I find this step hugely overwhelming. I am committing myself to seriously pursue each of these goals with specific actions. That alone is a little terrifying. Suddenly I find myself questioning whether I made the right choice for these goals. But when I look back on what is really important to me, these things still make sense to me.

 For each of the short term goals, I want you to define five specific actions:
I will do this in the next three days.
I will do this in the next week.
I will do this every week.
I will do this in the next month.
I will do this in the next six months.

 Put at least $1,500 toward principle of student loan debt

  • Next three days: Figure out how much per week and per month I would need to pay to put $1,500 a year toward student loans
  • Next week: look for ways to trim the budget or increase our income to accommodate that monthly savings
  • Every week: take one step toward increasing our income (list an item for sale online, send a query letter, perform energy/money saving maintenance etc)
  • Next month: Make a payment toward the student loan principle, even if only a small one.
  • Next Six months: develop a repayment plan that includes more consistent savings or additional income

Our student loan debt is currently in deferment, so I would like to pay down the principle as much as possible so that when the payments do begin the amount will be more manageable. Unfortunately some of the loans are still currently accruing interest, so obviously those loans are my first priority to pay off.

 Have finished two chapters of my novel

  • Next three days: review how much I have already completed of my novel
  • Next week: complete edits on at least one of my previously written installments from criticism given at my writers group
  • Every week: Spend at least 1 hour writing new material or completing edits on old material
  • Every month: Have new material from my novel to share with my writers group
  • Next Six months: review all work completed thus far on the novel and outline a plan for finishing it

 Query all potential publishers for my Advent Devotional

  • Next three days: complete a query letter
  • Next week: send out first query letter
  • Every week: Write at least one query letter
  • Every month: Send out at least one query letter, follow up with letters that did not receive responses
  • Next Six months: review list of responses, check updated copy of the Writer’s Market for any changes or new potential publishers

 You may notice that I altered this method slightly by including Every Month as my action category instead of Next Month. I found this to be more helpful when dealing with certain activities that need to be repeated frequently but not as often as once a week.

 Be pregnant with our second child

  • Next three days: list additional short term expenses for additional child
  • Next week: calculate how much it will cost to add an additional child to the family for the next five years
  • Every week:
  • Next month:
  • Next Six months: begin trying to conceive

 I will admit to being at a loss with this section. I’m not sure what kind of actions I could take every week or next month that would help to work towards this particular goal. I know that there are activities like cycle tracking, but those didn’t work very well for me last time, so I am uncertain about bothering to try that again. Apparently my ovaries have a mind of their own.

 Participate in physical activity (walking, Pilates, dancing) at least four times a week

  • Next three days: figure out when to best fit physical activity into my schedule
  • Next week: participate in at least one form of physical activity
  • Every week: Take at least one walk a week
  • Next month: Begin doing Pilates at least once a week
  • Next Six months: increase Pilates to twice a week, and possibly introduce bike riding

 I used to be a very active person, but more recently the hot weather and an uncooperative child have contributed to my decreased activity. Aside from house work and occasional gardening, I don’t do much anymore. It doesn’t help that my body is now burning fewer calories since I stopped breastfeeding. I used to walk twice a week and do Pilates twice a week. I sometimes even danced once a week on top of that. I would like to be back in good physical shape, ideally before I get pregnant with my next child, in the hopes that it will make the labor easier or recovery quicker. My husband has never been a physically active person, but his doctor and I both keep encouraging him to find an activity that he enjoys. The only two we have found so far are walking with the baby in the stroller (usually to the park) and biking. But he hasn’t biked in years. He also hates the hot weather. I’m hoping that the fall weather will last long enough for me to get us in the habit of taking family walks and maybe encourage the husband to take up bike riding again. The down side is that there is no money right now to invest in a new bike for him, but my dad has a bike he can borrow in the meantime. If we want to take family bike rides we’ll also have to invest in a bike trailer to carry our daughter in, but we will cross that bridge when we get to it.

