Blogiversary IV: Goal Tending

It’s time for some annual goal declaring (because nothing lights a fire under your arse like a big ol’ public proclamation). Let’s do this thang.

Goal #1: Find Balance- We mentioned that we were aiming for more balance in our lives during this 2011 resolutions post. We basically said that we’re going to try our darndest not to fall into the trap of putting all of our time, money, and energy into the house to the point that we have no life, no savings, and Clara is trapped in our casa for her entire childhood (we actually haven’t been on a big vacation since our honeymoon four and a half years ago other than some low key road trips and family beach weeks). Well, we’re bringing it up again because we need to be better about it.

We’ve had a very busy and exciting year (John came on full time, we moved, Clara is running and talking, we’re writing columns for BabyCenter and Do It Yourself magazine along with a 260+ page book, we’ve tackled tons of house projects, we redesigned the site, etc). But what has slipped to make room for all those amazing opportunities is recharging away-from-the-computer time. Since the internet is 24/7, we’re still plugged in on nights and weekends and even on vacations and over the holidays. Heck I had a baby last year and didn’t even miss a post. So one reason that we started Young House Life was to remind ourselves to take a minute to actually live and have fun and be spontaneous and step.away.from.the.laptop.

Goal #2: Not drone on in every post. This actually might be the key to accomplishing more of the balance that we crave above. See, some of our favorite posts don’t have 2,000 words and 20 pics. We even admit that we skim each other’s posts when they’re too long. So we know everyone at home probably doesn’t read every word of every post that we write either. The point is that sometimes short and sweet is a-ok. And not every post needs to be a novel. Sometimes an update is quick, or we buy something simple that we want to share, or something funny happens and we catch it on video and slap it up. That’s the joy of blogging. Not everything has to be super polished and verbose. Ooh, I just used the word verbose. Ten points? Anyone?

Goal #3: Bring back before & after inspiration. A year ago we used to share Reader Redesigns twice a week along with two weekly giveaway posts (one to announce the giveaway and a second one to announce the winner) and a little poll post on Fridays that we called a Burning Question (about something decor-related, like if you prefer painted cabinets or wood ones, or if you’re a wall-to-wall carpet person or into tile or hardwood floors). But at our last blogiversary we realized that five posts a week about not-our-house stuff was really taking our blog away from the good ol’ DIY diary feel (which is definitely how it started, and something that we wanted to maintain).

So during our last blogiversary we decided to turn the focus back to our house (since we had a big move ahead of us, and a lot to talk about). We eliminated those Friday Burning Questions, along with our weekly follow up giveaway winner post (we just post that info as a p.s. at the bottom of another post), and we bid a fond farewell to both of our weekly Reader Redesigns (we invited folks to share their before & afters on our Facebook page instead). We didn’t miss the giveaway winner post or our weekly Burning Question, but we definitely mourned the loss of Reader Redesigns since they’re so inspiring and full of eye candy and ideas. So we’ve decided to bring them back. Not two a week, and maybe not even once a week – but they’re going to be making regular appearances again. There’s just too much amazing stuff that can leave us all inspired/encouraged. So if you have any awesome transformations to submit for consideration (like the stunning card-catalog-turned-buffet seen below), just send them to

Goal #4: Be Secure In Our Own Bloghood. Sure, we’d love for every single person who drops by to love every single one of our 2,000+ posts, but we’d also love a goose chihuahua that lays golden eggs. The truth is that in putting our lives out there for everyone to see, we have to be ok with not everyone loving everything, or even anything. And in turn they’ll hopefully understand that projects, decor choices, and post-writing is as subjective as favorite foods and hairstyles. So there’s not really one right way to do it.

This is just our personal DIY diary of sorts (the good, the bad, the ugly, and the blissfully mundane). One day we’re gutting a bathroom & one day we’re organizing a junk drawer or even talking about breastfeeding (tangents definitely occur). Strangely enough, four years of that “blogging formula” is exactly what got us here. Over four million hits a month?! We’re humbled and so very thankful. My brain actually threatens to explode when I think about it (I pretend I’m writing to ten people to combat blog stage fright). So sure, some folks might do things differently if this were their blog, but that’s the beauty of blogging: everyone can do it in their own way.

Goal #5: Be Grateful. Sometimes the stress of a harder-than-we-thought project or 150 pending comments to respond to can make us momentarily forget that this is a dream job. Because as much as we love what we do, at the end of a day it’s still a job. We do it because we love it (heck, it was born from pure never-thought-we’d-make-a-dime passion), but we also currently rely on it to feed our family – so there’s definitely pressure sometimes (as anyone who runs their own business will tell ya). So this goal is more of a mental shift than anything else. Whenever we’re feeling overwhelmed by looming projects or mounting comments or magazine assignments and book chapters to complete, we just want to remember to stop, breathe, and remind ourselves that we’re living the dream (corny but true). So in those oh-crap-I’m-stressing moments we just have to think about how geeky giddy we are over this amazing opportunity that has somehow materialized (no one is more surprised about where we have ended up than we are – and we lay awake in bed at night perma-smiling and excitedly chattering about our next project). Life is good. Even when it’s busy and full of chaos. We are oh so grateful.

