As the end of the year approaches, I can’t help but think ahead to 2017. I know, I know, live in today. But don’t tell me you aren’t curious of what challenges this new year might bring. Even though it is just another day, January 1 does tend to make people feel like we’ve hit the reset button doesn’t? And even though New Year’s resolutions seem to be “so over”, the start of a new year does present a good opportunity to look at the year ahead and ask yourself, “What would I like to accomplish this year?”
Like many people, I’ve done New Year’s resolutions in the past. And also, like many people, I’ve given up with many of them before January was over. Since I’m the type of person who hates to quit, I’d rather not even do something if there’s a chance I might quit or not succeed. Silly, I know, but it’s the truth. So resolutions haven’t been my thing for a quite awhile.
However, about 5 years ago, my thinking on the subject of goals for the year changed. My mom took me out to lunch to celebrate the New Year and my birthday, which falls on January 4. My mom knows she’s not to mention that it’s my birthday because I can’t stand the embarrassing things that wait staffs at restaurants will do, so she didn’t say anything until the very end. I’ll never forget that conversation between me and our server.
Oh! Well, Happy Birthday!
How old are you today?
Oh what a fun age! I can’t wait to be 27! When I’m 27, I’m going to be married and have a couple of kids!
… Ok thanks, bye!
Are you KIDDING ME?! I was furious. I had spent most of the last year accepting where God had me in life. Working in a job that was teaching me to grow, single cat lady with no prospects, hanging out with my parents for a good time, helping take care of my grandma and doing it all with a smile on my face. And then this pip-squeak says this to me. (One thing I did take away is to be careful what I say to people I don’t know… since I have no idea where they are in life.)
After I stewed on this young girl’s jerky comment (that I’m sure she saw no problem with), I made a decision. I will continue to find gratitude in the things life presents me, but I’ll also set some goals/challenges for my year. I worked on my list most of the afternoon and at the end, I was pretty excited about it. My “27 Things” list became my driver! There were things on there that I wanted to do anyway, along with things I’ve thought about doing, and I even had some things that sounded good, but I wasn’t too foxed about actually doing.
Although I won’t include everything on my list (because some things were just personal), I can tell you I included aspirational things: shoot a pheasant, teach Diesel to walk on a leash, meet someone famous, change a baby’s diaper… Then there were the things I was already planning to do: run a half marathon, stay in a bed & breakfast, pay my mom back. And then there were things that I thought just sounded like something I should do: cook in a crock pot, read 5 books, go to a movie alone.
My list was all over the place. It made me feel like I didn’t know myself, which started to get me down. But, instead, I reminded myself that this would help me get to know myself better. So, I was excited about the idea of doing 27 things the year I’m 27, even if I wasn’t pumped about all of the things I decided to do.
As a goal-oriented person, I found that having a list of “things to accomplish” was a great motivator for me. Crossing things off my list during that year put a smile on my face like nothing else! Now, one item on my list was “Go on a date”. It was in the “probably should do that” category of my mind.
Well, I did that, and then some. I had NO IDEA when I made that list that I was going to start dating the man of my dreams and we’d be married before the end of the year. Because of that drastic turn of events, many items on the list were derailed due to lack of time and circumstances changing.
I will mention though, Seth was a great sport! He assisted with the list as best he could by encouraging me to go to a movie alone, training with me for the half, working out with me. He even took me to a musical!
Even though, at the end of 2012 I hadn’t even accomplished half of my 27 things, I didn’t feel down. I now know that when I made the list, God had other things in mind for my year. As New Year’s Eve approached, and also my birthday, I debated on whether or to make my “____ Things” list a tradition. With encouragement from my new husband, I quickly planned out my “28 Things”. There were a couple old items that weren’t accomplished in 2012, accompanied by many new things. Who knew your desires could change so much in one year!
A Tradition is Born
Each year since 2012, I’ve debate whether or not I should keep this tradition going and every year, around December 28, I decide, why not. And so begins my brainstorming that lasts about a week. My list is always ready by midnight the night before my birthday. Sometimes I have input from Seth, but most of the time this is just my thing. Honestly, I spend hours staring in space just walking through life and situations trying to think of neat things to try. And sometimes I pray about it — I ask God where He’d like me to be, or what He needs me to be doing. This part is a challenge in itself because, I’ll be completely honest, I don’t always want to know His answer.
