At the end of the year do you make New Year’s Resolutions? Many people do. For some it’s a time to feel hopeful for a chance to start over. For others a time for self-recrimination when the year’s resolutions sound a lot like last year’s.
Weigh less, exercise more.
Make more, save more.
Spend more time with family.
Learn _________. (You fill in the blank)
You may tell yourself that this year is going to be different. Or you may have given up the resolution making habit because you’ve lost hope that anything will change. Over the years I’ve done lots of things to celebrate and prepare for the New Year. There is no one right way.
Here is something I’ve tried. You try it and let me know how it goes.
A New Year’s Reflection
I like writing things down because it makes them more real. It also helps me think.
List all those things in 2012 that made you smile. It can be small things like seeing a friend get married, or big like having a child graduate from college.
List what you’re proud of. It may be big like getting a big promotion, learning to speak another language, creating an outreach program for your neighborhood, starting a new business, stopping smoking, or losing 20 pounds. Or something smaller (but still important), like finally cleaning out the garage, getting a great review from your boss, not overeating on vacation, or saving more this year than last. You get the picture.
Now list what you’re sorry about – places where you let yourself or someone you care about down. It may be missing your child’s play, not meeting your quota, gaining 10 pounds or not following up on some opportunity. This is not a time to beat yourself up. It’s a time to tell the truth. Remember, NO ONE else will see this but you.
- Look at the three lists and consider the past year – what do you notice? What are the themes or patterns on each list? Example – Many of the things that make me smile have to do with my family. My accomplishments are in areas where I really care about the results.
- What do you notice about where you got off track? Where you were successful?
- What “lessons” or realizations do you take from looking at what made you smile; what made you proud; and what you’re sorry for?
- Based on what you learned, what gentle advice can you offer yourself for 2013?
Now instead of writing resolutions, although you can do that too, write down the advice to yourself. Do so with compassion, humor and practicality.
In a month I’ll ask you how it’s going.
Have a Happy New Year and I’ll see you next Tuesday.