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Five Ways To Grow In 2018

January 1, 2018

There’s something about the first day in a new year, isn’t there? That first page in the calendar is all fresh and clean, the days ahead are filled with all the potential in the world. It’s a pretty amazing feeling knowing you can make the next year ANYTHING you want it to be. Yes, circumstance can throw some curveballs at you, but on the first day of the year, you get to set the tone for so much of the next 364. That’s exciting!

So let’s do this: day one of 2018. What is the year ahead going to look like? I’ve actually decided to try something new this year and not make any resolutions for 2018. How unblogger-like of me, huh?! But I’m not turning in my blogger card in just yet; instead of making a bunch of resolutions that I won’t keep, I’ve chosen a single word to work towards for 2018.


I want my 2018 to be all about growth: personally, professionally, intellectually, emotionally…the list goes on and on.  As much as I dislike admitting it, I can get a little comfortable with where I’m at in life. I have conversations with people who share my point of view, I read books or articles that reinforce my opinions and can totally get stuck in a rut. But in 2018, I want to change that as much as possible. Throughout the year, I’ll find and take advantage of as many opportunities as possible that push me to grow.

I like that idea, but Rachel, “growth” is such a generic term. How do you actually plan on making sure growth happens?

That’s a totally fair question. As you may remember, I’m all about setting specific goals in order to actually have a shot of achieving them. Sometimes though you need to start out with a broader mission in mind to inspire your goal setting. That’s the purpose my word of the year serves: overall inspiration that will help me set goals throughout the year.

I know, I know. That still doesn’t really make things any more specific. So in case you’re interested in growing with me in 2018, here are a few examples of ways that I see myself growing in the year ahead.

5 ways to grow in 2018

Ask for help. 

Oh dear reader, if you are anything like me at all, asking for help is almost the absolute worst thing you can do. I hate asking for help; it makes me feel weak and incapable, which when you think about it is a pretty horrible way to go through life. So in 2018, I’ve decided that I will grow by asking for help more often. No, I’m not going to pretend I can’t do something just so someone else can do it for me, although it’s tempting to try that with the laundry at home. What I will do is ask for more advice from others, delegate when my to-do list feels overwhelming and look to learn from those around me a bit more.

Read something you disagree with. 

Raise your hand if you have started avoiding Facebook lately because there is that one family member who always has the most ridiculous posts about politics/religion/football.  Their posts find that single button of yours and push it HARD. You can’t stand it. Yeah, I’m right there with you, but instead of avoiding it this year, I’m going to wade right on in and try to learn from it.  Now, I probably won’t start reading every single thing my crazy relatives post and take it as fact, but I will turn to credible sources about the topic and try to understand the other point of view.

Take a class. 

Nothing says growth quite like learning how to do something new.  Find something you’ve always wanted to learn how to do (or that your significant other is interested in) and take a class for it! Maybe it’s ballroom dancing or running your own business or photography or how to can your own beets. Odds are there is something out there that you’d like to know how to do; go learn it!

Exercise more often or use a new routine. 

Oh boy, do I need to grow here. I have been absolutely awful about taking care of myself and by the end of last year, it was really starting to show.  Growth doesn’t just have to happen intellectually; it can be physical too! In 2018, I want to grow physically by getting stronger and healthier.  If you already work out regularly, try a new routine to see if you like it. Add yoga or kickboxing or train for a 5k. Mix it up!

Do something every day that brings you peace. 

An area of my life where I want to see the most growth is my mental health. I don’t consider myself in bad mental health, but I definitely think it could be better.  I tend to carry the stress of the day home with me or dwell on small things far longer than I should. So in 2018, I’m going to do something that brings me peace every day. I don’t know exactly what that may be; odds are I will try a few different things before I find one that sticks. My first instinct is to sit silently for a few minutes after work and just relax. I’m definitely open to suggestions, so share any tips with me in the comments!

I have big things planned for the rest of the year and can’t wait to share them with you. I go into each year hoping and believing that it will be the best one yet and this year is no exception.  Here’s to a wonderful 2018, everyone!

Do you have a word for 2018? What kinds of thing are you planning to accomplish? Share them with me so we can cheer each other along for the next 365 days!

