Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What you should've done differently in 2011.

Disappointment—if you’ve been writing longer than a couple of weeks you know all about it. Never is disappointment more prevalent than during the last few weeks of a year. I don’t know about anyone else but as November winds down and the cold, dreary days of December with all its distractions stretch ahead of me, I wonder what happened to the year and all the big plans I had for it.

2011 was no different. I had a lot of plans, a lot of dreams.

Last week (pre-2012) I was talking to my supervisor for my regular (the paycheck thing) job about the upcoming year. In a moment of honesty I admitted to her I didn’t feel like I’d accomplished a thing in 2011. She said, “You completed a lot of cases.”

That’s true. I did complete a lot of cases. So much so that my part-time federal government job became permanent. But is that what any of us desire to look back on at the end of our earthly journey? We completed a lot of cases. Closed a lot of deals. Made a lot of money. Or whatever.

My supervisor meant to encourage me. Instead she made me think of all the things I hadn’t done. Don’t get me wrong. 2011 was great. Not only did I attain success at my day job, my Scentsy business has taken off more than I ever imagined. I even earned a trip to the Dominican Republic next summer! (Shameless plug alert: Call me if you ever want to know how to make it work for you.)

What didn’t happen were all the writing goals I set at the first of ‘11. I didn’t complete the final edits on any of the books I wanted to submit to my agent. I didn’t get a contract. I didn’t start a new book. Any other accomplishments mean very little in light of that.

So like most years I didn’t want to see the last one end. Just one more month, one more week to make something happen. If only life came with do-over’s.

Then as always happens, just as I was about to lose the first month of 2012 to self-pity, my pastor’s wife put it all into perspective with one scripture verse.

“…this one thing I do, forgetting these things which are behind and reaching forth unto those things which are before.” Philippians 3:13

Scripture tells me looking back with regrets and disappointment goes against everything I believe in as a woman of faith. It doesn’t say I can’t look back and wish I’d done the year differently, just that I shouldn’t desire to.

I can’t get back 2011. I can’t un-watch TV when I should’ve been writing. I can’t reclaim time wasted with phone calls or hours on FaceBook. It’s over. All I can do is “…press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14.

That’s all that matters in the grand scheme of things. Not cases closed or deals made or millions earned. Not even lucrative book contracts.

So I’ll press on. God created in me a purpose. A calling for this day and this hour. May I work harder this year, grow ever closer to achieving those goals, but not waste one precious moment in disappointment, wishing I’d done things differently in the past.


Onesimus said...


Not only have I wasted so much time in the past, I find it too easy to waste time NOW regretting the wasted time in the past.

Thanks for the encouraging wakeup call.

(now trying to look to what I CAN do this year instead of what I should have done last year.)

Teresa Slack said...

That's me exactly, Tim. I waste so much time moaning about all the time I wasted, I accomplish even less. And then comes the depression and disappointment over lost opportunities. It's no way to live. Those days are over. Thanks for posting & sharing.

Molly Noble Bull said...

As a Christian, I should have stopped looking in my rear view mirror. In 2011, I spent a lot of time thinking about what I should have done but didn't and what I did do that I shouldn't have.
We can all look back in anger and self doubt. But as Teresa pointed out, we should be looking straight ahead.
Thanks, Teresa, for reminding me to do that.

Anonymous said...

Boy oh Boy! I can relate to this. Fixing our face to the future and not the past can make all the difference. Thanks for the reminder.
Cindy Huff

Tracy Krauss said...

It seems no matter what we accomplish, we always feel like there should have been more ... its why it is important at times to write down what you HAVE accomplished. (Probably why god insisted the Israelites continue to remind themselves of their miraculous release from captivity in Egypt...)

Teresa Slack said...

Good to know I'm not the only one who deals with this. We are our own worst critics, esp writers. Saturating our actions in prayer is about the only way to avoid feelings of despair & disappointment. Prayer keeps it all in perspective.