Why I Am Starting This Year Without New Goals

Sometimes we get so excited to execute new goals that we set ourselves up for failure.

When I was a teen, our pastor announced that he was going to focus on the fruits of the Spirit. Each week he would discuss a different fruit.

Well, I was humble enough to know there was some room for improvement in my life, even if I thought I was well on my way to being practically perfect.

So, I devised a plan for myself. Or a goal.

Each week I would focus on learning and practicing the fruit discussed that week. Within nine weeks, I would have mastered those 9 different fruits and would be able to then focus on improving myself in other ways. (Like learning to speak German well enough to raise bilingual children!)

Instead of working on new goals, we sometimes need to keep working on our old goals.

Executing my plan and setting the goal.


Well things started out pretty good, with the first fruit being love.

My heart was already pretty much full of love. At my tender age I didn’t have any enemies I hated. And while my siblings would get on my nerves, I still loved them.

The first week coasted by and I thought things were going just fine. I seemed to have this love fruit down. Maybe a tweak here or there, but basically one fruit mastered.

The second week was joy. Yes, the pastor talked about joy in trials, which I was experiencing none of at the moment, but I was pretty certain that I would be joyful during a hard trial. Afterall, I was a cup-half-full kind of girl. A spot-the-positive, and keep-moving type.

Yup, I had joy and love down. This developing new fruit goal was cruising along like a freshly released frisbee.

Week three arrived. Peace. I inwardly laughed. Were these fruits all going to be so easy?

I looked inward and examined my heart. I was at peace with the world. At peace with my peers, family, teachers, and authority. Peace reigned in my heart. I slept well and wasn’t really to worried about much.

Well except that I was anxious that Jesus might return before I had a chance to grow up and really get to live life. I was hoping he would delay his coming until I had at least gotten married. Or got to live life more than currently had.

Three fruits accomplished. Six more to go.

Instead of working on new goals, we sometimes need to keep working on our old goals.

Hitting a goal snag.


Week four was about longsuffering. Or as the pastor said, extreme patience.

Well my teen ears perked up. I was after all, a patient person. Living in a family with six siblings and only two bathrooms, one had to be.

Then he droned on about how longsuffering meant having already, or showing, patience during troubles, but especially towards troubles caused by other people.

Well that caused me to suck my breath inward. Maybe I had finally hit upon a fruit that would challenge me and take a bit of work.

Well I was one who enjoyed a challenge. I was pretty sure I had this.

But it turned out I was wrong.

That week clearly showed I was not oozing over with long-suffering. Patience was not a virtue I had mastered. And as the individual week days were crossed off, it became apparent, even to my over rated self-concept, that patience would not be checked off, or accomplished, within my seven-day window for self-improvement.

By now, you are probably laughing at me. And right you should be.

Because by the end of those nine weeks, I had not mastered patience. (Or as I realized years later, any of those other nine fruits.)

Maybe because I had too much schoolwork. To many siblings. Or I was confronted with too many situations that required patience (I was thinking one situation a day would provide better mastery).

But most likely, because we can’t develop patience in a week. (Although before children, I did think I was a rather patient person. Parenthood, though, helped me realize the truth.)

Here it is years later, and I am still struggling with being patient. In fact, I will be struggling with learning and displaying the fruits of the Spirit until I am called home.

Partly because they don’t come naturally. They are instead a struggle. A doing what I don’t want to do, but know I should do.

It seems so many things in life are like this.

A struggle. An unnatural fight against myself.

Instead of working on new goals, we sometimes need to keep working on our old goals.Instead of working on new goals, we sometimes need to keep working on our old goals.

When does your year and goal setting start?


With the start of a new year, I keep reading about setting goals. Keep hearing about the goals others are setting. And have been asked about my goals for this new year.

I don’t know about you, but January does not seem like a new year for me, but a continuation of the last year. My year instead, seems to follow the academic calendar. For me, the beginning of a new school year feels like a new year.

That’s when I am setting goals and trying new things. Committing to do things differently.

Probably because I am a mother and my life revolves around the school year. Maybe because I am a teacher.

While others are setting goals and endeavoring to accomplish and do things differently, this January I am not setting any big goals. I am just continuing to carry on and complete the goals I set last August and September.

Here’s what I have been asking myself:

*. what has been working in my life?

*. And in what areas can I keep improving?

These are the questions that are keeping me on course.

Around last fall, I started yoga, and find it very relaxing and beneficial. So, I want to continue it. Maybe even add another class time.

I also started deciding a loose meal plan for the week. I pull out 5-8 different dinner recipes, and then each morning I choose which to make for that day. I like the flexibility of being able to select which meal works best for that day and the amount of time I have.

