A Year of Gifts
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
Kimberly Diede Author
Hello everyone and welcome to my blog! My name is Kimberly Diede and I'm a 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!