I’m going to be really blunt with you about 2015, specifically the last half of it: I didn’t do a great job at some of my goals. But, the new year has brought a fresh perspective, and I’ve got a lot of clarity around my approach for 2016 and how to get ahead.
LOOKING BACK TO LOOK FORWARD
2015 was by far the busiest year I’ve had. Ever.
I launched Wandeleur, was pregnant through the first half of the year, went on a baby moon, Gracie Kay was born, enjoyed a maternity leave that went by way too fast, and experienced the craziness of working full time while being a mother and trying to run two blogs on the side. I was busy, y’all.
I’m a huge proponent of going after your dreams no matter what it takes, but I received a healthy, heavy dose of reality when Gracie was born. I thought that maternity leave would be easy. I thought it’d be filled with a sleeping baby, lots of time to relax, and lots of blogging. It couldn’t have been more opposite.
I’m a focused woman who takes pride in being driven, but there’s nothing that I will prioritize over my family. And so I didn’t. Even though Wandeleur and this blog are priorities of mine, there was no way I could choose them over being with my baby during her first few months of life. I spent my days rocking, soothing, singing, cuddling, baby talking, walking and being with Gracie. I felt very much turned off in almost every aspect of my digital world, with the exception of the occasional post that I’d write in the wee hours of the morning after Grace fell asleep.
For that reason, as I look back, I can confidently say that I accomplished something that most people struggle with. I was fully present.
I am proud of myself for this. Though I didn’t blog as much as I wanted or grow digitally as much as I’d hoped, none of that mattered. My priorities were elsewhere, and that was okay. More than okay — it was necessary.
SO, NOW WHAT?
Oh hey, 2016! Gracie is 6 months old, I feel more adjusted to working, and my blogs are still a priority of mine. How do I make it all work? How do I have a family but still go after my dreams? How do I find more balance?
At the risk of sounding naive, I do believe that you can have it all. You just have to figure out how.
I’ve had a lot of time over the past few weeks to reflect on what’s next. I’ve faced some tough realities, have made a “priority” list and checked it twice. Here’s how I will accomplishing being a good mom, wife and friend, all while still going after my dreams and working. Hold me accountable, okay?
#1: I will work smarter, not harder.
The biggest thing that I can do to help progress my goals is to make sure I’m organized, proactive and finding efficiencies where possible. I will spend one hour of every Sunday making a list of goals for the week, and a plan of action to get them done. I’m perpetually behind on email, so I will schedule a half hour every day to proactively get ahead after Gracie goes to bed. I will turn off the television, which is such a time suck and will give back hours to my days. I will produce content that is utilizing my partnerships and relationships better, so that digital growth is consistently happening without needing to spend more time on posts.
#2: I will be more focused.
Both Wandeleur and Isn’t That Charming will become more focused this year. I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t for both sites, and focusing them will help to produce content that resonates better with their respective audiences, and thus will help them to grow. How will the content change? You’ll just have to keep reading to find out!
#3: I will be fully present.
This is something that I feel I did pretty well last year, but I need to remember to keep a priority.
When I’m working, I’ll work my ass off. I’ll find efficiencies where I can, practice smart and informed decision making, and be accountable.
But this also means that when I leave work, I need to actually leave work so that when I’m with family or friends, I’m fully present as well. I won’t be checking email, text or social media every 5 minutes. I’ll put away my phone when I’m having a conversation. I’ll stop scrolling and look people the eyes. I’ll enjoy wine with girlfriends. I’ll play Peek-A-Boo with Gracie.
Do me a favor and go check out my Instagram. There’s a handful of posts from the holiday season, yes, but not a lot. That’s because I really tried to turn off over the holidays and only posted when I had down time. This goes against everything they tell you about blogging, but if being successful means needing to be obsessive about social, then I’m sorry but something is wrong with the world.
Let me know if I’m guessing wrong, but I don’t think any of you really care what I ate for breakfast. I mean, sure, I’ll post when I can and have something worth posting, but if it means ignoring my husband over our morning coffee chats, then it’s just not going to happen. That photo can wait until lunch. And I’d hope you all will keep following despite me not posting every meal, happy moment or aesthetically pleasing snapshot of my life. (Please do!)
#4: I will take time for myself.
I was asked to participate in a feature that’s going live soon, and one of the questions was what I like to do when I have time for myself. When I thought about that, I couldn’t find an answer, because most of my “me time” is spent trying to catch up on blogging. How sad is that?
This year, I will change that. I will get back into yoga and will go to classes on the weekends. I’ll meditate in the mornings when the house is quiet. I love to read, and so before bed, I’ll dive into a book before I go to sleep. I’ll get my nails done every so often, because why not!?
#5: I will say no.
This is going to be really hard for me, because I love new experiences, places and people. But in order to be fully present, work and also keep blogging, I’ve got to draw the line somewhere. Saying yes to things is a great and wonderful thing, but not if it’s going to cause me stress and get in the way of all my top priorities.
It saddens me to say this, but this year I won’t be going to many networking events. All of my nights will be devoted to Gracie, my relationships, being proactive on getting ahead, and moments of relaxing.
With the exception of Wandeleur, I won’t be taking on freelance writing opportunities or projects. I realize that by doing too much, I haven’t done things well. So it’s time to focus all my efforts where they’re most important to me, and that means saying no to things that aren’t laddering up to bigger goals.
Last, I will simplify my schedule. Over weekends, I’ll stop running a billion errands and just enjoy time with our family and friends. I’ll work hard and will make time for my dreams, but I’ll also enjoy the act of just being.
Overall, I want to find more balance in 2016. I really think that if I do a good job applying all the things I listed above, I’ll be able to accomplish all that I want while also being fully present. Let’s hope it plays out that way!
Now, I’m curious, what are your goals? How do you find balance while doing a lot of things? I’d love to read your suggestions and tips!
Here’s to a great year ahead, filled with all that you hope 2016 should be. xx
All photos via Sugar and Cloth