2020 Mistakes

Welcome to our annual goal series! Each weekday from December 29 – January 7, we’ll have a new post about wrapping up 2020 and launching into 2021. Check back in each day for fresh motivation!

We’re about to deep dive into my mistakes of 2020. And I know what you’re thinking: Val, this sounds so depressing and negative. Give yourself a break. It’s been a tough year for everyone. 

2020 Mistakes by Valerie Woerner | Val Marie Paper, prayer journal, ministry, prayer, refresh, meditation, praying for your kids, prayer warrior, war room, how to pray, pregnancy, praying for your baby, praying for your husband, goals, goal series, resolutions, mistakes

And you aren’t wrong. But I think it’s really important to not gloss past our mistakes for several reasons:

  • Confession is important to God. He wants to know our hearts. He’s not waiting for us to confess to forgive us. Our sins have already been forgiven with Jesus’ death on the cross. But we need to acknowledge our mistakes before Him because they do create a distance from God in our intimacy with Him.
  • I really want to learn from this year. It was a trainwreck in a lot of ways and at one point, I kept rehashing with my husband the mistakes I made and I’m confident he didn’t need to hear it, but I needed to process it so I wouldn’t dive into the same thing next year. 

MISTAKES OF 2020

I’m going to share the mistakes I’ve made as they relate to VMP because these were mistakes that affected y’all. The personal ones, I’ll address personally! 🙃

1. I overcommitted for 2020. Ironically, the overcommitments I made led to lots of mistakes. If we want to do something well, we can’t spread ourselves too thin. I feel like I know this. So many of you comment on my ability to have margin and this year proved why it’s so important to me. I burn out. I make mistakes. I am not a high capacity person who can keep going and going and going. And this year was a big reminder of why margin is so important to me. As I was feeling my worst, I prayed I’d remember this feeling, because so often we forget it and make the same mistakes. I’m grateful that my body keeps score and is sensitive to tell me when I’m doing too much because sometimes my brain is clueless to that fact. 

Hope for 2021: Diana and I spent one of our phone calls creating a filter for goals for 2021. I’ve talked to my team about keeping me in check and asking questions when I come up with new ideas.  

2. I didn’t back off when Covid happened. It would have been the logical and smart thing to do, but I kept all the deadlines we had because I really care about doing exactly what I say I’m going to do and don’t want to let anyone down. I wrote 2 whole books this year, created a new product that required a ton of production details, styled our photos (something we’ve had a professional do for the last 4 years), spent 10 straight 10-hour days helping ship 5,000 journals (I haven’t helped ship in 3 years!) while neglecting to edit the book. 😬  We actually had a self-published book planned for November that I almost tried to cram in too. I hated to let go of my plans.

Hope for 2021: We’re committing to a LOT less in 2021 as a team.  

3. We didn’t communicate the best. When I mentioned to the team that we didn’t communicate enough about the journals being late, one team member corrected me and said we communicated a lot but not necessarily in the right avenues. We’re also having a lot of issues with customers not receiving our emails and it looks like to so many that we just haven’t communicated at all. This issue felt out of my control but truthfully, we need to figure out why this is happening because it’s hard to run a business when your emails aren’t getting where they need to go. Of all the things that were outside of our control, this WAS in our control. And I’ll be totally honest, being under deadline with a publisher for my manuscript took precedence over figuring out how to communicate directly with 5,000 customers (a thought that totally overwhelmed me). 

Hope for 2021: Less overlap of projects so we can concentrate on these very important aspects of our business book writing and launch a bit more. We also have a big team meeting planned for figuring out HOW to communicate with customers directly before we’re in a crisis. We’re also going to talk to our email service providers and shop providers to help us figure out the emails issues.

4. We got the journals out soooooo late. Ok, so we couldn’t totally have changed this but the ironic thing is, THIS is where we let people down. The things I kept doing in #2 because I had already told people we’d have a product coming? I think you would have been totally fine if we had launched later. Paying for a product in August and not receiving it until days before Christmas or even after doesn’t reflect greatly on us no matter where the delay happened. Tyler and I talked about possible changes for next year when it comes to shipping and why we had issues this year, and the truth is, we knew we needed to have a big team (and we really did) but I could not have predicted the scale of shipping out, not 5,000 journals, but 5,000 orders with multiple products. We had a fulfillment company last year, and the year before, we shipped over 2 weeks in October when we had only half our stock sold (a little less than 3,000). The year before that, it took about a week to get 1,700 orders out. So I honestly think I just couldn’t fully grasp that many orders. And it might sound silly but it’s almost like my mind still sees VMP as the shop it was when it started. 5,000 is for bigger businesses and my humble view in my mind didn’t match our reality.

Hope for 2021: Our priority is getting journals in your hands MUCH earlier. We’re actually working on hand lettering this month (the first part of the process) and will not be making any major changes to the journal this year. We’re praying about what to do on the shipping end too–another fulfillment company where we have a little more control, a bigger team locally, a bigger space to work from so we have better stations and can make things flow better? We’re not sure what the solution is right this minute BUT we do know something needs to change! 

This has been a really hard season for me. I want to be perfect. I know it’s humanly impossible but when people are upset it feels like mistakes are inexcusable and not accepted. I’m learning a lot about knowing when to apologize and genuinely hear our customers out (because we still have plenty to learn!) and when to not take a customer’s reaction too personally.

ACTION STEP:

Have you reflected on the mistakes of 2020? If not, here are some quick thoughts:

  • As we acknowledge our mistakes, it’s important to denote, “Is this a pattern?” or “Is this a one-time thing?” (More wisdom from Diana). This question really helps to know whether we need to “suck it up buttercup” and get through it or take a heart look at what’s causing us to keep repeating the pattern. 
  • CONFESS IT! It might sound odd, but we get all excited for this fresh start or “clean slate” with the start of a new year, ESPECIALLY after a year like 2020, but how often are we hauling all our baggage and unconfessed sin into the New Year? I’m realizing a really vital part of moving into a new year is finally releasing to God those things we’ve failed to confess to Him.

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Leave a Comment!!

  • Thank you for this post! This is my first year using a VMP journal, and I am so excited. I was not at all upset about receiving mine later than expected because I knew that just about everything has been affected by COVID this year. So many things from different retailers have been out of stock; late to arrive; etc. I am just excited to have my journal in time for the new year!

    Also, I want to thank Val for her Instagram stories where she got very raw and real about how hurt she felt when a customer was extremely angry. Thankfully I was not that customer, but it was good to see the human side of a business owner. Regrettably, I have been that customer with other sellers in the past, and it just made me feel so much regret for the times I got angry, lost patience, and acted entitled with others. I cried tears alongside you, Val, and I prayed for your tender (and tired!) heart. Seeing you changed the entire way I handled things this Christmas with all people I encountered! We all need to extend grace right now, especially during a time when people really seem to be at one another’s throats with everything that is going on in the world.

  • I love reading this! I thought I would mention this… not to pile on, but in hopes it might help when you brainstorm. It seemed like a lot of the info re: journals being late was shared on Instagram Stories and I, for one, mute *a lot* of stories. Like, most of them. I find stories directly cause me to spend entirely too much time on social media and feel overwhelmed, so I generally follow an account and immediately mute stories. Because of that, I know I missed several updates and/or asked in a comment and was directed to stories or highlights. Wanted to mention in case it’s beneficial… maybe accompany every few stories updates with a post to direct us there or something of that nature. But don’t beat yourself up – you’ve always gone above and beyond as a company, and the issues this year I don’t attribute to you all directly. Publishing delays happen, and we all know USPS has been an issue for a while now. Thanks for all you do!