Every January


January–it’s the beginning of a new year and new possibilities. And, of course, time for new year’s resolutions. Well, at least for some of us. Roughly half of Americans make resolutions every year, and sadly only 8% of us manage to keep them. I would argue, however, that examining your life and making a resolution is as important as keeping one. A new year means new hope and every January as I set goals and attempt to achieve them, I learn something new or relearn a lesson I already knew but forgot. These are a few of the ones I’ve learned so far this January.

  1. I am stronger than I think I am
    Last year, toward the end of the year especially, I was relying too much on Chardonnay to relieve stress (and commiserating with girlfriends who also have kids plus husbands who travel for work). Three and four nights a week, I was pouring myself too much wine to ease the stress of the day. What can I say? It happens–even to the best of us sometimes; we lose sight of what’s important. One of my many resolutions this year is to quit drinking alcohol altogether in January and to limit myself if and when I decide to drink again. Something important to keep in mind is that stress, like so many things, is often self-made.
  2. Keeping up with the Joneses is self-imposed
    I don’t know about you, but it’s hard, really hard, for me not to covet what other people have. I think I’m not alone here, or it wouldn’t be one of the Ten Commandements. I also blame, at least a little, the more than 180 billion dollar advertising industry (in the U.S. alone) that teaches us from infancy to crave material goods. Just sayin’. It’s something I try not to think about when I’m lost in the addictive roller coaster of coveting my neighbor’s new front porch. But this January, I’m stepping back and reminding myself that coveting, and the junkie’s high followed by the unavoidable low, is self-imposed. I have better ways to spend my time, like yoga.
  3. Life is pretty frickin’ amazing.
    As a new year begins and I take stock of my life, looking for ways to improve it and myself, I inevitably think about how lucky I am. Enough Said.

Ultimately, I think taking a little time to examine yourself and your life at the beginning of each year is a powerful opportunity to determine what is and is not working. It’s also an opportunity to give yourself credit for the many things that you accomplished last year. And I think it’s good to talk to your kids about the process of self-examination. It shows them that humans are imperfect, and that’s okay, as well as the importance of improving oneself. I’m not sure I agree entirely with Socrates that, “an unexamined life is not worth living.” However, an examined life is, I would argue, a more enriched one.