Lessons Learned: A 2019 Recap

New Year's is upon us and I'm sure like many of you, I'm taking a look at my 2019. It's been a good year, overall. Our family enjoyed many adventures, my husband and I celebrated ten wonderful years together, and we made hundreds of little memories.

Black-lit cave at Glenwood Springs
But this year, I also fell short on many goals. It's easy to focus in on what I didn't do, but first, I'd like to allow myself a moment to look at what I did do. I improved my health, losing and keeping off about 10 pounds. I've still got a ways to go before I reach my ultimate physical goal, but the progress was reassuring. I found better ways to feed my body, and learned that maybe cardio exercise isn't quite as terrible as I thought. I was able to spend precious time with my little ones and family, building memories which will last a lifetime.

And despite not reaching all of my writing goals, I did manage to get 5 new books out and wrote a new 12 Chapters of Christmas story (which will be available on Amazon within the week). I saw my most consistent sales ever over the course of the year, and was able to dip my toes a teensy bit in advertising. I led my first group project, and definitely learned some valuable lessons along the way as well as developing professional relationships which I hope will continue to flourish.

2019 Releases

And along with the new books, I released Wrapping Christmas in eBook and print, after adding illustrations to show off the fun characters I fell in love with. It was wonderful getting that all put together in one place after we spent half of December writing it together. Okay, so I did the writing, but believe me, readers. You helped a lot! I also did some touch-up to A Mermaid Under the Mistletoe after regaining publishing rights from the Wish Upon a Christmas Star anthology. Then once it had a beautiful new cover, and was given another good edit, I released it as its own story.
Again, in the overall scheme of things, it's been a good year. But there were things that didn't quite go according to plan. I had planned to get two more Love From the Lamp books out this year, but that didn't happen. The new Charming Academy spin-off didn't happen either. And the Christmas Book Club series I had in mind will have to be saved for another year.

In my online writers' groups, I'm often one of the first to tell people, especially fellow writing mamas, to give themselves some grace. And to be honest, I'm pretty good at giving it to myself. Almost to the point of being too good at it.

Don't misunderstand me: It's very important to give ourselves grace. None of us is perfect, and we are each flawed. Myself especially. But, when giving ourselves grace extends to justifying our lack of action, then it becomes a problem. And that was my problem this year. There were lots of legitimate reasons for me to not have accomplished some of my goals, from children being sick, to long family vacations, to stubborn characters refusing to cooperate (yes, I'm looking at you, Yves and Marci). But, I could have done more. I should have done more. 

Now, this is not meant as a beat myself up post. I recognize that I did a lot of great things this year. And to be honest, I'm not sure I would really change a thing. The things I did accomplish are all ones I'm proud of. But I learned some valuable lessons, and one of the things I learned is that it's time to stop daydreaming about success.

I've got the talent, and I've got the know-how (mostly) to get my business flourishing in the way I want. But it's going to take drive, it's going to take effort, most of all, it's going to take my 2020 word:

Determination

It's time to stop dreaming of being successful and making an actionable plan to be successful. So this year, I'm going to be purposeful in what I do and how I do it. I'm going to learn all I can about what it takes to make it to the next step. And when I've reached it, I'll learn all I can until I get to the one after that. Taking those steps, celebrating the victories, and continuing the climb.

That's what determination is. And that's why it's my word for 2020.

You see, when I jokingly told a friend that determination sounded better than stubborn, that was only part of it. I already know I'm stubborn. So does everyone else who's ever known me. I can stubborn all day long and not get a blessed thing done. But, determination is different. It's not just stubbornly going after your goals, though that kind of grit is definitely a factor. It's doing so with purpose, with a plan, and being willing to work through the challenges life throws your way.

My new year celebration is going to be admittedly small. My oldest is suffering from an ear infection, my two little boys are passing a cold back and forth, and my cycle chose a lousy time to come early. It would be so easy to stay in bed today and tomorrow, and the next day, with copious amounts of chocolate and tell myself, "I'll get to those goals tomorrow." 

But the reality is, tomorrow never comes. 
My 2020 bullet journal

Oh, I'll more than likely wake up each morning. That was definitely not a morbid, "I might die tomorrow," statement. So in that sense, yes tomorrow will come. But the essence of tomorrow doesn't. Which is why even though I'd love to find a human-sized hot pad to just curl up around, I've been cleaning and organizing my house so I can start the new year fresh. It's why I've already decided that tomorrow, no matter how icky I might be feeling, I'm going to put in a cardio workout anyway. It's why my alarm is set and tomorrow I'll get up earlier than normal so I can get in an hour or so of writing before my children wake up. And it's why I'm writing to you today, to establish a habit of blogging again so that this year I can not only give you glimpses at my worlds, both real and imagined, but also finally give you that sequel to Scarlett and Blizzard you've been begging me for.
Determination isn't just being stubborn. It's making a plan and following it. And when challenges arise, you find a way to work through them as best you can. My business goals for 2020 are pretty ambitious. But more importantly, they're doable. I'm already setting up my plan to make that happen. And hopefully at the end of 2020, I'll be able to look back and think, "Wow, I did it!" 

I'm sure there will be obstacles. There always will be. And I'm fairly positive that there will be some goals yet unmet. Life happens, and it's important to give ourselves grace. But it's also important to pick ourselves up, dust off the dirt, and try again.

2020 tracking calendar
I'm bullet journaling this year, along with keeping a running tally of which days I meet my word count goal and which days I don't. But I'm also going to track my water intake, the quality of my exercise, my spiritual nourishment in God's words, and my to-do lists. I've simplified those down quite a bit, just three a day (each) in three categories: home, business, and personal. Rather than a full page of things to do, just nine. And while that still sounds like a lot, the beauty of it is that it's really not. And to do lists don't have to all be huge items, and they don't have to be chores. I might just make one of my day's personal to-dos to paint a picture using the fresh, white canvases calling to me from my supply shelf.
Daily spread

So as you think about your resolutions, or your goals, or just your defining word for 2020, consider how you are going to use determination to get things done. Are you going to give up after three weeks of working out because the results didn't come as you hoped? Or are you going to keep giving it your best effort? Are you going to make a plan for your business ventures or family goals? Or are you going to daydream and wish, and ultimately fail to make the dreams come true? It's up to you, just as it is up to me. And this year as I look more deeply at my own determination, I hope you'll do the same.

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