Though the calendar may be a human invention, we can usually see the differences the seasons bring – at least in our outdoor world. The southern hemisphere is opposite to where I live. Right now it’s cold in North America. In Australia they’re at the beach.

Sometimes we see the differences in our view in the mirror. (There are more wrinkles and grey hair this year.)

How do you mark moving from one time to another?

As seasons come and go, how do you plan to learn and grow?

Many people keep a calendar – digital or paper.

Some journal.

Others keep lists of goals.

How have you successfully made a record of time passing? I don’t usually do resolutions when my birthday arrives or the calendar year changes. But I have used a word to focus on… Just one word.

One year my word was “connect” and that’s the year where I made an effort to meet people who have become online friends for years. Some of those friends we’ve met in person and continue to be invested emotionally on the path their lives have taken. Tom and Debi Walters is one couple who come to mind. You can read their encouragement about marriage here, and about Debi’s word for 2021.

In 2018 and 2019 I had the same word: Thankful.

You might see where that grew into this website…

And last year my word was “Make”. I did “make” a lot – physical items, and less tangible output! My focus on making things became what kept me calm in the midst of our mess of 2020. I even completed an entire journal of collaging and 25 videos to commemorate it. What grew out of focusing only on one word for 365 revolutions around the sun became an immense amount of learning.

A plan to learn and grow was encompassed in just one word…

Writing down the plan to learn and grow.

When we pass to another year – whether it’s a birthday, an anniversary, or a calendar year – if we have a plan, (even if it’s just one focus word), there’s a much better chance we’ll grow in a specific direction.

(And yes – I believe even though I make my plans, it’s God who directs my steps. Before I choose my word for the next time period, there’s a lot of questioning and deep listening to hear His will for me.)

In this year – 2021 – my focus word is “today“. Perhaps it’s come from the past year, where it’s been completely evident that none of us are guaranteed a tomorrow… but we are here today. “Today” does have value! What can we put into it?

All the incremental actions put into each “today” will add up. If I choose to put positive things into each day, it should add up to a great year to learn and grow… regardless of how many days the Lord intends for me.

So – how to begin documenting those simple things that’ll go into “today”?

A simple planner to document how I learn and grow.

To follow through, I’m documenting what God brings into my life using a simple planner. It’s a way to record 3 things I’m thankful for each day, to plan out and document who I’m going to connect with through “snail mail”, and record a few things I’m learning – things from what I’m reading and listening to or watching.

When we’re holding ourselves accountable for making each day count, then it’s important to put good stuff into it. Sometimes we think we know what we’re planning, and then comes…

An unexpected resource to learn and grow.

In addition, completely unexpectantly, I found a new journal resource. It’s called, “All Things Are Possible: A Guided Journal for Christian Women with Inspiring Bible Verses and Creative Prompts” by Melanie Redd. I was going to give it away as a Christmas gift but liked it so much, I kept it for myself. *LOL* (I’ll be ordering other copies to give away.) The illustrations are beautiful and there is a great expanse to journal/doodle/collage. The best parts are the questions posed – they’re open-ended and thought-provoking. Rob and I often admire authors who can ask good questions.

What unexpected resources are showing up for you?

a year to plan and grow

But wait… there’s more! 37 more.

We will be married 37 years in May 2021.

It’s crazy to think we’ve been dating for more than 40 years. Yet we still need to continue to work on our relationship – to make it good… better… more… And that goes for every couple no matter how long they’ve been dating each other!

To that end, Rob suggested we plan 37 dates this year – no two will be alike – and it’ll be to grow a bit.

Sure, we’re like everybody – sometimes a date night is a movie (at home in 2020 style) and dinner. It’s easy. Convenient. And even pleasurable. But…

Not in 2021! (Or at least we’ll only allow ourselves one of those dates in front of the TV. LOL) We need a plan to learn and grow!

So… you guessed it. Another book.

“52 Uncommon Dates: A Couple’s Adventure Guide for Praying, Playing, and Staying Together” by Randy Southern and Gary Chapman”.

The book just arrived, so we will need to take time to go through that book to find the dates we both will like. In the meantime, our first date will be this week – and it’s going to be an idea from Debi and Tom in an article from 2011! I’ll post a picture on our personal Instagram if you’re interested.

Summing it all up…

We all need a plan to learn and grow. And it doesn’t need to be a big plan… it can be as simple as one word.

I encourage you to make your plan!

Do you choose One Word for your year? Or do you have favorite resources you use to plan? What are your go-to ways to plan to learn and grow? Leave a comment!

Here’s a video I did to review the book from Melanie Redd, and I also give you a little look at my planner and how I’m using it in an unconventional way… (click here if you don’t see the video player)

Need some encouragement on being thankful? Here are a few posts you might like: