We've all seen them. The New Year's posts. "New Diet." "New Workout." "New Resolutions." "New Class" for this or that. They're EVERYWHERE. I don't know about you, but they stress me out. It's like these ads are constantly put in front of us knowing we will fail. These things are created expecting us to transform into new people. But why do we have to? Why can't we make small improvements on our already amazing selves? Friends, I am the queen of "not completing long term goals." Yes- I have set so many in the past and the story only ends in disappointment when said things are not completed. But...I'm here to give you hope. We all have goals- we just need ways to achieve them. Let's talk about some of the hot topics, AKA "things that flood my news feed that make me want be a better person but I tend to give up 3 days in."

"I need to eat better."

There are so many programs out there that it's easy to become overwhelmed. Over the years, I've learned that simple is best. I personally focus on clean eating (cutting out processed foods) because it's easy. We try our best to read food labels and choose foods with ingredients that we can pronounce. Try joining a few free facebook groups because they offer a ton of great info. One of my favorites is "Clean Food Crush." Try creating a pinterest board with new recipes. Separate the boards into breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. It's easier than you think to take your favorite recipes and turn them into healthy, body fueling meals. Another tactic I use to stay on track is meal planning. I've mentioned this in other blog posts but this has been a game changer for our family. I take 20-30 minutes each week and plan out our meals. It has saved me HOURS of shopping and money too!

"I need to lose 15 pounds."

To me, that's a long term goal. It's not something that can be achieved in a few days or a week. I've set this goal before and failed a few days in. I failed because change needs to come gradually. Try setting a goal for 1-2 pounds a week. It's attainable and better for long term success. Keep a food and exercise journal to track your progress. Take the dreaded "before" photos and measurements so that you can celebrate the "after" photos! When you reach your goal, you will be SO proud of how far you've come. Set small exercise goals if you're just starting out but make them realistic. For example, I do not set my alarm for 5am to get up and get my workout done because the chances of me hitting snooze 10 times are pretty high. Then I will feel like I've failed for the day before it even starts. To keep myself accountable, I do check in daily with two friends who have similar goals. A quick text keeps us all motivated and happy!

*Photo below is the result of months of upper body and core exercises and stretches. One of my goals for last year was to increase upper body strength and to become more flexible.

I need to be more organized."

Ohh....this is a big one for me! I have daily goals, weekly goals and monthly goals. I use my phone calendar for daily appointments (boys' scheduled events, haircuts, birthdays doctor appts, etc). For my photography business, I needed something more than a phone calendar so I invested in a client management system so I could track inquiries, contracts, invoices etc. But I still like to have a written calendar. I am a very visual person and buying a planner called the "Simplified Planner" has been so helpful. I was able to sit down at the beginning of this year and plan out my blog posts, mini sessions, bookings and my to-do list. I love that I'm able to open it up and add to to as the year goes on. Everything is in ONE place and I love it!

As far as organizing at home, little things have made BIG changes. For example, I have been folding laundry as soon as it comes out of the dryer. It saves me from having to steam out wrinkles and later stare at baskets of unfolded laundry for days. It seriously takes 5 minutes to fold it. Why have I not done this before? Because I had the "oh -I'll get to it later mentality." But really, all that was doing was having more things build up that cost me more time in the long run to accomplish. Now... getting it put away right away is a work in progress...but baby steps, right?? Other little things that help are having the boys pick up their toys before anything else is taken out. It's taken a lot of practice but they have been working hard at playing a game and putting it away before getting out another. For those of us with small kids, we KNOW how many pieces come with most games!! One more thing that helps me stay on top of things is cleaning up as I cook and not letting dishes sit in the sink for more than one meal. Sure, some days are better than others, but we, as a family are all making a conscious effort to do better.

"I want to de-clutter my house."

If you don't have this problem, hats off to you- please teach me your ways! But 17 years of marriage and 2 kids has a way of adding a lot of extra stuff into the living space. Some days, it's overwhelming to say the least. Looking at our house as a whole and saying "we need to declutter" is not working. My husband put it bluntly and said "we need less stuff." He is 100% right. However, I don't have time to listen to webinars on how to accomplish this gigantic task. So I'm taking it room by room, drawer by drawer and closet by closet to make this happen. My advice to myself and to you is to start small. Commit to 15 minutes a day. Our basement is the worst of the worst. There are things down there that I didn't even know we owned! So, last week I made a dent in the mess. I collected all of the random pairs of shoes that we no longer want or the kids grew out of but are still useable. I put them in a large garbage bag and donated them to our church THAT DAY. I think that's key too. To get the items for donation out of the house at that moment (or at least that week). Another day last week, I cleaned out the kids' craft area. There were empty bottles of paint in the drawers, old glue and used coloring books. Now they can find their craft items and they are actually using them because the drawers are neat. These small things didn't make a drastic change, but small things over time will surely add up.

So here's to 2021. Whatever your goals are, I hope that this gave you some kind of inspiration. I hope you find joy and feel content when you start with small changes. I wish you health and happiness this year!! Stay tuned for new weekly posts!