2023 Goals

4 January 2023

As I worked my way through my PowerSheets and moved on to naming my goals, I felt some of the familiar anxiety creep in. This part of the process often trips me up: I dive eagerly into the guided questions and have no expectation that I’ll live out my goals perfectly, but in the middle of the process, I’m realizing that I do have expectations for the goals themselves. I want them to be well-organized and meaningful. I want them to fire me up. I want them to be winsome and interesting. I want anyone who reads them to immediately understand what I’m aiming for and the heart behind them.

Here’s something I already know that gave me fresh comfort in this season: I don’t have to be worried about whether my goals are perfectly named and framed, because I know I am headed in the right direction. My goals (however I organize them) are aligned with what matters to me and with my vision for the future (thank you, PowerSheets Prep Work!). I’m confident I’ll make the right adjustments and pivots along the way, and will fill in the next best action steps and choices, because I know what matters. That much is abundantly clear. My goals are just a plan, and plans can change.

That being said, I am really excited about my 2023 goals! They feel free and loose and fun, and I believe they help me steward what God has graciously entrusted to me.

This year, I decided to organize my goals into three pillars, based on my great aunt’s life motto: every day, seek to learn something new, do something kind, and see something beautiful. This is a prescriptive that has been repeated in my family for as long as I can remember. Of course, these pillars are loose, and many goals could fall under any of the three – but it seemed like a fun way to inject a little novelty into my goal setting this year. Without further ado…

Learn Something New

1. Create a book for the first ten years of Em for Marvelous. It’s baaaaaaack! This goal first surfaced in 2021 (I made no progress). I recommitted to it in 2022 (still no progress). In 2023, we’re going to hope that a slightly-freer schedule will give me the breathing room needed to make it happen, because it really does matter to me: while I place tremendous value on sharing here with friends near and far (and LOVE hearing from you when a post touches you – truly, one of my favorite things!), I have long thought of this place as a repository of stories, memories, and wisdom for my children. I’d like to create a physical book for them of the best posts from the first ten years of my writing here (I’m in year 16 now!).

I’m pretty sure I’m going to use Blurb to create the book, and using their software will require me to learn something new!

2. Tend to our home trouble spots in a new way. This is 2023’s boring goal :) We have a number of spots in our home that eternally frustrate me. No matter how well I declutter and organize them, they inevitably degenerate into low-grade chaos after a few months.

First, I’m learning a new way of relating to these spots: I’m choosing to see them less as a failure of my home-keeping skills, and instead as a natural byproduct of a growing, active family making the most of every corner of their well-loved home. (Expectations, people! See what I did there? If I expect the chaos to descend instead of treating these as one-and-done spots, I won’t be as frustrated with each subsequent decluttering session.)

Second, I’m going to try a new way of helping these spots thrive: once I’ve named them, I’ll assign them each to a month of the year and then address them one at a time, in rotation. I hope this will be a sustainable system to keep up with – even as it reduces my mental load – and that it will minimize my frustration with any creeping chaos, knowing that it is a part of life AND that I have a plan to address it.

3. Read through the Gospels with CWM’s boxed collection. I love our beautiful Gospels set and look forward to journaling my way through Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in addition to whatever we’re reading with our church’s sermon series. I’ll be following the easy reading plan provided with purchase and trust I will learn many new things along the way!

4. Secret goal. Eww, secret goal. I apologize, because I know I strongly dislike when Online People are ostentatiously evasive about things. To be sure, I could have left this goal off this list entirely, but selfishly, I’m including a marker here for posterity :) This is something that I have been wanting to develop for my own family, that I have committed to working on for 2-3 hours each week during some of my additional time away from work this year. If it turns out well, perhaps I will share it at some point in the future :)

Do Something Kind

5. Invite one family (or friend) over for dinner each month. Somehow, between COVID and a newish baby, we have gotten completely out of the habit of inviting other families into our home – last year, aside from our spring party, we did not have a single family over for dinner. When I realized that a few days ago, it truly shocked me. (To be fair, we did gather for a meal with our community group every other week, and I hosted Articles Club every other month, but to me those are in a different category.) A year with no dinner guests is not how I want us to live, and so this goal will be accountability to change that!

