[Editor's note: This is part five in a series of year-end posts I write to focus my efforts for the new year. Here are links to parts 1, 2, 3 and 4.]
That was the theme for 2012, and as I look back, I can say I'm pretty happy with where things ended up.
Even though they are far from the mark I set for myself.
And that's okay. In fact, it's actually a good thing. Because it took a LOT of bravery to adjust my sails as the winds picked up and the seas started churning in my life and business.
You may or may not know that I essentially dissolved my business in 2011. That means starting from very close to scratch in 2012. God bless my avid readers, because they are the ones that kept my ship afloat this year.
Ironically, that's probably the truth in every year, but my eyes weren't open to it.
My mom used to crochet when I was a kid - like ALL the time. Invariably, she'd get half way through whatever it was she was working on and she'd start swearing up a storm and yanking on the thread.
It didn't take too many of these episodes for me to figure out that she'd dropped a stitch, miscounted, or in some other way had the wrong number of stitches in her piece. That mean unraveling the work she'd already done, doubling back and doing it again.
THAT is what 2012 has been like for me.
Retracing. Counting more carefully. Being more cautious, more intentional, and in general just SLOWING THE HELL DOWN.
And that, for me is incredibly excruciating. I'm a centrifugal juicer, not a twin-drive juicer. This year, I practiced embracing my inner masticating juicer.
And it was HARD. It took courage to say "no" to things that didn't serve me. And it took even more courage to say "no", when I really wanted to say "YES!" There were things I missed out on that I grieved heavily about. There were places I didn't get to go, people I didn't get to meet, and things on my bucket list I didn't accomplish.
At the beginning of the year, I had lofty income goals. Didn't meet them.
I had weight goals. Didn't meet them either.
In fact, when I looked at all the things I thought I could accomplish in 2012, but didn't, I began to wonder if I'd really done anything of merit in the entire year.
So I did something I've never done before.
Each year, I pull out a sheet of paper and compare all the stuff I wanted to accomplish with all the stuff that still needed to be done. THIS year, after I completed that list, I made another list of all the "pleasant surprises" that came up for me this year.
Like co-writing, co-directing, and starring in a musical. Singing an original arrangement at the wedding of two good friends. My son's graduation from camp, and acclimating him to life in the real world. Spending part of the summer working at The Renaissance Festival (scooping ice cream!). Making new friends in completely unexpected ways. Travelling to Nashville and taking our first FAMILY vacation in years. A virtual writing retreat, or helping out at my 6yo's school on Halloween. Exploring the Minnesota State Fair Grounds -- and parts of St. Paul, MN -- on foot with good friends. Experiencing extreme self-care (and the care of others in ways I've never known before). Reconnecting with old friends that I haven't known since high school. Starting work on a new album. Watching some of my clients become good friends.
Learning that I have a learning addiction, and that a disempowering relationship with money was keeping me from truly having much of what I wanted in my life.
These are just the highlights that roll off the top of my head. I know there was more "unexpected joy" in my life this year than what I just listed. Things I didn't plan for, but kept space for.
That space - that leaving room for the unexpected - is still something I'm practicing. Overscheduling is a personality trait I'm working to leave behind.
It's still a bit painful to do it -- to let go of who you've been for so much of your life - even when it doesn't serve you.
It takes bravery, courage, and a commitment to yourself. Because you ARE worth it.
So as 2012 winds down, and 2013 starts beckoning, I begin to marinate on what this coming year will look like if I have my say. I take in this year's learning, growing and shifting, and I pick a theme for the year.
Then, I pick a theme song. I have yet to write my own. Perhaps some day. The selection of a theme song - something that will underscore your entire year - isn't easy. The lyrics, the mood, the tempo, it all needs to fit.
"I was stranded in the shadows. It was all I ever knew. I was pushed down into darkness. Lost all hope of breaking through. There's no life inside this prison. No windows, just these walls and chains, but love was on a mission." - Matthew West, Into The Light
I wanted something that would reflect the hardness that had softened. The darkness that had been, and was fading. A song that inspired me as much as I wanted to inspire others.
"Come on out of the darkness. Come on! Come on out of the night... No more living in the shadows now. Step into the light." - Matthew West, Into The Light
When you've faced something particularly grueling, few people get the hardship you've been through. They just look at the result and want to celebrate. When I think of the months (and months!) we spent working on The Secret Watch, there were times I never thought it would be finished. I wanted to quit. It hurt too much to keep going back and working on it. The pain of discipline was difficult for me to endure.
Now that the book is done, people are coming out of the woodwork to celebrate, and I still feel like sitting here, licking my wounds and feeling the exhaustion, the fatigue, the sadness, the "postpartum" if you will. The last thing on my mind right now is celebrating. Right now, I'm all about self-care.
"I still got bruises, and the scars don't lie, but they're the proof that I've got a second chance at life." - Matthew West, Into The Light
So I'm taking care of me, and I'm celebrating publicly a bit more. Writing a book is a big deal, and I get that. I also get that it takes a lot of work - effort, focus, energy - to slow yourself down long enough to really put your heart into something.
My focus for 2013 is to inspire.
I want to inspire others, and I want to inspire myself. I want to live an inspired (and inspiring) life. My BHAG for 2013 is to record 300 songs over the course of the year. That's the equivalent of 24 albums worth of music, in case you were wondering. And no, I don't plan to write all that music myself. And yes, I plan to have a LOT of help.
This goal seems huge to me - and completely doable. I've got well over 10,000 hours of musical performance and training under my belt. That's less than a song a day, and I can essentially take 2 whole months off and still hit this goal. So it's not daunting, it's sexy to me. Plus, it's something that inspires me - and will hopefully inspire you along the way.
Songs aren't long, and I like to plan about 30-60 minutes for each song I record, which means about 300 hours of next year will be intentionally spent performing music I love. That's inspiring to me. And if if inspires you to spend 300 hours on something you love (or even 30 hours, for that matter), then that's means I'm fulfilling my focus for the year.
I want to draw people out of the darkness they've been cowering in. I want to hold up a candle to their greatness and help them see it. I want YOU to see it in yourself.
So my theme song this year is Matthew West's "Into The Light" because it's time to do whatever it takes to get out of the darkness and step into the light. It's time to inspire others and be inspired.
When you look at your life, what about it inspires you?
If you don't have an answer that fills you up, maybe it's time to do something differently. That's what I'm choosing to do in 2013. What about you?
If you're looking for a purposeful way to plan your goals for 2013, I invite you to apply for the "Get Your Year In Gear" 7-day program that begins soon.