Two ways to let the old year improve your new year

By Kathy Kuhl

Now that the festivals are either over or well underway (Christmas Day and Hanukah are over; Kwanzaa and the twelve days of Christmas continue in other homes), many families have relaxed from their holiday busy-ness. You may have a few moments to yourself before homeschooling or school resumes.

I recommend a nap.

But then, I have an even more invigorating idea. Take time to review and celebrate 2014.

Too many of us step into the new year blindly. We may dash off a few resolutions, perhaps in a fit of guilt, after overdoing eating and under-doing exercise this season.

But I’ve been reading what business leaders say about goal setting and I was surprised by the often-overlooked first step: review the past year. Reviewing the past year benefits these leaders and you two ways:

  1. Leaders take time to celebrate the past year’s successes. So should we.

Maybe your child hasn’t mastered the times tables yet. Again. But if he or she got the “times twos” and “times fives” down, celebrate that. Did your impulsive child get through family holiday meals without the usual meltdown, or did your child with autism cope better with the sensory smorgasboard this year? Hooray!

Perhaps, like me, you haven’t been to the gym in a month. But if you took walks two or three times a week, pat yourself on the back for that. Give thanks for the strength that enabled you to do it, and your health that continued even when you didn’t exercise.

Last weekend, making a list of my 2014 accomplishments reminded me of several tasks I’m happy about, that I’d overlooked.

I realized that spending three weeks in New York helping my daughter and son-in-law with their first child wasn’t just a privilege, but considering my priorities, a major accomplishment of my year. Thank the Lord I had the strength, health, willing husband, and even some work I could do while holding a newborn. (Dictation software isn’t just for folks with dysgraphia! I use Apple’s built-in dictation feature.)

Writing down my accomplishments also helped me savor more obvious ones. For me, that meant professional goals:

You may not have a grandchild or a new book to celebrate. I didn’t, at the life stage most of you are.

But I know you, my readers, are accomplishing great things at home with your kids. Stop and think about what you’ve accomplished. Don’t rush headlong into 2015. Make a few notes if that helps you, or sit down and talk over the year with an encouraging friend.

  1. Leaders know that acknowledging setbacks helps them grow. What can you learn from 2014’s disappointments?

My weeks of illness after a busy travel season showed me that I need to keep guarding my health and pay more attention when I get tired.

Maybe, like me, you set overly ambitious goals: “Sure, I can do that in five weeks.” But I should get better at estimating when I practice, so I need to keep trying.

Whatever the area of setback, I’ve found it worthwhile to ask:

  • Do I need to readjust my goals?
  • Should I change my methods (or lack of method)?
  • Do I need to ask forgiveness, forgive myself, and/or forgive someone else?

Then I’m free to move on. Moping over my setbacks doesn’t help me or my family. I want to move forward. But pausing to look back can help us move on.

Next week, I’ll share goal-setting strategies that can help you improve 2015.

What goals did you meet in 2014? Celebrate and post them in the comments section below. Happy old year & happy new year!

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