Goals for 2015

So ready or not we’ve come to a new year. 2014 is gone and personally I say good riddance, but that’s just me. 2015 has arrived no matter whether you’re happy to see it go or not. So with it comes my time to write down a few goals that I have for the upcoming year. As usual I’ll give an update in the middle of the year and at the end of the year to see how I’ve been doing.

I’ve enjoyed doing this the last couple of years and honestly writing them down and coming back to them over the year has really helped keep them in mind and overall with a few exceptions I’ve been able to keep my goals the last couple years. So anyhow, let’s get on to the goals I have for the upcoming year.

1. Make 1 New Local Friend – I know the last couple years I’ve been talking about how we want to get more connected to our community and to be honest it just always seemed like such a vague goal and it never really formed into much. So my goal is to make one new local friend. Like a real friend, not a we see and chat with them at church or work friend. A friend that you get together with just because you enjoy their company kind of friend. This may be a tall order for the year, but I’m really hoping this goal will come to pass.

2. Continue Paying Down Loans – The last couple of years we’ve had a target loan that we hoped to knock out by the end of the year. The loans we have left now are all too big to realistically knock them out by the end of the year, but we hope to continue our paying more than the minimum approach and reduce our debt by a decent amount.

3. Paint Anastasia’s Room and Our Room – Last year we had a goal to paint one of the rooms of our new house, which we did finally wind up accomplishing. However, this year I want to try to get Anastasia’s room painted and our bedroom painted. Kids will be older this year so I’m hoping that two rooms will be doable.

4. Improve Photography – Last year I had the very noble and very silly idea of trying to take a picture each day, this didn’t last very long before I missed a few days and never really got back into it. This year I’m going to try something a bit different. I’m going to try to do a different theme for each week over the next year. I’m hoping to post at least one of the pictures for each of the themes on my blog and maybe even more if I have a lot of inspiration for the week.

5. Read 15 Books – Last year I made a goal of reading one book a month or 12 books over the year. I wound up reading just twelve books, so I’m hoping that by upping my expectations I’ll be able to read a few more over 2015.

6. Potty Train Anastasia – This one is a hope that may not be realized, but it is a goal I would like to achieve by the end of 2015. To get Anastasia potty trained and out of diapers would be a very nice thing to accomplish. This requires cooperation from a certain little girl so it is uncertain if this will come to pass this year or not. We can always hope though.

7. Assorted Home Goals – When we bought a house last year it kind of came with a hot tub. We still haven’t worked on getting that up and running yet. So we would like to try to do that during 2015. We’re also hoping to buy Ryan a larger bed because he is unfortunately on his way to growing out of his toddler bed.

I think that’s about all the goals I’ve got in mind as of now. We’ll see if I can achieve most of these again this year. I guess we’ll have to wait until further into 2015 to see how that turns out. Do you have any goals for the new year?

Looking Back at 2014’s Goals

Last year I started setting goals for myself at the beginning of the year. I enjoyed the experience and found that having some set goals before me helped keep them on my mind especially reviewing them about halfway through the year and again at the end of the year. Since I enjoyed it last year I did it again this year. Since it’s at the end of the year let’s see how well I did at accomplishing the goals I set at the beginning of the year.

1. Getting Connected in Our Local Community – We’ve maybe had some progress on this one, but at the same time we don’t really have much of any significant relationships around here. We have met a couple more of our neighbors since, so that’s good. We’ve also been around more people with Ryan being in school, but no real relationships have developed more just recognizing people while dropping off and picking up your kids. We’ve also been sick pretty consistently since Ryan has started school so that hasn’t helped develop many relationships either.

2. Paying Off Loans – Paying off our smaller student loans was accomplished by the middle of the year, but we’ve been trying to aggressively tackle our bigger loans the rest of the year. The ones we’re facing now will be a bit longer to take out unfortunately.

3. Painting – We did wind up painting Ryan’s bedroom this year. We didn’t really know what we were doing and it took us a fair amount of time, but we did accomplish it. We at least painted one room, but unfortunately that’s all we did. I have a feeling that I know what a goal for next year will be.

4. Buying Living Room Furniture – Again this was a success by the middle of the year. We are still enjoying having some nicer furniture for our living room though. This was a pretty easy goal to accomplish though.

