My 2014 Goals: The Nitty Gritty

Last week I gave you a general overview of my goals for the year, and today we’re getting down to brass tacks. Or something. This post is a DOOZIE, so, God bless you if you make it through.

“I’m not the kinda guy who says, “God bless her.” We leave that to other comics — Other comics say, “God Bless her” way better than I do. I say it badly.” Oh, Mitch Hedberg, you are sorely missed.

If you don’t make it all the way through, it’s ok. I still love you. And I want you to know that I am hosting a link up next Thursday, February 27th about all things related to goal-setting and achieving. So get your posts ready now!

Ahem. Onto the goals!

If I got hit by a bus tomorrow, poor Will would have a heck of a time sorting out our finances. If we both got hit by a bus, woe betide our daughter. We have no will. We have not appointed a guardian for her. I don’t even have any life insurance. We need to take care of these things, stat, and it’s all part of legacy planning.

It’s not fun thinking about your own demise and what would happen to your family once you’re gone, but good god is it important. Sub-goals for legacy planning: staying on top of filing all of our important paperwork (this maybe-once-a-quarter system I have going is not working at all), organizing all of our accounts and passwords and login information into one document (paper? electronic? both? haven’t decided yet), making decisions about Natalie’s guardianship, contacting a lawyer and actually drawing up a will, and getting life insurance for myself (Will is all set through his employer).

Based on the comments to my 2014 goals post, many of you are also taking care of a lot of these things this year. This post at Engaged Marriage is a really great starting point for tackling these projects, since there’s a LOT involved. It’s overwhelming! I totally get it and am right there with you. But let’s do this, ok? It’s so important and we’ll feel SO good when it’s done.

Whew. Let’s talk about something less morbid.


My second goal is to cultivate a thriving marriage. I’m going to be honest: I hesitated to make this a goal, and I really hesitated to write about it here. It somehow seems uncool to want to work on your marriage, even when (or especially when?) things are going well. Which – they are!

But. But but but. We have a baby, a truly wonderful and easygoing baby who nevertheless demands about 98% of our time. We haven’t gone out to dinner together in six+ months. Most evenings I’m on the computer doing some kind of work, and Will is sitting in the same room watching sports on TV.

(Wait. That’s exactly what’s happening as I’m writing this post.)

We’re floating along just fine, but it still feels very much like two ships passing in the night, pausing just long enough to toss the baby over to the other ship and shout, “It’s your turn!”

My subgoals for this one are very simple: spend screen-free time together every day, and keep the lines of communication open – about everything, but in particular about housework.

It might sound very 1950s of me, but the fact of the matter is that I have more time to do things around the house than Will does. He goes to work and does…something…for 8 hours a day, and I stay home with Natalie so we don’t have to pay for childcare. Neither of us would flourish if we switched roles, since I have no desire to go to an office and he has no desire to be home All. The. Time. It’s a very even split on weekends, but more on my shoulders during the week because, well…that’s my job now. I’m cool with that.

He is fully aware that being home with Natalie does not mean I am lounging around all day. (I’m not going to say “eating bon-bons” because how the heck did that phrase get started anyway? I hate it.) However, and I am the first to admit this, I frequently don’t make the best use of my time. There are days when I feel completely wrung out just from caring for Natalie, and I don’t manage to do much of anything except keep both of us fed. Will and I both understand that’s just the reality of me getting up every 2-3 hours at night with her; my days sometimes suffer.

But other days, I’m just…well…lazy. I was trying to find a better way to phrase that to put myself in a slightly better light, but there you go. Part of this goal is to be better about doing my fair share of the housework so we can relax in a clean house in the evenings, rather than push aside piles of dirty dishes just so we can make dinner and then trip over the scattered minefield of baby toys in the family room.

Moving right along to goal #3…


I’m a pretty good writer. It’s always been a strength of mine and I’m proud of that. But 99% of what you read on this blog is off-the-top-of-my-head, write-post-and-run kind of stuff. Great for getting my thoughts out (especially if I’m doing a Quick Takes post that’s mostly about funny or interesting things that are going on in my life right now), but…I know I can do better than that.

I also want to expand the readership of this blog and connect with more moms, both on- and offline. But really, I don’t have any control over how many of you like the Happy Helmraths facebook page, or subscribe to the RSS feed (see what I did there? Shameless. Just shameless. #sorrynotsorry). So instead of choosing a goal like “get more readers that aren’t related to me,” I am focusing on the writing process. Because I can control my content and I can improve my writing skills. 

