2021 Year End Review

As a way to close out the year on the blog I always end each year with a Year in Pictures as well as a review of my goals for that year. How’d I do on my goals? I love to end the year with reviewing the goals I had for myself and for our family and see how we did in achieving them. It helps give me a good starting point for the year ahead!

I, like so many others, am so appreciative of the year of 2021 and how much normalcy returned to our lives. 2020 was tough and 2021 was a year of recovery and rebuilding and returning to normal living. In most ways – this was wonderful. But in some, it was kinda tough too. I remember feeling really overwhelmed in a way I hadn’t in SO LONG. 2020 allowed us all to slow down and the go-go-go, rush-rush, rush of things that started to return in 2021 was a bit jarring in ways and a reminder to keep the slower pace as much as possible.

A big long-term change in myself has been my natural planning nature. Post-2020 Emily is WAY more chill. I used to plan months and months (heck years) in advance. But when 2020 hit and every single plan couldn’t happen, I learned that flexibility is important. Going with the flow is a good trait to have and as things have reopened and plans have been able to be made, I’ve continued to keep that more flexible outlook. I think some of the fear of things canceling has stuck with me because I used to be a big anticipation person but now I basically assume plans we make WON’T happen and am surprised when they actually do!

I didn’t have a planned word for 2021 but if I could choose one word to describe 2021 for me it was PEACE-SEEKING. I became very, very hardcore about seeking out PEACE. Financial peace being a HUGE part of that. I poured into Dave Ramsey’s content, Bigger Pockets, I read Rich Dad Poor Dad, I fine-tuned every part of our family budget and really focused on getting serious about our financial goals with the overall goal of being financially free to live in financial peace. I love learning and have always loved Dave Ramsey but it was fun to expand my thinking when reading Rich Dad Poor Dad and looking at finances in a different perspective too.

We were very blessed in 2021 in many ways, one being financially, and we refer to it as our “year of abundance.” We were able to give to the Lord more than ever before and were both very focused on making sure that year of abundance would have a longer impact than just that year.

No fancy cars or “dumb” purchases. We paid off Zach’s truck (goodbye car payments…forever!) and paid off a very large portion of our mortgage. We also made some investments for the future and I enjoyed learning more about real estate and the possibilities there too.

Peace with our church home was another big change in 2021. We made the difficult decision in 2020 to leave our church home of 13 years and we had no clue where God would lead us. It’s been so incredible to find our new church home. It’s truly where we are meant to be and having our church family has been a huge blessing in our lives. We have so much peace about that decision!

Peace came to also mean less-stress to me as well. When we hit a bump in the road regarding Zach’s health in the fall my peace goals became very much about minimizing stress for myself, Zach and our family unit. I am naturally a higher stress person and I have to be diligent and intentional in order to create more white space on my smaller-sized plate and to lower my own stress levels as well as help Zach keep his lower. The peace that being less stressed brings to our family is HUGE!

As we go into 2022 I hope to continue to keep peace as the core focus of my life and our family!

Here were my goals for 2021, I’ll go over them here and see how I did!

2021 Goals in Review:

Invest blog/IG earnings INTO the blog/IG in order to help grow and, most importantly, find the JOY in it again as a HOBBY: This was a tough thing for me to take a leap and follow through with as up until 2021 my blog was always 100% ME but over the years it’s become more stressful and less joyful. Zach and I had a huge talk about it and made the decision for me to invest the earnings from the blog in helping it live up to its full potential as well as take the burden off of my shoulders.

My babies are only little for so long and I wanted to look at the blog more as a hobby and less as a legit JOB. I’ve def found that balance (as can be seen by the fact that I’m 6 MONTHS behind real-time in my life-update posts…I don’t feel as urgent about it anymore, clearly). I took the leap and invested the earnings. I found very trustworthy people to fill in the gaps in the areas which cause me stress. I also stayed hyper-focused and didn’t allow myself to get derailed from the mission and focus on the blog this year. It all paid off!!! I saw more success than I’ve ever seen with my site as well as my IG and it was a great lesson that it’s about working smarter not harder!

