Like most people, I make New Year's resolutions. And like most people, it takes me a week or two to break them. This is typically accompanied by much soul-searching and brow-beating. Where is my will power? Why can't I stay off coffee for more than a week, even after getting that lovely tea basket for Christmas? But, to tell the truth, once I break my resolutions I'm secretly relieved. Fifty weeks to do what I want, before I have to make new resolutions. So this year I'm making one, single preliminary resolution: to not use broken resolutions as an excuse to remain stuck in old patterns.
One way to achieve this is to think about the past before planning for the future. That is, instead of thinking about what resolutions you want to make in the New Year, consider the small, almost unconscious, occasions in the past year when you came closer to attaining a goal. Say, for instance, you get into a rut of running ten minutes late for all your appointments. You resolve to be more punctual, and for a week you're only seven minutes late on average, a week later only four minutes late, a week after that only two. You've made progress. This is something to celebrate, and something to build on for the coming year.
If you're too focused on your failure to keep your resolutions, and caught in future outcomes, you may miss this moment of insightful reflection.
For most of us, the New Year is about a new start. But often we focus on the new year too soon, before properly accounting for the old year. At the end of the business year, you might spend hours, maybe even days, balancing the books. Do you do the same with the book of life? Do you take a few hours, even a whole day, to assess the quality of your life over the past year—or do you rush ahead in anticipation of the coming year?
Then again, our lives are less like books and more like slates that are constantly written on, erased, and written on again. We're told that the New Year brings us the opportunity to wipe the slate clean and begin again. But shouldn't you read over the slate a few times before wiping all that information away?
There is some valuable information on that slate – for your business and your personal life. Scribbled on the slate of life you might find solutions for the problems of the coming year, solutions you might not have otherwise discovered if you'd been too hasty to wipe away the life lessons learned, often times the hard way, during the year now past.
Whether you think of your life as a book or a slate, the important thing is to spend some quality time reading it at the end of the year, before you move on.
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