2024 Goals

3 January 2024

My goals came quickly and clearly this year. That’s in part because there’s one – number 4 below – that I know will require an incredible amount of effort, diligence, heart, courage, focus, and time to get off the ground, and then continually shape and manage. My other eight goals are slotted in around it, aimed at maintaining or furthering the things that matter most to me.

This is an unusual year of goals for me. It’s more concrete, it’s more public, and it’s easily the most ambitious and challenging list I’ve set in a long while – maybe ever. I feel nervous to share that this is what I’m going after (again, looking at you, no. 4), because hitting “publish” immediately gains me many new accountability partners :)

At the same time, I feel grateful to be in a place where I can set this goal. Many years of goal setting with my PowerSheets have gotten me – and my family – to here, where we have rhythms, routines, and foundations that support what matters most to us. With those in place, it feels possible to move on this one thing that – to me – feels outrageously ambitious.

Without further ado…

1. Recover the armchairs. Let’s start with something simple and straightforward :) Our two cream armchairs, purchased in 2018, are a centerpiece of our main room. They’re comfy, they’re elegant, they’re incredibly well-made. Five years in, however, they’re also… dingy. Despite splurging for Crypton fabric at the start and diligently spot treating them over the years, the wear and tear of three small children and dark jeans, etc. has led to an overall dinginess that I can no longer deny.

So! The plan is to reupholster them in a performance velvet/microsuede/whatever our brown sofa is because that thing looks spotless after more than a decade, likely in a deep blue or soft green. While part of me is mourning the cream, I actually think another tone (and potentially a darker color) will give some more dimension to the overall room. And of course, I’m excited about us all feeling just a bit more at ease in our space.

2. Read through The Bible Recap’s yearly reading plan. The last time I read through the Bible in one go was 2010-2011. I did it on my own, with no guide or study materials, and though God’s word never returns void, let’s just say I probably didn’t get as much out of it as I could.

In 2023, John used a plan from the Bible Project to read through the Bible in a year, and it was incredibly impactful for him. (He followed along mostly on audio, which meant I caught snippets here and there throughout the year!) The BibleProject’s (free! all free!) resources are phenomenal, with great depth of knowledge delivered in a light and friendly way, flawless illustrations and videos — and always designed to point you toward Jesus no matter which book you’re reading.

My original plan was to follow the same plan in 2024, but when John expressed interest in doing another alongside me, we pivoted to The Bible Recap’s plan to give him something new to chew on. We’ve had many friends use this plan and I’m thrilled we’ll get to do it together! This goal is intimidating to me, but I also feel confident that there are few better ways I could spend my time in 2024.

3. Read through and apply Outlive. “For all its successes, mainstream medicine has failed to make much progress against the diseases of aging that kill most people: heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and type 2 diabetes. Too often, it intervenes with treatments too late to help, prolonging lifespan at the expense of healthspan, or quality of life. Dr. Attia believes we must replace this outdated framework with a personalized, proactive strategy for longevity, one where we take action now, rather than waiting.”

John and I bought this book soon after it came out last year, and it landed with a thump on our doorstep – it is a tome. While I’m sure we won’t agree with everything Peter says, we’re excited to work our way through it together and apply what feels right as we go, little by little. Spanning mental health, exercise, nutrition, testing, sleep, and more, I know this goal will likely spin off many action steps over the course of a year.

4. Launch The Connected Family’s audio course. From secret goal to out-in-the-open goal! While the initial forward-facing work of TCF will be delivering on my promise to Substack subscribers, behind the scenes I’ll be working away on our first major offering – an audio course for parents. Eep! (EEP!!!!!!!) This feels scary to say out loud and even scarier to consider actually launching one day, but I remind myself daily to just keep putting one foot in front of the other as I try to make something that might help people.

Speaking of which…

5. Log 1,000 hours of deep work. I read Cal Newport’s Deep Work as part of my 2023 reading list and loved it. As a writer, most of what I do for my job, my main hobby, and now my fledgling business requires me to think deeply and write eloquently. Because of this, it behooves me to aggressively protect my attention span.

