2019 Goals and a Personal Challenge

Jess Ann Kirby shares her goals and personal challenges for 2019

If I had to sum up 2018 in a word I would say introspection. This November marked the 5th year since I started this blog. It has changed quite a bit, and in many ways I have too. I am more confident than I was 5 years ago, and I am not afraid to say or do things that when I first started, I never would have done. One of the biggest struggles for me in 2018 was balancing my work and my personal life. I am by nature a workaholic, sadly a title I wore as a badge of honor, yet the whole reason I left behind a good job, was because I didn’t want that. Five years later I realized I was falling back into the same pattern that pushed me to do something I never thought I’d do, leave behind a career to start something new, with no idea what I was doing and no backup plan. The last few months I’ve done a lot of reflection about what I actually want, in my life and my career. I was so tired of feeling like I was always working but not necessarily achieving the goals I set for myself. Thanks to some business coaching from Mike (I will share more about this in a blog post), I was able to clear some space in my brain to really think about my goals and strategy for 2019 and beyond.

The second thing that weighed heavily on me in 2018 was reconciling the expectations and nature of my job with my personal values. A major part of my business revolves around consumption. From a business perspective, I am expected to sell, constantly. In many ways, my job wouldn’t exist without consumerism, and I’ll be the first to admit, I like to shop. I love clothes and decorating my home and trying new beauty products, but on a personal level I have taken a hard look at those habits. I pulled way back on sharing and posting things last year because I just wasn’t comfortable with the feeling of constantly pushing consumerism when on a personal level I was cutting way back and being mindful of my own consumption. If I’m being honest, my income took a hit because of it. It wasn’t and isn’t easy to see that happen, particularly when you work for yourself, but I spent a lot of time reflecting on this, and ultimately I am happy with my decision. When I asked on Instagram to describe me/my brand in a few words many of you said things like trustworthy, honest, authentic, and mindful. Reading that was incredibly humbling and the wake up call I needed. I am really excited about 2019 and the direction I want to take my business. I am incredibly grateful that so many of you have stuck with me. This community we’ve created is honestly more than anything I could have ever dreamed of, and has inspired and pushed me in ways I never thought were possible. I want this space to give all of you as much as it gives me. I want this community to be a place of sisterhood, lifting each other up, inspiring and encouraging one another to fight for what we want, chase our dreams, and to be unapologetically ourselves. Thank you for your trust and your support. Here’s what I’m dreaming up in 2019, please share your goals and intentions in the comments too, I can’t wait to read them (if you’ve never actually written down your goals I encourage you to do so, it’s really helpful in making them more concrete and achievable).

