- What I’m Watching: Just finished White Lotus on HBO
- What I’m Listening to: Criminal Podcast
- What I’m Reading: Making Numbers Count: The Art and Science of Communicating in Numbers
The New Year is fast approaching and many of us are ready with our list of resolutions, often with the hope of “a new year, a new me”. Unfortunately, according to the National Library of Medicine, in a study titled, “The resolution solution: longitudinal examination of New Year’s change attempts” by J.C. Norcross and D.J. Vangarelli, about 81% of people fail to keep their resolutions. Yet, each year, regardless of whether we stuck with our previous year’s resolutions, we start again, with hopes that this year will be different, somehow, on our path to become a newer, better, version of ourselves.
This post urges you change your focus from looking forward to a new you, and instead, appreciate the current you, and your path. By spending a few hours at the start of the new year thinking about how far you have come, what you are grateful for, and noticing unplanned milestones, you might enter the new year with more patience, wisdom, inner strength, and acceptance, which may, in turn, help you achieve far more in the upcoming year.
What did you accomplish this past year?
For a few hours, forget about all the things you meant to do in the past year but did not. Instead, search for the things you did accomplish, regardless of whether you planned them. Life continues forward, and we often become so busy that we do not realize the amazing things we have done throughout the year. At first, this can seem like a difficult task, especially if you are facing career struggles, loss of someone close to you, or failed to accomplish something you set out to do.
A lot can happen over the span of a year, and sometimes, it is easier to focus on what went wrong, our disappointments, or what we did not finish that we started. These thoughts work to make us lose sight of our accomplishments. Did you volunteer this year, helping others? Did you help your kids with their homework or spend time listening to their stories? Did you switch jobs, earn a raise, or receive an award? Did you complete a certification, class, or project? Did you adopt an animal or help care for a parent or family member? Did you make a new friend or grow your professional network? Did you travel somewhere you have never been before or learn anything new? Did you vote? Did you show up for work this year and do your best despite the challenges all around us? Did you mentor or help others at your job? Many reading this blog work in local government or with a company that helps make local government lives easier, both of which are accomplishments due to those they serve and help.
Also, do not discount the hard times you may have made it through, as these are forms of accomplishment. Did you suffer the loss of a loved one but still kept your head above water? Did you lose your job, but recreated a resume, grew your professional network, and put yourself out there for a new job? Did a relationship fall apart, but you picked yourself up and did the day-to-day anyways, making new relationships? These are all things that you made it through, or are making it through, that deserve notice on how it is making you a better person.
Spend some time making a list of these things you did accomplish, regardless of how small it may seem at first. Once you get going, you will likely realize that whether you met your previous new year’s resolutions or not, you have still moved forward in life and have a lot to be proud of.
What are you thankful for?
Before jumping into what you want your new year to look like, understand what you are grateful for from this past year. Often, showing gratitude shifts our mood to a more positive one and helps us prioritize what matters to us most. Did you get to enjoy some really nice, sunny days outside? Did you enjoy time with family and friends? Did you work remote and as a result, got to spend more times with kids and/or pets? Do you have a house or apartment you are happy with that kept you warm in the recent winter storms? Do you have warm blankets? Do you have family that loves you?
Many of us suffered incredible losses over the past year, but even those can lead to sources of gratitude. Did you lose a love one? If so, spend some time focusing on what you learned from them that made your life more positive and expressing thanks that someone so wonderful existed in your life. Did you lose a job you needed? Focus on what you learned from that job and, even if just for a little while, give thanks for that knowledge that you would not have otherwise, as well as for the opportunity to potentially find something better.
Do you see yourself behind your peers, friends, neighbors, or co-workers financially or some other way? If so, change the thoughts of envy to thoughts of gratitude that what these people have, and the feelings arising from them, are offering insights into what you want to strive for or achieve. View them as inspirations that things can be done instead of something to be jealous of.
Open your mind to a new year of possibilities.
Finally, taking into account your gratitude and accomplishments, look at all the things that happened this past year that you did not plan. Often, milestones in our lives were unplanned and we could not have foreseen them the previous year. For example, did you take an unexpected vacation, find a new job opportunity, meet a new person that changed your life, get an unexpected career advancement, or take on a new hobby that you really love?
As you enter this new year, let your mind be open to all the possibilities that you don’t know exist at this point in your life. When things did not go according to your plan in the past year, it may have been due to some of these surprise occurrences. Go easy on yourself and leave room for setbacks and direction changes. Sometimes, these very setbacks and direction changes may end up the best things to happen for you, your family, or your career.
When you understand how far you have come in the past year, the things you are grateful for, and open your mind to accepting the unknown in the coming year, you can be proud of the current you and start the new year with more hope, confidence, and strength!