Making Space for New Goals

Chatting with my mom, I mentioned we had put our hot tub up for sale. She was shocked. “But you love your hot tub. Like, really love it.” It’s true. I do love that hot tub. It was a gift from a friend, and I had it for over 9 years. But in December I sold it. Along with our ducks. Which I also adore.

First step New Years Goal Setting

My mom thought I was losing it. Selling off things I love. But it has less to do with my affinity for those things and more to do with our goals for 2017.

You have to take away before you can add.

We sat down in early December and said, “What are we going to cut from 2017, and what are we going to pause or streamline?”

Because sometimes things don’t need to go away forever.

Just for now.

Just so we can gain some serious ground in other areas.

If I am going to make a few huge leaps in 2017 on my goals, something has to give. I can’t maintain everything I already have going AND add a bunch of new things.

Streamline. Pause. Or cut.

I think this is why a lot of New Year’s resolutions fail. We can’t just add, add, add to our lives. Something has to be taken away first. Some things need to be simplified so they require less of our time and energy. Some things need to be paused for a time.

We have a finite amount of time, energy and focus.

With 5 little kids at home, a large percentage of my time, energy and focus has been spoken for. So I have to be very careful how I use the very limited amount left.

Before we started planning 2017, we looked at what we could cut, pause or streamline.

Here was the list:

Hot tub: cut/pause (sold)

Ducks: cut/pause (gave away)

Hunting: pause (we will still accept donation deer)

Buying real estate: pause

Clothes: streamline

Housekeeping: streamlined via purging, minimalism, and no toys in common areas or bedrooms

Laundry: streamlined via teaching 9 and 8 year old to do 1 load a day

Our home improvements: paused; only if it can be handled in 1 day (we might have to do work on the rentals)

Relationships: streamline; I am focusing mostly on relationships that have a strong mutual benefit.

This was a hard list to write.

It’s fun to write down all the amazing things I want to see happen in 2017.

But this is where we have to start.

What am I going to cut? What can I pause for a year? What can I streamline?

Honestly, every single one of these things was a little difficult to write down (and harder to do!). You will notice from the list, none of these are bad things. They are all actually really good things. Buying rental properties has been a huge benefit to our passive income. But it also takes a large amount of time and focus. From checking the new listings each day, piles of paperwork for financing, touring properties, running numbers, to the actual closing, initial renovations, and finding tenants. If I am serious about my 2017 goals, this would be a huge distraction. Perhaps a profitable distraction, but distraction none the less. 2017 just isn’t the year. Maybe in 2018 we will buy 2. But I can either buy and renovate a new property in 2017 or I can hit my 3 big goals. I can’t do both.

I’m either fully committed to my 2017 goals or I’m not. And if I’m fully committed to these new goals, they have to get first dibs on my time, energy and focus. At the cost of something else.

At the end of the day, something had to be set aside to create space in 2017.

I think we love to hear that we can do it all, and nothing will suffer. Abundance theory might be true in a hundred other areas, but our time, energy, focus and willpower are extremely finite resources. For every new goal or dream we want to see significant progress in, we have to steal these resources away from something else.

Maybe we can maintain it all.

But we won’t make significant progress in any area.

If you want to see some significant progress in some areas in 2017, have you taken a bit of time to consider what you are going to cut out, pause or streamline to make that happen? This is step 1. It’s a test of your commitment to your new dreams and goals. What are you willing to give up to make them happen?

Other Reading:

One Thing (the current book I’m obsessed with!)

Cait Flanders on letting go of toxic relationships

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Bruce Van Horn: When you say “yes” you are also saying “no”

Let’s Chat:

Are there any things you are letting go of from 2016?

How do you create space for new goals?

Have you ever “paused” something? TV, Social media, relationships, hobbies?

 

 

 

 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Add to the conversation! Community is built in the comments section.

55 thoughts on “Making Space for New Goals

  1. This is essentially what I did when I cut out sports on TV. I told myself they would still be there when I’m old. I can spend less time watching TV while I’m young and able bodied. Win win.

