2020 is just around the corner. New ends in sight and new beginnings on the horizon tend to leave me feeling pensive. This past year has been full of ups and downs. While some of these highs and lows have been out of my hands, there are many things I’m sure I have control over. I’m a large believer in the notion that we create our own happiness. There are only two basic steps in creating our own happiness—1. abandon habits that negatively impact our happiness, and 2. adopt habits that positively impact our happiness.
When we speak about New Year’s resolutions, we tend to focus on the latter—adopting habits that positively impact our happiness. So often, we take the New Year as an opportunity to start new things, but we do not as often use it as an opportunity to reflect on the old things. For example, we say that we will start a new gym routine in 2020, rather than identify the factors (physical, emotional, or mental) that prohibited us from going to the gym in 2019. If our motivation to go to the gym in 2020 grows a little but all of the same 2019 barriers remain, then we might only find ourselves hitting the gym in January rather than for the full year. However, if we identify why the gym was hard for us in 2019 (for example too many work commitments, mental exhaustion, and no dedicated space in our schedule for the gym), then we may be able to come up with an actual plan to go to the gym more. In this example, we could plan to commit to dedicated gym windows (perhaps Monday and Thursday mornings) where the gym is priority and any other activity (including work or social engagements) must be declined.
Change is hard, but it is totally within our control. So, for me, as 2019 comes to an end, I am challenging myself to think about what worked and what didn’t this past year. There are so many things that I would like to accomplish and good habits that I would like to form, however, first, I must complete the less-than-pleasant task of self-reflection and evaluation. We are capable of achieving so much, sometimes it is just difficult to know the best way to get started. For me, the answer to outside change is to begin by starting with oneself and looking inward.
New Year’s Eve is tomorrow. Perhaps, when we are looking ahead to new and exciting adventures in 2020, we can also remember to use 2019 as our guide. Sometimes the best way to move forward, Dear Reader, is to start by looking back.