Looking Forward

David Linvingstone Statute2The first day of the year provides a unique opportunity. It’s like starting with a blank slate. What do you want to write on your slate this year? What habits do you want to develop, what changes do you want to make, what improvements do you want to implement?

In my last post, I did a “backwards glance” at the previous year. In this post, I am writing on “looking forward,” and it occurred to me how very differently I have to approach these two subjects. Looking back is safe; there’s no risk in saying, “Here’s what happened” whether it be good or bad. But looking forward requires faith.

We have no idea what 2013 holds for us. We don’t know but what crisis may be in our near future. But the one thing we do know, is regardless of what comes—whether it be good or bad—we need to be ready. We need to be strong on the inside. We need to have the internal mass to withstand crisis and the character (mass) to not be seduced and/or lulled into complacency by success or comfort (See Changing the End-point—Thinking VERY Long-Term).

That being said, I like to “look forward” by setting some goals that will contribute to the person I want to become. That doesn’t mean that all my goals/plans are what you might consider highly spiritual in nature. I have plans and hopes to improve and bring order into every area of my life. I want to create a better meal-time routine for me and my husband, one in which we sit and talk and eat a healthy meal together at home at least once a day. I want to get faster in my reading so I can read more and comprehend better. I want to organize all my photographs, scan them so that I will have digital copies to share with all my kids and so I can efficiently locate “the one” I am looking for. I want to get my office cleaned up and organized so that I will have a clean, neat, inspiring place to work. I want to run a couple of half-marathons this year and remain consistent in my running and working out the rest of the year, too. I would like to shave a few seconds off my average pace while I’m at it. I want to become a stronger leader to the women in my church community, exemplifying a woman that they can follow and provoking them to love and good works. I want to build deeper relationships with all my grandchildren.

So you can see I have plenty of plans and aspirations to keep me busy for a while! What do these aspirations have to do with “the person I want to become”? They all speak of order, consistency, relationship, discipline. If I continue to use my MITs as a compass to keep me on the right path, going the right direction, then those goals and aspirations that I listed are simply external reflections of what I am also building on the inside. And if what I am building on the outside is the same as what I am building on the inside, then I will be a balanced, whole person with no schism in me.

Results of Last Month’s 30-Day Challenge

My 30-day challenge last month was to write for at least 30 minutes a day first thing in the morning. I am pleased to report that I completed my goal 30 out of 31 days (which technically means I was 30 for 30 on my 30-Day Challenge Smile). Christmas festivities hijacked my writing time on one day, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

One of the biggest benefits I gleaned from this challenge was the continued reinforcement of the necessity to tackle those things that are important to me first thing in the morning. If I put it off till later in the day, it often does not get done. I wrote more about this in Three Productivity Strategies That Work.

The real thing that I was shooting for in setting this goal was to become more prolific in my writing. I want the words to just roll off my fingers when I sit down to write (that’s somewhat akin to “rolling off my tongue”). I don’t want it to feel so forced, so strained.

Did I succeed? Well, I made progress. I think it’s going to take more than a month before I am truly a prolific writer. However—and this is a big “however”—I did succeed in making the 30-minute writing routine a part of my daily rituals. It feels natural now. So even though I will not consider this my challenge this month, I will continue the 30-minute writing routine. I am certain that the more I do this, the more prolific I will become.

Someone once asked me if I was a runner. “Nah!” I dismissed with a laugh. “I just run a little bit for exercise.” My daughter, Misty, was with me when I made that statement. She looked at me in disbelief.

“Mom, how often do you run?”

“Oh, about three days a week.”

“How much do you have to run to be a runner?”

I guess I was thinking the questioner was asking me if I had aspirations to be in the Olympics. I didn’t consider myself “a real runner” because I had only been running for a few months and I ran awfully slow and, at that time, I had probably not yet run more than a mile or two. In my mind, I wasn’t a runner, I was an exerciser.

Misty’s question made me re-think my identity. It was true I was short on experience and speed, but I was long on commitment! At least three days a week, I donned my running shoes and faithfully pushed myself past my comfort zone. I conceded. I was a runner! Now I’m working towards the day when I can say, “I am a writer. A real writer.”

My New Challenge

And that brings me to my new 30-day challenge. I want to write an e-book (electronic book). I have purchased a course to guide me through the formatting process of a Kindle ebook, and I am almost through with it (the course, not the book). The next step is to start on the book. This is a BIG goal for me. I’m not sure I will be able to actually complete the book by the end of this month, but I can commit to working on the book (or the course) every day this month. I have made my commitment, and I give you permission to hold me accountable. Ask me how much I’ve written, how far along in the process am I, am I having problems? I welcome your “probing.” It will keep me on my toes. And maybe it will make words roll off my fingers, too.

I’ll tell you more about the book as I get closer to publishing it. In the meantime, please tell me what your plans are this year, this month. Do you make resolutions? Are they congruent with what you are building on the inside? Tell me about them in the comments!

Photo compliments of Me! That’s a statue of David Livingstone near Victoria Falls. Taken in Zambia, Africa, 2012.

