Goals 2014: Where I Succeeded, and Failed-Part 1


goal sheet

Take a look:

It’s January. Time for a fresh start right? Resolutions, plans, goals. How many did you accomplish last year? For that matter, how many have you kept going these first couple weeks in January? Research shows that the majority of people scrap their resolutions, some in as little as a few weeks, some within six months.*

Last year, I’d say I successfully fulfilled about 50-60% of my goals. I’m fairly pleased with that, but also see where I fell short. I decided it might be helpful to share where I succeeded or failed, and my takeaway for this year. I hope this encourages you in your own goal setting. I’ll spread it over the next two posts to keep the length reasonable and because January is a great month to consider this topic. I’m really coming clean here and you are going to get a glimpse into my personality…

In 2014 I created a visual sheet to track my goals in 10 areas (see photo.) I tried to refer to it regularly throughout the year. Here’s how I did:


  • Complete two New Testament reading plans.  Accomplished.  Takeaway: using a Bible app like YouVersion and reading it in bed upon waking before even getting up is a great habit
  • Complete two full Bible studies. Accomplished and actually did one more. Takeaway: I enjoy carving out additional quiet time and my personality is naturally motivated about some things, so this was not too difficult. These were done personally, not in a group setting so I could go at my own pace and it didn’t have to be done every day.


  • Read 30 books.  Somewhat accomplished (read 20). Takeaway: I do better with a “finish goal” rather than a “total goal” in some cases. See next item.
  • Finish one book per month Accomplished.  Takeaway: this idea has worked for me for three years now, and I plan to continue it. I usually have more than one book going at once, sometimes spanning a whole year. So the “finish” style of goal is more motivating to me.


Finish step three of Financial Peace (build a 3-6 month emergency fund.) Not accomplished. Not even close. Takeaway: Since I was  underemployed for much of the year, our finances went into somewhat of a reversal. That is changing now. You have to understand that external situations can impact your goals, but you shouldn’t give up on them entirely.

Donational (This could’ve gone into financial, but it also included a goal about volunteering so I separated it. Is “donational” even a word?)

  • Give over $____ (the amount is private) Accomplished. Takeaway: consistently budgeted/percentage-based giving is a good habit for us.
  • Volunteer for two events. Accomplished. One was a speaking engagement for a non-profit and the other was joining the board of Life in Abundance and helping them.  Takeaway: the goal was reasonable and reachable.


  • Participate in 5K once per quarter.  Sort of accomplished. Three times I walked the equivalent either with a friend or on a treadmill, one time I worked a 5K as a staff member (can that count?) I never reached my time goal nor participated formally in an event, though. Takeaway: sometimes goals are a bit too lofty. At least I did do some exercise shooting for it.
  • Do 100 international activity times of 30 minutes+. Accomplished! Takeaway: amazing what you can do when motivated by extra spending money in January if you reached this goal in 2014.
  • Lose 10-15 pounds.  Can we not talk about this one? Total failure. Not only didn’t lose, but I ended year 11 pounds heavier. Takeaway: Even when you are eating healthier, whole foods, you have to watch portions, and you have to be active to keep the calories reasonable and the weight off. Ironically, with the extra free time I  had, you’d think I could have attacked this goal more. It’s possible that emotions played into NOT attacking it.

So, overall, I’m relatively pleased with the journey with the above. Yes, I’m disappointed about the weight, but I’m already slow-but-steady headed in the right direction for 2015. I’ve already played my flute more times in the new year than I did all last year (and I’ll explain why in the next post, along with sharing the results of the remaining goals.)

Engage (with the online community via blog comments or social media):

What goals have you established for 2015? Are you on track, or already falling off?

Think about (for personal reflection or discussion with colleagues):

Business value key word: Achievement

Image: Brainyquote.com



Psalm 127:1








1. As a company, do you have specific goals set for this year? This quarter? What are they?

2. Do you think goal setting is a good exercise, or not very valuable given the number of people who don’t follow through?

3. What are three reasons people may not follow through on their goals?

4. Can you be encouraged to have accomplished even part of a goal when you don’t get the whole thing done? Why or why not?

5. Consider the two quotes shared above. What do you think about them in relation to goal setting?

Remember: Here’s a post about Setting Goals with Your Team

Benefit from: Michael Hyatt has had several posts and resources on goal setting over the last weeks of December and into January. *Here’s a link to the post where I got the stats mentioned above. Why You Shouldn’t Be Making New Year’s Resolutions.

Share:  Which friend of yours came to mind when you read this post? Pass it along!