Since John and I are both introverts with full lives, it would be easy for this goal to quickly feel like a burden. To keep it light and fun, this goal mostly isn’t about getting to know new people – in most cases, we’ll just be inviting over people we already know, love, and want to see more of! (Though I hope to stay attuned to whomever the Holy Spirit might want to come to our table!)

6. Reach 5,000 minutes on Peloton. I ended 2022 having logged 3,964 minutes (more than doubling 2021’s 1,829 minutes!). To reach 5k, my loose plan is to workout (a mix of cycling and strength) about 30 minutes three times a week on set days, to stretch nightly, to bike June to school, and to take walks throughout the week. This goal is about being kind to my body and my future self.

7. Update our legacy box. This was inspired by PFC’s “dead box” (but legacy box sounds much nicer, ha!). A legacy box is a repository of important financial and life information for the people you love in the case of your death or incapacitation – a definite kindness to them! John and I have done much of this work already – we created our estate planning documents a few years ago – but we want to finish it out and update what needs to be updated (for example, nothing reflects that sweet Annie is in our family!). Maybe this is 2023’s boring goal…

See Something Beautiful

8. Complete our family photo album for 2015-2019. A few years ago, I decided to create a photo album for every five years of John’s and my life together. So far I’ve done 2005-2009, 2010-2014, and this year, I’ll tackle 2015-2019. I hope to complete this goal in the first half of the year and switch over to a goal to get kid memorabilia up to date in the second half!

9. Tend to our family culture. A thriving, life-giving family culture is one of the most beautiful things to behold, I think. This is a forever goal, and a bit of a catch-all one at that, but this year I anticipate it will include taking the Birds & Bees course, navigating a new summer rhythm, trying a new rhythm for kid-parent dates, our weekend anniversary trip to Charleston this fall, and potentially starting up either monthly parent-kid meetings or weekly family meetings (maybe in the fall? You know I’ve talked about starting them for years, ha!).

10. Have fun with my friends. Honestly, I could have come up with a catchier name for this goal, but this does the trick! :) I love creating fun, memorable experiences that bring together the people I love. I have a few gatherings in the works for 2023, and they all take effort that needs to be broken down month-by-month: to start, another book swap, a potluck party, and the very first Articles Club weekend retreat!!

Though they won’t make an appearance in my monthly goals posts, I also consider the walks I plan to take with individual friends in the spirit of this goal. I already have three in my calendar for January – to chat with one about kindergarten, to chat with another about church, and to chat with a third about retreat activities. It is beautiful to get to prioritize this time with the people I love, enjoying each other’s company and figuring out life together.

Thank you, friends. Sharing my goals here, year after year and month after month, is quite possibly the most potent factor in any progress I’ve made, so thank you, as always, for being kind, listening ears! :)

On that note, I’ll be back with my January goals post and my 2023 book list soon. I’m also considering writing a much shorter post on our family goals for 2023 – what they are, how we come up with them, how they differ from my personal goals. Would that be of interest? Please feel free to let me know in the comments, or let me know if there’s one of my goals that you’d love to hear more about as the year goes on! (I already know I have more to say about goals 5, 7, and 10!). OR, tell me what YOU have planned for 2023! Have you set goals yet? I’d love to cheer you on.

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January 4, 2023 8:01 am

Always love these posts! I’m also trying to work on my “legacy” box, as you’ve nicely termed it : ), and have been drawn to this catch-all electronic document that I discovered a few years ago called the Big Book of Everything: https://www.erikdewey.com/bigbook.htm I’m hoping to make progress on this this year!

January 5, 2023 11:18 am
Reply to  Brooke

Thanks for this recommendation and link!

