Monday, December 29, 2014

Hello 2015

It feels good to have 2014 behind me and time this week to reflect on the past and the days to come. It has been my practice for many years to use the last week of the year for goal setting and planning.

Life is better with a plan for the future that when examined closely fills you with excitement.

Very few people have powerful goals in writing and even fewer have these detailed in such a way as to serve as leverage for success. To write them down and not immediately execute with action to make them happen is a complete formula for failure.

I know this as fact as each goal I do not meet each year is the result of a poorly executed plan. Time, failure and success are great teachers. I have learned to chunk my plans into categories. They are:
  • Faith
  • Family
  • Finances
  • Health
  • Career
  • Service
  • Misc

My goals within each of these categories are as specific as I can make them. They are not a write down once a year, tuck away and go kind of thing. They are an in my face challenge me every day kind thing.

One other thing I do each year is to chose a theme phase and challenge word. 2015 for example is “the year of the empty nest” and my challenge word is “explore”.

I would love to tell you that every year I master these goals and look back with nothing but complete satisfaction but that is not true. What I can say is that I know without a doubt that in the battle that is the daily grind of life I am far better prepared and excited when I am truly working my plan. It is indeed the foundation most of my success.

Do you have a plan? If not, now is the time to get alone and spend some real time in self-reflection. Write a vision for what you want not just at the end of the year but for tomorrow, next week and so on.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Goodbye 2014

As years go, 2014 is going to go down as one of my most challenging yet. It began in early January as I stepped on the scale and came to the stark realization that my weight was right at the tip of my limit. The preceding months had been difficult with work experiencing a time of layoffs again and my health being impacted by pain in my knees which in turn had led to a complete lack of exercise and a visit to the cellar off my internal motivation.

Looking ahead to the New Year, I knew I had to take control of my life and not let another 12 months go by that I would look into the mirror with regret. I had great optimism knowing the year was set to be full of several wonderful milestones. This was the year we were going to be debt free, experience high adventure in Canada, see the start of Conner’s senior year and begin the transition to being an empty nester. I had no idea at the time that it would bring another layoff at work and a family crisis at a level we had never experienced before.

Taking control of my health again by eating properly was the first step to my comeback. Soon the weight was coming off and amazingly my knees were pain free. By early spring I had experienced a 20 plus pound weight loss and we had met our goal of being 100% debt free.

There was some positive momentum for sure.

Summer was amazing as I traveled to Canada with the Scouts and thanks in part to my renewed health had a terrific time canoeing over 90 miles with my son and some and a great group of Scouts. We had an adventure of a lifetime and every minute was a treasure.

I quickly appreciated the debt free life as out of nowhere there was several thousand dollars in car expenses for unexpected repairs. Frustrating for sure but then again still cheaper than car payments.

Fall approached and so did the start of Conner’s Sr. year. I had been kidding for several months that I would cry at every event since I would know each was a “last” but thankfully that did not happen and instead Michelle and I soaked it all in savoring every moment.

Then the year ended with unexpected stress. Even though we had experienced a layoff as recently as March, the company decided it was needed again with an even bigger cut. I have been through these many times and they are never easy. Thanks to being debt free, knowledge that I would have a generous severance package and knowing all my big father/son trips were now in the past, my stress level for this round was high but not as high as in 2013.

Well that was until the accident. While on a school leadership retreat, my son had an accident falling off a cliff. The news was terrifying as we learned he had shattered one vertebra, fractured another, broken a bone in his foot, broken his jaw and had slightly collapsed a lung. He was very lucky to be alive.

A hospitalized child along with a layoff in progress made for a stress cocktail that was incredibly hard to digest. However, the accident also brought forth an outpouring of love and support from people that was overwhelming and impossible to describe. Family, friends and even strangers shared prayers and kindness that uplifted our family in this time of great need. Our family strength and faith and God also rose to bind us through this situation.

Together we have pressed on and as the year comes to a close I can say we are stronger, closer and more appreciative of this world than ever before. Triumphs help us see the rewards of our faithfulness while tragedies amazingly do the same as well. I am reminded again that you really cannot appreciate one without also experiencing the other.

It looks like 2015 is going to be a watershed year as well. What will it bring? I do not have any idea. What I do know without a doubt is that I will remember that with faith, love, family and friends we will face every challenge. It is going to be a great year for sure.