5. 12 Books for the Year – This was a success. I’ve finished exactly 12 books this year and I’m currently working on two others. Amusingly enough I was evenly split between fiction and non-fiction for the year at six books a piece. I didn’t really attempt that but found it to be a nice divide. For those who like to know what books these are I’ve read you can check them out at Goodread’s year in review. There are only one of the books for the year that I haven’t given my thoughts on here, but it will be on its way.

6. A Picture a Day – This was a failure at the midway and continued to be a failure at the end. I never really got into consistently using my camera. That’s not say that I haven’t been taking photos, just not as consistently as I had hoped at the beginning of the year. I’m thinking of retrying something regarding photography for my goals next year. Hopefully that one will go a bit better.

7. Consistent Blogging – This one wound up going really well. In the later half of the year I wound up finding a nice rhythm of three posts a week. I did have some issues maintaining it around the holidays, but that was also somewhat intentional. I even had times where I had a bit of a buffer in advance. So I consider this one a resounding success.

I guess if I’m honest there was a part of the blogging goal I did fail at. That was at the continuing my weekly review of other blog posts I found interesting. As I said midway through the year trying to keep up with other blogs to do that just burnt me out.

I also found that these posts were my most visited posts and it felt like I was gaining views simply by linking to other people’s work and not actually for my own writing. I wanted people to visit for what I wrote, not simply because I linked to another person’s blog. So I dropped this fairly quick and decided to stick with my own content even though I figured I’d take a hit in terms of visits. I did, but I think it was worth it in the end.

Those are how my goals ended up. It was a mixture of success and failure, but with more success than failure. I’d probably put it as five successes and two failures. Not bad really. I’ll work up some new goals for 2015 and see how I do on those.

 

 

Halfway Through 2014

It’s hard to believe that we’re at the halfway point of the year already. As I have been doing the last couple years, I like to take the halfway point to reflect on some of the goals that I’ve set for the year. I tend to post my goals at the beginning of the year and then comment on them at the middle and the end of the year to see how they’ve gone. Honestly, it’s a rather mixed bad, but let’s look at how we’ve done.

1. Get Connected In Our Local Community – This one still hasn’t gone as far as we might have liked. We’ve met some of our neighbors, but nothing too meaningful. I’m a little more involved in our church, but it’s also going through a bit of a transition at the moment so it’s a little choppy. So we’re largely without any close community at the moment. We’re really hoping that with Ryan starting preschool/pre-K in the fall we’ll get connecting with some other people our age or at least who have kids our age. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

2. Paying Off Loans – This one has been a success already. We’ve paid off the smaller student loans that we had, but now we have two large ones (one from each of us) to tackle. This endeavor will probably take a bit longer, but we’re starting to put more money towards them to pay them down quicker.

3. Painting – Yeah this hasn’t happened. We want it to, but quite frankly don’t know how the logistics will work. We’ve had to buy other things for the house (like stuff for yard work) so we haven’t put the money towards painting yet. Plus we just don’t quite know how to paint and how we’d work the logistics with two little ones. We’re still hoping to get at least one room done this year, but who knows if that will happen.

4. Buy Living Room Furniture – This was a success. We finally bought a nice couch and loveseat earlier this year. They’re quite the improvement over our old futon.

5. Reading a Book a Month – I think I’m on track for this. So far I’ve read six and have almost finished a seventh. This book I’m on now has slowed me down quite a bit, but hopefully I’ll keep up a good pace and maybe even read more than one a month.

6. A Picture a Day – This one failed pretty much right out of the gate. I did good for like a week then wound up really sick for a month. That pretty much killed any momentum I had. I thought about trying to start up doing it another month, but just never did. I have still been using my camera and getting pictures here and there, but nothing as consistent as a picture a day.

7. Consistent Blogging – I think this has been a success. I think I at least put one blog post out a week, sometimes even two. I’d like to me even more consistent than I am, but overall I think I’m doing fairly decent. I did fail on this one a bit, because I decided early this year to get rid of my Wandering of the Week because I wound up being burnt out on other blogs trying to read so many in the space of a week. I may revisit the idea later and accept being about 20-30 days behind the freshest blogs out there. We’ll see.