Deployment Goals

Deployment Goals

June 26, 2017

And the deployment monster strikes again. Yup, just like that, the fastest four months in history are over and we’re starting the next deployment. This one hit especially hard, perhaps because it came up so fast, but I’m not going to let that derail me for the next few months. I want to be productive while A is gone and have come up with some deployment goals to help keep me motivated.

I’ve written before about the importance of deployment goals and how to write good ones and this go around is no exception. I’m very checklist-oriented and being able to cross things off my list makes it feel like time goes by faster.

Run 100 miles.

This is probably my most ambitious goal only because it’s really hot here and will be for most of the deployment. But I miss running and want to get it back in my routine.  It works out to just be a few miles a week, which is a good starting point after taking way too long off.

Finish decorating the entryway.

I painted the entryway the last time A was gone, but progress has completely stalled during the time he was home. All that’s missing is a new light fixture and the art for the walls. I need to finish it while he’s gone!

Catch up on scrapbooking.

Oh gosh, I am so far behind on this that it’s not even funny. You see, I started the tradition of creating a scrapbook for each year of my relationship with A and, despite enjoying it immensely, I have fallen off significantly. By the time he gets home, I’d like to be caught up.

Try 4 new recipes.

Raise your hand if you feel like you get stuck in a rut when it comes to dinner. Yeah, me too. I’m going to use this deployment to find a few new recipes to add to my dinner schedule. If you have any that you love, definitely leave them in the comments for me!

Do something out of my comfort zone.

This is probably the biggest deployment goal for me and it applies to my personal life as well as my professional life. I want to try new things while A is gone: add video into my business plan, travel by myself, maybe treat myself to something I wouldn’t ordinarily allow. I want to try it all!

If you’re going through a deployment (or any other separation), have you set your goals yet? If so, tell me one in the comments so we can keep each other motivated.

Deployment Goals

Deployment Goal Progress

January 26, 2017

Warning to my fellow bloggers: the problem with sharing goals on a blog is that you have to totally fess up when you don’t achieve them! Even though I have a bit of time until my husband returns from deployment, I thought it would be fun to check in on how I’m doing!

Deployment Goals Progress

  1. Exercise 4 times a week: Right off the bat, we have a bit of letdown. I had zero consistency in working out before the holidays. And by “zero consistency” I mean that I basically never did it. Ok. I never did it. I really have stepped up my game since the new year, but I can’t give myself full credit for that.
  2. Paint the entryway: This one is a big ol’ check! My mom and I tackled this project a few weekends ago and are going to finish touch-ups this weekend. I can’t wait to share how gorgeous it is with everyone, including A!
  3. Finish unpacking the master bedroom and front bedroom: We’re sitting at about 50% on this one. While the master bedroom is completely unpacked, the front bedroom (AKA the catch all) is not even close to being done. Read: Rachel hasn’t started it at all. I still hope to get it done before homecoming!
  4. DIY project for loft: Success! I shared my t-shirt pillow DIY on Tuesday and am so happy with them!
  5. Start work on my office: Hm. Does pulling together all of your Pinterest inspiration count as “starting” work on something? Because if not, then I don’t think I can say I’ve succeeded in this one. The office is currently functional, but not anywhere close to where I want it to be.
  6. Launch my business and make my first sale: This was by far my biggest deployment goal and I am so happy to say I’ve accomplished this, and then some!

Wow! I have accomplished so much in the past few months! Sharing an update on my deployment goals has totally inspired me to kick butt for the rest of the time my husband is gone and get everything checked off the list.

What goal (big or small) have you accomplished lately?


2017 Goals

January 3, 2017

There’s something magical about flipping to that first clean page in your planner, isn’t there? All the potential for the year to come makes you want to go out and accomplish ALL the things, doesn’t it? At least it does for me. I’ve spent quite a bit of time thinking about what I want to happen in 2017 and am excited to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard as the case may be) and share my 2017 goals.

Last week, I shared tips for writing better goals and I’ve kept those tips in mind for my upcoming year. I took my three overall dreams and broke them down into smaller SMART goals. They’ll help me chip away at the overarching aspirations I have for 2017.

Aspiration 1: Get healthy. This isn’t about losing weight or fitting into a smaller dress (although both will be benefits), but about getting truly healthy. That means eating better, but not perfectly. That means exercising more, but not fanatically. That means feeling better, having more energy and being more confident.

