Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

Looking Back (Honestly) at the Past Year

In case you haven’t been on Facebook lately, you may have missed that everyone and their brother is sharing a photo collage of the past year.

Facebook: Year in Review

Facebook: Year in Review

One friend pointed out that hers was entirely inaccurate, though. “No photos of me crying on the kitchen floor over another failed recipe,” she said.

I love that.

There’s this sense, I think, that we ought to be showing our best selves online. And maybe we are missing the point when we do that.

  • On Instagram, we display well-edited versions of our best moments.
  • On Twitter, we post our pithiest remarks and save the stupid things we say (hopefully) for offline chatter.
  • On Facebook, we share what we want with whom we want to see it.

We are not living our true selves in front of the world, much less in front of those who matter most. We are curating memories and moments as if they were pieces of art to be hung on the walls while the rest gets stuffed in the basement.

Why do we do this?

I think it has to do with fear. We hide because we are afraid of being known. Because at our core many of us believe we are unlovable. If people really knew me, I often think, they wouldn’t like, much less love, me.

But maybe we have this all wrong. In his upcoming book Scary Close Donald Miller points out that our shortcomings are what make us lovable. If we were perfect, there would be no need for grace to fill in the cracks of our inadequacies.

It’s a beautiful thought. We spend all this time trying to reach perfection. But what if all this effort wasn’t actually leading us where we thought?

The “real” me

Recently, I’ve been reconsidering my priorities.

Do I really want to become more popular? Do I really need to be famous? Or would I rather just be better than I was yesterday? “There is no fun in being famous,” Frederick Buechner once wrote, “unless everyone is famous.” I’m starting to agree.

If my life were a movie, I think right now it would be anticlimactic. An artsy drama with a killer soundtrack and believable characters, but nothing too gripping to keep you in your seat.

The protagonist would be a sarcastic hero who never really breaks out of his bad habits. You’d like him but never see him grow into who he was capable of being. The credits would roll, and you’d find yourself feeling frustrated.

Is it any wonder these are the kinds of movies I am attracted to? Understated but beautiful flicks like Garden State and Dan in Real Life? There is a certain poetry and artistic integrity to unresolved conflicts, but are these the stories we want to be living? I’m not so sure.

Currently, I’m working through Michael Hyatt’s 5 Days to Your Best Year Ever course, and one of the first exercises is to reflect on your past year. Instead of looking at my Facebook timeline, I’m asking myself three hard questions.

Question #1: Where have I settled?

Looking back, I can count many successes from this year:

  • I made more money than I ever had in my life,
  • I met new and interesting people,
  • I traveled to interesting places like Italy and Africa.

But in many ways, I still feel like I played it safe, like I wasn’t fully realizing who I was born to be. So the question must be asked:

Have I settled?

I think maybe I have. Maybe I’ve settled for a life that is mostly about me, one in which my self-worth is measured by how many people leave a comment on my blog or by how much money is in my bank account. And — I don’t know — that just feels a little off-track.

Which brings me to my second question…

Question #2: Did I measure the wrong things?

Measuring your success can be healthy. Goals can be good, and metrics help you focus. But for me, constantly checking the numbers has become ammunition for beating myself up.

Too often this year, I’ve sought out criticism not out of a genuine interest to grow, but as an excuse to confirm my insecurities. But the truth is I’ll never be good enough, never measure up to my expectations. Because I am always changing those expectations, always wanting more.

And as the target moves, I keep flinging arrows and cussing under my breath when I miss the mark. “If you keep that up,” a friend told me, “you will become a miserable old man.”

He’s right.

I can’t continue moving the target without taking time to adjust my aim. I have to redefine what success looks like (more on that soon). But that’s not to say you can’t learn from failure. Or that you shouldn’t acknowledge your shortcomings.

Which brings me to my third and final question…

Question #3: Where have I failed?

In spite of some success, I have failed this year. Quite a lot, actually. But not in the most obvious, share-it-on-Facebook ways. Continually, I have missed the mark in one major area: relationships.

