Why I Don’t Make New Year’s Resolutions

Happy 2018, friends!!!! I’m so excited to introduce y’all to my friend Amy Lloyd today. We met back in 2010, when we were living in Washington, D.C.

Back then, Amy was busy with two little ones just as I was. Even then she was singing, which is her passion. But here’s a little known fact: Amy used to be a staffer on Capitol Hill. Her background is actually in writing. She was working on the Hill the day of 9/11…y’all help me convince her to share that story with us next! (You can do the convincing in the comments section below.)

Psst! Also check out the links to amylloyd.net to hear her beautiful voice!! (What Child is this is my favorite!!!)

Today Amy is here to talk about our New Year’s goals and the more satisfying, encouraging way that she has found to plan out her year and keep her focus straight.

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions

guest post by Amy Lloyd

 I have a love-hate relationship with the New Year. I love the fresh start and the excitement of a new chapter waiting to be written. Oh, the possibilities! However, over the past few years, I have found the New Year’s goal-setting process to be extremely counter-productive. I stress over priorities for the coming year. Then I become irritated with indecisiveness. And, finally I rehearse each failure from the previous year as I write that same goal once again.

 

I think we all agree time is a gift to be used wisely, and I still believe that setting long and short-term goals is a great tool to help live a life intentionally. I won’t go into how to set goals here. There are plenty of other blog posts with those details this time of year. (And if you cannot find something free to read, there is a billion dollar self-improvement industry pushing products and services to help you.)

 

What I am here to say is that Providence does not always work on a calendar year, and you don’t have to either.

 

What if your current season in life or profession does not move on an academic or calendar year? I am a mom and a singer. Although there are some aspects that work with a calendar, often both of these occupations require a lot more patience than a calendar year to see results.

 

Or, what happens when God’s plan is to turn your world upside down with some kind of trial? In the last four years I have had a major surgery with lengthy physical therapy, we have relocated to Indianapolis after living in the Washington, DC area our entire adult lives, and my husband has worked four different, very demanding jobs.

 

A year ago, I had almost given up on the New Year. In an effort of self-compassion, I decided that I would wait until February to do my annual goal setting…or possibly not make them at all. Then, on December 29, while scrolling through my Facebook news feed, I saw the headline of a post by my blogging friend Moriah that read: I DON’T DO RESOLUTIONS. I was curious. Her blog introduced me to #oneword365.

 

Moriah explained that she picks one word that she applies to all aspects of her life for the entire year. Simple. Profound. Game-changer!

 

I decided I was going to try this. While being incredibly indecisive on picking my one word for 2017, on January 1, my teacher Peter posted on his blog that he was not making resolutions. Instead, he was making “renewals.” That’s it! My word for 2017 was renew.

 

I loved that the word renew reminded me of Bible verse that says: But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31, NKJV)

 

I needed to renew my strength in all aspects of my life so desperately. I was determined to apply my one word, so I wrote it as a reminder every day in my Panda Planner. Consistently writing my one word was key. Although I highly recommend a written journaling planner, the same concept works for a pocket or wall calendar. After a year of writing my one word again and again, I can look back at 2017 and be encouraged that the word renew permeated my life.

 

So, what did I do with those long and short-term goals? I renewed them, which helped me prioritize and gave more purpose. My goals are long-term fixtures that are evaluated as needed as God guides and directs my life.

As I wrap this up, you might be curious as to what word I have chosen for 2018…my new word is steadfast. I started with “discipline” (too harsh), then debated upon “consistency” (too boring), then I was reminded of a book I read, A Steadfast Heart by Elyse Fitzpatrick. Steadfast means abiding, determined, enduring, persistent, relentless, resolute and unwavering. I am looking forward to studying this word more and applying it in 2018.

My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody! (Psalm 57:7, ESV)

Maybe you set goals but want to try one word to help your focus. Maybe goals are not your thing, but one word is simple and something you can do! The #oneword365 blog says: Remember – Your one word is intended to be your guide, not your harsh standard. It’s not about doing more, but about being who you were created to be.

 

If you choose a word for 2018, I would love to hear about it! Comment below, on Facebook, or send me a message through my website. Happy New Year!

