I’ve become an advocate for making slow changes. Taking things one step at a time until, finally, you’re a little closer to where you want to be.
Making big changes all at once has never worked for me. While I have my laundry list of tasks I’d like to do, upgrades I’d like to make, and aspects of the person I’d love to grow into; I try to focus on one thing at a time.
I’ve found it’s so much more effective. If you go into a new year and decide you’re going to drink more water, eat better, read tons of books, and become a whole new you and it’s going to all happen NOW, it leaves a lot of room for overwhelm and eventually, failure. That’s why I like setting a theme for my year and having a few intentions to help me prioritize the important things.
HOW TO SET INTENTIONS
In all my years of dreaming big and working towards different goals, I’ve been a little all over the place. There are so many versions of ourselves to work towards so I’ve had to find a few tips to help me stay focused on what is really important.
REFLECT | This may be an obvious one, but it’s also very important. I love to reflect as much as possible, but a New Years reflection is a big one. It’s the perfect opportunity to check in on everything in order to get a good idea of how much you’ve done and how much you want/can do.
Here are a few ways I like to reflect:
Free Writing. Just sit down and write about the past year. Anything and everything. As much or as little detail as you’d like.
Pros/Cons List. Think about everything you loved and everything you want to change from the last year.
Top 5. Pick 5 things that stood out the most or your five most important areas of life. Think about all the ways you appreciated and poured into them and all the things you wish you would’ve done more of. (Definitely don’t forget to add yourself to this list. I think you can never have too much self-love.)
BUCKET LIST | After reflecting, make one giant bucket list. You can make this a bucket list for life or just for this year. Use your reflections as a motivator by adding things you can do to improve any cons or have more of the pros from the past year. Think about all the things you’d like to do, have, be, see, etc. Absolutely anything. From more down-time to climbing Mount Everest. I like to cover as much as I can in making this list and dream super big. Reality is out the window for this part. I don’t think about what I realistically can do right now. I just think of everything I want from life because believing it can happen, even for a moment, is the first step in making it happen.
TOP 5 | A top 5 for the new year is a great way to set your priorities. Ours are Home, Health, Relationships, Self, and Finances, but this is really up to you. You can use the top 5 things that stood out in the previous year, pick 5 things that need the most improvement, or five areas of your life that are most important. These should be the driving force behind the intentions you set for the new year.
PUT IT IN WRITING | Once you’ve gone through everything, write your top 5 on a blank piece of paper (or in a note on the computer, whatever works best for you). Look to your bucket list and fill each item in with realistic goals for this year. Remember how long a year is, but also think about how much change you can really endure all at once. This should be the most realistic part of your day dreams for the new year. Think about what you can handle financially, time limitations you may have, and the work that really goes into changing or adding to your life. There is no point in setting unattainable goals that will just make you feel bad in the end.
FIRST STEP | After you’ve set your intentions, think about some first steps you can make. If there are habits you want to create, pick 1 to master. If there are tasks you want to complete, pick 3 to brainstorm and get started on. Just remember, you can always add more things later and it’s not a race. There is always room for improvement and there’s always something that needs to be done. There are 11 more months in the year and you have all of them and every year after that to move yourself closer to who you want to be. Start small so you can give everything as much attention as it deserves.
OUR 2019 INTENTIONS
Ian and I have been in transition since we started dating. We’ve always been the types to want to move forward, quickly. We like planning for the next step before our feet are even on the one right in front of us and it’s helped us to get to where we are today .
I think our biggest motivation is stress... we don’t want it. We know we’ll have it. We’ve accepted that it’s a part of life, but the feeling of being behind, like time is moving faster than we can handle, is not a feeling we like to have.
I’ve talked a bit about our word for the year and biggest goal, but there are so many little details in our lives that we want to embrace. We’ve spent a lot of time working towards stability, but we’ve also learned (this year especially) that time moves quickly. Kids grow up fast and they learn even faster. They see everything we do and they want to do it too. Our second child is only two months away and our first has officially entered his formative years. The ones that will shape the very core of his personality.
Now, more than ever, it’s time to start shaping our household and we have a few ideas on how to begin that process. Most importantly, we know we want intention. We want for there to be purpose behind the things we own and the actions we make. We want our children to learn that life is what you make it, so you need to pay attention and think about how you’re spending your time and resources.
On New Years Eve, Ian and I took some time to sit down and write out our intentions. We thought about all the ways we could be a little more in the moment in each aspect of our lives in order to make each thing the best it can be.
We’ve spent the last year embracing minimalism and we’ve just recently ventured into the idea of simple and slow living. All of these things have not only brought us closer together, but it’s really created a sense of peace within our home that I can see we all benefit from. Between the three of us, we are happier and less stressed simply because our home is in order. And because of our intention with the things we own, it’s really not difficult to keep it that way.
But there are a few dynamic changes in our home that are happening. Ian works from home now, I’m a stay-at-home-mom now, Oliver is starting to engage in more imaginative play with toys and will begin a little bit of schooling this year, and we’re welcoming a whole other life into our home who will have his own set of needs and things to indulge in.
