Here we are at the start of another year, a time for review, regrets, predictions and resolutions. Well, maybe review. I don’t let the seeds of regret germinate. I don’t have a crystal ball and I don’t make resolutions. The resolutions I used to make were always reactions, things like: “I’m going to lose 20 pounds” (because I weighed too much), “I’m going to get a better job” (because I hated my job), “I’m going to start exercising” (because I thought I was going to die if I didn’t exercise) or some resolution associated with eating, drinking or not eating or drinking because I was eating, drinking or not eating and drinking too much or incorrectly.
I’m done with those.
I’m not criticizing people who are making resolutions. Good luck with that, but if you’re building 2015 resolutions on the foundation of 2014 regrets, I would urge you to go a little easier on yourself. Take some time to think about the good things you did in 2014. For example:
Did you teach someone something? I’m putting that first because that’s one of the most important things that you can do. Sharing what you know with others is the way we improve as a species. Then, flip that over and ask: did you learn something new? I once knew a man who refused to attend some free classes that I told him about. When I asked him why he didn’t want to go, he said: “I’m 55 and I’m done learning” – how sad. We should never be done learning.
Did you make someone happy? That’s just about the best thing you can do for someone. You might think that loving someone would be the best thing, but we’re careful and cautious about loving people. We don’t need to be careful about making people happy.
Did you help someone in need? It didn’t have to be a big thing. It didn’t have to involve money or a response to some tear-jerking TV commercial, direct-mail campaign, telemarketer or in-person solicitor. Maybe you took someone’s trash can out to the curb one rainy day or maybe you brought the empty can back into their yard. Maybe you let someone merge in front of you on the highway or go ahead of you at a 4-way stop sign. Nobody writes about those things, well, I did once. I have done some of these things, and people have told me that they appreciated my doing them. I’ve had others do things like this for me, and it really did make me feel good.
Did you exercise? Note that I didn’t ask if you ran a marathon, scaled 40 flights of stairs or ended the year being able to deadlift some multiple of your body weight. Did you skip the elevator and take the stairs at work? Did you walk somewhere you could have driven? Did you play with your dog or a neighbor’s dog? Did you shovel a small amount of snow instead of firing up the blower? If you did things like this, you probably felt better and you helped yourself be heathier.
Were you kind to the planet? Again, I’m not talking about big newsworthy deeds here. You didn’t have to fly to the Gulf and wash an oily bird in Dawn. Did you recycle when you could (cuz some people don’t). Did you carry some trash around with you that you wanted to toss on the ground? Did you pick – up – after – your – dog? Did you walk somewhere you could have driven? You can give yourself double points for that one (you know, exercise).
Did you support a local business? We are lucky enough to have a local hardware store that has managed to survive in the five mile shadow of Home Depot and Lowes. Their prices may be a little higher but I still shop there whenever I can. I am in and out faster, I drive less (good for Earth, woo hoo, double points) and they pay taxes, support our schools and sports teams and they’re nice people. If you decided that something, hardware, paint, alcohol, food – anything isn’t always about price, you did a good thing. Keep it up in 2015.
These are just some simple examples of things that really do matter. They might matter to you, they might matter to others, and they add up. If you have a bunch of little things like this in your 2014 box-of-things, be sure to give yourself credit. If you’re looking for an easy way to have a “better” 2015, well there you go.
Happy New Year!