How to Make New Year’s Resolutions You’ll actually Keep

Notebooks for goal planning

Today is Monday, January 15th. That means that by now, 80% of us have already given up on our New Year’s Resolutions. That’s if you made them at all – in the poll I created on Instagram, 75% of you said you didn’t make resolutions, but instead preferred a “Word of the Year,” a single word or phrase to focus on throughout the year.

I have a hybrid approach that combines the best of both. I’ve developed this method over several years, refining and adjusting the process along the way. I started with classic resolutions I’d make in January, and forget about until the end of the year, and then feel guilty that I hadn’t accomplished what I set out to do, and amazed at how different what I thought I wanted at the beginning of the year was from what I wanted at the end. This method of setting goals certainly wasn’t having much of a positive impact on my life. But I couldn’t give up on the idea.

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This Year . . .

This year needs to be different. 

When I look back over 2014, nothing really stands out. It feels like a dark, stressful, rushed, frustrated, and tired blur. I don’t even have to look at my resolutions for last year to know I didn’t accomplish many of them. 

I spent so many long hours trying to finish a project at work – all to realize at the end of the year that it was out of my control. I neglected my family, friends, and all the things I enjoy, really all for next to nothing.  

I feel like last year was a waste. Yes, we paid off some debt, we bought our first house, I got promoted, we’re now expecting our first baby – but while we passed so many milestones, I didn’t take the time to enjoy them and let them sink in. Looking back now, I’m saddened. 

This year, beyond just checking off my resolutions, I want to end in a better place than when I started. Better spiritually, relationally, emotionally … all around healthier, happier, and more satisfied because I’ve spent my energy on what really matters in life and what refreshes and refuels me. 

This year is going to be really hard. I’m having a baby in July, Lord willing. And my dad is getting deployed this spring, to Liberia, to provide security at the Ebola camps. Talk about scary. 

And who knows what will happen in the next 12 months that I never anticipated. But this year, I want to be present for it, even the hard things. 

I want to take time to feel happy, to do some things that make me happy, and to take care of my health and family. I want to take time to grow. And to just be. 

JJ Heller puts it well, per usual, in her new song. 

I do have a list of “resolutions.” But it just boils down to one thing: making 2015 a better year.

Do you have resolutions for this year? Or a word or phrase that’s your focus? Share it in the comments below.

A Brave New Year

Buy it from Watersounds on Etsy

While riding in the car for 45 hours during our road trip to Iowa for Christmas, I had ample time to reflect on 2013 and make some goals for the new year. Honestly, 2013 was such a blur. From January to December, so much changed. 

I learned a goal setting technique some time ago that radically changed the way I make New Years Resolutions. Instead of setting goals for the entire year in January, I make a list of ten goals for the year, but re-write it every week. If something happens that requires my priorities to change, there’s no guilt. I found that I accomplish much more than when I wasn’t able to take unforeseen circumstances into account. 
Last year, I …
  1. Actually made money from my blog
  2. Started a small business
  3. Reached my goal weight
  4. Got more involved with managing our finances
  5. Trained for and ran a 5k
  6. Was published in a magazine
  7. Finished my quilt
  8. Finished my wedding scrapbook
  9. Started an Etsy shop
  10. Redesigned Scribbles from Emily
  11. Made art
  12. Guest posted on 3 blogs
  13. Quit Target
  14. Curated my wardrobe to 100 items
  15. Paid off a school loan
  16. Guest posted on 2 more blogs
  17. Applied for 20ish jobs
  18. Traveled (California, Oregon, Iowa)
  19. Got better at driving
  20. Made two new friends
  21. Maintained goal weight all year
  22. Did an internship
  23. Got a full time job
This year, I hope to accomplish at least these, some of which carried over from last year: 
  1. Run a faster 5k (February). My first was 45 ish minutes, so I’d like to do better this time!
  2. Pay off school loans. With my full-time job, we could potentially be out of debt this year!
  3. Get a bigger bed, bedroom furniture. Much needed. Can’t handle sleeping in a full sized bed much longer.
  4. Read 12 books. Approximately one a month, so if I read the Harry Potter series again, that takes care of seven. 
  5.  Blog 52 posts on scribbles from Emily. Aiming for once a week.
  6.  Build a professional wardrobe. Also much needed! 
  7.  Re-decorate house. A goal from last year, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m not very good at interior design. I’d like to learn some new skills in this area.
  8.  Finish embroidery pillows. I started these ages ago, and can’t wait to finish them.
  9.  Learn to golf. It looks like a fun sport, that I could actually get good at.
  10.  Take a writing class. Since I’m a writer now, I’d like to work on my technique and learn some things that can help my career. Plus, it’d just be fun.
Last year, my theme was Confidence. This year, my theme is Brave. 
It’s similar, but difference. Brave is doing the right thing, even when you don’t feel confident. It’s doing what you need to do, even when you’re still afraid. It’s saying what you need to say, knowing that not everyone will like it. Brave is pushing for what you believe in, standing up for the right, and being yourself instead of fitting in. Sometimes, being selfless is brave.
I think I was inspired by this song, that I’m kind of obsessed with right now. 