January 4, 2023 8:09 am

Emily, I love how you are honoring your great aunt with your goals this year, and am excited to follow along as you make little by little progress!

January 4, 2023 8:17 am

Love all your goals! Yes show us family goals!

January 4, 2023 8:20 am

Ohhh, secret goal! :)
I love the simplicity of your great aunt’s three pillars. And as someone with kiddos just a bit younger than yours, I would love to see more of your family goals. Cheering you on in 2023!

January 4, 2023 8:20 am

Well, you know I love your goals, and share similar sentiments to your first two paragraphs every year. The three pillars are inspiring – what a beautiful layer to add to your goal motivation! The Birds and Bees course is also on my 2023 to do list, a holdover from 2022. I love your “legacy box“ goal. Another item on my to do list this year is to finally get our little safe full of important papers organized, but take it a step further. I’ve wanted to expand that box of papers, after all I experienced last year with my Dad, and make a physical book with instructions, various important things to know, and anything our family would need, if I were to die unexpectedly. I will have to ask you about how you are organizing yours. In the same vein, I want to create a related journal for myself that I will tell you about when I see you. I really loved reading your goals – such heart and intention, as always! Yes to hearing about your family goals. Also, your vision board is beautiful! There are two images on your vision board that gave me extra joy because they almost ended up on mine as well! Will tell you about those when I see you, too. Praise the Lord for a new year! I’m excited for you and the Thomas fam!

January 4, 2023 9:06 am

I always look forward to your goal posts and I am working hard to get mine up as well, so this inspires me! I would love to hear your family goals as well. Also as an aside, I have put off making a vision board for 2023 and this is the kick in the pants I need to do it! Yours is so beautiful :)

Kelly Strawberry
January 4, 2023 10:52 am

Love your goals and that you have a secret one! It’s good to keep always be a little mysterious :)
Mine for 2023 are pretty straight forward…100 Peloton rides, 20+ books (didn’t get much reading in last year due to evening classes), attending church in-person (we got out of routine this summer and I got in the habit of watching online), and not buying beer/wine at the grocery store unless we are hosting a party. If I buy it, we will drink it, lol. I think this is something we can easily eliminate from our weekly budget and won’t miss it too much. I have slowly been in the habit of keeping our fridge stocked with good beer. While we do enjoy it, it gets expensive and we are just as easily satisfied with a La Croix or Spindrift when we get home from work.

January 4, 2023 9:33 pm

Wow, great reminder about the legacy box idea. I’m assigning that goal to my husband lol I have a few small ideas for things I want to do but the single most important goal is to set and adhere to an early bedtime. My husband and I are night owls, who have been together for almost 20 years and have spent most of those years getting second winds and hyping each other up until we crash into bed anytime after midnight. Then our daughter came and…yeah. We haven’t adapted well lol I believe that sticking to an early bedtime will help me feel more rested and from that…all things will flow lol Not cancelling workout classes in favor for a nap/not moving because I’m tired. No longer eating handfuls of chocolate chip for extra boosts of energy. More patience, more energy, more enthusiasm. Maybe I’m being too hopeful about this, but I truly believe this will make a difference. My second major goal, that’s not related to sleep involves traveling and not going broke trying to make it to Disney and Hawaii in the same year.

Emily Woodley
January 5, 2023 11:02 am

I love your posts, thank you for sharing!

January 6, 2023 5:54 pm

Emily – Thank you, as always, for sharing your life with us! Long-time reader, not sure if I’ve commented before :) I would love to hear more about your family goals! I have a seven-month-old and, while we are far away from actually “involving” her in the creation of family goals, we want to set our family culture early. We’ve been married for nine years and have a great foundation, but I’d love to heart your thoughts on keeping our relationship strong in the midst of early parenthood, too! Thanks!

January 9, 2023 3:35 pm

Oh my! I want to print your grandma’s wisdom and frame it!! So good! Cheering you on, friend!