 

Amy Lloyd is an Indianapolis-based worship artist. When she is not driving her daughter to ballet, she is driving her son to tennis. True to her central Illinois roots, she is a St. Louis Cardinals baseball fanatic. For bookings and to check out her music, go to www.amylloyd.net. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @lloyd_amy_.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why I’m Such a Crystal Paine Fan Girl

******Disclosure: This post does contain affiliate links. When you purchase through these links, I will be paid advertising fees. All opinions are my own.*******

When I started my blog, in 2008, I was only in it to provide news of our family to my husband while he was in Iraq for 15 months straight. Blogs provide the perfect spot for photos, stories, and videos, without bombarding your Facebook friends with such a vast amount of footage!

It wasn’t until 2013 that I decided to set the blog to public and go for it.  I was already spending about 7 hours/week on my blog, might as well make a little money off of it, right?

The thing about blogging is that it’s one of those jobs that did not exist yet when I was in high school, or even in college. You couldn’t major in blogging.

Once you begin to blog for profit, you need skills, or people who have skills, in the realm of writing, computers, marketing, and design. That’s an elephant-size amount of skills to learn! And I still have a long way to go!

Learning the ins and outs of blogging, without spending much money at all, has led me to a few inspiring bloggers.

The one who I have learned the ABSOLUTE MOST from is Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom and YourBloggingMentor.com. That’s the perfect name for that website because she is literally my blogging mentor.

Allow me to introduce you to my favorite blogging celebrity: Crystal Paine

My Fan-Girl Confession…

Now, first of all, I have to admit to you that I have never actually met Crystal Paine. I’ve seen about 15 or 30 of her videos (YouTube & Facebook), so I feel like I know her…..the celebrity effect….but in reality she only knows me as yet another obscure little blogger who emails her a lot….

Yes, I admit it. I have emailed her about 20 times over the past few years. Yeah. In fact, I’ve emailed her so much that recently I am getting replies from her people rather than from Crystal herself…

I know. You may be shaking your head at me right now and thinking this sounds awfully stalker-like. I promise I’m not a stalker.  I prefer the term “fan-girl”.

Hello, my name is April, and I am a Crystal Paine fan girl.

I subscribe to two or three of her newsletters, I’ve taken about 4 different online courses that she’s taught, I follow her on ALL of her social medias, AND I’ve read several of her books.

One time, I even got to be on her website. You can see that here: Making Over Your Morning as a Night Owl.

WHY I’m such a Crystal Paine fan girl

You see, in a world where no one teaches you how to be a blogger in school, you have to go hunting down that information for yourself. Crystal has proven to be an excellent resource this past year, as I have attempted to take my blog to the next level.

I love how her blogging products offer practical, actionable advice.

But even before I sought to learn from Crystal as a blogger, I was already an occasional reader of her website, Money Saving Mom. I enjoyed her videos because she pours her personality and work into them.

The biggest reason I am such a fan is that she seems to possess all of the exact skills that I struggle to acquire, and she teaches her strategies in a fun, easily accessible way that I can truly relate to.

Plus, we have so much in common! She’s a writer, a mom of kids similar in age to my own, a Christian, and she strives to live a healthy lifestyle.

My Favorite Crystal Paine Books and Classes

She has so many more than just these. These few are the ones I benefitted the most from because of who I am as a person and where I was in life at the time. I’m also super-stoked to read Say Good-bye to Survival Mode and listen to her FREE WEBINAR about that!

By the way, huge deal alert: Say Good-bye to Survival Mode is only 99 CENTS for Kindle for a limited time!!!

 

Crystal wrote a book about living a disciplined life! I scooped that up in a heartbeat!! Having a plan and a schedule is this huge struggle for me. It’s something I have to work hard at and learn from people like Crystal.

My default is to wake up, tell everyone to leave me alone while I drink my coffee, get the boys ready for school, then tackle my day with little to no plan at all.

Yes, I know. A failure to plan is a plan to fail…yada yada yada. We are trying, okay. There are four growing boys here. It is a j-o-b!

I cannot explain to you how hard I struggle to keep all the balls I juggle up in the air!!

All the kids….the house cleaning….the cooking…MOPS leadership….volunteering at school…teaching Sunday school…..and oh yeah!! The blog!!!

Can I get an amen here? Are there any of you who are just in this ultra-busy phase of life? Sometimes I just want to shut it all down and say, “Nope. From now on, I enforce rules and cook dinner. That’s it.”