In particular, I have failed to love in these three areas:

  1. Loving my wife. I’ve not been the husband my wife deserves. I don’t know that I’ve been a “bad” husband and doubt Ashley would characterize me as that. But I know that I’ve played it safe here, that I haven’t been as bold and audacious as I could have been. I want to change that, want to be someone who is interested in others as much as he is in himself. And that begins with my bride.
  2. Loving my readers. I love the work that I do, but at times I’ve made my job too much about my own success and not enough about helping the most people. I don’t think making money or growing your business is innately bad, but I’m starting to get bored with focusing too much on the bottom line. I want impact to be my most important metric.
  3. Loving myself. I mentioned to a friend that I wanted to lose about twenty pounds, and he said to me, “Do you need to lose weight?” I think I do, but more than that, I want to. Getting into better shape would give me more confidence and make me feel more comfortable. Which is a major theme for next year: self-care. I’m intentionally investing in becoming a healthier person — physically, emotionally, and spiritually. For what good is it for a man to gain the whole world and lose himself in the process?

You can really beat yourself up with this question of “where have I failed?” But for me, it’s about addressing the areas I’ve avoided because I know they’re going to reveal my shortcomings. I tend to not want to do things that I won’t be any good at, and sometimes, that’s just not an option.

Looking forward

Now that I know these things, what will I do about them? I want to do more meaningful work, reach more people, and live a happier life. I want to love well the people that matter the most.

I want to feel like George Bailey does at the end of It’s a Wonderful Life. When I’m on my death bed, looking back at my life, I want to know that I ran the race well. Not that I was the most famous or most successful, but as Harry Bailey puts it in the very last scene, “the richest man I know!”

Of course, he means rich in relationships. And now, as the cold wind of winter finally creeps in to my part of the world, I wonder if there is any other kind.

If you want to make this next year your best year ever, I encourage you to not just look at the things that are easy to share, but to dig deep and ask yourself the tough questions. Not just with what you’re willing to post on Facebook. You might be surprised by what you find.

Have you ever done an honest yearly review? Get started by watching these free videos from Michael Hyatt. Chris Guillebeau also has a great tool for this process.

How would you answer the above questions? Share in the comments.

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

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  • Jeff, I think when you play it safe you actually end up living the most dangerous type of life possible. You end up waiting for life to happen instead of actually doing life. Now I need to heed my own words.

  • David Mike

    I’ve watched the free videos, very powerful. Thanks for your transparency, it’s nice to know we’re all human. BTW, you’re famous in my book.

    • Thanks, David. I appreciate that. But what I’ve come to learn about fame (whatever limited amount I’ve achieved) is that it’s an insatiable animal. You can never have enough. So wanting fame in itself is an empty pursuit.

  • Hey Jeff.

    Thank you for your transparency. I am also trying to be more intentional with my wife and keeping our relationship strong while trying to build my blog and my platform. It is hard to keep up with sometimes, but I keep trying to take small steps forward. Thanks for the work you have done for others in 2014! Your voice has helped a great many people.

    Jesse

    • Thanks, Jesse. I appreciate that. And good for you! Let’s hold each other accountable in this maybe?

      • Sounds good to me! I am finishing up a mastermind group with KC Procter and several other guys this month. It seems like we all struggle in this area, so you aren’t alone! I’ll keep you and your wife in my prayers; I know that she is a vital part of your success and your ability to impact people.

  • msherman2332

    Jeff-It is not easy to be honest with ourselves, much less so to do so publicly. Thank you for modeling transparency and authenticity for the rest of us.

    • Happy to share my mess with the world. 😉

      Okay, not really. It can feel quite scary, but I also think it’s the right thing to do.

  • Swati Hegde

    Hey, Jeff!
    Great post. I think change is always required, but instead of worrying about money or popularity, it’s important to step back and change yourself, whether it be healthwise, knowledge-wise or simply your way of living. I wrote a blog post about this a few days ago. I’m going to link it below; I hope you get the time to read it.
    https://geekie-chic.blogspot.in/2014/12/a-fresh-start.html

    Looking forward to your posts next year. Thanks for all the help with writing (although, to be honest, I’m not writing my 500 words every day. Think I’ll start working on that now.)

    Swati

    • Thanks, Swati! I’ll check that out now.

  • Krithika Rangarajan

    Jeff – I said this on Facebook (;) and I will say it here again: I have read and LOVED umpteen articles of yours, but THIS has to be my favorite YET!!

