It’s about that time! December is when many people reflect on the months that have passed and begin setting goals for the year to come. I personally have spent the last several weeks thinking about all of the life-changing things that I want to accomplish in 2015 that I didn’t quite get around to doing in 2014. But in the midst of my planning, I noticed that I had left out some crucial details. I realized that I have been getting so caught up in planning my next big adventure that I haven’t given much thought to all of the little steps that I will take to reach my destination. Thankfully, I have traveled down this road before and what better way to charter a new path than to look back on those past journeys? I was reminded that any time you get the chance to experience something twice, it’s a chance to express gratitude to God by using knowledge that you gained the first time around. Take my new project for example:
A few months ago I submitted a proposal to contribute one chapter to a book that is being published on social media and women of color. The topic of the book is so fitting for my areas of interest that I immediately jumped on the opportunity. As I was working on my proposal, I made time to think about all the things that this publication could lead to. Of course I thought of the best case scenarios (invitations to write more, speaking events, networking opportunities, etc.) but the other side of being showered with blessings is being showered with demands and criticism. Any time your ideas are shared with others, you can be sure to receive an influx of feedback; some will be for subsequent opportunities while others will be to tell you how much an audience disagreed with your ideas. I was not prepared for this feedback – good or bad – when I published my first article around this time last year. Within just a few days of its release, I was being contacted by someone new every week.
One week it was a reporter from the Wall Street Journal, the next week is was by a rude and pompous professional who disagreed with my opinion. Even though this one attack paled in comparison to the hundreds of praises I received, it still bothered me. Before hearing back from the editors, I had spent months praying that my proposal got accepted and that I’d get the chance to become (somewhat) of an expert on the subject. What I forgot to pray for was the confidence to handle criticism with grace and the diligence and commitment it takes to be an expert in anything. Last year, I was only half prepared for my blessing. At the time, I didn’t really understand that there are two parts to achievement: the goal itself as well as what it takes to accomplish it. I have since learned that it isn’t just important to pray for opportunities, but to also pray for the necessary character and skills to handle the total package.
So this year – for my new writing project – I’m praying, planning, and preparing from start to finish. I’m not just asking for success but I’m asking for the character and heart of a successful person. In addition to the other things on my 2015 wish list, I am setting goals to master courage, focus, discipline, humility, empathy, patience, kindness, compassion, and love. These are the things that extend the shelf-life of blessings. These are the accomplishments that carry over from year to year so that you find yourself filled with gratitude every December.