Dreams & Goals for January 2020

by | Jan 3, 2020 | a slice of life, Balance | 41 comments

I was planning to share my dreams and goals for the entire year, but that seemed like overkill.  Let’s just do this one month at a time, slow and steady, with long-term results in mind.

I don’t have a word of the year, but a phrase…

“Do it for your future self.”

It’s so, so easy to do things for the me-right-now.  I’d rather sleep in than start a healthy morning routine.  I’d rather eat what I want than make intentional choices to fuel my body.  I’d rather skip the walk or the shoulder exercises in favor of doing something more creative.  I’d rather buy this thing now than wait to see if it’s something I really want or need.

But future me always wishes I did the opposite.  The future me never appreciates that I indulged on one more piece of cake.  The future me never wishes I watched more TV or wasted more time scrolling on my phone mindlessly.  The future me is never glad I didn’t take that walk.  The future me is never thankful that I rushed into a decision or spent money in haste.

So, I’m going to focus on doing things for my future self – learning the things I want to learn and making the decisions I know will benefit me down the road.  I know I won’t be perfect at this, but as is true with just about everything – I’ll get better with practice.

First, I want to clarify the difference between a dream and a goal.  This was hit on in the book Atomic Habits and Shaunna drove the point home for me in a recent Mustard Seed Mentoring session on seasonal planning.

Example one: 

Lose 20 lbs = a dream (not a goal)

Working out five times a week and eating a (mostly) whole foods diet  = a goal

Example two: 

Increase the traffic to my blog by 20% = dream

Posting quality content on my blog five times each week = goal


Goals can be measured and they are within your control.  Dreams are the target, the desired destination.


So here are my dreams (desired destination) & goals (actionable plans) that I’m starting in January, broken into three categories – creatively, professionally, and personally…


Dream – Become a better artist in order to be able to sell more original works, prints, and to develop my own style.

Goal – Paint daily and join Michelle Wooderson’s #january202020challenge.  Focus on small works and small improvements, then take on some big challenges again – larger landscapes, cows, portraits, and master copies.

Dream – Crochet a pair of Nordic-style wool socks, because I would love to wear them and I think it would be a challenge.

Goal – Learn and practice the stitches I need to know to make the wool socks by making dishcloths and translate the pattern so I understand it when I’m ready to start the project.  (I’m still having trouble with anything beyond the typical abbreviations.)


My professional theme this year is – “Create authentically and share generously.”  I hope that spirit permeates all of my professional efforts this year, specifically my online presence.


Dream – Finish my Oil Painting for Beginners Course.  I started working on this last summer and wasn’t able to finish it before my trip to Europe and shoulder surgery.  This might be the top thing I receive inquiries about, so I need to complete it.

Goal – Do the work to get it done!  Record the remaining videos, edit them, finish taking photos, and create the printable companion materials.

DreamRevamp, refresh, & rethink my blog.   I’ve honestly been coasting on and off for a while.  It’s not that I haven’t given it time and attention, but I backed away from some of the things that really engage my audience like decorating dilemmas, series, tutorials, budget decorating ideas, etc.  My shoulder had a lot to do with it, but so did burnout.

Goal – Post on my blog five times/week, focusing on my theme – create authentically and share generously.  Distribute that consistently to social media channels, being mindful of the “language” of each platform.  Freshen up a few of the “static” sections on my site and make sure text reflects what readers can expect.  Improve ease of navigation.  Dust off some old ideas and bring back popular series.

Dream – Grow the Mustard Seed Mentoring group and serve current members generously.  I really love this group and my hope is to get more people involved and see them benefit from it as creative entrepreneurs.

Goal – Open MSM to new members the week of January 20th.  Set a promotion plan to get the word out about how awesome this group is!  (If you’re interested in creative business mentoring with me, you can get your name on the waiting list HERE.)  Conduct monthly assessments to see how I can improve in serving this group better and offer more value.

