Welcome back for Part 2 of the 10th-Annual Goal Setting Series! 🎉 In Part 1, we looked back at the last 10 years together, and all we know for sure about intentional goal setting. Today, in Part 2, we’re looking back at this wild year and doing a treasure hunt together. Next week, in Part 3, we’ll look ahead! I’ll be sharing my 2021 PowerSheets goals and I can’t wait to hear yours, too!
Friends, is it just me, or do you feel like running through the streets shouting for joy!? We made it!
I often say, “There’s nothing magical about January 1st.” But not this year. ✨
This year-like-no-other is coming to a close, and I think we’re all going to celebrate more than ever! As we turn the page on 2020, there is something profoundly energizing about a new year ahead. It may not be perfect, or go just as planned (lesson of 2020), but it doesn’t have to. We’re here. We made it. We’ve grown. And we’re not going back! 🙂
These milestones of time give us an opportunity to reset—to let go of the old and make room for the new. I’m taking this one with gusto. 🎉
Before we leap forward, though, let’s do something important: look back. I know, no one wants to look back on the hard things from 2020. But, woven through the hard, there are some good things that may surprise you. Let’s do a little treasure hunting together, shall we? We’re going to do something different—and something that feels a bit rebellious after a year like this: intentionally notice the good. While 2020 was undoubtedly the hardest year many of us have faced, it wasn’t all dumpster-fire material. In fact, this year brought some unexpected blessings. This year took a lot of “life as we knew it” away from us, but it gave us one thing back in spades: perspective. We know more now what matters and what doesn’t—and we’re ready to live it together!
Now, I have to admit that, as I started writing my own list of Good Things from 2020 in my PowerSheets, I hesitated. There was so much hard mingled in, which means we all need a little extra time to process this year. I was especially grateful for our time together at Cultivate Your Year LIVE for just this reason. I needed a minute to get it all out of my head and let it go. I’m guessing you do, too.
Once I started writing, though, things came to mind that I had forgotten. This was a powerful exercise for me – more than any other year before. As my long-time co-worker, Emily, shared, “My hope in writing … is that it would help me to reframe the narrative of this hard year, focusing on the gifts and the good instead of the more obvious disappointments.”
In keeping with our 10-year-celebration theme, here are 10 good things from this wild year, in no particular order!
2020 was the year I/we:
10. Chose to live numbered days. I turned 40 last December, and the truth of life is that we don’t know how many days we get to live it. In January, I made a decision to let go of distractions and double-down on the things I’ve always wanted to do. Sometimes the answer is to wait. Sometimes the answer is to listen. But, in His timing, sometimes the answer is now. Among many decisions big and small, we took my mom’s bucket list trip to the Philadelphia Flower Show with Grace in March (days before the world shut down), I changed my work hours, and I spent more time in the Word in new ways.
9. Spent time in my physical Bible. One of my 2020 goals was to delight in the Lord. And one way I wanted to do that was to spend more time in my physical Bible, writing in the margins, writing the Word, and having more solitude with the Lord. This is my favorite thing from this year, as it helped me get through so much of the hard. I did several Write the Word journals (Worship, Hope, Renewal, and two of the new Blank journals) and finished reading the Bible with friends a few days ago. We read the Old Testament last year and the New this year.
I learned this year that time in the Word is never wasted. The scribbles in the margins of my Bible remind me of His faithfulness in hard times—and I hope they will remind our children one day, too.
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8. Felt God with us at work. We moved into a new office (and moved back to remote work just days later), pivoted quite literally everything within a week’s time, and—through what was undoubtedly the hardest year—I watched my team grow, love generously, and help each other cultivate what matters. We juggled homeschool and childcare challenges and economic uncertainty together—starting with prayer every single morning. Every morning we’d gather to pray and put it in His hands. And every day, in small and surprising ways, He kept leading us. I relied on Him in my weakness through it all. I couldn’t be more grateful to work alongside these women.
More from work: I traded Instagram for LinkedIn, shot off a dozen confetti cannons in one day, we partnered with Proverbs 31, and I finally embraced loungewear pants (my favorite) paired with Zoom tops.
7. Came together as a family. I watched us come together as a family to pray and fight to notice the good in all the hard on the daily. Especially early in the pandemic, with lots of emotions and change happening, we watched our kids adapt and process hard things—and come out stronger on the other side. Ari processed his thoughts at the piano. He began writing music and produced two worship songs with a friend from church this year. We overcame fears.
For Sarah, it was a year of breakthroughs. She learned to walk confidently through things that scare her, to love the ocean, to ride a bike—and she told some pretty amazing stories! We grew a closer bond being home and all together with no after school activities, no travel for Ari at work, and no commitments on the weekends but to each other.
