2016: Goals for a New Adventure of a Year

As I sit down to write this year’s goals post, I’m currently 33.5 weeks pregnant with twins and wearing James’ gigantic robe (because it is about all that currently fits me comfortably)! haha. So, this year’s perspective on “goals” has changed a bit as we are anxiously awaiting the arrival of our boys in the next few weeks and doing our best to mentally prepare for our life to be turned upside down (in the best possible way)!

Last year, we made a point to reprioritize our goals so that we weren’t just focusing on moving our business forward, but also our personal lives … because otherwise, what is the point?! Why put your entire being into work-work-working and then have nothing to show for it in your personal life? We followed our dreams and started working for ourselves to create our own reality – but for the early years of working for ourselves full-time we were so focused solely on work that we didn’t have much of anything to show for it in our personal lives. I think that’s natural in the early years of your business, of course, but the further along we got – the more we realized that needed to change. And so last year, we made a concerted effort to readjust our priorities and wow did it make a difference.

Unlike what many people think will happen when they introduce more balance in their lives – our business actually grew and thrived in ways I didn’t anticipate – because we gave it room to do so!! And on the opposite side of that coin – our personal lives were more fulfilling than in the past as well. We focused foremost on creating the life that we have dreamed of for so long, and that inspiration and joy spilled over into our photography. It was a definitely a year where lessons were learned and giant leaps were made. (Though, I suppose in reality – they were just a continuation of small steps we’ve been taking each day to make a changes that eventually came to fruition. Nothing truthfully happens in a “big leap” kind of way – though it appears that way from the outside. Anything that appears to be a “big leap” was actually a conscious decision made years ago and the steps that followed to slowly but surely get to that point. Like – building up our savings and cutting back in parts of our life so we could eventually buy a house … Like – finally getting tests done at a fertility clinic that led us down the path to (finally) getting pregnant…) So, if you’re hoping to make some dreams and big goals a reality – remember that you need to start making small, conscious choices and changes TODAY that will eventually lead you to that ‘big leap’!

Anyway – I digress!! Even more so than in past years it felt funny to sit down and write these goals with James because in all honestly – both of us have in first and foremost in our minds one GIANT goal:

  1. Survive our first year as parents of twins!! (And small business owners!)


Seriously though.

When I asked James to sit down and do our goals like we have in years past, he told me he had nothing to add except that he wanted to “keep the boys alive” this year. haha. That was it. I said, “Well, obviously. That is my main goal too – haha… BUT could I get a little more from you than that?!”

Anyway – we are clearly aware this will be a big year of transition for us. We are taking on a new adventure together and we are more than aware it will be the most life changing thing we have ever done together. That being said… we do still have other goals for the year – though I know I need to show myself some grace this year if we don’t manage to do everything we hope to, given all the change we are about to go through. (That may be one of my goals too. haha)


Self Employment Goals by Christy Tyler Photography_0001


So, without further ado… let’s get to these goals!


