My Goals for 2019

The older I get, the faster the holidays seem to fly by, swiftly rushing me into another year in what feels like a blink!

I don’t know about you, but 2019 is already in full swing as we anticipate and plan for another year of amazing ministry at our church, get maternity leave plans in stone, schedule birthing classes, and enjoy our last two months before Baby Sowell arrives! Three years ago this week, Reed and I joined The Bridge staff and made the Bay Area home. It’s wild to remember how wide-eyed and excited we were as we moved into our little apartment, took on new ministries for the first time, and dreamt for the future. Life here has been better than we prayed it would be, and I can hardly wait to see all the Lord leads us through in 2019.

If you know me, you know that January is my favorite month of the whole year. I am one of those weirdos who loves putting the Christmas decorations away, deep cleaning everything, organizing, and planning for a productive year. (Is there anything better than the smell of Pine-sol and the first page of a new planner?! Yeah, I know, I’m weird!) There’s just something in the air on January 1st...people are motivated, optimistic about their futures, reflective and grateful for their pasts, and excited for the fresh start. January 1st is my favorite day in the same way that Monday is, or the first day of Summer, because really, the first day of anything makes me feel hopeful.

‘Firsts’ are a tangible reminder of how beautiful life is -- we are given clean slates all the time, and grace from God to receive them and begin again.

Every January 1st, I look forward to hearing from the Lord about what he wants to do in my heart in the new year, write down specific goals, and reflect on the year before. Reed and I have made a tradition of it, we drive to a coffee shop of our choosing (let’s be honest, it’s usually Philz because, well - mint mojitos!), journal separately, and then share together. We also take some time to sharpen the other, share hard things, say sorry, and commit to more! This is a great time to look at our marriage, our priorities, and respond in obedience to where we feel God gently poking us to grow. He’s so good -- he loves us too much to leave us where we are!

This year felt different, as we sat down to write in our journals. Reed and I both had a sense that unlike other years, our goals for 2019 would need to be simple, adaptable to change, and achievable in daily ways. As a church, our theme for the new year is NEW GROUND, and man do I feel that resonate in my heart as Reed and I get ready to dig into some new ground of our own. We know adding a baby to our family will be a whirlwind of immense joy, challenge, growth, flexibility, sacrifice, and discipline...and if 2018 taught us anything it’s that God’s plans are different than ours. Better, but different. When we miscarried, I realized how much stock I put in what I could control, forgetting that real freedom is found only in a released and surrendered posture. I have never felt more at peace with not knowing, more open-handed with the future, or more at home in my current season.

As a planner, dreamer, and worrier, I have always welcomed the coming days with a mix of excitement and fear, wondering if my plans would happen, if everything would go as expected, or if I would be good enough. I don’t worry about those things anymore. My hope is in the Lord, his plans are trustworthy, his character unshakeable, and his love for me everlasting. All I need is Him.

So as I look ahead to 2019, I do have some practical goals. These ones are measurable -- they require discipline, accountability (which I have in a mentor!), and commitment. Others are more internal, focused on my inner development and less on my outside world. All of these are valuable in their own way, because they contribute to my ‘becoming’ more than my ‘doing.’ I didn’t make these goals based on comparison, an aim to prove, but only in reflecting on 2018 and seeking the face of God. I encourage you to do the same as you set your sights on 2019! Don’t worry about how other people set goals, don’t worry about “measuring up” and please don’t let the threat of failure keep you from trying! Get a journal, sit down, reflect on the days behind you, and ask God for vision for the days ahead. I know he will speak to you!

Before I share my goals for 2019, I do want to say thank you. Thank you for the immeasurable encouragement you sent my way as I shared blog posts that ranged from lighthearted to deeply vulnerable. I love all of my readers so much, and feel so grateful to know many of you in person and hear how my little musings encourage your heart. It’s wildly comforting to know that when I hit ‘publish’, my words are seen, read, and cared about. I don’t take this for granted, and my singular hope is that when you visit my corner of the internet, you feel inspired. I look forward to where this space takes us in the years ahead. Without further ado...

My Goals for 2019

  • Read 30 books by January 1st, 2020. This puts me at about two books a month, a goal I know I can reach, especially as some books I want to read this year are shorter than others. My goal is to read when I have blank space in my days, when I’m breastfeeding, and during nap times. I don’t want to scroll or busy myself with mindless, meaningless tasks, but invest in my mind, soul, and spirit by reading as much as I can! I want what I read this year to be varied, to inspire more creativity, to be an investment into my own wisdom, and to hopefully challenge my thinking! (I’ll be sharing my reading list in another blog post, soon!)

  • Dedicate one day a week as a Sabbath day. Last year, I read Subversive Sabbath by AJ Swoboda and it was transformative. I heard AJ speak at our national church conference last May and he wowed us all with his reflections on Sabbath. This gave Reed and I the swift reminder we needed to hurry less, rest more, and be obedient to God’s command to “remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.” We have been practicing this over the last few months, and it has been life changing! Our Sabbath is every Monday -- we turn off our phones the whole day, only do things that are life-giving, get outside, and spend time in worship. This is something we feel very strongly about and aim to keep throughout the year as a lifestyle change.

