Before You Leap into 2014 . . .

The temptation is so strong to make a list of changes necessary in 2014. There are hundreds of ways to be better, kinder, thinner. We are never enough for ourselves. I have nothing against self-improvement, it’s a never-ending project. A renewable resource for your psyche.

11401998-largeBefore you make a six-volume improvement list for 2014, there is unfinished business in 2013. Take a seat. Take a few deep breaths, too. Then look back at 2013, and see what you did right. What you are doing better now than you did last January. What you struggled with, figured out and made progress on. What you conquered.

None of these victories have to be permanent to make them count. There are some improvements we have to make over and over again. Not unlike painting the trim on the house, rotating the car’s tires, or doing laundry.

Each year, you’ll meet the same problem over and over again until you understand it fully. Rather than becoming impatient and angry with yourself for “not fixing the problem,” give yourself some credit for recognizing and working regularly on the problem. Think over what you were bad at and see if you have made progress.

Look over what you were good at and see if you are doing more of it. Don’t start making a list of improvements just yet. Take a minute first to see how far you have come. That’s an important part of being strong enough to continue.

–Quinn McDonald has a feeling 2014 is going to be a busy year.

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15 responses to “Before You Leap into 2014 . . .

  1. Thank you Quinn! I was just about to embark on my yearly reflective journaling and you have given me a new perspective. A much needed one! Years ago, I can’t remember his name, I saw a documentary on tv about a therapist who worked with patients from this perspective- he focused on discovering what was right in the patients life & then used these good qualities to help tackle other problematic issues. Also reminds me of Oprah’s gratitude journal exercise. Sue Agnew, thank you for sharing your letter to self idea- how wonderful & such a good way to see how you’ve grown! Now I have new fresh journaling material to bring in the new year! Happy New Year everyone :)

    • I loved Sue’s idea–it’s really great. And the therapist was smart. I often use what worked for one creativity coaching client and move it on to the next. A good idea has long legs. I’ll have to look up that tv documentary.

      • Argh, I think the doc was pre-internet & can’t find it! However, here is a short, artful :), clip on Positive Psychology, which is what he may have been involved in. Wish they had this when I was in college! Your new year philosopphy fits right in, I think. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qJvS8v0TTI I will share the doc name if I ever find it!

  2. I guess the more challenging the year has been with the inevitable events that cannot be predicted, the greater the desire to escape into the next one hoping that is can’t possibly be as bad. Yet it’s how we respond to challenges that we develop inner strength. I tend not to use the new year to make radical promises to myself, in fact I no longer make radical promises of change let alone at the new year. I make SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-based), focussing on the Achievable and Realistic points in particular! And the new year is just an arbitary date . . . new anything can start at any time surely? Spetember as good as January and Wednesday is as good at Monday to start having a more healthy lifestyle or whatever, but without looking back and identifying your strengths, the pitfalls, and the changes you want to make, gathering your resources and supports, you step forward into battle without your armour or your army. And while I’m using that metaphor, it’s worth remembering that no army won a war without losing a few skirmishes along the way and having to regroup . . . none of that can be done successfully without reflection.

    The other day I was sitting in a swinging chair under a tree, reading a book, sipping a cold drink, and I stopped to think about how, having chosen the word content, I had welcomed in contentment. Next year, I’ll build on that . . . I’ll KISS, Keep It Simple Sweetheart! KIsses (blessings) all round everyone!

    I wonder what difference it might make having our new year in summer with the best weather before us as opposed to in winter with the worst yet to come.

  3. My custom on New Year’s Eve (or New Year’s Day depending on my plans the night before) is to write myself a letter to read the next New Year’s Eve. I began doing this in 2001, when I was staring divorce in the face and honestly had no clue where I would be reading the letter the following year … but I wanted to tell myself “atta girl” for the way I was handling the uncertainty and unpleasantness. Over the years the letter has veered towards “things I want to do better next year” but I steadfastly pull it back to acknowledging and affirming the victories, big and small, of the waning year. Thanks for the reminder.

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