So here are our main intentions for this year in the home:
ATMOSPHERE | Having a clean space was a big project for last year and now it’s time to add a few elements that bring a sense of calm and peace to our days. One thing Ian and I love are candles and music. Something about lighting a candle and turning on a playlist really sets the mood and no matter where your brain ventures off to, you always have something pulling you back into the moment. So for Christmas, Ian and I bought ourselves a little bluetooth speaker that can carry any tune throughout our house and I’ll be looking into making little beeswax or soy candles so we can have that process of lighting candles without worrying about the cost of candles. I’m also getting into essential oils a little more this year so the gentle smell of a diffuser may become a part of our atmosphere at home.
OWNERSHIP | Because we rent and move a lot, it’s been a little difficult to create sense of ownership in our home. To put it into perspective how often our environment changes, Oliver is 18 months and will be moving into his forth home in the next few days.
Signature Scent. Because our physical home changes and we haven’t settled into a permanent place yet, we’ve decided to work on a signature scent for our home this year. Something that is personal to us that can fill our home to give ourselves and our kids that little sense of comfort that comes with familiarity. (grapefruit, vanilla, and cedar wood anyone?)
Familiar Spaces. Along with a familiar scent to come home to, we want to make our space cozy. We’ve perfected our room and the living room for the most part; but having a functional play area and a cozy bedroom for the boys, along with an office space for Ian, has become a new necessity. So in our new home, we’ll be making Oliver’s room a little more cozy and we’ll have a play area/office where we can all hang out together. We’ll also be getting Charlie set up with a cozy spot in our bedroom and eventually merging the boys into the same room. Really, we just want to get very moved in and settled into our new place so we can create a real sense of home and routine.
SUSTAINABILITY | In the past few months, I’ve become aware and in support of the zero waste movement that’s going on. So among the changes I’ve already started making to help our home become a little more sustainable, I have two major things I want to work on for this year: the kid’s things and the kitchen. Specifically with diapers, snacks/food storage, and paper towels. Those may be some of the areas we waste most in so I’ll be embracing cloth diapers with Charlie, creating a more sustainable mom bag for going out, attempting to bring in less packaging from food items, and letting go of paper towels. It may not seem like much, but I think it’ll make a big impact on how much we’re wasting.
We’ve done a great job of eating healthier and at home more this year. But of course, there’s always room for improvement.
One thing that changed towards the end of this year is that we’ve started preferring apartment living rather than having an actual house. It’s been a really positive change in so many ways, but because we prefer living in higher stories, we’ve gotten a little lazy about getting out of the house regularly which in turn has made our physical activity a little abysmal. Sure, the 2-3 flights of stairs are good exercise, but we’ve gotten in the habit of only using them when we need to.
So we’ve got some pretty simple, but big impact intentions for our health this year.
DAILY WALKS | One habit we got into when we lived in an actual house were daily walks. It was good for all of us. Walking is so therapeutic for our minds and bodies. Getting kids out of the house, at least once a day, is really good for their mental health and creativity. The dog enjoys a good walk everyday (and maybe won’t pack on so many lbs from eating Oliver’s food all the time). We adults benefit from stepping outside of our chores and obligations to take a second to breath in a little fresh air. So this year, we are going to make an effort to take a family walk everyday.
SEASONAL EATING | I’ve seen this concept thrown around here and there, and this year I’d like to give it a try. We’re already pretty good about eating at home, but I really want to make our meals more plant based with seasonal fruits and vegetables to give us access to the freshest ingredients possible. I do like using meal plan subscriptions for some of our meals, but for the ones I plan on my own, I definitely want us eating fresher ingredients.
TEAS, TINCTURES, AND ELIXIRS | I love drinking fancy things. Anything. Maybe it’s the former barista in me, but putting together a delicious drink of any kind is extremely satisfying. Teas, tinctures, and elixirs have been catching my eye recently and I want to implement them into my regular routine. The benefits from these natural herbs are unbeatable and I think it’d be a fun thing to get into this year. -It may also help with the giant coffee addiction we’ve accumulated over the years.
As our family grows and dynamics change, we’ve noticed that time together is something you really need to pay attention to. There are so many different relationships you need to foster within a family and the more members you add, the more relationships there are to take care of.
So we really want to give every relationship an opportunity to flourish by setting up some routines to help solidify a foundation for all of us. Nothing extreme. We don’t need to spend a million dollars to be closer. But setting intentional time, on purpose, is something we really want to do.
DATE NIGHT | We need a weekly date night. We spend a lot of time studying the dynamics and situations in which couples flourish and flounder. Not only is it interesting, but digging into different statistics and ideas is a good way to learn from other’s mistakes and help your relationship to be as strong as possible. So, we’ve learned that weekly date nights are crucial for a healthy relationship. Between work and kids and the house, it’s way too easy to forget each other. But in the end, our kids will grow up and create families of their own, so our relationship needs to stay a priority through every walk of life.
FAMILY TIME | One habit we’ve been able to get into is a weekly family outing. Well, it may not be weekly right now, but it is frequent. So now, we want to make it a very intentional habit. A time for all of us to go into the world and experience things together. Whether it’s a coffee date or a trip to the zoo, just something to give us a regular moment to experience things together. -And if the weather is not permitting or spirits are low, movie nights or game nights are always a good choice!
