We all use this time in different ways.
Some resolve to change certain aspects of their lives. For many of us (I am personally guilty), these resolutions may last a month or so before they are forgotten or stored away along with the wrappings and decorations of the season just behind us. The strong and committed folks among us gain my total respect and admiration for those resolutions that create lasting change!
Some focus on their mistakes or the difficulties of the previous year, write them on slips of paper, and then burn them to assure they are no longer issues moving forward.
Some enjoy the traditions of hope: burning a bayberry taper down to the stub for good luck, or eating Hoppin’ John or black-eyed peas for prosperity, or sharing a kiss at the stroke of midnight to ward off loneliness in the coming year.
Many, through their work, their volunteer or personal lives, have a written plan—a strategy—that drives their work and their footsteps. For some, this is a time of modification and review—an audit of the past year, new budgets, new priorities, new leadership.
Each of these ideas and traditions has value, largely because pausing to reflect and consider is required, and we don’t often enough take the time needed for this exercise. And yet, this practice is a critical ingredient in our efforts to improve, “sharpen the saw,” and appreciate past and current blessings.
This year I’ve decided to consider the opportunity each new day provides. Just think of it – the new year offers 365 days filled with opportunities to:
- Do something positive for someone.
- Find an efficiency or solve a persistent problem.
- Meet someone new, and perhaps foster a new friendship.
- Make progress toward a goal.
- Volunteer to help someone.
- Have fun.
- Focus on a positive attitude.
- Seek out an old friend.
- Enjoy an artistic effort.
- Be a good neighbor.
- Appreciate family.
- Right a past wrong.
- Say thank you.
- Find or renew a charitable passion.
For most of us, there is a lot of work ahead. We already have full lives, filled with responsibilities, commitments, and the expectations that others have of us, and that we have of ourselves. But notice that my list does not include things that take a lot of time. For some, the cumulative impact of a small amount of time each day could solve that problem, or benefit a child. For others, the time might be nominal, but the impact impressive.
So I ask only one thing. Take the time for reflection. The busyness of our lives (I’m the poster child for this) often gets in the way of the contemplation, prayer, meditation, and unfocused time needed to understand what is truly important to us. With a little bit of luck, we will have 365 opportunities to make a difference, and reflection will help us to determine what is most needed. Live generously, and have an amazing 2017!
Denise K. Spencer
President and CEO