Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Move Forward in 2015

Dear friends,

Are you ready to move forward in 2015? It's been popular the past several years for bloggers to choose "one word" for the coming year.  In 2013 I chose REFRESH. I didn't do this again in 2014, but I already know what mine is for 2015: FORWARD!

My ten children and
four grandchildren on Christmas
Now that Christmas frenzy is over, I'm eager to start the new year off right. Yes, I'm definitely taking the time to have fun with my family before school starts again, but I'm also trying to be productive around the house. For now I'm mainly focusing on organizing (starting with my own bedroom and closet), paperwork, and personal goal setting.

I need to make some MAJOR progress in so many areas, but I realize that I have to take changes in small increments. I've felt stuck for so long in the ruts of my own attitudes and habits and now it's time to ditch the procrastination and MOVE FORWARD one step at a time!

Let's think a little bit more about goals!


I found this quote by Orrin Woodward recently: "A goal is planned conflict against the status quo." I'm ready for that!

I decided to set goals in several key areas of life. They are:

  • Family - nurturing and training my children
  • Health and Nutrition - diet, exercise, medical care
  • Homemaking - organization and household routines
  • Home Schooling - just one child this year!
  • Spiritual and Emotional Growth - reestablishing devotional life and getting more involved in fellowship
  • Personal and Professional Development - productivity skills, creativity, and preparing to re-enter the work force in a couple of years
For each of these areas, I wrote several goals, along with specific actions. One of my adult daughters recently posted on Facebook about goals needing to be S.M.A.R.T. That stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. When I worked on formulating my own 2015 goals in the past few days, I tried to think of that. I asked questions like, "Why do I want to do this? Is it necessary?" and "What steps do I need to take? Can I pull it off?" and "When is my deadline for each phase?" and "How often do I want to do this?" and "Why am I not already succeeding at this? What is my weak spot here?"

For example, on my Health and Nutrition page, one of my goals is consistent exercise. Here is what I wrote:
  • Exercise for muscle strength, cardio health, weight loss, joint relief.
    • Work out at the YMCA at least once a week during spring semester and twice a week during the summer. Do at least 2,500 strides on elliptical and assigned reps on at least four FitLinxx weight machines. Start swimming in April.
    • Walk or bike one mile at least once a week. (Fix bike tires and find helmet.)
    • Use exercise DVDs and resistance bands at least twice a month.
For each major goal area, I also included a list of books I already own that could help me succeed. To make this more practical, I gathered all of these books and placed them on one shelf right next to my desk.

In addition to getting insight from books and web sites, I'm also asking for help from others. My 22 year old daughter is going to help me tweak my goal list. I am talking to my other kids - especially the six who still live at home - about what they need from me and how they can cooperate with what I'm doing. I have been meeting with two different Christian counselors, one to help me with accomplishing my goals and the other to help with parenting issues. I am also planning to consult a nutritionist since I have a few medical conditions that are food sensitive.

I am using iPod apps to help me keep track of goals, schedules, and tasks. The three I use most are ToodleDo, Calendar, and Evernote.

I also think, "What can I do to increase the likelihood of following through with each goal?" One of my teenagers who has been asking for healthier home cooked meals has promised to help me plan and cook. That will be fun and keep me on track, and will also go toward my "teach my kids household skills" goals. I don't particularly like cleaning up after meals and usually put it off until just before I go to bed. I am going to try getting it down by 8 PM from now on, but I realized I'd enjoy it more and stick with the task longer if I could listen to music at the same time. That would also help me accomplish another goal of playing more Christian music to help me grow spiritually. That's why I bought an extra iPod speaker for the kitchen yesterday. I listened to Sara Groves' song "Strangely Ready" while putting away dishes after dinner. Seems like a good soundtrack for moving forward!

Another problem area is keeping track of receipts and expenses for the family bank account and my personal credit union account. I recently bought a pretty flip lid box for my desk (fits behind my laptop) to hold receipts so they won't overflow my wallet. I can download transactions from my credit union's web site into a spreadsheet. Tonight I had the computer sort this list by payee, and then I took my pile of receipts (six weeks' worth, including a lot of Christmas ones) and sorted them by payee into piles on my floor. That made it a lot easier to match them up than doing it by date. Then I just had to itemize the expenses into categories on my spreadsheet. However, what would make this a lot less arduous is becoming disciplined enough to take 20 minutes every week instead of letting it pile up and forgetting what I bought. (It's not always clear from the receipts.) I need to schedule a time for that, but I also have to get over the emotional block of not wanting to deal with finances. It's not so hard once I get going with it.

Then there is home schooling my nine year old. I've been dabbling lately with a workshop approach to math instead of relying solely on her (frustrating) workbook.  The goal is not to "finish the book" but to build and maintain sustainable fluency in the key skills. Doing the work hands-on and orally seems to work best for her. I'll be reading more on this next week, and gathering my supplemental materials. While I was organizing my bookshelves, I found a book with fun paper math manipulative pieces to punch out. Works for me!

That's enough about my goals!  Here are a few web sites to help you get going with yours!

I'm planning to attend a free "New Eyes for a New Year" webinar by Lisa Grace Byrne at noon on New Year's Day. It's about self-care for "More Calm, More Clarity, More Vitality in 2015." Join me?  (P.S. I had already signed up for this workshop since I get her e-mails, but then I found this guest post on Simple Homeschool, which I also receive by e-mail: How Small Shifts Can Lead to Big Impact.  Be sure to read it, especially if you can't watch the webinar! Here is how her article starts... "All around us there are messages about the New Year — new possibilities, new opportunities for change, ways to set your resolutions and meet them! Do you feel like you already missed the boat? For years if I didn’t wrap up all my new year’s dreams, goals and action plans in a pretty little bow right when the clock struck midnight New Year’s Eve … I might as well just can my ideas and settle back into life as-is. And when I did think about what kind of growth and change I wanted in the new year, I bought into the idea that either I had to go for massive change or give up shifting direction at all."  So true!  Lisa goes on to explain how it's the little things that often make a big difference - especially since they are doable for busy moms!

Oh! One last link that I found after I posted this article: Stay Focusd is a Google Chrome extension that can block out web sites for a specific period of time so you can focus on work. Give it a try!


This post is part of my Get It Done series. The other entries so far are:

Moving forward,

Virginia Knowles


  1. You have a beautiful family. I agree changes comes in small increments. Good for you.

  2. Great post!! Full of wonderful tips and encouragement for us all.