Well, happy 2016 friends! I had good intensions to write this up and have it publish on Saturday when our usual Three Things post happens - but as you saw, there was no Three Things OR goals review. I guess I just needed some time away from the computer. I hung out with my daughter before she heads back to college, played a few games and watched the new Sherlock. I did watch a few videos on photography, so there was a little computer, but writing this post was more than I could handle.
Why? I had hoped 2015 would be better than 2014 and when I looked back at last year's yearly recap I realized it wasn't. In many ways it was much, much worse. Not blog-wise, thankfully - 2015 saw a steady, if slow, increase in page views, some good sponsored post opportunities, and I sorta found a good blogging groove so I didn't feel too busy.
But personally & financially our family has been put through a wringer of emotions. Both Brian and I have been dealing with moms who have major health issues and need our help. This involved living decisions and financial issues that are hard to navigate and emotionally exhausting (as I know others of you can relate to). After 2014's underemployment for Brian, we had hoped this year would be better but the silence from multiple job opportunities has been hard for me to watch. Brian poured his heart, soul and a lot of time into developing a course that seemed so needed and timely but didn't fly. And we're dealing with parental heartbreak as we watch our son walk the path of a prodigal.
Sorry, not the 'rah-rah' typical blogger post, right? In fact, when I mentioned I needed to write this post, my daughter asked me why, saying, "It's your blog - you can do what you want." She's absolutely right, of course, but you know what? I hear all the time from readers about bloggers who don't seem real or are someone they can relate to - and that it all seems just too 'perfect.' And I don't want to put something like that across to you guys. I don't just talk about imperfection - I live it, just like you all do, too.
But no matter what life throws you, here's the thing I'm learning:
Don't give up. Don't give in.
I know AOC is just a blog that talks about recipes, DIY, gardens and a bit of life thrown in. But I believe that even when life isn't lovely, you can still have healthy, comforting food to eat that can sooth your soul. You can have a house that makes you smile when you look at some part of it you've redone or made look pretty. You can get your hands dirty and produce beauty and food from a few seeds. You can be creative and you give to others.
In fact, I will go so far as to say you NEED these things.
To ignore your health and your environment (home, etc.) when things are tough and just start bingeing on junk food and lousy tv shows will NOT make you feel better. It may in the short term, because living through someone else's eyes for awhile gives a bit of relief, but in the long term I have found it can make things worse.
I have found I need to feel in control of something - anything. And my time is the one (maybe only) thing that I can control. Doing something that gives me a sense of accomplishment is HUGE, whether it's creating handmade gifts (which is a twofer: saves money & exercises creativity!), making a loaf of bread, making a quick a batch of refrigerator pickles, reading a book, talking with friends, or even taking short trips to recharge.
I also think, for me at least, it's imperative to do 2 things: keep positive & think about God & others more than myself.
So I decided to choose a word of the year this year, which I haven't done in a couple years. In fact, I wasn't planning on finding a word - it found me during a She Reads Truth devo (it was in a comment - I often get just as much from the SRT community as I do the reading plans) and it stars in our January chalkboard you see above: Selah. While there's some question of exactly what this word means (it's found extensively in Psalms as sort of 'breaks'), I'm going with the commonly held view of "pause, praise, & ponder."
With that in mind, here's a quick recap 2015's goals before moving on to 2016:
- Work on to-do list for the house to get ready to sell: Good progress! It will need to amp up in the next few months.
- Explore business ideas to replace income: Done, though not much happened. We are excited for some ideas we've come up with in the last few months and the positive response from a couple of Brian's clients.
- Read 1 book a month: This is the goal I'm most proud of - if you've been reading the Three Things posts you'll know I got a lot more than 1 a month read! I blew that goal out of the water and ended with a total of 31 books read, more than 2x my original goal!! A lot of that was due to discovering an app for library audio books last summer, which I'm still loving. I'm going to be sharing the list with you and my top 5 soon.
- Blogging- new weekly schedule, recipe theme months, schedule, write ebook, course & do videos: Pretty good. The weekly schedule worked (though I'm tweaking again for the new year...), themed recipes helped me to cover more categories, and we added more videos to our You Tube channel, though not as many as we hoped. My personal time-management took the year to develop, but ended with a new system that I developed that I'm loving SO much and can't wait to share with you all! The writing of more products to fill needs you may have? Um, big zero. Win some, lose some. 🙂
This year I have 4 areas I'm setting easy, do-able goals in - many of which are things that just need to happen and aren't 'big dreams' because that's just where I'm at - AND I want only things that I actually have a chance of getting done!
- Move more! I never used to worry about this with teaching, but blogging is a sit-sit-sit job. I'm planning standing breaks during the day, keeping up with my 3x/week workout routine and adding a 2x/week walk or bike ride with Brian.
- Read 2-3 books a month. This year I want to more intentionally balance the fiction and non-fiction, making sure I'm reading things to grow me as a person and child of God as well as just fun novels.
- Continue morning routine with She Reads Truth devotional + add a prayer journal.
- Monthly date nights. This is new for us, believe it or not!
- Monthly kid dates. Again new, and trying to be intentional.
- Make time for friends - coffee dates and being more intentional with dinner invitations.
- Get house ready to put on the market this year. Wow, yes I just wrote that! It's one of the reasons I'm so motivated to "KonMari-ing" the whole house and getting serious about the to-do list. There is a LOT that will naturally fall under this goal, which has to happen whether I make the goal or not, right? Whew.
- Fund a 6-month emergency fund. This is believing big things for the year, obviously!
- Save for a used car to replace our 20 year old jeep.
- Provide products to meet some of the needs you guys shared with me in our first ever reader survey. I LOVED having your input this year in making blog goals!! The one thing mentioned over and over again as your biggest challenge was TIME. So my promise to you this year is to provide more free and minimal cost products that will help you manage and find the time to do the things you want. We're planning new menu plans, a planner I'm SO excited about, as well as other things to come.
- Improve photos & update old ones for Pinterest presence to focus on where I'm already getting traffic from.
- More videos, including the time-lapse recipe videos for Facebook.
- Better, more personal newsletter. I want it to be something useful that you guys can't wait to open.
- More emphasis on recipes. They're why the majority of you visit AOC (according to the reader survey), so I plan to give you 2 recipes a week now, gardening (#2 in survey) will be 2x/month, and DIY-crafts-gifts will probably be 1-2x/month. In-between we'll be talking time management so you can DO all the other things!
I hope this is as exciting for you as it is for me to look forward to (and this in my 7th year of blogging!) - writing this out and looking to the future has done wonders for my outlook. The last few years may have been hard, but I've grown and many wonderful things have happened, too. Here's to staying positive!
Have any input for me? Goals of your own you can share?