2021: Word Goals

2021. A new year. The beginning of a new decade. New opportunities for growth, learning, self-realization, and adventure.

Every year, I like to set “word goals” with my school babies. We all circle around on the classroom rug, we reflect on our strengths and areas we’d like to improve, and we help each other choose words that will reflect our goals for the new year ahead. I always encourage my students to dig deep, spend time in reflection, be honest with themselves, and choose something ambitious but attainable, necessary but wanted. Something that will motivate them and push them to be better versions of themselves. Something that will impact them even beyond the year ahead, maybe even for the rest of their lives if they truly embrace their goal and shift their mindsets. 

Now keep in mind, I teach third graders. I always try to hold them to high standards and expectations, but I also know that in reality, they’re only 8 and 9 years old… so sometimes their answers and thoughts aren’t quite what I’m shooting for. However, when it comes to these word goals, it’s like something just clicks. I hold my breath every year, waiting for the surface-level or silly answers, the answers that were just slapped on paper and decorated with marker scribbles, or the answers of students who really just missed the point entirely… And I am pleasantly surprised every year. No silly answers, no half-brained thoughts, no rushed scribbles. They genuinely embrace this idea of a “word goal” and they pour their little hearts into it.

Not only do they surprise me with the effort they put into choosing their word goals, but they continue to blow me away in the months that follow, all the way through to the end of the school year (and through the summer for some, if I had to guess). They hold each other – and me – accountable for the goals we set. One year, my word goal was “healthy,” and my kiddos literally reminded me every hour for the rest of the year to drink water throughout the day. They’d ask me when they got to school what I had for dinner the night before and how much sleep I got. And they did the same thing for each other’s goals, too! It was crazy to me how much responsibility they were willing to take on to help each other grow and be successful in sticking with their new goals. 

This year, as I prepare to set new word goals with my 3B kiddos, I’m wondering – what will I choose this time around? What word (or words) should I choose that will empower me, change me, push me, motivate me, and better me? What goal can I whole-heartedly choose to strive for over the next year and beyond? Those four words from the beginning of this post are the words that keep coming to my mind.

Growth. Learning. Self-realization. Adventure.

Jordon and I have been having several heart-to-heart discussions about my business goals and desires and growth over the past few months, and it’s been eye-opening in a multitude of ways. We’ve made several investments recently in my business through both equipment and education, and we have been working on several things relating to my business, part of which you’re seeing right now (new website, woohoo!). I don’t know if “new” is the right way to describe all of the things we’ve been working on; I think “refreshed” is a better word. That’s how I’ve been feeling, anyway! A refreshed logo, refreshed website design, refreshed view on what I do and what my vision is for this passion of mine. And we’ve got a whole lot more where that came from. A lot of that is where the “growth” and “learning” come in.

We’ve also been talking a lot about ways we want to grow in our own personal lives, both individually and as a couple. We’re building our dream home, Jordon is finishing his ag education degree at Tarleton State University, I’ve been working hard to train Zooey in the hopes that one day she may be able to be a therapy dog, we’ve taken several incredible trips together, and we’re working on finding a church home that is the right fit for us in this stage of life. This is our “self-realization” as we continue to learn more about what we want in life and what we value most.

And through all of these conversations with each other, one thing that we’ve found that we have in common is a longing for more adventure. Not only together, but in my business as well. 

I have loved getting to photograph every couple, individual, family, furbaby, and child who has welcomed me into their most intimate and cherished moments over the last seven years. No matter the occasion, location, poses, or group, the thing I have always loved the most – and the thing that always leaves me feeling fulfilled when I turn my camera off after a day of shooting – is the connection. Through photography, I have been able to make real connections with wonderful people from all walks of life and share some of the most incredible life experiences with them – and I would love nothing more than to add a little adventure to those experiences. 

God has been placing this undeniable longing for adventure on my heart for a long time now, but I never really saw a way that I could bring it to life until more recently. Before, I never thought I had what it takes to be an adventure + elopement photographer, but God has sent some incredible influences my way recently who have inspired me, educated me, and encouraged me to follow this desire to add a sense of adventure to my photography experiences, and I am beyond excited for the opportunities I know He has in store for me this year. Whether it’s an engagement session in a state park a few hours away, an intimate wedding in national forest a few states over, or maybe even an elopement while backpacking through the mountains of a foreign country, I know God has some breathtaking and awe-inspiring moments in store this year, waiting to be photographed if I simply trust Him.

If you’re still reading this novel of a post, high-five to you. For real. You must either be genuinely interested in my ramblings, love me way too much, or are just that bored. But whatever the reason, I am so glad you’re here and are taking the time to let me share this with you! I hope you can feel the sense of renewed passion I’m feeling while writing this post. I hope something in this post resonates with you on a personal level. I hope this post inspires you to create your own word goal for this year and beyond. I hope this post leaves you feeling hopeful for new opportunities and connections and growth in the new year. And I hope that this post brings us together for a new adventure this year, whatever – and wherever – that may be.

Cheers to a new year filled with growth, learning, self-realization, and adventure.

Stay tuned for another *exciting* announcement coming very soon. 🙂

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