Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year

For the first post of the New Year, I thought I'd write about the New Year and expectations.

Everyone makes "resolutions" on New Year's Eve--or refuses to make them. And every year, for at least three days before the New Year, there are news program segments designed to help us keep our resolutions.

No one does any of these segments sometime around January 27th, of course, or March 3rd, to see how we're doing. As I tell friends, I hate going to the pool or the gym for the first two weeks of January, because it's always packed.

But by about the third week, things level off and by February, they're back to normal.

Resolutions are hard to keep, obviously. We basically end the year agreeing with ourselves that we'll adhere to a promise about the kind of person we wish we had been the previous year.

But chances are, if we could have been that skinny, happy, non-smoker who ate nutritious food and spent more time with family, we'd have done it by now.

I like Gabrielle Santa-Donato's January 29th article, "Moving Quickly, Caring Deeply: Creating Nine Lives in the New Year" on The Creativity Post. Although the advice is specifically directed towards twenty-somethings, I think it is applicable to those of us of a certain age as well.

Santa-Donato suggests that we take the time to think about the kind of lives we hope to lead, the things we wanted to do and to be able to say about ourselves, and jot those things down.

The point is to actually write them down--there's something about putting it into words outside of the space of your own mind that gives something like that a concreteness that can't be denied.

And then, she suggests, choose the goals and characteristics that matter most to you and identify five steps that could lead you to them.

I think Santa-Donato's suggestions are useful because they are future-oriented and trend-based. There's no danger of "slipping up" or "falling off the wagon" on a New Year's resolution here, because these aren't really resolutions.

They're ways of being in the world. And I hope in 2013 we all make the world a better place, in ways that are both large and general and small and specific.

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Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "Life is short, but there is always time for courtesy."