Walking more. I have always been a walker, but often with others. This fall I started walking more by myself, and find I like the time to think and contemplate. Sometimes I listen to a podcast. But I am finding I enjoy it and want to keep improving in this area. Especially now that it is winter, and I am walking less outside.

I was doing such a good job of taking breaks and getting outside several times a day. Even just a few minutes can be such a head clearer and mood changer. With winter, though, I need to improve in this area.

Staying off my phone on weekends and later evenings has been working and I want to continue this habit.

Remembering to greet God hello first thing in the morning and pray for a few friends before I get out of bed is something, I also want to continue.

Instead of working on new goals, we sometimes need to keep working on our old goals.

How not to fail at your goals.


There is a joy and excitement in setting new goals. And there is a joy and excitement in seeing that you are making progress. That some things are working in your life. That you can modifying and stop goals that are not serving their purpose.

I don’t know which place you are in. Making new goals, or working on old goals, but I do know that lots of small steps will eventually accomplish big things and over time develop large changes.

Reading one chapter a day, may not seem like much, but it will get you through about 30 books in a year.

Often our goals, or life changes, take more than a week or nine. Or even six months. Things like being a good mother. Eating healthy. Getting in shape. Living debt free. Losing weight. Starting a business. Worrying less.

These are more life time goals, or a period of life goals. Not easily accomplished in a small amount of time.

There is a big difference between a to-do list item and a goal. One can be accomplished in the short-term. Things like cleaning a closet. Finishing a book. Attending today’s yoga class. Eating a healthy dinner. Goals, though, take many days of effort and consciously making the right choice time and time again. Like being physically fit. Organizing and cleaning the whole house. Reading 20 books in a year.

Tasks can be done and crossed off short-term. Goals require making a conscious choice to complete steps towards the goal day after and day.

And here is another sticky trap about goals. We can’t get healthy after a week of eating kale and chia seed smoothies. It takes making good food choices for the long-term. It requires a change to the way we think about our food and choose our food. It requires forming new habits.

And that is hard. And it is one reason we get discouraged and give up on our goals.

So many goals require doing them long-term, or maybe life term. We won’t just wake up suddenly having reached our patient-threshold after years of trying to be patient and can now quit thinking about being patient ever again.

We won’t wake up with an organized and clutter free house and never have to devote any more energy again on that task. No, we will be tossing things we don’t need or want for the rest of our life if we want it to stay organized and clutter free.

So, keep plodding away. Slow and steady wins.

And once in a while, look back and see how far you have come. (But always, give yourself grace. No shame allowed.)

You do that, and I’ll keep working on conquering the fruit of patience.

Achieving a goal requires the conscious choice to complete steps toward that goal day after day.

Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important.



Having trouble enjoying life? Reconciling your current reality with how you wish life really was? Get a free PDF with 12 tips to help you enjoy your life right now. Subscribe and join the journey. You will also receive weekly encouragement and hope tied up with some humor. Because life is sweeter when we walk alongside one another.

Join the Discussion: Are you a January goal setter? What is working in your life?

Instead of working on new goals, we sometimes need to keep working on our old goals.

May link up at Kelly Balarie (#purposeful faitht), Lori Schumaker (#Moments of Hope), Crystal Storms (#HeartEncouragement), Maree Dee (#Grace & Truth), and Kristin Hill Taylor (#porchstories).

Instead of working on new goals, we sometimes need to keep working on our old goals.


Instead of working on new goals, we sometimes need to keep working on our old goals.

The Benefits of Complaining

It is so easy to slip into complaining.

Do you have this problem? Complaining more than you want?

I know that sometimes I am complaining, and I don’t even realize I am complaining. Other times I know I am complaining, but it is hard to stop until I have vented my frustration.

Anyone else raising their hand?

There seems to always be something to complain about.  Big things and small things. Though I tend to favor small things.

How about you? Big or small things?

Learn the 4 benefits of complaining. Then take complaining to the next level and do something about your complaints.Learn the 4 benefits of complaining. Then take complaining to the next level and do something about your complaints.Learn the 4 benefits of complaining. Then take complaining to the next level and do something about your complaints.It’s easy to complain.


I am trying to get ready and the phone rings. The bird needs to be put in her cage. Someone asks where their shoes are. I realize I haven’t yet brushed my teeth. And oh yes, what am I going to wear?

Stress builds. Frustration rises.

Then as we are leaving the house someone says, “I thought this started at 6pm.”

I look at the clock. It says 6:05.

I glance at the calendar. Yup, starts at six. Which means we needed to leave at 5:30.

In the car I complain about people distracting me. How I need people to take care of the bird and get themselves ready. And anything mildly related.

We arrive half an hour late, and in a bad mood, mainly because I have complained and vented.