6. Cultivated the hearts of our children. We’ve been homeschooling since Grace was in kindergarten, and have loved our “homeschool school” that Grace went to a couple of days a week for History and Science. With that not happening this year and the younger two out of preschool, we decided to do school at home for everyone – with virtual classes and tutoring mixed in. It has been hard and good and I am so grateful for this time with our kiddos. (For those who are Charlotte Mason lovers like me, now you know who the “Charlotte” is on my 2020 gratitude list above!) We read great books with the kids each night, too—books have been our escape and something to look forward to. And Ari and I started a legacy journal to help the kids remember this unique time and how they grew.
5. Broke down barriers in our marriage. Being home a lot together forces you to work through things big and small. It has been a year of breakthroughs in our marriage—with lots of grace and guidance. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s been worth it. You know we have quite the story and I’m grateful God is never done growing us. We celebrated 14 years of marriage in March with french fries at home : )
4. Delighted in nature more than ever. From the garden to hiking, we safely got out there where we could. We hiked over 80 miles together as a family, became bird watchers, marveled at Nutty’s acrobatics at our bird feeders and made him a picnic table, grew a giant pumpkin and shishito peppers (a gardening dream come true for me), and fell in love with peregrine falcons as we finished the My Side of the Mountain trilogy. Step into our garden with us in my new book that released this year, too.
3. Trusted God with my health. It has not been the easiest health year. After a year like this, though, I know my health could be far worse. We’ve had many friends face dire circumstances in 2020. Wearing a heart monitor, though, was sobering. I had 29 blood tests in August—14 in one day. Why am I counting this experience as a good thing? Because I felt God’s love through it all. Testing continues, but I am doing well. Praise the Lord. And a sort-of-funny health update: I injured my hip vacuuming this year. True story. 🙃
2. Enjoyed home. We sat in lawn chairs on our front lawn almost every weekend; built a barn quilt climbing wall; did a bunch of DIY home repair projects and asked our neighbor, Jeff, to borrow every tool under the sun (thanks, Jeff!); learned how to deep clean all the things in our house (tried strip-washing – I’m a fan!); made several of my mom’s recipes; enjoyed socially-distant conversations with our neighbors while getting the mail, working in our yards, and having cul-de-sac bonfires and soccer matches; and, in general, focused on blooming where we are planted.
1. Asked for help. A few weeks into this pandemic, I hit a breaking point. I’m sure we all had them this year as we simply tried to adjust and help our families do the same. I tried to keep doing it all and help everyone else keep things together, too. I burned dinner more than a few times and struggled with anxiety early in the year. I promptly put myself in counseling. I learned to let go a lot this year, all praise to the Lord. It has been so fruitful!
2020 was the year we prayed a lot.
Relied on the Lord a lot.
And saw God at work a lot.
BONUS: Knowing this was going to be a year like no other, I’ve been collecting video clips for a 2020 family movie since March. I thought I’d give you a peek, friends. This was made just for our kiddos to remember the good in all the hard and how strong they are. I plan to finish it on New Year’s Eve and we’re going to have a little family movie viewing. 20 minutes of video out of the 525,600 minutes in a year, though, didn’t capture the best moments that no one ever sees. We overcame fears, grew our bond, let our imaginations run wild, embraced 2020 hair, became each other’s best friends, and learned to enjoy the moment. I think the best laughter comes from knowing the other side. Beauty comes from ashes and deep joy from sadness. God makes all things new in His time. Enjoy : ) Pass is cultivate. Music by BenSound.com
2020 was the year life changed.
And I want to keep some of the good change into 2021 and beyond. The rest? I’ll be right there with you sprinting into 2021 and not looking back. 🎉
I hope this post encouraged you to do a little treasure hunting, to live numbered days, and perhaps to ask for help if needed. I’m grateful we’re all here together, looking to 2021 with faith and hope. I’m cheering you on, friends, as you dig into your PowerSheets and set goals for the new year. I can’t wait to do the same this week as I finish my own. I’ll be back next week to share!
A big thank you to everyone who entered! What a joy it was to hear your responses and get to chat with you in the comments! Congratulations to our winners below! If you’re a winner, please email Abbie@CultivateWhatMatters.com to collect your prize within 48 hours or a new winner will be selected!
One of the best ways to prepare well for 2021? With these amazing tools! For our 10-Year Milestone together, enter to win one of everything in the Cultivate shop (YES!!) – Rebecca Walters, a pair of AirPods – Allison Lieuwen, a scholarship to Financial Peace University – Sara Discoll, and an Echo Dot – Courtney Doi. Enjoy these yourself or have New Year’s gifts for everyone you know. 😊 Simply comment to enter and we’ll choose winners in early January. Bonus points if you share this post with friends!
See you next week and, till then, get out there! Get your hands dirty, smell the roses, and cultivate what matters : )
Your turn! What good things did you notice from the last 12 months—big or small? Who are you grateful for? (I’m grateful for YOU. Your comments on the last post are blowing me away. I’m SO thankful for all these years with you, friends!) Share below.
P.S. Here’s a special 10-year celebration discount just for you. 🎉 Get 25% off anything in the shop with code 10YEARS now. Code is valid through January 1. Happy shopping, friends!