Every year when the Christmas holidays are over and our thoughts turn toward the New Year, I am intrigued by all of the lists of resolutions that people make. Usually the number one item on the list is to lose weight and/or get into shape. Connected to this is the increased number of gym memberships and the overcrowding that suddenly consumes the space normally occupied by the regulars that are usually present. However, if one just waits a beat, things will usually return to the way they were by the end of January as folks resume their old patterns and spend more time and effort in self-recrimination than any exercise regimen.
I suppose that this is one of those reasons why I stopped making New Year’s resolutions many years ago. I could never quite get behind a date on the calendar as being the motivation for making changes to my life and lifestyle. It seemed to me that change was more directed by things like a cancer diagnosis or changes in the workplace or in a new home or a relationship. For me, a change in the state of mind was more impactful for me than a new tomorrow that I had available to me each day that I have been given. And while I do like to celebrate a new beginning like the New Year, the normal fallout for most that ensues soon after failure ensues from unfulfilled accomplishments is truly sad to me. It’s not because of the lack of success but because most feel diminished as a person because they did not meet their goal.
New Year’s resolutions rather remind me of our compiling a 5-year personal plan for our lives. I am sure that we all know those people who set target dates like being married by 25, becoming a vice-president by the age of 30 and having a child by 35. But, we also know that few, if any, people that we know are able to meet these goals in the real world. For those who meet these artificial deadlines, they usually don’t enjoy any of these accomplishments because their focus has been solely on the deadline and doing whatever needed to reach it that they never enjoyed the process. Even worse, if you ask me, is the fallout for those who don’t reach these deadlines because they think of themselves as failures and walk away from years of striving feeling lost and alone and questioning their very existence.
Just for a moment, I wish that everyone would stop and consider the consequences for the New Year if they did not set artificial goals. What if you hold on to your dreams but don’t define the path to reaching them? What if you set a goal to enjoy each day by doing something nice for someone else or for yourself? What if you work really hard to appreciate yourself and those around you more than your work to gather stuff? What if you accept yourself for exactly who you are knowing that there is not another person in the entire world who is like you and realizing that your individuality makes you absolutely perfect as a result? How does such thinking like this sound to you?
I wish that this year, if you feel the need to make a list of resolutions for the New Year that you considered a new focus. Perhaps your list could include resolutions of spending more time with those that you love and letting them know what they truly mean to you. Or what if you chose to share compliments with your co-workers and employees rather than only interacting when you have derogatory comments or “constructive criticism”. Maybe each time that something angers you, you could take that energy and turn it into something positive. Even your list could contain ways to share with others some of your talents that will enhance their lives in ways you might never have previously considered.
There is one other wish that I have for you for the New Year. By now, you probably understand the importance of living and enjoying life one day at a time. Regardless of the best-laid plans that we make, there is no way to know what is just around the corner. I do believe that we all have a purpose and that everyone and everything that comes into our lives has a purpose. It is up to us to take the time to understand this and to know that it is always for the best for us. If we choose to live life this way, we will find the happiness that we all seek and when this happens, we will know why it isn’t necessary to make lists in order to navigate our lives.