  1. Healthy birth: Healthy babies / Healthy mama. This one is a bit out of our hands, but we are of course getting a little more anxious as the due date nears (James especially). I’m trying to let go and trust in something greater than myself (as I have through this whole process) – but it’s normal to worry that something may happen to the babies or myself during labor. We are just praying all goes well and we have two healthy babies and a healthy mama to bring home when all is said and done! (And that James doesn’t pass out or freak out in the process! haha)
  2. Enjoy our maternity/paternity leave together as a new family. We are taking 8 weeks off from shoots and meetings after the boys arrive (though I will obviously have to keep up with emails every few days to keep the business going). I know the time is going to FLY by and before we know it we’ll officially be kicking off our 2016 wedding season on May 14th… so I really want to do our best to soak in every minute with these little guys as a new family until then!
  3. Be good examples, parents, and partners. They say the best way to teach a child is through your own actions – and so James and I have talked about working even harder to be the kind of people we want our kids to be each and every day. That means more patience, more grace, less perfectionism, and more understanding… to those around us, to the kiddos, and equally important – to each other.
  4. Survive. 🙂 (James insisted I include this – though I think this is an obvious goal for the year! haha)
  5. Finish our backyard! James spent most of last fall after we bought our house digging up a giant root system of weeds that had taken over the yard in the last 10 years (when nobody apparently cared to care for it), and so this year we hope to do the following:
    1. Finish clearing the weeds (and who knows what else is back there)
    2. Plant grass
    3. Get a blue stone patio laid for an outdoor entertaining/grilling area, and get some outdoor furniture (table & chairs, market lights… etc).
    4. Put in a fire pit in the back corner.
    5. Install new fencing around the entire backyard. (So we can stop seeing that gorgeous view of a parking lot through our fence in the winter! haha) I promised James I wouldn’t try to plant any bushes, trees, or flowers until we get these main things handled, so I’m going to try really hard to follow through on that! haha
  6. Get Life Insurance! No, seriously. This has been on our list for years, and is a MUST DO before the boys arrive in a few weeks!
  7. Transfer my old 401k to a Roth IRA …and start saving for retirement again. If James is serious about wanting to move to Hawaii someday, we should probably get on this. haha. 😉
  8. Save $x,000 for backyard projects listed above, and maintain our current savings. We depleted our savings big time last year with the house buying and contractor projects on the house after that… so ideally I would prefer to have none of these new projects come out of savings, and instead be saved for separately before we do anything! Even more ideally I would like to replenish our savings by $_____, but I’m not sure these backyard projects + the new expense of childcare and kiddos will make that possible… but we shall see!
  9. Shoot film photos of our boys and family consistently throughout the year. My goal is to just leave my film camera out with film in it and shoot whenever a moment arises. I sincerely do not want to have their entire lives documented on an iPhone, which I feel is what will happen if I don’t make a conscious effort to do better than that! So I hope to shoot film (even just a frame or two) when moments happen and when the roll is full – send it in for developing & prints! Simple as that! (I hope, anyway! haha)
  10. Go to the Dermatologist. I’ve had this on my own list for quite a while and really need to follow through. I have some questionable markings and moles on my skin… and am getting older… so I need to be proactive and go get checked out to make sure all is well!
  11. Start walking 60 miles a month again. I was doing SO well at this once the weather warmed up last year, and walking really was my sanity through everything. I walked 70 miles in May, and over 60 in June. Then our frozen embryo transfer took and I was joyfully pregnant (and exhausted & woozy) and from that month on my miles dropped off by about 10 miles a month, which I suppose was to be expected. I listened to my body and made taking care of myself and the boys a priority. But once my body is back to being just me – I hope to get back on track with this (after I recover from labor & delivery, of course). And it is something I can do with the boys in the stroller and Chloe by my side!
  12. Lift free weights 2-3x a week. I did this pretty consistently through pregnancy – though now I’m down to maybe once a week and have lowered my weight amount as well, so I hope to build back up my strength and consistency this year. I want to be a strong mama! 🙂
  13. Print Photo Books from 2015. I’ve done this the past few years and really want to keep up with this, especially since 2015 was a big year for us and I don’t want it to get lost in the shuffle.
  14. Show myself grace and understanding as I adjust to life as a mom and business owner. I am well aware this will be a huge transitional year for us, so I am making it a priority to show myself grace and not expect perfection through this all. I just want to do my best and remember that I am only human.



