What My Plans For 2017 Look Like . . .Two Months In

Mar 3, 2017

Lest you think all goal posts are out of fashion from now until January 2018, I beg to differ. March actually seems like the perfect time to talk about the 2017 goals I made back in January.

For one thing, at this point, I know I'm serious about these goals. This isn't just wishful thinking or false ambition or following the crowd. I've spent the last eight weeks or so tweaking and fine tuning, implementing and strategizing, and, while I still have a long way to go towards actually accomplishing anything, I'm far enough along on my path that I feel comfortable sharing it with you.

My blueprint for the year can be broken into three parts:
  1. One overarching theme
  2. Five big, project-type goals
  3. Smaller weekly goals (that often go towards making progress on #1 and #2)
Several weeks before the end of 2016, I came across this quote by Marjorie Pay Hinckley (wife of Gordon B. Hinckley):
"I don't want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny sports car, wearing beautifully tailored clothes, my hair expertly coiffed, and with long, perfectly manicured fingernails. 
"I want to drive up in a station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout camp. I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbor's children. I want to be there with a little dirt under my fingernails from helping to weed someone's garden. I want to be there with children's sticky kisses on my cheeks and the tears of a friend on my shoulder.
"I want the Lord to know I was really here and that I really lived."
I'd heard it before, but that time, it struck with unusual force. It perfectly summed up the kind of person I wanted to be--a person that, regrettably, I was a long way from being. The truth was, there were many days when I didn't want to wear that smudge of peanut butter with pride but was instead embarrassed about it because I felt like it made me look incompetent. 

But when I examined the perfectly manicured fingernails and the sticky kisses side by side, I knew which one I wanted to choose. The question for myself was, If sticky kisses are what I want in the long run, why is it so hard to be okay with them in the day-to-day moments? 

That quote embodies a life well-lived, which is truly what I want for my own life (who doesn't?), but in many ways, it's considerably less glamorous than the alternative, and sometimes it's difficult to keep things in their proper perspective. 

That is why I instantly latched onto that quote as my theme for 2017. Similar to a word of the year (but more verbose), I knew that that mental picture (the station wagon, the dirt, the tears) was what I wanted to govern my actions during the next twelve months. 

After I'd settled on it, I commissioned my friend, Sarah, to artistically render the quote so I could hang it on my bedroom wall. I knew it would be easier for me to become that person if it was staring me in the face day in and day out (and with something this pretty, its looming presence isn't a bad thing at all).

Once I had my overall them for the year firmly in place, I focused on a few project-type goals. These were things I'd wanted to accomplish for a long time (some of them for years) but hadn't made time for. Committing to do them in 2017 gave me both flexibility (I have an entire year) and a deadline (by December 31st, they'll be done).

They're not anything special or grand, but I'm going to record them here for the sake of a little more accountability:
  • Improve my photo editing skills by learning how to use a new program (probably Lightroom). This is one of the goals that has already been tweaked a little. It started out as "Buy and learn to use Photoshop," but then after talking to a few photographers, I realized that it wasn't really the features of Photoshop I wanted. I'm not really interested in altering or adding to my photos--just enhancing what's already there. If any of you have any tips or suggestions or know of a really good online class (since I'm extremely technically challenged), I'm all ears. 
  • Set up a filing system and file the last fifteen years of papers. Can I admit something that will make any die-hard organizers out there cringe? At this very moment, in my guest room closet, there is a big, cardboard box filled with letters, papers, cards, and memorabilia. Besides that, there is a filing cabinet with randomly labeled file folders for my kids, doctor's appointments, etc.And in addition to that, Mike has his own system for bills, documents, warranties, and other important information. It has worked, and yet, it could be so much better. For the last few years, it's been far enough out of sight that I've tried to forget about it, but we need to turn the guest room into a bedroom for a couple of our kids, so it's time to confront the beast.
  • Submit an article to a magazine. I don't have grand ambitions to become a writer, but I've had a couple of ideas for articles that I could submit to one of our church magazines, so I'm going to do it. 
  • Complete my reading goals. I've already written about them in great detail here. I'm looking forward to the ways they will stretch me as a reader and as a person (as they always do). 
  • Take a knitting class. This is my one, completely all fun goal. I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to do for it yet, but I anticipate it being enjoyable. There are a couple of local yarn stores that offer monthly classes (but none of them have struck my fancy yet), or I'd be fine going with an online class. I'm interested in learning how to knit fairisle or a sweater or socks. I'm keeping my options open, and in the meantime, I'm knitting (a lot).
And finally, in addition to these big goals, or maybe I should say in concurrence with them, every Sunday evening, I sit down with my journal and plan out smaller goals to be accomplished that week. This has actually been one of the best things I've done for myself this year. There is always so much that I want to get done, but now, at the beginning of the week, I look at my calendar and the days ahead and decide what's truly important and manageable and realistic for that specific week.