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Why I’m Not Reading Through the Bible this Year


Take a look:

For several years now, I have used a Bible reading plan to read through the entire Bible or the entire New Testament in a year. In 2014, I provided a weekly set of questions to help busy professionals take some time with God’s word. (Here’s a link to all 52 of the posts in case you want to use them to travel through the New Testament this year.) This near-daily Bible reading has become a habit, but this year I’m not reading through the entire Bible (or through one Testament), and here’s why:

I want to go deeper. It’s great to read daily for distance (as my church puts it) but I felt led this year to slow down and absorb what I am reading. This ties in well with my selection of the word “mindful” for my word of the year for 2015.

A through the year plan can become a checklist. Like many busy professionals, I love to check off my to-do list. A daily reading plan can become a checklist, and less like a treasured visit with a friend. I’m sure I’ll still have somewhat of a checklist mentality (I’m not giving up all plans) but staying away from reading through the whole Bible this year may help it become less task oriented. I’ll be able to explore other plans. I use the YouVersion Bible app, (you can find me there as “bbeutler”) and there are so many unique plans on it, that I look forward to exploring some of those.

It parallels what my church community is doing this year. On December 28, one of our teaching pastors spoke about the reading plan the church was going to use this year. When he first started, I was a little disheartened anticipating another “through the _______ in a year” plan and I didn’t want to feel like I would be missing out. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that the church was recommending a “storyline” approach (check it out here) covering the full story of the Bible but not hitting every book. So this is a confirmation to me about my choice this year.

No matter what your faith tradition, I feel it is valuable to spend some time in the Bible every day that you can, no matter how busy you are at work, if for no other reason than its principles being excellent for business. Apps like YouVersion can help you take your Bible with you. I encourage you to select a Bible reading plan that works for you, and not jump into something you may not feel you can reasonably do.

Engage (with the online community via blog comments or social media):

How do you take some time each day or each week for Bible reading, study, or some other form of inspiration?

Think about (for reflection alone or discussion with colleagues):

Business Value Key Word:  Inspiration

2 Timothy 2:15










Credit: Brainyquote.com 












Why is it important to take moments each week to receive some inspiration through a source like the Bible or other solid sources of wisdom?

  1. What sources of inspiration do you find most beneficial?
  2. How does taking time to reflect on ancient wisdom help you in your work?
  3. What do the quotes above mean to you? Do you agree or disagree with them?
  4. What one thing will you do this week to get more inspiration into your life?
  5. How is your business/organization being intentionally inspirational to your clients/customers/members?


Here’s a link to a page that contains all 52 blog posts that walk you through the entire New Testament.

Benefit from:

My book, A Light for Your Path, provides a question for each chapter of the Bible. It’s a great way to go a little deeper in your personal reading and it’s designed in a way that allows you to start any time.


What person came to mind that would benefit from this week’s post? Share this post with your networks or forward it to them today! New subscribers will receive 11 Strategies for a Less Stressful, More Productive Work Day.


A New Year, A New Approach

Happy New Year Readers!

value statement larger

I hope as you take some time to reflect back and look forward that you will experience hope and joy. I am grateful…2014 was an exciting year with several blessings and opportunities I didn’t expect.  One of the things I’m thankful for is that this past fall, in good part to having been able to attend the Platform Conference, I felt direction on what HOPE Unlimited should be about in its current chapter.

HOPE turns 10 years old this year (April 20 officially)–Wow! Those who have been with me from the beginning have seen me cover a lot of topics and I trust, be a source of biblical encouragement as well as practical tips.  I’ve been helping office and overwhelmed professionals excel all along, but often my topics were quite eclectic. I now feel directed to streamline HOPE from “Helping Other People Excel” to “Helping Overwhelmed Professionals Excel.” This is my “new” (well maybe more focused),  mission going into the new year:

“I am a virtual assistant, consultant, author and speaker. I help principle-centered yet overwhelmed professionals maximize their time, connect well with others, and take charge of their priorities so they can excel and enjoy bringing hope and value to the world around them.”

This is coming about in part due to my increased activity as a virtual (and when appropriate, local) assistant and consultant as well as opportunities to lead workshops and continue writing.

I’ll still be providing helpful content via the blog, but I’ll be being more strategic about the topics, to make sure they provide practical help for busy professionals while still retaining alignment with biblically-harmonious principles on which this business–and the organizations of many I work with and for–is built.

I’ll be experimenting with blogging once a week, sending you a comprehensive post early Monday mornings that will be made up of the following components:

  • Take a Look: thoughts and practical help toward “overcoming overwhelm” (and whatever else I feel like sharing.)
  • Engage: a question inviting you to comment or engage with the online community in discussion on the blog or social media
  • Think About: a business value “keyword” such as integrity, intentionality, compassion, etc. a Scripture, a quote and three to five questions for personal reflection or discussion with colleagues.
  • Remember: links to resources or past blog posts that will complement the post
  • Benefit from: link to a product or service I offer, a recommendation of someone you should know or follow, or a post by another writer that I think is beneficial.