So that’s how I’m doing so far. Some are already successes, others are major failures, some are successful so far. I guess we’ll have to see at the end of the year how everything pans out. If you’ve set any goals for yourself this year how are you doing?

Goals for 2014

Happy New Year! This is the time of year where people look forward to the year ahead and either make resolutions and goals or reflect on why they aren’t much of a resolution/goal person. To be honest, I didn’t really use the beginning of a new year to set any tangible goals until last year. I still kind of balk at calling them resolutions. Resolutions in my mind tend to be vague and lack really any planning in an attempt to achieve the resolution. For example, I could say I want to work out more, but really what does that mean or look like? It’s a nice thought, but lacks any detail or enough specificity to get anywhere.

So I’m going to lay out some goals like I’ve done previously. Maybe give a little explanation if I think I need to. Like last year, I don’t view any of these as a drastic change in direction from the path I’m already on, but rather plotting out a bit more detailed what I would like to accomplish by the end of the year.

1. Get connected in our local community. This is a repeat from last year and maybe a bit of a merger of two goals of last year (making friends and getting involved in ministry). I don’t feel that we have been very connected with anyone, with the exception of family, since we’ve moved back to Pennsylvania. What this looks like I’m not really sure. It may be getting more involved in our church we’re a part of now. It may be connecting with other parents when we try to have Ryan enter preschool in the fall this year. It may involve getting to know our new neighbors at our new house. It may really look like all of these and more. I know this is a bit of a vague goal, but in part it’s because I don’t really know what it will look like and how to plan it out however it should be the only vague goal on the list.

2. We want to pay off our last small student loan and make some headway on our larger student loans. Last year we were able to take out two of our loans and save up enough to buy a house so I’m hoping that we’ll be able to take out our remaining small student loan and start to do some damage on our much larger loans. I doubt we’ll take one of those out before the end of the year, but it would be nice to start to pay more than our minimum on the larger ones after finishing up the small loan.

3. Paint at least one or two rooms in our house. Ideally we’d want to get a number of our rooms repainted, but realistically we’ll probably get to one maybe two. I could be wrong, but I’ll set the bar low and see how we do. If I had to choose priority I’d say either our bedroom, Ryan’s bedroom, or our living room. We’ll see how that goes.

4. Buy living room furniture. This may sound like an odd goal, but as of now we have one piece of furniture to sit on in our living room. It’s a futon sofa we bought shortly after we were married eight years ago. It started to break about six years ago, but you can still sit on it and we weren’t anyplace that we thought we would be staying long term so we put off buying any new furniture. Now that this isn’t an issue anymore maybe we can buy some furniture this year and hey if we get our living room painted too maybe it can actually look all put together or something. I could put more house goals on the list, but I’ll leave it at these two.

5. I want to try to read at least one book each month. I think I only read about seven books last year, which isn’t bad, but I’d like to read more. So I’m setting the bar at the hopefully attainable book a month. Again maybe I’ll do better than that, but right now that’s my goal.

6. I want to try to take one picture a day for the next year. This is probably my most ambitious goal of the year and the one that is most likely to fail because of it’s ambitiousness. However, I want to give it a shot to practice my photography skills. It will probably result in a lot of really boring pictures, but we’ll see. Maybe it will give me eyes to see what I normally ignore. I plan on trying to use the 365 project. My plan is to upload to their site and also do a weekly post here to just keep up how I’m doing.

7. This is the last one I can think of right now, but I want to keep consistent on blogging. At least blogging once a week and do a weekly summary of posts. This is what I’ve been doing, but I want to make sure I can at least keep that up this year too.

So these are the goals I’m going to set for this year. I’m putting up two more than I did last year, so we’ll see how that goes. Do you set goals for the new year or really anytime? If you do what are some of your goals that you’re currently pursuing?

A Look at 2013

Well it’s the end of 2013 and many people, including myself, tend to use the end of a year to reflect on what has transpired over the past year. What major life events have happened? Did I accomplish the goals I set out for myself at the beginning of the year? Was it a good year? Was it a bad year? Was it a bit of a jumbled mess?

So I want to spend some time looking over 2013. To see the major changes that happened over the year, see how I did with the goals I set last year, and present the most popular posts I had this past year.