INDIVIDUAL QUALITY TIME | The final dynamic we think is really important to foster are the one-on-one, personal relationships between all of us. Between Ian and each of our children, me and each of our children, and our children together. These are relationships that can either last a lifetime or fall apart as they get older. Obviously, we would love for our kids to truly want to be a part of this family and feel like a part of this family. So we’re going to make an effort, at least once a month, for each of these dynamics to have an opportunity to experience a moment together. Whether it’s one parent taking one kid out to do something fun or making sure the boys have room to explore their own dynamic, we want to make sure every individual is growing closer together.
While Oliver can’t really express his own personal goals yet, we all have individual goals for this year to help us evolve personally.
BLOG | I’ve really enjoyed the life my blog has taken on. At this point, I have a solid work flow and I’m keeping it realistic and slow so I can stay consistent here while also being present as a mom and wife. My biggest goal for the blog this year is to find my community. To expand my outreach in order to make it the resource I’d love to see it become. Along with that, I have a few ideas on different things I’ll be launching to really help people embrace the stress-free life I’ve been able to find.
WARDROBE | I’ve loved embracing a smaller wardrobe this past year and now it’s officially time to get a few standard basics going. Once my body is back to normal, I will be on the hunt for my perfect pair of jeans. It may sound silly, but jeans are the staple of my outfits and wardrobe and I haven’t had a pair that really feels right for a very long time. So I want to take my time to find the pair that fits perfectly and goes with everything so I can have a solid foundation to build on.
Music | This one is more for Ian, but we both need to embrace our musical interest a little more. We’re going to make a point to record a little more this year by creating an easily accessible space to do so. We’ll be selling a few things we don’t use and replacing them with items that make playing music in an apartment a little more realistic so we can really get into that passion again.
Making | I’ve always loved the idea of drawing, hand lettering, and general crafting. I have the ability to be a jack of all trades with crafting and the idea of having my own Etsy shop where I can share little home goods that I make is a long time dream of mine. The only problem is, I never make time to actually become skilled in anything. So I’m going to take this year to space out at the computer and TV a little less and work on some of my crafting skills so I can one day make something that’s worth sharing.
OLIVER | I’ve taken the liberty of giving Oliver a few goals this year because, well, I’m the mom so I get to do that.
Potty Training | This year we would love to work on potty training. He’s taken a big interest in the toilet and how it works so honestly, I think it’d be fun for him to be able to use it himself (and fun for me to not have double diaper duty - or doody, if you know what I mean).
Homeschooling | I’d also like to find a creative way to start slowly schooling him this year. Nothing major. Just basic numbers, shapes, and colors. But I would love if I could fill his playroom with toys that promote imagination AND learning so he can cultivate a passion for understanding more rather than get lost in “mandatory schooling.” Really, I would just like to make a point to teach him creatively in a fun environment, especially in these early years.
This is a huge one for us. It’s the first year we actually have the ability to set realistic financial goals and we feel relieved, excited, anxious, and ready to get started on creating a little financial stability for our family.
INVEST | This is a big one for us. We’ve never really imagined investing, but we have found something we’d love to invest in that we believe in so we’re putting some money into the stock market this year! I don’t know anything about stocks so I’m not going to even begin to give an ounce of advice on this. For us, we’ve just found one, very specific thing to put money into and that’s about as far as it goes.
SAVE | It’s really important to us that we view our money as ours. As in mine, Ian’s, AND our children’s. Personally, I’ve never been one to understand why people set up funds for their kids to receive after they’ve passed. There are so many reasons why that is a weird concept to me. Why should you only help someone after you’re gone? Why not help your family in times of need while you’re here and enjoy your wealth with everyone while you’re still around? That is, if you have the resources. Life insurance and assets are one thing, but just hoarding money until you die is a little weird to me. So, mini-rant aside, we want to attempt to have savings accounts for us and our children that are fairly similar in amounts. I don’t necessarily plan on giving our children large sums of money for no reason and it’s also important to me that they learn to sustain themselves by working and paying for things on their own. But I believe there are things that are our responsibility to pay for as their parents and I want to be prepared. All of that to say, I want to start saving now for all of us so when our kids reach different stages in life or run into times of need, we are there for them.
DEBT | We’ll also be starting our debt-free journey this year. We’ve been paying our minimums, but that is no way to actually tackle debt. So now we’ve reached the point of being able to officially put in enough money to really pay off our debt. We’re lowering our rent, we’re going to spend much more intentionally, and we’re going to make sure that our first priority in finances is to pay down the giant mountain of debt we have. I’ll be sharing this journey here on the blog because I think it’s important to share the realities of paying off debt.
Candles in the home, simple outings as a family, a quick walk in the world, a small breath of fresh air. All these things seem almost too small to notice, but that’s why we’re focusing on them. Life is truly in the details so ultimately, we want to live within them. All the little details that make up a lifetime, we don’t want to let them pass us by.
Ultimately, we want to be prepared for the future, but alive in the moment.