Looking back before looking forward is a good practice. Where did I put my energies last year? What turned out to BE my priorities (not just what I CLAIMED they were going to be)? It’s relatively easy to determine priorities, by the way: look at what you spent money on, where did most of your time go, what gave you the greatest pleasure? I did not keep track, but I bet I read over forty books this year. I spent a lot of time reading. Since we live in such a teeny-tiny space, not unlike a sailboat, I can’t buy books like I used to. Nor do I have the rows of shelving that used to store them. So, I developed a very consistent habit of going to our local library. It happens to be a very modern one with a very good selection – plus, a very efficient retrieval system using other branches to claim the book I want if that title is not in our library. I also discovered this cool place that buys books and gives you a store credit to use for purchasing other used books, jigsaw puzzles, games, and more. I am usually able to gather four or five books for under ten dollars, total. Reading was clearly a priority.
I said that I wanted to lose weight, optimally twenty pounds. I lost five. But I kept it off. Maybe not as much of a priority as I dreamed a year ago, given I did not put the same amount of time, focus and energy to that endeavor as I did to reading. Less of a priority.
I wanted to sell 100 books. I sold 152, including a couple of audio books. I gave steep discounts for most of the sales but I would not have made the sales without those discounts. This next year, I’m going to shoot for 175 books and limit discounts, unless it’s fundraising for a non-profit. I even sold ten of my children’s book and I had not counted on selling any of those. Clearly a priority that I hit out of the park was selling books.
A surprising achievement that I had not really focused on was the number of speaking engagements I did this past year. 17 total. I was hoping for one or two. This is going to be a bigger focus going forward: speaking, workshops, team-building that kind of thing. I am going to focus on ten gigs. I am much more clear on what my “audience” is. “A” clients are those that pay me a speaking fee, travel costs, boxes of books at full retail (I had a couple of those in 2019 and would love 3-4 in 2020). “B” clients are those that don’t pay a speaker’s fee but do sell books and provide me with serious contacts for further speaking and/or sales. I had the bulk of those events in 2019 and could expect 8-10 of those in 2020. “C” clients are the ones where it’s good public relations, a service to a struggling non-profit or recovery group, one that builds goodwill and generates conversation among donors and supporters. I had several of those in 2019 and will continue with them in 2020.
Spending time with family and on exercise became something of a “twofer” in 2019. We had so much rain early in the year that it washed away the pool. Rather than swimming alone, I went most days with my wife or grandson to the “Y.” I also spent far more time walking with the dog along the river – an opportunity to get exercise and pray, be attentive to nature, think, bond with her – which turned out to be more than just a simple walk.
Before I go looking ahead to 2020 and start listing goals, I wanted to look back to 2019. Did I meet any of the goals I had set? Did I discover something about myself or my situation that I hadn’t expected? How will my activity and priorities of 2019 shape my new year? How about you? As you reflect on the previous year, do you see opportunities to shape your new year in exciting ways? I know you will because, after all, you’ve got this!