Overarching theme/word: Intention (see that post here)
Personal Goals
  • Probably my biggest goal/intention for 2019 is to reduce my consumption and waste. While I did cut back a lot in 2018, I still spend when I don’t need to, I still buy lots of things I don’t need. I make up for it by constantly purging (selling and donating) but then quickly replace those items which defeats the whole purpose. I’m not freezing my spending altogether but I am taking a much more mindful and conservative approach to shopping and spending. That goes for all categories, clothes, home, beauty, etc. You might think, but you get lots of stuff for free. You’re not wrong, though I spent a lot of time last year asking to be removed from most PR mailing lists. Occasionally I request pieces or products from brands, otherwise I spend my own money. I will also focus on supporting and purchasing from more sustainable brands.
  • Craig and I want to buy another fixer upper. It feels scary to even write that here and I wasn’t sure I wanted to share it because I don’t know if we can do it but we’re going to try our best. We are looking in Vermont and potentially New Hampshire. More on this to come as we are going to share this process with you!
  • In line with my spend less/waste less goal I want to save more. I haven’t quite figured out concrete numbers yet, the reality is when you work for yourself your income is somewhat unpredictable, but I want to be aggressive about saving money (for our retirement, for the fixer upper, and for our rainy day fund).
  • I have just made excuses for too long but I really want to prioritize a fitness routine. Even if I only get a minimum of 20 minutes a day, I have to make time for me. I want to work on my strength and my flexibility. I got a beach body membership for my birthday so I’m hoping to incorporate some at-home workouts to keep me on track.
  • I wasn’t sure if I wanted to share this here either, but why not? I want to start writing a book. It wasn’t until recently that I allowed myself to think this was possible. I’ve always told myself I’m not good enough or I don’t have anything important enough to say, but I realize I’ve written a blog for the past five years, and while it’s not some of my best work, I think there is an opportunity for me to do this and I’m excited to just start writing and see where it takes me.
  • I read Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and so I wasn’t planning on watching her Netflix show but started it a few nights ago and now I am determined to de-clutter. Our house is so small we have to be incredibly intentional about what we have and where we put things. I might even attempt to go through each room but I am starting with our bedroom and I will document on YouTube!
  • My home office has become a dumping ground for stuff and it’s driving me insane. I don’t even use it because it’s just a cluttered mess, so I want to finish my home office, and make it an organized space that I want to work in.
  • I got a jump start on this at the end of 2018 but I want to focus on better time management. Business coaching from Mike really helped me work on this and I will definitely share some tips because it has honestly changed my life.
  • So this is a bit of a crossover personal/work goal but I want to create a capsule wardrobe. I find myself going back to the same pieces over and over again and I also just want to simplify how I get dressed. I have too much stuff. I want to have a great core wardrobe with the most important pieces that are timeless and easy to wear multiple ways. I am creating a blog series around this too!
Business Goals
  • Probably the project I am most excited about is my website rebuild. The process is just starting now so it will launch in the spring but I am working with my designer and developer to create a really great user experience with a lot of awesome and unique features. The Newport Guide will get a makeover as will the homepage and we’ll be adding custom content types and layouts. There will also be a more dedicated space for The Cozy Ranch and my home decor content.
  • While the blog has always been my number one priority I haven’t focused enough on growing my readership and that is going to be a major priority for me this year. It’s interesting because I’ve had some conversations with other influencers/bloggers who say “people don’t read blogs” and I just don’t think that’s true, in fact I know it isn’t. I realize how people digest content is different now but I am not going to stop focusing on this space because my analytics are showing that people still spend time on here and I personally still enjoy reading blogs.
  • I’m excited to finally submit The Cozy Ranch to at least two online design/decor websites for a feature. I didn’t do this last year and it was a goal of mine, but we’ve finished so many projects I think it’s at a place where I can submit enough content.
  • Speaking of @thecozyranch, I have some big goals to grow that account on Instagram. With minimal effort we’ve already grown to over 12k followers and I want to create content specifically for that account as well. I want to get to 40k by the end of the year (that probably sounds insane, because it is, but I think it’s doable).
  • I know the key to YouTube is consistency and I have so many ideas for videos, it’s just a matter of filming and editing them. I want to post at least one video a week to Youtube and hopefully increase that to two by this summer.
  • I love that this space is a community and I want to foster that, whether it’s in person meet-ups/events, discussions in the comments, etc. I also want to start featuring other creators more, whether it’s artists, fellow bloggers, writers, creatives, female entrepreneurs, etc. I have some new content series launching soon on the blog so look out for that.
  • I’m planning to create more exclusive email content for my newsletter subscribers and focusing on continuing to grow that list as well.
  • I still love Pinterest (despite how often my images are stolen and used without credit to sell stuff-not bitter or anything). I find tons of inspiration on there and it’s a great source of referral traffic so I want to continue to focus on growing my following there. 
  • Last but certainly not least we are bringing back the podcast. I want to get on a regular recording schedule which I think will be twice a week (TBD).

36 Comments

Leave a Reply

  1. Abby says:

    I’m so excited for all of this! And yay for more podcast episodes! When you start actively trying to grow your @thecozyranch instagram following I’d love a post about strategies you use.

  2. Jessica Camerata says:

    Always exciting to set new goals for the year. I’m a “workaholic” as well and one of my goals for the year is to learn to step away and put it down. So hard when your work can be done from a phone or sitting on the couch with your laptop on the lap. Excited to see the new website!

    xo Jessica
    My Style Vita

  3. Kelsey says:

    Jess – I love your style and totally appreciate your authenticity. Thanks so much for sharing your goals! I am especially looking forward to seeing your capsule wardrobe and the possible reno of a new home!