    • I love that! For one sports is pricey to watch. You almost have to have cable. I knew a lot of guys would would pour hundreds of hours into watching sports. It would steal a whole day on the weekend. I just don’t get it. Biggest accomplishment of 2017: watched every game. No thanks. And just think, when you are 90 and in a wheel chair, you can watch 60 years of sports! =)

      • With the proliferation of streaming services you actually aren’t as reliant on cable or satellite for sports, it’s still an expense though. If you’re an NHL fan, you can probably get by with $25/mo on Sling for the major national channel and the local sports channel in some markets. If you just want to follow your team (and they aren’t the local one), there’s an nhl.tv out of market package that is pretty cheap – because those games presumably aren’t as valuable for the advertisers outside of the local market.

        You also can get a lot of weekend sports with just an antenna.

        I understand the appeal of sports – I watched a lot of sports with my dad growing up – and still do on occasion as an adult – but when it becomes an addiction, it’s not particularly healthy, and for me, I noticed that I didn’t even remember the scores from the night before, so what’s the point….

        • That’s good to know. I have friends who re-signed up for cable just because of the Olympics and tennis. I love the Olympics and all, but not $6o month x 12 months a year kind of love. That’s $2,880 every 4 years. I think you could fly to see the Olympics for that much money. 😉

  2. I think streamlining and cutting what you can is a good idea, and I’m trying to stretch myself a bit without taking on too much. I feel like I need more focus and maybe I’ve been a bit lazy lately, so I’m concentrating on weekly goals for a while (figuring I can adjust each week to make sure I’m not overwhelmed or stressed, but still making some progress with broad goals.) Maybe I don’t need to shed too much right now (other than some TV watching.)

    • I’ll admit I’m a little over the top, but here is how I organize it. Yearly targets> quarterly targets. Monthly tasks and habits that will get me there. Weekly goals. 1-2 daily tasks with 5 daily habits that help feed my yearly target. I spend about 5 minutes each day going over my day’s plans. And about an hour each week looking over the yearly/quarterly targets and planning my weekly goals.

        • Thanks for the idea! I work through all these kinds of things in my mentoring program. I am hoping to do a video series this spring/summer explaining it more. All together there are about 20 moving pieces! So I have been trying to organize it in a simple way that could be explained over 5-6 short videos (and them not be crazy long!) I’m doing a working retreat away from the family next weekend, so hopefully I can make some progress. =)

          • I’m not sure I mentioned. 😉 But all three are professionally related. If things keep going well, maybe I will update as I get ready to set 2018’s goals (and cut a bunch of things again). Good catch, though. Props for that. =)

  3. I think it’s a great idea to slow down a bit. Everyone is so busy these days. We just have one kid and that’s already too much for us. I can’t imagine 5 kids… Happy New Year and good luck in 2017!

    • I love what the author from “Deep Work” says, “When someone tells me their are so busy, I say “I’m sorry.” Like it’s the flu and I hope they better soon.” I’m getting the rid of “busy” and just focusing on the most important this year. =) I love your 2017 goals too!

  4. So true! It’s hard to find ways to streamline your life and even harder to acknowledge that you can’t focus on or do everything you want to.

    It’s much more superficial than your changes, but my husband and I gave up on some shows that we used to always follow. This past season, we just decided that we don’t have to keep up with the tv shows we like. We’ll just watch an episode whenever we like, instead of trying to stay up to date. We get some spoilers, but it really doesn’t affect our life at all except for giving us more free time.

    Happy New Year!

    • I think that is a great idea! We only do Netflix, so the shows are always there waiting, which helps. And we keep a strict bedtime, so we can’t binge watch episode after episode. =) Having kids that wake up between 5 am and 6 am help too. =)

  5. Great points! Like you said I think I get excited to add new things to my routines or goals, but the only way to get there in time is to eliminate and streamline.

    For 2017 one of my goals is to schedule my time in advance, even my weekends and days off. And of course focus on my one most important thing I set out daily/weekly/monthly 🙂

    Happy New Year!

    • In the book, The One Thing, they recommend planning your time off first. Which I though was interesting. All days off and vacation goes on the calendar first. And for us I know that if I don’t plan our vacation days first, they just don’t happen. It takes so much work and planning for us to get away from home, that I really needs months of planning. Ah, life with 5 little kids. Fun but with lots of planning. =)

  6. Hi Ms. Montana. Mr. Grumby and I will be getting rid of more physical belongings as we gear up for our next early retirement downsize (moving our remaining essential belongings into my sister-in-law’s basement and touring the US on our bicycles).

    I’ve found that clearing out unnecessary stuff creates a sense of peace and a welcome inner space for creativity.

