4 Things my Goals Taught me in 2022 about how to be Brave in 2023

“I never tied discipline to courage. I never saw the correlation. I guess I should have, since I lack in both. But in all matters- physical, mental, and spiritual- I believe that to live a disciplined life leads to a brave life. We long to be brave in the big moments, in the clutch times, in the times when our backs are up against a wall. But to get there? It’s the everyday. It’s the practice. It’s the steps. It’s the discipline. 

Annie Downs- Let’s All Be Brave

I set goals every year.  Do you? You can call them New Year’s resolutions, but I like to call them goals. 

I had five, well four and a half really, in 2022. The 1.5 was a business goal we set every year- gross revenue and profit margin targets.  We hit the profit margin and missed on the gross revenue. I set out to PR in a half-marathon and missed it by about 9 minutes, but I was somewhat happy with my performance given I had the flu a week before I ran it.  One was a writing goal that I fell short on.  And the last one was to read 52 books- averaging one a week- for the year. 

I set two new process, or habit goals to get me on the right path of reaching these. One centered around how to start a consistent morning routine.  This routine wasn’t perfect, but it helped me read 53 books this year- the one goal I made. I formed a new habit there and it steered success. 

So what have I learned from the misses and makes in 2022 to tee up 2023?  Here they are: 

1) One a day.  You can see several trends from the picture of the list of 53 books I read in 2022, but I’ll point you to just one thing.On the last day of the year, my 53rd book listed is the Bible. I did not read it all on December 31st (in fact, I didn’t read anything on the list in just one day). I used an app called Bible In One Year to guide me through reading the entire book over the course of the year.  It took about 15-20 minutes every morning every day. Yes, I missed a morning or two here and there, but never got behind enough to need to do more than two days of reading in one day.  I hit this goal because I did one thing once a day every day of the year.  It got to the point where if I didn’t do this pretty much first thing every morning something felt immediately off for the rest of the day.  It became like going through the day without brushing my teeth.  I felt weird and kind of gross.

And as it turns out that I’m learning from the first book I’ll most likely finish in 2023, Super Genes, our habits of wellness not only help us achieve our goals, they also can shape and reshape our genes. I’ve always believed that the behaviors I model will shape my kids, but science is also informing the fact that the behaviors we commit to not only can alter our own genes, they also very much shape the genes that we will pass on to future generations. Fascinating stuff! 

2) Quit.  I hit the reading goal as well because I did something I’ve never done before. I quit reading three books I started. One wasn’t what I thought it was going to be, one was written terribly, and one I just totally disagreed with. Wired to power through to the bitter end on everything whether pleasant or not, I realized life is too short to read bad books. They will make you miss your goals and that isn’t worth it. It also isn’t worth it because it violates my next point. 

3) Enjoy it. I love to read. And the outcome of my reading also informs a lot of the work I do.  If you aren’t enjoying at least some of what you’re striving towards, why are you doing it? Sometimes enjoyment comes in the process of doing something and sometimes it comes in the outcome, and hopefully in both, but if you can’t be clear about why you are doing something and how it is going to contribute to your overall wellbeing, in my opinion, it isn’t worth doing. Goals are really hard to achieve when you’re miserable trying to achieve them. You won’t stay the course. 

4) Just because the calendar rolls over doesn’t mean we should stop striving towards the same things.  My hits and misses have taught me that the “rhythm” as Annie Down’s calls it is what I need to focus on.  Call it courageous or call it discipline like she also calls it, but I’ll be leaning into the word “brave.”  I think she does too given the title of her book.  I need to be brave in my habits by committing to them fully.  Everyday. Then, most likely, the outcomes will happen. I need to realize when these commitments aren’t serving me and those around me well to either quit or pivot.  And I need to always focus on enjoying both the journey and the outcomes it leads to.  My goals for 2023 won’t change much from the goals of 2022.  Instead, I’ll keep striving for the things that are always important to me, my family, and my team by being brave in the everyday. 

What did you learn in 2022 that will shape you for 2023? 

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Out of the 53 Books I read this year, here are my top three must reads: 

    1. Bittersweet by Susan Cain because it echoed and solidified my thoughts on living in the AND so well.
    2. Run Rose Run by Dolly Parton and James Patterson because it so enjoyable- see #3 above. 
    3. Misreading Scripture through Western Eyes by Brandon J. O’Brien and E. Randolph Richards because it made me reexamine some of my thinking. 

Mary Ila Ward