resolution, someone can almost always come up with one. As well as adjusted as we all claim to be, really we are all looking to improve in one way or another. So we resolve that we will improve upon our strengths, minimize our weaknesses and in the end be more tolerant of the inevitable failings that we know are coming, perhaps in just a few short weeks. So happy New Year’s resolving, everyone. Here’s hoping that this year’s intentions lead to some place better for all of us.

 

My 31 Day Financial Challenge- Day 30: Live What You Love

http://www.thesimpledollar.com/2007/01/30/31-days-to-fix-your-finances-day-30-live-what-you-love/

In this step Trent recommends creating reminders of your goals and values in light of your expenses as well as reevaluating various areas of your life to help support your goals. I really appreciated several of his points.

Reevaluating social situations: I have had to learn that not having any money doesn’t mean we don’t have a social life. We’ve been getting better at inviting friends to our home for a simple meal and a board game or movie. Since we are blessed to have family members nearby who will baby-sit for free, we have been able to accept invitations to others’ homes without having to pay a babysitter.

Engage in inexpensive activities that match your life goals: I’ve continued to be active in my writer’s group and my husband has also joined. This has been a great opportunity for us to explore our creative sides and also spend time together on something not involving our daughter.

Use the 10 second rule: My father taught me an expanded version of this known as the two week rule. He would think and pray for two weeks about a purchase, especially an expensive one. This is especially hard when the item seems to be “such a good deal.” I have not always adhered to this as much as I would like. My dad’s perspective is that in most cases there will always been another sale, another deal, another opportunity. Waiting two weeks gives you the perspective to decide if the purchase is a wise financial move and if it will really add value to your life.

Live what you love: I have not always done this. I want to spend more time of my days doing the things that really matter to me and working towards my primary goals.

 

My 31 Day Financial Challenge – Day 3: Create a Plan for Each Goal

I find this step hugely overwhelming. I am committing myself to seriously pursue each of these goals with specific actions. That alone is a little terrifying. Suddenly I find myself questioning whether I made the right choice for these goals. But when I look back on what is really important to me, these things still make sense to me.

 For each of the short term goals, I want you to define five specific actions:
I will do this in the next three days.
I will do this in the next week.
I will do this every week.
I will do this in the next month.
I will do this in the next six months.

 Put at least $1,500 toward principle of student loan debt

  • Next three days: Figure out how much per week and per month I would need to pay to put $1,500 a year toward student loans
  • Next week: look for ways to trim the budget or increase our income to accommodate that monthly savings
  • Every week: take one step toward increasing our income (list an item for sale online, send a query letter, perform energy/money saving maintenance etc)
  • Next month: Make a payment toward the student loan principle, even if only a small one.
  • Next Six months: develop a repayment plan that includes more consistent savings or additional income

Our student loan debt is currently in deferment, so I would like to pay down the principle as much as possible so that when the payments do begin the amount will be more manageable. Unfortunately some of the loans are still currently accruing interest, so obviously those loans are my first priority to pay off.

 Have finished two chapters of my novel

  • Next three days: review how much I have already completed of my novel
  • Next week: complete edits on at least one of my previously written installments from criticism given at my writers group
  • Every week: Spend at least 1 hour writing new material or completing edits on old material
  • Every month: Have new material from my novel to share with my writers group
  • Next Six months: review all work completed thus far on the novel and outline a plan for finishing it

 Query all potential publishers for my Advent Devotional

  • Next three days: complete a query letter
  • Next week: send out first query letter
  • Every week: Write at least one query letter
  • Every month: Send out at least one query letter, follow up with letters that did not receive responses
  • Next Six months: review list of responses, check updated copy of the Writer’s Market for any changes or new potential publishers

 You may notice that I altered this method slightly by including Every Month as my action category instead of Next Month. I found this to be more helpful when dealing with certain activities that need to be repeated frequently but not as often as once a week.

 Be pregnant with our second child

  • Next three days: list additional short term expenses for additional child
  • Next week: calculate how much it will cost to add an additional child to the family for the next five years
  • Every week:
  • Next month:
  • Next Six months: begin trying to conceive

 I will admit to being at a loss with this section. I’m not sure what kind of actions I could take every week or next month that would help to work towards this particular goal. I know that there are activities like cycle tracking, but those didn’t work very well for me last time, so I am uncertain about bothering to try that again. Apparently my ovaries have a mind of their own.

