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Don't just set goals. Build dreams.

You want this year to be fuller, better... different. It all starts with a blank page (and your heart). Here are 5 questions to answer before setting another goal.

15 minutes of stretching daily Give Simplicity Avenue a new, updated look Compile family photos into a book for the kids Complete our 72 hour kits Go camping as a family I made this list last year cuddled in blankets watching snow fall outside. The Christmas flurry was over and we were spending the week with my husband’s family at our annual Bear Lake trip.

In my world “the most wonderful time of the year” includes this fresh start, clean slate month - full of reflection, planning, and possibilities. Last year was no different. A list of goals going through my mind and a blank page ready to be filled.

One year later, it’s hard to believe how much fit in between that little list of goals and today’s new blank page.

  • My husband and I reached double digits. Married 10 years!
  • I made up my mind to stop sitting on the sidelines and make things happen… and have spent every week since trying to figure out what that really means. :) Crutches, then wheelchair. Going camping, then staying home.
  • I reached the one year mark of being home from the hospital. It felt like a bigger milestone than I expected.
  • I read books, took online courses, participated in virtual trainings. It was a year of learning! Everything from parenting, to writing, to habit-forming, to blogging.
  • I sent my little guy off to Kindergarten at the “big school.”
  • I watched my sweet girl finally take her first steps. I celebrated her success and secretly hoped it was a sign that our mobility issues around here were coming to an end… they weren’t.
  • I wrote and shared more on Simplicity Avenue than I ever have. Including a 10-day intentional living challenge that I feel humbled by every person who joins me on the journey.
With pen in hand and 365 new, fresh days ahead of me, I could write a similar list with new projects, new ambitions, and probably some the same… “stretch my body daily… try harder this time.” But as I look down at this blank page and fresh start, I just can’t bring myself to do it.

Deep down, I want this year to be different. I want movement forward and upward to the next level of happy and the next level of meaning and purpose. I want last year to count for something. I want the high’s and the inevitable low’s to propel me to being better than before. I don’t want life to just be happening to me, I want life and my experiences to be happening for me.

And my different year and next-level-reaching starts here with however I choose to fill this page. So this year, my blank page won’t follow goal-setting guidelines or be as tidy or concise. There will be space for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound later. But not here. Because with 365 days ahead and the potential inside each of us, there’s room for so much more. Intentional living and goal setting for change that really matters starts with your heart... and answering these five questions. Life's too short for a simple list of things like: stretch daily. This year, instead, I want to feel alive and energized. I want to look in the mirror and see a person full of life and strength, capable of making the most of this day - regardless of my body’s physical abilities. I want my body to remember what it feels like to move to music and to be in charge. I want to make this year amazing with the body I have, not despite the body I have.

This year isn’t just about planning a monthly family activity. This year is about true connection and memory-making. It’s about laughing and excitement and listening to music all packed up in the truck on our way to another mini adventure. I want to let go of every excuse and do what it takes to savor this moment - as long as it’s wheelchair friendly. :) My sweet little family has given me so much, I want this year to be a year of experiencing life together.

I could fill my page with goals like: finish and publish journal. But what I truly hope for is so much more than 52 journal prompts inside a pretty cover. I want to make a difference and touch lives. I want to give the gift of joy and purpose. I want to invite others to see their lives the way I’m learning to see mine. Beautiful, even with the flaws. Worthwhile, even with the limitations. Precious, purposeful and priceless, even with the craziness and ordinariness. I want to spread light! (Update: I did it! This heart and soul project is finished and finally ready for you! Take a peek inside and get your copy of 52 Meaningful Moments: A journal for finding joy and purpose right where you are. I hope it leaves you a happier and brighter than before.)

My blank page isn’t full yet. There may still be dreaming ahead, or maybe I’ll keep it half-empty. After all, I’ve seen - more than once - life’s best experiences be born from the unexpected and unimaginable. I think it’s worth leaving some room for that, don’t you?

Your blank page

It may be easier to sit in front of a blank page at the start of a year, the beginning of a new season, or with the convenience of a major milestone or birthday. But no matter what today signifies (or doesn’t), let today be the day you and I reach for things that can’t be so easily measured. Let today be the day you start chasing after things that will lift you higher and push you beyond the limits you’ve set for yourself. Let today be the day you choose something different.

There will always be plenty of the list-maker and goal-setter in me, but I want those lists to be born from something bigger. And I want the same for you too. Dreaming first. Goal-setting second.

When you start with your heart, you uncover something more real than any New Year’s resolution could offer. When you give space to connect with deep down hope and desire, you find a commitment and endurance that somehow outlasts the bad days and doubt-filled moments. When you start with your heart, you lay the foundation that fuels the kind of change that really matters. And the path to that kind of change…well, it’s only a blank page away.

PS: If your hopes and dreams feel distant and hard to get onto the page, here are a few questions that might put them within reach. Happy dreaming!

  1. What emotions do you want to feel more of this season? (Or if it’s easier to pinpoint, what emotions do you want to feel less of?)
  2. Who are you craving a deeper connection with right now?
  3. What one regret do you want to make right this season?
  4. How do you want the people around you to describe you?
  5. What adventure, project, or experience would make you feel totally, completely, beyond excited about life?
5 self reflection questions to help you set meaningful goals and create change in your life that matters. It all starts with a blank page (and your heart). Self reflection questions | Intentional living goal setting | Journaling prompts PPS: And if making the small, everyday moments count finds its way onto your blank page, I think you’ll love my intentional living challenge: 10 Days of Savoring the Simple Things. Just type in your email address below and I’ll send it right over! Goal setting for change that really matters starts with your heart... and answering these five questions.

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