A Vision for the Rest of Me

Recently, I was feeling a little down and stuck in a rut when I realized: I hadn’t set any meaningful goals for a while.  

I’ve always been a really goal-driven person.  I like linear thought and progress.  I have a lot of energy to use up and I feel aimless without goals and an overarching vision.

So since college, I’ve practiced yearly & weekly vision casting and goal setting.

Yearly, I pray about, talk through, & write up a vision for my year and set some foundational goals for the year.

Each Sunday, I look at my calendar, vision, and responsibilities and set goals for the week, making sure that those goals are in line with the vision and that I’m also progressing towards my foundational goals.

I started this practice in 2006.  From then until December 2012, my vision was pretty much the same: achieve a successful career, advance in that career, have healthy relationships, be spiritually healthy, and contribute to my community and world in a meaningful way.  My goals varied from year to year depending on what phase of my vision I was in, but that was the overarching narrative of what I was working for.

But on December 3, 2012, I got off track…for the best possible reason:


I did take some time to in January to craft a vision of myself as a mom.  But that was where I stopped.  I had no clue what issues I would run into during my first year of motherhood and it seemed too audacious to create a vision or large goals past that.  My foundational goals were, “find a way to blend career with my sense of calling to be at home,” “work hard to make our house a clean, well-run, and warm place to be,” “find a mom community,” “make & stick to a new budget,” “stay emotionally and physically healthy,” “don’t wear yoga pants every day” and “stay connected with David.”  These are not microscopic goals but they also do not reflect the broadest of visions 🙂

And so the weekly goals on my paper have looked more like to-dos than progress towards exciting big goals: “complete 3 loads of laundry,” “clean the bathrooms” “send in insurance paperwork,” and “finish X work project.”  These things keep my house running, my family cared for, and our retirement account filling up, and faithfulness in the small things is absolutely important…BUT.

I am more than a mom.  I am a wife.  I am a professional.  I am a lover of people and a mentor and a leader and an ideas person and a writer and a global citizen and for the last year, I’ve pretty much just focused on my house, my family, and my daughter and back-seated all of those other aspects of my identity.  

And while that may have been the most helpful thing I could do for year one of parenthood, year two is coming up and I don’t want the only vision for year two to be “be a good mom & maintain the household.”  I’d love to set some goals outside of that.  

So I’ve started that process, and I want to share it with you in case sharing my process can be helpful for any other moms out there.  Also, there’s a lot of accountability to be found in sharing goals.  Why NOT put it out there?

I started by I asking myself, “what am I passionate about these days (BESIDES being a mom?”) Some of my answers:
-vulnerability, openness, & honesty in living, storytelling, and writing
-empowering & connecting moms
-being a wife and providing encouragement and help (as he wants it) to my husband in his role at the church
-building the kingdom of God here on earth.  I have a huge heart for kids from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, for orphans and kids without supportive families, for teen girls, and for international medical missions.
-sharing my passion for adoption and making sure women facing unplanned pregnancies have access to (fair and balanced) resources that they need

This gives me some insight into the kinds of opportunities I may want to keep myself open to and/or seek out in the upcoming year, as well as how I should budget my time and material resources.  I want to spend myself on things I’m passionate about, and that starts with having an understanding of what those things are.

Next, I asked “what is working for me these days?” Some of my answers:
-morning quiet times
-date nights
-time with a few specific friends (their names are in my journal!)
-regular phone conversations with Jess and my mom
-staying active (especially my stroller workout class!)
-doing weekly devotions with David
-the income from my job
-taking one day of the weekend OFF from work and big house projects (I started that two weeks ago and man, I love it.  Who’d have thought that boundaries were beneficial? Oh wait…)
-taking Zoe to parks – fun for both of us!
-making a plan for each nap time before she goes down so that I can jump to work right away when she’s down
-being a formal mentor again (I am supervising a graduate student at work and I forgot how much I love teaching and supporting interns!!)
-not over-planning our week – the ability for spontaneity is good!
-cleaning the house and getting ready for bed as soon as Zoe is in bed.  This is way nicer than putting her down, starting to relax, falling asleep on the couch and then being like “crap, I still have to wash bottles and dishes and take my contacts out…” (cue 15-20 minutes of work that now have to be done in a bleary-eyed state) 

I also asked “what isn’t working:”
-obsessively cleaning
-allowing myself to have a negative attitude about some of my obligations
-worrying about the future
-when David is gone at night and I work instead of reading/relaxing

Then I prompted myself with the following sentence –  “I need more:”
-off days on weekends (keep it up)
-reading & time on the couch watching TV
-direction/goals for my professional life
-concentration on David when I have the opportunity to spend time with him
-focus to my social time—what are my goals for friendships & serving others? I have limited time—where do I desire to make an impact? Making new friends, keeping old ones, deepening any specific friendships, deepening my relationships with the girls I mentor, etc?  How do I do this?
-dedicated time in prayer.  I would love to have some organization or structure to my prayer life.
-concentration on David when I have the opportunity to spend time with him.  More wine and conversation on the couch together nights and fewer “can you childproof this while I clean this” nights.

To build on existing strengths and momentum, I completed this prompt: “I am doing a great job at:” 
-being present with my daughter and providing her with fun and educational opportunities every day
-providing for my family in a creative way that works for us and making sacrifices to do that
-sticking to a budget
-staying organized and using nap times to bless our family
-being opening and welcoming to other moms, inviting them into my life and being okay with messiness and the fact that I don’t have it all together
-handling a chaotic situation with the club I am president of (the short version: our club has left the international nonprofit we were a chapter of and now me and 4 Board members are launching our own club.)

Finally, I decided to set some goals for the rest of 2013.  Those are:
-to create a prayer calendar, chalkboard, or other creative way to display & remember my prayer requests
-continue to take 1 day per weekend OFF from work
-launch our new club (no big deal…)
-only clean 1x/day intend of freaking and doing it more
-invest time into planning professional goals for 2014
-meditate on and create a mission statement of sorts to guide how I spend my social time and volunteer time

After doing this, I feel energized, more peace, and more focused, and definitely out of my rut.  (The Type A beast inside of me has been fed! Haha.)  I’m going to spend time over the holidays this year thinking about a vision for 2014, but this gets me through then and starts the process!

If this is interesting to any of you, I’ll check back in from time to time and share updates!

8 thoughts on “A Vision for the Rest of Me

  1. Wow! This was so good for me to read today. Andrew and I just had a huge discussion about the fact that all we talk about lately is business stuff; “can you clean this, did you pay for that?” I feel like I’m running around cleaning, doing laundry, washing bottles, pumping, etc and I can’t relax until it’s ALL done. I’m learning that it’s never ALL going to be done and I need to be ok with a mess. It will be a process for sure, but we can’t go on like this. Fun conversations, a glass of wine, a happy baby and relaxation are so much more important. But, easier said then done for me 🙂

  2. Sarah!! I have been working on the same thing with my prayer life, wanting to be more intentional and more consistent. I made a prayer jar for Gamma Phi bible study and use popsicle sticks, then each week we each pull one out, take it home, and pray for whatever that is! It has been really cool to see how God is answering these prayers each week. And it helps me to remember exactly what I am praying for! I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE YOU IN DECEMBER!

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