  4. Hannah S says:

    I loved reading this post! I think you have a really unique perspective and voice – your idea to write a book is great!! I would 100% read it 🙂 One of my goals is to also create a capsule wardrobe. I’m moving to a new state this summer and I want to majorly declutter and streamline my clothes/accessories before then. You are probably familiar with Anna Newton from The Anna Edit (a UK blogger), but in case you aren’t she has a lot of information on creating a capsule wardrobe. She actually just wrote a book on it!

    Happy New Year 🙂

  5. Christina says:

    This is so exciting and congratulations on committing to all of these awesome things!

    On the note of whether or not people still read blogs – I LOVE reading blogs. I enjoy Instagram / watching Instagram stories of my favorite bloggers, but only because I love their blog content already. Also, in the age of most of us trying to look at their phones less, I feel like people will be turning back to the original space versus relying on social media (or at least I hope so). Longer form content like this that is meaningful and fosters a connection just can’t exist the same way on social media. One of the best 30 or so minutes each day is reading through my favorite blogs with my coffee, so I really appreciate that you still focus your time and energy into the site above all else!

  6. Maggie says:

    The theme I’ve taken on for the new year is mindfulness, and a big part of that is becoming a mindful consumer and cutting back significantly on the amount of stuff I am constantly purchasing. I began unfollowing a large amount of influencers, bloggers, etc because I felt like I was constantly being pushed to buy, buy, buy. I realized that it was putting me in an unhealthy headspace and I needed to take a step back and remember my priorities and values. Your last few posts have completely inspired me and I added you to small list of accounts I decided to continue to follow because they uplift and inspire. I’m a recent follower but I truly want to thank you for being an authentic and responsible influencer. I’m excited to continue to follow along and look forward to more meaningful content!

  7. Whoever is saying that people aren’t reading blogs is a crazy person! I literally have you bookmarked so that when you post something new, I can read it on my desktop at work (shh don’t tell!)

    That said, I feel super in line with your goals this year. Every year I write out mine as well (because resolutions are BS) and many of yours are the same as mine – perhaps just on smaller scale. I too, want to get more connected with this awesome network of powerhouse women on Aquidneck Island – something I have big ideas about, and I also want to clean up my own consumerism and waste both in my home but also at work, at our beaches, declutter ALL over.

    And while some of me feels like “wow how crazy Jess and I have so much in common” (like the weirdo that I am) the fact is, THIS is why I follow you – as I’m sure so many others do. Sounds to me like we’re on the right track.

    xx
    Rita

  8. Your goals sound amazing, Jess! I’m excited to see how 2019 unfolds for you. I’ve got a lot of ambitious goals for my year too and I just feel like the energy for 2019 is right for growth and big dreams and intentions. I just feel like, IT IS TIME.

    I’m a writer and one of my big goals this year is finish my second novel, publish short stories, and work with even more writers this year as a teacher/coach. And I’ll just say it — if you want help getting your book off the ground, let me know! I’m in RI. We could meet to talk writing sometime. It’s my favorite thing to do.

    You’re incredible and I’m so glad you’re aiming for such great things this year. You’re gonna kill it!

  9. Jenn says:

    Love everything about this — excited about the return of the podcast!

  10. Emma B says:

    One of the best parts of the New Year is being able to see the goals and intentions set by all the people around you, and I loved reading what you aim to accomplish. Every goal felt so doable and I for one look forward to both following along with your journey as well as using it as inspiration to attain my own intentions for 2019! So many of yours are so in line with my own that I’m confident we are going to kill it this year.

    STOKED for more podcast episodes, THRILLED to follow along with more reno and possible reno round #2, and SO EXCITED to hear about a possible book! Please continue to share this goal, as I know I and many others would love to read it. Maybe the shown support of your followers can help keep you going when you’re feeling lost with writing.

    Happy 2019!

  11. Lindsay says:

    I started following you this year on Insta…and your blog has become a dedicated weekly read for me. I’m most excited to read more on the capsule wardrobe and a new fixer upper. It’s most refreshing to read this post and think “wow–that girl really is staying true to who she is.” Best wishes this year…I look forward to being along for the ride.