I apologize, but we are all a bit somber. All because I mixed up the time to go and arrive as one in the same. And then complained to a car-captive audience.

That time it was my fault.

But sometimes it is not my fault.

I complain because it seems no one in my house can return an item back to its original and designated spot.

Or because I get tired of waiting for people to show up at the dinner table.

Or because my day has gone nothing like how I wanted it to.


So many things to complain about.

In fact, the list seems never ending. We can complain about life, others, circumstances, our day, work, pets, health, politics, laws, food, movies, service, accommodations, traveling, technology, ourselves, and much more.

Learn the 4 benefits of complaining. Then take complaining to the next level and do something about your complaints.Why we complain.


We often complain because we have a sense of entitlement. We expect things to unfold orderly, and ultimately go a certain way. We expect (and think) people to act certain way. We expect (and think we deserve) to be treated a certain way.

In short. We complain because things, people, or life is not going as we expected.

I know. It sounds a little shallow of us, doesn’t it?

And it reveals our selfishness and that we are thinking mostly about our self.

Ugg. Not pretty, I know.

Learn the 4 benefits of complaining. Then take complaining to the next level and do something about your complaints.The benefits of complaining.


I did say there were benefits of complaining, so let’s get to them.

1. Complaining can highlight the things that irritate us and identify what we consider to be a problem.

2. Complaining can help us label our feelings.

3. Complaining can illuminate the expectations we had for that situation or person.

4. Complaining can point out our self-focused heart.

In short, complaining can help us get to know ourselves better and shine a light into our motivations, feelings, attitudes, and expectations.

But how are these a benefit?

Has this ever happened to you?

You are complaining to your friend about your mate always being late. You are ready early, he has never been early to anything. And as you are describing your frustration about waiting for him and explain how you feel about arriving late to most things, you feel your blood pressure rise.

Presto! You’ve identified what you consider a problem.

You dislike being late. And he is late.

And you have begun to identify your feelings about this problem.

You hate waiting. You feel anger. Frustration. Annoyance. Maybe slighted because he doesn’t consider that you want to be early to events. Not late.

And if you were to probe further, you may find that waiting for him makes you feel disrespected. Not loved. Or maybe the cardinal rule in your childhood was never be late. So, you relate being late to breaking a rule of life.

See all the good information you have learned about yourself? {Stuff you can use to help you not get upset next time this predictable late dance happens again.}

Now let’s dig a little deeper.

You have looked at being late from your point of view, now let’s try to look at it from his viewpoint.

Your mate probably doesn’t see being late as a problem big enough to change. Or he probably wouldn’t be consistently late. Maybe he grew up in a family where they were always late. Or maybe he has no sense of time. Or maybe he has anxiety about being early.

Like I said, this is a problem to you. And why? Because it bugs you.

And it bugs you because you are an early bird married to a late bird. It bothers you because he is different than you. It bothers you because you hate being late. And in your rule book (your expectations), one needs to be early.

Learn the 4 benefits of complaining. Then take complaining to the next level and do something about your complaints.Looking closer at the benefit of complaining.


Complaining has identified three important things we need if we are going to change or fix something in our life.

First, we need to identify the problem.  We can’t change a problem without identifying it.

The more we can identify the things that irritate us, the better able we are to address those situations and take steps to not be irritated. We cannot take steps to prevent, sidestep, or change until we have identified a problem.

Second, we need awareness. We need awareness about how we feel, our actions, motivations, expectations, and personality. The more aware we are of how the problem makes us feel, act, and why we feel this way, than we can choose the next step and figure out what to do about the problem.

If we can identify our feelings, and work through them, we will rule them, instead of them ruling us.

Third, after gaining awareness of ourselves, we can gain awareness of others. After we look at the problem or situation from our point of view, we can step back and gain perspective by examining other viewpoints.

The more we can figure out the other person and why they act or think a certain way, the easier it is to give grace, understanding, and decide how to go about compromising and trying to solve the problem. Trying to understand their viewpoint also helps the situation be less of an I-am-right point of view, and they-are wrong point of view (or the winner / loser scenario). It also helps us not take their actions so personally.

We can also look at the problem or situation through the big picture of life and gain insight on how important the thing we are complaining about really is in the scheme of life.

Learn the 4 benefits of complaining. Then take complaining to the next level and do something about your complaints.Complaining never solves a problem.


Usually we like to complain. Then after we have vented, we feel better.

Until next time.

But you see. Complaining never solves a problem. It takes no action.

My sister told me this one day and it made a big impression on me.

Complaining just exercises our tongue. And often it encourages us to shame and blame, or lecture, those involved, but there is no plan developed. No steps taken to alleviate or live with the problem.

