Are You Better Than Last Year?

Setting New Year’s resolutions is a popular past time, particularly here in the United States. And it makes sense. The idea of a fresh start, a new beginning is very seductive. It brings the promise of hope and of possibilities. Thoughtfully executed, resolutions can be a powerful force for change.

But if you’re anything like me, your resolutions have crashed and burned before Groundhog Day, or even sooner. That is why this year I am going to do something different. And it starts with reflection, and single question.

Am I a better person now than I was a year ago?

That’s it. No more, no less. If I can answer that question truthfully and then keep that answer in the forefront of my mind, I believe the rest will sort of just work itself out. Let me explain.

For example, am I a better husband now than I was a year ago? If the answer is ‘No’ then I can decide what can I do differently throughout the year that will enable me to answer ‘Yes’ next year. I can keep that thought in the forefront of my mind. And I guarantee it will change what I say and do. Maybe I will listen when I think I should be talking. Maybe I will look for opportunities to serve my wife. Maybe I will think more about her and less about myself. The possibilities are endless.

Here are some more questions I’ll ask myself:

Am I a better father now than I was a year ago?
Am I a better brother now than I was a year ago?
Am I a better friend now than I was a year ago?
Am I a better employee now than I was a year ago?
Am I a better neighbor now than I was a year ago?
Am I a better artist now than I was a year ago?

Even writing out this list I had several ideas come into my mind. I want to slow down, listen more, expect less, expect more, work smarter, develop new skills, serve more, pray more, watch less TV, eat more vegetables, drink less soda, write more letters, reduce my clutter, give more compliments, smile more often.

None of these things are that difficult. In fact, most are fairly easy. It’s not about working harder or enlarging my To-Do list, it is about presence and mindfulness. It’s about dozens of miniscule acts adding up to big changes. So that next year when I ask myself if I am a better person now than I was a year ago, I will be able to answer with a resounding yes.

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