Dream – Increase the TCe podcast audience and website/social media following.  This project is still in its infancy, so it needs some time and attention to help it grow.  Shaunna and I are passionate about this topic and we’d love to engage with more creatives.

Goal – Treat TCe like more than just a “side thing.”   Schedule a brain-storming session/creative retreat with Shaunna to put an actionable plan in place for the year.  Read articles on podcast promotion.  Cultivate the community we currently have, serve them well, and be thankful for them.




Dream – Increase my strength and fitness level post-shoulder-surgery.  Now that I’m healing and able to do more, I want to start to push my limits and get back into the shape I was in a few years ago when I completed P90x.

Goal – Making exercise a regular part of my routine.  Work with a trainer to put a workout plan together that will compliment my shoulder PT and work with my current limitations.  Workout at the gym 3x/week minimum.  Get 10,000 steps/day.  Eat food that fuels my body, makes me feel good, and will result in weight-loss.  (I have a specific plan, but I won’t go into it all on this post.)

Dream – Relearn German.  I used to have a pretty decent German vocabulary from living in Germany as a child and taking it in high school, but I’ve let it slip over the years.  I still understand it okay in context, but I’m very shy about speaking and my grammar is pathetic.

Goal – Signed up for Rosetta Stone German.  Complete one lesson each day and/or practice past lessons each day.  Practice speaking with my dad regularly to increase my conversation skills.

Dream – This is sort of a broad, general dream to reduce stress, nurture a grateful heart, and practice mindfulness.  I couldn’t think of how to boil it down, but that’s the idea.

Goal – Set and stick to a morning routine to get each day off on the right foot.  This routine will include a devotion, prayer, drinking a large glass of water, and doing a few minutes of stretching before I get the boys up for school.  It’ll continue after I send them on their way, but I think that time before they wake up will be key.  Writing and sketching is a big part of this as well.  When I sketch, I notice things more and am thankful for them.  When I write, I am more self-aware.

Of course, I have more dreams and goals, things I want to do, and projects I want to complete, but I wanted to share the over-arching biggies that I hope to start in January and carry through the year.

I’m going to put you on the spot…  Does anyone want to share a Dream/Goal pair?  Sometimes writing it down and sharing it with others, even strangers on the internet, is a way to commit.



  1. Tammie Price

    I love how you paired your dreams and goals! I am going to have to go back through my list and do this.

  2. lori

    Very Inspiring way of setting and reaching dreams/goals. Just made notes to develop this idea for myself this weekend! Thank you

  3. Ashlea

    Thank you for sharing Marian. Your blog, writing, photography, art, painting, sharing, and creative journey have been inspiring me and encouraging me for many, many years. I love how God is showing you how to get more specific with some of the dreams in your heart, by creating attainable goals. I want you to also know, that your future self will be very proud of the way you have pursued this whole “Miss Mustard Seed” thing 😉 you have impacted so many lives and hearts as you’ve shared your creative and personal journey. Blessings in 2020!

  4. Mary

    This is exactly what I needed to read today! I am stuck because I have dreams and haven’t been able to attach realistic and doable goals to those dreams to make them attainable. I also like that you addressed all aspects of your life because personal dreams intertwine with professional goals.

  5. B Folk

    Thank you for sharing your dreams and goals. I needed to read this, this morning! Have been feeling down because I’ve had recurring health setbacks this year (probably due to stress and doing too much), which have led to an unwanted weight gain and a cluttered home, with numerous unfinished projects. I can’t narrow down my “theme” to a phrase, but I know that God created me in His image, for His glory, and sitting around feeling discouraged, not taking care of myself or my relationships, being a hermit, doesn’t glorify God, and is exactly what the Enemy wants. I’m not talking about a season when resting and nesting is important, I’m talking about taking longer than necessary to bounce back. Instead of trying to do more than I can at this time, I’ll just do something small every day that gets me moving forward. Oooh, that’s my “phrase of the year”! Move Forward.
    Thanks for helping me clarify that, Marian!:)

  6. gina

    Thank you for this wonderful post. I have been on a healthful body goal for the last year and have done a wonderful job of getting there. But now the exercise and moving part of the dream/goal is here. I love the way you illustrate that they are not the same thing. I have to actually make a plan to execute the dream to reach the goal! Thank you again for always making us feel like you/we are talking to a friend.

