With January half-way gone and the celebration of December 31st a distant memory, It’s probably a bit late to be writing about New Years but, since one of my resolutions this year was to be a more active contributor to this blog, I hope you will forgive me for it.
New Years Resolutions used to be a big part of my New Year ritual. In fact, resolutions used to be an important ritual for me at many different ‘new beginning’ moments throughout the year. In addition to the beginning of the calendar year, there was the beginning of the Jewish calendar, the beginning of the school year, the beginning of a new term. With each of these new beginnings I would set out a set of resolutions to motivate me and try and set some goals to work towards over the next little while until the next set of resolutions come along. I think there’s a lot that is great about new years resolutions and even though I don’t use them anywhere near as much as I used to I totally understand why many people use them. That being said my goal today is not to talk about new years resolutions but rather to present an alternative use of reoccurring milestones like New Years.
There were two things that got me thinking about this. First, I realized that New Years resolutions often had a certain mystique surrounding them when in fact, for me at least, New Years resolutions were not a whole lot different than the goals and planning that I do throughout the year. Secondly, as each New Years Eve rolled around I found that a large number of items from the previous years list were still unfinished and were often then just added to the new list.
This last point was a big one for me. Though procrastination or lack of commitment was definitely responsible for some of the uncompleted goals, more often the problem was that in the 364 days that followed, other priorities emerged that eclipsed that initial goals made after a night of dancing and champagne.
The problem with all this was that when the next December 31st rolled around, all I had to look at was an uncompleted list. A reminder of the things I had hoped to do that had gone undone. Of the things that I still would have to tackle in the new year. Needless to say, this often didn’t put me in a very self-confident or positive frame of mind.
As I would sit there feeling like a failure for having only completed 3 out of the 10 items on my list I was ignoring all the things that I did do over the past 364 days. All the tasks completed, all the challenges overcome, all the experiences gained were overlooked or put to the side as I looked forward to the year ahead and the new challenges I would face.
As I mentioned above, I tend to make lists of goals and to-do items throughout the year. I’m almost always thinking about the future and what I need to do to get there. Because of this I thought that maybe a better use of New Years than creating another to-do list was to take a moment to look back and remind myself of all the other things that I actually did.
By this I’m meaning more than just thinking about all the good times that were had over the last 12 months but specifically paying attention to what I’ve learned, and how I’ve grown during that time. The expected and unexpected challenges, the successes and the failures all provided opportunities for growth and learning.
We can have hopes for the future and there are definitely things that we can work on to try to help bring those hopes to a reality, but in looking forward to the unknown of what the future will bring, why not take a look back to see how far you’ve already come?All those accomplishments and experiences are part of the toolkit that we bring with us when we face those new challenges.
Also, maybe by reminding ourselves of how far we’ve come over the past year, it won’t matter so much if a few of our original resolutions went unmet.