Thursday, January 03, 2013

Goal Setting for 2013: Part II

Oops. Yesterday was a wonderful day, but it got away from me and I didn't finish these goals. I spent my morning driving the kids to school, hitting the gym, then the grocery store, then the bank. I saw Silver Linings Playbook with K, then I picked up the kids, then I took them to Sam's Club because we were out of nearly everything. After that I unpacked the car, then I cooked dinner, then I collapsed. No goals.

Most of today, I spent knocked out from my migraine medication. Good times.

(Fun side note: Yesterday was my 4 year anniversary of writing, here. Thanks to those of you who still want to read my thoughts. Writing here almost daily has pushed me to new opportunities for my writing that I never imagined, and I'm grateful for this space.)

Anyway. Here are the rest of my goals for 2013. Part II.

IV. Goals for Your Children

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1. What are ways you’d like each of your children to grow in the following areas?

a. Physically:

Addie: Addie showed a lot of interest in swimming last year, and we tried to get her into swim clinics this fall but I waited too long. I'd like to give her the chance to pursue this a little bit more. She also expressed some interest in dance again after we saw the Nutcracker together. I've been so wary of putting her in ballet because it's such a strict and harsh world (and I worry about the effect of that on her self-esteem), but I think we might be ready to look into it as an option. If we do decide to go that route, I'm glad I know what that world is like so I can watch her closely.

Henry: Buddy boy is just at the spot where he can really control his movement. I think he's going to do well in baseball this spring. Every year he seems to like it a little bit more and show a bit more skill. It's a pleasure to watch E take him out in the yard to play catch. I'm looking forward to another season.

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b. Emotionally:

Both of my kids are more confident this year. Addie's shyness is fading and our one-on-one time has strengthened our relationship. I want to continue to help her as much as possible as she starts to navigate the difficult and unavoidably awful preteen girl years. There's not much I can do to make any of that easier, but I can be a sounding board and an influence. Henry has grown out of his "guilty" phase that he was in last year and seems to be a lot more settled about his behavior choices. I want to try to reinforce positive behavior with him and continue to teach him about how to deal with making good choices and controlling frustration.

c. Relationally:

They're both much more settled with their group of friends--and I feel like they both have a nice size group of friends that are healthy for them. That hasn't always been the case since they started school. I want to encourage them to have other kids over and plan things that they can bring their friends to, with us.

d. Spiritually:

One of the best things about the kids right now is that they ask a lot of questions. It has provided us the opportunity to have some really good conversations lately. I want to continue to encourage this kind of thing, and to continue to give them honest answers, even when whatever we're talking about is awkward for me or difficult to put into words.

e. Educationally:

School continues to go well for them and they are both excelling. Addie is doing better at following through with long-term deadlines, though this is something I'd like to continue to encourage them both to improve at. I want to keep the structure we have in place after school for homework, studying, and reading. It's working... I don't want to change it.

f. Other:

In general, I'd like to make it a goal to show my kids I trust them. I want to give them clear expectations, but then I want to give them opportunities to put their decision-making into practice, without me hovering over them. This can be in small tasks or larger responsibilities. I think they're in a good place to demonstrate some independence and responsibility.

2. How will your children be educated this year? What are some resources you’d like to explore to help your children develop intellectually and academically?

Their school is still wonderful. I have no complaints. It amazes me year after year how much this school and the staff teach them. The best thing I can do is support them from home by making sure they're consistent in their routines, sleep, and study habits.

3. What are your children’s strengths? How will you help them use these well?

Addie is showing an aptitude for art lately. She's drawing all the time, and even freehand she is able to look at something and copy it really well. I want to give her supplies to continue to do this (we're thinking about some basic illustration software for the computer) and maybe look into some classes for this summer.

Henry continues to wow us with his game, puzzle, and problem-solving skills. I want to find (and encourage) some non-video ways for him to work at this, so he's not only playing games in front of a screen. Since he likes any and all games, this isn't a challenge, just something I need to plan.

4. What are your children’s weaknesses? How will you help them overcome these?

Even though she's much improved, Addie (like me) has a tendency to retreat into her room and remove herself from the family. I want to strike a balance of allowing her the alone time she needs to be happy, and also encouraging her to do things with us and others so she's not alone too much.

Henry's biggest weakness is completely controllable. If we allowed him, he'd sit in front of the Xbox or Wii all day long. So the easy fix is just setting a time limit. Thankfully, when we do this, he's fine with it. But my goal is just to be consistent about it. We don't need him thinking that's all he needs to do all day.