Like everyone else, the siren song of a text message, Instagram, completing a quick to-do, or acting on some stray thought that pops into my mind takes effort to resist. For this goal, I’ll track my hours spent doing just that: thinking, writing, brainstorming, or researching with undivided focus. While I can’t call the hours unplugged (since many will be spent tapping away at my laptop), they might as well be.

1,000 hours over a year works out to about 2.7 hours per day, so this is, indeed, an aggressive goal (especially since I’ll log fewer on the weekends).

6. Take the Birds & Bees course with John. This was on my goal list last year and we didn’t quite get to it, though I did purchase it at a discount on Black Friday! I’m considering it healthy background for us as parents and also a case study for The Connected Family – Mary Flo and Megan appear to be doing something somewhat similar to what we hope to do, though on a totally different topic. I’m excited to learn from them in more ways than one!

7. Gut the loft. This is the one space in our home that just bedevils me. I’ve tried to make adjustments here and there over the years, and they’ve been of marginal help, but I know there things that could be done to make this more of a fun space for our kids and less of a maddening space for us parents.

I chose the word “gut” not because we’ll be doing any structural work here, but to reflect that I hope to look at the space with fresh eyes. That was a major lesson from working with a professional for our garage – she had no preconceptions for how the space could be used based on how we had been using it, and we came up with far better solutions by starting from scratch than moving things incrementally.

8. Invite friends over for 12 Sunday night pizza hangs. Our 2023 goal of inviting one family/friend over each month was a smashing success, even if we didn’t quite hit it on the nose. One set-up we ended up really liking: a Sunday night dinner on the earlier side, with takeout pizza, a big salad, and something easy for dessert. Ordering pizza for the main meal is more of a financial stretch, but for me, it almost instantly takes away all the stress of hosting – and in this season of family life, that’s worth its weight in gold. Plus, Sunday night tends to be pretty open for most people, meaning it’s easier to get a date on the books.

I am holding this goal with open hands and knowing it absolutely might evolve as the year goes on – but it feels like a great place to start!

9. Explore the idea of renovating our home. As longtime readers know, the vision for our future where I have felt the most unclear is whether we’ll stay in our home or move (locally). One outcome we’d never really considered was renovating our current home, but it popped onto our radar at the end of last year and has quickly become something we’re interested in exploring.

This goal may go no further than the inquiry stage, or we may end up with a full-blown renovation on our hands – only time will tell!

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 2024 book list over the next few weeks. Please feel free to join in on anything I’ve written here, or let me know if there’s one of my goals that you’d love to hear more about as the year goes on! OR, tell me what YOU have planned for 2024! Have you set goals yet? I’d love to cheer you on.

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January 3, 2024 6:01 am

You know I am so excited for the audio course! Cheering you on!!!

Also: loft spaces. We have one as well that I cannot get to work either. I tried it as my office area and didn’t like how open it was for meetings. We currently have it as the area for our Peloton and some larger toys (like a pikler triangle) that Penelope has – aka not really functional. We ultimately decided that we are going to convert it into a bedroom early next year. Our house layout will make this somewhat easy project and at least we will have a guest room/future children’s room out of it! I think loft spaces are a good idea in theory but hard to make work outside of turning it into a second living space.

January 3, 2024 8:47 am

Oh Em I LOVED reading goals! I always do! So inspiring! I’m excited for your new site/company – congrats! It feels like with these new goals you’re in a bit of a “new era” (and I’m just reading between the lines) but maybe it’s the graduating from baby era? So fun and inspiring to watch you journey through life a few stages ahead of me!
I got married a few weeks ago (December 9!) so I am also entering this year in a new era – really not sure what the year will look like or what married life will throw our way. I am focusing a LOT on rhythms this year – rhythms, traditions in our marriage – diving in at our church – forming couple friendships – working on health goals (how do I form an exercise routine I LOVE? – trying to use my time better/learning a new balance with my phone. It’s all good and exciting – and I need to get a little more specific yet.
Here’s to a new year and new season!

