A New Year

Like everyone I was busy last week with my “To Do List” for getting ready for Christmas. I made it through the holiday with gratitude for my family and for all the times spent with them and with friends. It was a wonderful week. I did not post a blog, preferred the reading of other “blogs” that came into our home as The Christmas Letter.

As I say good-bye to 2015 and look forward to 2016 I have come to the realization that a new year presents a dangerous perception, that of the clean slate. Like many people I make resolutions as if starting from scratch. Didn’t accomplish those 2015 goals? Well then, it’s time to up the ante for 2016! By February I have forgotten those resolutions.

My point today is not that we should throw up our hands and do away with New Year’s resolutions. Rather, it’s that we should begin with reflection that will help us shape what we want to aspire to, for the new year.

Finding time for reflection is not so easy. Most of us have existing commitments (jobs, relationships, etc) and a slew of bad habits such as a Facebook checking obsession, a weakness for mindless Netflix instant movies, marathon T.V viewing of Law and Order, and all its spin-offs. These probably will not go away as this new year begins. (I do hope that I can rein these in) So what is an approach to begin to reflect?

Keep it simple! The best two questions for reflection actually come from a performance review protocol that is used where I work. These two questions are simple and useful for reflection. They lead to new year aspirations that are intentional, more meaningful and much more achievable for the new year.

  1. What went well last year?
  2. What did not go well last year?

Georgia O’Keeffe is one of my heroes and is an inspiration. O’Keeffe used her art as reflection. She lived intentionally and in her life a lot did go well, even when it was not easy. I remember this quote from her, “I have been terrified every moment of my life- and it never kept me from doing what I wanted to do.”

As for perceiving the events or moments that did not go well Neil Gaiman blogged, “I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.”  journal.neilgaiman.com

“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful” -Margaret J. Wheatley

All the best for 2016!