And so we begin another year.
With all this talk of resolutions and promises that people make to themselves, it got me to wondering. Why is New Year’s Day such a special day to invoke all of these changes?
Is it because somehow there is closure in tearing off that last page of the calendar? And that looking at each new page represents a fresh start and new beginning? Or is it just a good time for reflection on the past 365 days and think of how we would have perhaps done things differently and had a better outcome?
(Cat calendar available HERE)
When I was younger, I used to fall into this way of thinking too. Each New Year’s Eve, a friend of mine and I would make a list of 10 things we wanted to accomplish in the following year. We would also review the list from the previous year and see how successful we were on those resolutions.
Usually, we found we weren’t able to accomplish many of them at all. For setting lofty goals that would be accomplished over an entire year was far too complex for any reasonable human to achieve. In looking at the lists, there came a time when I realized that one would have to be ‘Superman’ or ‘Superwoman’ to even come close to reaching our objectives. And instead of feeling good closing out the year, I felt rather dejected and disappointed in myself. Failure was for the most part inevitable.
After a while, I began to wonder why I put myself up to this self-torment every December 31st. I began to have a different perspective on things and wonder why I would ask myself to go through such a self-demeaning and demoralizing process. Was I that bad of a person that I needed to rework myself into this imaginary ideal human who ate all the right things, did everything that was “good” for me and never lost my temper? How boring would that be! (And how impossible!)
I began to try to look at things a bit more realistically from both sides of the equation.
Was I really that bad? Would losing that 10 pounds really make me a better person? Was I less of a human because I stopped going to the gym three weeks after purchasing a year membership?
Of course I wasn’t!
While it would be good for me and healthy to do these things, I found out it was wrong for me to tie myself to these year long promises without considering in the least the many curve balls that everyday life could throw our way.
After all, these habits didn’t develop overnight. It would be foolish of me to think that overnight I would be able to change my way of thinking completely and all of a sudden do all the ‘right things.’ It would be crazy.
As I get older, as each year passes and is tallied in my calendar of life, I find myself not reflecting on what I didn’t accomplish over the previous year, but what I DID achieve and what I have yet to accomplish in the future. I look back and look around and I realize how lucky I am that I still have all my parts and nothing fell off, ran out or malfunctioned over the year. My mind is still (reasonably) clear and while there is definitely some additional forgetfulness and fatigue in my body, for the most part it still works pretty well and I am quite happy about that.
The idea of every 365 days making monumental promises on how to improve life is simply ludicrous to me. It just doesn’t work.
So here is an idea I had . . .
Why wait until the end of the year to reflect on your past and decide what to change in your life? Why wait until that last page of the calendar is turned to do things a bit differently?
There is an end to each week. And you can give yourself 52 chances each year to reach your goals. If you fail, I would think that missing a week long goal would be a lot easier to digest than one that you took on for the entire year. Just start over on the next week and try again. Every journey begins with one step.
And why stop there? For each day we turn a page in our lives and each day is a fresh start and new beginning. There is nothing said that if we have a bad day, the following day will be bad also.
I wake up each morning with a clean slate and fresh start. Whether the previous day was hideous or wonderful, each time the sun rises I look upon it as a chance to make something good of the day. By doing that, I can plan accomplishments that are attainable and while many of them are small building blocks to reaching greater goals, achieving each small piece is just as positive as if I moved a mountain. And it makes me feel good about myself. And that positive attitude is what fuels me further and helps me get through those not so good days.
If I happen to have a bad day and miss, there is always a new day right around the corner. Instead of spending the remainder of the day admonishing myself, I begin to plan as to how I will tackle things tomorrow. As long as those tomorrows keep coming, there is hope.
To me, this is a kinder and gentler way to treat yourself. It not only allows for us to trip up every now and then, it allows us to be human. And that, my friends is something that is a great privileged.
So there are no new resolutions this January 1st. They are the same ones that I wake up with every day. I try to be patient. I try to be kind. I try to treat others with honesty and compassion, and give others inspiration and a reason to smile . But most of all, I try to make each day happy, because I know that no one else can bring me happiness except me. And that is a responsibility that we all owe ourselves.
Have a wonderful Happy New Year! Make this year your best year yet!
It is very important to generate a good attitude, a good heart, as much as possible. From this, happiness in both the short term and the long term for both yourself and others will come. – Dalai Lama
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"