    You just poured out your soul in this pulse-pounding post that is way better than any thriller movie 😉

    And you are right – people do share only the positive highlight reels, while either ignoring on hiding their tears and their fears.

    But, again, social media is a tricky beast. People WANT to see portraits of pleasure (not ‘moments of censure’). Hence, you are left with News Feeds and Twitter feeds and Plus Posts and Pins that look like a toothpaste ad, with sparkling smiles all around!

    I have often wondered how some people can remain joyous 24 X 7. Don’t they feel sad, mad, jealous or just pissed off? How can you smile all day long? Your post made me realize that this thinking wasn’t faulty.

    It’s fashionable to say, “Stop whining. It isn’t the answer to your woes”. But whining is good because it releases those negative emotions and makes space for more proactive work in the future.

    Honestly. I believe “Gloomy Guses’ are quite under-rated. LOL Instead of putting down people for sharing their sorrows, why not lend a hand to help them ease their burdens so they too can smile as brightly as the best toothpaste model 😉

    WOW – you got me thinking here…thanks Jeff #HUGS

    Kitto

    • Thanks, Kitto. Your constant encouragement is a gift.

      • Krithika Rangarajan

        Always my pleasure 🙂

  • Encouraged by your introspection and growth.

    • My “devotional” thoughts this morning:

      Are you praying for a bigger “stage” in 2015? Then ask yourself, am I also willing to pay a higher price? Am I willing—to not only tolerate more pain, but also invite it? The fight off stage helps you stand more authentic when you’re on stage. The audience always senses an imposter. Consider…”If people knew how hard I worked to gain my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful.” (- Michelangelo, Artist) Remember…success doesn’t ruin you, it reveals you.

  • This is honestly one of your best and most honest posts I’ve read. Really inspires and encourages me – excited to see how you grow in the next year, and right behind you all the way.

    • Thanks, James! I so appreciate you. Your own transparency has been inspirational and challenging to me.

      • Wow, thanks Jeff – so encouraging, thank you. Humbled & honoured to have been an inspiration to you. You are to me too.

  • I love these questions for reflections–especially “Where have I settled?” and “Did I measured the wrong things?” (At this point, I have probably reflected enough on where I failed for 2015.)

    For me, those two are very closely related: I settled for many wrong-for-me projects because I was measuring the wrong things: money and legitimacy, which for me means valuing my byline in fancy places over more personal writing that means more to me. I was in an extremely dark place until someone introduced me to your work and things began to turn around.

    For next year, I am going to measure energy, pride, and satisfaction instead of money–quite scary for me but I know to have the life I want that is what I must do! Self care is a big part of that for me too. I can’t do the things I want to do unless I feel the way I want to feel: rested, energized, and awesome. Thanks again for all the amazing work you are doing. I know it will continue to help and inspire me through 2015.

    • Joy, your post was awesome! Loved the honesty. It was truly inspiring. Thank you. 🙂

  • Nathan Ohren

    Got a great tool for LOOKING BACK, Jeff. Great ideas and daily journaling prompts. Let me know what you think: http://www.tinyurl.com/JournalKit

  • Thanks for sharing your doubts and your expectations, Jeff. For me, looking back is great and there are seasons to do it but this year for me will be a time to press on and look forward in faith. Jesus talks about pondering in order to build a tower. it’s good to ponder again and again but if the fondations are weak or if our life is built on idols we are missing the point, that means we sin. Creativity is a part of us that we can’t be denied and needs to be developped and celebrated but the source is in our spirit, and fueled by our emotions and our will. We need to get in touch with our God every day and this is my priority because nothing valuable on this earth can be built without love, and I don’t want to miss the point. I still have 50 pages to write for my novel and then I have to finish my story -it means around 400 pages. But I know that my novel needs to be finished first (it’s my first one) It’s hard work. i would like to meet american writers who are speaking french and want to have some connections with french culture and writers, specially christian people. Guys, if anyone of you is interested, please join me on my website : http://www.alliance-ruthetnoemie.org. Happy new year Jeff. Remember, there are three things that remain : Faith, hope and love. :).