I like choosing songs for different seasons of my life, and this is mine right now. I was also a little influenced by reading Divergent. 

The verdict is still out on where I’d rank this book in comparison to the Hunger Games and other dystopian literature, or young adult literature.

Regardless, I plan to accomplish something brave this year.

What about you? What are you excited about for 2014? 

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Going Confidently in 2013

“Is working at Target worth getting a college degree for?”
“So, you’re short-circuiting your writing career to work at Target?”
I’ve received these comments, and many similar ones, from a particular church member who feels called to change my misguided ways with unsolicited advice after church every Sunday.
Last Sunday, my blood began to boil as he went on about how becoming addicted to a regular paycheck would ruin my writing career, how I’d start telling myself, “I’ll write tomorrow,” and tomorrow would never come. I gritted my teeth and didn’t say a word.
But what bothers me more than this person’s comments is the fact that I let them get to me. They ruined my entire day. In fact, two days later, they’re still hovering over my head, a gray cloud of doubt and discouragement.
I want to scream: You don’t even know me! Do you think this is easy for me?! Do you think this is my ideal?! When I dreamed about what I would be when I grew up and finished college, it wasn’t about being a Target employee. This isn’t what I planned for. In fact, moving to Arizona wasn’t in my plan either. Or majoring in Technical Communication. Or getting married young. Or getting $20,000 of school debt from my spouse when I got married.
Do you think I don’t realize that I look like a failure? I get it. I know what people think. But this is where I’m at. I have to make the best of it. I’m working a part time job in retail to add a little padding to our budget while I start my own business and figure out what I want to do with my life.”
And you know, that’s really not so bad. I really don’t need to feel inferior about that. I certainly don’t need to listen to people who want to make me feel inferior about it.

So why do I consent? Why do I consent to letting a random person who really doesn’t know me at all speak into my life? 
Because deep down, I think he’s right. 
Warning, this is about to get real.
I do feel like a failure. I don’t believe I’m capable of achieving my dreams, or even, worthy. 

Yet a part of me fights back. Something in me whispers, you were made for more. 
I want confidence. Confidence that doesn’t come from what job I have or what I can produce, but in who God made me. Confidence that no matter what happens, He has a plan for me and is working all things for good, even the things that seem like mistakes or detours to others…and myself. 
Confidence that I am capable, and I have worth, because I’m His child and I am loved. 
I don’t have a set of formal resolutions this year. I have one word: Confidence. 
Meredith Crawford from One Sheepish Girl inspired me with her Blogging for Confidence series. With the encouragement from her blog readers, she undertook a series of challenges, like taking herself on a date, wearing red lipstick, and knitting in public, to grow her confidence. This year, I’m going to follow suit with challenges of my own!
I have a few ideas that I’ll share later. The areas I plan to focus on this year include:
  • Confidence in relationships: taking initiative, saying “No,” asking for what I need, not avoiding confrontation. 
  • Confidence in who God made me:  my gifts, skills, and passions, being myself, feeling good about my body and appearance, doing work I enjoy without apology, and doing hard things that scare me.