  12. Meaghan says:

    Incredible goals! I especially like the idea of you and Craig doing another fixer upper because of how much I love watching the cozy ranch transform. My goal is to stress less and focus on the good things in life!

  13. Sara Vosler says:

    I can’t wait to see your capsule wardrobe. I am working on this myself. Many of my goals are the same as yours. One financial goal we have is to buy a pontoon that you can ski behind as we have a house on a lake. Also, to pay for the rest of my daughter’s college (I have two) in cash. Lofty, but attainable.

  14. Melissa says:

    I love reading blogs! I even set aside time during my lunch break to read my favorites as a little escape during the day! I only follow your Instagram because I enjoy your blog and content!

  15. Meghan says:

    Love this post!

    A big goal of mine this year is also less spending and more saving. But, I still love to shop! I think there is room for both. My focus for 2019 is to be more mindful when I do choose to spend money. One or two quality items vs. twenty little things thrown in a shopping cart as an afterthought. I appreciate the push you made to limit “consumerism content” in 2018 to fewer, but quality, things. These days I find myself skipping over Instagram stories with a large number of swipe-ups (even from influncers I’ve loved and followed for a long time) because it’s just plain overwhelming!

    As for blogs, I find myself reading more of them in recent months! I enjoy that they include great content beyond selling and when I find myself connecting with content on someone’s blog, I’m more likely to try the items they’ve recommended or partnered to sell.

    Cheers to 2019!

  16. Vanessa says:

    Personally, I would *love* to see a Youtube de-cluttering series from you! Those are some of my favourite videos to watch.

  17. Alicia Lee says:

    I love that you want to focus on your blog posts because I READ BLOGS! Constantly. I think my favorite feature of yours are these types of posts and also your ‘Click.Read.Love’ series. I’m excited to read more from you in 2019!

  18. Caroline says:

    Happy New Year! I’m so glad you’re bringing up the consumerism thing – I follow so many influencers I love and love their style and end up buying so much and then it goes unworn and now I’m trying to purge/save this year. Would love to see you style what you are keeping in different ways to inspire me to use what i have versus always buying new (especially for events – why does every party/wedding/event need a new outfit?!) keep up the great work, no one does imagery/visuals like you & Craig! (the pups don’t hurt either I could watch them all day 🙂 )

  19. Christine says:

    Love this- you will rock these!

    Would love to hear more on how you reduce consumption/waste. It’s a personal goal of mine for this year too!

  20. Meghan says:

    I struggle with the sentiment of the constant “stuff” so much too as a fellow blogger. I’ve been thinking of it lots and ways to improve and blog smarter not harder and with less consumption. Loved your thoughts here & also super excited to see where 2019 takes you!

  21. Clare says:

    Did you see that Marie Kondo has a Netflix show now? You might be into that since you liked her book! So excited for the expansion of the site, especially Newport Guide and Cozy Ranch content!

    P.S. I still read blogs every day!

  22. Jess, I loved reading your intentions for the year – thanks so much for sharing! It’s also fun to read all the comments to see what others have to say…. you’ve truly built a community, and I am happy to be a part of it 🙂
    I think you were correct when you said that this was the year for capsule wardrobes… I’m definitely going to be creating one for myself and I too want to buy from and support sustainable brands even more this year. I also want to dive deeper into photography and sharpen my editing skills, hopefully becoming a freelance photographer and blogger this year. I’m moving to Phoenix come July, and I’m craving change in lots of areas in my life. I’m scared shi**less, because I have no formal training in photography, but honestly, I feel like it’s something that I am supposed to do.
    Cheers to you, and I’m looking forward to following along. Here’s to 2019!
    Angelica

  23. Anne says:

    I love these goals! I’m still fine tuning mine, but three of my top goals are being present (put the cell phone down!), putting a start and end time to work (so hard when you work from home), and to be more conscious of spending in all areas of my life. Wishing you all a happy and successful New Year!

