4 simple goals (before 2014)

As is often the case I’m a little late to the party, but yesterday I stumbled across this post on A Beautiful Mess.  


image : abeautifulmess.com

This is such a wonderfully simple idea and it is really resonating with me.  As the year draws towards its end, and the mayhem of the holiday season draws closer, it’s tempting for me to ramp up the busy and the crazy and try to do a million things in no time whatsoever.

But I don’t want to play that game this year.

I also suspect The Husband would divorce me if I did!

I’ve been off my feet for nearly 7 weeks now with this chest infection and, to my amazement, we have survived.  I find it disconcerting that the guys at the local pizza delivery know our order by heart and either discount our bill or add extra cheese because we’re such good customers.  And that I’m super thrilled with myself if I make a bowl of chilli (mainly, because it’s not pizza!). But…the house didn’t fall down, the kids don’t have rickets, and we haven’t choked on dust bunnies.

So, although I’m most definitely on the mend (and thank you all for your kind thoughts and good wishes) with only a few more days of meds, I think I’m going to give myself a little more breathing space until the year end.

No massive lists.  No “I must achieve 732 critically urgent tasks before 10.37am tomorrow morning”. No “I will lose 10lbs, make 4 dresses and landscape the garden before the end of the week”.

I only exaggerate a little bit.  I can be as mad as a badger when the list making bug takes me.

Instead, I’m going to give myself 4 simple activities that will, hopefully, be enough to stave off the crazies, but will also enrich my life, and therefore my family’s life, over the next couple of months.

The rules of engagement are as follows:

1. Choose simple goals that will make your life richer and happier on a daily basis. Choose things you may not otherwise get done, but that are not difficult to accomplish.

2. Do not choose result oriented goals, choose activity oriented goals. for example…. instead of “lose 10 pounds”, choose something like “eat fresh fruits and vegetables every day”. Get what I’m saying? Positive actions instead of just the end result!

3. Choose goals that are personal that you believe will truly make your life richer just by doing them! They can be daily, weekly or one time experiences.

4. Choose a reward for each goal as it is accomplished! It can be a small or large reward- it’s up to you.

5. Blog about your goals, each one as you achieve it and a big post when they are all finished before the new year!

I found it really easy to decide on my 4 Simple Goals.

1. Eat whole

I’m really not joking about the pizza.  And I miss cooking.  I’ve also been doing a lot of reading whilst I’ve been laid up and investigating the best way to eat to support my health.  I’m itching to get back into the CrossFit box, and to avoid a recurrence of this chest infection any time soon.

Time and time again my path has brought me back to the Paleo and Whole30 protocols. So my goal is to aim to eat whole food every day, without refined sugar, dairy, grain or legumes.

I hasten to add that I will NOT be following this over our anniversary weekend. At Northcote I shall be eating everything that gets put in front of me…and probably surreptitiously licking the plate too!  Oh…and there’ll be wine too! 😉 And we have a birthday tomorrow.  I know how good the foods going to be then too.  I’m making it (modest, much?).

Seriously though, I think this goal will not only start me back on the path to healthy, but also force me to get cooking again, which will be so rewarding in so many ways.

2. Get moving

Words I never thought I’d hear myself say include “I’m missing working out”. I’ve always been the poster girl for idleness, until I stepped inside my CrossFit box (see what I mean! “my” CF box!  What’s going on?)

I’m giving myself another week to clear my meds and then I’m getting back there. I’ve already met with my trainers and we have a strategy to get me working out very gently at the beginning to start building up my stamina again.

I’ll admit to being faintly horrified at the prospect of being considerably less fit than I was when I started there…but confident that if I practice this goal 3 times a week, I’ll make swift progress.  Hurrah!

3. Practice creativity

What?  Creative?  Surely this whole blog is about creativity?

Well, yes…and no!

I always see myself as a maker of things rather than a creative.  It’s an odd distinction that even I probably can’t fully articulate.

I make things that other people have created.  I use patterns and recipes and directions to make clothes and food and a home.

But I have ideas.  They are milling around my head like tourists in London in August.  And I want to explore them.  Even if it’s just sitting with a sketch book and doing some godawful drawings that no-one else will ever see.

Just to see where the process takes me.  Just for the fun of it.  And for playing with pencils and colour.

4. Organise

We are planning a wholesale redo of our home over the next year or so.  In my head it’s called “Project Shabby to Chic”.  Our home has been very much lived in over the last 5 years but not overly lavished with TLC.  So, with both kids at school now, it’s time to do some building work and make this place a fabulous space for us all.  It’s a project I’m really looking forward to.  I have some great ideas for this little house of ours, and am thoroughly enjoying browsing the interwebs and shelter magazines for ideas and inspiration.

