Are you a “New Year’s Resolution” kind of person? Did you start this new year with a list of goals to strive for, or do you prefer to take things as they come?
Personally, I know I accomplish more with a framework of goals as a guide, but like most people, I can lose focus and enthusiasm if my list is too long or it feels too overwhelming. Or if fear holds me back.
And what if you think goal setting is too “woo woo” or a waste of time?
I think whichever camp you fall into, there is one small thing that every single one of us can do to help set ourselves up for success in the year ahead. You’ve maybe heard this idea before. It’s really very simple.
In fact, it can be as simple as three little letters. Or maybe a few more. Focus by picking just one specific word and let it be the driving force behind how you live your daily life.
I tried this for the first time a few years ago. I feared the year ahead would bring the most difficult challenges I’d ever faced, but I didn’t want that ugly truth to dictate how I felt every single day. I needed to try something, anything, that would help me get through the dark days ahead.
My word that year was “JOY.” It was the screensaver on my phone (and we all know how often we glance at our phones every day…). When hard things threatened to sweep all hints of happiness away, I’d remind myself to search for something, however small, that would help me feel joy.
Honestly, it helped. Was it the perfect antidote to the loss and sadness? Of course not. But it did help. Every single day there was something in my life that could give me joy. I just had to look a little harder some days for that “thing.”
As I’d suspected, it was a year of highs and lows, and not one I’d want to relive, but it wasn’t nearly as devoid of joy as I’d feared it might be at the beginning.
More recently, we had a last-minute opportunity to attend a Celine Dion concert. A friend had tickets he wasn’t able to use, so he offered them to my husband. I jumped at the chance to go but we laughed as we waited for the music to start, my husband pointing out how few men were in the audience. Was this the reason his friend had passed the tickets on to us?
I hadn’t even noticed the disparity. There was something else I couldn’t ignore. A bright neon sign sporting one single word kept drawing my eye to the still quiet stage: Courage.
I’ve never considered myself to be an especially courageous person. I tend to worry about lots of things (if you know me, you might be snickering right now because this is probably a tad bit of an understatement). I know worry and fear hold me back.
That bright sign spoke to me. As I stared at the word courage, I came to the realization that I want to finally learn to live without the fear of failure holding me back.
This year, as we all enter this new decade together, I need a different word to guide me. I will dig deep and find the courage I know we all possess. I vow to step through, over, under, or around my fear and pursue those things I’ve been dreaming of incorporating into my life.
How about you? Is this the year, this beginning of a new decade, when you’ll fight your fear and do that thing you’ve always wanted to do, too? I’d love to have you on this journey with me.
If not now, when? Life is too short to wait.
And as so often happens, the universe provided me with yet another reminder that we all face the same circle of life. Our time is not unlimited. As I was putting the final touches on today’s post, I googled Celine to be sure I spelled her name correctly. I was saddened to discover that the singer, who brought tears to my eyes with her amazing talent during her concert, is mourning the recent loss of her own mother. You see, the year I had to specifically chose to focus on joy was the year I lost my beautiful mother to a terrible illness.
We all battle through similar losses in life, and we can all lift each other up in some way with our own innate talents. So let’s get on with it.
Cheering alongside you and excited to see how high we can help each other climb. Let’s make this a year, and a decade, to remember. Kim
Can you believe it’s nearly 2020? Out with the old decade, in with the new!
One of the things I love about December, beyond the festivities of the holidays, is to plan out my goals for the coming year. I like to buy a brand-new journal, find a quiet place to sit, and with a cup of coffee in hand, I’ll get the big goals I’ve been chewing on in my brain down on paper. I find the process inspiring and encouraging. A whole, fresh new year is ahead. The possibilities feel endless.
But before I do that, this year I decided to pause and spend a little time thinking about the decade now coming to an end. There is value in hindsight. It can be a stark reminder of things. For me, at this season in my life, “someday” arrived in a couple of key areas over the past ten years. I see where comfort and complacency lead to stagnation, and I have proof that finally stepping out into the unknown and trying things I’ve always wanted to do, regardless of what anyone else might think, can breathe new life into my days.
I don’t think we should rely on our brains alone to take this 10-year journey back in time. Memories are fickle things. Photographs and notes can provide a clearer picture. I decided to meander my way through old photographs and half-filled journals to see what has changed and what’s stayed the same.
My first roadblock: the digital pictures on my laptop only go back to 2014 (when I get a new computer, I try to transfer them over). Sigh… How hard is it going to be to find those pictures taken between 2010 and 2014? They exist, but probably on a medium that will get harder and harder to access. A new goal for 2020 – organize those pictures and turn the best ones into an actual printed photograph that changing technology can’t steal away from me. Part of my trip down memory lane through pictures will have to wait.