  • Awesome questions Jeff. To add to the discussion here, let me share 20 questons to help review the past year. https://bit.ly/1xrdgyb

  • What a great post, Jeff. I, too, have looked at all those neat photo collages of my FB friends and been both impressed and depressed.

    For me, 2014 has been what I’ve classified as a disaster – from beginning to end. Yes, I’ve had successes, and I’m struggling to move my life forward in important ways. I’ve learned just how resilient I am (and how much I wish I didn’t have to be). But I’m counting down the hours (just over 61 as I write this) till the end of 2014. Just when I think it can’t get worse, it manages to do just that (in the last 3 days, my husband has been laid off and I’ve put my back out – this following a week in the hospital right before Christmas…)

    However, dreary as 2014 has been, I’ve decided to “amend” it a little bit since reading all my friends’s posts on the “Great Year” they’ve had. How much of 2014’s general suck-iness has been due to my perceptions? Did the trials and tribulations of the year continue because I came to expect them?

    So, the blog post I’m working on right now is titled 2014 – 2.0. (www.themidlifediaries.com). I’m “re-framing” those pictures I have of job-loss, hospitalizations, financial stress, pets dying and all the other general goodness 2014 brought my way and looking for the goodness, the lessons and/or the humor in each incidence.

    It won’t go on Facebook in a nice photo collage (there’s nothing cheery about looking at the devastation a massive Oak tree can wreak when it falls on a recently built barn), but in writing the post and looking – really looking, at the year from a different perspective, perhaps I will be able to meet 2015 without a sense of manic relief and expect the year to fulfill all the dreams I’ve ever dreamed as a contrast to 2014.

    My goal for 2015 is to be fully present every day, in every experience; and to really live all of the lessons, meaning, humor and hope from every moment.

    One of the greatest gifts of life is that it is a journey, a work in progress. There are lessons everywhere, and, even in the darkest of moments (or years), there’s still a reason for hope. All you have to do is look.

    • That is a gift, Penny. Thanks for sharing a part of your journey here. I am agreeing with that this is but one more step on the way home.

    • Krithika Rangarajan

      You are a ROCKSTAR, Penny! #HUGSS I would love to connect with you on Facebook 😀

      Sometimes life throws so many curve-balls at you that – at one point – you stop dodging them and just humor the absurdity! I am so proud of you for choosing to experience every moment of life, no matter how sad, bad, crazy or inane it might seem.

      • Thank you, Krithika! We’ve always got the choice, and my goal in 2015 is to remember to embrace those choices. When all is said and done, I’m the only one responsible for whether 2015 is divine or dismal (and I’m voting for Divine!!)

  • Wong Chendong

    Looking back at where I had settled? I guess I got to know a lot of great bloggers such as you (though they might not know me in person), but I had learn a ton of stuff from their blogs.

    Did I measured the wrong things? Well… the one thing I believe I measured wrongly was how I wasted my time on things that’s not worth doing, I just hope I can fully use 2015 to the fullest.

    Where have I failed? I failed to find a path to achieve my goal – But at least it’s a wake up call to do better in 2015.

    I actually took a long time to think of each questions you ask, and really writing it down means so much to me, at least I’m clear of certain things I had done in 2014. Thanks Jeff, for making me think.

    • I’m glad, Wong! Here’s to a better 2015 for the both of us.

  • Dana

    Beautiful post. I love your honesty and authenticity. I find this to be lacking in so many areas of life… facebook, online entrepreneurs, neighbors, even friends… We are all afraid to bear our soul, and yet we are so desperate to be seen. Thank you for sharing and for inspiration to make my goals for 2015 mean something.

    • Thanks, Dana. I am trying. There is still so much that I am hiding, but I’m trying.

  • annieteich

    Thank you, Jeff. This is one of many meaningful posts from you this past year. Encouraging others is a virtue you have in spades. Thanks for the good questions I want to ponder…

    • You’re welcome, Annie! Thanks for reading.

  • Jeff – of all the “year in review” posts I’ve read in the last week, this is among the best. Opening up your self-reflection process is really helpful to others, myself included. I’ll definitely be considering these questions, in addition to using Chris Guillebeau’s “annual review” process, to evaluate my own successes and failures this year. Can’t wait to see what you’re bringing in 2015!

