Looking Back, Looking Forward
It’s that time again. Christmas is over. Family gatherings are winding down. Children are getting on each other’s nerves from being home from school for two weeks. And people start thinking ahead to the new year.
When the old year ends and the new one begins, it’s only natural that people reflect on the past 12 months. Those resolutions they set back on January 1 are long gone for many. The new year is a chance to start fresh. For those who did accomplish their goals, this time is a good way to review what worked and plan for new goals.
As I think about 2016, there were a handful of goals and/or actions that stood out for me this year.
At the start of the year, I decided to participate in the One Word project. For those not familiar with this, participants choose one word that they apply to their lives for the upcoming year. This applies to both personal and professional goals, as well as family and self-improvement.
The word I chose for 2016 was INTENTIONAL. I wanted to be more intentional about how and where I spent my time. I wanted to be more intentional about mental and spiritual pursuits. While I can’t say I lived this word in everything I did, I did return to some activities I enjoyed that I hadn’t been active in, and I learned when to say ‘yes’ to doing something and when to say ‘no.’
I have decided that my One Word for 2017 will be FOCUS. The new year, especially the first half, is shaping up to be rather busy. I know I’ll need focus to complete the various things i need to do. It’s easy for me to let my mind wander to other things when I’m supposed to be working. In order to make progress towards my personal and professional goals, I need to determine those things which require my focus and those things that I can let slide a bit.
One of the highlights of 2016 was finally finishing the first draft of my novel. I am now knee deep in editing mode. After three years of on-again, off-again writing because of job changes, moving, and health issues, I’m happy to have my story down on paper. I know there will be many rounds of editing and beta reading, and eventually a professional editor, but having the first step in the process over feels pretty good.
In December, I took a break from editing to work on a project I had not anticipated. During a Bible study in mid-November, the group leader made a comment that stuck with me. Initially, I thought it would be a fun idea for a children’s Christmas story. I knew I wouldn’t have time to develop that idea in time for Christmas, but the idea kept popping into my thoughts. I decided to use the idea to create a series of short Advent devotions. There’s still a lot of work to be done in order to get them ready for Advent 2017, but initial feedback has been positive. I’m looking forward to polishing them to be able to share more widely next Christmas.
In 2017, I will be going through some online courses with the intention of starting a part-time freelance writing and editing business. This is partly financial as having the extra money will certainly help. I can do overtime at my current job, but I’d rather spend my extra time making money doing something I love. But my main reason for exploring new writing opportunities is to help build my portfolio and reach out to potential readers for my novel. I love connecting with other writers and readers, so sharing my work will allow me to continue to reach others as well as learn from those who have already created a freelance business and/or have had novels published.
BACK TO SCHOOL
In addition to my writing, I am also taking two graduate classes that I need to renew my teaching certificate. While I do not have plans to return to the classroom (at least not K-12), I want to keep my certificate active as a “just in case” plan. I am taking a British literate class and an education philosophy class online. I’m looking forward to taking classes, but adding studying to the mix will definitely challenge my time management skills. Hence part of the reason for choosing FOCUS as my word for 2017.
When it comes to goals, there’s one thing I’ve learned over many years of failures and giving up. Trying to make changes or to accomplish something doesn’t happen overnight. There are many ups and downs along the way. Developing new skills and habits works best with small, measurable goals, not blanket resolutions.
As you sit down to think about what you’d like to accomplish in 2017, start small. Rather than saying “I’m going to become a minimalist and completely organize everything,” say “I’m going to spend 15 minutes a day in my kitchen to reduce items I no longer use or are duplicates.” Once that task is completed, you can move to another that will eventually lead to your overall goal. It’s also important to not take on too much. Trying to make any big change is hard, but if you try to change too many things at once, your obstacles to success become even greater. Select one or two primary goals and start there.
I admit I didn’t accomplish everything I wanted to do in 2016, but I feel I have learned what it takes to make progress, and ultimately, that’s what matters.
*What goals did you set for 2016? How did you do on reaching those?
*What goals are you planning for 2017? Have you made changes to how you approach reaching those goals based on how you did in 2016?