How about written notes then? Based on the journals I find scattered around my house, I’ve been doing the whole journaling thing for at least fifteen years. I journal in fits and stops. There are always entries at the beginning of each year. I’m a firm believer that writing down a goal boosts the likelihood that we’ll achieve it (if we couple the goal with a plan). Then I’ll get busy working on the goals themselves and forgetting to journal about my progress. Mid-summer, usually around my birthday, I’ll sometimes check in with the notes I made at the beginning of the year.
But if you want a bit of a kick in the pants, dig out goals you wrote down in December of 2009, ten years ago.
Don’t misunderstand me. I’m incredibly grateful for another decade here on this earth and for the many blessings of those years. But seeing that some of the same things on that ten-year-old list are items I plan to write down to focus on for 2020 is sobering because I haven’t made much progress!
In many ways, the past ten years have been a transition from one season of life to another.
Ten years ago, our three kids were 16, 12, and 8. I had no idea what to expect as we braced ourselves for the teenage years, but I knew one of my biggest responsibilities would be to help them learn, grow, and survive until young adulthood. I continued to dread the thought of an empty nest (I’d hated the thought since the day our oldest was born). Fast forward to today: one is married, one is living halfway across the country attending grad school, and one headed off to college this past fall. Now I’m learning the art of still being there for them in a different way.
Is the empty nest as bad as I feared? Honestly? No. There are lonesome moments when I miss the noise and even the messes, and I’d like nothing more than to be able to open their bedroom doors and see them sleeping peacefully in their beds. I love my time with them. They’ll all be home starting this week for the holidays, and I can hardly wait. But our days aren’t bleak and empty, as I’d feared. We are filling them with new things. And life is still wonderful.
So the whole kid thing is working out. We are blessed to have three young adults that seem to like us still. Win!
The kick in the pants stems from other areas in my life.
Guess what one of my top goals is every year? You guessed it: get healthier. I suspect this would be the case for nearly everyone. When people are out of shape, most know they should do better. When people are doing the right things in regards to their health, it isn’t by accident. It takes conscious, ongoing effort. So regardless of which camp you fall in, you can’t help but always be thinking about your health.
So far, I know I’ve been lucky. Lucky that I’m as healthy as I am, given my lack of success in attaining my annual goals of eating better and getting more exercise. Again, the whole boom and bust thing hits me here. I’ll go in streaks. I’ll focus on cutting out all the things I know are sabotaging my daily eating habits, get my butt out walking or to a dance class at the gym, and feel GOOD about it. But I never manage to do it long enough to make it an ingrained habit. I start out with the best of intentions, but…
I’m tired of the ‘but,’ the excuses. I absolutely have to do better in this area over the next decade. A girl can’t rely on luck and genes alone.
There is always more I’d like to do from a career standpoint. I’ve learned lessons, worked hard to earn a living, and have big aspirations for the coming years.
Kids grow up, our jobs change, and if we aren’t careful, we put on extra pounds. Life goes on.
Until it doesn’t.
That, my friends, has been the hardest lesson of these past ten years. We can either wallow in the sadness of it, or we can use the harsh reality that life almost always passes quicker than we want it to as fuel. Fuel to stop waiting to do all those things we’ve always wanted to do. Fuel to finally make the leap.
Lots of things have changed over the past decade. Some things haven’t changed at all, even though change might have been better. We can’t change the past. But we can learn from it.
Soon I’ll sit down with another new journal. I’ll dream about where I’d like to take my life over the next ten years. Then I’ll narrow it down to the next five. To get there, I’ll figure out how I want to make the most out of the next year. Then I’ll figure out what I’ll need to do, every day, to design the next decade to squeeze the most out of the life I’m blessed with if I’m lucky enough to wake up in the morning.
Because all that really matters is how we live our life today. But the choices we make today will be the foundation for our future.
Imagine what you can accomplish over the next decade if you live life on purpose. If that thought alone doesn’t excite you, and maybe scare you a little because it is ALL up to you, I challenge you to keep working on it.
My kids laugh at me when I go into the “self-help” mode. I’m sure there is lots of eye-rolling going on if they happen to read this. Maybe when they have the benefit of five decades of life behind them, they’ll better understand that life can either happen to you or for you. You get to pick how you respond to the curves and challenges life throws your way.
Decades are huge chunks of time. I’m excited to see what the next one will bring, and I have a healthy appreciation for the fact that none of us are gifted with an endless supply of decades. I plan to make the most of “the 20’s”. How about you? Are you excited, too? Where should we take things?
Always here cheering you on, Kim
Hello everyone and welcome to my blog! My name is Kimberly Diede and I'm a self-published fiction author and family girl. When time permits, I am happiest with a great cup of coffee in one hand and a book in the other. I love to alternate between reading and writing. Winters here can be long, dark and cold. Summers are unpredictable, lovely and always too short. Every season of the year, as in every season of life, is a gift. Let's celebrate it together!