January 2, 2011

New Year Perspective

Like so many others, with the start of a new year, I think about what I’d like to change – about myself, my life, my habits – in the year ahead. Some years I come up with actual resolutions, maybe even write them down. Heck, some years I even manage to keep a couple. And it’s all good. Setting goals for ourselves, challenging ourselves is how we grow and develop. However, too often the goals we (I) set for ourselves (myself) are about ‘fixing’ what’s ‘wrong’ with us (me). You know the drill – I’m going to lose X pounds this year because I’m heavier than I once was or I’m going to exercise everyday because I’m a little lazier than I used to be, and so on. And then, when we don’t hold up our end of the bargain, we consider it ‘failure’. But who says we really need fixing? Who says being a little larger or lazier is a ‘bad’ thing? And who says that just because we lost 8 pounds instead of 10 we've failed?

Perhaps that’s why this quote from Ellen Goodman resonated with me on New Year’s Eve:

{We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives... not looking for flaws, but for potential.} ~ Ellen Goodman

Cue the light bulbs. No, flashes. No, fireworks! Instead of tackling the New Year with a resolution to exercise more because we’re less active than we were five years ago, perhaps we should strive to acknowledge what we already do to be healthy and our potential to build on that in the year ahead. Not to say we shouldn't strive to go for that daily walk more often, but maybe just think more positively about what we’re doing when we don’t take that walk. If we’re spending that time with our families or maybe learning something new instead, is that not also tapping into our personal potential to live healthier and happier? It may not take off that extra pound as quickly, but it might bring a smile to your face and make you stronger just the same.

Again, I’m not poo-pooing setting goals. Not at all. I strongly believe that having personal goals is key to living a happy life and that writing those goals down makes them all the more real and achievable. In fact, I have my own life list (that’s another post for another time!) and some of those life goals will make it onto a 2011 shortlist (again a soon to be post). I just think that we all, myself included, could use a new approach to coming up with New Year’s resolutions. Instead of trying to ‘fix’ ourselves, let’s accept who we already are, what’s already great about ourselves and look for opportunities to tap into that more in the New Year.

After all, we don’t just sell our house because the kitchen paint is peeling. Instead we accept its solid structure, treasure its place in our family memories and pick up a new can of paint to restore the beauty it already holds. And that’s also how we should treat ourselves.

Thank you Ms. Goodman for the perspective.

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