Goal #6: Try New Things. Whatever they are. Maybe it’s just having an open mind about some weird half-baked decorating idea that pops into our heads. Or embarking on some other new adventure like House Crashing or Window Shopping (who the heck knows what that could be). With our book coming out next fall we imagine that will open up a ton of new (aka: potentially scary) experiences for us (starting with a bunch of photoshoots in the next few months for hundreds of secret projects that will be photographed). So we just want to be open to those new (aka: potentially scary) experiences. And try not to fear them or dread them or turn into a big ol’ ball of stress. I guess this goes hand in hand with being grateful. We want to remember to try new things and take chances and be spontaneous (all of which are what got us here in the first place).

So there they are. Six probably-won’t-all-be-accomplished-but-we’ll-try-our-darndest goals for year five of blogging our pants off (figuratively speaking). While we’re on the goal tending topic, we also like to annually revisit the prior year’s goals to see how we did.

You can read them a bit more in depth right here, but we thought we’d just summarize the ones from last year in bullets to evaluate our progress:

Last Year’s Goal #1: Move On This goal was all about moving into a new house and enjoying it and documenting our adventures and projects and tribulations, which we definitely did. Yay. The verdict: Mission accomplished.

Last Year’s Goal #2: Loosen Up This goal was about feeling less machine-like and blogging in a looser more real-time format (we were doing projects so far in advance that things sat in the hopper for up to two weeks before we could share them) so we could get back to posting things as they happened. Now things usually go up a day or two after they’re done (just because editing pics and post writing takes some time). So we definitely accomplished the less-lag-time thing. Score! But we also mentioned getting back to the balance of long meaty posts interspersed with quick updates and small real-life details that weren’t 2,000 words long (sometimes short and sweet beats heavy and wordy, so we wanted to get back to a nice balance of both). The verdict: Still gotta work on that. Hence goal #2 this year.

Last Year’s Goal #3: Get Real – In the first year of blogging we shared ordinary in-progress and spur-of-the-moment stuff all the time (like this, this, this, this and this), but somehow we fell off. So we couldn’t wait to get back to chronicling those real & random moments between before & after (you know, the stuff that you don’t get to see on 30 minute makeover shows). This year we definitely kept it real (sharing messy house tours, fridge before & afters, and even a cloth diaper update) but a lot of the fun off-the-cuff posts that we linked to as inspiration were quick and random (everything doesn’t have to be 20 photos long and full of wordy breakdowns). The verdict: 50% accomplished. Still gotta work on tossing things up that are light and spur-of-the-moment like the good ol’ days.

Now we’re turning the love train in your direction. We appreciate you all so much and thank you violently profusely for dropping in on us. Without you guys our goal would be: get back into the advertising thing because we’d be out of a job. Haha. All in all we can’t believe where we are four years after starting a tiny blog for friends and family members to watch our little kitchen makeover back in 2007. Life is crazy like that. But I better stop waxing poetic about the whole who-woulda-thought-we’d-be-here thing. We could talk about how shockingly random our little blog’s evolution has been for days, but this post is already 1,819 words. Looks like we’ll have to keep working on the old “short and sweet” aspiration. Is anyone really surprised?

Psst- First image found here and last image found here (without our heads on them of course, we added those). Oh and that cute photo of the bean was taken by Katie B.

Psssst- We announced this week’s big $500 West Elm gift card winner. Click here to see if it’s you.


  1. Elizabeth K. says

    What if you took some of your long posts and split them in to many different parts, kind of like you did with that great rocking chair you recently revamped? I mean, I LOVE the long posts, but I don’t necessarily NEED them to get my YHL fix. :) was it the office built-in desk post that was recently really long? I think I remember reading a post recently and thinking that it could have seriously been 2 or 3 posts.

    • says

      Yeah, we definitely toy with that. Since we try to stay real-time, we don’t like to break stuff up unnecessarily (if we do something in one afternoon, we like to share it as one post to represent that it didn’t take weeks of our time). But in cases like the rocker, that did take me weeks… so I was happy to break it up! Haha.


  2. Karen says

    I love to read a post everyday, but I can see how doing two a day is stressful and a lot of work. I don’t think cutting down to one a day is going to affect the blogaliciousness we all expect and love. (how ya like that word?) LOL

    You have to have a real life and downtime in order to recharge and be creative.

    I think the biggest positive that y’all have going for you is that you are so down to earth and accessible. I don’t see that changing, even if you do make a few changes to accomodate your lifestyle.

