Be the Invitation: How One Podcast Episode Created My Focus for 2020
Have you heard that old wives’ tale that the odd years are much harder than the evens? Well, I’m here to claim that as gospel, at least as it relates to my last three years. 2017: hard, difficult year. 2018: exceptional, rewarding year. 2019: tragic, devastating year. Has this been your experience too? Of course I’m painting broad strokes, here. Not every single thing that happened in these years were awful or glorious. But, in looking back, it’s how the year is remembered generally, at least in my head. So, I’m here to usher in 2020 as a life-giving, nourishing and positive year (it is an even year, after all).
As we venture into the new year with a clean slate, empty planners, fresh ideas and the best intentions, how can we really determine that this year, this year is going to be one for the books? I’m a firm believer in goal-setting and planning. Intentional – we must be intentional with the time in our days, on our calendars, with our people. Are there hiccups? Naturally. Do you side step a few issues? Of course. Are there times when your finely laid plans have been blown to bits? Unfortunately, yes. But, the last two years I’ve sat down and intentionally mapped out my year and it’s one of the most significant reasons I survived the loss of my childhood home last year when my parents narrowly escaped from a fire. That kind of tragedy could have completely derailed everything. I 100 percent believe that divine intervention and a whole lotta prayer saved my family. Being intentional with my time, energy, resources and commitments saved my year.
We’re only eight days into 2020, let’s begin with a game plan. You may remember that my beloved Executive Coach Michele Cushatt helps walk me through a focus and goal-setting exercise. Just before the holidays, she and I met to discuss the work I’d done and the life I was designing for 2020. Last year, I shared with you the 4-step process she gave me to map out these goals. As a reminder, at the end of 2018, Michele urged me to draft my own life mission statement. It’s the first time I’d ever done anything like that and I absolutely loved thinking through what I was created for and how I could carry that divine appointment out during the course of my life. In December, Michele and I revisited that statement and altered it just slightly.
Here’s where I landed: I mentor and empower real women to design and live an intentional life they love.
Yes! That’s it. That sums up every aspect of what I know God’s calling is for my life. Now, sit down, invest the time and create one for YOU.
In addition to reviewing my life mission statement, I created goals for each of these areas of my life:
- Relational Health
- Business Growth
- Personal Development & Faith
Under each of these categories, I thought through specific desired outcomes for 2020 that I wanted to achieve. I have no more than three per category. Here are a few examples:
- Take a European vacation with our family
- Launch one major initiative at our 6-year anniversary in June that will provide a new revenue stream for the business
Personal Development & Faith:
- Develop and execute a food/meal health care plan
I have seven goals total under these three categories for the entire year. The key is to have no more than 10. Once you determine yours, you need to break them up quarter by quarter. There’s no way to accomplish all of them at the same time. So, I prioritize mine and insert them into my quarterly planning. Michele’s best advice is to then set the next action step for each one with a deadline attached. It’s okay if your deadline for one isn’t until September 1. Be realistic and practical here. Otherwise you’re going to get overwhelmed and frustrated when you haven’t made any progress in a specific area.
For me, instead of developing resolutions or a word for the entire year, I’ve selected a focus the last two years and I have to tell y’all it’s been the most rewarding part of my annual goal setting journey. In 2019, my focus was to Love Others Well Through Intentional Time. Some of my goals were directly tied to this focus. As an example, I had monthly dates with each of my boys and weekly dates with Matt. Those were goals of mine last year that became habits and cherished practices. Matt told me at the close of the year that our dates were his favorite thing about the entire year. Huge win! In addition, think of how I was able to love my parents well through the tragic loss of their home. Certainly that wasn’t something I had planned for, but it definitely aligned with my focus for the year and when I looked back, I realized that I was grateful that I was able to invest the time and energy in helping them take their best next steps through that horrific experience.
So this year, when contemplating what I desired for my annual focus, I was challenged and ultimately convicted one day as I was listening to The Mary Marantz Show, a podcast by one of our darling clients. Her December 3, 2019, episode “How to Make Your Home a Place of Rest and Refuge All Year Round with Sally Clarkson” hit me right between the eyes. At one point during the episode Mary and Sally were discussing the art of hospitality and how often so many are intimidated by hosting others in their home because it’s not perfect or they may not have a home cooked meal prepared or any of the other laundry list of excuses we create in our heads that prevent us from gathering. Sally was encouraging Mary and listeners to just extend the invitation and watch how the relationship deepens. So often, the person being invited is just so grateful to be asked, regardless of all the other circumstances. And Mary said, “Yes! We get to be the invitation.” That was it for me. Right then and there I determined that 2020 was the year I get to Be the Invitation.
Now, when I sat down with Michele to walk through all of my goals and my focus for the year, she challenged me here. “I don’t want you to look at this year as only a time to serve and do for others,” she paused. “How do YOU fit into that focus?” she asked. I immediately knew. I’ll use my food/meal health care plan here. I get to be the invitation to take care of myself and make myself a priority. That may include intentionally focusing time for meal planning or for nutrition classes. But, I’m inviting myself into that lifestyle and knowledge and prioritizing it this year. Under Relational Health, I have a goal for our family to take a European vacation. To me, that means, I get to invite my children (and Matt and myself) into exploring new cultures, new people, new history – a world that is currently foreign to us that we get to know intimately through that experience.
A benefit from last year’s goals: some of them became practices that I’m continuing beyond 2019. Here are items from last year that I’m intentionally incorporating into my 2020 days:
- Monthly dates with Dixon and Thackston
- Weekly dates with Matt
- Hosting people in our home once a month
- Traveling once a quarter
- Quarterly lunches with each Choice team member
- The Choice Summit held annually
- Garage Barre at least three times a week
- Therapy at least once a month
You get the idea. These are not just burdens or items I have to check off my to do list now. They’ve become treasured additions to my life. And all because they were specific goals for me.
Now, it’s your turn. It’s time you were intentional with your year. Put pen to paper. Invest the time needed to walk through this exercise deliberately. Have someone review, question and challenge you to explain your rationale. Consider their suggestions and feedback. Fight for YOU this year. And report back on your progress. I’m eager to hear what you’re prioritizing and how you’re taking the necessary steps to deliver the results you personally desire for your life.