  • Turn my phone off every night at 9pm and turn on again the next morning at 8am. No need to double take, you read that right! My name is Victoria Sowell and I am addicted to my phone. Maybe less than some, and maybe more than others, but that really isn’t the point. The point is, my evenings and mornings are precious times for my family and the Lord, and are not worth losing to pointless scrolling, double-tapping, and losing myself in the online lives of others. I’ve been practicing this a little inconsistently but you know what I’ve found every time I do? I really don’t miss much.

  • Remain debt free and buy a new family car by May 2019. This is a goal Reed and I made together and we’re so excited! We started this year completely debt free and plan on staying that way, while also wisely purchasing a car of our own for our growing family. 2018 was definitely the year of car troubles, so we’re hopeful and ready to change that streak!

  • Only listen to clean music. This one might seem funny or petty, but I have really felt a conviction to clean up what I listen to and not qualify any explicit music. Maybe it’s because I’m getting ready to be a Mom, but I don’t need an excuse to listen to better music, especially as I’ve noticed my music choices influence my own language! I certainly don’t have the mouth of a sailor, and I’m not prescribing anything to you, but I know I can do better -- end of story. I’m committed to only listening to clean music for all of 2019 as a way of following through with a saying I’ve always believed: “Garbage in, garbage out.”

  • Carry a travel mug/cup with me for ordered beverages. I don’t have to tell you about the effects plastic and non-recyclable materials have on our planet, but I do feel compelled to contribute in whatever way I can to a better stewardship of our environment and this is one small step in that direction. (We weren’t just given dominion by God, but a charge to care for our world....don’t get me started! Haha!) Every time I go to Starbucks or get a drink out, I want to have one of the many travel/reusable options I own with me so I don’t have to use a plastic or paper cup!

  • Drink two of my 40 oz water bottles a day. This one will be tough for me! I am so bad about remembering to drink water, but since getting pregnant, I’ve really tried to make it more of a priority. This is a small and simple way of taking better care of my body, which will have an impact on my baby and hopefully improve my skin and health! If you want to give this a go too, I love my water bottle by Simple Modern.

  • Scrapbook! Yes, I’m officially one of THOSE moms who wants to scrapbook. I was gifted a ton of fun scrapbooking supplies for Christmas and I intend on using it to document and remember our special family memories. I’m going to start with making one for Reed and I and then make one for our baby! I think this will be another way to keep from getting distracted on my phone, and actually do something productive that I will thank myself for later.

  • Steward and enjoy what I already have. After the rich Christmas season, which is filled with so much consumption and talk of things we want, I want to take this year to step into a deeper stewardship and contentment for what I already have. This means taking care of my yard, getting creative with the clothes I own, rearranging or repainting things instead of buying something new, and taking more time to look around and thank the Lord for all of the things I have.

  • Let 2019 be the year of extra grace and kindness towards myself. As a new mom, I will be learning so many things for the first time, and many things all at once! I will be taking some intentional steps away from practical ministry, and really digging deep into the home and family Reed and I are building together. I’m an achiever, a leader, and a recovering perfectionist, so I know aspects of this change will be really hard for me. I heard the Lord loud and clear as he shared with me that this would be the year I learn to show myself the grace, empathy, understanding, and kindness I willingly show others.

  • Wisely guard my output and input. I also heard the Lord speak to the ways I spend myself. This includes my time, energy, input, and bandwidth. I want to practice clear boundaries, take intentional time with Jesus every day so I am filled up, and be wise about how I give myself away to others. This is not so I can be stingy and not step up for the places and people God is calling me to, but it’s about not doing more than what He’s asked me to do, and looking ahead to see where I might be stretching myself too thin. This year more than ever, I choose my husband, my baby, my family, life-giving friendships, and effective ministry. Whatever lives outside of those things will have to clearly be from the Lord for me give it time.

  • Find (and stick to) a fitness plan that works for me. Throughout the years I have tried several ways of staying fit and healthy, but I have yet to find something I love! Now, I know that consistently working out will require being committed on days I don’t feel like getting out of bed. But I want to be a good example of someone who’s healthy inside AND out, and really give my body its best chance at a long and strong life! Maybe this means variety, maybe this means a routine -- I don’t know! But what I do know is that after this baby comes out, and after I give myself the necessary time to recover and rest, I can’t wait to get my body really moving again and find something to stick to! Any and all suggestions welcome!

There they are, my goals for 2019! Okay, now it’s your turn! Share one of your goals or intentions for the year in the comments below...I’d love to hear them and pray for you! No matter what unexpected things this year holds, what we CAN expect is for God to be good and to walk with us every step of the way. Happy New Year!

More grace,