The year is over, the year begins, and so it goes on. Before you plunge headlong into the new one, making rash unsustainable resolutions stop, think, review: reflect.
January is named for Janus the Roman god of beginnings and transitions. He is depicted as a two faced god, looking into the future and the past. He is also associated with doorways, entrances, gates, bridges, endings and time. So, he is well placed to be the beginning month of our calendar year.
Thus it is timely for us to think of both endings and beginnings, of our recent past and newest future. It does us good to pause and consider our passage through life this year. Was it a successful year: were there more triumphs than tragedies, what was good, what could have been better? Which bits are you proud of, which make you cringe with shame? What self-defeating patterns are you repeating?
None of us proceed through life on a road festooned with success and glittering prizes, vaulting from one amazing feat to the next. Most of us stumble and fall, get up, try again, do better, carry on; endure.
But surely you want to do more with your life than endure? When we get to the end of our race – our sprint or marathon – it is better to look back on a life lived not just survived, or endured, with its overtones of suffering and pain. Life has those things, we know that, but it should not be predominantly made of those things. If it is, you must change it. YOU must do something so that YOU have a life worth living.
Hence people make resolutions but they are usually silly, excessive things doomed to failure because they are invariably based on externally driven expectations about what a good life would look like, what a good person should do. So we vow to lose weight, to get rich, to go to the gym, to work harder, to be nicer to our mother. We look at action, at doing. But perhaps we need to think more about values, about being.
Before you make another foolish list of resolutions reflect on these matters first:
What are you proud of this year?
What did you achieve this year for the first time?
Is the world a better place because of you this year? You don’t have to think too big here, small kindnesses and consideration count
Do you know yourself better?
Do you know others better?
Are you a better person at the end of the year? How are you better – quantify it
What should you have done better?
Could you have been kinder to yourself?
What bits of your life need working on?
What bits of you still need improving?
Where has the joy in your life been? Is there enough of it?
But don’t ignore the downside: the missed deadline; the time you were wrong and someone else was right; an error of judgement; a near miss; rudeness when silence should have prevailed; action instead of inertia; foolishness where sense should reside. Consider these matters, learn from them, adjust and change your ways for the coming year. Nothing is wasted if you learn from it.
We live in most uncertain times: the world hangs by a thread economically, environmentally, socially. Unrest is all around. Values are shifting and changing. It is more difficult than ever to remain positive and focused on a bright future. But we can make a difference in small ways, every day.
As this year ends, no matter how wonderful or terrible it was, think about what you have achieved because there will be something to be proud of. Think about what you want to achieve in the future, the sort of person you really want to be, the immediate future, the long future and then work towards it. Positive actions start from the truth, from a clear and deep understanding of ourselves and our place in the world.
Before you leap into 2013 pause, breathe: think. Like Janus you must look backwards, considering your past, before you can look forward and make new plans. Reflect on who you are, how you are in the world and how you want to be, then make it happen.
Be brave and honest and make 2013 a happy joyful year, successful on your own terms. (Images courtesy of Google Images)