Intentionality: My 2017 Plan

Goal Setting. I've always been someone who loves taking time sit down, dream, write, and make a plan to get things done. But there's always been one problem with all that, actually doing it. 

While it looks pretty on paper and I might stick with it for a month maybe even two, it eventually trails off. So this year, I wanted to try something different with goals. And by definition of "goals" these probably won't even qualify, so let's call them something else—my plan for living on purpose.

First off, I highly recommend Lara Casey's blog on goal setting. You may have seen her powersheets on Instagram or book, Making it Happen. I have wanted to do her powersheets for a couple years now, but they are always sold out once I get around to spending my Christmas money. But this year she did a 4 part blog series that helps you work through some of the things she discusses in her book and powersheets. 

So after working through her blog series there were a few things that stood out. The first is that I have one word that came to mind for 2017. I've heard of people choosing a word for the year before, but I never understood how that word actually changed anything. I think this is where Casey's blog series really puts it all together. Instead of just claiming a word I now see how that word needs to play out in certain areas of my life. And I'm laying it all out on the blog so that through my vulnerability I might have some accountability—even if it's only with myself!

So what's my word?


And I want to be intentional in these four areas:

1. Community

2. Health

3. Spirituality

4. Creativity

So what does that mean exactly? Yes, Jess, it looks great when you write out with numbers and have a pretty graphic, but how do you really go about making change? Glad you asked. :)

Let's look at each one of the areas and I'll break down my plan for you. 

1. Community - Since we live in Africa it's imperative that we form community among our team, nationals, and find ways to keep up with friendships back home. I have never been really good at keeping up with people who I don't see on a daily basis, and I hate this. Because I mean, these people have been with my as I stood at the altar promising to love my husband through it all. These are the friends who have witnessed good times and bad times, and when more good times and bad times come, I want to have them standing with again. But I also need a community of people to love in person, here in Africa. So that means being intentional about inviting people over, asking how they are doing, and getting out of my comfort zone and meeting new people with the intention to love. 

2. Health - After having a baby, I'm officially in the worst health of my life. Understand me, I don't just mean weight, though that plays a big part. I have no muscle tone, food allergies, thyroid problems, and too many cravings. I want to get back to the person who use to crave work-outs, eat healthy, and fit into something other than maternity pants. :) But for real, as I was working through this plan on paper, something occurred to me. And while this may seem like a no-brainer to others, it really hit home for me the first time. "I have to be intentional about my health, it's not something that will just happen."

I mean duh, right? But for some reason I have been living as if getting healthy will just happen! But it's more than just eating right and exercising, it's getting to the heart of the matter. So that's why I'm reading Made To Crave. I want to get to the heart of cravings, and not be defined by a number on the scale, but instead by how my heart reacts. Guys, if this is something that you struggle with or something you have down as a goal for 2017, please, please read this book! That's all.

So as part of my intention for health, I plan to work on my heart, eat less sugars and bread and eat more veggies and water, and exercise 5 times a week. While I'm still working on the right eating plan for my family and for living in Africa, we have already made some changes in our daily diets. And since I use to blog about my allergy-free diet I'm restarting the blog series, but tailoring it to life in Africa. I plan to share easy to make recipes that are both healthy and quick, because when you have a newborn and are cooking in a kitchen without a/c in one of the hottest places on earth, you better believe it's not going to take more than 30 minutes!

3. Spirituality - In short, I want to be intentional with my own daily devotional time, and I want to be intentional about teaching our baby boy to love Jesus well. On that note, if anyone has some good book recommendations for teaching your kids, please send them my way! As for what my daily quiet time looks like, I have found that 40 minutes of pumping breast milk in the morning is a great time to pull out my Jesus Calling Journal Book and Journaling Bible. I love working through one days' devotion by reading it and then answering the questions and writing out a prayer in the space provided. Afterwards, I look up the 2-3 verses provided and read them in the journal Bible and pick out a part of the passage that stands out to me and doodle it. Because I'm a kinetic learning, this has been one of the most successful ways for me to really hear and understand God's word. I just wish I had discovered 2o+ years ago!

4. Creativity - As most people know I am a photographer. I love photographing people, whether it's a newly engaged couple or a mom in Africa loving on her children. But these things don't happen every day, and I've come to learn that if I'm not picking up my camera more than when I just have the opportunity that I'm not really pushing myself creatively. So I'm doing something that I've done before, a 365 challenge. I'll be posting a photo everyday following along with the prompts from #thebethadillychallenge. When I did this in 2015 I could see a huge difference in my posts from January to December and how much I had grown in trying to capture a specific shot. I hope that it will also challenge me in thinking outside the box. 

My other way to intentionally nurture my creativity is by blogging. I mean, it may just be my fam reading these things (hi, mom) but I don't care. I've decided that blogging isn't really about who reads it, but that I get my thoughts down on paper. It allows me to "feel" like I have an audience for my writings and photography, therefore I put thought and effort into what I say. It's an accountability of sorts. So if you do happen to read the blog, you can look forward to see a few things habitually showing up on the blog this year: a monthly health post, a monthly refresh my soul post (like this one), updates on baby boy Ezra and life in Africa, and my most passionate blogs: stories of lives changed here in Africa

So there you have it, my plan of intent for 2017. I would LOVE to hear from each of you on what your goals, word, or hopes and dreams are for 2017. I think the best way we can actually try to work on these things is by telling others and not keeping it to ourselves.