Tomorrow night we will celebrate by ringing in the New Year. It is typically a time for us to look back at the past year, evaluating the events and choices, and then set some goals for the coming year.
What I find interesting is that we often are inspired to do those same things at other times in our lives, moments that speak deeply to us. These personal moments of retrospection seem to have more power and influence than this externally prescribed time of New Year’s to set resolutions for ourselves.
A friend of mine felt this strongly after she had her first child, it altered her perspective on family, even to the extent that she felt that someone without kids would not understand the transformation she felt. Another friend was sharing that she experienced a similar feeling after she got married. I went through one of my own when I moved back to Wisconsin after 11 years.
The universal process they talked about was reevaluating their lives, their friends; examining the path they were on. They were choosing the values and direction they wanted to take in their lives.
For me, in moving back to the place that had always felt like home, I felt strongly that I was starting over in a way, or at least beginning a new chapter. After settling into my apartment, I wrote letters to various family members, feeling the importance of cherishing the family we are given, even if we do not always relate to them very well. I wanted to try to connect and resolve any issues. In response, I received a touching call from my aunt and we had a beautiful, honest conversation.
Why then do we get sucked into the mass mentality that we need to do this each year at this specific time? Why is it only once a year?
It is not a bad time to look back, to think about the direction you want to take in your life. We all hear about the lack of follow through on New Year’s resolutions. Making goals for yourself and having to think about how you failed is setting yourself up for guilt and disappointment, especially if your goals are aimed at a year’s time.
Therefore, I challenge you to think smaller. Instead of trying to figure out the whole year in advance, think about what you want in the next quarter. Just like with time management issues, keeping the list relatively short, avoiding overwhelming yourself with too many things, and especially to keep it simple.
Set an appointment with yourself to reevaluate things again. Coming back to Wisconsin, a state with distinct seasons that I had missed, I tend to look at things according to the seasons. It is a clear reminder of the passing of time and I use that to inspire introspection and a fresh time for resolutions.
What I despise most is seeing how we end up beating ourselves up for the failures of not achieving the goals we’ve set. Losing hope in ourselves for being able to follow through on our resolutions is the ultimate defeat.
All the more reason that we think smaller and aim for the shorter term. Life is constantly changing, and we can be that much more prepared to adapt to the events and maintain our footing.
What’s my New Year’s goals? I am going to embrace and adapt to what life brings my way. I am going to set small, short term goals and work slowly towards them.
I’d love to hear what your New Year’s goals are!