The Simple Life

New Year, Same Me? Challenges Accepted!

Ahh the 2010s a decade of great change and challenges in my life…


Lost two close family members
Multiple miscarriages
Moved to AL
Had a son
Got divorced
Moved on my own
Re-connected with Megan
Got fired
Worked for a start-up
Megan moved in
Unemployed a second time
Married Megan
Multiple miscarriages
Began as an adjunct instructor
Began work at Aflac
Became a minimalist
Got out of debt
Promoted at Aflac


As we enter a new decade, there are many things I learned from the list above. They impacted and shaped my perspective on many things. There are also many new habits I adopted during the decade that I continue to practice now and in the years ahead.


I still firmly believe that goal setting is good. However, I like to think of them as “challenges,” not goals or resolutions. Every January we tend to get beaten over the head with terms like “New Year’s Resolution” or “New Year, New You,” and I’ve begun tune them out.


To me, the term resolution is something temporary. People should strive to make permanent changes and not temporary resolutions. Also, why do most people only tend to try and adopt new habits in January each year?


All that said, I still feel it is important to set intentional and realistic challenges. When I say intentional and realistic, I mean we need to move past the thoughts of “I am going to lose 10 pounds this year” or “Saving money will be a priority,” and focus on small changes and steps that can lead you to amazing progress. Challenge yourself!


We need to change how we approach our goal setting and look at them as challenges. Begin to focus on Progress NOT Perfection and you’ll be amazed at how many challenges you can accomplish.



Resolve to Evolve
I touched on this mindset in early 2018 and again in 2019. I’m writing again to keep me accountable and to show you how I was able to achieve most of my challenges that I’ve made public. I’m just as committed this year to evolving and achieving my short-term goals as I was the past two years. It’s really easy; I promise you!


My wife Megan and I are using the same method to become more mindful and intentional in our goal setting. We like to call it the “Resolve to Evolve” plan. Check out the link and click on the template to help you brainstorm, create and carry out your goals for the upcoming year.


The action plan only requires you to identify three steps leading up to the goal, along with a 6 month review.  Your goals should be SMART.  SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. It’s that easy!


The last two years, our challenges have focused on five categories: health, career, relationships, financial and spiritual/learning. We chose these categories because these are five focus areas that tie into our core values and beliefs. The easiest way to live an intentional life, one that has true purpose, is to align your daily actions with your core values and beliefs.


By focusing on small changes and measurable progress, you are less inclined to get into a rut and think the goal is un-attainable. This method can help you break the routine of setting unrealistic resolutions that you bail on by March and transform your life in ways you didn’t think were possible.


Goal setting should be a fun, thoughtful activity that encourages you to reflect on your best qualities and how to improve upon them each year. As I stated, in an effort to hold myself accountable I published the blog last year with my 2018 goals and 2019 goals. Here is the update to those goals along with what I have set for myself in 2020.


Tod Meisner


Goal Updates

2019 Goal: Complete 80 workouts in 2019 (knowing teaching four days a week limits my gym time), along with maintaining my current weight and running a 5K. – COMPLETE… I managed 90 workouts and ran two 5Ks. Still holding at 195 lbs as well!
2020 Goal: Complete 100 workouts, run at least three 5Ks and maintain my current weight.
Why? Make health and wellness a priority. Workouts need to be the norm and not the exception.


2019 Goal: Speak at another Ragan conference and one more speaking gig. – Partially Complete…it wasn’t for lack of trying. Ragan events fell through, but I spoke to 5 college classes. I also completed and launched my professional website!
2020 Goal: Maintain professional certifications, continue speaking to classes and leverage my website to pursue paid speaking opportunities.  
Why? Public speaking better promotes myself as an educator, speaker and minimalist.


2019 Goal: One date night dinner per month with Megan and six “keep in touch phone calls” – COMPLETE… I was much more intentional about my phone calls, which led to speaking opportunities!
2020 Goal: Continue date nights and “keep in touch calls,” try for more hand-written notes.
Why? With our professional lives getting busier, it is important for us to be intentional about our “us” time. We like to spend those moments over good food and drinks.


