I am constantly questioning things humans do solely because society tells them to. At many points I’ve thought it’s a bit silly that we make such a big deal out of New Year's resolutions. How is a holiday different than any other day and why do people only want to set goals when everyone else is doing it on New Year's Eve? Hint: I gave in and am sharing my resolution at the end of this post!
Holidays are days filled with traditions that bring people together. I’ve learned to understand they also serve as key milestones in our lives. Milestones are points of reflection and opportunities to reset our outlooks. They help to break long-term goals into reasonable chunks. Similar examples are a quarterly business review at work, final grades at the end of a semester, and a checkup with your doctor after 3 months of physical therapy.
What’s new in my life that I have to be thankful for? Am I happy with changes I’ve made in the past 6 months? What do I want the next 12 months to look like? What do people I respect have to say about that? I honestly ask myself these questions daily and you should too. I challenge you be able at any point of the year to list off your personal, professional, short-term, and long-term goals if asked. It shouldn’t feel like you just pulled something dusty out of the attic which is no longer relevant.
Let’s not wait for the New Year to reflect with gratitude, look forward with ambition, and actively manage goals throughout the year. Rather, let’s maximize New Year's as a checkpoint where we can internalize and share our latest learnings and ambitions in a big way. Just remember, this is one milestone out of the entire year!
So, in the spirit of 2017, my latest resolution is to be more present. I’m shamelessly copying this from my friend Sarah’s 2015 resolution, but I thought it was genius at the time and 2 years later it’s still on my mind. At work I am strapped on time (who’s not?), so I just want to get down to the key details and do something about them. My colleagues are on the same page. We exchange conversations in a way that is very focused and actionable. That is an excellent skill to have, but outside of work it can be ugly and cold.
In my personal life, I have made a conscious effort to listen and be thankful that I can have conversations which are purely for fun, but I am nowhere near perfect on this. I sometimes catch myself thinking of the following while someone else is talking: logistics later in the day, plans and backup plans, an earlier conversation at work, what I have to do when I get home, whether I’m on track to meet my goals, or what I’m going to say next. I think we all struggle with this to some degree, but it’s important to catch it while it’s internal so you can save yourself before it becomes outwardly obvious to others! I believe it is an art to be able to turn this action-focused frame of mind on and off depending on your environment. To support this goal, I would like to practice meditation more and plan on using the app Headspace to get started. I’ve meditated before, but I’ve never committed to being consistent, and I believe the true value lies in the consistency.
Sometimes it’s ok to just relax and be calm without an agenda.