If you’re going to take stock of your life and see how things are going then the turn of a year is as good a time as any. I have four main areas which are repeating areas of investment for me: Run. Read. Write. Lead. I did this exercise a year ago where I reflected on the previous year and set some goals for 2018. So how did it go and how did I do?
Running is here because it is good for my physical, mental and spiritual health. I think, process and pray while I’m running – though not when I’m racing, then I’m just trying to breathe. I want to remain healthy & strong for some years to come. This body has to carry me through some decades yet (I hope) and running is my primary way of looking after it. I also enjoy it and enjoy being out in the great outside. So how was the past year?
2018 goals: Run 1000 km; sub-46 10k; sub 21 5k; sub 1.40 half-marathon
2018 reality: Ran 802 km; 45:40 10k; 21:53 5k; 1:49 for the half.
So I only hit one of my goals and that’s a bit annoying. Too many weeks where I didn’t run at all or only ran say a 5k. Still before I beat myself up too much. I’m generally happy with the trend (which is the real win of tracking your data). Here are my last 3 years according to Strava.
2016: 71 activities; 43 hours; 455.4 km (all sports)
2017: 97 activities; 56 hours; 605.4 km (all sports)
2018: 145 activities; 89 hours; 909.7 km (all sports)
Basically I’ve doubled my physical exercise between 2016 & 2018 and that’s quite satisfying to see. Here’s a little video courtesy of Strava.
2019 Goals: Run 1500km; sub 45 for 10k; sub 21 for 5k and sub 1:45 for the half-marathon.
Reading is here because it is a part of my work (both as an editor & a church leader) but also it is part of how I try and love the Lord with all of my mind. I want my body to be stretched and fit. Same goes for my brain. Reading does the job for that.
2018 goals: Read & review 45 books
2018 reality: Read 52. Reviewed 6.
I guess the reviewing part should really be considered under the next section of writing but I set that goal and fell a long way short.
I did read more than I set out to though and that’s satisfying. One big reason why is that I listened to more books than ever before. I think in 2017 I mostly listened in podcasts but in 2018 I almost only listened to books. 22 of the 52 books I readwere audiobooks. There are also a lot of family reads and listens in the list which I include now that they’re actual proper books. Here are some highlights:
Best family listen: Matilda by Roald Dahl & read by Kate Winslet.
Best audiobook: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
Best non-fiction: Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall
Best Christian book: The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis
Observations: I didn’t really read as many theological or serious books as I would have liked to. I’m not sure why. I feel I can read more and keep a better balance between fiction & non-fiction, Christian & non-Christian. And I can definitely review more. You can see my year in books here.
However books weren’t the only I read. I read hundreds if not thousands of articles and probably that formed a bigger chunk of my reading than books. According to Pocket I read (although scanned is a better word) the equivalent of another 29 books. Which is quite a lot. I’m certain I didn’t actual read all that much but I did scan, save, read & share a lot of great articles. The trend is turn those sorts of things into email newsletters but I think I’ll just keep it on this blog.
2019 Goal: Read 50 books.
Writing has become my profession. I don’t really claim to be any good at it but for plenty of years I was a magazine editor and now I’m freelancing as a book editor. So writing is my work life. I’ve also been blogging for quite a while now and so writing is also a clear time investment for me. Writing helps me think and it helps me communicate. That’s why writing makes it as one of my four key words.
2018 Goal: In addition to my regular editing work I’ll be collaborating with Mike Betts again on a new book on corporate prayer which I’m excited about so that will be a big project. In terms of this blog I really want to carve out more time to write down my own thoughts and find again my own voice, rather than simply linking to good stuff that other people have written.
2018 Reality: The corporate prayer book is not finished and too many blog posts were link posts.
I had a number of commissions on book projects – several of which have not yet come to fruition. I still field questions about when I will write a book and no I haven’t written one.
I think probably writing is the area I feel least satisfied with. I’m doing it a lot but probably due to the time challenges that come with leading a church I didn’t real invest in my own writing as much as I would have liked to.
I also spend a lot of time working on things others have written and end up not making the time for my own writing. As a result I’m too often just sending out link posts on this blog because I haven’t carved out the time to write something original. We’ll see if I can do better during 2019.
For those of who you like the stats and numbers then I pretty much held steady.
Blog stats (Source: Jetpack)
2017: 42,431 views. 29,204 visitors.
2018: 43,928 views. 28,835 visitors.
2019 Goals: More original & consistent content on the blog and work on a book.
For me this means leading myself, leading my family and leading my church. So three pretty important areas. A few years back I realised I was so caught just doing it I was making time to figure out how to get better at it which is a recipe for ending up not very good at it. I bluffed my way through school & university and I’m not sure trying to bluff my way through parenthood is going to work.
Last year I wrote that “This is always the toughest one for me to evaluate – there isn’t a tracking app or a stats plugin to measure how well I’ve led my family, myself or our church this past year.” And that still holds true.
2018 goals: See new community & discipleship groups started in Grace Church. Do a better job of saying ‘no’.
2018 reality: No & no.
I don’t think I did a very good job of setting clear goals and if you don’t do that then you probably won’t achieve them.
However, as a family we’re doing pretty well. The kids have discovered the joy of reading and even as I write I can the sound of my wife reading to the kids on the sofa. In my book (pun intended) that’s a parenting win. We’ve had a blast on our holidays and the good times definitely outweighed the bad days.
As a church, we’ve grown and that’s meant venue shifts. We’ve baptised two people which is wonderful, although I wish it was 20 not 2. We’ve made a significant investment into reaching an unreached people group in our own city and that feels very significant.
Church always throws challenges at you. Always. Having said that, I ended last year and started this one feeling very hopeful that Grace Church will soon no longer be considered a church plant but just a church.
As for leading myself – well that’s what this post is all about.
2019 Goals: Don’t screw up.