I think this year’s goals could take the rest of my life. But, I’m excited to see where I’ll be at the end of 2013. 

Thank you for joining me on this journey. I really can’t thank you enough for the encouragement and love you show me through your comments, and even just through your presence here. Thank you for reading! 
I’d love to know, what are your goals for this new year? 

Free Printable and Mid-Year Goal Reflection

It’s JUNE. I know we say “time is going by so fast” often, but seriously, what happened to the first half of this year?!

I made myself a little sign for motivation, then I figured that you might like it too.

 To download the 8×10 size, click on the link at the bottom of this post.

Since the year is half gone, it’s time to take a look at my New Year’s Resolutions. One of the reasons I think many people fail to keep their resolutions is that they make them and then forget them until December rolls around. Also, I’m a believer in flexible resolutions, because you never know what road blocks can come up in a year!  Instead of getting discouraged and throwing out all resolutions, I’m resolved to revise as needed to keep stretching myself while being realistic. 

This is what I resolved in January, soon after my aunt passed way from cancer:

Others Goals:

  • Eat out less, have people over more. We have had people over more often than last year, but we still eat out too much. Trying to get down to once a week.
  • Reach out the the community regularly with the youth group (hopefully once a month). Brian and I finally sat down and made a schedule, so for the summer, we will have monthly outreaches. If we have another planning session for the fall, I think we’ll be able to keep it up.
  • Go to Mexico on the church mission trip (taking place in March)Did it!
  • Take time to celebrate my friendships and let people know how much I appreciate them. I’m still not doing well at sending cards and calling people, although in the last month I actually sent Mother’s Day cards (though late), two birthday cards, and letters to my brothers just because. This one definitely needs to stay on my resolutions list to keep working on.

Personal Goals:

  • Make my wedding scrapbook, preferably before our two year anniversary in June. I started working on it on Memorial Day, and put together two pages. I’m not too confident I’ll finish it by June 19th, but maybe by the end of the year. 
  • Make more art and crafts (this will happen this semester since I’m taking a drawing class) Finished drawing class, and still drawing in my free time.
  • Keep blogging 🙂 I slowed down quite a bit from my usual schedule for a few months, but I’ve picked it back up now. 
  • Grow as a writer and designer by learning new skills in school and seeking to get published. I have grown in my skills, and I have specific plans to continue growing.
  • Get published in something. Hasn’t happened yet.
  • Graduate college (this will happen in May!) Yep!

Physical Goals:

  • Do Jillian Michaels – 30 Day Shred (time to be determined, probably Jan-Feb.)
  • Exercising all year, keeping the goal of 3 times a week. I’ve been doing really well with exercise this year, although Brian being unemployed made it tons easier to find motivation since I had someone to work out with. I’ve been slacking off since he want back to work, and I’ve got to find a new way to stay motivated!
  • Take care of my health by seeking to eat balanced meals and going to the doctor/dentist/dermatologist regularly (and get Brian to go too). When Brian lost his job, we didn’t have health insurance. Our new insurance won’t start for a couple months, so this will have to wait. 

New Goals

I’ve expanded my goals and made the existing goals more specific. Here’s what I have now:


  • Read new devotional books regularly
  • Work on discovering my passions and purpose
  • Journal at least once a week
  • Have daily devotions
  • Serve at church


  • Graduate from college
  • Grow as a designer
  • Grow as a writer
    • Send 2 or more queries a month
    • Write two or more articles per month
    • Get published 😀
  • Make arts and crafts
    • Wedding Scrapbook
    • Personal scrapbook
    • Drawing class
    • Make curtains for my office
    • Headboard for our bedroom
    • Pillow cases for our bedroom
  • Grow my blogs
    • Set up Newlywed’s Bliss contributor system
      • Email possible contributors
      • Set up accounts and schedules
    • Write and submit guest posts
    • Blog 3 times a week on Scribbles From Emily
    • Blog once a week on Newlywed’s Bliss
    • Grow Scribbles followers to 300
    • Grow NB followers to 100
  • Read
  • Physical
    • Keep working out three times a week
    • Eat balanced meals, restricting processed foods
    • Visit the doctor, dentist, dermatologist


