When considering 2014 and what it meant for us and really what we wanted to accomplish this year, Brad and I were actually pretty stumped. I remember talking on New Years Day, we had gone to eat at Rock Creek Pizza for a breakfast/lunch after "sleeping in" (or some variation of it, because with a baby there's really no such thing), and we were wishing one another a Happy New Year when we were asking, "What will this year bring for us?" Uh, yeah, no clue. Nothing definite, that's for sure.
2013 was a huge year that included a lot of big events in our lives. Yeah, big events. Can you say parenthood? And college graduate? And first-big-boy-job and official breadwinner? Stay-at-home mom? The realization that we have successfully acquired the one thing I wished for in our marriage--amazing insurance?! 2013 also included my little brother leaving us for two years (and to think it's only been six months... pretty sure six months is good, right? He can totally come home now). It also included our first vacation as no longer a couple but a full-fledged family, which included air travel. These were all things that we expected and knew were going to happen and as such we were ready for 2013 to be a big year.
Sitting at that restaurant table, eating multiple helpings of pizza from the buffet, George munching on some pizza crust and staring at the gathering of elderly people at the table next to us, Brad and I had no idea what this year was going have in store for us. Except, hey, Heather's finally going to finish her last class and graduate and that we were going to walk at April graduation. Other than that, nothing was sure. We knew what we wanted (cough, a home), but we didn't know if it'd really happen. And that was it.
Our marriage so far has shown us that, as many goals as you may make, you just can't predict the future. And really, that's sort of what goals are--our predictions of what we hope our future is like. Our predictions back at the end of 2011 for the following year included buying a home and graduating in April 2013. Um, yeah. No dice. So, as we approached the idea of goal-making this year it was rough because we knew that anything could happen. And sometimes working towards some huge end-goal can be incredibly depressing because it sometimes feels like all you're reminded of is how you're still not there yet. As such, we were kind of remiss to consider making more goals that just weren't going to happen. But then, what do you do?
The other day I ran along this article from Entrepreneur where the author talks about replacing goals with systems. And seriously, it was mind-blowing for me because it just made so much sense. Why are goals so hounding sometimes? Because they're just these huge, bloated things that take longer to accomplish and so as you're working to get there all you do is feel so aware of it being so far away. The idea of a system it just to break that huge goal down and, rather than making it all about this end-point idea, it just becomes implementing something new in your life. Which, duh, has been said before. A million times, I'm sure. But seriously, it didn't not click for me until this guy just chose a different word that just works better with my brain, I guess.
Really, it made me think. Why do I yo-yo with everything I want to accomplish? Like, being at a healthy weight, for example. Back in ninth grade I realized that I wanted to lose weight. And, working super hard, I did. I went down two pant sizes. And it was awesome. But then, started college. Same thing, wanted to lose weight. Luckily I got a job that made that super easy, considering I spent all night as a night guard walking up every step at Heritage Halls. Awesome, lost the weight again. Then, got married. Gained weight. Wanted to lose it, did it again.
But wait, why does this keep happening? Why, when obviously being at a healthy weight is a constant goal I feel the need to address each year, is it not something that I just haven't stuck to? Because, dude, it was a goal. I completed it. I was done. I had accomplished my goal, and as such the thought to continue what I was doing during really occur to me. So slowly, I stopped doing what I was doing to lose that weight. And, lo and behold, I gained the weight again. Not shocking.
I guess this where the terminology of a system is different. It isn't a goal. It's not something that I can do and be done with. It's something that just becomes what I do, for forever. Seriously. It isn't a goal because it's not something that I do and am done. It's an eternal perspective, and I don't know why I didn't get this before, because it's a topic that I hear in General Conference and in church and from the general authorities and from the Prophet. It's something that I can't believe that I didn't figure out earlier!
The other day George had gone down for a nap and I was going to finally shower after who knows how long, and just before I was about to hop in I decided to weigh myself. And, dude, it sucked. It sucked so hard. In that moment, I returned to that goal of losing however-many-pounds. It was so far away. What was the point? Nothing was changing, that goal was no where closer to what it had been a month ago. And I wanted to give up. What was the point? Nothing was happening. It would take forever to reach my goal.
And then I just froze. That's what this stupid goal was doing to me. Not only was it vague and had no real help on how I was going to accomplish it, but it also just only served to make me feel bad for still not accomplishing it.
This moment just made me realize how I didn't want my kids to be stuck doing this. I don't want our years to be filled with goals but with zero planning or mapping on how to get there. I don't want to focus on goals, on losing ten pounds or buying a house. I don't want us to be so stuck in the future that forget today and why it's so great. Everyday I realize how much George does exactly as we do. And so, that's why systems are so great. We're moving that focus from, "Oh, I'm inadequate until such and such happens," to, this is what I'm accomplishing right now, every day. I'm not going to worry about how much weight I "need" to lose, I'm just making exercise a part of my life (finally).
So, sorry about this horribly long-winded thought process. But seriously, I feel good. I feel like I'm accomplishing multiple things every day. And it's really nice! So, without further ado, here's the one-sentence, semi-vague version of the systems we're looking to start in 2014, and still be doing when we're on our death beds in, say, 2084 (which is weird to write). Basically, when we condense it down like this, they're kind of like our house rules!
- Move every day.
- Exercise three days a week.
- Put away money each month.
- Be together as a family, undivided attention, every day.
- Daily and voluntary family scripture and prayer.
- Church is a blessing; if it's adding stress, we're doing it wrong.
- Give each other and our kids one-on-one time each day.
- Find interest in whatever our kids or each other are interested in; there is no such thing as a stupid hobby or one that's a "waste of time".
- Make a healthy life something that's not about cutting things out but rather adding things in.
- Always be willing to try new things.
- Never question dropping a schedule for something spontaneous.
- There's very little that cannot be ignored in the interest of a child wanting your attention.
- Homes are made to be lived in, be okay if they look that way.
- If you do it, they will. If you don't, they won't. Build the habits you want in you first.