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8 Responses to Looking Forward

  1. Cindy Lofton says:

    Awesome picture & awesome post.(all the pics you put with each post are so fitting) I’m excited for you and your e-book adventure! I like the fact that many of your 30dc’s up to this point have been preparing you for something big like writing a book. It’s the whole principle of building things line upon line, precept upon precept- not just for the sake of doing it but also for a greater purpose than we may have dared to imagine. I like our Congress phrase of “Dreaming is free.” It reminds me to think & dream things that are God-sized and not me-sized.

    I also wanted to give an update for my December challenge of getting up each morning WITH my alarm. I wish I had better statistics to share, but I was 12 for 31. I did really well the first 2 weeks, then pretty much blew it the rest of the month. One disclaimer, if I’m allowed any, is that our youngest was teething and causing what sleep we did get to be precious, so that led me to sleeping in many mornings just so I wouldn’t be going on 2-3hrs of sleep each day. So as much as I’ve wanted to ‘beat myself up’ for snoozing so many mornings and ‘failing’ in my challenge (and honestly not even hearing my dadgum alarm!), I think I just need to give myself grace and start fresh. I feel hopeful that a new level of discipline & desire is starting to emerge just from the simple act of committing to this challenge and being held accountable. (I did end up emailing a group of friends every day to tell them whether I got up when I should have or not.) I am doing this challenge again this month. I am hopeful I will have better stats at the end. 🙂

    One last thing- I’ve had trouble subscribing to the comments, so I feel like I miss a lot of the comments that others make. Has anyone else had trouble with getting that function to work?

    • Diane says:

      You are definitely allowed a disclaimer, Cindy. I agree you need to give yourself grace and start fresh. I like that you made this your goal again this month. It shows persistence.
      As for the comments, I’ll look into it, but I’m not sure there’s much I can do about it. It is a WordPress issue. Are you having trouble subscribing, or are you just not getting all the comments that you do subscribe to? I need to know what the problem is to actually look into it.

  2. Angela says:

    Soooo, I have a similar story to Cindy’s. I was about 16 or 17 days out of 30, I didn’t keep specific track (already have an excel spreadsheet for this month as I know it will help to track myself better). The days I missed were the end of the month as well. My only disclaimer is that I got a little thrown off with travel and being in someone else’s house full of family (although I enjoyed time with them!) Trying to find the right space to concentrate and flow was a challenge, but I do take responsibility and keep learning about myself in all of this. It made me value my little basement space that I have at home, but I know I need to keep pressing into doing what I need to do no matter what is going on around me. I’m glad that for the most part, I did a little everyday towards my thesis in Dec, I just didn’t always get the 300 words, which is even more important to me now. I have to really focus my efforts as my deadline is getting closer.

    So I’m back home, and I’ve been doing editing for the past week on my 2nd chapter and still have some work on it. I, like Cindy, want to commit again to my challenge for this month of 300 words/day on my thesis. March will be here before I know it and my first full draft will be due, so here I go again.

    I will keep you posted and thanks for sharing life as this is really enriching mine and it helps to know we are in this together.

    • Diane says:

      The most important thing is that you DID do something towards your goal almost every day. You further instilled that habit, even though you may not have done as much writing as you wanted to. I certainly can empathize with getting off-kilter when you are out of your usual element. I am that way, too.
      I appreciate your comments and getting in the spirit of the 30-day challenges. It encourages me!

  3. Angela says:

    Thanks Diane 🙂 I’ve added another level of accountability this time that will hopefully not only help me keep my challenge, but build relationship. I have a few ladies who I’m sharing an Excel spreadsheet with on google docs so they can see if I mark off that I’ve done my 300 words for the day. I see most of them at least once a week, so I can’t hide! Here goes…

  4. Rachel W says:

    It has taken me a while to get around to leaving a comment on this post, but I would like to go ahead and share my 30-day challenge. I’m not so sure this would actually “count” as the usual 30-day challenge given that I have set more than one goal and I am not aiming for 100% but I’ll share my goals anyways.

    I wanted to set goals for this year in each of these main areas: Spiritual, Physical, Social, Emotional, and Mental. As of right now I have goals for the first three categories:
    Spiritual – Spend at least 30 minutes each day reading the Word or studying my notes
    Physical – Drink at least 32 oz of water per day (this will hopefully increase each month)
    Social – Post at least one thing to Instagram/Facebook or other online social site

    The last one may seem a little strange but the purpose is multi-fold…to help push me out of my comfort zone, to reconnect with those I’ve either lost contact with or sense a need to build closer with, and to help me be more aware of the “little moments” that often pass me by day to day.

    I have made a little calendar that I keep by my bedroom light switch to help me track my progress. Each goal has a different colored sticker. I have not made it 100% in any of the categories so far, but it sure has increased my awareness! Each day I try towards the goal and then have the calendar as accountability to show me where I have succeeded and failed. In the past, I might go a whole month without doing any of the things mentioned above, so the purpose for me right now is mainly awareness and increased results.

    I’ll post my results at the end of the month!

    • Diane says:

      Rachel, I know what you mean about becoming more aware of the little moments. It really is amazing how much more mindful we become when we know we are going to have to “report” on our day.
      I also love your calendar strategy. You’re practicing the principle of recording your progress (http://www.mypleasantplaces.com/record-your-progress/). Whether or not you accomplish 100%, you can be sure that you have already made improvement of all three areas just because you are trying.
      I’ll look forward to reading your results at the end of the month!

I love to read your comments!