Happy New Year!! Today, January 1st, all things are new again. It’s a new month and a new year. Time to start off with a clean slate. The masses will be erasing 2015 from their memories and aiming high with a list of resolutions for 2016. Sounds good in the abstract, but something’s wrong with this picture. If resolutions and a new start were the answer to all of our problems, why then do we still have the same ones year after year?
January may indeed provide a new beginning, but the beginning does not occur in a vacuum. In fact, it was a whole lot of months. The older you are, the more months come before the specific January. Maybe we should pause to review our slates of months past before simply forgetting them and forging ahead with a list of resolutions in hand.
The name of the month should be our first clue that we cannot focus solely on the future. January conventionally is thought to have derived its name from the Roman god Janus. In Roman myth Janus was the god of beginnings and transitions. He is depicted as having two faces–one looking to the future and one looking to the past. Let’s face it (no pun intended)–we are all products of our past and our experiences. How can we move forward in the future without taking into account our mistakes and lessons learned from the past? To phrase it differently, maybe we need to be two-faced at this time of year, i.e., look to the past to effectively plan for our future.
Being two-faced has a negative connotation. It typically evokes the image of a liar–someone who says one thing while thinking/doing another. Why Josh Duggar is a perfect example of this concept. He espoused wholesome family values while cheating on his wife and viewing pornography. But my suggestion does not require one to lead a double life. It merely calls for reflection on the past (looking back) before plunging into the future (looking ahead). Making resolutions may be a positive action, but without learning from the past how do we expect to successfully accomplish these resolutions in the future?
One way to effectively make resolutions is to start off by compiling a reverse bucket list. We’ve all heard of a bucket list, but what’s a REVERSE bucket list? Such a list is merely one of our accomplishments. By considering what we have done and how it came to be achieved, it may give us insight as to the best way to proceed in the future.
In looking back over 2015, I immediately identified three things I could write down on my reverse bucket list–I started this blog, we took an Alaskan cruise for our 20th anniversary, and I finished some long-standing sewing and writing projects. What guidance does this reverse bucket list provide about my future?
First, I have to be purposeful about my resolutions. Having a dream or goal is great, but until action is taken on it, it is still merely a dream or a goal. Thinking I should start a blog was a great idea, but until I made specific plans to sit down and figure out how to do it, that project was still just pie in the sky to be accomplished by and by–probably around the 12th of Never. So, I need to figure out my goal/resolution, but I also need to consider exactly how and when I intend to accomplish it. Setting deadlines and making appointments for me to work on my resolution are crucial.
Second, I have to be realistic about my resolutions. Remodeling my bathroom and setting up a home office are great projects. They were, in fact, resolutions for a few years. Nevertheless, I was not able to accomplish them while I was spending my money on putting my kids through college and one of them was still occupying (at least occasionally on breaks and vacations) the room which is to become my office? More realistic resolutions might be to make specific plans for what I will do without being a slave to the calendar year to actually completely accomplish a project given present circumstances. I was realistically able to accomplish my resolutions to remodel and rearrange this year because I am now a empty nester. These resolutions were not accomplished in past years because they were not realistic at those times.
Finally, I have to prioritize my resolutions. My resolutions are just that — MY resolutions. Unfortunately, no man/woman is an island, and sometimes the needs of others must take precedence. It’s certainly laudable to finish that stitchery project I have had going for years or finally complete writing that professional article that’s been percolating in my brain for longer than I’d like to admit. But I can sew and write for the rest of my life; I only got one go around to raise my children. I won’t get a plaque to frame like my stitchery for the gazillions of miles I chauffeured my kids to band practice, church youth group, karate, etiquette classes, etc. Nevertheless, I do have two responsible adult children who are assets to our society as a stay at home mother raising the next generation and as an R.N. giving loving and professional care to terminally ill cancer patients. It was more of a priority in the past to focus on parenting responsibilities than to complete my resolutions to write, to sew and to take a romantic Alaskan cruise with my husband.
Just a warning to you. I plan to be two-faced this year. I have not yet completed a list of resolutions for 2016 because I am taking time to look back at 2015 before I determine how I should move forward realistically, with purpose and with proper priority. Won’t you do the same?