  7. Eileen

    I am literally listening to that book right now. Lots of stuff lined up, sounds like. 2020 is a reset for me. I’m excited.

  8. Terry A.

    I am definitely looking forward to your beginner oil painting course!!! Thanks for sharing your dreams and goals for the year!

  9. Mimi

    What a thoughtful post! Now you’ve got me thinking and I thank you!

  10. Jo Ann Bohannon

    As I have mentioned to you before, you are the perfect person to help the beginners (ME!) learn oil painting. We have seen you grow and improve and it is so encouraging. I can’t wait.
    I’m curious about the paint chart posted, I can’t understand it because colors aren’t what I’m thinking.

  11. Amy Brown

    I love this so very much! Thank you for sharing. It really puts what we say and think into perspective regarding the new year and lends a new approach. I appreciate you much. 🙂

  12. Miep

    My dream and goal for december was to start eating Whole Food Plant Based.. as a vegetarian for over 5 years I now wanted to give my body only healthy food and nothing processed anymore. After watching The Game Changers on Netflix I was convinced.
    And now after 5 weeks, I feel great, al my colon problems went away, I dare to leave the house again and I sleep much better and are feeling fitter than ever.
    So I continue this year 😉

  13. Gloria

    What beginner painting course do you recommend. I haven’t painted for 30 years and am having trouble getting started. What is Woodersons 202020 challenge. Can anyone join? I appreciated your sharing your goals. I need help thank you.

    • Maaike

      Check out mish wooderson on IG. Starting on January 20th, challenge yourself to create for at least 20 minutes for 20 straight days. 😊

  14. Suzi

    It’s the year to put one foot in front of the other and start an exercise program. Use it or loose it. I have seen this first hand with family members that didn’t take care of themselves. If I don’t take care of myself I won’t be able to help others. Your health determines how successful you are with achieving other goals in life. Let’s do this thing and enjoy life.

  15. Carol

    This was so inspiring, I loved the explanation of goal and dream. This really spoke to me. My dream is to lose my weight, my goal is to exercise at least 3x a week and lean to eat healthy instead of what’s quick.

  16. Carol M

    This was so inspiring, I loved the explanation of goal and dream. This really spoke to me. My dream is to lose my weight, my goal is to exercise at least 3x a week and lean to eat healthy instead of what’s quick.

  17. Margo

    Such a well thought out plan! I think you must be the busiest person I know of and still you feel you need to do more. My dream is to lose 70 lbs this year and to become healthy. My goal is to lose 6 pounds per month by following an eating plan that works for me and returning to the gym for aqua exercise. The key here is to maintain these things while I travel and not just let myself have a ball.
    My other dream is to rediscover my spiritual self. My goal is to read scripture each morning, reflect, and record my thoughts and my gratitude on a daily basis.
    My word for this year is surrender. I choose my word each year at random from a pack of grace cards. I trust that God’s hand guides my choice and provides me with what I need to pay attention to for the coming year.

  18. Naomi S

    And all this is just for January?? Marian, you must have the most energy of anyone I know or have met! Not to disparage your aspirations one bit, it’s just that I’ve slowed down so much lately–old age probably–I can’t begin to imagine how you’ll manage to do all this and keep up with family and household duties. But I guess it never hurts to aim high. Now I have to think about where I should aim to be realistic about what I could feasibly accomplish with the energy I do have. It’s good to look at it all the way you are and make an attempt to reach goals and I do thank you for sharing your methodology. I’ll just say “best of luck” and I know you will do amazing things, as usual! I’ll be interested to see your progress. (And mine!)