However…before I can get to do that I need to clear boat loads of stuff, particularly in the sewing loft, so we can actually start ripping stuff out and putting it all back together again in a much more useful and appealing way.

It’s daunting prospect.  There is a lot of stuff up there.  It’s a giant mess.

So…I’m breaking it down.  Every day I will do one little bit of organising.

Clear a shelf.

Empty a drawer.

Pack one box of books.


I’m quite looking forward to seeing how I get on with this.  I’m not making any other lists.  Nor am I going to force the issue.  I may fall flat at the first hurdle. This might be a roaring success.

I’ll report back on a weekly basis…more for my benefit than anything else.

But I do know that today I’ve pulled up some recipes and printed a menu planning sheet so I can be organised for my food shop for next week.  I’ve done a little sketching whilst out having a coffee and come up with a cute idea for Boy that I can’t wait to try.  And I’ve cleared out a 5 drawer unit of kids craft supplies that I’ve mean meaning to organise for nearly a month (it took 30 minutes!).

I haven’t decided what reward I’m going to treat myself to if I make it to Christmas without my usual flurry of mayhem.  I’m already seeing the fruits of my lack of labour and that might just be enough.  I’ll give it some thought.

Whaddya think?  Am I on to something here?

34 Responses to 4 simple goals (before 2014)

  1. Vicki Kate says:

    What a fabulous idea! I’m with you on Eat Whole and Move! I must take those photos for you too; it’s insane here at the moment…

  2. K-Line says:

    I love your simple goals – and I am very amused that, even when you’re talking about not making goals, you’re making goals! 🙂 Um, I know someone else like that… I’ll have you know that every day I am confronted by my front and back gardens – neither of which has been touched in 2 months plus. They are a disaster and, as the ground starts to freeze, more difficult to do anything with. I can barely stand myself on this account MULTIPLE TIMES A DAY – and yet I’ve done nothing. Probably will do nothing. Because I can’t handle one more fucking responsibility right now! I’d rather drink 2 glasses of wine and eat some cookies. (Not whole food unless homemade cookies count in that category.)

    I know what it is like to be knocked down for 7 weeks and it’s horrid. You are handling this with so much more class than I did! And you’ve got young kids and a freakin’ dog?! So I applaud you for having an optimistic outlook. And I have to say, be very gentle. The garden will still be there in the spring.

    • I’ve been remarkably unclassy about the whole thing, I assure you! And sometimes wine and cookies is the only way forward.
      My gardens are hideous. Rampant weeds at the front filling the gaps that still need proper planting, and the back has been decimated by two small people and a large dog. Sigh. The weather is so wet and wild here I simply cannot get to it. Ah well…as you rightly say, it’ll be there in the spring.

  3. Jane G says:

    Have fun with the sketch book, I was surprised at therapeutic it is. Glad to hear you’re beginning to feel better x

  4. Sandy says:

    I think you are definitely onto something here. Your comment “No “I must achieve 732 critically urgent tasks before 10.37am tomorrow morning”. No “I will lose 10lbs, make 4 dresses and landscape the garden before the end of the week” resonated with me because that’s what I often do.

    The only way those big tasks get done is by breaking them down into smaller, manageable steps. This fall I have actually gotten all the garden beds ready for winter (a task that often falls by the wayside, much to my chagrin in the spring.) The way did this was to portion off each section needing doing into smaller sections. You know.

    And then there are the things that just don’t NEED doing. Like four dresses by the end of the week. lol My to do lists are a lot shorter than they might be because I’ve learned to judiciously edit out unnecessary items BEFORE they get on there.

    Hope you’re completely better real soon!

    • I am notorious for overcommitting myself and then giving myself a really hard time when I can’t achieve the unachievable. I’m getting better at it but this will hopefully make me even less inclined to make ridiculous lists.

  5. gingermakes says:

    This is so inspiring! Your list sounds so manageable, but I bet it will go a long way towards making you feel saner and healthier. I hope you’re feeling back to 100% soon– sounds like a horrible illness!

  6. sewexhausted says:

    Nice! I like! I am glad you are getting better… and I may need to evaluate how I make my lists after reading this! ~Laurie

  7. Shar says:

    I’m so glad that you’re starting to feel better. Can I steal your goals? I need all of them, but especially #2 and #4. As a group, it seems like people who sew (myself included) fall more on the side of overachiever with lots of goals and lots on their plates. Or maybe thats just women in general!