I’ll also continue the monthly “5 on the 15th” as a quick list of tips and links to valuable content you may want to visit (or re-visit.)


Would you please do one or more of the following?

  1. Share my content with others. Encourage people to join the email list to receive a free printable (current subscribers can get it here.) Tweet, share and pin my posts.
  2. Drop me a line. Let me know what topics concern you as an overwhelmed professional. Tell me what you want to see more (and less of) in the blog. Share a tip or idea.
  3. When you shop at Amazon, link through my blog first. Save it in your favorites and search for your first item using the box in the sidebar.
  4. Engage.  Let’s help each other by participating in discussions at the blog or via my social media channels. I’ll be sharing the posts in various places and you’ll have opportunity to give your opinion and ideas regarding the weekly question wherever it’s most convenient for you.
  5. Surprise HOPE with a “Happy 10 Years” birthday gift of $10 (or more) from time to time in 2015.  If you’ve enjoyed my blog/social media posts and free resources through the years, this is a great way to show your support. I don’t have a formal “membership site” anymore, but enjoy continuing to provide content that will help you. Any gifts will be considered income to me and taxes will be paid on them. They are not tax deductible. Send your check made out to HOPE Unlimited to PO Box 80424, Simpsonville, SC 29680. 10% of all birthday gifts will be donated to a non profit organization such as Life In Abundance, which offers counseling and coaching to women who may be feeling overwhelmed in some way. I serve on the board of this organization.


Let’s strap in and enjoy what great things are coming in 2015 during this 10th year anniversary of HOPE Unlimited. Starting next Monday, there will be some helpful posts on helping you overcome overwhelm! See you then!



Happy New Year & a brand new free printable

Looking forward to serving overwhelmed professionals in 2015! Watch for more details, but in the meantime, I have a brand new free printable for subscribers. To get your PDF of 11 Strategies for a Less Stressful, More Productive Workday subscribe to the blog. (If you are already a subscriber, click here.) Please pass the word.

Happy New Year

Coffee Break Bible Study (and a closing message): Revelation 12-21 #bgbg2

As you know, the Coffee Break Bible study posts have helped you travel through the entire New Testament in 2014.  I hope it has been a blessing to you!

In order to finish with the end of the year, this post takes all the remaining chapters of Revelation and gives you questions for each one.

Please take note of the final question…the most important one of the year! I would be happy to dialog with any of you about what it means to know Christ as your personal Savior.

Enjoy and thanks for reading!

Read Revelation 12.

How do people overcome evil?


Do followers of Jesus have a spiritual enemy?


Read Revelation 13.


What is required of saints (in verse 10)?


What is happening in your life right now that requires “patient endurance and faithfulness?”


Read Revelation 14.


Who might the 144,000 be?


Consider verse 13. What deeds would you like to follow you after you pass away?


Read Revelation 15.


Mediate for a few moments on verse 3.


What do you picture of God’s glory here?


Read Revelation 16.


How do you feel about God’s wrath?


How does verse 7 reassure you?


Read Revelation 17.


What do you take from this imagery?


Are there areas of your life in which you are unfaithful to God?


Read Revelation 18.


Why is it important to remain in step with God?


What will Babylon experience?


Read Revelation 19.


Use some of these verses to spend time in praise to God.


Picture verse 11 in your mind. What would that be like? Rejoice!


Read Revelation 20.

What will happen to Satan in the end?


Although salvation comes without works, will the work we do also be judged?


Read Revelation 21.


What do you learn about a “new heaven and new earth?”


What does verse 22 mean?


Read Revelation 22.


What are some coming blessings of God reigning?

Write out verse 17. Have you accepted the free gift of salvation?

Coffee Break Bible Study: Revelation 7-11 #bgbg2

Read Revelation 7.

What types of things are happening in this chapter?


What are some promises for those who have suffered?

Read Revelation 8.

What are some of the majestic scenes in this chapter?


How does reading about such unusual events make you feel?


Read Revelation 9.

What do you think the purpose of punishment/discipline is?


What do we learn about mankind from this chapter?


Read Revelation 10.

How do you connect the analogy of “eating the scroll” with “eating” God’s Word?


Why do you think there are there both sweet and sour elements of God’s Word?


Read Revelation 11.

Who will ultimately rule over the world?


What are some strong messages that will be sent in the end times?


15 Ways to Be Ready for Company (any time of the year)

CA-guests.jpgDoes your heart rate increase when company is coming? Here is a list of 15 ways you can keep your home–and yourself–ready for company no matter whether a holiday is coming or not!