    Happy New Year to you and your family and thanks for this reminder of the importance of balance when setting new goals!

    • In 2016, we went through all our belongings and got rid of SO much stuff. It does add peace, and clears up some mental space. The less items I have to fuss with, the more time and energy I have for other things. =) That bike tour sounds amazing! Hit me up if you make it through Glacier National Park. I’ve heard it’s amazing to bike the Going to the Sun Road. =)

  7. Welcome back! Why am I not surprised that you got obsessed w a book during your break? Love the concept from “The One Thing” of planning vacations first, and can see how that influenced your current thinking. Great concept to clear “space” before adding to it. Our focus has been on the physical, with final stages of downsizing clutter removal being a major effort during the holiday break! It feels great to “clear space”, and I bet it felt great when you sold that hot tub! Glad you’re back, we all missed you!!

    • Ha. =) You know me well. I actually read about 6 books, but that one was super exciting for me.

      Congrats on the downsizing efforts! We did a ton of that last year. It’s a lot of work, but so great when it’s done. =) I was actually rather sad to see the hot tub go. And one of these years we will probably get another one. But not in 2017. Each item we own take a tiny bit of time and energy, and it was definitely true of the hot tub!

  8. This is right on. We cannot keep adding and expect to make progress. You definitely got the wheels turning for me.

    I know I will have to streamline gardening this year, which will involve planting just what we will eat or freeze. Canning is sooo time consuming. There is one particular thing I think needs cut, or maybe just paused, but it involves relationships, which complicates things a bit, but my gut tells me it needs to go for now.

    • We have totally streamline our gardening. I stopped planting from seed. And I mulch around everything so I don’t have to weed and can water less. It has reduced the time spent by 90%. I can’t even when it comes to canning. One day I will. But for sure not in 2017! =)

      And I totally agree relationships are the most tricky! Some are such a suck of time and energy (and encouragement) for me. There are so many amazing people in the world, doing amazing things. I need more of those people in my life (like you!) and less of the people who just constantly want to complain. There are a few people I will carve out an full hour to chat with then end up thinking,”Well that’s an hour of my life I’ll never get back.” Where I have other friends, after an hour of talking, I’m so jazzed about life. If 2017 is going to be a big year, I need a lot less of the former and much more of the later!

      Good luck navigating that. It’s the hardest part for me.

  9. Years ago I cut out most TV, but now I find that the internet has taken its place as my time-sucker. I don’t want to stop reading and commenting on blogs and the RSF forum, but I’m going to set a timer and walk away when it beeps.

    • That is a great plan! It can eat up a big chunk of time. Which is ok, as long as it’s not taking the time from more important goals. I never want to say, “I gave up my biggest dreams because I spent all day reading other people’s blogs.” But it’s also important to me. I try to limit it to 20 posts a week. So about 3 posts a day. It’s a good balance for me. =) The Twitter feed is another story…

  10. Most of our cuts will be in the area of spending. We’ve got some pretty lofty goals for 2017 and they’ll take lofty shifting in where our money goes each month, but we’re all excited about it so that’s good. In the area of time I spent too much time browsing on the Net. Been cutting that down since December started and it’s really made a difference in terms of what I’m able to get done each day. Good luck to you guys on your goals!

  11. We’re totally on the same wavelength. While I rarely make New Year’s resolution, I do New Year’s cleaning. It’s a little holdover from growing up with Lunar New Year celebrations which dictates that you clean like the dickens in the days and weeks coming up to the New Year, so that you can open your door to the new year with a fresh home and heart. It’s the 2nd of January and I am thrilled that we have donated two huge boxes of good things that we can’t use any longer to the homeless shelter, passed along three piles of hand me down clothing, and added just one large pile of clothes for JuggerBaby to grow into this coming season. PLUS I cleaned zir closet (which has become the catch all closet and drives me barmy) so that at least one door can easily open and shut down without all manner of doodads raining down on your head. There are 3 more bags of clothes that are being posted for sale, and if those don’t go, they’ll be donated too. Ahhh that feels so good!

    That’s just the physical stuff. I’ll need another week to decide where my focus will be, and where it will not be, in 2017 for the projects that I plan to care most about.