Major Events of 2013

It many ways it seems that 2013 was a mixed bag. Every major positive thing came with some unexpected consequences or took a bit of work getting to the good stuff. It was just a mixed year, which I suppose most years are, but this one seemed pretty mixed in the bigger events not just the every day stuff.

DSC_0004

We started off the year with one of those big events, the birth of our daughter Anastasia. It is hard to believe looking and interacting with her now that she was born this year, but that’s the way these things work I guess. No doubt this was one of the good events of the year. Sure it’s been a bit stressful getting used to dealing with two kids this past year, but it’s also been very enjoyable getting to know our little girl and see her grow and interact with her brother.

However, this major event had some negative events that followed. Kristen had some issues about two weeks after Anastasia was born and had to have an emergency procedure done. Thankfully it was all able to be finished in one day and everything went well, but it wasn’t the best experience in the world and I wasn’t even the one directly going through it. We also had some issues with Kristen’s job temporarily firing her after taking off more time after birth than was allowed for employees who had only worked with the company under a certain amount of time. However, everything worked out in the end.

As far as I can remember the rest of the events of the first half of the year were mainly just getting used to having two kids. Going to grandparent’s houses and having them visit us occasionally. Just settling into some sort of routine. Really the next major event of the year was my grandmother’s stroke in September.

This one really just set a bit of a somber tone for the rest of the year. She was in the hospital/rehab for awhile and we were trying to go see her once a week. She came back home shortly after Thanksgiving, but she still has a ways to go for recovery. It’s just taken a lot of getting used to. Hopefully, she’ll continue to recover over the next year and things will get closer to normal after awhile.

New House

Finally at the end of the year we bought our first house. We’re hoping it will be our only house, at least for quite some time, but at this time we know for certain it is our first. However, this positive was a lot of hard work. It felt like quite the roller coaster ride going through the experience. We thought we had the house, then something would come up and we weren’t sure, that would get taken care of then something else would happen. However, eventually we bought our house and moved into it a week and half before Christmas. This made December even busier than normal, but we’re happy to be moved in rather than having a house and not really being able to settle in yet.

So those are the major events of 2013. Of course they weren’t the only events, but they’re the ones that impacted us the most.

Goals

At the end of last year I set some goals that I hoped to achieve by the end of this year. They were five fairly simple goals. So now that we’re at the end of the year how did we do? Well let me run through them.

My first goal was getting used to staying home with two kids. This has gone rather well. Sure it can be challenging and we get into our ruts and battle of the wills and everything. Is it weird to say that in some ways it was easier than I expected and in others more difficult than I expected at the same time? That’s really how it feels.

The second goal was to blog more regularly. I’d say that I’ve done better this year than I have previous years, but I could be better. I felt like I did okay most of the year, but then took a hit in the last few months. Overall, I’m pretty happy with being more consistent, but I still want to improve.

Thirdly, was the goal of getting rid of the loan on our second car and to pay off one of our smaller student loans. We achieved this, but didn’t really gain any ground on getting out of debt due to the achievement of buying a house that wasn’t a major planned goal from last year. However, that’s hopefully the only extra debt will be taking on anytime soon.

After that, the fourth goal was to be active in ministry. Sadly, this one never really materialized. My wife and I did help with VBS at our church and I did some scripture readings throughout the year, but I don’t really consider this goal much of a success. The combination of getting established in a new church, having two kids while trying to do that, and trying to visit my grandmother after her stroke I think caused this one to fall by the wayside.

Lastly, our fifth goal was to make some friends locally. That never really happened either. We didn’t really connect with any of our neighbors at our apartment. Even at church I can’t really say that we’ve made too many meaningful connections or friendships. Of course moving again at the end of the year also screws up consistency and everything too. Maybe we’ll get friends we can do stuff with again sometime.

So overall I’d rate myself as achieving 3/5 of the goals for last year. I’ll take it. Could have done better, but certainly could have done worse as well.

Top Posts

This last section is just going to go over some of my top posts for the past year. I’ll be completely honest, it’s not like I get that many visits here, but I’m happy for what I do get. I mean my top post (that wasn’t my home page or my about page) only had 29 views, so as I said we’re not talking massive popularity here, but it’s always interesting to find out what others looked at most in the past year. I’m not going to be including my “Wanderings of the Week” in this list. They were fairly popular posts and made up five of my ten most viewed posts. So with those caveats in mind, here are my most popular posts from 2013.