  1. Book at least 8 more weddings for 2016 (cap out at 28 weddings, at most). We are well on our way to our goal for 2016, but still have spaces available for some awesome couples! If you know anyone looking for a photographer still – definitely send them our way!! We are planning to work a full wedding season this year (though starting a couple months late, because of family leave) – so we have some ground to make up! 🙂
  2. Have a smooth transition to childcare on wedding days. We have an awesome nanny lined up for the year, and are super excited to have this taken care of! We’re hoping to have this system down to a well-oiled machine as the year goes on and are planning for extra time for prep/travel on wedding days with the new additions.
  3. Update our website galleries. I hope to do this before the boys arrive, but it depends how soon they plan to show up! I haven’t updated our actual website photos since we re-branded in 2014, which means the photos are from our 2013 wedding season and earlier! Clearly we have some updating to do!
  4. Book 2 commercial shoots. We would love to shoot a couple more commercial shoots this year, but know that this is mostly out of our hands and depends on how much work our client needs throughout the year. But fingers crossed we can do at least one for them!
  5. Expand the Beautiful Session side of our business. I really sincerely meant to do more of this last year, but with the pregnancy and buying a house/moving in the middle of wedding season – some of these things got pushed to the back burner. I am still shooting a handful of these a year, but nobody would know it because I’m not allowed to share the photos anywhere! It kind of kills me! Other people who shoot intimate sessions – how on earth do you showcase your portfolio and prove that you are actually shooting these sessions if you can’t share the clients’ images anywhere? Do tell! (Also, I may or may not have designed our entire master bedroom around styling for Beautiful sessions… so, let’s shoot some more of them, please!) 😉
  6. Continue to have James shoot more groom portraits during prep. A big goal last year was to get James to encourage adjustments during prep time (since he prefers to be a fly on the wall during that time), and he did a great job of molding his laid-back approach with my request for a few more images of certain things. Now, this year I hope to continue down that route and have him shoot a few more groom’s portraits at the tail end of prep photos before we meet up for the day!
  7. Keep up with our turn-around times and client service level/experience throughout the year. I know this will be an adjustment with kiddos, but the goal is to continue exceeding our clients’ expectations and delivering superior service, always! I find that I tend to be even more productive the less time I have for things/the busier I am… so I’m hoping that holds true this year too! 🙂
  8. Get back to throwing an annual client party!! We were unable to do this last year with IVF in the spring when we would normally hold our client party, and then we planned to do one in August but ended up being up to our eyeballs in moving into our new house … so it got put aside for the year. I definitely don’t want this to fall by the wayside – so plans are in the works to get back to throwing an annual client party! Time/date TBD.
  9. James take initial steps to start a dog care business. I know, friends… why not add another business to our plate while we’re at it?! haha. James has talked about this for a LONG time now, and is anxious to get this started. Since I handle a majority of the behind the scenes stuff for our photography business (client correspondence, culling/editing, marketing, budgeting), while James handles keeping our life in order (random business tasks, groceries, laundry, every errand under the sun, and of course shooting weddings & (some) sessions with me)… he really wants to squeeze more into his day doing something he is equally passionate about – working with dogs! (I insisted that I’m pretty sure the boys will fill PLENTY of his (non-existent) “extra” time, but he really wants to get this going – and so why not?! haha. He has always encouraged me to chase my dreams and supported me 110%, so I plan to do the same for him.)
  10. Host Workshops. We had to put these on hold this spring, since I normally host our workshops in February and March (when we will be on leave this year)… but I still really want to be able to host some at some point! Our Let There Be Light workshop was a big success in December, and I have a waiting list for The Advanced Workshop and Beginner Workshop – so I just need to figure out if/when we can make these happen! I’m really hoping we can get them rolling again before next spring, but it really depends on how our wedding schedule fills up.
  11. Submit more weddings to blogs & magazines. I kind of just stopped doing this last year. I felt it wasn’t a priority and we had enough on our plates, so I let this slide by. In reality, it is great for SEO and getting our name out there (not to mention showcasing all the unique and beautiful weddings our clients took the time to plan!) – so I need to get better about doing this in 2016.


So, that is it, friends!! Since this year is sure to be crazier than normal, I want to make sure to follow these goals throughout the year so I don’t just forget about them. So first and foremost is a list of concrete things I hope to do between now and the end of May (which basically means things I hope to get done before the boys arrive, because I have a feeling nothing much will get tackled during our leave). 🙂

  • Get Life Insurance
  • Transfer 401k to IRA
  • Print personal photo books from 2015
  • Book 8 more 2016 weddings before June.
  • Update website galleries.
  • Brainstorm ideas for dates/locations for our Client Party.
  • Submit 4 weddings from last year to publications.

Alright, 2016…. let’s do this thing! What are some of your goals for this year? I’d love to hear what dreams you’re chasing! xoxo

check out OUR VERY



chicago & worldwide

Christy & James are Chicago based but happily travel anywhere in the world that beautiful love stories take them!