The end of the year generates a lot of “Top ____ of 2012″ posts. Instead of looking back at my top posts, or albums, or books, I thought I’d go a different route and look at my top failures of the past year. Why? Well, every failure presents a new opportunity. Though some of the things I list below can be easily explained, even justified, each one presents me with an area of growth for 2013. So, without further ado, here are my top 12 failures of 2012:
- Running – I’ve written before about the positive role that running has played in my life. I ran very little in 2012. Life got busy and I got lazy. As a result, I’m carrying around more weight than I’d like and eating worse than I normally do. I have no doubt that these things led to the extended illness I’ve been fighting since before Christmas.
- Church relationships – 2012 began with my family acclimating to a new church. We started attending Theophilus in November of 2011 and immediately felt at home there. The church meets in the city and we live out in the suburbs, which has made relationship building difficult, at least that’s the excuse I’ve been using. The truth is, I’m just having a hard time getting to know people in the church. I’m sure there’s some fear issues there, but whatever the cause, I failed to make many significant relationships at our church, which is kind of sad since I was also appointed a deacon in 2012.
- Young Theological Scholars Network – I was invited to be part of a group of young theologians, people under 40 who hold (or are working toward) a doctorate and who are committed to theology and praxis. I flew to the Ecclesia Network gathering in D.C. for the first face-to-face meeting of the group. It was an exciting time, I met some good people and had some great conversations. We committed to working together for the rest of the year to formulate a plan of what we’d like to produce together. We set up an online group for conversation, but things quickly fell dead. We are all busy folks and though the idea is a good one, seeing it materialize has been difficult. I own this failure as much as any other member of that group.
- Brewing competitions – I began 2012 with a resolution to enter into as many homebrew competitions as I could find. My brewing was at a level where I knew I needed outside feedback. Brewing for competitions takes planning, though. Usually, you need at least 6 weeks of lead time to brew a beer for a competition. I failed to identify the competitions early enough and I failed to calendar my brews. I entered two competitions, and did okay in both. My brewing fell off in the summer, though, and didn’t return to normal levels until the fall.
- Blog audience – My blog has undergone a lot of changes in the past year. The content shifted from posts that interacted with my doctoral reading to posts of a more personal nature. In the middle of that shift was a prolonged period no posts, a redesign (which is still in progress), and a change from Posterous to a self-hosted WordPress set-up. I’d wanted to build my blog audience to something beyond my friends and family. But that has failed to materialize. Most of you, dear readers, are people who I know in real life. My assumption is that you read this blog because of your relationship with the author, more than for its content. I’d hoped that my content would be rich enough that I’d see a lot of strangers finding their way here and being impacted by what I write.
- Friendships – I’ve always been slow to develop friends. When 2012 began, I resolved to make a couple guy friends that I could hang out with regularly, people who would invest in me and I in them. That was, for the most part, a failure on my part. I didn’t prioritize relationships like I should have, was reactive instead of proactive, and found myself making excuses to to not hang out when invited by others.
- Family communication – The thing I’ve missed the most since leaving the east coast and moving west has been my family: my parents and my brothers. I’ve not done a good job at simply picking up the phone and calling “just because.” I’m great at taking calls from family, but in 2012 I was horrible at initiating them.
- Money – My wife and I have, at times, been pretty good with our money. While family budgets have always been a drag, we’ve done a good job paying off debt and avoiding new debt. We’re even saving a little money. We don’t really have a plan, though. We spend money cautiously, but not intentionally. More often than not, I just pretended that things were okay unless I heard differently from my wife. That’s a huge psychological boat anchor, though. I really failed at basic money management this past year.
- Weekends with my ladies – The job I have now is the only job I’ve ever had that didn’t require me to work either Saturday or Sunday or both. So what did I do with my weekends? Schoolwork. Sure, that’s to be expected when in a doctoral program, but part of me grieves all the weekend time lost. On the couple of weekends that I didn’t work on my dissertation, I spent time trying to rest and recover, instead of taking my wife and daughters out for something fun. They’ve been great through all this, understanding that with the degree nearly in hand, there will be more daddy weekends in the future. The recent past, though, has been a big failure.
- Spiritual health – For someone who works in a seminary, is a deacon in a church, and is completing a Doctor of Ministry, I sure did fail at keeping myself spiritually healthy in 2012. I seldom prayed or read the Bible. My engagement with theology was academic and any practical application with theoretical, at best. I was (am) still recovering some from being fired by a church in 2011, which has created some significant spiritual baggage.
- Household involvement – I failed to carry my load around the house in 2012. My lovely friend and partner, April, covered for me. Probably more than she should have done. I failed to consistently help with all those little things that members of a household do to keep it running: taking out the trash, getting the mail, hanging pictures, working in the yard, raking the leaves, staying on the landlord’s back to get things fixed, vacuuming, cleaning the windows… you get the picture. April did all these things in 2012, not me. That’s not fair, that’s a fail.
- Post-doc direction – The one question I get asked most often these days is, “So, now that you’re going to be a doctor, what’s next?” or “What are you going to do with your degree?” I’d hoped that by then end of 2012 I would have an answer better than, “Dunno.” The truth is, I could have never imagined I’d be doing what I’m doing now, and I certainly didn’t have this in mind when I began my degree. With all the other stuff I’ve been focusing on, however, I just haven’t spent too much time thinking about the future. I’ve been trying to keep my head above water in the present.
So there you have it. My top 12 failures of 2012. Hmmm. Since there are 12 months in the year, it seems like I have the opportunity to spend a month focusing on each of these. I’m sure you’ll hear more about that later. What about you, though? What was one thing you failed at in 2012? What opportunity in 2013 is created as a result?