My list looks different each year. There are a few things that have carried over that I haven’t quite managed to cross off: re-learn Spanish, watch Indiana Jones movies, drop body fat, learn to ride a bike. I’m happy to report that this year, the bike thing is coming off the list! I finally learned! Read more about that in a separate blog, still to come.
And each year, I get better about not worrying what other people think of my list and putting things on there that I truly want to accomplish. And including some things that will be challenges.
One thing is clear: I’ve changed. Things that were important to me at 27 aren’t the same as what is important now. I have accepted that there are some things I’ll put on my list at the start of the year that just doesn’t seem as important in October and I shrug it off.
But I always have to ask myself, is it something that truly isn’t important to me anymore, or am I scared? Have I really changed or am I being lazy? Am I changing my desires out of convenience? It’s important to ask ourselves these types of questions and to not just let ourselves off easily.
Quest for Growth
This year, as I brainstorm my list, I have found that I’ve changed yet again. I’m praying about what these goals should look like, asking God what He needs from me in 2017. And guess what, it looks like my list is going to be even MORE different than even just last year! I’m excited about it. And I’m also terrified. What does He have in store?!
But, I’m ready to make some changes and do different things. I’m also making sure to be well rounded with my goals/challenges. It’ll include professional growth (work and blog), fitness, overall wellness, marriage and other relationships, and getting to know Jessi better. As I say these things now, they are sounding really great — here at the end of 2016. Will it still sound as good Nov 15, 2017?
Plan for Execution
So not only am I working on my “32 Things” list, but I’m also building a roadmap for the year. Of course there are no certainties in life. I’m simply setting small goals and checkpoints throughout the year that allow me to accomplish what I’ve loosely listed out. All of this is very intentional because I know how I get. I’ll struggle to live in the moment, to stay in today. I need that grownup Jessi I’ve been developing to reign me back in.
While I have some items that are just check-off status, there are others that need to be maintained over the course of the year. My favorite part of creating my list is pulling out my Passion Planner and setting due dates for myself. For each item that is a simple one time thing, I’ll roughly sketch them out on the calendar to keep myself from being stressed over it. The ones that are not “one and done” will be the real challenges for me, and I have quite a few more of them this year. Adding yoga to my workout routine was the example for 2016 — I maintained that for 6 months. Good, but not great. Always more room for improvement.
My final piece I’m pulling into my yearly challenge preparation process is something I saw posted from one of my mentor’s, Michelle Myers from She Works His Way. How is God benefiting from my goals or challenges to myself? Hm. Great question. From years past, I wouldn’t even know how to answer that.
Today, I can say that many of them are for the benefit of others. The ones where I’m benefiting… well, I do believe that God wants me to be happy and part of that is doing things I love. Enjoying the talents He gave me. The past few years, I wasn’t sure what those things were. I’ve slowly been learning. One beautiful gift He’s shown me this year is that I love to write and share about my experiences. So my blog, the one I felt Him urge me to start, will be a focus for my “32 Things”. And I will continue to keep Him at the center of it.
Another will be my diet and overall wellness. Expect to see more Whole30 in the very near future! And if you are considering a “reset” in 2017, I’d encourage you to join in. This is one program that is worth the challenge. And the rest of my list, well it’ll be for me to know and you to likely see some Insta Updates, so follow me! I promise to keep things pretty transparent 😉
And should life drastically change, leaving me feeling lost and unprepared and terrified. I won’t fight to continue with my list. I will simply take His hand and say “Ok, what’s next?” And continue walking. Because I’ve learned He really does have a plan for me. And He will continue to make a way.
I Challenge You
And now, I’m looking at you. What are you going to do in 2017 that will stand out. I’m not asking you to make a resolution, or an extensive list of ____ things. I’m asking you to seriously consider one or two things that you’d like to accomplish, try, change, not do, etc. And then, see how you can challenge yourself to grow. And please do share with me what you are doing in 2017. The best part of challenges is having people doing them alongside!
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.