Source: etsy.com via Charity on Pinterest

V. Money Matters

1. What is one specific area of progress you’d like to see this year in your financial health?

Following through with the budget and goals we set last summer. We're doing well, but we need to make sure we keep checking in and keeping ourselves accountable.

2. How is your current income? In what ways can you make this increase?

Our current income is just right for what we need now. Increasing it will allow us to save more and pay down our debt faster. Working on my MFA is a big one--as a result of the units I'm earning, I'll have raises for the next two years (assuming the state doesn't make huge cuts to education, which, sadly, is kind of a lofty assumption). But I also have some writing projects in the works that could bring us some extra money, and I'm excited about that.

3. How much debt do you have? In what ways can you eliminate a sizable portion of it (or all of it) this year?

Law school will be looming over us for the next 8 years. But every year that passes is another set of payments made. Same for our mortgage and all the other debts we're paying down. Slow and steady.

4. How is your savings account? In what ways can you save more money this year?

For the first time in our lives, we saved some money last year. That's embarrassing to admit, but we were finally in a place to do it. Or we finally made ourselves do it. Probably the combination of the two. As we check in with our budget and our plan, I think we'll be able to continue to improve what we're doing.

5. What are some of your long-term financial goals? In what ways can you make progress on them this year?

Moving is a long-term financial goal, but we decided last year to push it farther out into the future. I honestly feel better about it, knowing it's not going to happen for a while. That gives us longer to work at it, and keep making smart financial decisions in the meantime.

6. Are you giving regularly? If not, in what way can you give financially this year?

Last year I said that I thought coaching was a way we could give, rather than a monetary kind of thing. after coaching multiple things, I think we both got kind of coached out. But also, I feel 100% like that's a way to give. Volunteering is no joke, and I actually feel like we gave too much of ourselves last year to this kind of thing. This year is about looking at how we can give (time, money, otherwise) without taking too much away from our family.

7. What is your plan this month for starting progress towards better financial health?

I think the best thing we can do is to continue with what we've set in place. We have a system of cash for monthly expenses, saving, and planning that's working for us.

VI. Relationships Outside the Home

1. In what specific way would you like to grow in relating to your friends this year?

I would like to strengthen my relationships in my MFA program this year. I want to make sure these are lifelong friendships, and that once I graduate I have friends from the program for emotional strength, but also so I have a group of colleagues, and we can continue to read and help improve each other's work.

2. What are some ways you can be of service to your immediate community?

My job definitely brings me into contact with my immediate community... not in a way that makes me want to be of more service to it, if we're being honest. My tendency is to not reach out to people--out of introversion, or fear, or discomfort. But I could do better with this.

3. Who are some specific people in your life that can use some encouragement? What will you do to encourage them this year?

Through my MFA program I've had the chance to meet some amazing people. And unfortunately (or fortunately, I guess, depending on how you look at it) there are a lot of people there who are dealing with their own fears and confidence issues. It seems like we're all questioning ourselves and our place in the literary world all the time. But the nature of the program means we're all weirdly open and honest with each other--definitely more so than we are with people in the rest of our lives. The good thing about that is that I have the opportunity to really help people. To really listen and make them feel heard. I want to do a better job of encouraging the people I'm in school with, because the fact is that it always lifts me up, too.

4. Who are some people in your life that you admire? What are some practical ways you can positively use their influence in your life?

Same group of people as #3: my peers in my MFA program. They inspire me with their good writing, their fearlessness, and their ability to put it all down on the page. I want to soak up as much of this as possible in the next year before we scatter to the wind.

5. Are there any damaging relationships in your life? What will you do this year to make these relationships better?

Ugh. Every single year I hate that these questions end here. I hate the negativity! Anyway, my answer is no, I don't think I'm in any damaging relationships right now. There are areas of my life that could use strengthening, but I think I'm surrounded by people who support me, and I think I'm better about choosing people to be in my life who make me a better person. But I would like to continue to cultivate healthy friendships in 2013.

And in light of this "one little word" idea for resolutions, I present you with my one-word resolution for 2013 (2011 was peace, 2012 was imagine):

love

I want to love harder, more consistently, more dependably. I want to choose to love people, even when I don't feel it. Especially when I don't feel it. I want to show my students love through how I teach them, and make an effort to connect to more of my colleagues. I want to reach out to people more who are lonely or hurting. I want to really live love when I'm spending one on one time with the people in all aspects of my life who mean so much to me. I want to love and celebrate every minute of my MFA program, and my writing, and the opportunities that have been set before me, rather than feel like they're chores. I know that word is cheesy as all get out, but I want to live a more active kind of love in practice in 2013.

Happy New Year.

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