  24. Ashley M says:

    Thank you for sharing these honest goals- the hardest thing after setting a goal is sharing them! It’s so exciting to hear about these and motivating. I just said to myself the other day when I saw one of your posts- I hope she writes a book! Can’t wait to follow along all of 2019 🙂

  25. Jen Jordan says:

    This is quite a list, but a really exciting and inspiring one! It really motivated me to think beyond some of the vague goals I’ve set for myself this year. Here are some of mine:

    -Actually get comfortable listening to and speaking French again. This is both a personal goal (I studied French for years and absolutely love it) but also a professional one — I work at a language-learning app and my team produces content about language learning every day. No excuses here.

    – Spend/waste less and save more. Lots of reasons for this and I’m glad it’s a resolution I’ve seen for many people I follow. Part of the reason I want to save is we’re also looking at buying a place in New England in the coming years. I’m from Maine and really homesick, so it’d be amazing to own a place up north again.

    – Plan ahead more at work. I’m a big planner as it is, but I found last year my team was even happier when I planned several months in advance v a month at a time. I thought not planning too far ahead would offer us flexibility to try new things, but it turns out we’re able to be creative even with a plan in place 😏.

    Really excited about so much of the content you mentioned in your post and agree (from one content creator to another) people do still read! Happy new year!

  26. Laura says:

    I’m super interested in also creating a capsule wardrobe. Rachel Wilkerson Miller has a good buzzfeed article on hers which I really liked (the idea, less the style). Would love to see how you would go about doing something like this. I love the idea, but I’m a little intimidated by it ☺️

  27. Kate says:

    Happy New Year, Jess (and crew!) and thank you for so openly sharing your goals. I love your thoughts on consuming less, and have often felt a bit put off by the constant shopping sprees and “buy! buy! buy!” mentality from some fashion bloggers. The fact that your site is a more well-rounded true lifestyle blog allows you to pivot into this new ethos, and I can’t wait.

    personally, I would love to see a series on investment pieces. Being mindful about what I am purchasing and how I could style it various ways. ie: the BEST investment trench coat and how to make it work in different settings. Have an amazing year, and thank you for providing such beautiful and meaningful content!

  28. erlin says:

    Thank you for sticking to your values! It’s inspiring to see a different approach (and to be honest I’ve unfollowed most ‘consumer’ influencers because I don’t want to live in a state of constantly wanting more). In terms of lowering your impact, I read Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson a few years ago and highly recommend it! Excited to see all that’s in store for you this year. xoxo, erlin

  29. Nikki says:

    I love your blog! I’m so happy to read your goals since they reflect all the things I was hoping you would do. I love reading blogs but I find I always end up unfollowing once they reach a certain size since it becomes 80% sponsored posts. I get that it’s a job and how you make money, but if I’m reading an article about your skincare routine I want to read what you actually use not just what x brand tells you to put.

    I would absolutely love to see you do a capsule wardrobe post. I’ve been interested in the concept for a while but it’d be awesome to see it done by someone whose style I really admire. With all the terrifying news about the environment this year we all need to have a good think about our level of consumerism.

    Sorry for the wordy comment, just wanted to say that you’re doing a great job!

  30. C.L. says:

    I found you through The Stripe and I’ll be reading your blog in 2019! I am actively looking for blogs that are focusing LESS on consumption in the coming year. I heard this statistic recently: If everyone in the world consumed the way we do in the U.S., we would need about 4.5 Earths to provide resources for that consumption. It’s really got me thinking about my own shopping/spending habits. I look forward to following your decisions in those areas 🙂

  31. Judy Maples says:

    Making a new goal it was always exciting. Lots of dream lots of hope knocking on your mind. Hope you can reach your goal. Best of luck.
    https://www.shopnodana.com

  32. Arlene says:

    Hi, looking forward to all of this year’s content! When it comes to capsule wardrobe pieces can you also suggest inexpensive pieces for those of us who can’t afford “investment” pieces? Thanks.

  33. Julie says:

    I am new to your blog and have already felt connected wanting to read more and more. Thank you for being brave enough to share your goals with us. We are in it with you! XO

  34. Sarah says:

    Thank you for sharing! Love reading your goals and will be adapting some to my life as well. You are one of my go-to bloggers/influencers (and not just because of your cute does), you have great style and seem so authentic and down-to-earth. Looking forward to seeing what this year brings for you!