That’s why I love Crystal’s books. She is juggling so many of the same things I am, but she brings time-management and discipline skills to the table that I KNOW I can learn from.

Alan is a fan too!

 
When Alan and I got serious about getting out of debt (car payments) back in 2009, we bought the book, The Money Saving Mom’s Budget. I found it quite helpful, and not only that. It was actually realistic!

But my favorite Crystal Paine moment was this….

Our Family’s Major Life-Changing Routine Inspired by Crystal!!!

Do you remember when Alan took over the laundry at our house? That was because of a YouTube video of Crystal’s that I watched where she talked about the strategic ways she and her husband divide up the work of managing their household.

I know. You want the YouTube link so you can show it to your husband too, but I have no idea which video it was!! I’m so sorry! It might have actually been part of her blogging class a while back that is no longer for sale…

I told Alan about it, in a very light, kind way, and I asked him what thing he’d like to make his responsibility. In a perfect world, we’d have a maid and maybe not have this problem, but in reality we can’t afford one right now.

I said something like, “Hey, honey. You know how sometimes I’m bad about not planning through everything? It occurred to me that I’ve never actually asked you what you would like your chore to be at the house. You do a lot, but nothing is like divided up and assigned to you except trash and the lawn. We need to have very specific jobs assigned to all 6 of us in the family to make this work.”

At first, Alan was very deer-in-the-headlights. He apologized, and we agreed that ALL the jobs can’t be mine alone now that there are four children. It’s not possible.

My husband’s decision

Alan thought about it long and hard, and he chose laundry, which was perfect because my doctor had just told me a few weeks ago that I did not need to be carrying baskets of laundry due to my low back and hip arthritis.

Spending less time on laundry was life-changing for me!! Plus, Alan usually does a better job of keeping up with it than I ever did.

Thank you so much for that, Crystal and Alan!!!

My Work Mentor

I enrolled in a one-time blogging course she did last fall where I learned the importance of doing Facebook Lives, which turned out to be an amazing way to grow my Facebook following.

Then this year Crystal opened up a whole new website for bloggers. If you blog, you have to check it out: YourBloggingMentor.com

When Crystal launched the “5 Days to a Successful Blog Launch” course a couple of months ago, I decided to read it. I didn’t think I needed it since my blog was obviously “launched” a long time ago, but eh, why not?

Oh, y’all!! I could write an ENTIRE POST on all the things I learned from this simple little 5 day course.

Spoiler alert: Some of the 5 days have way more practical ideas than you can implement in only a day. I have this huge list that I made from Day 5’s assignments that is going to take me all of September to get through.

So don’t let this fool you. It is not just for blog babies.

If you need to improve your blog traffic, take this course whether you already have a blog or are just starting one.

Link to Blogging University: Blogging University

 

Ya’ll!! I can’t tell you how much I have learned!! But this article has run long, so I’m going to save all of that information. Look for a future post in September, dedicated solely to how much I’ve changed my blog since taking this simple, inexpensive 5 Day Blog Launch Course!!

More good news!

I noticed that she is currently running a special FREE webinar for beginning bloggers, and I could not recommend that highly enough. Here’s the link if you’d like to try it out.

Now I’m just holding my breath and waiting for the intermediate course. You know she will probably do one before the year’s over!

So what about you? Are you a member of my Unofficial Crystal Paine Fan Club?? Do you read MoneySavingMom.com?? Which of her books would you like to read? Leave a comment below to let me know I’m not alone in my fan-girl-ness!

 

 


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My Brilliant Plan for How to Plan

**This post does contain affiliate links, which means that when you purchase through links on this page, April collects advertising fees from Amazon.**

 

My Brilliant Plan for How to Plan

Was I always a little flaky? I don’t know. For years, I could get away with being very loosy-goosy with my planning because I was a stay-at-home mom of preschoolers. We moved all the time too, so by the time people developed expectations of me, we were off and away to the next town.

Over the years, I have slipped into a routine of planning as little as I can get away with planning. I’ll procrastinate decisions until they are made for me. Yep. Guilty of that. Sometimes I get this fear of commitment. If I sign up for things, I’m going to have to figure out how to actually accomplish those things with toddlers in tow.