  1. Final Thoughts on The End of Our Exploring
  2. What You Wish You Never Had to See
  3. Education vs. Indoctrination
  4. Reflections on Church Membership
  5. Brand Wars
  6. When “What Ifs” Backfire
  7. The Enemy Within – Good, Evil, and the Human Condition
  8. The Great Fish Conspiracy
  9. Assassin’s Creed II, Religion, Power, and Control
  10. Some Food Photography

I’m not sure if I really see much of a pattern. Regardless those are the most popular of my 2013 posts. Maybe some of you can find patterns here, but I’m not sure I can. Not that it’s a bad thing there isn’t a pattern.

So that’s pretty much an overview of my 2013. How did your 2013 go? Did you have any major life events? Did you reach the goals you set for yourself?

Reviewing the Goals of the Year

For some reason something has been on my mind lately. I’ve been thinking about the goals that I posted at the beginning of the year. It’s over half way through the year and I was wondering how I’ve been doing on those goals. I figured since I put the goals out there at the beginning of the year I’d toss out how we’ve been doing on those goals.

1. Get used to staying home with 2 kids. As I said this one had to happen regardless of how well it went. Honestly, though it has been going pretty well. Some days go better than others of course, but we’ve been managing pretty well.

2. Update my blog a little more. Largely I’d say this one has been a success. It was maybe a bit rough the first few months of the year, but I think I’m more consistent than I was. I at least post once a week and do my little weekend wrap up type thing. I’d maybe like to do a couple times a week more often, but being busy on weekends and kids make it a little tougher to do that. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep it up.

3. Pay off our 2nd car loan and one of our smaller school loans. This has already been accomplished and has actually been accomplished for a few months. Of course we still have debt and are trying to save up for a house, but you know at least we removed a couple sources of debt.

4. Get active in ministry or volunteering or something. This one is largely unfulfilled. We became members of our church, helped with our church’s Vacation Bible School, I’ve preached once, and am on the rotation for reading Scripture during the service, but it still really feels like we haven’t really been all that active yet or at least consistently active.

5. Make some local friends. This one has pretty much been a failure. We’ve developed some relationships with people from church, but hardly to friend level yet. We haven’t really connected much with people locally and honestly not sure really how to get started. Some exception may be said for people that we knew from our hometown that we’ve connected a little with since we’ve moved back, but even that has been very minimal.

Overall, I’d say that I’ve actually done fairly decent on my goals so far. We’ll see if I can keep up the blogging, but I seem to have at least achieved some rhythm in posting. The loans aren’t going to come back, so those are done. I could stand to get more involved in doing things with church or locally, but it’s not that we’re not invovled at all either. Friends, well this is where we really need to work, not just because it is a goal, but we could just use some good friends. Maybe we’ll take a look at the end of the year to see how I’ve done with all these at that point and try to lay out some goals for next year too.

A New Year

A new year is coming upon us. As a good number of people do this time of year it allows for reflection and also for a looking forward to the new year. Some people do resolutions, but they don’t seem to pan out, so I figured I wanted to put it more as goals or things that we’re already on the road to happening Some of these may not happen, but a good number will. They are:

1. Get used to staying at home with 2 kiddos. This one will happen no matter what, I just hope that it will go smoothly.

2. Update my blog a little more. This may be challenging considering number 1, but we’ll see. It isn’t often for lack of ideas, it is more lack of taking the time or disliking what I write because it gets too long, I’m too chicken to put it out there, or simply seems to condescending or not in the attitude I want it to be.

3. Pay off our 2nd car and one of our smaller school loans. This has been getting chipped away on for while. Hopefully we’ll be able to put these two away (one of these will be done regardless, but hopefully sooner than later in the year) and make a dent in our other school loans, sadly the bigger ones.

4. Get active in ministry, be it through the church we’re going to, the community, something.

5. Make some local friends. This will probably happen, be it through our church or through connecting back with old friends. Still definitely a goal for the year.

I’m know there are others that I could add here; to read more, or to trust God more, but these are ones that are more or less specific to this year. Do you have any particular goals for the year to come, big or small?