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A fresh start for a New Year

Photo used under Creative Commons by bayassaa, on Flickr.com

Photo used under Creative Commons by bayassaa on Flickr.com

I’ve been waiting for New Year’s Day for quite some time, I realize. 2012 has been a rough one in multiple ways, for my family and for so many others, and I know I’ve been waiting for the calendar to flip over. Surely 2013 will be better, I’ve thought.

But 2012 was also full of blessings, wonderful events, and a lot of learning about how to cope. It’s also been a challenging year, testing some of my deepest beliefs, or more accurately, challenging me to draw on those beliefs, most especially a trust that all is as it should be, and an acceptance that I am not in control nor do I need to be.

Writing this New Year’s post feels different than it has in other years. I want to say what I’m thinking and feeling for today very accurately, without descending into “trendiness” or “feel good” terms, and yet recognizing that these posts live on in the blog, to be read perhaps far into the future.

My main goal for the New Year is to begin each day with gratitude and appreciation for the wonderful things in my life. When it comes down to it, all that really matters are the people and relationships, and attention to those needs to come first. I think that training ourselves to feel gratitude and acknowledge the positive is so important. It’s like laying a base for all the rest of the tasks of the day, and all the rest of our attitudes will follow from it.

Next is some twin balancing acts: having goals and aspirations vs keeping daily expectations realistic, and meeting or not meeting expectations vs practicing acceptance. A phrase I use a lot is learning to manage anxiety. The world is not always an easy place, and it’s not difficult for me to get worried about many things. But, as I tell my clients, it’s not productive, and so we all must work on ways to manage anxiety and not let it take over.

If we do that, then working on our goals and aspirations can be much easier and more productive. So many times we set goals that are too big, and then feel terrible about not being able to achieve them. I like to set “process goals”.

For example, I’m feeling out of shape and a little overweight after the holidays. So what I’d like is to lose some weight, tone up, and get a lot more in shape. What are the steps that will accomplish this? For me, those steps are to get out every day for at least a good walk, do some strength exercises several times a week, and reinforce healthy eating patterns by using my food-tracking app (not fun, but oh so informative!). Those are the processes that will help me accomplish my goals in this area. And, if I don’t do those processes one day, I can just begin again the next day. Sometimes I think the whole secret to success in anything is the willingness to get up, dust ourselves, and start again.

I’m learning to be more realistic in my goal-setting. I picture my 20-something year old sons reading this and rolling their eyes, but then I wouldn’t have written this is my twenties, when everything and anything seemed realistic. However, being somewhat older than that now, I have to take energy into account, or perhaps more honestly, willingness. There are some goals I’d like to achieve but may not be willing to give great amounts of time each week. (See above for devoting more time to people and relationships!) So either I will progress in very slow baby steps towards those goals, or perhaps I won’t at all. I can live with that.

So to sum up, my New Year’s resolutions, if you can call them that, are to

  1. Be grateful for and enjoy the people and relationships in my life
  2. Keep myself physically and emotionally healthy by doing the things I know foster that for me
  3. Work towards my goals slowly, steadily and contentedly, grateful for what I have, acknowledging progress, forgiving the lack of it, and learning from it all.

May you begin 2013 with a grateful heart, seeking peace for what worries you, and being gentle and loving with yourself and those around you as you work towards those things that will make a true difference in your life.

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