And I never knew when my husband would be here or not be here, so making plans felt like shooting darts– real darts–in a room full of people, blindfolded.

No thanks.

So friends, that is how I became the version of April you have today.

April, are you going to the yada yada yada meeting?

**Total deer in the headlights**

Ummmm. Uhhhhhh.  Umm, yeah, you know, I might…

(Inside my head I’m thinking……IF all 4 kids are well, IF Alan is in town, IF I have energy left that day…..IF I am not supposed to actually be at Dan’s tee-ball game or some Army function that I can’t remember the exact dates for…..If, If, If…..)

My Brilliant Plan for How to Plan

I love to rock me some babies. Go away, world, until I finish this.

 

Actually, for the past 11 years those were all perfectly good reasons to be flaky, indecisive, unprepared, uncommitted, and unsure. Did I shut the world out a little bit? Yes, yes, I definitely did.

In fact, I had to google the word “twerking” not too long ago. I’m so out of touch with pop culture, and I kept hearing that word. All I can say to that one is ew, girl! Ew. Somebody get that poor girl a sweater and some capri pants.

But things keep popping up on our calendars, and I’ve re-entered the world of work with my blog. I actually HAVE to FORCE myself to plan and be less free-spirited, more grown-up like.

You people who have a plan amaze me, and I mean that in a good way. You totally have my respect.

You know when you are going on vacation. You’ve actually committed to specific dates, and you probably even know how you are gong to pay for that.

You have a budget.

You know when people’s birthdays are, and you plan for that accordingly.

You keep some sort of planner or calendar.

 My Brilliant Plan for How to Plan
About that….Y’all! I have purchased TWO different “planners” this year. They are both mostly blank. I have a calendar hanging in my kitchen too, which makes 3 planners, really. All I’ve written on that one is what the kids are doing for lunch and when their dentist appointments are.

I even downloaded an editorial calendar plug-in to try and start planning my blog posts. (It’s actually extremely helpful, fellow bloggers, check it out. It’s called “editorial calendar.”)

Only I’m so anti-structured in my thinking, I can rarely bring myself to write about what I’m ‘scheduled’ to write about.

I also have 2 different e-books I’ve written half of, and now they are just sitting on my hard-drive taking up space. My hard drive is so full, my computer has actually stopped letting me download or upload new things.

And suddenly I find myself wanting to change.

See, I bought all those planners. That’s the first step. I WANT to do the right thing and be all responsible again. I always was one-half responsible and one-half not at all, even back in high school and college. I used to make myself plans and stick to them, sort of. Well, I used to make plans. Maybe I never did really stick to them. I almost always turn in everything on time, actually, but I live in fear of signing up for extra things.

So I decided to pray about this today.

And this was my answer:  If you can plan out each day by making a list and crossing things off, then you can apply that same strategy to weeks. Then apply it to months. Then do that for years. Do it at the start of each week, each month, and each year, just like you are doing now for days.

Huh. Brilliant. Maybe even doable?

My Brilliant Plan for How to Plan

My planning tends to never go past the day that I’m on. This is the typical extent of my planning.

 

What I do now for each day is this. After I have safely delivered all of my children to school, I come home and have a little time for Bible study and prayer. You have to pour inspiration in to yourself if you expect to pour any out, right?

I close with prayer, and I ask God to help me make my to-do list for that day. I write the list out on the wipe-off board in the kitchen. Then I mentally prioritize the things that HAVE to get done.

That’s why I usually cook supper in the morning, by 12:00, because I know everyone HAS to eat, and I don’t want that task hanging over my head. Also, I have no energy left at 5:00pm.

I see no reason why this method for planning each day could not be applied to my weeks, months, and years, with one of the 3 planners I’ve purchased laying open on my lap.

My Brilliant Plan for How to Plan

And don’t even say that I should use my phone as my planner. I can’t do it. This falls under scatter-brained people problems. The minute I open my phone to use the calendar or some other useful, productive app, I immediately forget what I was doing and end up reading Instagram or my email or something.

So watch out, world! I now have a plan for how to plan!!!! Who knows? Maybe next week I will make a budget, a meal plan, or catch up on my 2,809 emails…….nahhhhh…

Please share your best planning tips in the comment section! We would love to hear more ideas! Thanks, y’all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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