Before we ‘ring in the new year,’ let’s hold onto the old – at least long enough to take something from it.
I used to write pages of resolutions for each New Year. They were more like lists of 40 things to do! I’d make the list a mix of fun and “good for me.” Then, I’d work at the list all year. I’d transfer the inevitable undone things to next year’s list. After a few years, the list got really long, and needless to say, less fun and more stressful. I quit my New Year’s lists in 2013, and haven’t looked back.
Of course, our resolutions often fail. It’s silly to set ourselves up like this, and there’s plenty of blogs and articles out there advising you to forget them altogether, or make them smaller, more realistic, or more achievable. Do what you will, resolve what you like, but here’s my twist on it.
Resolutions are usually goal-oriented – I’m going to lose 20 pounds, quit smoking cigarettes, spend less time on facebook, etc. I suggest we forget about the goal for a second, and take a look back. We can look back to search for insight into our approach to the goals we set. In other words, the question isn’t “What am I going to do,” but “How am I going to do it?”
Let’s say your resolution last year was, “I’m going to lose 20 pounds.” Why didn’t that happen last year? You know yourself better than anyone. Name the major pitfall that stopped you in the past, and take a moment to think about how your approach can help you overcome it in the future.
Here are some examples:
“I didn’t exercise, because I never enjoyed it.” You can turn that into “I’ll approach my weight loss with playfulness.”
“I didn’t drink less alcohol, because I was afraid to be social without it.” Perhaps look at that as “I’ll approach my alcohol consumption with bravery.”
“I’ll approach my cigarette smoking with patience.” can be drawn from “I didn’t quit smoking cigarettes, because I couldn’t make it past three days.”
You can also look at the reasons you did well with your goals in the past. For example, from “I ate healthy when I made myself a priority,” you can get “I’ll approach my diet with self-love.”
The past may not teach us what to do, but it can teach us how to do it.
For me these days, it always comes back to Nepal. Things are really tough there now as they try to rebuild from the earthquake in the midst of a border blockade. 2016 will be a challenging year for Nepal. My new non-profit project, ParticipAid, will be starting our first Community-Led Rebuilding Program in just a few days. We hope to conduct programs in two other districts this year. But before we work with them to rebuild a whole new country, I’m looking forward to reflecting with them on their past. For example, when someone becomes ill or dies, neighbors will show up to spend the days with the suffering family. A Nepali friend lamented to me recently that since television entered his village, less people show up for each other during tough times. I’m excited to see how Nepal can hold onto their valued ways of living, and let go of ones that haven’t served them in the past. I am so looking forward to 2016. Happy New Year everyone!