It is not uncommon for people to come to the end of a year, regretting some things they did that they wish they hadn’t done, while on the other hand regretting things they had hoped to do that didn’t get done.
This unhappy pattern is often followed by the equally futile practice of making outrageously impossible New Year’s resolutions, setting oneself up for failure right out of the gate.
There’s got to be a better way of transitioning from the old year to the new, one that can inspire us to action and accomplishment, instead of deflating our enthusiasm and excitement in the possibilities that the new year can bring.
One of the things that I learned in my long career as a professional volunteer is that one of the surest ways to discourage anyone (including ourselves) from doing anything, is to criticize that person’s (or our) efforts.
Yet many of us do this to ourselves all the time.
Someone gives us a compliment; and we slough it off, pointing out all the ways the job we did wasn’t perfect (or that we aren’t perfect). This pattern of self- denigration can have a long term negative effect on both our mood, our choices, and our actions (or lack of action).
We look back at the past year and catalog all of our failures, and pay precious little attention either to our successes, or to the important lessons we learned from our so-called failures. In fact, in my view, nothing is a failure unless you let it stop you from learning its lesson and moving on from there.
Here are two questions I invite you ask yourself in order to enable the old year to inspire your new year:
- What did I accomplish this past year? Don’t be stingy when it comes to finding items for this list. Every little plus in your life counts, even if it’s not finding a cure for some dread disease. Maybe it’s something as simple as conquering a new task on your mobile device, or finally organizing the junk drawer in your kitchen. Give yourself every single piece of credit you can find. Get tons of positive energy singing throughout your entire body. Then from this feel-good place of self appreciation and acknowledgement, move on to the next question.
- What can I tweak to make this coming year better? Please notice the word tweak. It is the opposite of setting yourself some wildly unrealistic goals that can discourage the most hardy souls from even getting started on them. Creating a list of baby steps, as it were, that you know are doable, even if they require tip-toeing out of your comfort zone, can inspire you to take the kind of daily actions that end up with far more positive results than resolutions to lose 10 pounds in 10 days, or to triple your income in 30 days.
The word inertia is often understood as meaning doing nothing. What it really refers to is a scientific principle that things at rest tend to stay at rest, and things in motion tend to stay in motion.
You may not think that starting out the year with a bunch of small tweaks to accomplish can really change your life for the better. However, once you get the inertia of motion going by taking care of the small tweaks, the momentum you create can help make the bigger stuff seem not such a big deal to get done after all.
From the twin pillars of self-appreciation you found in answer to the first question, and faith in your ability to accomplish the list of tweaks you listed in answer to the second question, can come a well-spring of inspiration and action to make this coming year your very best year yet.
These are my wish and prayer for you for the New Year.
If I can be of service to you along this path in any way, please let me know,
Also published on Medium.