  19. Chris Moore of Seattle

    I am almost 70. The “future self” magically changes to the “now self”,

  20. Jeanine

    This is a wonderfully inspiring post and I love how you wrote out your dreams and the plan of action, your goals, in order to reach your destination. Baby steps in the right direction lead us to a longer journey towards our destination! Due to our company just recently leaving, I broke out my new journal for the year, today! I’ll use the next few days to prayerfully write out my dreams/goals. One thing I do have is three words for the year: disciplined, intentional, and creative. My overarching verse for the year is: “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” Philippians 4:8 I want to also end last year’s journal with all the things I am thankful for. This is one of my most favorite times of the year, endings and beginnings! Enjoy the process!

  21. Jeanine

    …Also, I really like the DUOLINGO free app. They have so many languages to select and the “lessons” are like games. You will learn to read, speak, write and spell (correctly) your “new” language. It’s worth checking out! I’m learning Italian 🙂

  22. Graham

    I had a boss once who wanted us all to share our goals for the year at an office meeting. When we got to him, he said his goal was to become a grandfather and no matter how we tried we couldn’t get him to understand that wasn’t a goal for him to set! P.S. He is now a grandfather several times over- maybe we were wrong?

  23. Susan guillebeau

    Everything changes but I thank you for remaining relatable. I needed this and already planned to be more present and in tune with my future self.

  24. Barbara

    You have inspired me and so many others to ‘get our show on the road’ and determine to live more intentionally. I can’t believe how swiftly the years have flown by. I’m already 73 years old. How did that happen?! I’m sitting down this weekend and doing some serious planning!

  25. Pat

    I l o v e it when a plan comes together. . .
    when a dream becomes a goal!
    Your Blog is filled to the brim with inspiration!
    On my first post of 2020 was something I’d been wanting to do for a l o n g time.
    Thank you for always inspiring!

  26. Hellis

    Your post is so courageous – putting out there clear intentions for how to live a fulsome life. I honour the importance you place on how you go about your daily life and what you wish to accomplish in it. This is a great deal, yet to make sensible choices, based on your clearly identified direction and plans, means that things can’t always be rushed.

    When we allow ourselves to be hurried by time limits , others’ impatience etc we can lose the ability to remain inwardly balanced. Each decision is affected by the balance of the demands of the here and now and what we need to accomplish for our own personal growth. What I have learnt is that it’s not what we do but the reason we have elected to do it that most matters, e.g. to fulfill an inner need or to stop someone else complaining. Then wonderful surprises come in the wake of that new frame of mind that supports our self-honouring way of going about things.

    You give generously of your time and knowledge to others and you inspire us with the photos of what you bring to life through your remarkable talents. Yet it is easy in our fast paced world to fall into the trap of over-extending and causing yourself burn out. So I encourage you to build time into your week also for doing something unplanned and that nurtures your creative soul. The meander through the woods which refills the creative well, rather than the quick march to ‘get fit’.

    Thank you for your ideas on how to make our homes more ‘ours’ and your inspired encouragement for us to learn how to do more practical things. You demonstrate how the small things matter – making small and decorative changes in my home has given me joy.

  27. Traci

    Guten Tag! I took German in high school and have the Rosetta Stone set because I just love the language. I love Rosetta Stone – it’s quick and engaging. Funny, speaking it in public is always where I lose confidence, as well. 2020 will be a great year for us all. Good luck!

  28. Maria Ward

    Oh the difference between a dream and a goal… If only all we had to do was dream. Thanks so much for sharing this post as it really made me think about my future self!!
    Happy New Year;)

  29. Kristine

    Marian – when you mentioned the book “Atomic Habits” a few posts ago, I didn’t buy the book, but went straight to the website. Since then I have been making it a daily ‘habit’ to start reading his posts, starting with the 2012 posts, and recording my thoughts on each post. His outlook and approach have reached me more than anyone or anything else has. To that end, I am recognizing I do not have 12 hours per week to spend on my blog (more like 6-8), I CAN keep my home clean and orderly, and the real secret to any kind of achievement is day in and day out consistency of habits and systems. I know the ‘word of the year’ is all the rage these days, but someone in an earlier comment mentioned 3 words, and I prefer that. My 3 words are consistency, focus and results. 2021 will be a year of huge changes in my life (retirement and a move out of state), so 2020 is really my year of preparation and readiness! Thank you for the generosity of your spirit, your talent and your genuine compassion.

