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A Year-End Review and My One Word Theme for 2017

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Dear friends,

I hope your holidays were happy and you’re enjoying this quiet week before the new year begins.

For the past few years, I’ve done an annual journaling exercise that helps me be a little more deliberate about setting goals for the coming year.

As December winds down, I write a “Good Race List” with the things accomplished throughout the year that I feel good about. It’s similar to the Victory List I wrote about last April, but focuses on the goals and hopes I wrote out last December for 2016.

It’s easy to feel like we don’t do enough, isn’t it? But the truth is that we have each run a good race this year. We’ve all been dealt our share of hardships and blessings, and we’ve done our best to stay on course. This exercise might help you take a step back and see what a good race you ran in 2016.

Here are some notes from my journal:

Family Time


Dana Point beach


One of my goals was to take a family vacation with my son and daughter. We traveled to California in June and Beaver Creek in November, and those trips comprise some of my most precious memories for 2016.

I’d also written “lie on a beach,” and while I didn’t exactly get to drink umbrella drinks on a lounge chair I did get to spend hours at Dana Point, shown above, and breathe the sea air and put my toes in the ocean.

Personal Goals


Best Speaker award at December Toastmasters event


I wanted to start each day with quiet time to read and pray, and I was able to do that almost every morning.

I had written that I wanted to improve my public speaking skills. I joined Toastmasters in February, and gave seven speeches in 2016. I need to give four more to receive official recognition, so that will go on my list of goals for 2017.

I wanted to learn silversmithing, and while I bought some equipment I didn’t find the time to take a class. This is going back on my list for 2017.

Last year at this time I was developing a nonfiction book idea that I had hoped to complete in 2016. That just flat-out didn’t happen, and I’ve put that idea aside to work on a story.

Home and Garden Goals


New garden | Happy Simple Living blog


I had jotted that I wanted to do one major home improvement project this year. Last summer, we created a new garden from an overgrown patch in the yard. I also installed new trim in the family room.

A longstanding goal has been to grow sugar pie pumpkins successfully. Last summer, we doubled our pumpkin production by raising 2 pumpkins instead of the previous year’s single pumpkin. Next year: 4 pumpkins!

Looking Ahead


Simple living can make you healthy and happy


I’ve read about how some people choose a one-word theme for the coming year — “diligence” or “reinvention” or “perseverance,” for example.

Well, 2016 was a bit of a slog as our family made some adjustments, and I hope to be more balanced in the year ahead. I didn’t even have to think about my word, because it came to me at once:


I plan to make time for more flat-out fun in 2017.

God willing, it’ll be fun to sit down and write my Good Race List next December and hopefully pen a long list of fun experiences throughout the year.

How About You?


Relax and practice good health | Happy Simple Living blog


Would you enjoy doing a year-end review, and perhaps jotting down a few goals for the coming year? Would you enjoy the challenge of summing up your hopes for the coming year in one word? If you feel like sharing any of your ideas, you know we’d love to hear your plans.

As I look back on 2016, I am grateful for each one of you. I love exploring the concept of simple living with you, and have learned so much from your thoughtful comments and ideas.

I hope you have a blessed year end, and here’s to new adventures in 2017.


The signature for Eliza Cross

P.S. If one of your goals is “pay off debt,” we’d love to have you join us in the January Money Diet, which starts January 1.



About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is the author of 16 books, including Small Bites, 101 Things To Do With Bacon, and BERRIES. She enjoys sharing ideas to simplify cooking, gardening, and home projects. She is also the owner of Cross Media, Inc. and founder of the BENSA Bacon Lovers Society.

1 thought on “A Year-End Review and My One Word Theme for 2017”

  1. Eliza, I just love this! Thanks for encouraging friends and family to make time for fun and joy. Such a great reminder in this cold wintry season. Thanks so much and Happy New Year! Hope to see you soon–for some fun! Love, Patricia


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