    • Thanks, Chris. I love Chris G’s process. I’ve got more to share before the New Year. Stay tuned!

  • 1. Where have I settled?
    This one’s obvious. I settled when I went back to work full time in an office. I settled because of fear. Settling made me miserable. That kind of settling–never happening again.

    2. Where did I measure the wrong things?
    It’s hard to say–I try not to focus on measurement too much. But I guess focusing on how much money I have is not always the healthiest thing.

    3. Where have I failed?
    Writing fiction. I need to do it.
    Getting my new blog project up to par.
    Reading! I didn’t read enough and now I’m reading like crazy to catch up.

    Great post 🙂 Thanks for being so transparent and sharing your challenges with us.

    • Love the authenticity, Anabelle. Well done!

  • Bev in Grass Valley

    The best post I have read all year! It makes me want to sit over a cup of tea with you for an hour or two, talking and listening to each other. You have engaged this reader/writer and given me courage to pursue the direction I have been taking lately of openness, honesty and love.

  • Jeff, I wanted to thank you for what you do. It seems to me that you are really starting to hit your stride in your writing and your candid posts on authenticity are really inspiring me. Keep up the great work!

    • Thanks, Gary. That’s good to know. It resonates with me, as well, so I trust that God is doing something good here.

  • Lindsey Whitney

    Well said. Thanks for sharing!

  • I appreciate the great example you show in your extremely honest and candid self-assessment, Jeff. I just talked to my tribe about honesty being the best thing about looking back at the past year. Too often when we’re sole proprietors, we don’t have the checks and balances in place to tell us the ugly stuff (and the good stuff!) when we need to hear it.

    As a result, I’ve been fascinated by what we solo entrepreneurs do to seek accountability… whether it’s with a mentor, a mastermind group, or the like. Times like this are when those are essential. Along with a generous helping of honesty, of course.

    • Thanks, Mike. I’m fascinated with that, too. Small groups of trusted mentors and advisors is so important to me.

  • Miriam Gunn

    These are good questions and great self-reflection that I can relate to. It is difficult to be focused and headed somewhere, and at the same time be others’ centered and empathetic. They are different skill sets, usually opposites on the personality tests. It takes grace and insight to live both well.

    • Well said, Miriam. I am learning this first-hand.

  • You dang navel-gazer! 🙂 Actually, I love this pretty even-handed, honest treatment of your year. I fall into the trap of either beating myself up or giving myself a pass and just moving on to the new year. Personally, it was like the third or fourth year in a row where I began the year with a reworking of a life plan, broken down into goals, actions etc. Each year, the same things are on my lists, so this year, I’m working on how to do a more radical reset… and limit myself to 3 goals and a few daily/weekly practices for a maintenance program. We shall see…

    • Hah! And I love this comment, Brett. I am on the same track, I think.

  • Jeff- I think finding balance and happiness in life comes down to three things. First is health. Exercise is key to mental clarity and vitality. Next is love, which means your spouse and family are everything. Third is passion, which means doing what you love. Manage all three of these and life is good, I believe. May 2015 bring you more of all three.

    • Love that, John. Thanks for the well wishes. The same to you, particularly in the area of passion!

  • Christy Scott

    Thank you for your honesty and questions that penetrate more deeply than those questions that most people at the closing of a year. I always enjoy reading your blog and tend to find a little of myself in between your words. I pray that you continue to seek Abba first in your work, ministry and personal life. Thank you again for the questions, I will be pondering those questions this week as I think about 2015.

    • Thanks, Christy. I appreciate that prayer.

  • BGreenAZ

    Thanks for this post, Jeff. I’m not a writer, and I still love your blog. I love the way you share with such authenticity and honesty. You are excellent at asking pointed questions about motivation and goals that really make me pause and think.

    • Thanks, B! Or shall I call you Green? Maybe AZ?

      • BGreenAZ

        Haha, sorry for that. The name’s Benjamin Green! (at)BGreenAZ is the twitter handle!

  • Tom Bentley

    Jeff, potent stuff—thanks for unzipping your head and letting us see both the light and the shadows. I spent too much time working from the poverty mindset last year: too much grasping and the hearing of repeated refrains of the tired song of “me.” This coming year I intend to be of more service to people and to stretch the kinds of writing I do. And to stretch what and how I see, which usually means travel to unusual places.