    • Ohhh, a little sneak peak…Wednesday’s post is about finding your focus for 2017. =) And I love the de-cluttering. It seems like an ongoing task here. But I feel you on the messy closet. That has been our bedroom for months now. With the bathroom remodel all the construction stuff has piled into our room. Plus we have a tiny bit of free floor space, so all the Christmas boxes got set there. That stuff drives me nuts! I bet you are happy to have your space cleaned out a bit! I’m excited to hear what you pick for your focus for the year!

      • Ohh yes I’m super happy. I made everyone go look at it, including the dog who tried to look impressed but failed 😉

        My focus setting has always been a very weird process of sitting with the money review for the last year, letting it sink in, and then deciding what resonates the most for my next year’s goals. It’ll have to happen by Monday!

  12. I explored many blogs over the weekend, and enjoyed your page. For a few reasons. You live live small town America. Your married. You have kids. You pay attention to your finances and time in life. Both of which are finite. I am write beside you in all the above. > Couple of things.

    I am exploring the thought of early retirement or taking a year off each decade. I have never considered being able to achieve either. Especially with a wife and 3 kids. Along with some of your fellow early retirees that blog, I have never considered on living on such a low amount. And not sure I have the guts to consider doing it.

    For a few years, I have been getting rid of more in life than I have added. Soda. Gatorade. Clothing. Twitter. Facebook. Old Stuff. My personal motto in 2016 was to “achieve more by doing less.”

    I am interested to follow people like you and appreciate you sharing your life. It will help me decide which course I decide to follow.

    Another reason I resonated with your page was because of Montana. My cousin is on the road to Bozeman from Texas to start a new life. He’s carrying everything he owns in a 4 Runner and 6×6 foot trailer. You can read his blog at sportsbriefcase.com He had an article on Oct. 2nd when he was still pondering this. I suspect as he makes his journey, he will update his blog. I plan to teach my kids to ski out of bozeman over the coming years using his place as a base.

    I admire what you have been able to achieve, and how you are able to do it. How you have so much time. I wish I could travel America in an RV for a year and get to know the country.

    I look forward to more of your posts.

    • Thanks for such a great comment, and just being a reader. I hope your brother likes Bozeman, and the skiing is AMAZING there. That is where I learned to ski as a kid. =) I think if more people really ran the numbers, they would see it’s not all that hard to take a year off, if it’s something you really want. It’s been life changing for us! And give the low expenses a shot. I recommend just swapping out less expensive options item by item, and see how you like it. Sometimes it’s easier to have fun for free than spending a lot of money.

  13. Your post reminded me of a book I read recently, ‘Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less’ by Greg McKeown. If you have a Kindle, you may be able to check it out for free from your local library.

    There are so many things I want to learn and make progress on. However, I need to keep reminding myself that I’ll only move an inch in every direction instead of moving feet in one direction.

    Good luck in 2017 and focusing on your new goals for the year. 2018 will be here before you know it 🙂

    • This year for the first time, I wrote down a few goals for the next 3 years after the current year. It’s kind of cool to look at how each step will take you to the next place! And thanks for the book recommendation. I’ve heard of it, but haven’t read it yet. Added to the list!

  14. This is a really important point that usually goes overlooked. It’s nice when we can just cut out the things that aren’t adding any value to our lives, but eventually we hit a point where we need to cut things we like to make room for other things. Last year my most painful change was putting a pause on writing and performing music. It hurt to do, but it was necessary to make room for other things and I don’t regret it at all.

    • I did a post about minimalism a while back, that was this very core. We had gotten rid of all the “easy stuff” but then had to tackle all the stuff we had held onto through all the previous purges. That was the hardest stuff to let go of. But if we want space for things to grow, we have to make that space. In our time, energy, relationships, physical items, to do lists. All of it. I can imagine the music was hard to let go. Maybe it can be more of a “pause” that you can loop back to in a few years after you have taken more ground in these other areas? =)

  15. This post really spoke to me this morning. As we are starting 2017, I’ve realized that I need to let some good things go, too.

    It’s not easy to let things go that are good, but you are encouraging me to do it – for the bigger goals. Have you read Present over Perfect – it reminded me of some of the thoughts you had in this post, too.

    Rentals have been a huge stressor for us in the past year – finding tenants, keeping tenants, and the time spent managing them is more than we have dealt with in the past. My husband and I have been trying to figure out how to move forward – definitely no new rental properties this year, but how do we manage what we already have?