  • Celebrate my friendships and let people know I appreciate them
    • Write Edward (my brother)
    • Write Eric (my brother)
    • Write Bessi (our sponsored child)
    • Talk to Evi, Elissa, mom and dad regularly
  • Go on weekly dates with Brian
  • Eat out less, have people over once a month
  • Go to Mexico
  • Help with VBS
    • Teaching or assistant teaching the pre-primaries
    • Movie and photography highlights from the summer
  • Volunteer at church
    • Update and manage the website 
    • Design brochures
    • Design visitor packet
  • Youth Group
    • Plan monthly activities
    • Help promote activities
    • Girl’s Bible Study?
    • Youth Group Blog

Wow… it looks a little ambitious. But I have a plan – at the beginning of each month I’ll pick certain objectives from each category to focus on. At the beginning of each week, I’ll pick some of those objectives to tackle. I can break bigger tasks into week long chunks, and then into pieces small enough to get done in a day.

So, it’s going to be vital that I seize the day!

Download the PDF here. 
Download the image file here.

If you’d like to just make the most of your summer, you might like this printable from Passion And Purpose:

Check it out here: Summer Planning Sheet.

Are you re-evaluating or checking up on your New Year’s resolutions? What’s on your bucket list for summer? 

Linking up here today:


“Every day you’re alive is a special occasion.”

I read “A Story to Live By” by Ann Wells, first published in the Los Angeles Times, in Fresh-Brewed Life: A Stirring Invitation to Wake Up Your Soul by Nicole Johnson about celebrating life. The author was helping her brother-in-law pick out clothes to take to the mortician after her sister’s unexpected death. Her brother-in-law pulled out a beautiful handmade silk slip. “Jan bought this the first time we went to New York, at least 8 or 9 nine years ago. She never wore it. She was saving it for a special occasion. Well, I guess this is the occasion.” He admonished the author, “Don’t ever save anything for a special occasion. Every day you’re alive is a special occasion.”

This story struck me deeply since my aunt Joy so recently passed away at the age of 43. Did she ever save things for a special occasion that never came? I don’t know, but I doubt it. She was the kind of person who lived fully alive, who celebrated events large and small. At the visitation I flipped through her scrapbooks. She documented new puppies, ladybugs, and loosing teeth right along with birthdays, Christmases, awards, and travels.

Last year I based my resolutions on Proverbs 31. This year, I want to carry the idea of every day being a special occasion, a day to celebrate being alive.

New Year’s Resolutions {So Far}

Others Goals:

  • Eat out less, have people over more
  • Reach out the the community regularly with the youth group (hopefully once a month)
  • Go to Mexico on the church mission trip (taking place in March)
  • Take time to celebrate my friendships and let people know how much I appreciate them. In several of my aunt’s scrapbooks, she had saved all the Christmas cards and letters from that year. I think she treasured her friendships and relationships, and people knew it. 

Personal Goals:

  • Make my wedding scrapbook, preferably before our two year anniversary in June
  • Make more art and crafts (this will happen this semester since I’m taking a drawing class)
  • Keep blogging 🙂
  • Grow as a writer and designer by learning new skills in school and seeking to get published
  • Get published in something
  • Graduate college (this will happen in May!)

Physical Goals:

  • Do Jillian Michaels – 30 Day Shred (time to be determined, probably Jan-Feb.)
  • Exercising all year, keeping the goal of 3 times a week
  • Take care of my health by seeking to eat balanced meals and going to the doctor/dentist/dermatologist regularly (and get Brian to go too)

That’s what I’ve got so far; it’s still a work in progress. I think it will be until 2013! So much changed over the course of last year, who knows what lies ahead?

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

What are a few of your goals for the new year?

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