Set true work hours for me and stick to them โ€“ ENJOY weekends that we are at home without feeling that pull to be working every free minute.:  This goes along with what I already touched on above but I truly feel like I did a great job in finding that better balance and not feeling like I needed to be working all the time. I can’t even remember the last time I did work in the evening time! I really focus on work time when it’s work time and family time when it’s family time.

Pay down our house as much as possible and Invest 15% of gross income for retirement: We made a big change in the way we do our monthly budget and were able to set aside 15% of gross income for retirement as well as pay off well more than I ever thought possible on our home. I was super hyper-focused on my goal to be completely debt-free (including the house) to be able to go on Dave Ramsey’s show and do the debt-free scream and hear him tell us he’s proud of me. But then I learned more about different ways of thinking about income and ways your money can work for you etc and made the decision instead of paying off the house completely to use some of that money to invest in other avenues that can help us long term to be able to supplement income in the future.

Continue being intentional in our marriage โ€“ communicating clearly, connecting, doing a check-in with our therapist too!: We did not do a check-in with my counselor, oops! I have, however, been very intentional in my monthly visits with her and our marriage has grown SO MUCH this year. The health concerns were tough but really pushed us together in a deeper, more vulnerable way than I ever thought we’d be able to be with each other and it was awesome. Now that we’re through that rougher health patch, it’s important to continue to be intentional in having vulnerable moments and making sure we stay connected. Our communication has come so far as well and I feel like we’re both in such a great place together and both working hard to show up in our marriage as our best selves for each other.

Enjoy the moments with the kids. Be present in the present and enjoy the gift of being their mom!: This is one of those ones where you never feel like you’re doing enough, being enough. We are our own worst critics and I think motherhood is one of those areas that we are probably the toughest on ourselves about. Bring present IN the present is hard for me. Its hard for me to relax and not always be doing or thinking about what I should be doing. I def think this is an area in which I’ve improved in many ways but will always need to be intentional about.

Find our church home and new church family: We love our new church family and are so thankful for the path that lead us to Quitman!

IG Goals: Get over my fears and reach out for more hosted opportunities for our family. Know and ASK my worth regarding campaign opportunities. Be okay with saying NO more often! : I did about 10 less campaigns in 2021 than I did in 2020 via Instagram yet I made over double what I made in 2020! It was hard for me to say no to things but I did it and I stuck to my goals as far as asking my worth and being more picky about the companies and brands I worked with. I have also asked for more hosted opportunities! It’s tricky because you have to be pretty well planned in advance to reach out to places and this new Emily isn’t as planned out so I still am not asking places as often as I should but I’m getting better about remembering to reach out and ask. It never hurts to ask and the best part of having an online presence, to me, is to be able to have those fun family opportunities!

House Goals: Repaint exterior of the house, finish treehouse, finish homework hangout room, Brittโ€™s room revamp, bathroom renovations, start on the master renovation: Zach painted the entire exterior of our home, he finished the treehouse, he finished the homework hangout/study room, Britt’s room is revamped as a Harry Potter theme. We decided not to start the master bathroom but did go ahead and paint both the master bathroom and bedroom as well as finally invest in a king size bed and a new mattress ๐Ÿ™‚

Find JOY in travel and travel planning again and take some dang TRIPS!: This didn’t happen. The covid year robbed a lot of people of a lot of things and I know we are so blessed that it didn’t impact our health or our lives or the lives of anyone we love. My biggest personal struggle post-Covid life is to find joy again in travel and travel planning. It just ain’t there yet. I think it’ll take time and take multiple trips going smoothly for me to be back in that groove again!

