Two weeks ago while digging through an old file, I found our plans to hit the road full time. We were two years out from launching when we wrote down that list and timeline. At the time, I remember thinking how impossible the plan seemed to execute. It was 2009, the height of the recession. We were in the middle of a real estate mess, we feared losing Brent’s clients if we packed up and left town, and our overall financial picture was bleak. Hitting the road was risky and we were far from an ideal starting place but it happened not just for one year but for four and it changed our lives in more ways than we could have imagined. And it all started with a dream, an intention, that made it onto a piece of paper. 

We’ve starting planning for “Hit the Road 2.0”. This time around we’d like to avoid hanging out in campgrounds for weeks at a time waiting for freelance checks to come in the mail. Although we have some really great memories from those times, it’s more fun to travel full time when filling your gas tank isn’t stressful. Since being settled, we’ve been quietly and steadily working toward creating more (mostly) passive income (through real estate and it’s not as hard or ambitious as it might sound) that will allow us to get back on the road with less stress and more freedom once The Bigs are launched into the world. This plan also started with a dream followed by few scribbles on a piece of paper. The funny thing is by nature, I’ve always leaned towards skepticism but looking back on my life I’m starting to see the power of thoughtful intentions and prayer. I’m fully leaning into it this year and fighting back fears that I may end up having an existential crisis disappointed.

This past week, Brent and I spent a good 3-4 hours writing down goals/intentions for the new year. We wanted to make sure we are doing first things first and spending our time in a way that reflects our true values. It stinks the look back at a day or week and especially a year and realize that you didn’t spend your time doing the things with the people you love most. That is why is it key to set thoughtful intentions. Time shows no mercy. Use it wisely!

Four Steps to Creating Thoughtful Intentions/Goals 

1. Reflect and Brainstorm

The first thing Brent and I did was brainstorm things we wanted to accomplish. It helps to reflect on the past and the present. What did we do well last year? What were our regrets? How have our circumstances changed? (This is Thing 1’s last year with us so that played a big role in our planning.) Where are we at physically, emotionally, relationally, spiritually, financially, etc? 

We intentionally chose to focus on things we want to do rather of things we want to avoid. For instance consider the New Year classic, “get fit” rather than “lose weight”. This sets a more positive tone for the year and we reason that when we are filling our lives with “positive” activities there is naturally less room for “negative” activities. Furthermore, if we’ve done all the important things for the day then does it really matter if we spend a little too much time on our phones in the evening!

2. Categorize

Next we looked at our list of intentions/goals and created broad categories like “Family”. We organized the things we wanted to accomplish into these categories. For instance, we put “Climb Pikes Peak into the “Health” category. Coming up with categories sparked new intentions that we didn’t think of in our brainstorming session. 

3. Prioritize the Categories

After creating the categories we prioritized them. We approached the list as if we were building a house. The categories that we believe are the most essential to our version of a fulfilling life were set first, like a foundation. From there we discussed what would be most beneficial for each succeeding category. For instance, we initially had family before marriage but then decided it was actually in our kids’ best interest to invest in our marriage first. If we did that it would be easier to invest in our family as a whole. We talked about how investing in our marriage was investing in our family. The same with health. We decided that by taking care of ourselves we would be taking care of each other. Being healthy makes us better partners and better parents so up the list it went. We discussed each category at length and why it should go where. Prioritizing the categories not only gave a clearer picture for the year but created some great conversation between us. It also brought up some differences and vulnerabilities that we had to work through. Hard but time well spent. Here are the categories we came up with in the order we prioritized them.

Real Estate

Categories will obviously change from person to person and should reflect your core values and vision for your life.

4. Prioritize Intentions/Goals

Last we repeated step 3 with the intentions/goals themselves and prioritized them within each category. Since we did our list as a couple there were sections under each category for each individual. For instance, under  “Health” Brent has ‘Mountain Bike or Run 2x Week’ and I have ‘10+ Min of Yoga Every Day’. Under “Family” we have a section for each child with things we want to do with or for them. Our travel goals are listed under family as well. Before finishing up, we read over the list a number of times together, tweaking as needed. We may and probably should make more changes as the year progresses and needs and circumstances shift but we now have a good starting point or a map to refer to when we feel lost or overwhelmed. When that happens we can look at our list and say, “This is what’s REALLY important” and take steps in that direction. 

Do you set intentions or goals for yourself and your family? 

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