Nearly every time I sit down to write a blog post, I think I know exactly what it’s going to be about. I title the document, map out the path from start to finish in my head, and begin typing. It never fails, though, that at some point—usually within the first paragraph or two—my carefully thought out plan veers off in an unexpected direction.
This post, for instance, was going to strictly be a year-in-review, bullet point list of statistics and accomplishments that would serve as evidence that I used my time well. That the progress is possible mantra I’ve been touting for half the year is, in fact, true.
That was my plan, and I had that list compiled and ready to go: the number of books read, blog posts written, Facebook videos shared. Tallies of word counts and completed manuscript drafts and researched literary agencies. But even though many of these things are indeed both proof of progress and achievements worth celebrating, I realized as I looked back at my goals for 2019 that they weren’t focused on these figures but instead, on three words: courage, connection, and consistency.
Aided by my life and business coach at the end of 2018, I had discovered a bible verse that both spoke to me and included my three focus words and which then became my theme for 2019: “For God has not given me a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power [courage], love [connection], and self-discipline [consistency].” – 2 Timothy 1:7 (I added the bracketed words.)
Reflecting on the year with this theme in mind—reading journal entries and flipping through my planner—I don’t seem to have grown or progressed at all. Many of the things I struggled with at the beginning of the year—fear, doubt, timidity, inconsistency—are still things with which I continue to struggle. And yet they look different somehow. Like the slow evolution of a changing landscape, they have shifted, and my perception has shifted along with them.
As I continued to read and reflect further, I began to wonder if my notion of what progress should look like was also in need of some adjustment. A part of me thought (and hoped) that by homing in on these specific challenges, I could erase them from existence. That there would come a day or a moment, complete with an exclamatory “A-HA!” when I would be wholly released from their clutches. But as it turns out, that’s not how it works.
Despite my determination, 2019 didn’t see me reaching this zenith of progress, this imagined place of tangible growth. But what I have learned throughout the year is this: these struggles, these seemingly unrelenting internal hang-ups and obstacles—born out of experiences and circumstances and failures (and even successes)—are as much a part of us as our DNA and extracting them would mean losing a vital piece of who we are.
I’ve learned that while total eradication would be nice, it’s not plausible. What is possible, though, is learning to thrive despite, or sometimes because of our difficulties. It’s determining to overcome their power over us and remembering that although we may not have had a choice in many of the situations that created some our biggest hindrances, we DO get to choose what we do with them. If nothing else, it is in the knowledge and acceptance of this fact that I have grown. Maybe that’s not necessarily progress as I had envisioned it, but it is definitely perspective.
In what area(s) of your life have you gained perspective in 2019?