2016 + January Goals

Lara Casey Goals


When I think about January 1, I always feel completely inspired. I know it's a little cliche. It's just a date—a seemingly regular Friday (or Monday or Saturday or Tuesday …)—but no matter how good the previous year was, I'm always motivated to set new goals, try new things or improve upon the foundation that's already there. Sometimes I follow through, sometimes I don't, but either way I always come back for more each January 1. Thinking about all the possibility right before stepping off into a new year is kind of intoxicating!

This year, I decided to choose a word for 2016 and make sure my goals for the year resonated within the word PURPOSEFUL. After four years of running this business and slooooowwwwwllly getting better at balancing my personal and professional life, I want to make sure I'm still moving away from the 24/7 hustle (been there, done that!) and closer to more rest, more deep breaths, more reflection.

I divided up all my 2016 goals into six categories: Business, Family, Financial, Intellectual Health, Physical Health and Spiritual Health (thanks, Nancy Ray, for the inspiration!), and I'll be sharing a couple from each category here, along with my January goals. If you set your own goals for 2016, I'd love to hear/see them! (For real. I'm kind of a nerd when it comes to this stuff.)

Photography Goals

2016 Goals


  • Decide on a software management system
  • Create a new gallery wall and vendor area in my office
  • Blog at least 2/week
  • Continue working towards real office hours (office door shut by 5:30 p.m.)


  • Set aside one evening a week for a date night with Nathan
  • See my grandma at least once a month :)


  • Complete our Emergency Fund
  • Give $50 to a new (to us) charity each month

Intellectual Health

  • Read 25 books (this has been my goal for the last couple years, and I always fall just short of 25. Hoping to stretch my mind even more this year!)
  • Develop a morning routine
  • Declutter each room in our house and give unwanted items away (technically I guess this falls under "Organization" but it's also good for my mental state ;) )

Physical Health

  • Stretch for 10 minutes every day
  • Drink 2 water bottles a day (I am not a natural water drinker [is that a thing?] so I really have to work at this one!)

Spiritual Health

  • Do Savor devotional every morning
  • Refrain from scheduling Sunday morning sessions so we can attend church at least 3/month

Etsy print

[My little family, with whom I want to spend my most PURPOSEFUL time. Cartoon portrait by Lili Di Prima.]

January Goals

  • Read three books (Scary Close by Donald Miller, All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and The Very Picture of You by Isabel Wolff)
  • Start experimenting with a morning routine each day (even if it doesn't look the same morning to morning this month is for figuring out what works for me!)
  • De-clutter our kitchen
  • Start designing our travel wall in our dining room
  • Review all the items in my closet and make sure they still have purpose
  • Unsubscribe from junk e-mail
  • Delete old e-mail folders that I don't use anymore
  • Complete my business tax documents
  • Experiment with two software management systems
  • Create a portrait session guide
  • Talk with an industry friend about potential work on my website

2014 | It's All About Balance

2013. What. a. year. I always find it overwhelming to look back at 365 days and draw up some overall conclusion/feeling/concise thought about an entire year. My 2013 was exciting (It was my first year as a full-time photographer, and Nathan and I explored lots of new places together). My 2013 was surprising and enlightening (I learned something new almost every day). My 2013 was busy (Did I mention I went full-time with photography?). My year was these things. It was also SO much more.

If I'm being 100 percent honest, 2013 wasn't necessarily easy for me. The craziest, most exhilarating thing I did was choose to dive head first into photography. I'd thought about it a lot. It wasn't a rash decision, and I'm so thankful that I was able to ease into it so that by the time 2013 came around I had my ducks in a row. Or so I thought.

Let me tell you something. Running a business is not a walk in the park. It's hard work … especially when it's a one-person show. You probably all realize this. I was still grasping at that truth while I was immersed in it. For me, a lot of 2013 was about struggling to find balance and set boundaries. It was my first really, really, absolutely full season, and while I'm SO unbelievably grateful for (and completely amazed by) it, I was not prepared for it. I was more than halfway through the year before I realized I was completely consumed by work all the time.

Sometime around the middle of August, I was only seeing Nathan when he would come into my office to clear away the dishes on my desk and bring me new ones (I wish I was joking; it sounds so ridiculous). I wasn't seeing or interacting with my family and friends nearly as much as I would have liked, even though a lot of them live within a one-hour radius and the phone was always sitting on my desk. I wasn't eating right (at all), I was exhausted, and the summer was flashing by without a proper bike ride, long walk, or good book devoured on the back deck.

I tell you all of this not to wear my busyness as a badge of honor (although I was certainly doing that just a couple months ago), but to bring complete and utter honesty to the table. I want to share that the most important lesson I learned was that a one-dimensional person is not a happy person, no matter how much work you have, how many features you get or how many Facebook "likes" are currently staring you in the face.

