A New Year, A New Focus- the age old tradition of setting new goals or resolutions, to be better at or do more of something….
As I moved through the first day of 2018, I watched the water in Richland Creek ripple over the stones and pebbles and considered the various twists and turns my life took the previous year. I felt peace and joy to be standing in a space of comfort as new beginnings were unfolding.
As our family ended 2016, my teenagers rebelled against setting resolutions for the New Year. Not really sure why, they just didn’t see the process as a worthwhile effort. Venturing to try new things, we gathered a mason jar for each of us and sat down with some blank paper. We talked about ways we could approach the new year differently. Instead of setting far-reaching goals or resolutions for the upcoming year, we decided to document things to celebrate during 2017. We would capture each time something went well, although each of our definition for ‘something’ was different. I kept the jars in the kitchen cabinet and would pull them out once a month. I would leave them out on the counter for a few days as each of us added new entries. As the months progressed, sometimes one of us would reach in to grab a jar and add a new celebratory memory. We were making up a new tradition one day at a time. As 2017 drew to a close, I pulled out the jars. We had yet to define what was to happen next. On New Years Night after a day of watching football, we gathered in the living room, each with a jar in hand, and took turns reading one of the entries at a time, re-living things that went well the year before. After reading all of the entries, we each tore up the pieces, put them in a bowl, and set fire to the past– this last step was at the request of my teenagers. As I watched the flames, I thought of how different this process was for me from setting new goals or resolutions. The feeling that struck me was equal parts joy and gratitude for what we had experienced, yet somewhat neutralized as the memories had been celebrated and set free. It was in that moment that I realized the value of the process during the year versus the recounting of or reflecting on memories past. We each seemed to celebrate in the moment, write it down, then let it go and move on. My sense is each of us left 2017 feeling a little more confident, a little more authentic, and quite humbled by the focus on the good as we captured our successes in the moment.
Daniel Pink is an author I look up to and have expanded my beliefs and approaches following reading each of his books. I am excited about his newest book, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, due out this coming week. I look forward to learning more about his findings that timing is actually a science. He talks about why the New Year seems to be when people focus on setting new goals, versus any other day. I look forward to learning more soon. Learn more about Daniel Pink at http://www.danpink.com/.
May each of us be courageous enough and feel safe enough to be the most authentic self we each have ever been this year, starting one day at a time. Just like the writing down of memories to celebrate and let go, we each have the ability to let the events, feelings, and actions of a previous day go. Each today is a new day, make it a great one.