Make those New Year’s resolutions—but not just yet….
Before you take on those new tasks and perspectives and practices for the New Year, what are you leaving behind with the Old Year?
Closing the Book on the Old Year
When you close the book on the Old Year, what will you close with it, shelve and remove from your ongoing living? What will you consign to the past, to another time, another place, another you?
Remember when you were young, in school? When you were growing rapidly—physically, mentally, spiritually—you and those around you would discard many things, year by year, grade by grade…. clothes that no longer fit, notions that were supplanted by knowledge and experience, awkward mistakes that everyone understood to be part of growing up….
As one enters the bustle of adult life, there are not as many shared, understood guideposts of change and renewal. It’s so easy to barrel ahead without reflection, especially in today’s fast-moving world. All too often people don’t reexamine their lives systematically until forced by irrevocable, life-changing events such as divorce, heart attacks and so on.
Thus so many things can blur amid the accelerating passage of years. A life can be built, almost without notice much less reflection, on the variously strong or troubled foundation of our life as it being lived, week-to-week, day-to-day, hour-to-hour.
Author of Your Own Life and Work
To achieve authenticity—to become the authors of our own lives—shouldn’t we think like authors?
That can mean constantly challenging oneself to the point of courage. It can mean continually integrating our work into our lives, occasioning and incorporating new associations and insights. It can mean letting go of words or ideas or notions of living that no longer quite work–making room for our revised, increasing contribution.
Your Decision: Who and What Make the Cut— and Why?
To decide means, literally, to cut. What are you cutting from your life as you bring your old year to a close?
Are there habits or expectations of yourself or others that you might reexamine and re-calibrate?
Are there work or personal relationships that have run their course, or have settled into a pattern that no longer works for you?
Are you serving those people and ideas and visions that are most aligned with your values?
Have you found your calling? Are you making the contribution only you can make?
Are you improving—every day?
How have you improved from last year? What is different—really different—from a year ago at this time?
What are you most thankful for? This might include people, experiences, transactions, relationships.
Create Space for the Change You Seek
If you’re like most of us, there’s likely a lot in your life that can be updated and pruned. You can thereby create the spaces which your evolved self can seek to fill–and others may choose to help occupy.
Change always has the risk inherent in giving up the apparent certainty of things we know and see and feel—in exchange for what?…Prospects that we cannot yet know and see and feel….This can be particularly challenging in evaluating relationships.
If you are struggling to move out of a relationship in your work or life, could it be that you’re not only limiting yourself, but also the others in your relationship—as well as those whom you and the others might find new relationships with?
Your Past Year in One Sentence
A book has to have a title. An enterprise—even a lifetime—can be summed up in a single sentence.
What is the one sentence you will craft to summarize your past year? The one sentence that will make it stand apart in your narrative?
Some are obvious: That was the year I graduated from college. That was the year I married my sweetheart. That was the year I divorced. That was the year I became CEO. That was the year I started my own business. That was the year my business failed. That was the year my children graduated….
Yet the other years should not be simply melded into an unrecognizable blur….
Every year—even an annus horribilis—can be constructively framed as a unique, identifiable time in which you learned something critical to your ongoing evolution.
As ever, one lodestar worthy of reflection is: Who Are You Serving? What have you learned that will enable you to serve more people, more effectively, advancing your bedrock values, pursuing your calling?
What Are You Leaving Behind in the Old Year?