As each new month begins I review a list of goals from the previous month that I call my Happy Hopes list. I mark out the ones I was able to achieve with a date, and maybe a brief note or name of someone who helped me attain that goal. Then I save it, save it again under the new month’s name and year, and then make any changes I want. I might drop off an item, or add new ones. I’ll include songs or books I want to buy, or even crochet patterns that I wish to make.
While some folks make lists of resolutions for the coming year, I work on goals that I want to focus on, in case I come into some extra ca$h or even see an opportunity that I might have missed if I hadn’t stayed aware of that goal. Some of the goals are nothing money can buy, but are more prayer focuses – like what kind of job I want to find, better health for a chronically ill family member, or a goal for a friend who wants to sell her home noted so I can celebrate it with her. At the end of the two column list, I have a place where “Unlisted Joys Happened Here.” That’s where I put the things I either didn’t dare ask for (like a gently used living room set, that we got from a friend who was bored with them), or that I didn’t even know to watch for (like a trip to visit family in CO with other family members).
My husband and I began this list back in the 80’s when our children were small, because we often forgot what we were working so hard for. We were also frustrated when we’d get our tax return money, and forget what we really wanted to use it for. We’d decided to follow another family’s example, and stop using it for paying bills (“That’s what a budget is for,” the father stated). Instead, they’d buy something they really wanted but often couldn’t manage to save up for, like a new bed, a down payment on a car, or even a special trip. After two years of not remembering our best ideas, I offered to keep a list.
At first, the list wasn’t really refreshed much, except twice a year. Sometimes, the things listed were too high, and we weren’t noticing the small conquests, so that’s when the second part appeared. Since we were really busy once the kids got into double digit ages, we only refreshed the list twice a year. Once in January, and once in July. I’d ask the kids for ideas of things to go on the list, and they offered a few things: a computer, fishing trips, bikes, etc. It was a great place to look for gift ideas sometimes.
Finally, once the family left and it was just me, I began making them closer together until now I am creating one for each month on the computer. I actually began the electronic ones in the late 90’s when we got our first computer. So, these are all easy to look at and remember how things have changed, and how things came together at different times.
This is my best way of counting my blessings without comparing my life to anyone else’s. It seems to me that comparison really is a trap for discontentment. But to just see how God has worked or where I’ve been able to focus – that really has been a blessing to me.
Here’s a sample of one from long ago, so you can see how simple it is.
If I want to lose weight, I say how much, though I’ve learned not to put the whole amount down. Instead, I will put the amount I might lose in three months, or two. Then I might note how close I am to that goal before making the next month’s list from the old one.
So, this is my way of making time count the best way that I can, but still allow myself some room for surprises and not to kick myself too hard if something doesn’t come to reality. I have the rest of the list that might be turning into reality, and that’s a real joy when I want to review some time spent in my life :). It’s not the same as a bucket list, because I think it’s more practical and more focused on immediate possibilities.
What do you think of my Happy Hopes list? What is one thing you would put on the list if it were yours?
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