“Spend more time building your character than trying to build your platform.” – Christine Caine

A THOUSAND yeses to that.

In a shallow, surface deep world, let’s approach life differently. Let’s grow our roots deep. Let’s take authority over our days by setting our alarm clock so we can recenter and listen to Jesus before the voices of Instagram and emails and family and life takeover. Let’s put our phones down to look into the eyes of whoever is in front of us and listen. Let’s go outside and feel the sun on our skin way more than we did in 2017.

Do you want to grow your reach, your business, your platform?

That’s my prayer for 2018.

There are some things that I’m dreaming about doing in 2018, but I’m not quite ready to share them. I need some more guidance and direction from the Lord and from others much wiser than myself. I want to reach down deep before I reach out to share.

I’m the kind of person who likes to jump in and get things moving immediately, but I’m learning patience and humility.

Why do I share all of this? Honestly, I’m not sure. Maybe you need to read it. Maybe to show you it’s okay to not have 100% clarity.

But friend, here’s where we get stumped. When we lack clarity, sometimes we freeze and don’t set ANY goals. And here’s where I want to share with you the way I approach goal setting when I’m still waiting and listening.

I set goals anyway. I take the pressure off of myself and start writing! And I grant myself permission to PIVOT this year if needed! But if I don’t make a plan, if I don’t set any goals, life will keep happening to me and no progress will be made on the things that are important to me. So let’s just go with the things we DO have clarity on, and write them down.

So if you find yourself in my shoes – don’t think so much about it and don’t put pressure on yourself. Goals are simply writing down the things you want to do. The things you want to try. And it’s OKAY to pivot later if you need to.

So just go do that! If you haven’t yet set goals for 2018, or if you’re feeling a bit stuck, sit down and write down the things you want to do in 2018. Then go from there!

Practically speaking, this year I have a really helpful goal setting tip for you, that I stole from my husband Will. (Love you boo.) It’s called “Keep, kill and combine.” I used this when working through my Powersheets over the past few weeks, and it really helped me set 10 solid goals rather than 32 little goals. I’ll walk you through it!


1. Make a mega list of everything that you need / want to do with your life next year. Brain dump it all over a page.


– KEEP (circle) the ones that are most important and realistic for this year.
– KILL (cross out) the ones that don’t make sense for this season.
– COMBINE (draw arrows and consolidate) the repetitive ones! For example, I wrote down “refresh website” and “new domain” and “new galleries”… but those all fall under “refresh website.”

That’s it!

OK friend, here’s my recap of 2017! For me, it was a good, beautiful, full year. We welcomed our daughter Lyndon into the family in late July, and it has been a whirlwind ever since as a mama of two. Some goals went great, some not so great. Most of all, I’m just plain grateful. This year has taught me so much!

2017 RECAP

1. Care for my body well through running 3 10Ks, strength training, yoga once a month and healthy eating.
YES until Baby L was born. Finally getting back on track with my running and eating! I even squeezed in my very last 10K at the encouragement of a friend on December 30th just two days ago!
2. Capture and document my family legacy by completing 2014, 2015, and 2016 albums and taking 1 roll of personal film each month.
YES to the albums, NO to the monthly film.
3. Invest intentional time in my marriage and family by dating Will regularly, and creating a new “Milly afternoon routine” as soon as I get off work at 4 each day.
4. Deepen my spiritual walk through 10 minutes of daily prayer time and an afternoon “daily office” with regular meditation.
This is a big Yes – No – Yes – No. It undulated throughout the year.
5. Read 12 books for self improvement and leisure.
Hahahaha reading with a newborn AND a toddler. I did read 8 books though!!!

6. Delegate and elevate by hiring a part time studio assistant and adding a 3rd intern in the summer.
7. Successfully launch an online course (all on shooting in film!)
8. Work 3 days a week by the fall (Nov 1.)
9. Update the #nrpstudio space.
10. Invest in the NRP team and their spouses through one on one training, dinners and lunches.
YES to the team and their spouses, no to the one on one training.

A quick thought on all the goals I didn’t hit this year: I am still SO glad I set them. I made more progress and read more books and spent more time with my team because I set those goals.


So let’s take a look at my goals for 2018!