 Participate in physical activity (walking, Pilates, dancing) at least four times a week

  • Next three days: figure out when to best fit physical activity into my schedule
  • Next week: participate in at least one form of physical activity
  • Every week: Take at least one walk a week
  • Next month: Begin doing Pilates at least once a week
  • Next Six months: increase Pilates to twice a week, and possibly introduce bike riding

 I used to be a very active person, but more recently the hot weather and an uncooperative child have contributed to my decreased activity. Aside from house work and occasional gardening, I don’t do much anymore. It doesn’t help that my body is now burning fewer calories since I stopped breastfeeding. I used to walk twice a week and do Pilates twice a week. I sometimes even danced once a week on top of that. I would like to be back in good physical shape, ideally before I get pregnant with my next child, in the hopes that it will make the labor easier or recovery quicker. My husband has never been a physically active person, but his doctor and I both keep encouraging him to find an activity that he enjoys. The only two we have found so far are walking with the baby in the stroller (usually to the park) and biking. But he hasn’t biked in years. He also hates the hot weather. I’m hoping that the fall weather will last long enough for me to get us in the habit of taking family walks and maybe encourage the husband to take up bike riding again. The down side is that there is no money right now to invest in a new bike for him, but my dad has a bike he can borrow in the meantime. If we want to take family bike rides we’ll also have to invest in a bike trailer to carry our daughter in, but we will cross that bridge when we get to it.

 Have developed a daily devotional habit and finished reading the entire bible

  • Next three days: figure out how much of the Bible I have yet to read to accomplish my goal and create a schedule
  • Next week: go to bed 30 minutes early, three nights a week with the specific purpose of reading the Bible and other devotional material
  • Every week: Read a chapter from a spiritual book I find inspiring. For example: I’m currently working my way through The Life You’ve Always Wanted by John Ortberg
  • Next month: Begin incorporating a weekly couples devotional into our week
  • Next six months: increase personal devotional frequency to 5 days a week

 Have completed a list of no/low cost renovations and landscape projects on the house

  • Next three days: create a list of no/low cost house projects that my husband and I can tackle ourselves
  • Next week: complete at least one of the above mentioned house projects
  • Every week: put in some work on one of the above mentioned house projects, and complete one if possible
  • Next month: schedule a time to complete a house project for which we require additional help and/or borrowing of tools
  • Next six months: pick a higher cost house project that has is a high priority and begin planning how to budget and save for it

 I haven’t even begun to develop of a list of long term goals and I already feel exhausted. This entire exercise is taking much longer than I thought. This 31 day project is supposed to take approximately 1 hour a day. I’ve already spent nearly two hours on this project and I’m only half done. It seems like I’ve accumulated more tasks than I could possibly fit into my average week. I still have to complete the basic tasks necessary for living and running a home. After all of those are done, I’m not sure I’ll have the time to pursue all of the tasks I now claim I will do every week. I’m not sure how I’ll remember to do them every week, let alone make time for them

 Now, for each of the long term goals, I want you to define five specific actions:
I will do this in the next week.
I will do this in the next month.
I will do this every month.
I will do this in the next year.
I will do this in three years.

 Have 3 children

  • Next week: Figure out expenses associated with having three children (need for a larger vehicle, etc)
  • Next month: make a list of what needs to be done to the house in order for us to have three children living here.
  • Every month: research the cost of one renovation necessary to accommodate a house for a family of five.
  • Next year: Calculate how much additional income will be required for three children based on the lifestyle we want to raise them in.
  • In three years: Review this goal based on our current financial and family situation

 Be living in a detached house with 4 bedrooms, family room, office space, 2 bathrooms, driveway and/or garage

  • Next week: Make a list of necessary projects to maximize salability of current house
  • Next month: research current cost of the kind of house we want
  • Every month: review list of house projects, decide which ones to pursue and create budgets accordingly
  • Next year: review current financial trends such as home appreciation, interest rates and inflation
  • In three years: review current equity earned on our home and current income along with the current price of the kind of house we would like

 Have published 3 books

  • Next week: Prioritize my writings projects
  • Next month: Create new material for two of my books
  • Every month: find one publisher who could potentially accept my novel
  • Next year: Have made a significant attempt to publish at least one of my books
  • In three years: Join the local area writer’s group as a resource and networking opportunity

Be debt free (the one exception to this is that we may still have a mortgage, but hopefully it will be at least half paid off).

  • Next week: check the current student loan total and mortgage total
  • Next month: calculate additional income necessary to make student loan payments, if and when they come due, based on current totals and potential totals if Rob continues in school
  • Every month: make a small payment toward student loan principle
  • Next year: design a plan to payoff the student loans early
  • In three years: discuss and develop a plan to pay our mortgage off more quickly, depending on current interest rates

 Cultivate a family lifestyle of fitness

  • Next week: Invite my husband to take a walk with me
  • Next month: Invite my husband on a bike ride
  • Every month: Take a walk as a family
  • Next year: Develop a family physical activity that occurs at least once a week
  • In three years: Consider making a financial investment in family fitness such as bike trailers

 Develop a meaningful relationship with Jesus and be able to pass that deep faith on to my children

  • Next week: Reflect on what goals I have for myself regarding spiritual growth
  • Every week: Do a Family devotional
  • Next month: Create a list of new habits or behaviors that will help me to deepen my relationship with Jesus
  • Next year: Begin family Advent devotional traditions
  • In three years: Have started family devotional traditions surrounding both Advent and Lent, begin incorporating a family or child’s bedtime devotional.

 This is still a daunting task. I can’t get past the nagging feeling that I’m doing this all wrong. But I can’t stop now. After all this work, I want to actually accomplish something.