1. Keep non-perishable snacks on hand (such as cheese sticks, 100-calorie cookies, etc.) and put them out in an attractive bowl or basket.

2. Always have some type of commonly liked beverage on hand such as soda or coffee.

3. Have at least one package of brownie mix or some other dessert mix in case you want to provide a quick dessert. Particularly quick are the refrigerator cookies or cinnamon rolls that are easy to pull out and bake.

4. Keep easy meals available, especially if kids or teens tend to come over regularly. These include frozen pizza, mac & cheese, sandwich meat and  fresh bread.

5. Keep popcorn available to make up a big batch for a spontaneous movie night.

6. Keep the “guest triangle” areas of your home clean. This usually includes the bathroom most likely to be used by guests and the kitchen.

7. Keep your main entry area picked up as it is the first thing you and guests will see.

8. Keep doors closed on rooms that are not as likely to be “company presentable.” This usually includes bedrooms and perhaps bonus rooms. Unless you are giving a tour, you don’t need to open these rooms.

9. Keep sanitary wipes available for quick wipe downs of counters and sinks just before guests come over. Even small children can help with this.

10. Purchase a “quick vac” tool to do quick vacuuming of high traffic areas without pulling out a major vacuum cleaner.

11. Keep candles and/or fresh scent products on hand to have lit or going when a guest is coming by.

12. Keep board games accessible and possibly visible so that you can encourage guests to enjoy a game with you.

13. Consider purchasing battery operated candles with timers. This can assure that a “candle” is safely lit at a certain time every evening. Bonus: they turn off automatically. (Tip: purchase rechargeable batteries as dailyuse of these candles will use up batteries ever 4-6 weeks.)

14; If you have a guest room, always wash sheets and re-make bed soon after a guest has left. That way the room is ready for the next guest.

15. Keep a basket of travel size items in the guest room if you have frequent overnight guests.Also, treat yourself like a guest. You and your family are the ones who live in the house. At least on occasion, bake something just for your spouse and kids, not only when company is coming. Keep the house picked up so YOU can enjoy it, not just to “perform” for company!

Coffee Break Bible Study: Revelation 2-6 #bgbg2

Read Revelation 2.

What was a concern about the church in Ephesus, and what does that reveal to us?


How does the messenger encourage the church at Smyrna?

Read Revelation 3.


The church at Sardis is told to “wake up!” In what area of your life do you need to “wake up” and pay more attention to?


What is the church of Philadephia told?


Read Revelation 4.

Use some of the praise words in this chapter to inspire your own time of praise.


What are some elements in this chapter that pique your senses?


Read Revelation 5.


Who is the only one worthy of praise?


Imagine a time when all the world–every creature–will praise God.


Read Revelation 6.

What are some of the things that touch you about the opening of the seven seals?


What characteristics of God are revealed in this chapter?


Setting Goals with Your Team

The end of the year seems to light a bit of a fire in me for looking into the new one and refreshing my goals and thoughts for the future. But goal setting doesn’t have to be confined to the December/January transition. From time to time, it is wise to sit down with your team throughout the year and ask, “Where do we want to go from here?” This can relate to new or existing projects, initiatives that need to be changed, or dreaming for the future. Here are a few tips for making goal-setting as a team effective and fun!

Dream big, but be reasonable. Let your team brainstorm crazy ideas and after they are all on the table, then begin to select a goal that is reasonable. For example, if they want to have a big appreciation event for your clients, let them brainstorm big, then design and edit as needed to fit budget and business culture.

Merge individual and team goals. Encourage your team members to set individual goals as well as name what they would like to see the team do as a whole. For example, perhaps a team member would like to learn a certain software program in more depth. Let them be the ones to use that program to track details for a project the entire team will be involved in. Or maybe a few of your employees have fitness goals. Tie these in with a group registration for run/walk benefiting a local charity.

Rotate leadership. Short term initiatives are a great way to hone the leadership skills of individual team members. Allow those interested (and encourage those who are not) to take the helm for a particular project, while staying accessible for guidance and mentoring.

Measure and celebrate. Most goal setting experts will tell you that goals should be measurable and that when they are reached, should be celebrated. Keep the team informed of progress, keep one another accountable, and plan small celebrations for milestones achieved along the way (and perhaps a big one when the entire project is complete!)

Be flexible. Goals are great as a map, but you must be willing to adjust expectations in light of economic concerns, illness, staff turnover, etc. Don’t make the goal so lofty or rigid that you can’t celebrate a partial accomplishment.

Have fun with goal setting! While it’s likely your plans won’t go perfectly, it’s better to have a plan than to wander haphazardly through work and life!

Question: How do you set goals with your team?