    Thanks for all your good work this year, and here’s to a hearty, healthy and laugh-filled 2015.

    • Amen, Tom. Sounds like an awesome plan!

  • Art Mills

    Jeff, Thank you for opening up. I always look forward to your posts and I appreciate your perspective.

  • Thanks for the transparency Jeff. I have been trying to open up more on my blog and in my writing. I appreciate that you are willing to let us see some of your short comings. I hope you and your family have a great New Year!

  • Thanks for sharing reality Jeff. I REALLY like your intention to make “impact” your most important business metric — and am curious to see how you flesh that out. I do believe that if you focus on impact, everything else falls into place, but haven’t figured out how to measure it.

  • Jeff Couch

    Jeff, I have been a bit of a lurker, but have enjoyed much of your stuff. This post, though, is my favorite. I thoroughly enjoyed it and will be letting it sink into my soul over the next few days. Thank you.

  • Jilliann

    I think the hardest thing to be is our real selves. Your words are very encouraging and timely. I am going to commit to putting my true self out there in 2015, ignore my fear and keep my ‘Martha’ from sabotaging what’s really important! Best to you and your family in the new year.
    Thanks Jeff 🙂

  • The questions you asked are right on target with my heart strings this week. Being the “real me” and looking at my shortcomings to see where I need the most change. Looking forward to 2015 with you!

  • This post definitely knocked me hard. And at the same time made me smile ear to ear. Richness in relationships is the only richness that is real. I love this.
    Thanks Jeff.
    Can’t wait to dig into the Michael Hyatt videos.
    Love!
    Ritu

  • Eli

    Thanks for being the real you in this article, love the honesty.

  • I loved this piece, Jeff. Very authentic and endearing. George Bailey just smiled.

  • Annie Carbutt

    This is very brave and honest. Thank you. I have to say, Jeff, you have had an impact on me. I want to be an honest writer, and you inspire me to do just that.

  • Richard Huckle

    As a writer and it is your ‘fault’ for making me say that, I notice what other are saying, but more importantly, in what order they are saying it. To this end, I noticed that you listed the various successes/failings/ goals in a certain order.
    My immediate thought was “Well this Jeff character has made it, an unmitigated success, etc, etc.
    My next action was to write down my achievements or distinct lack of them & the flippant way I set my goals.
    Low and behold, I too had written them down in a certain order. Money family health or health money family – what a shock!
    And finally, my question.
    Why do ‘we’ do this? Is it a subconscious action? A lack of true focus? Or are we just scared to face reality?

  • Jenni ho-huan

    Goins! You feel like a friend. Appreciate you modelling so much for me as a writer: generosity, honesty & courage. Thanks, I sure hope we get to meet someday! Bless you!

  • JeremyNortonBlog.com

    I’ve been receiving your posts via email for the past year. I typically don’t feel moved to comment. Today I do.

    Usually, when I read blogs (yours, Hyatts and others), I’m left with a feeling of inadequacy (not your fault – I just always want to do more).

    Today, your post was a breath of fresh air, knowing that at least one of the guys on top doesn’t have it all together. I guess I know that from understanding that all men have failings, but reading it helped me connect with you as a writer more than ever before.

    Specifically, hearing that you’re a real guy who’s trying to be a good husband but not always achieving what you initially desire. I’m right there too.

    Thanks for making a difference in my life brother.

    Peace,
    Jeremy

  • Freedom is such a big thing with me Jeff.

    Self-love too.

    Thanks for sharing your candid thoughts with us.

    If we blog to be free, and to free our audience, we will naturally do what it takes to free us, and to free our readers.

    This nice 1-2 combo is all about getting clear.

    As I move forward I am working less and feeling abundant more. I am listening more to folks who comment on my blog, and if their advice vibes with my vision, I’m going with it.

    I am spend infinitely more time commenting on other people’s blogs and promoting them because I wish to make my life about making others better, by promoting them and by giving their content much LOVE!

    I really feel that if I can continue working on my mind more away from the computer that I’ll free me and my readers more.