January 3, 2024 9:27 am

These are such great goals!! I have a similar goal of hosting friends in our home once a month, but I love the idea of sticking to the same routine (pizza Sundays! brilliant!). Also- I found so much value in the Birds & The Bees course, the guidance is so practical but also comes from a very wholesome and loving place. A course that strikes a similar tone with The Connected Family content- I wouldn’t be able to hit “add to cart” fast enough :)

Kelly Strawberry
January 3, 2024 9:31 am

For years I was stuck on moving to Hillsborough before Cam started grade school to be closer to my family’s farm (Cam could start working on the farm!!), my church, childhood friends, etc. I know how daunting of a decision it can be not knowing if you are planted in the home you should be in, even if it’s a local move. It caused a lot of discontentment in my life for a time and took a lot of prayer. I remember my pastor once saying God’s will for your life is less about the where/what/when and most about the “ who” – who you are becoming. That struck a cord with me and took a lot of pressure off. For us, staying put ended up being the best decision….and I’m even saying that after we had 4 copperheads in our yard this year :)

January 3, 2024 1:29 pm

Kelly, your pastor’s comment is SO good — going to stick with me for a while. Also selfishly wish you had moved to Hillsborough (we only had one copperhead in our yard this year, ha!) ;)

January 3, 2024 1:30 pm

I am EXTREMELY eager for the audio course and/or all TCF updates this year! Echoing Chelsey to say I’m cheering you on!

January 3, 2024 1:33 pm

Goal #4 made me smile, because after years and years of reading your wisdom and thoughts within this space, there is no one (outside of my real life friends and family) that has more credibility (to me) to speak into this topic. This feels like a long time coming for you and a true sweet spot of your gifts and talents. Excited to support you on the journey!

Kristen M
January 3, 2024 1:43 pm

Loved all of these and really am excited to see what you do with the TCF space this year! I’m aiming to work hard on my own disconnecting goal of much less phone time this year and then being able to not feeling so hypocritical when limiting it for my kids in the future!
Might have to borrow your pizza night idea – I adore hosting folks and making it a structured easy thing monthly seems like the way to do it. Nothing has brought more consistent joy than getting face to face time with people I love and doing it more in 2024 is another high priority :)
The two other main things on my/our fam list: new water heater and new HVAC (sobs) We are in our home for the long haul due to an extremely ideal setup for our schools (walking distance to both the elem and middle school) so we gotta just deal with these home costs!

January 3, 2024 4:10 pm

Ahh I love that you are doing The Bible Recap! I did this in 2022 and learned so much! And what great accountability to do it alongside John! Friend, TCF is going to be so good! I have so enjoyed our parenting and tech chats and I know you have such a heart for this topic! So many good things in store and I can’t wait to listen!

January 3, 2024 5:07 pm

Excited for #4!!! As for #9, we are in a similar boat. We bought our house 10 years ago so our mortgage is low and our interest rate is so low the thought of moving anywhere in this area feels so daunting and almost financially foolish. We have some updates or renovations we want to do and are considering what that may look like. Curious to see you explore this! As always, love the goals as they inspire my own!

January 5, 2024 2:11 pm

Always one of my favorite posts of yours! I’m eager to hear what you think about The Bible Recap. It’s been on my radar, but I haven’t pulled the trigger on it yet, as one of my goals is to finish my first chronological read-through of the Bible – which has taken almost 10 years! (This is the singular example I always use in the “Little by little adds up” vein!)
I have a similar goal about deep work this year (listened to most of the audiobook before it had to go back to the library), but I’m first trying to make sure my physical and digital environments are set up for deep work to succeed. Love the idea of counting the hours as you are doing, and very interested to hear about your experience doing this!
Happy 2024!

Sarah Young
January 7, 2024 9:21 pm

Your blog has been such a gift to me this year – as we’ve moved countries, journeyed through a fair bit, and entered the next phase of family/parenting life, with our kiddos now 6&8. I have LOVED having somewhere so positive, careful, and inspiring to hang out!

Still mulling on my goals, Powersheets due to arrive in Fiji via NZ next week! But some good food for thought here – seriously considering the Bible in a year.

Can’t Wait for your 2024 book list – bring it ON!!!

January 11, 2024 8:55 pm

I‘m also doing the Bible Recap plan this year! How exciting to do this alongside you!
Another goal of mine that’s similar to your pizza hang goal: have monthly „coffee, cake, and games“ meetups with two other German-American families. We‘ll be taking turns hosting. But I love the simplicity of it (no pressure cooking dinner, ha!) and we don’t have to start planning from scratch every time.
Cheering you on on all of your goals!