December 31, 2020 – A Letter to Myself, a year from today

Happy New Year!

I thought of doing another “slate clean”, “year of promise” type post, but then I thought back to the last couple weeks… and what I just wrote about end of the year-personal inventory stuff… Argh… if I’m not careful, I see the definition of insanity rearing its ugly head (doing the same thing and expecting a different result).

So, rather than start with a blank slate, I want to start with a vision – a vision of goals realized. So… here goes 🙂

Kenneth,

It’s the end of 2020, and what a year it’s been. Remember when we were at TriNet, and we joked about getting t-shirts with just “2020” on them, because we would say that nothing would get fixed until then? That seems so long ago now. But I digress… this is not about those memories… this is about this year… the year you are preparing for.

I know you are sitting down now and taking stock of the things you want to be different this year. Because I am you, I know you are, for the most part, doing it from the perspective of your dissatisfaction with your accomplishments in 2019: you still don’t know Mandarin, your finances are still in disarray, you haven’t made any progress on your book, and you only have a rough sketch of your missions business completed. For you, right now, you are tightening your belt, getting your game face on, and preparing some hefty goals for yourself. You are fueling your fire with tales of other people’s success, their business starts, goals met, places visited and more, all in 2019. And I know that while you are a very proud dad, you are a little jealous of all your son has been able to do in the past year. So for you, it’s game time, the competition is on. You’re ready.

Can I tell you, first: Relax. You took these days off for a reason, and even though you didn’t realize it, it wasn’t to fill your brain with the stress of carrying the entire year on your shoulders. Your best race starts were never when you were stressed. They were when you were able to relax your muscles, breathe out slowly, and listen. It was then that you could respond to the starter’s gun. You have to start this year the same way.

Next, let me tell you about your year. It’s been pretty phenomenal! 🙂 But before I get to your specific goals, let me tell you a little about all of the stuff you haven’t noticed or thought about:

  • Your relationships: I know you feel like a loner so much, and you pride yourself on being an introvert, but you have broadened and strengthened your relationships in so many areas. Your decision to start connecting with people locally, to hear their stories, and to make yourself vulnerable to those in your circle was huge. You still spend a lot of time alone, but it is quality time – establishing a peaceful space for you so you can give that same peace to others. It comes out in your calls to the missionaries, and when people come and crash on your couch.
  • You are lighter 🙂 No, not your weight (although you have lost that last 3% body fat you were trying to lose). You are not trying to do too much. You have learned a little more of how to focus your time and energy, so you are successful in a few things, rather than spreading yourself out into so many things. This is huge for you, because there is a lot that you can do, but it doesn’t mean that you should do. This has also been a hard lesson, as you have had to learn how to say “No” with grace, and be ok when people didn’t understand. But with this, you have been healthier – stronger for you, and stronger and better for others.
  • You are happy. I know, sounds weird, right? But I couldn’t think of another adjective to describe it. You have a lot to like about yourself, your roles, your relationships and your experiences. I tell you this because knowing you, if I don’t tell you this, you will focus on some business anomaly or something or other, and forget that you actually are happy with who you are. You are in a good place, and others can see it. So I need you to see it too.

Ok, I know why you came here, so let’s get to it. How did 2020 turn out (aside from all the wonderful things I listed above… don’t forget those, ok)?

Let’s kick off with the easy stuff. 你实际上开始学习普通话。I know, you can point back to the years of listening to Pimsler’s CD’s, online apps and such, but this is the first year you committed to learning Mandarin in community. You still have a lot to learn, but you started, and that’s the key. Oh, and I know you have mentally counted all the times you failed, said the wrong thing, and the one time you thought you ordered sticky rice, and ended up with a sticky bun, but none of that matters. What does matter is that you started the process – you planted the seeds, and what will come from that is totally awesome.

You also started your ministry to missionaries – officially. What you know as “Connect To Serve” (I’m not gonna tell you yet if the name changes… you will just have to see 🙂 ). This has been such a stretch for you. I know you have been afraid to pull the trigger on this, like you haven’t felt qualified, but let me tell you: this year you have made it possible for more people to be touched with the reality of missions work than ever before. And not in the normal way that people understand missions. This has done a work in people’s lives, opening them up to the reality of the gospel, of sharing love, and of what God has for them. And you are going to be so surprised by the people that come along for the ride. Here’s a tip: don’t just look for the people that look like they fit the part. Be open to those that God brings along your path (Jesus got fishermen and IRS agents… no telling who you will get).

Also, regarding Connect to Serve: it’s still in formation. Yes, you are doing it, but it is kind of like your Mandarin – you have a long way to go before you can say you are fluent. Don’t think this is a criticism, it’s not. You are part way through your “400 meter race”. The stagger still makes it hard to see what place you are in, and you know some people go out way too fast and burn out. Run your race. Connect to Serve, while building, is still ministering to others, so it is effective.

Bottom line, Kenneth… it has been a good year – meaning, it will be a good year for you. If you focus on just being you, all the good and right stuff will come about, and it will. Now, to be sure, everything on your wish list will not be done. I’m not going to tell you if you made it to China, Canada or Africa… you’ll just have to see, but even if you make it to none of those places, you will have very good and positive adventures wherever you go. Start the year celebrating, because I’m telling you… you will end it that way.

Notable Notables – Rules to Live By

Erma Bombeck was asked at one point if she would change anything about her past. Her initial response was, “no” , but after a period of reflection, she decided to change her answer. What she said she would change though were not the things we would normally think of as failures or heartaches in her past. Rather, she would have chosen to live more. Her entire list is good, but I think my favorite part is the end:

There would have been more I love yous … more I’m sorrys … more I’m listenings … but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute of it … look at it and really see it … try it on … live it … exhaust it … and never give that minute back until there was nothing left of it. (emphasis mine)

You can read her list of what she would change here: https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/49262-if-i-had-my-life-to-live-over-someone-asked

My son Jonathan, aka, BledJon put out his first CD, The Popular Loner, in 2015, to some pretty hefty acclaim. Since then, Jon has been working on a lot of things, most notably his own personal development. Part of this was preparing his sophomore release, which I am so happy to say is coming out soon. You will want to be on the look out for this, trust me. You can keep up to date with Jon on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=186200221 , or Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/bledjon510/ . You can also listen to or download The Popular Loner from his website, https://bledjon.com.