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
Do you still close your eyes and make a wish when you see the first star in an inky black sky?
How is it that I can’t remember someone’s name five minutes after I’ve met them, but the Star Bright rhyme from my childhood pops into my head nearly every time I see a twinkling star above?
(Sorry – now it might be stuck in your head, too.)
I feel like wishes get a bum rap. We have all kinds of wishes and dreams when we are growing up. Some of us manage to keep on dreaming, but often, life intervenes, and we get caught up in the busy, monotonous rhythms of daily life. Our wishes fall to the wayside. We don’t have time for that silly stuff anymore.
When we were younger, there was always more than one way to make a wish. We’d make a wish before blowing out our birthday candles. Or how about when we’d pick a fluffed-out dandelion on a hot summer day? Did you blow on it and send your wishes off on the cottony seeds as they drifted away?
Out of curiosity, I poked around on the internet and had to grin as I was reminded of other prompts we used to wish on:
There were others listed, but they didn’t ring a bell for me.
When we were young and the holidays were approaching, we’d sit for long hours with a Sears or Montgomery Ward catalog in our laps, carefully studying the toy section and circling those items we’d wish we would find under the tree on Christmas morning. Visits with Santa Claus were another valued opportunity to make our holiday wishes known.
Do you ever wish you could go back to those simpler days? In reality, maybe they weren’t simpler, but if we were lucky, as kids, we were blissfully unaware of bigger troubles.
But as soon as we reach adulthood, there isn’t nearly as much encouragement to spend time wishing. Setting goals and working hard – yes. But sitting quietly and looking into our own hearts to remember some of our earliest wishes for our own lives (and letting those dreams drive our goals) – not very often.
One fun thing we do get to do as adults is to try to help make the wishes of children come true.
I remember the anxiety I felt one holiday season when our then three-year-old son only wanted a “101 Dalmatians” video from Santa. This created a dilemma. Twenty-plus years ago, Disney would cycle through their movies, only offering some for a “limited time” and then locking them back up “in their vault.” You couldn’t simply “go online” to find a random copy somewhere. I looked and looked but had no luck, sure our little boy was going to be so disappointed on Christmas morning.
But wishes can be powerful things. My brother happened to be dating someone at the time who loved and collected Disney movies. He was bringing her home to meet us all for the very first time that Christmas, and when she heard about our dilemma, she saved the day. Santa was able to deliver. I knew I liked that girl (and she’s been part of the family ever since!)
And let’s not forget the amazing Make-a-Wish foundation – granting wishes to critically ill children. They do incredible work, and all of us can help them in their mission in some way.
Tonight, as I’m writing this post, I’m sitting in a hotel room in Las Vegas, tired following an amazing, three-day writing conference, where I was surrounded by like-minded authors and amazing presenters. It felt surreal to be part of something like this. And to think it all started out with a simple wish—to write a book.
My hotel room looks over the courtyard below, and a few times each night, they offer a light and water show at the waterfalls. The first night I heard it, I couldn’t figure out why something that sounded like a soundtrack from a Disney movie was playing so loudly outside my window. When I peeked out my curtain, I was delighted at the spectacle below. Much like the feeling you get if you let the little kid in you come out and play during a visit to Disney World, there was a little bit of magic in the air as I gazed upon the show and enjoyed the music.
I would never have guessed when I told a group of girlfriends more than ten years ago that I wished I could write a book someday, that I’d be standing here tonight, my head filled with fabulous ideas and inspiration.
It always starts with a wish.
Last week I launched my fourth book. If you’ve read it, you know wishes, both old and new, are weaved throughout the story line. It’s a holiday book, and there is no better time than the holidays to take a break from the craziness of life, sit quietly, maybe stare into twinkling Christmas lights, and let your mind wander. Think back to Christmases of your childhood. What did you wish for?
Spend some time with your memories. Then, come back to today. Would you still wish for the same things? Or maybe life has given you new dreams and wishes.
As we celebrate the holidays with family and friends in the coming weeks and months, it’s the perfect time to dust off our wishes, as we did when we were kids.
Remember those wishes or find new ones, and now that we are all grown up, maybe it’s finally time to do something about them. The calendar will soon flip over to the year 2020, the perfect time to focus on finally achieving some of those wishes and dreams. Make it happen.
Always 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!