“A Clean Slate”

Well, here we are at the start of a new year. It is the time we engage in resolution making to stop a bad habit, forge an easier life, find a different job, teach the kids better manners, travel more, lose those extra pounds, and on and on. You know about resolutions. Those are promises we make to ourselves in the first days of the year that we then fail to keep by the end of the month. I’ve never been much for New Year’s Resolutions. They are a set up for personal disappointment. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for self-improvement. There is just too much pressure at the first of the year so we tend to overreach. Take those resolutions one at a time and do it all year long whenever the need arises. Oh, and stick to them, because there are few promises easier to break and more important to keep than those made to ourselves.
Actually this time of year tends to make me pensive and a little nostalgic. Life changes and that’s a challenge. A challenge presented to us over and over for as long as we breathe air. Garrison Keillor said, “We all live two lives. One is the present and the other is the past.” I guess it is the past my mind drifts to at the start of the New Year. I think about folks that are no longer with us and how much they are missed. Whether friends, family, or mere acquaintances, each was unique and treasured in some or many ways. The loss leaves a void in the universe and, of course, in our hearts. Not all loss is sadness, however. Children grow up and leave us. They start their own lives apart from ours and that loss is one to be celebrated. Nothing compares to having healthy and successful children. Friends have moved away and, as sad as that is, it makes space in our lives for new friends. This time of year, especially, it is good to reflect on what we should be thankful and to take an inventory of our personal lives and outlooks. Maybe there are some changes we could or should make.
Though not a believer in New Year’s Resolutions, I do believe the turning of the calendar gives us all a clean slate. According to the dictionary, a clean slate is defined as: an opportunity to start over without prejudice. Well, I guess the New Year is as close to that as we get on any kind of regular basis. Something I’ve done in recent years that has proved successful is to sit down with a trusted friend. You know, someone who will tell you the truth, even if it’s not what you want to hear. We have a calendar in front of us and we discuss goals and aspirations for the year. The truthful friend helps me keep perspective so I don’t B.S myself. He also works on his own goals and I am his truthful friend to help keep him in check. Then we plot these goals on the calendar and sort of create a loose plan of action to help give structure to the process. It does not all have to be about work or the standard type of achievements, either. One of the goals could be as simple as taking time every Wednesday afternoon or evening to do something recreational, social, or physical like seeing a movie, playing cards with a group of guys, or running the reservoir. But, it’s a good place to plot work goals, as well. Act on those things that are in your control and you might end up gaining success you feel is out of your control.
So, think of 2013 as your own personal “clean slate”. Start writing on it soon so it does not get filled up with the goals of others. After all, it is your “clean slate”.