Additional blog goals: Optimize all old posts for SEO, complete site organization, have landing pages set up, get and stay caught up to real-time on personal content, set up email, earn $5,000 more than last year and enough for expenses to pay for themselves.ย : Site optimization has been HUGE and such a worthwhile investment. It’s so nice to see my content performing the way it has been and I am super happy I made that decision. We are still working through old posts for optimization but the site organization is completed. Landing pages need a bit more updating but we’re working on that too. I am WAY FAR behind on real-time personal content. BIG goal for 2022 ๐Ÿ™‚ Email is also a 2022 goal as it didn’t happen in 2021. However, the blog not only paid for itself but had its biggest earning year and I made way more than the year prior. CRAZY awesome. Def a year of abundance which I highly doubt happens again this year but I’m thankful for the year it had!

Disney house goals: Have it pay for itself again (fingers crossed): SO thankful to not be gutting money like we were in 2020 when it came to the Disney House. It’s still tempting at times to sell as the market is just so crazy right now and the house is worth so much and we truly don’t turn much, if any, profit from it. But 2020 taught us just how much of an emotional investment the Disney House is for us. We love it. I am SO thankful that guidelines lessened and then were dropped at the theme parks in the Orlando area and that travel has opened back up, the house stays booked pretty solid now which is a huge blessing! Hoping we don’t see another year like 2020 for a long time to come ๐Ÿ™‚

Really focus on filling MY cup this year. Take care of ME through getting enough sleep, healthy eating, regular exercise, gratitude journal, daily Bible reading, plenty of prayer, and seeking out activities and friendships that bring me joy.: This has been, and continues to be, a big focus for me. I worked really hard in early 2021 to figure out my female issues and it was beyond frustrating to not really come up with a solution. I’m writing this in 2022 and am feeling much more optimistic about the current game plan with those concerns. Again my goal is to minimize stress and dealing with my female struggles (heavy periods, PH balance issues etc) is SO STRESSFUL. So I’m optimistic that 2022 will be the year for that improvement.

I have made a huge change in my sleep habits. I used to have a goal of 7 hours of sleep a night and know that it is just not enough! I now aim to be in the bed by 10 and asleep by 10:30, allowing for 8+ hours of sleep a night. I switched my showering routine to the morning rather than evening and that’s helped me go to sleep earlier. I also exercise in the morning which helps. I’m still not doing so great on the bible reading/journaling. I have been reading about Mini-Habits and think I tend to overwhelm myself with trying to do too many habits at once and then fail at them all so I’m really focusing on getting the sleep, water, and eating part in a solid place.

I do think I did well in focusing on friendships that bring joy to my life. It is amazing what having more white space on your plate will allow for – I welcomed new friends that have been so life-giving for me and I wouldn’t ever have been able to have the capacity to pour into new relationships if I hadn’t been focused on minimizing my life stresses and being intentional in the relationships I do invest in.

One of the things I’m most proud of about 2021 and my managing my stress is that I enjoyed the holiday season more than EVER. I felt so little stress and just so much joy. I felt like I did a great job of being in the present and enjoying the kids and enjoying the holiday moments more than I ever have. I loved having that white space available during a crazy time of the year as it allowed me to work with Called to Care to provide gifts for local children. I LOVED IT so, so much. I had their wishlists and had so much fun shopping for the kids and finding just the right things for them and picturing their sweet faces on Christmas morning. It is a big goal of mine to be in the same headspace as well as a financial place so I’m able to do it again next year.

My big goal for 2021 was to have it be the “Year of Emily.” I think it’s hard to really know exactly who we are as individuals at certain stages in life. We wear so many hats and those hats define us. I love all of my hats and identities. I love being a mom. A wife. A friend.

I have grown a lot in having better understanding of myself. I’ve healed from a lot of hurts in many ways and can better recognize moments where I’m feeling current pain that is really just a continuation of past pain and am better able to separate the current moment from that hurt and talk through what I need in that moment or why I’m feeling the way I am etc. I think being connected with self is a lifelong journey and the “Year of Emily” is continuing in 2022.