    I have to admit it: I lived a charmed life, and even though I struggle sometimes I’ve succeeded so many more times. Now I’m attending to those successes while sharing my transparent mix ups along the way and magic is happening.

    We just set up a 4 month house sit in Bali. I am aligning with more and more freedom, and my goal is to lift others up so that they can experience the same freedom.

    I want all who want to, to blog from paradise. So naturally I’ll do a bunch more stuff offline, to raise my vibe, so I can work from an inspired, more detached space, much of the time.

    For me, getting really clear on my focus, and on my direction, I feel blessed to be working less online, to be working on my mindset, and feeling more abundant, offline, and online, and to be tuning into freeing opps for me and my audience.

    Jeff, I do hear you on the self love too. I am a workout nut so all is covered there but I know that taking it easy on me, and accepting my talents, and accepting my awesomeness, is something that I’ll continue to improve with, so that the Universe can do this too.

    Thanks!

    Ryan

  • Deni Loubert

    Jeff- I just started reading you in the last few weeks and this post said it all to me. As I move slowly into retirement I have been looking for writers who will inspire me to do my best work – you just may be what I am looking for.

    While anyone who knows me knows that life is never about money or fame for me, I feel blessed that enough of both have come my way to point out the unimportance of them. Time to write for others. Have a blessed New Year.

  • Julius

    Thanks so much for this article! You gave such an honest look and it helped me look honestly at where I can be appreciative of how things went and also on things I would like to work on, too (like not “playing it safe” as a husband).

  • That “Where have I settled?” is a great question to end the year with and springboard into 2015 from. Thanks, Jeff.

  • Lisa Kleefeld

    Thank you so much for writing this; these are things I’ve been struggling with but didn’t necessarily realize it until I read your post… and I love your reference to “It’s a Wonderful Life.” 🙂

    I recently stumbled across your podcast, and it’s been incredibly inspiring for me as a college student in pursuit of a graphic design career. Although I’m not necessarily a writer, your podcast / writings are very helpful to someone like me who is just starting out in the creative field. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experiences! Blessings!

  • Great post Jeff! Self care and acceptance are huge on my list for next year, as well as being intentional. Loved what you had to say here!

    • Corduroy’s Button

      Self-renewal, intentional living and boldness are my top priorities this coming year. I meditate on one word each year, and this year it is “embark.”

      I’m writing through my journey at https://embark52.wordpress.com

  • Mubeena Soomro

    Hey, Jeff one of the best article which I ever read. You give us a mirror to see our-self in it without showing people (Facebook), A mirror which gives us true look which neither lie nor deceive. One of the true post 🙂 Thanks for this all n giving time to your fan readers. I am one of the best fan of you. 🙂

  • Laura Bennet

    Well done. As someone I have looked up to in the writing world, I am so glad that you have given your readers great, honest advice. I’ve struggled with feeling less “successful” this year as a result of putting family, health and relationships first and not being as famous or making enough money. But as I seek God’s kingdom first, fame and money aren’t what weighs in most heavily. Nothing wrong with it, but real success is measured in different commodities in the kingdom. Thanks for confirming and encouraging!

  • Nice retrospective. In 2014 I lost 100 lbs, went back to school to finish my Master’s and left a good paying job in Charlotte, NC because it wasn’t challenging and moved to MN. 2015 is all about eliminating time wasters.

  • This is great. Love this “I want IMPACT to be my most important metric.” #MeToo

    I’ve failed in a lot of areas too but, like you, I don’t consider them failures really… they are more like opportunities to improve. Areas that I care about that I want to do better in. For me, it’s self-care too and being more intentional with what I create.

  • moonshot thinking. nice work.
    i always find myself being proud of you.

  • Corduroy’s Button

    In 2014, I left a job that I LOVED to move closer to family and take a job that seemed perfect. It wasn’t. I left 8 months later with lots of questions about who I am v what I do for a living.

    My failures guided me to where I am now, ready to take on the word and re-discover what “living” really means. https://embark52.wordpress.com

  • What’s scary to me is that I am about to reveal to the world the stories of immense suffering and perseverance. I only desire for one person who can gain hope that their story is worth it.

    I have come to a place in my writing where I have let all the poison out and as a result I see from a whole new perspective.