It is time to take complaining to the next level. After we have identified the problem and our feelings concerning the problem, let’s take some action.

Let’s attempt to solve (minimize or deal with) the problem and eliminate further complaining.

Learn the 4 benefits of complaining. Then take complaining to the next level and do something about your complaints.Solving the problem.


Here is the action part. The brain work.

It is time to reap the benefits of all that complaining and move to solving the problem. To quit being the victim and move to choices.

Back to the problem of the early bird and tardy bird. There are many choices available.

You can discuss it with him and tell him how his lateness makes you feel. You can come to a compromise. You can take separate cars. Maybe reward yourself with something enjoyable while he is taking so long to get ready. Tell him things start 30 minutes earlier than they really do. Decide to just   overlook it and live with it. Catch yourself getting irritated and decide not to let it ruin your day. Catch yourself wanting to nag and complain him into moving faster, and instead name two things aloud to him that you appreciate about him.

The one thing you cannot do is change him. He has to do that himself.

The thing to remember is that you have lots of choices.

When we feel we have choices, we can quit complaining and instead choose to do something different.

Not all problems we complain about can be changed. Sometimes we need to find ways to deal with the problem in the best possible way. But we never get to dealing with the problem in a better way, until we identify the problem, our feelings associated with the problem, our expectations concerning the problem, and then take action to do or try something different.

I am not encouraging you to complain, but once you have, use the benefits (the knowledge learned) of complaining to your advantage.

Move to the next step of dealing with or solving the problem.

You’ll be happier, and so will those around you.

Learn the 4 benefits of complaining. Then take complaining to the next level and do something about your complaints.P.S. Possible questions to ask yourself to help you solve your problem and benefit from complaining.

1. What do I really feel about this topic / problem?

2. Why might I be feeling this way?

3. Why does this problem bother me so much?

4. What are my expectations for this problem? Why or how did I develop of choose those expectations?

5. What might the other person’s viewpoint be?

6. What might their expectations be?

7. What have I learned about myself (or them) that can help in the future?

8. Do I want to address this topic / problem with the person? What would be the best way of doing this?

9. How do I want to address, or react, next time this problem / situation comes up? (Come up with a plan of action.)

Helpful tip: Complain to a person who will listen, ask similar questions, and help you figure out your answers to these questions.

My sister and I call each other to complain, and then often we ask some of these hard questions of each other. This helps us identify the problem, and then decide what we are going to do about the problem.

Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important.



If you need some weekly encouragement and hope, tied up with some humor? Subscribe and join the journey. Life is sweeter when we walk alongside one another.

Join the Discussion: What are some benefits you have noticed about complaining?

Learn the 4 benefits of complaining. Then take complaining to the next level and do something about your complaints.May link up at Holley Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart), Lori Schumaker (#Moments of Hope), Crystal Storms (#HeartEncouragement), Maree Dee (#Grace & Truth).

Learn the 4 benefits of complaining. Then take complaining to the next level and do something about your complaints.We can't spread peace around the world. But we can spread peace to those around us. To our little neighborhood, one peaceful act at a time.

Shedding the Wallflower

When I tell my children I was shy and painfully unsure of myself during my childhood and early adult years, they question if I am being truthful. The story sounds made up, to them. But it is true.

I spent most of my first twenty some years quietly looking around, unsure of myself and the world. I preferred to watch people, instead of participate; listen to people, instead of talk.

I tried to avoid situations where I needed to talk in front of others and where I felt under the spotlight. I hated being asked something I wasn’t sure of. When asked a question, my mind usually went blank, then churned like a slot machine circling madly to land on the correct answer. Didn’t all questions have a right and wrong answer? I was terribly afraid of choosing the wrong one,

With this established track record of silence, who knows why during my last half-year of graduate school I listened to my friend who recommended that I pursue a job as an English instructor.

Now why it never dawned on me as I was typing my resume, calling English department Deans, or interviewing, that being a teacher required one to stand in front of a class and talk, I am not entirely sure.

Getting dressed for my first night of teaching at a local college I was scared out of my wits. I wasn’t sure I would have any sweat still left inside of me by the time I arrived.

Remembering the vote of confidence from my friend, I grabbed my notes, and out the door I headed. “You can do this,” she had assured.

Talk about an adrenalin surge. Intense nervousness. A cracking voice. Sensations of nausea. Feelings of being an alien on exhibit. I experienced it all within the first 10 minutes of entering the classroom. Being an evening class, I still had another 100 minutes.

To find out what happened, please continue reading this post, Shedding the Wallflower – Made For Brave Sisterhood, at Crystal Twaddell where I am guest posting.

We were made to be brave. And sometimes that means stepping out and doing the unexpected. #worth and identity #personal growth