2022 is a big change with me having all four of my babies in school for the first time since becoming a mom. It will def give me that opportunity to connect with the Emily hat more and better prioritize things that I enjoy just for me!

In 2021 we had a goal to focus more on one on one relationships with each of the kids and I think we did that in a great way! I tend to be drawn to doing things as a full family and even have “fomo” When Zach does stuff with the kids without me. But it’s an area I’ve come a long way with and a big focus in 2021 was on encouraging those kinds of moments and experiences. I love the bonds the kids share with Zach and I want us both to be equally close to all of our babies on an individual level and share bonding moments one on one with each of them.

For the kids and Zach’s goals:

Zach: Continue working on being that fun Disney Dad, ball out and kill it with work – 2021 was his best year of work ever. He loved every minute of it and enjoyed work so much more than he ever has and also enjoyed the perks in earning more too! He def had some fun Disney Dad moments too and a big game changer for us was bringing two cars on our Disney trips. It’s really allowed us so much freedom. Sometimes he and a kid or two wanna dip out while others of us wanna stay or some of us wanna go to the parks in the evenings and then the others can use the 2nd car to go do something. It’s really broadened our ability to have more fun as a family and more of those one on one connections on our trips to Disney!

Kye: He wants to continue to work on his competitive responses and had the goal to score a 260 in archery (which heโ€™s already surpassed and his best score so far is 271!) Kye had a fantastic season in archery and a wonderful school year. It’s crazy he’s a teenager now! He has come SO FAR with his competitive responses and is handling that so much better.

Britt: Read all of the Harry Potter books, master riding her new bike, make an arial on the trampoline, bond with the family, focus on God better during worship services. Britt doesn’t really ride her bike so I wouldn’t say she achieved that one fully but she mastered her back handspring and ariel. She has not yet finished all the Harry Potter books (but she’s listened to them all over and over!). Britt is SUCH a great example to others during worship services and focusing on God. It’s amazing to watch the other little girls she sits with at church and see how they look up to her and follow her example. She is also very intentional with family time and spending quality time with her siblings. Tess started sleeping with Britt in her bed every night so I’d say their bond is def stronger than ever ๐Ÿ˜‰

Tess: Ride a bike without training wheels, read all of the books in her bedroom library Tessie LOVES her scooter and doesn’t really ever ride a bike, I don’t even think she has one anymore that fits her! She also LOVES to read and reads all the time all the books over and over!

Spear: Be poop nap and night trained (truly DONE with diapers), stop sucking thumb, transition into big boy bed Well I’m writing this in JUNE of 2022 and Spear is still not quite 100% done with being nap and night trained but he’s working on it. I’m not even attempting to wean him from his thumb sucking yet. He is fully in a big boy bed…but still requires a sleep tent to keep him contained ๐Ÿ™‚ He does things at his own pace and we’re in no rush on any of those milestones. See new Emily is so chill ๐Ÿ˜‰

Overall 2021 was a huge year of growth in so many areas, especially spiritually. It was a year of being reminded that God is in control. We have to always trust Him no matter the circumstances. He provides GOOD in ALL things, even the toughest times.

It was so hard saying goodbye to Big Daddy but even in that time, there were blessings. Blessings of time together. Blessings of the ability to see him for those goodbyes.

We felt like God was leading us to a new church home and truly, prayerfully, trusted Him in that process and our church family is THE perfect fit.

We had some big career shifts in 2020 and it was tough to trust God in that process. But we continued to put Him first. We made a big goal at the start of 2020 to give more to God financially and we didn’t let the financial hiccups during that year deter us from that goal and we were blessed in 2021 with that year of abundance. We know He gets all that glory and we continue to strive to be good stewards of the blessings He’s allowed us.

I’m thankful for the year of 2021. The lessons learned, the personal growth achieved, the memories shared. Bring on 2022 ๐Ÿ™‚

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