I thought that constantly being busy and stressed out meant I was making it. I thought that saying "yes" to everything was the only way to show that I had it all together. Well, guess what?? I didn't. I don't. And I realize now that that's OK.

I recently read 7 by Jen Hatmaker and was completely awakened to the truth that stress can take over your life if YOU let it.

"We are short fused, stressed out, overextended, and unrested. This pace is not sustainable. I don't want it to be. This season of life is passing me by, accelerated by a lack of boundaries. Most days I just try to keep the wheels on, not living in the moment at all; I'm just getting it done while thinking about what's left ...

"This biblical concept of rest is whispering to me, 'You're ignoring me.' And I am. Not only do I not take God's command for rest seriously, but I act like its not in the Bible. Ah, Sabbath. How cute and archaic."

Yes. That's me. How did you know, Jen?

After much self-reflection, I now realize that balance is going to be my saving grace in 2014 (that and a little prayer :) ). I know that I need more than one thing (work) to keep me happy/creative/motivated/content/excited/[fill in the blank]. I know that I don't nearly have it all figured out, and I will stumble and fall more than once, but I am on the right path. It's not about being perfect, it's about making space for myself to appreciate the moments and then live in them. Imperfect and all. I'll let you know how it goes.

St. Lucia

Looking Forward to 2013

There's something about the start of a brand-new year. Even though it's just another day, a continuation of Monday into Tuesday, I always view it as a clean slate. I think this resetting is important for me to get into the right frame of mind for my business and my personal life. It's the push I need to tackle big projects that seemed daunting in the middle of October. In the last week I've reflect on the last year ... my first full year as Lane Baldwin Photography. So many things exceeded my wildest imaginations. I've also learned a ton along the way—especially things that didn't work, things I want to change in 2013. Just by brainstorming new goals I feel re-centered and ready to tackle the year with lots of motivation and inspiration. One key goal is to set boundaries for myself so I can keep up this motivation all year long.

Before I look forward though, I told myself I would look back at the goals I set on Jan. 1, 2012, just to see how far I've come and hold myself accountable:

  1. Be more purposeful with my blogging schedule/calendar. This will be a running goal, but I definitely upped the ante in 2012. Hopefully 2013 will be even better (see below)!
  2. Link my e-mail addresses and clean up my Inbox. All I can say is, THANK GOODNESS that's done! 
  3. Upgrade my computer and Photoshop software. Check and mark!
  4. Work on telling a story at EVERY shoot I do. Another running goal, but I feel as though I progressed with the storytelling as the year went on. 
  5. Start an online gallery that includes printing options for clients. Check and mark!
  6. Start offering various-sized, self-designed albums. SUPER excited to share my albums with you all next week!
  7. Make a concerted effort to be interactive on social media sites and other blogs. I slacked here. This goal is rolling over to 2013.
  8. See growth in myself, my photos and my business from the beginning of the year to the end. Totally. I'll be sharing my favorites from the year later this week. Maybe you'll see the growth for yourself!
New Year's Goals

And without further ado, my goals for 2013 ... both professional and personal:


  1. Blog every weekday and schedule blogs the day before. I got stressed out with blogging in 2012 because I was scrambling to get something up at 10 a.m. some days. And of course my content suffers when I try to cram writing into my day. My goal is to better utilize my blogging calendar in 2013 by staying organized and being purposeful with my posts.
  2. Turn around weddings in two weeks. Ohhhh boy, this one makes me nervous, but I SO want to wow my clients with a fast turnaround. Plus, this will help me stay organized when I start shooting weddings every weekend. I love the idea of being able to tie up loose ends from one wedding with only ONE other wedding sitting in the queue. Wish me luck!
  3. Schedule and STICK TO office hours. By far, the biggest thing I learned in 2012 is that your business will get the best of you if you let it. I can't tell you how many nights I was up until 2 a.m. editing photos. NOT THIS YEAR. I know I'm most productive when I can shut off my computer and have some downtime before waking up and doing it all over again. I'm streamlining some things this year to allow me go unplugged in the evenings.
  4. Learn to say no. One of the reasons I had trouble setting boundaries for myself this last year is because I had no idea where to draw the line. I hadn't done the photography thing completely on my own for a full season yet, and I didn't know that taking five portrait sessions a week in October was going to test my limits. It's hard to say no, but in the long run it benefits both me and my clients.
  5. Make a concerted effort to be interactive on social media sites and other blogs. My carry over from 2012. I will be more social this year. :)
  6. Start gathering ideas for new branding/website. Yes. Yes, I will be upgrading my website in the next couple years. When that happens, I want to make sure I have a clear idea of where I'm headed. I'm really excited to dream up all kinds of possibilities.
  7. See growth in myself, my photos and my business from the beginning of the year to the end. Above all, this is most important.
  1. Eat a more balanced diet, and cook real meals 3/week. There were days last year when I would forget to eat lunch. Or I would grab carbs because they were quick. I know I'll feel more energetic and productive if I take care of my body ... so I'm going to!
  2. Work out at least 4/week. I just read in my most recent Real Simple that when people have a lot to do, they think they don't have time to work out and it's the first thing to get cut. Uhhhh, yeah! In actuality, you should make time to work out because it improves your productivity. Plus, it's healthy. See #1. :)
  3. Get organized. Working on a house is so much fun, but it's also super messy. We have a room that's dedicated to the junk we don't know what to do with while we slowly work on other rooms. I need to organize the junk room, along with receipts, clothes, files, etc., etc. Help!
  4. Make an effort to connect with family and friends. Because I worked so much this last year, I let personal phone calls, e-mails and get-togethers slide ... and that is NOT OK. My goal is to reach out to a family member and/or friend, in some way, shape or form, at least once a day.
  5. Get involved. Just like #4, I let extracurriculars take a backseat this last year. I want to get involved in the Cleveland community and pursue some of my other passions.
  6. Do a full 365-day photo project. I did half of one in 2011, and I WILL do a full one in 2013. :)
  7. Do a devotional every day. And finally, to make myself more well-rounded, I want to make my spiritual life more of a priority. No excuses this time.