    • Steal away!
      I’m still adjusting to the fact that I don’t work in corporate land any more and don’t need to be that crazy woman now.
      We all need to cut ourselves a bit of slack, I think.

  8. Marianne says:

    O yes, you’re on to something! Last winter I was knocked down by a painful back injury, could not walk for months. Sitting in my chair I had lots of time for contemplating. My husband called it a forced Zen-period. Seeing your life from the sideline makes you realize what you want to change, what you need to do differently. I can’t say I reached all of my goals (yet) but I started sewing again and joined the blogosphere. My blog really helps for tracking my progress. Haha, but although sewing was supposed to be a relaxing, creative outlet I found myself entering four sewalongs a and a sewing contest within a month. Just can’t stop myself. Hope you feel better soon, and on your goals: it’s the little steps that make a big difference in the end!

  9. I’m with you on the move and create as I’m guilty of both of these. I’ve had a horrible week of heartache and I think this will be a good way of both distracting me and also giving me easy goals to acheive to lift my mood. Thanks for reblogging. x

  10. T says:

    4 simple goals …what a wonderful idea. It’s so easy when you craft to get sucked into the “I must make this by then” way of working. I do this too much and always find it diminishes the joy a little. I have an amazing ability to underestimate the amount of time it takes to do something too. You know, the whole, “Today, I am going to cut out and make two dresses and finish a shirt” plan.

    Small steps are so much more achievable, but will still get you to your end goal.

    I’m really looking forward to reading all about rediscovering your inner creative genius. Even though my day job in design, I felt really burnt out a couple of years ago. Then, quite by chance, I stumbled upon a book in a secondhand book shop all about creativity that completely rejuvenated my approach. It made me realise that for the most part creativity is an attitude, rather than an innate talent. It changed my thinking and how I observe everything in life.

    I’m looking forward to reading all about your creative (I hate the word journey, so shall we say …) adventures!

    • I’d be really interested to know what the book was that you found.
      I know the reason I’m constantly being floored by chest infections is that I’ve been doing way too much for way to long. Time to sit still a little and enjoy life.

      • T says:

        No problem. It’s called The Creative License and is by Danny Gregory. It’s an odd book in that it’s all handwritten which I think has put off a few people, but it’s so worth persevering. It made me quieten my inner critic and start drawing and sketching again. When I was reading it I found myself thinking, “Yes, that’s so true!” many times. It is about making time and space for yourself in life to connect with being creative … Even if just for ten minutes a day. I’d be really interested to know what you think of it if you do get it.

  11. How very sensible – and long overdue advice. It is so easy to get stuck into a ‘busy’ rut that you stop seeing what really needs to be done. And that includes being good to yourself. It seems to have been the fashion to be seen as being incredibly busy – perhaps it is time to reverse that and make it cool to be really chilled out.

    Good luck with your goals.

    • I agree!
      We’re all trying to measure up to some insane and imagined “ideal” that we forget to stop and smell the roses.
      It’s a work in progress for me, but I’m determined to be the most chilled I can be.

  12. Andrea says:

    Evie, this is brilliant. It is so tempting to make list after list (ask me how I know) and then feel frustrated when time does not allow us to complete every single item on them (which we would have realized to begin with if we were reasonable beings) and then feel frustrated at ourselves for not achieving. Your four simple goals are a much gentler way to be and will surely be conducive to harmony and calm instead of the frenzy and chaos that one can get into before the holidays. May this be the start of a lifelong path towards balance!

    P.S. It is sooo important to take time for oneself, right? I think between CrossFit and drawing you’ve got that covered nicely.

    • I’m shockingly bad at looking after myself. Even when I’m crafting its usually something we need…rather than just for the fun of it. I need to change the focus. It will be good for me…and for all of us.

  13. helen says:

    Great post. I need to do the organising bit and I think ‘litle & often’ is the way forward, not that I have started yet…..

    • I’m usually so gungho about organising…tip everything out and keep going until it’s done. Which usually means I either don’t start because I can’t face it…or completely wear myself out by overdoing it. Even just 15 minutes a day will get it all done in time for the renovations to start.

  14. I think it’s a great list and sensible too – and even if only bits of it get done, well that’s fine too.

  15. Michelle says:

    This is a wonderful idea. It is really difficult for me to set goals that are not result oriented. I typically tend to work towards an ultimate end-point. It’s an interesting idea to approach them without any result in mind.

  16. “But I have ideas. They are milling around my head like tourists in London in August. And I want to explore them.” <— awesome

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