Eight Months Into 2017

Aug 31, 2017

Here we are at the end of August, eight months into the year with four months left to go. I've managed to not forget about the goals I made at the beginning of the year, which is a small victory in and of itself, and I have even made slow, incremental progress on each one.

Back in March, I talked about my overarching theme for the year (based on a quote by Marjorie Pay Hinckley), my five project goals, and my smaller weekly goals.

As a refresher, Sister Hinckley's quote can be summed up as follows: live simply and fully, always think of others, and don't be pretentious.

I still love that quote, and I'm still inspired by it, but here's the thing: I am not Marjorie Pay Hinckley. I wish I was, but I'm not. And perhaps, when she was thirty-two years old, she wasn't that person either. I have to hope that age and experience and perspective really are all they're cracked up to be.

This quote has been a good way for me to acknowledge some things about myself, such as: I will probably never be the house in the neighborhood that welcomes all children into my kitchen for a snack and a chat; I am uncomfortable talking to family and friends about hard things because I'm afraid of saying the wrong thing; I have a hard time being flexible, which means I like giving service on a schedule rather than on a whim.

Marjorie Hinckley's words have made me take a good, hard look at myself and celebrate my strengths and accept my weaknesses. More than anything, this quote has made me try to become a better me rather than a different me. I have more to say on this, but it'll keep for another post. The short answer is I think about these words often, and I'm attempting to internalize them while still being true to myself.

It's easier to see progress with my project goals because they're much more physical and tangible. So far, I haven't completed any of them, but I've made headway on all of them. So that's a win, right?

Here they are again:
  • Improve my photo editing skills by learning to use a new program. I purchased the class, "The Essential Guide to Lightroom" on Craftsy. Mike and I have been watching the lessons together. It's been fun. Have I edited a single photo yet? No, but it will come.
  • Set up a filing system and file the last fifteen years of papers. I'm chipping away at this one. It's something I can easily work on for a half hour here and a half hour there. I've found some fun things (I forgot I wrote my own personal history for a college class!), and I'm also amazed at all the things I thought were worth saving (letters from "friends" I can't even remember). I probably still have at least fifteen hours' worth of work, but I'm just happy to have the end in sight.
  • Submit an article to a magazine. I have three drafts sitting on my computer. It's just a short article for one of our church magazines. I should just submit it already, but I just don't feel happy with it yet. I'm trying to decide if I'm going to have Mike read it first or just send it in. I'm feeling a little bit like a closet writer (even though I'm telling all of you about it here).
  • Complete my reading goals. I already did my mid-year report here. I'm feeling good about all of them except the housecleaning book. I've done the math, and it would take me 40+ hours to finish it, and honestly, I don't think it's worth my time. I'll skip around and read some of the relevant sections and call it good.
  • Take a knitting class. I bought the "Modern Stranded Knitting" class on Craftsy. I'm about halfway through the cowl sampler, and it's been so much fun learning how to do two-color knitting. I was so scared to use my left hand, but it's been a piece of cake (I am left handed, so I guess it shouldn't be too surprising). I still would love to take a class at one of my local yarn stores, but this has been fun in the meantime, and it's so convenient. 

But I think my smaller weekly goals are probably my favorite thing I've implemented in 2017. Every Sunday evening, I write down a few goals (usually between five and ten) for the upcoming week. These goals seem to run the gamut--anything from character improvements to house projects to using my free time more productively.

One of my favorite goals has been to "memorize a hymn," so it gets added fairly regularly to my weekly lists. In some ways, it doesn't seem like it really belongs on a to-do list, but I'll tell you, it has done wonders to improve my mood, fill up my soul, and make me actually want to accomplish other things.

A sampling of some of my other recent goals:
  • Be in bed by 10:30 one night
  • Read two Mercy Watsons with Clark (I realized some of my favorite children's books were being woefully overlooked with my fourth child, plus sometimes it's really liberating for me to have to sit down and do something with him because I let other things take precedence otherwise.)
  • Exercise one day (it's rather pitiful that I was exercising so infrequently that one day was actually an accomplishment) 
  • Do thirty minutes of filing
  • Have a heart-to-heart with Aaron, Max, and Bradley
  • Buy new flour/sugar containers
  • Reply to all blog comments (have you noticed I'm often very tardy in my replies?!)
  • Decide on a theme for the 2017-2018 school year

I've always been a checklist type of gal, but for my current stage of life, a weekly, rather than a daily, checklist seems to be much more effective. These lists have helped me tackle some things I've been avoiding for a long time, but they've also given me permission to do the things that really bring me joy. And they've helped me make more meaningful connections with the people I love. They're effective because I keep the list short enough to be manageable, and it's always a good mix of fun and work.

So that's where I'm at right now. I still have a long way to go, but it feels good to look back and realize I'm moving in a general forward direction.


  1. I LOVED EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS! I'm always looking for ways to improve myself, but I love that you've made those often abstract things (like in your Marjorie Hinckley quote) more concrete with actual things you can check off. This year, I've also been doing a weekly checklist (and a monthly one too, which I fill with slightly more time-consuming items generally), and it's made SUCH a difference in my productivity and well-being, esp. because I also make sure to put down more "fun" things on there, instead of just the nagging tasks.

    Anyway, I always love hearing about other people's goals, and it sounds like you're doing a great job! Keep it up!

  2. I love your evaluation of your personality in relation to Sis. Hinckley's. I believe that I'm more like you, but aging and continuing to re-evaluate my priorities is mellowing (or molding?) me. What's your favorite book by or about Sis. Hinckley?

  3. Love this and love you! I wrote a long comment on my phone and it got swallowed by the interwebs :( but I will try to recreate it here. I love your weekly goal lists, especially the fact that they seem so attainable. I often get caught in the "raising the bar" mode of, "I want to start exercising so might as well plan to do it six days a week" and then fail miserably. I have found that daily lists of 2-3 goals are super effective for me because not only am I generally able to check off those lists, but it feels so good to look back and see that I've accomplished all I set out to do (even if it is at the expense of the million other things that still need inevitably need doing). I also feel like between this post and several chats we have had recently that you are getting really good (or maybe you always have been) at knowing and accepting yourself. It's such an admirable quality and I'm sure it makes life easier to boot!

  4. I loved this post. Been thinking about a theme for us too, what did you come up with?

    You're inspiring in the thoughtful way you live!

  5. Photoshop is not the only one program that can help you edit your photos. You can find more resize image tools and color splash effects on the web.


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