I used to make New Year’s resolutions.
They were nice bulleted lists, fairly specific, and basically ideas I had at that time for things I thought would be cool over the course of the next year. As the years passed, the number of bullets dropped, the specificity gave way to somewhat vague goals, and the overall theme was more about longer-term visions. After a while, they degraded into one-sentence phrases that might be called “mission statements” to a business: platitudes meant to inspire behavior, but nothing really actionable. And then I just stopped altogether.
So today, as a new year and a new decade appear on the calendar, I find myself thinking again about resolutions. And I decided that I’d rather reflect on the past year, and consider how it might shape the year to come.
2019 was, to say the least, a banner year for our family. We had a lot of major “life events” through the course of twelve months: Kyra returned from her mission, Zaque left on his; I retired from my work at Zing; we took an amazing family trip to Hawai’i; Alex got married; Pepper and I moved a thousand miles to rural Montana. Taken alone, any one of these things is a pretty big deal. But combine them into a single year, and you’ve got a lot going on! Fortunately it’s all good stuff, and now that everyone is settled into missions, marriage, and Montana, I feel like I can take a deep breath and contemplate what comes next.
Retirement’s been interesting, that’s for sure. I’m 47 years old, and if my math is right, I can spend the next 50 years without needing to work at a paying job. Does that mean I will? Not necessarily– I really enjoyed the work I did, and the people on my team, and it’s possible I’ll go back to that in some capacity. For now, though, it’s been nice to not have to worry about checking my email constantly or making sure invoices are getting paid or hiring someone. I’ve been retired for six months now, but the first three were filled with vacations and moving and saying goodbye; the following three were settling into a new place and figuring out all the ways living in a forest is different than living in a city. Finally I’ve come to a point where I don’t have a huge list of house projects, and nothing major to prepare for. So it’s time to actually “start” my retirement, I guess.
And that means finding things to do. Without ultimate games to fill my calendar, I need to figure out a new way to stay in shape. Showshoeing and cross-country skiing are on the list, and I plan to do those in the next month or two. In the summer it’ll be hiking and kayaking. I may get into yoga. And Pepper hints about racquetball.
Then there are hobbies. I feel like I’m making (slow) progress on photography, and plan to spend more time learning to take and process better pictures. That’ll mean getting out for hikes and backpacking, or even just some long drives into the mountains. I have some ideas for web sites and programming work that have been on my mental back burner for years. I’ll carve out some time for them. I plan to read more. And I’ve been saying for years that I want to put pen to paper, so to speak, and rekindle my writing. It’s time to do that.
Finally, there are family and friends to consider. Many people have told us they plan to visit during the summer season. Although it’s often easy to say things like that, when you confront a thousand-mile drive and consider the logistics of a full-time job or a gaggle of kids, that becomes a lot harder. Still, our home is always open and I truly hope we have plenty of visitors throughout the year. Similarly, we plan to travel to see people, and despite the distances, we now have the time to go on leisurely road trips. I’m excited about that.
When the summer comes to a close, it’s our plan to serve a mission together. We’d talked about doing it in 2019, but the craziness of the past year proved to be a bit much. Instead, we elected to settle into a new life and then venture outward again. As of today, our plan is to serve for six months (roughly September to March), come back for a summer or two, and then serve somewhere else for another six. Rinse and repeat. What a great opportunity to experience different places and sacrifice our time to bless the lives of others. I’ve been given so much, and I want to give something back.
That brings me back to the present. Here I am, looking out at the beauty of the forest and the lake outside my house, thinking about how incredibly grateful I am for the chance to experience all this. I spent years planning it, and with a little luck and a whole lot of providence, it actually happened. Sometimes it’s hard to believe. But here I am, and now it’s time to take these next steps.
2020, here I come.