    • I haven’t read that book yet, although I love Shauna’s stuff, so I might have to check that out! Good luck on the clearing space. I know it can be tough. But somethings have to be pulled before we can plant new things, or let those important things have more room to grow. Let me know how it goes!

  16. “Sometimes things don’t need to go away forever. Just for now.” What a simple concept, but it can everything. It’s so easy to cling to things irrationally. I did that with my YMCA membership, which I spent over $100 a month on for my family – for years. We didn’t use it that much, but I was a member since before I even had a family, so I resisted canceling it. Can you imagine being sentimental about a gym membership! Finally, I realized, that I could freeze my membership, which I did. After my freeze was up I realized I could cancel my membership and join back whenever I wanted. Which I of course haven’t, because I have many better uses for $117 every month. Feeling like it was just a pause gave me permission to pull the trigger. Only to then realize that stopping altogether was the right decision. I wonder how many other things I could be applying this very wise and useful perspective to. Excellent post!

    • OH, that is such a good example! I have a hard time letting go. And the idea of something (item, hobby, person, food) being gone forever is almost unbearable. But I can pause things. Although it seems crazy, having ducks is a HUGE deal to me. I’ve dreamed about it for years. I’ve read a dozen books. We actually didn’t buy some houses because they wouldn’t allow ducks. And I’ve loved having them these last 4 years. But if I really want to focus on my 2017 goals, I just have to pause. The ducks just don’t fit this year. I might buy more next year or the year after. If it would have been all or nothing, I would have kept them. =) But pausing allowed me to let go for a while. So I feel you on that gym membership!

  17. Welcome back and happy new year! I like that you include the pause button because if we’re not ready to fully let go of something, it allows us to let it go for now. Chances are we won’t want that thing or activity back.

    We’re concentrating on refining goals pertaining to time, since we gained a lot of it. We’re adding a bit of structure and routine to our days by scheduling specific activities for weekday mornings.

  18. I ran into that “if something gets added something has to go” issue in Dec. I ordered some colored pencils and got a drawing pad to sketch in and then realized that I was going to ahve to make time for it. As in, not do something else, if I’m going to start doing that. The same with exercise, like what am I giving up each night when i work out, and what are my real priorities? It’s tough.

    Maybe a streamline, pause, cut list needs to get made and that will help sort a lot of stuff out. Thanks for the suggestion! Oh, and I second reading the Essentialism book. I actually have a copy I can mail you if you haven’t kindled it yet, or checked it out of the library. Just send me your address at our SSC contact email or PM on twitter. It’s a good book about “Less but better” so you focus on what’s really important, not just adding everything. Sort of like your method above.

  19. Love this, MM! I find that certain things become so engrained within us, that they begin to form part of our identity. And there can come a time when we need to pause, to break, if only to remind ourselves that we are more than what we do, more than ‘that thing’ that others identify us by. In my case, I’d lead worship in my church for a long time. But I came to a point where I needed to take a complete break, which ended up being almost 2 years. I had felt this overwhelming sense of duty, and it was tough to take that pause, but so healthy. Not only was I able to reprioritize, it allowed others to step in and fill the void, people who may not have otherwise had an opportunity.

    Sometimes taking a break from good, positive stuff can be a healthy thing. 🙂

    • That’s a great example! That identity and sense of duty, can be so overwhelmingly strong. But you are right, when we pause from “our thing” the world keeps turning and someone else steps up. And it might be exactly what that other person really needs in their life. Burdens to blessings. 🙂

  20. We are doing something very similar…

    We wanted to buy a BBQ grill and a patio table/chair set.
    We spent $220 on all of it.

    So now we are selling $220 worth of stuff to make the money back AND to make sure we don’t just keep buying stuff without getting rid of stuff.

    I’ve already posted some of the stuff we are selling and plan on posting the rest this weekend.

    Gotta get rid of stuff first before you can add stuff or you’ll just end up with a mountain of stuff!!!

    • It’s true in every area of life. It’s a myth that we can just add, add, add more and more and more. Because we have so many little kids it a constant flow of new stuff coming in and old stuff going out. We even have a rule for art. They can keep 1 thing for 1 day. Between the 5 of them, it’s just gets crazy otherwise! They produce 3+ things a day x5. Do the math on that. In just a week our home is overrun with finger paint art!