As I have written here several times, I turned 50 last May and have been reflecting and writing about the lessons that I have learned in the past 50 years, including those I have learned over the holiday season.
While the New Year is still in its first month, there’s a lot written about its significance. Magazines and web sites have been filled with stories about ways to keep your New Year’s resolutions, how to best make them, and even why you should or shouldn’t make them in the first place.
Naturally, this has caused me to start thinking about the significance of this time of year and that aside from often being disappointed at not keeping the resolutions I have set for myself, there are a lot of things I have learned with each year. Here are just a few of them.
There is always a chance to start over. The New Year really does represent a time for new beginnings. New Year’s resolutions give us “official” permission to start over. They are our own personal “do overs.” Nobody thinks twice about people declaring their desire to change their health, their financial situation, or even their relationship status. But, it seems that if people try to do this at other times, their motives become suspect. It shouldn’t be that way. We don’t have to wait for a new year or a big occasion to make our lives better, and to start changing things we don’t like, or to move on. We can do it at any time.
Related to this is that you really do control your own destiny. You create the kind of life that you want. You can blame your parents, your childhood, your partner or ex-partner, but the only one who can make your life better is you. Blaming someone or something else is just giving up control of your own life. It is your life. If you don’t like how your life is going, you can change it, nobody else can do it for you. And, you don’t need to wait for “permission” or some official season to do so.
Things are always changing. In spite of the fact that we often think they don’t, or don’t even realize that they do change, they do. Most of us take a look at the year that’s ended and review what has happened during that year. And often, it is only through this examination that we realize just how much things have changed.
That’s why taking time for reflection is important and necessary. Reflecting on both the past year and the upcoming year, can allow us to focus not only on what we haven’t done, but on the things we have done. We already know about the bad things that have happened, often they are all that we can see. But honest reflection can remind us about the good things. No matter how horrible things have been, or how hard the year has been, there is always something good. Reflection lets us see that more clearly and let’s us move forward in a most positive and purposeful direction.
There’s always something to learn, and it is never too late to learn anything. All of these other lessons make this one possible. We learn from our past mistakes, we learned what we liked, what we didn’t like, and what we still need to learn. Most importantly is that we learn what we want. As my father once told me, “if we stop learning, we are through.”