 Have developed a daily devotional habit and finished reading the entire bible

  • Next three days: figure out how much of the Bible I have yet to read to accomplish my goal and create a schedule
  • Next week: go to bed 30 minutes early, three nights a week with the specific purpose of reading the Bible and other devotional material
  • Every week: Read a chapter from a spiritual book I find inspiring. For example: I’m currently working my way through The Life You’ve Always Wanted by John Ortberg
  • Next month: Begin incorporating a weekly couples devotional into our week
  • Next six months: increase personal devotional frequency to 5 days a week

 Have completed a list of no/low cost renovations and landscape projects on the house

  • Next three days: create a list of no/low cost house projects that my husband and I can tackle ourselves
  • Next week: complete at least one of the above mentioned house projects
  • Every week: put in some work on one of the above mentioned house projects, and complete one if possible
  • Next month: schedule a time to complete a house project for which we require additional help and/or borrowing of tools
  • Next six months: pick a higher cost house project that has is a high priority and begin planning how to budget and save for it

 I haven’t even begun to develop of a list of long term goals and I already feel exhausted. This entire exercise is taking much longer than I thought. This 31 day project is supposed to take approximately 1 hour a day. I’ve already spent nearly two hours on this project and I’m only half done. It seems like I’ve accumulated more tasks than I could possibly fit into my average week. I still have to complete the basic tasks necessary for living and running a home. After all of those are done, I’m not sure I’ll have the time to pursue all of the tasks I now claim I will do every week. I’m not sure how I’ll remember to do them every week, let alone make time for them

 Now, for each of the long term goals, I want you to define five specific actions:
I will do this in the next week.
I will do this in the next month.
I will do this every month.
I will do this in the next year.
I will do this in three years.

 Have 3 children

  • Next week: Figure out expenses associated with having three children (need for a larger vehicle, etc)
  • Next month: make a list of what needs to be done to the house in order for us to have three children living here.
  • Every month: research the cost of one renovation necessary to accommodate a house for a family of five.
  • Next year: Calculate how much additional income will be required for three children based on the lifestyle we want to raise them in.
  • In three years: Review this goal based on our current financial and family situation

 Be living in a detached house with 4 bedrooms, family room, office space, 2 bathrooms, driveway and/or garage

  • Next week: Make a list of necessary projects to maximize salability of current house
  • Next month: research current cost of the kind of house we want
  • Every month: review list of house projects, decide which ones to pursue and create budgets accordingly
  • Next year: review current financial trends such as home appreciation, interest rates and inflation
  • In three years: review current equity earned on our home and current income along with the current price of the kind of house we would like

 Have published 3 books

  • Next week: Prioritize my writings projects
  • Next month: Create new material for two of my books
  • Every month: find one publisher who could potentially accept my novel
  • Next year: Have made a significant attempt to publish at least one of my books
  • In three years: Join the local area writer’s group as a resource and networking opportunity

Be debt free (the one exception to this is that we may still have a mortgage, but hopefully it will be at least half paid off).

  • Next week: check the current student loan total and mortgage total
  • Next month: calculate additional income necessary to make student loan payments, if and when they come due, based on current totals and potential totals if Rob continues in school
  • Every month: make a small payment toward student loan principle
  • Next year: design a plan to payoff the student loans early
  • In three years: discuss and develop a plan to pay our mortgage off more quickly, depending on current interest rates

 Cultivate a family lifestyle of fitness

  • Next week: Invite my husband to take a walk with me
  • Next month: Invite my husband on a bike ride
  • Every month: Take a walk as a family
  • Next year: Develop a family physical activity that occurs at least once a week
  • In three years: Consider making a financial investment in family fitness such as bike trailers

 Develop a meaningful relationship with Jesus and be able to pass that deep faith on to my children

  • Next week: Reflect on what goals I have for myself regarding spiritual growth
  • Every week: Do a Family devotional
  • Next month: Create a list of new habits or behaviors that will help me to deepen my relationship with Jesus
  • Next year: Begin family Advent devotional traditions
  • In three years: Have started family devotional traditions surrounding both Advent and Lent, begin incorporating a family or child’s bedtime devotional.

 This is still a daunting task. I can’t get past the nagging feeling that I’m doing this all wrong. But I can’t stop now. After all this work, I want to actually accomplish something.