  30. Melissa

    For my New Years Resolution, I am giving up sugar and flour. I am making a daaaily meal plan in the morning after prayers for strength

  31. Nancy in WA

    I love these tips about dreams vs. goals. I am reading Atomic Habits, and I trust the book will help cement the concept in my mind.

    I want to make a comment about the frequency of your blog posts. On a selfish note, I love reading all your posts, and am afraid if you post 5 times a week, I won’t get them all read. FOMO! I understand that you want to add value to our lives on a consistent basis, (you do!) and that doing a post once every weekday is a good habit for you. But perhaps you’d like to re-consider whether posting 3 times/week might meet your goals/dreams.

    • Marian Parsons

      Thank you for the suggestion! If I feel like five is too much, then I’ll scale back, but I posted 7/week on this blog for years and then went to 5 and then it’s been 3-4 this year, mostly due to my shoulder problems. I’d like to get that frequency back up, though. I enjoy it and it’s an important part of my job! 🙂

  32. Jan Cohen

    What are you writing in? Do you use a book with blank pages or a journal with prewritten inspirational words?

    Anyone have a purchased journal they like and can recommend?

    • Marian Parsons

      I use the large Wanderings Notebook and I love it. You can get lined, bulleted, or blank inserts and rotate them out when they are full…https://amzn.to/2QVrOGc

  33. Kizzy

    What a fantastic explanation of dreams and goals. I am setting intentions this year and have a word of the year too. My life will be changing dramatically this year with the return to full-time work so I am shifting things around and waiting for the dust to settle before I set anything in place. I’m going to give myself time to breathe and see what I want to do outside of this. Have an amazing 2020.

  34. Cheryl Atkinson

    Hi Marion! I have one very important (to me).
    Dream: To become a sought after/well known/accomplished Furniture Artist! To create a Business.
    Goal: To pick up the paint brush every day and practice. To build my confidence so i can go live and get my work and name out there. I need to set up a Facebook Business page.
    This is going to be hard for me. I watch tutorials, i read blogs but when i pick up the paint brush my mind goes blank. Like i don’t have any creativity in me at all. Do you think that you are either born with it or not? Any advice from you would be much appreciated.
    Happy New Year!

  35. Addie

    Hello Marian……Happy 2020!!!!
    Your creative mind in going full speed…..love it!!!! I think goals and dreams are important wether they are met or not.
    You just gotta live life to the fullest!! AND….the AMAZING thing is…you will probably meet most if not all of these goals!!
    I know it probably has been said before but….WOW!!!!! Your oldest son is your identical twin!!! No mix up at the hospital for sure!!!!
    Have a great year and thank you for all you share with us. You inspire !!!!

  36. Susan

    When I worked in radio, we used to say “a goal without a plan is a dream.” In other words, ain’t gonna happen. Essentially what you’re saying here.😉

  37. Ashley

    I can’t tell you how much I needed to hear “Do it for your future self.” Often times people joke about things, saying “That’s a future me problem,” but I’ve never heard the reverse as you’ve stated. This one statement has given me so much motivation to start/do things that I’ve been putting off for a while. Thanks!

  38. Darlene

    I so enjoy your blog posts. I never delete them without reading. When I am opening email to get rid of junk mail, or flyers, or content, I am always thrilled to find a number of your blog posts. You challenge me to see the world more positively and to focus on growth.
    Thank you for dusting off your older design posts. I’m obsessed with design, and how people solve, design, or reset their homes.


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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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