5 Things I Learned in 2019

posted in: happiness 4

A new year is upon us and before jumping into the freshness of new plans and new goals, it’s good to stop and reflect. We need to move forward in light of where we’re at. We need to make adjustments and changes based on what we know does and doesn’t work – which we will only know if we stop and reflect.

So here goes – here are 5 things I learned about myself, my goals, and working those goals in 2019. At the end I’ll share how I will use these reflections in 2020 and share a free workshop on goal setting with you.

1. The comments you don’t like to hear as a young mom are told you because they’re true.

It’s kinda funny.

We ask where the older moms are. We say we want advice from older women, like Titus says. But then when the older moms tell us things we get upset, reject it, roll our eyes, and bemoan the fact that there are no wise women to speak into our lives.

What we mean is that there are none saying the things we want to hear.

What if we’re told to listen to older women precisely because they tell us what we don’t want to hear? They are Cassandras, prophetesses, unheeded and rejected.

It’s when you start saying the things your mom told you that you swore as a teen you’d never say that it starts to dawn on you. Then, you find yourself saying to mom with her first baby, “Oh, just enjoy it. It goes by so quickly.”

That’s when you know.

The older women are saying the things they say because they’re true, even if we didn’t think they were helpful. The problem was our own.

So, here, in 2019 with 5 children all school age and 2 teens and interesting people in their own right, I testify that the older women who told you that it gets crazier and busier were right.

To expand and grow and get ready for a full, mature life, these kids need various opportunities. We do limit what we do, but even so – the long days at home with nap times and boredom are gone. The calendar fills up with events for people other than just myself, and logistics becomes a vital skill.

It seemed impossible with a 14 or 15 year-old, especially the first time you are with them behind the wheel, but the older moms were right: When he’s 16 and has a license, you’re going to be so happy and relieved.

Next time an older woman tells you something you don’t think is helpful, just stop and file it away. It’s probably going to be something you’ll find coming out of your own mouth in 10 years.

2. A year is too short for a one-word theme.

So, I’ve always liked the word of the year thing. For those of you who have done it, though, do you find that year after year you’re really just picking synonyms or a different angle on the same actual theme?

Turns out we really don’t change that much in a typical year. Not only do we not wake up Monday morning brand new people just because we bought a new planner or made a new chore chart, we also can’t build all the good habits even over the course of one year.

Five or six years ago I picked the word “Habits” for my word of the year – as if by making that a focus I could master all the good habits I wanted in a year. Ha! Turns out it’s really more of a lifetime theme.

This last year I picked “Prudence,” not really as if one year was all it would take to master the virtue, but as a check against idealism, ambition, and overzealousness.

Really, prudence is the virtue behind almost all the words I’ve chosen over the last decade. So it was just a continuation of my path forward.

So I’m sticking with prudence for what remains of my 30s at least, and perhaps for the entire decade of the 20s.

3. The work I thought would result in weight loss resulted in weight maintenance.

Bummer. I keep working on the goal of losing 5 or 10 or 20 pounds, but for the last 3 years it turns out I’ve actually figured out how to maintain my current weight with a 5 pound swing.

Yes, that means the effort of eating well and moving much is not a project that will never be over. It’s not actually a goal to cross off the list, but a continual building, maintaining, and adjusting of lifelong habits. Health – like laundry and dishes – will always take work and never be cross-off-able.

At one point this year I told myself that this was the last year I was putting weight loss as a goal. It was now or never. It wasn’t now, but the reality is that even if I had met the goal, keeping at that goal would and will take the same habits and same effort to maintain.

So, here’s to another year with a weight-related goal. Sigh.

4. Reading – no matter how much you enjoy it – doesn’t just happen.

It turns out that reading takes time, and between projects and homeschooling and an online business, my reading time has suffered greatly over the last few years.

It takes dedication and time carved out to get in real reading.

It’s not going to happen haphazardly or by default – not anymore. Reading time has to be marked on the weekly time budget – and then followed through on.

I read Intellectual Life in 2018, but I’m applying its advice in 2020. Reserve reading time. Read intentionally and in various modes. Take notes. Trade in desultory and distracting “refreshment” for real ideas that engage the brain rather than dull it.

In 2019 I really have no business calling myself a reader. I am not sure I finished even one dozen books. That must change in 2020.

One way I’m doing that is Scholé Sisters’ 5×5 challenge: 5 books in 5 subject areas. It’s a way to get both broad and deep with our reading, while staying realistic.

5. Read your Bible, pray everyday, and you’ll grow, grow, grow.

Perhaps my reading of books was lacking in 2019, but at least my reading of The Book was not.

At the end of the school year in 2019 I was at about 90% completion of the Bible Reading Challenge. I completed the summer challenge and am now on track with the 2019-2020 school year through-the-Bible reading challenge.

Who knew that a plan to read more Bible daily would be what would stick?

Start halfway! Just pick up and read, right where you’re at. Join the Bible Reading Challenge here.

Moving forward with prudence.

Prudence is acting with or showing care and thought for the future. I do believe goal-setting is prudent.

But goal-setting for moms is different than goal-setting for businesses or business men.

I do think having goals helps us take significant steps forward, even when we don’t reach those goals in the timeframe we’d hoped. We’re still farther than we would be if we’d lacked direction and motivation.

Watch the replay of last year’s end-of-the-year workshop on Goal-Setting for Moms:

4 Responses

  1. Abby Wahl
    | Reply

    What I wanted to be in 2019 was “fruitful” to live the fruits of the spirit. A lofty goal that I stumbled, tripped and failed to achieve. I think that is the way with words of the year, they are the ideals and we try to practically apply the principles and live the ideals. If they point us towards Christ then they are worthy and fruitful in and of themselves. My word often convicted me of my disordered loves and I could repent, rejoice and too often repeat. Wonderful things did happen this year, but so little of it was because I planned and executed those plans. It was the gifts from above that are abundant and happened unexpectedly. I will still plan, do my duty and receive with joy what may come. I will also make the necessary changes to lose the extra pounds of fruitfulness that my body added this past year.
    While talking to another friend, we decided that perhaps the Bible should count as 66 books. I too have fewer books read this year, but I am so glad to count the Bible as one.

  2. Brittany Lindvall
    | Reply

    I’m seeing a theme here in the “you’ll never have more time” thread as Abby just told me that the other day when I was using pregnancy as an excuse for reading less last year. 🙃 I will file this advice from the “older mothers” for a few years from now. 😉

    • Mystie
      | Reply

      So that means it’s something you’ll be telling others in 5 years. Ha! :)

  3. Lauren
    | Reply

    Good thoughts–the idea of the theme not really changing makes sense to me. My word for several years was “faithfulness”. I don’t think I’ll ever get past that one, though last year was an attempt at emphasizing joyful faithfulness with the word “delight.” This year, “focus” is the word, but really that’s just about being faithful in the right things (because being “faithful” in areas that are distractions from the right things would really be a lack of faithfulness).

    And oh, the weight issue…oh, the weight issue. Yes, sigh… That was some good food for thought right there. *pun intended*

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