1. Read 12 Books + lead the Nancy Ray Book Club again!

2. Finish Positive Parenting Solutions Online Course with Will (+ implement)

3. Run a Half Marathon

4. Take a 1 Month Sabbatical

5. Take monthly photos of the girls


6. Refresh and relaunch my website

7. Learn from a Business Mentor (something I’ve never done before!)

8. Change Client Management Platform within NRP (We’re switching from ShootQ to Dubsado and I’m pretty excited about it)

9. Grow my email list to 20,000 and learn the best ways to serve those on my list

10. Hire a new family photographer



Now it’s time for me to level with you about where I’m at:

Being a mama of two? Hard. Full. Wonderful. Rewarding. My BEST work.
Breastfeeding? Still going strong. Constant back and forth from feeling productive then stopping to feed. It’s a challenge but it’s also my favorite thing ever, and it’s important to me. I constantly have to remind myself what a privilege it is to be able to breastfeed, that I get to. But sometimes it feels like I can’t get into deep work, and it can be challenging.
Healthy living? I’ve fallen off that bandwagon. I need help back on, but goodness I’ve been struggling with the guilt of asking someone to watch the babies so I can take time to exercise.
I simultaneously want to do a ton of new and exciting things in my business and want to scale it back so I can be home with the girls more. Oh the life of a mama entrepreneur. This is where I beg God to help me know what to do.
I want to do some NEW things with my business. I’m excited and a little nervous too. But I’m praying on them and sitting on them and asking for help before launching into them too quickly. Something I should do more often.

More than ever, I’m ready to step into being ME, my authentic self, and living the life God wants me to live with no apologies.

So there you have it! My goals, where I’m at, and where I’m going. 2018 holds some NEW things, and I can’t wait to see it all unfold!

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Oh my goodness. This is total perfection. I have struggled in the past with forcing myself to create this big vision for the year/month/week ahead and then falling on my face because the Lord was waiting for me to sit with Him and make the plans. Hearing you voice that you’re going to sit on things before jumping in with both feet has helped me realize that is an acceptable and honorable answer to the New year buzz. I am so grateful for that truth!

Hi Nancy! How did you come across the Positive Parenting Solutions course? Have you found it helpful, in other words, would you recommend it to other parents of toddlers?


I came across it because I participated in filming the new series of videos to help out my friends who were producing it. I had no idea what it was about, but everyone else there (parents of all ages) raved about it. I decided to join and go through the course, because they kept saying “I wish I had this when my kids were your age! It would have saved me a lot of heartache down the road.” I have loved it! It’s given us some really great tools and yes – I recommend it to parents of toddlers! It will continue to help you down the road as well!

I am currently going through the Positive Parenting Solutions course and I was wondering if that was you in the course videos! :) Now I know it was!

Yes it totally was me! Haha! 2 Weeks before I had Lyndon!

I would love to know what your word of the year is. You and I seem to be in similar positions with a newborn(ish) and toddler, and needing focus and “purpose” for the year. Cheers to you!

I might have to do a blogpost about it! But my word for this year is NEW :)

I can’t wait to follow along and cheer you on this year sweet Nancy! I absolutely love reading your goal post; they always inspire me to dig deep into my own life! Also, I’m super excited the Nancy Ray Bookclub is back!

Thanks sweet friend!!! Also, you are the most BEAUTIFUL MAMA!! I need to hold that baby!

[…] love coming back to Nancy’s goal setting each year and then monthly. I love how she sets out her goals and her reflections this year are […]

Your goals posts are my favorite, Nancy! Thank you for leading the way in letting go a bit and enjoying the process of setting goals. I always want to just HAVE goals and go go go, but it is important to take time and let goals evolve as we do. Happy birthday and happy new year!!

Nancy, thanks for sharing these goals and a recap of 2017. Transition from one to two is challenging but man, god is faithful and full of grace. Praying for you as you sit and wait for the lords guidance. You’re such an encouragement to me! Blessings for you and your family this next year.

First, how has your daughter gotten so big?!?!? I love this blog world and that I have literally watched my “friends” families grow up online. You and Will are so blessed.

I made my way to your blog today because per usual I am starting the year with the Contentment Challenge and wanted to send the link to some friends. Thank you so much for sharing your financial advice and little nuggets of life wisdom with us. xoxo

I really appreciate your transparency with your goals, time and time again. It’s such a good reminder that life seasons affect our productivity, and that THAT’S OKAY! You have been a blessing to me in the way you share the joys and struggles of motherhood as you simultaneously pursue your non-maternal vocation. It’s beautiful to watch from a distance. I wish you lots of growth, snuggles, and joy in 2018!

We are so glad you are here!

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