New Year's Goals

If you've made it this far, you really are a rock star. This post is more for me than anyone because I work best when I'm held accountable for my goals. Just posting them on this blog gives me the little kick I need to get.stuff.done.

To keep me going, I'm going to start a monthly check in—or goals if you will. Because January's a slower month around here, I'm hoping to get caught up on quite a bit:


  1. Back up website.
  2. Finish editing the last 2012 wedding.
  3. Back up 2012 files and clean off computer.
  4. Organize all files for taxes.
  5. Finish 2014 pricing guide.
  6. Update website portfolio.
  7. Blog every weekday.


  1. Design OUR wedding album (whoo!).
  2. Clean out my closet.
  3. Clean out my car.
  4. Unsubscribe from all the junk e-mail that comes to my Inbox.
  5. Read at least two books (Love Does, Life of Pi).
  6. Complete 95% of my office (i.e., everything should at least be ordered).
  7. Work out 5/week.
  8. Ski down a moderately sized hill without falling.

Thoughts: Living Wholly

A few months ago, I subscribed to a magazine called "Whole Living" because, well, it wasn't expensive and I thought I might learn a thing or two about being healthier in a natural sort of way. Turns out that most of the recipes are way too fancy (shiitake mushrooms and brown rice en papillote ... I couldn't even begin to guess what that last part means) or a little too "natural" (roasted beets with edamame and arugula ... I like cookies) for me. There is, however, a great section in the back called "10 Thoughts on Whole Living" that I think makes the subscription worth it. Each issue, the editors present you with 10 one-sentence, thought-provoking ideas. I literally sit staring at that page for an awkwardly long amount of time while I think through each one. Here's one of my favorite's from the January/February 2012 issue:

"The new year isn't a do-over; it's an opportunity to take your next big step."

What an awesome reminder. You know that I love lists, which means that I like clean slates and tying stuff up in a neat and tidy way. If I'm going to eat healthier, I'm going to start on Sunday. And if I'm going to suddenly be the type of person who always keeps her Inbox cleaned out, I'm going to start on Jan. 1. But ... that's just not always realistic. I know this, yet I struggle with this control issue every day.

So, this year, I decided I wasn't going to make resolutions (does anyone actually keep their resolution for the entire year?? Seriously, if you do, I want to meet you!), I was going to make goals. I wasn't going to magically start over on Jan. 1 and suddenly become the person I've always wanted to be, I was going to place hurdles in front of myself so that I could slowly and realistically move forward.

This type of moving forward has never been so apparent to me as it is in my new photography world. I'm fairly new to this gig and I want everything to be done NOW. But ... that's just not realistic. I can't update my website, write a blog post, order business cards and become better at Photoshop in one day because, well, I have another job! And I have to work within my means. But I will get there, and I so, so, so appreciate my 2012 couples for placing their faith in me and cheering me on. I had absolutely NO expectations when I started down this path, but just 2.5 months after telling the whole World Wide Web that I was a photographer and hoping for the best, you all proved to me that I can do this, even if I have to take it one hurdle at a time. Thank you.

This year, I hope you too find a balance between work, family and "you" time. Whether you're flying by in the fast lane or hopping hurdles with me in the slow lane, I hope 2012 is one of your best.