Some of my subgoals: publish a new post at least twice a week, reread On Writing Well and Bird By Bird (the two best books on writing I’ve ever read, bar none), submit my work for guest posts elsewhere, and write something every day, even if it’s just a few sentences.


This goal is all about looking and feeling my best. Which, I know – that’s HUGE and where do you even start? I started with the why — why do I want to have this goal? And the answer is that I’m a better wife and mom when I’m healthy, confident, and well-rested.

You know the stereotype of the stay-at-home mom who goes everywhere in her yoga pants? That mom is better dressed than I am. [Looks down at pj pants and hangs head in shame.] You guys, I’m going to open up here and be totally honest with you – unless we have an important morning errand or appointment, most days I don’t put on real clothes until well into the afternoon, and some days Will comes home from work and I am still in my pjs.

I hear admitting you have a problem is the first step.

I’m also not working out at all, and that makes me feel cruddy. I’m the fairest of fair weather runners you will ever meet (literally and metaphorically; I don’t start running until sometime in April and at that point my legs are so white they are actually glowing) but there’s other stuff I can be doing, I’m just choosing not to.

My subgoals on this one are all over the map: getting haircuts regularly (I’ve found this one to be surprisingly difficult since Natalie was born), possibly completing a Whole30 (I’ve done one before and it was amazing, but it takes an incredible amount of preparation and dedication, so I’m not totally sold on it) painting my nails at least once a month, and training for and running the Rock n Roll Philly Half Marathon. Since this goal is so huge and I could focus on so many different things, I am thinking that I will choose some kind of challenge every month. My goal for February is to do some kind of movement every day (stretching, walking, an exercise video, etc) but it is not going so well, so I might reset that for March. TBD.


I see a lot of posts around the blogosphere about being better at saying “no” to things.

I don’t have that problem; “no” is usually my default. And it’s usually because I’m scared. Scared of having to talk to people I don’t know, scared of having to find parking in the city, scared of trying something new and failing. And sometimes it’s not anything as dramatic as fear; I just can’t be bothered.

Ugh, going to an event where there will be lots of people? I’d rather stay home and hang out with my family. Ugh, it’s cold, I don’t want to leave the house. Ugh, it’s sooooo much work to go somewhere.

So I want to say YES. I want to make happy memories, both for me personally and with my family. I want to have adventures, both little and big. And I want to document the everyday details of our lives and the larger events.

Subgoals: finish my 2013 scrapbook, start and then stay current with our 2014 scrapbook, visit my parents in Tennessee, complete the #100daysofhappy #100happydays project* (an Instagram challenge – join us!), take a family picture once a month (this can be as complicated or as simple as we want to make it; I took these pictures myself on the floor in Natalie’s room with the self timer on my camera!), and take more pictures with myself in them.

*In finding the link for this post I realized that I’ve been using the WRONG FLIPPIN’ HASHTAG. The correct hashtag is #100happydays.

Now it’s your turn.

If talking about goals and life vision and planning and color-coding the whole dang thing (yayyy!) is exciting to you, stay tuned — I’m putting together a link-up next Thursday, February 27 where you can share your posts about all things related to goal-setting and achieving. What goals you’ve set, tips about staying motivated, what kind of progress you’re making on your goals so far, whether you chose a word for the year — anything like that. Get your posts ready now!

Don’t leave me hanging, guys.


gif via FoxSports

2 Responses to My 2014 Goals: The Nitty Gritty

  1. Lindsay@ A Design Story February 19, 2014 at 12:31 pm #

    I love your post~ I myself have tried to take some time out this week and make some goals. I am not a stay at home mom (yet… we are working hard for to have a baby), but I do work from home a lot and I feel in a it of a pj rut myself. I love your honesty! XOXO ~ Lindsay

    • Alexis February 19, 2014 at 6:09 pm #

      Hi Lindsay! I really appreciate your comment – it’s definitely tough when you’re at home and the motivation for wearing something other than pjs has to come from you. I’ve read all the standard advice about “don’t sit down to do work until you’re dressed for the day!” and I agree that it’s solid advice…doesn’t make it any easier. Good luck with your goals – and with a baby in the very near future, I hope!!

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