So, at the beginning of 2019, I set out some ambitious goals for myself. They were aspirations, more than resolutions, but I still found it helpful to write them.
I fully committed myself in 2019 to finishing my first novel.
Commitment 1: Write 2000 words a week.
Did I manage it? Well, there were some ups and downs to this, but I kept pretty well on track.
- Total words written in 2019: 91,433
- Words per week: 1,738
- Words per week excluding August: 1,945
Most notably, I intentionally took August off from writing to rest and focus on other projects, and I slowed down in December as I allowed the ending to come together.
The important thing is that I finished the first draft of my book on the 4th day of the final week! Just need to finish the endless editing process, and I’m good to go. Job done.
My aim, in 2019, was to invest some real time into my skills as a music practitioner.
Commitment 2: 30 minutes of Harmonica, and 30 minutes of Piano practice a week.
And… I didn’t manage it. Pretty comprehensively failed actually. Below is a graph of hours spent on music. You’ll note it ends in June – because I’d completely given up by then.
However, it wasn’t all fail. As you can read in my halfway-through-2019 post, I sort of made an intentional choice to lay the music part down, and still found some benefits within it:
It wasn’t until after our practice that I realised: I wouldn’t have had the ability to transcribe those chords without the groundwork laid earlier in 2019. So although it’s kind of a fail, there’s hints of success in there too. I’ll take that.
So it was definitely a year of music, just not with me playing it. Still, that’s a clear “Not Done” stamped on this one.
I made a range of commitments in this field, with more success in some areas than others.
I was doing well here – well on track to achieve it… And then I had hernia surgery after a fairly dramatic helicopter mountain rescue, and lost two months of pretty much anything fun. Below is the obligatory helicopter rescue photo…
As you can see on the graph below, my final total was just a smidge short of 4000km.
At the beginning of the year only Joen could cycle without stabilisers. By the end, Neriah had completed a 2 hour road cycle, Joen had done 18km (on a dual carriageway) and Isaac learnt how to use his balance bike fast enough to keep pace with the rest of us!
In the latter half of the year I stopped keeping track of cycling – because it had become commonplace. Definite win.
Err. Nope. I did 45 minutes of Pilates. In 2019. Total.
For reference, that’s less than 3% of my target amount of Pilates. Fail.
My final commitment was to complete reading the entire Bible, from where I was up to (Joshua, I think). And I didn’t manage it.
There were strong periods of regular reading, and I definitely made some serious progress, but I’m still in Proverbs, with a long journey ahead of me. Part of the challenge has been that I’m a real morning reader, and I changed jobs halfway through the year to shifts where I’m awake half the night, making me sluggish in the morning.
Of all these commitments, this is the only one that actually disappoints me. I managed to put in hundreds of hours towards writing a book, a similar amount of energy into cycling, but failed to start each day with God. As ever, Oswald Chambers nails it:
“The great enemy of the Lord Jesus Christ today is the idea of practical work that has no basis in the New Testament but comes from the systems of the world. This work insists upon endless energy and activities, but no private life with God. The emphasis is put on the wrong thing. Jesus said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation….For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you”. It is a hidden, obscure thing. An active Christian worker too often lives to be seen by others, while it is the innermost, personal area that reveals the power of a person’s life.”
Challenging words, and I hope to live up to them better over the next 12 months.
2019 is, officially, completed. Job done. And it was a good year. I’m absolutely not going to beat myself up about my lack of achievement in some areas. Ultimately, at least I tried to learn chromatic harmonica, even if I didn’t try very hard. How many people reading this have done that? And I wrote a book, and cycled the equivalent of halfway to Beijing (8123km, in case you wondered).
For 2020? Well, I haven’t written such a prescriptive list this year, mostly because I’ve not had a moment to think yet, and somehow its nearly March already (?!!). But with marathon training, an exciting future ahead for our “incarnational mission” Eden team on our estate, two Warrington Ska Shows lined up and a book to edit and push out? Somehow, I don’t think I’ll be looking back with any less satisfaction in February 2021. Perhaps a little exhaustion.
Thanks for reading. What did you achieve in 2019, or wish you had?