2019 Goal: Donate my time and money responsibly. COMPLETE… Megan and I donated to many organizations important to us and we even became Dynamic Catholic Ambassadors. I continue to serve the St. Michael’s Knights of Columbus when I’m able.
2020 Goal: Begin a better long-term savings plan, while continuing to donate time and money responsibly.
Why? With financial freedom, it is important to me to donate to worthy causes and correlates to my 2019 One Word: Service


2019 Goal: Write nine blogs, read eight books, 10 minutes of prayer per day – Partially Complete… I read 10 books (Dare to Lead, Lies My Teacher Told Me, The Energy Bus, The No Complaining Rule, The Seed, The Soup, The Positive Dog, Training Camp, 100X Leader, Havana Heat) and continued my daily prayers. Work and teaching took up a lot of my bandwidth and I was only able to write six blogs.
2020 Goal: Continue in the classroom of silence (prayer), while writing eight blogs and reading 12 books.
Why? I like to write and it keeps my mind sharp and my blog fresh. It is also another way for me to market myself and showcase my knowledge and abilities.


Always make sure when writing down your challenges to set realistic deadlines, work in a 6-month review or check-in dates to track your progress and have a “why” behind each goal.


If you’re not aligning your why to these goals, you’ll lose focus on their importance and more than likely fail to meet them. Without these steps, your goals will lack direction.  And without direction, you may end up at an unknown, and unwanted, destination. Work to be intentional and not accidental.


Tod Meisner


One Word
I want to leave you with one final, easy, and actionable step to help you make 2020 the most productive year of your life. Pick your one word. Yes, one word. Author Jon Gordon and others have used this method to help people focus on just one simple word, instead of a daunting list of broken promises or unrealistic resolutions.


My one word for 2020 is “Expand.” I want continue to push myself in 2020 and get out of my comfort zone. I was able to have the best year of my professional life in 2019 by expanding, and I want to be even more intentional about it in 2020. So for me, “expand” can mean many things. It can range from running a longer distance, speaking to more students, choosing broccoli over beef and embracing the discomfort that precedes growth.


To choose your single word, you must have a clarity and focus in your decision. You are moving toward the future rather than swearing off the past. It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3.

  1. Identify the person you want to become
  2.  Identify the characteristics of that person
  3. Pick a word

Before you embark on this journey, a subtle warning: Don’t be surprised if living out your “one word” feels unnatural and awkward at first. Remember, the reason you want to focus on this word might be due to the fact that this characteristic may not currently be present in your day-to-day life. Give it time and stay with it.


So, give it some thought. Follow the above steps and think about your one word for 2020. By focusing on one word and setting realistic goals in 2020, you will begin to believe in yourself like never before. You will be on your way to becoming the best version of yourself.


Support, Challenge and Celebrate
Be honest and challenge yourself in 2020. You can’t grow as a person if you aren’t honest with yourself. You must know yourself to lead yourself, and you must challenge yourself without being too critical of yourself. In 2020, begin to believe in yourself without being prideful.


We’re imperfect people striving for perfection. We have to learn to celebrate our progress again in 2020. Perfection isn’t possible. But, a constant effort and a constant celebrating of our progress is possible. The more we celebrate our progress, the more progress we’re likely to make.


Consistently focus on your word this year. Use it to be intentional in your actions and not accidental. Use the word and your goals to challenge yourself to become the best version of you. Work to celebrate the transformative progress you make in 2020. The psychological encouragement that comes from knowing that we are actually making progress is incredibly powerful.


What are your challenges for 2020?



A proud ESFJ and Nurturer, I’m a challenger of people. I remain deeply concerned about the relational health and harmony of my teams. I am committed to protecting values and principles while understanding how certain actions, behaviors and initiatives affect people. Let's connect on Twitter: @todmeisner