We are three weeks into a new year. A new year brimming with possibility and opportunity. It can be anything we want it to be, but not without serious work. That’s the thing about climbing new heights and reaching new goals-they demand a lot from us. Seldom do they happen by accident. In fact, they never do. We have to consistently work a plan to turn them into reality.
We could plan out this new year, and set goals without taking stock of where we’ve been, and what we’ve done. But where would be the fun in that? And honestly, where would be the wisdom in charging ahead so blindly?
I’m stealing my good friend Scott Kedersha’s template and asking myself these three questions as a guide to reviewing last year:
1. What went well?
2. What didn’t?
3. What did I learn?
I found this to be a blast of an exercise. It helped me gain clarity on so many aspects of the last 365 or so days, and I am thrilled to share it with you here.
What went well?
Marriage. My wife and I had a fantastic year. Hannah and I grew closer and enter 2019 in a great place, despite some difficult and hard things, which we’ll go into below. Our marriage is in a great place and healthier than it was even a few months ago. We resolve conflict quickly, work on our relationship, and approach everything as a team.
Business. Our photography company continued to grow and connect us with outstanding people. A recent out of state wedding felt more like a vacation with good friends and family than work. That’s a tremendous blessing and testimony to the quality of people we meet on a regular basis.
We also decided to start another business in 2018. While it is still getting off the ground, it is energizing to take on a new challenge and learn new things. This new effort has connected us with new friends and deepened other relationships. Their support, encouragement, and help are awe-inspiring and daily encouragement.
What didn’t go well?
Writing. What started as a break for the holidays at the close of 2017, turned into a year-long hiatus. New projects and opportunities arose, and writing took a back seat. It was strange for me not to sit down and write on a regular basis because I love and enjoy the process. It aloud me to clear my mind, hit the reset button and ask important questions about the purpose, and direction of my writing.
Most would think that the purpose of maintaining a blog would be to generate and develop a following. That’s not my concern. I have no interest in building a giant following. That’s not the purpose of my writing. I write as a means of expression. An expression I share knowing my struggles, successes, and failures are not unique. While they may not be identical, countless others share them. This repository of lessons learned is meant to encourage and serve you as you face this dangerous battle called life.
As for direction, I will continue to share the things I am reading, learning and focusing on. Discipline will remain a heavy feature I am sure, but other topics will join the fray in 2019. The Monthly Mash Up will continue as a regular collection of resources that get me thinking and encourage my heart.
Now that my hiatus is complete, I will need to focus on rebuilding my writing habits. Rebuilding broken habits is difficult work. It often means reworking your schedule, and saying no to things you’d otherwise say yes to. That is the work I’m setting out to do in 2019, to re-establish life giving habits.
My wife and I experienced our second miscarriage. Before the birth of our son, my wife and I walked through our first miscarriage. We found that time difficult, trying and life-altering. To this day, that first miscarriage was the hardest thing I have ever walked through. The Lord was abundantly kind, gracious and loving in that season. He brought so many kind people into our lives and comforted us in our distress. In the end, that first miscarriage served to strengthen both our trust in The Lord and our marriage.
Several months later, The Lord gifted us the most precious little boy. He is amazing and the light of our world. After his birth, we didn’t give miscarriage a second thought as started trying for a second child. Sadly, our next pregnancy ended in a second heartbreaking miscarriage.
Our response to this second was different from our first. Our response wasn’t wallowing in our grief and giving in to the pain and hurt of it all. It was to get back in the game and expand our trust in the Lord. He is the one in control. He knows the answer to every, “Why me?”, that escapes our lips or crosses our minds. While we aren’t privy to the specifics we want, we have the only answer we need. That answer is that all the things we like the least–pain, hurt, loss–are for our good. They are working to accomplish the awesome task of transforming us into the image of Jesus Christ.
What did I learn?
I am at my best when I get up early. Life falls apart and productivity plummets when I get out of my routine. The key driver to that routine involves waking up early. First thing in the morning my mind is at it’s sharpest. Getting up early allows me to read, write and complete important tasks.
Fatherhood is the best. Every dad I know impresses upon me the speed of time. They say things like, “The years are flying by”, or “They’ll be grown before you know it.” We are like the morning dew. Here in the morning and gone by the afternoon. Life is short. We have to make the most of each moment. That’s why we must resolve conflict quickly, pursue dreams with passion, and cherish loved ones. As my son nears his second birthday, I’m drinking it in. I tell him I love him every chance I get. I hug him like its the last chance I’ll ever get. I do any and everything to squeeze as much life out of our time together as possible. Being a dad is a wonderful gift.
“What do you want to eat?”, is the hardest question you can ask me. Food is a touchy subject in the Hagaman household, and not for the reasons you’d think. It’s not that we’re on different pages about what forms a healthy diet. It’s that thinking about food drives me insane. I despise having to eat many times a day. It eats up so much time and frustrates me. Most of that time and frustration is my own doing. I complicate meal time by not having a clue what I want. Nothing sounds good. Nothing sounds worth the effort. Nothing excites my taste buds. Even when I find something I like, I ruin it. I’ll eat the same thing for days or even weeks until I am so sick of it I can’t stand the thought of it. I know I’m a mess, but its a frustrating topic.
I have to write down my prayers. My mind wanders most when I am trying to pray. After a few seconds, it is off track and wandering through fields of action items. That’s why I had to start writing down my prayers. If I try to pray without a pen in hand, distraction arrives to whisk my mind away to some undisclosed location. Writing them down has helped me gain consistency and clarity in my prayer life. It helps me focus my thoughts on communicating with the Lord and worshiping Him. This is the most important lesson I learned in 2018 because it is the most impactful upon my life.