Ringing in the new year is both exciting and stressful. At least, for me it is. I miss the New Year’s of my childhood when my only goal was to stay up and watch the crowds of beautiful people, in a city I could only dream of visiting, as they raised their glasses in jubilation and counted down those last few seconds of the old year. How exciting it all seemed; the confetti and music and midnight kisses.
I have enjoyed my share of exciting New Year’s celebrations and I still like watching the ball drop and counting down those last moments of a year with family and friends but the inevitable New Year’s resolutions and goals to have a better, happier or more productive life have added an element of…sadness…and a sense of failure.
Every year, as the calendar counts down to December 31st, I find myself looking back. Reviewing the year, no…years, gone by. With each passing day I am more and more defeated as I add up the accumulation of goals-not-met, weight-not-lost (or worse, weight gained), and dreams unrealized. Stepping into my, still, unorganized closet makes me angry and the stack of unread books in the corner nearly brings me to tears.
Knowing all of this, I still found myself sitting down and making a list of what I hope to accomplish this next year. And, like other years, rather than being excited about the possibilities of the coming year, I just felt sad. So…I walked away from my list. I ignored it for days and almost gave up on the idea altogether. Over the Christmas holiday I didn’t think about the list at all.
With only a few days before Christmas, I suddenly found myself overwhelmed with as I went thought my to-do’s. I had not finished my shopping, we needed to get new tires on the Jeep, I wanted to make sure things ready for a highly anticipated visit from Corbin, the refrigerator was all but empty and the house was badly in need of a good cleaning. Fortunately, I was also coming up on a few days of much needed time off. It was during those days off and getting everything done that I realized I was approaching my list for the new year all wrong.
During that week I had a list of what I needed to accomplish but I didn’t put any pressure on how or when those things were going to get done. Instead, I decided to enjoy the process. Shopping became more about just enjoying the feeling of the hustle and bustle and hearing my favorite holiday music and sometimes overhearing peoples animated conversations about their crazy families. I spent an entire evening wrapping presents and watching Christmas movies on the Hallmark channel. And the cleaning got sprinkled in between various other chores and activities so I never felt like I was really cleaning at all. And best of all, I didn’t look back and chastise myself for things I might have missed or didn’t get done and funny enough, neither did anyone else.
All these years I have approached my New Year’s Resolutions or Goals or whatever you want to call them, by first looking back at my failed attempts and missed opportunities, vowing to not let it happen again, only to be more disappointed at the end of the next year. This year, my New Year’s plan is to simply stop punishing myself for my past and look forward to the coming year and the possibilities that it holds.
“You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one.” Author Unknown