    Sometimes when people read my stories they will comment about how sad some of them are, but if you were to cut out all the stories of everyone who ever suffered or struggled from the Bible, we would have no Bible and we would have no hope. Only pretty pictures.

    Annie,
    btw, I am filled with joy as I walk with Jesus.

    • Janelle Keith

      Love this response!

  • Feel Athome

    …”He’s right.
    I can’t continue moving the target without taking time to adjust my aim. I have to redefine what success looks like (more on that soon).”… very true, but scary. Readjust my aim? Thank you for sharing.

  • Such good, thought provoking content. I’ve been paying attention to a few people, just recently in fact, who are astonishingly real online–almost to a fault–yikes! But it has made me feel challenged about how to incorporate more of that into my own online presence as a business owner. I have to also be thoughtful about what I say and do online. I want to strike that balance between authenticity–which I definitely think is there–but also with reality–the imperfection of it all. As a culture, I think it’s becoming more and more important that we don’t allow ourselves to make it all look too easy or perfect, or less than messy–because it is, and that doesn’t make it wrong. It makes it real. And real is–well, real, so therefore something people can actually relate to and benefit from. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and provoking mine (as you often do) Jeff (and happy New Year!).

    • Susie Romans

      Norma, I agree! I’ve been so drawn to the people online who are so real and raw, that it surprises you. Most people do as Jeff said, only show what we want other to see. What if we showed the good, bad and ugly. I think our readership and IMPACT would grow. Big time.

      • So agree w/you Susie. Have you heard of Glennon from Momastary? She is a great example of total transparency in the best possible way–I think she is really helping people because she’s willing to put herself out there. Her ted talk video is amazing.

        • Susie Romans

          Yes! I found her TED talk one night and got lost in her blog for hours! 🙂

          • LIKE! (why does Disquis not have a like button?) 😉

  • Janelle Keith

    Wow! Tears. Jeff your honesty here is so healing. Thank you. “I’ll love you forever George Bailey, til the day I die.” Loving well, enjoying the journey and being fruitful and fruit-filled. Thats our calling. Being the children of God, with the pre-approved confidence we know we have to impact those who still need to know or need to be directed back to our wonderful Author & Giver of love and life.

  • As I read Jeff’s post, then the comments, my mind whirled as I longed to find words to express what is stirring within me. But this is not the place nor time to write chapters. So – THANK YOU, JEFF, for your gift of writing TRUTH in a way that it is easily understood. It means more to me at this moment than I can express.
    and THANKS to those who wrote comments below. Some really GOOD ones.
    I’m thankful I took the time to read this post tonight. I needed it.
    Hugs to each one!

  • Eric Uphouse

    Jeff, the one that really resonates with me is loving my wife. We have had some very hard times this past year… mostly due to my selfishness and self-centeredness. I refuse to make New Year’s resolutions, but this is a cause I am championing personally in 2015. Thanks for your openness and honesty

  • Jeff, this post was really what I needed to read. Thank you for this!

  • Daniel Cutshaw

    Thanks for sharing this, Jeff.

  • Thanks for sharing the harder things here Jeff. I think we have to all ask ourselves these questions and be gut level honest. I know I have been doing that lately – asking the difficult questions. I don’t always like the answers but in the end it is what brings good change. Here’s to a new year of living Real.

  • We all get here…in our own time. And WHEN we get here, we appreciate the journey for what it was and recognize that we can always be better. Striving for perfection is an illusion that will never be gained; however, improvement can always be had by everyone. Reflection is always our greatest asset. Well done, Jeff!

  • I can SO relate to this article! I’ve put a lot of thought into my life the past few weeks. And honestly, the word that keeps coming to mind to sum up 2014 for me is “Disappointment.” I got a new job, but was disappointed in how it turned out and, in fact, yesterday was my last day there (of my own doing and choice).
    I did write 3 new novels, and sold *some* copies, but it was FAR from where I wanted to be, success-wise.

    This year I have new career aspirations, but also a great amount of fear (that’s surprising me, quite frankly, as I’m usually not fearful when it comes to jobs/career changes). I’ve been really hard on myself lately, I’ll admit. I need to relax, let go, and breathe. And trust that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be in my life.