How I will achieve this:

  • Work out for 45 minutes a day, 4 times a week.
  • Run a half marathon in October 2017.
  • Cut out dessert during the week.

Aspiration 2: Grow the business and my blog. This year has been huge for my side hustle, but I want next year to be even bigger. That’s what happens when you have a little taste for success, isn’t it?! You have to have more. I know there is so much out there for Countdowns and Cupcakes to accomplish and I can’t wait to get started.

How I will achieve this:

  • Earn $400 in profit from the Countdowns and Cupcakes shop.
  • Average 2,000 page views a month on the blog.
  • Grow my social media following on all platforms by 10%.

Aspiration 3: Save, but still have adventures. I’m ok with money, but I probably end up on the “spend more than I should” side of things a little too often. In 2017, I want to stick to a stricter budget in order to spend more on the things that really matter. So that means Target will go unvisited more often, but that A and I will get to visit new places together.

How I will achieve this:

  • Plan and take a vacation somewhere we’ve never been.
  • End the year with $5,000 in my savings account.
  • Bring my lunch to work at least 4 days a week.

My hope is that 2017 will be the best year yet for everyone. I can’t wait to see what the days ahead hold for all of us! What are your goals for 2017?


Writing Better Goals for 2017

December 28, 2016
Writing Better Goals

It’s that time of year again: well-meaning people set well-intentioned goals for the year ahead. And every year, so many of those well-meaning people fail at meeting their well-intentioned goals.  Why is that? My completely untested hypothesis is that people set really bad goals. Writing better goals in 2017 is key to success, no matter what you want to achieve in the new year.

While it may sound difficult or a little abstract, writing better goals is easy; you just have to be SMART about them!  SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely and helps you set yourself up for success. I try to apply the acronym to every goal I set for myself, whether it’s for work or my personal life and find that I am far more successful when I spend the extra time working through the acronym.

Be SMART about writing better goals for 2017

Let’s take an example goal and work our way towards writing a SMART goal. A lot of people use the new year to get healthier, or at least that’s their plan. But the goal of simply getting healthier is not a good one. It’s too vague, too generic and involves too many unknowns for anyone to really achieve it.


Narrow down the scope of your goal. Instead of saying you want to get healthier in 2017, define what healthier means. Maybe it’s finally quitting smoking or eating better. For our example, we’ll use losing weight, since that’s what so many of us want to do after the holiday season!

Goal: I will lose weight. 


While we’re well on our way to writing better goals, we still have a little ways to go before our goal is truly a good one. The next step is ensuring that you can track your progress and know when you’ve succeeded. What’s the point of a goal if you don’t let yourself succeed?! So decide what success looks like to you: do you want to lose inches or pounds or dress sizes? Pick a measurement.

Goal: I will lose weight and measure it in pounds. (I know this sounds clunky, but we’ll re-word it as we go.


Ok so you’re going to lose pounds in the new year. But how many? It’s easy to shoot for the stars and say you’ll lose 150 pounds. While some people may achieve that, many will not because the number is just too high and unrealistic. But on the flip side, a number that’s too easy may allow you to procrastinate. Choose something that’s right for you, based on your history.

Goal: I will lose 20 pounds. 


In order for a goal to work, it has to matter to you at this point in your life. You may be all about losing weight, but if your financial life is in ruins, you may need to focus on that. Additionally, don’t let someone else talk you into setting a certain goal. If you don’t want it, you won’t achieve it.

Goal: I will lose 20 pounds. 


Last, but definitely not least, you need to give yourself a deadline! Setting an endpoint will help you determine if you’re successful as well as motivating you. Now, as important as the deadline is, it’s not set in stone. If you hit your goal January 1, 2018 instead of December 31, 2017, you’re still successful. Make sure to give yourself credit.

Goal: I will lose 20 pounds by June 2017. 

By writing better goals from the start of the year, you have a framework for the smaller helper goals that you’ll work on every day. Examples for our practice goal could be “I will walk 5 days a week for 30 minutes each day” or “I will only drink water during the day and cut out soda”.

As you prepare for 2017, make sure to practice writing better goals so you give yourself every chance possible to succeed and have the best year possible.

P.S. I am not a doctor or a trained healthcare professional so if losing weight is your goal in 2017, please make sure to check in with your doctor so they can help you in writing better goals!