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  1. Hello friends! My name is Sky, and most of the time, I don't feel very good! I have anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, and a thyroid gland that may or may not be working correctly; I am overweight and don't exercise; I don't often take time to cook varied, whole foods that I enjoy; much of my life is unplanned and disorganized; and I spend much of my time dissatisfied with my appearance, achievements, wardrobe, and daily accomplishments. I'm really a ball of fun, let me tell ya. 😜 But this is the season for taking stock and making plans for things to improve in the new year; and this year, I would like to take steps to help my body and mind feel better. In the Big Picture, "feeling good," to me, would look like: Having energy most days to complete, not only my necessary tasks, but also after-work projects or activities that I want to do. Having a workout routine that I perform regularly, which helps me be functionally strong for daily life and increases my sense of well-being. Creating and maintaining a daily, weekly, and monthly routine for my household cleaning, storage, shopping, and chores that keeps my home reasonably clean and frees up mental energy from making those decisions intermittently. Regularly cooking healthy meals, rich in vegetables and protein, that I enjoy making and eating. Being able to travel and do most things without IBS symptoms. Developing and implementing spiritual, mental, and emotional habits that help me be gratefully grounded in the present, and spend less time worrying about the future. Intentionally making progress toward my big goals like buying a home, buying a car, writing a book, planting a garden, upgrading my wardrobe, etc. Regularly engaging in creative endeavors I enjoy (writing, photography, needlecrafts, desktop publishing) and sharing some of that work with others. Having a happy, thriving relationship with my husband that's nourished through conversation, play, intimacy, exploration, teamwork, and working toward shared goals. Cultivating and prioritizing a daily Bible study and prayer practice, including striving to apply what I learn to my daily life and consistently worshiping and studying with other Christians. Making space for giving back to others, through hosting, donating, volunteering, visiting, and messaging. So in a nutshell: I want to have more physical and emotional energy, make space for things I enjoy, support a nourished body and mind, and have tangible and intangible resources to share with my family and community. This is, obviously, MUCH more than a challenge-long or even year-long project. Striving for this state of being is more of a lifelong pursuit and a process of giving myself grace and patience when life looks much different than that ideal. But at the same time, I can make meaningful steps toward each of these aspirations, and I can build a lifestyle that supports my feeling good more often than not. Now, the kicker is, I've been setting short-term goals related to this Big Picture list for the last few months, and I just ... don't do them. I start out feeling convinced that my small efforts won't make a difference, that I can't achieve the things I want to do, that I don't deserve success, and so on. So before I start haphazardly reaching for my kettlebell or adding a bunch of vegetables to my grocery list, I want to work on mindset and realistic goals. Here's my breakdown for the five weeks of this challenge: Week 1: Mindset Write down 7 affirmations and save one for each day, either on my bulletin board IRL or here on NF. Identify key values associated with my goals (i.e., hospitality, courage, openness, self-honesty, trust) and orient the affirmations around these. Find Bible verses related to these values and copy them down along with the affirmations. Create a vision board with images that remind me of these values, affirmations and verses, and print it and use it as a desktop wallpaper. Week 2: Break it down Organize my Big Goals into similar topics / areas. Select either a handful or all of the Big Goals and figure out 3-4 smaller steps to move me toward these goals (for example, if the goal is "buy a house," one smaller goal could be "talk to Eamon about a realistic down payment and calculate how much to save each month toward this amount"). Week 3: Take steps Select one small-step goal from each topic area and add to my daily habit tracker. Try to perform the small goals consistently for the whole week. Week 4: Reflect Pause to figure out what's working and what isn't, without judgment - if it's not working, either it isn't really a high priority to me, or else I need to try a different tactic. For things that aren't important, let them go! There are plenty of other things to focus on! Week 5: On my way! After reflecting and adjusting, add updated goals to habit tracker and try to consistently perform them for the week. Do something fun to celebrate progress! I'm seeing a lot of things on social media about taking it slow in 2023 and not pushing so hard to set goals; but honestly, I kind of did that in 2022, easing into my new life as a newlywed wife in a new state, and I'm feeling ready to push and stretch myself again. This feels like a lot but I'm feeling good about it. (One last thing that's floating around in the back of my head this challenge, which I have mentioned in previous challenges and likely won't be able to refrain from mentioning in this one, is that my husband Eamon and I have been casually trying to conceive for the last few months; so in addition to riding the rollercoaster of "Is it happening this month?", I'm working hard in therapy to unpack my fears, hopes, expectations, and goals for parenthood while I work on these other goals. Ideally I will limit how much I brain dump / vent / rant about that in this space, but also, I'd rather do that than get triggered and go off on my loved ones who are trying to help me, which is what I've been struggling with lately, so ... no guarantees. ) I'm glad you're here and I'm excited to discover some health, vitality and joy together in 2023! ❤️
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