  3. says

    I just wanted to say I really appreciate you guys putting yourselves out there! I guess it hadn’t crossed my mind that you guys would feel the same “blog stage fright” as I do every time I put up a new post (“What if no one reads it or thinks I’m dumb?!).” Thanks for being so honest!

  4. Diane says

    I can’t wai tto see what this next year brings to your blog. I think you guys did great on your goals from last year – holy crap, you had a baby and didn’t miss a post? That is CRAZY!!! I hope you do get some step-away-from-the-electronic-devices downtime, it will make each post you write better with a fresher feel to it.

    ps – I adore that picture of Clara – it’s one of my favorites. Didn’t Katie take that pic of her?

  5. Kelly says

    Those calf muscles actually freak me out a bit! It’s like they’re going to rip apart at any second (probably while you’re crouching down to paint baseboard trim or something)!

  6. Casey says

    Have you guys ever considered a blogcation? You know, like formally taking a week off a couple times a year from all that’s blog related to go play as a family somewhere or just relax in that house you work so hard in? I’m all for it…you two deserve it! And you know us loyal fans would be waiting for ya when you came back. Just food for thought. Congrats to four years, I love YHL blogiversary week!

    • says

      Aw thanks Casey! We definitely dream of it, but I think it’s one of those you-put-it-off-and-say-next-month-and-then-put-it-off-again so it never comes to fruition. We definitely hope to be better about it though. Almost every single profession out there has a certain amount of days off that are built into the deal (we actually got 17 paid days off in advertising, which was amazing), so we have to make it a point to schedule a week or two off a year and stick to it!


    • says

      I know in the past you’ve always been careful to not tell us that you’re going away – maybe that’s part of why you find it hard to unplug… because you’re always pretending to be at home, still posting and commenting. Could you get family to house sit, or even use a service?

    • says

      Yes, we definitely would get a house sitter if we announced that we’d be gone (we also have a really sweet alarm so we have less anxiety about that lately) but it would mostly be the maintenance part of the blog. Comments would still roll in on old posts and on any new things we shared during that week, so tending to that stuff usually takes around 3-4 hours a day or we could let it go and have about 24 straight hours of maintenance/comment stuff to do when we return home. We’re determined to figure something out though. Year five is the year! Hah.


    • Nikki says

      I vote you guys take the week between Christmas and New Years to yourselves! Alot of people are out of the office (since it seems you have pretty high daytime traffic) and I don’t think a single reader would fault you for some time away from work…even if it’s a staycation. You could take your laptops to a relatives and then not pick them up until the time was up. I would still accidentally check in anyway I bet :) Love, love, love the blog!

    • Molly says

      Would it be possible to turn off the comments capability during that time period and put up some sort of “Out of Office” post? That way you wouldn’t be so over-whelmed upon your return :)

  7. Tara says

    I love how Claras hair is so blonde in the sun she looks bald. Its the cutest thing ever.

    Thanks for always being an inspiration. You have got me thinking of what Goals I would love to achieve for the next year or so.

  8. says

    I love your gratefulness goal! I’m working on that too. I’ve actually started posting a Thankful Thursday every week (and hey, it’s Thursday so I’ve got one up right now! nothing like a shameless plug right? tee-hee

    And I’ve been tossing around an idea about documenting our gratefulness that I thought I’d share. I like to put pretty paper in a frame and use the glass as dry erase (like you do the mirrors in your office). My idea is to hang one of those in a highly trafficked area and take a sec everyday to write down a moment of awesome. That way you can see it and be reminded every time you walk by the frame. I find that the more time I take to notice the awesome moments, the more moments I have. Crazy how that works right? :)

    Just had to share! Love your blog, it’s one of my must reads every day! Happy blogiversary!


    • says

      Love that idea!!! We made a thankful jar last Thanksgiving and slipped in things that we were thankful for every day leading up to Turkey Day (when we cracked it open and read them all). It’s really such a fun thing to do!


  9. Kerstin says

    I love, that Reader Redesign will return! I discovered your blog a few month ago and now I read it daily. I have read quite a lot of it by now, with the help of the projects page and the suggestions at the bottom of the posts.
    Before & afters of rooms are my favourites! So beside your project reveals I like that you gave/give others a chance to show their design skills. It is a great inspiration for me. At the moment I am only collecting ideas, because I’m living a small one-room flat, so there is not much space for big diy projects. I’m looking forward to a bigger flat, probably next year… I hope, you are still accepting submissions then.
    Keep on blogging, you guys are great!
    Greetings from Germany, Kerstin

  10. Lindsay B. says

    Yeah for bringing back reader redesigns!! I also LOVE mood board posts, whether they are for someone else, for your house or no one in particular. I find some of my favorite new home stuff that way!

  11. says

    Hooray for the return of reader redesigns! I love your regular posts, but really enjoy the great projects you’ve featured from your readers in the past as well.

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