As I plan out my weekly goals, I find myself turning to my 2017 quote, as well as my project goals, for guidance. I also look at my calendar and take into consideration anything I've already committed to. And I also look back over the week and examine those moments where I felt like a failure or that left me irritated, and I try to figure out what I could do differently to avoid such moments in the future.

Here's a small sampling of goals that have made it onto the weekly lists so far:
  •  Limit Instagram to five times a day (if you're anything like me, you know it's so easy to open it up a million times just to see if there's anything new)
  • Don't yell if someone spills something (this was prompted by an overreaction on my part the week before when Clark dropped his cereal bowl and milk splashed everywhere--there's something about spilled milk that makes me go a little psycho; this was also inspired by Sister Hinckley's quote because I don't think that kind of woman gets so worked up over spilled milk)
  • Memorize a hymn
  • Clean out corner cupboard in kitchen 
  • Finish book for book club 
  • Figure out the difference between Photoshop and Lightroom (this was one of my early goals--I knew that I needed to spend a little bit of time researching before I could actually get to work on my photo editing goal.)
  • Read 5% in housekeeping book (related to my reading goals)
  • Write 2017 goals posts (I literally put this on the list for the week, and look! I'm accomplishing it.) 
These weekly planning sessions have worked so much better for my stage of life right now than a daily to-do list (which used to work so well when I was a college student). As much as I love structure, I really have to stay flexible in order to be available for my kids. However, a weekly plan is helping me use whatever open time I have more wisely because I know which things are important for me to accomplish. It's also helping me consistently work on the character flaws and weaknesses I want to improve so that I can be that confident, gracious, kind, self-sacrificing, happy, flexible, and fun person from Sister Hinckley's quote.

This is 2017. And by the end of it, I hope to be at least a little more like the person I want to be.


  1. Go you! These are awesome goals! I especially like your idea of the Sunday planning session.
    In the midst of my own file cleanout right now actually, I may just add--shred or throw away anything you possibly can! I just went through a file of old letters from pen pals--I didn't even remember who most of them were! Why did I keep them for 15 years?!
    Hopefully, you are not the paper saver I am. At least I have gotten much better about immediately shredding things that I know aren't important. This morning my goal is to find out if I can shred old student loan statements--like 10 years old. Anyway, best of luck!

    1. Oh thanks, Linnae! I have a feeling when I go through my big box of papers, I'm going to be finding a lot of things similar to your 15-year-old pen pal letters, so I fully anticipate shredding lots of stuff! :-)

  2. I love this! Your year mantra, the weekly goals,etc. I hope you occasionally write abt how your weekly goals are working out. Because that is my reality & encourages me to do the same.

    1. Thanks, Marseille! I'm planning on checking in with my goals as the year progresses. It helps me stay consistent and be accountable!

  3. Supposedly I have an old Lightroom program on my computer (one from before they started doing the subscription thing), and I've always said I'm going to learn how to use it, but I've never even opened it. I'll be interested to hear about your progress on that goal, let me know if you find a good class or what you learn. Maybe I'll make it a goal one of these years too.

    1. That's exactly what we have too! And I've honestly never opened it or tried to do anything with it--it feels super intimidating to me. But that's what I'm going to start with and I'll go from there!

  4. One of my very favorite quotes! I love your goals!

    1. It's such a good one, isn't it? That Marjorie Hinckley--she's something special.

  5. Hi there, is your friend willing to sell the quote as a PDF? I would love to have that in my home.

    1. Probably! Email me at sunlitpages[at]gmail[dot]com, and I'll be happy to get you in touch with her!


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